Wet Paint: Dealers Secretly Meet With Ivanka Trump at the White House, Writers Sue Art Mag for Non-Payment, & More Art-World Gossip
What actor sold a Henry Taylor painting at Christie's? What artist's work was seen at Jared Kushner's house? Read on for answers.
Every week, Artnet News brings you Wet Paint, a gossip column of original scoops reported and written by Nate Freeman. If you have a tip, email Nate at [email protected].
GLIMCHER GETS TRUMP TEAM SUMMIT
The state of the contemporary art gallery scene is certainly not great. Some dealers have estimated that, year-to-year, sales are down a whopping 70 percent. And even if overhead is lower—with furloughed employees, slashed expense accounts, and fewer art fairs—most think many galleries in major art hubs will close in response to the pandemic. And while dealers have come up with a whole slew of ways to try to keep the model afloat, from viewing rooms to virtual fairs, there still isn’t a sweeping, across-the-board plan of any kind.
So, why not go straight to the top and ask President Trump‘s cabinet to help out? That was the thinking of a group of gallery owners, dealers and collectors who this week made a clandestine trip down to Washington, DC, to meet in the White House with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Ivanka Trump, senior advisor to the president. The purpose of the visit? To lobby the art world-friendly Trump-adjacent power figures for relief for galleries suffering from the effects of the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus.
(Several reports have shown that the severity of the economic lockdown, as well as tens of thousands of deaths, could have been prevented if there were an early nationwide response to the outbreak directed by the federal government.)
Sources say that the group included Alberto “Tico” Mugrabi, who at this point is pretty chummy with Trump. Wet Paint revealed in April that he made a visit to Camp David in October to celebrate Ivanka and Jared Kushner’s wedding anniversary, and while there watched football with the commander-in-chief and promised to host a fundraiser alongside his wife, Colby Mugrabi. If you want an art world Trump fan to lead you into the White House, Mugrabi is your guy.
The contingent also included Pace President Marc Glimcher, which is something of a surprise, as he maxed out on contributions to Hillary Clinton in 2016. A spokesperson for Pace, in an email confirming that Glimcher took the meeting with Mnuchin and Ivanka Trump, said: “Marc has participated in a number of conversations across both sides of the aisle to bring attention to possible solutions to the economic crisis facing the industry.”
The spokesperson also clarified that the meeting was “a group of industry leaders that visited Washington, DC, this week lobbying for measures to help kick-start the art economy.” Specifically, sources said, the group was trying to save the gallery business by allowing art to benefit from the 1031 exchange, wherein the proceeds of the sale of an artwork can be used to buy another artwork without capital gains taxes being applied.
Glimcher doesn’t have as firm ties to Kushner and Trump as Mugrabi does, but his family is close with the Mnuchin family. Papa Bob Mnuchin is a fellow gallery owner and former client of Pace founder Arne Glimcher, Marc’s father, and Steven Mnuchin is himself a collector who has often appeared at events at the Whitney and the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton, and was a once-upon-a-time attendee of the ADAA Art Show.
When reached on the phone via a cold call to the switchboard, a press assistant at the White House said a representative would send a statement in response to a previously sent email, but none had arrived by press time.
YOU WIN SOME, JALOUSE SOME
There are a lot of art and fashion magazines that think they can get away with just casually neglecting to pay the freelancers that make their publications possible. It’s hard to fathom why they think this is OK. They’re ripping off writers who sit at laptops turning words into sentences only to be told that these sentence are worth literally nothing. And worst among these offenders is perhaps the stable of glossy rack-fillers published by the Jalou family, which includes L’Officiel, Jalouse and other pretty people rags. It’s gotten so bad that the photographer Luc Coiffait started a Change.org petition that’s gotten 990 signatures. In addition, dozens of freelancers have signed on to be part of a class-action lawsuit against the company. Coiffait said that if he ever gets his money, he will donate it to Black Lives Matter.
In a statement to WWD, Jalou CEO Benjamin Eymère (who is part of the family that owns the magazines) said he was “addressing each invoice,” and noted the financial toll taken on the company by the pandemic, though the payment issues began well before. All in all, it might have been time for Eymère to lay low—but instead, in May, he let Architectural Digest publish an intimate look into the Paris flat he shares with his wife, David Zwirner Paris director Victoire de Pourtalès.
Not only is it stuffed with work by artists such as David Hockney, Walead Beshty, Ali Bandasr, and others, the article also helpfully notes that the mushroom ottoman by Pierre Paulin is $661. That’s a pretty penny for an ottoman. And at the time, the house wasn’t even being used. The AD story noted that “the clan has decamped to the countryside for the time being.”
KNOT NOT OPENING
We regret to inform you that another art-adjacent watering hole has closed for good. After next weekend, it’s curtains for The Rusty Knot, the maritime-y joint that first opened on a desolate stretch of the West Side Highway in 2008. Bedecked in kitsch tiki signs and bad art, the Knot at its best was a great place to go knock back a few beers over greasy bar food before roaming up to one of the west side’s cultural temples. While walkable from Chelsea galleries, it was unquestionably the best option for pre- and post-Whitney imbibing, and since the museum moved downtown has been a venue of choice for those feting artists in big shows. Gavin Brown had a memorable party there after the opening of the 2017 Biennial—never has an art world event been so lavishly rich in pigs in a blanket.
And before the Whitney arrived, now-gone nearby venues such as Maccarone and West Street Gallery would often have raucous opening night dinner parties there. Art worlders wound up at the Knot often. It was conveniently located right next to Julian Schnabel’s Palazzo Chupi, and the draft Busch heavy provided a comically contrasting vibe to whatever swank quaff The Schnabel was serving at his place. The free jukebox had every Van Halen record and some great rare country albums and one time late at night Sir David Adjaye beat me badly on the pool table. The guy can shoot. The Rusty Knot will be missed.
It is a pleasure to report that many of you sent in top-notch answers to this week’s quiz. Too many to include you all, alas! But we can list the first handful of respondents, and this week, make sure you’re a quick typer.
The correct answer was: The work on the left was Venedig (Venice) (2017) by Luc Tuymans, seen at Palazzo Grassi until just before the pandemic hit. The image on the right, which served as the inspiration for Tuymans, is a wall relief in the lobby of The Bauer Hotel, one of the best places in Venice to hang during La Biennale.
Let’s take a moment to slow-clap for the winners: Matan Daube, director of collection at Igal Ahouvi Art Collection in London; Jason Farago, art critic at The New York Times; James Green, director at David Zwirner, London; Cyprien David, exhibition coordinator at Gagosian, Geneva; Meredith Darrow, founder of Darrow Contemporary; Katharine Overgaard, director at Franklin Parrasch Gallery; and Kevin Choe, director at Mitchell-Innes & Nash. Congrats to all!
Here’s this week’s quiz. Identify these two artworks, which are installed in the same house. And then name the owners of the works, the location of the house, as well as the house’s previous owner, who was also an art collector.
Send guesses—send guesses early and often. You know how to reach the quiz head honcho: [email protected]. Winners get some real serious bragging rights, as well as, hell why not, drinks at a New York outside-seating COVID-safe boite—but only if you order food, too. Hey, I don’t make the rules.
WE HEAR …
Henry Taylor called out the actor David Alan Grier for consigning his 2005 painting Ardmore Taylor aka “Mo” to Christie’s, where it sold for $471,000 over a $250,000 high estimate—as Taylor said on Instagram, “It used to belong to DAG I think he got tired of it and gave it away” … Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn chose not to renew her partnership with design dealer Paul Johnson—they started Salon94 Design together in 2017—after Johnson made a series of complaints to the HR department about Rohatyn “screaming” at him—”Be careful who you partner with,” he said in the caption of the Instagram post he made announcing the split … Robin F. Williams is no longer on the artist roster at Various Small Fires, though she was still included as recently as June 3, according to the Wayback Machine … Jacolby Satterwhite made a video work to accompany a song on the new album from arena-filling English rockers The 1975 … Christie’s ably sold nearly two dozen works to benefit amFAR’s Fund to Fight COVID, with new records being set for Leelee Kimmel, Julia Chiang, and Austyn Weiner—her new painting sold for $90,000 over a $15,000 high estimate …
An Alex Israel self-portrait looming ominously in the background of a meeting between White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Trump social media director Dan Scavino—a meeting held, presumably, at the Kalorama home Kushner shares with Ivanka Trump, as the two are longtime collectors of Israel’s work *** Anton Kern artists Julie Curtiss and Chris Martin hanging in a Catskills mountain lodge *** Flaming Lips Frontman Wayne Coyne commenting approvingly in response to a new work by Dustin Yellin on the ‘gram *** Lisa Spellman dropping by the takeout window at Olive’s in SoHo—a favorite of both the late David Bowie and Kim Gordon—on her way to open 303 Gallery for the first time in months *** Jerry Saltz taking to Instagram comments to ask Venice Biennale director Cecilia Alemani for “a really really nice apartment near the Gardini from now till your show and in return we will walk around and say nice things about the show when it happens???” and without missing a beat, Alemani responded: “move into the American pavilion, it’s vacant this year!” *** A number of editors, artists, and art entrepreneurs at The Odeon, which is open for outside seating and just as great as ever *** Writer and New York icon Cat Marnell drinking iced coffee at Clandestino, having returned to New York after years of traveling through Europe, and rocking the iconic Cookies Hoops Eustace Tilley tote bag ***
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