That $106.5 Million Picasso? Even the Pizza Deliveryman Knows What It Is

Picasso's record-breaking $106.5 million 1932 portrait of Marie-Therese Walter: Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust. Courtesy of Christie's Images Ltd.

In May 2004, at the start of the art market’s phenomenal boom and before the most recent mini-bust, I wrote an article for ARTnews in which I attempted to analyze why certain artworks attract outrageous sums at auction. A good section of the article was dedicated to Picasso’s 1932 portraits of Marie-Therese. Here is some of what I wrote:

Among the most popular images to appear at auction are Picasso’s 1932 paintings of his young lover and muse Marie-Therese Walter, which have fetched prices of between $48.4 million and around $1 million in the past decade. “The year of 1932 and Marie-Therese,” says Sotheby’s David Norman, “is one of the most sought after years of Picasso.” The artist disguised Marie-Therese in paintings during the first four years of their affair, which ran from 1927 through the late 1930s. In December 1931, he painted his first fully recognizable portrait of her, and in the following year, he painted dozens more of her, often asleep in an armchair. The works of 1932 tend to be “robust in scale,” says Michael Findlay, a director of New York’s Acquavella Galleries and Christie’s former international director of fine arts. “They appeal to collectors who like recognizable paintings–even the pizza deliveryman knows what it is. There is no doubt that it is a big, beautiful Picasso.”

You can read the rest of my article here.

Rob Pruitt . . .

. . . is 6’1″; wears a size 11 1/2 shoe; can’t decide what he wants to tell you; thinks there are so many truths; is 95 percent vegan; made his “Paris Hilton” paintings wearing plastic 3 1/2-inch heels; has always had this idea that you should go for what you want and not settle, set your sights high and you probably will get it; thinks all of this sounds like a plan but it happened much more organically, it was all very simple; almost exhibited blown-up silkscreen versions of telephone doodles left by famous artists at Sonnabend rather than “Red, Black, Green, Red, White, and Blue”; thinks his father was a bit more like Archie Bunker than he probably imagined; liked high school; thinks Cocaine Buffet was a bit of a tacky plan; thinks he never really learns from his mistakes; says it never occurred to him that it could backfire; believes you piece together the truths of your origins; has a natural tendency toward self-sabotage; has tried organizing a committee of people he trusts to tell Rob Pruitt what he should do next, but he can never take any of their ideas because he prefers his own; believes a lot of his stuff looks so crappy because its important that he make it himself; wears basically the same outfit, including a black pleather studded belt, nearly every day; might have painted Ileana Sonnabend’s bathroom door; believes he’s been most influenced by Minimalism; is never sure that what he is saying is 100 percent true; is glad there is only one (brilliant) Jeff Koons; loves miso soup; knows he’s not lazy; can’t tell you the whole truth about everything because it would sound so clinical; thinks of the Art Awards as a group show determined by a very democratic process; wants to make a big series of paintings about Woody Allen some day; doesn’t walk around thinking he’s the best but doesn’t think anyone’s the best; has never asked the hard questions of his parents; thinks it would be cuter if dollar bills looked like chocolate-chip cookes (everyone loves cookies); thinks cheating can be a way of picking and choosing what you want to learn for the future; smokes Marlboro Lights; wants to know who your favorite contemporary artist is; wants to know how much you’re getting paid; likes to look at the pictures people post on eBay; is not going to stop until people think he’s better than Maurizio Cattelan.

from my Art+Auction profile, available here

Dakis Joannou Fetches 15 Euros

Too cute (given the recent hullabaloo) to bury in a link: www.dakisjoannou.com

 

A SuperFreakonomic Icon for a Warholian Age

“I like money on the wall. Say you were going to buy a $200,000 painting. I think you should take that money, tie it up, and hang it on the wall. Then when someone visited you, the first thing they would see is the money on the wall.”–The Philosophy of Andy Warhol

Warhol

Manipulating a representation of some estimated value until it delivers insane dividends to a group of privileged investors appears to be a skill shared by Wall Street and Warhol, whose 200 One Dollar Bills sold for $43.8 million at Sotheby’s last week.

My understanding of moral hazard is slippery (is it possessing information that is used to the detriment of others or is it engaging in risky behavior based on a presumption of protection?)–more intuitive than precise–but the phrase makes me think that sales like these must stick in the craw of Joe Simons and others who have been prevented from partaking in Warholian currency while folks like Larry Gagosian, Peter Brant, and Jose Mugrabi swim in it.

To read more about the superfreakonomic, morally hazardous accusations that underscore Simons’s lawsuit against the Warhol Foundation, read Richard Dorment’s “What is an Andy Warhol? in last month’s New York Review of Books and “Authenticating Andy Warhol,” an article I wrote for ARTnews in 2004.

Strikingly, on the day that 200 One Dollar Bills went on the block, a front-page article in the New York Times questioned the ethics of the New Museum of Contemporary Art for its decision to turn the museum into a private showcase for mega-collector and New Museum Trustee Dakis Joannou and his favorite art star/investment/yacht painter Jeff Koons, who has been engaged to curate the exhibition of Joannou’s holdings.

“Sure, I am a trustee. Would it be different if I weren’t? Some people may think some things,” Joannou told the Times. “For me, it’s a nonissue. I know who I am and what I am doing.”

In the NYT ArtsBeat blog, Deborah Sontag, an author of the Times article, took a stab at revealing the “dizzyingly insular circle of art world insiders” and their connections to programming at the New Museum. I propose an addition to Sontag’s list — Pauline Karpidas, the seller of 200 One Dollar Bills (she paid $385,000 for it at Sotheby’s in 1986–lucky girl), a major benefactor of the New Museum, and a neighbor of Joannou’s in Hydra, Greece, whose most recent Hydra Workshop was devoted to Joannou-collectible Nate Lowman (with Mary-Kate Olsen in tow). In 2005, the featured artist of Karpidas’s Hydra Workshop was Urs Fischer, another Joannou collectible and the subject of the New Museum’s current exhibition. As Jerry Saltz points out, Fischer is represented by Gavin Brown who has secured exhibitions at the New Museum for four of his artists in the last two years.

But at least someone out there (who are the Erasers? perhaps these guys?) has a sense of humor: www.dakisjoannou.com. So, apparently, does society scribe Christopher Mason (eh hem): The Bowery’s New Museum Song.

Tracey Emin Pontificates on Her Famousness

emin

Hiroko Masuike for The New York Times

“Damien’s not recognized like I am everywhere I go,” she said [clad in a swimsuit poolside at her New York hotel]. “In London I’m in the papers every time I blow my nose, essentially. I’ll be followed by paparazzi. I’m taught in the school curriculum in Britain. It’s actually kind of nice when I come to New York and I don’t have that recognized thing.” via The New York Times

Why Art Dealers Don’t Speak Honestly to the Press (or at least shouldn’t to Roberta Smith)

Poor Michele Maccarone. Roberta Smith isn’t very nice to her in this New York Times piece about how well (or slightly not) galleries are doing in New York. Besides taking a potshot at her expense (but never mind), Smith casts Maccarone as a sour buzz kill while everyone else is still partying or trying hard to. No wonder Maccarone has this image up on her website:

FallingWall

Falling Wall by David Lamelas via http://www.maccarone.net

 

Broadway Producers Sentenced to Prison for Larry Salander-like Exploits

Garth H. Drabinsky, who served as the chief executive of the defunct Broadway production firm Livent, was sentenced to seven years in prison on Wednesday for defrauding the shareholders of more than 500 million Canadian dollars. His former business partner, Myron I. Gottlieb, received a six-year sentence. Image: Chris Young/Canadian Press

Garth H. Drabinsky, who served as the chief executive of the defunct Broadway production firm Livent, was sentenced to seven years in prison on Wednesday for defrauding the shareholders of more than 500 million Canadian dollars. His former business partner, Myron I. Gottlieb, received a six-year sentence. Image: Chris Young/Canadian Press

 

Read today’s NYT article about the Broadway convictions involving Larry Salander-like exploits with Michael Ovitz in the role of Robert De Niro:

“The exponential growth of the company was analogous to an athlete taking a performance-enhancing drug,” Justice Mary Lou Benotto of the Ontario Superior Court said at Garth Drabinsky’s and Myron Gottlieb’s sentencing hearing in Toronto today. “The result may be spectacular, but the means involve cheating.”

Dash Snow (1981-2009): An Artist Who Knew How to Make the Most of a Profile

for better or worse, and the writer who immortalized him: Chasing Dash Snow

Photo by Cass Bird for New York Magazine

Photo: Cass Bird/New York Magazine

Marc Dreier’s Mea Culpa Lists Expensive Art Among Extravagant Things

Marc Dreier

Marc Dreier, founder of Dreier LLP, left, has been found guilty of defrauding hedge funds by selling $700 million in phony promissory notes. Photographer: Rick Maiman/Bloomberg News

Read Marc Dreier’s letter to the judge here in which he pleads “self-indulgency” before being sentenced to 20 years in prison.

$1 Billion Down: Art Loves Money Retrospective (May 2007-September 2008)


Baroque Egg with Bow by Jeff Koons, a sculpture from the artist's Celebration series, fetched $5.4 million from Larry Gagosian at Sotheby's on Tuesday night. In November 2007, Gagosian paid the auction house a then-record $23.6 million for Koons's Hanging Heart from the the same series.

Baroque Egg with Bow by Jeff Koons, a sculpture from the artist's Celebration series, fetched $5.4 million from Larry Gagosian at Sotheby's on Tuesday night. In November 2007, Gagosian paid the auction house a then-record $23.6 million for Koons's Hanging Heart from the the same series.

With the major New York auctions down about $1 billion this spring over a year ago, it seems like a good time to post my collection of Art Loves Money blogs, which coincided with the peak of the art market, for the semi-defunct Men’s Vogue. (Apologies for the imageless formatting, the posts are no longer available online). If you’re happy not to know another thing about the art market and the incredible boom that collapsed last fall, don’t read on.

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