Wet Paint: Billionaire Divorcées Leave Gagosian in the Lurch, Frieze Goes on the Attack, & More Juicy Art-World Gossip

Which art fair is demanding exclusivity from its exhibitors? Which artist cruelly left their gallery via tweet? Read on for answers.

Harry Macklowe and Linda Macklowe in happier times, at the 2015 Guggenheim International Gala Dinner in 2015. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Christian Dior)

Every Thursday afternoon, 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].


Lawyers for billionaires-gone-splitsville Harry and Linda Macklowe have been tasked with liquidating their massive, legendary art collection—valued at $700 million—and in February, a judge asked that the counsel for both parties to agree on a “receiver” who could secure a deal with an auction house to offload the estate. This week, Artnet was able to reveal that the dealer who nabbed the prize is Michael Findlay, a partner at Acquavella Galleries and author of The Value of Art: Money, Power, Beauty.

This, of course, is great news for Findlay, who will likely pick up a fee in the many millions of dollars. But it’s terrible news for the other player jostling for the golden goose—namely, the new Gagosian Art Advisory LLC, which was formed this April. Many wondered what exactly Larry Gagosian had in mind when he hired Laura Paulson, formerly a rainmaker at Christie’s, to run this totally separate part of his blue-chip art empire—and sources say a big reason for creating this advisory arm was precisely to nail down the Macklowe account and arrange for its auctioning off.

Gagosian speaks onstage during the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on October 20, 2016 in San Francisco, California.

Larry Gagosian and Laura Paulson on stage during the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit on October 20, 2016 in San Francisco, California.

The snub is made worse by the fact that Paulson is friendly with Linda Macklowe—both serve on the board of Hunter College and have been seen at events together often. As for Harry Macklowe, a source spotted him a week ago driving his Mercedes down 9th Avenue, letting Chelsea’s mega-galleries eat his dust.


Last February, both Frieze and Felix held their first editions in Los Angeles, the former at Paramount Studios and the latter at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. It seemed like the two fairs played nice with each other. They opened on the same day, allowing collectors such as Michael Ovitz, the Rubells, and, um, Brad Pitt to swing through Frieze’s big white tent and then immediately make a quick drive up across Santa Monica Boulevard to check out the slightly smaller Felix, which had its galleries situated in hotel suites or bungalows by the pool.

Well, the era of good feelings is over. Frieze, perhaps threatened by the rave reviews of Felix’s reboot of the hotel-fair model, has gone on the offensive, sources say. The Frieze LA exhibitor contract states that participating galleries are forbidden to also appear in other local fairs at the same time. And not only are they barred from having a booth at Felix, no Frieze gallery can allow one of their artists to participate in the smaller fair’s “Special Projects” sector, which highlights individual artworks by installing them throughout the hotel.

A Frieze spokesperson says there have been no changes to the terms and conditions for exhibitors, which remain in line with other major fairs, and no additional provision has been added. And it’s true that Frieze wouldn’t be the only major fair with a contract that asks for exclusivity during its run—though that rule is not always enforced.

Last year, both Chateau Shatto and Susanne Vielmetter had booths at Frieze and an artist in the special projects sector at Felix, but, according to an email shown to Wet Paint, Frieze is now giving galleries a clear ultimatum: us or them.


Things are not looking up for Blain Southern, the gallery founded in London by Harry Blain and Graham Southern in 2010. On Wednesday, one of the highest-profile members of their roster, the onetime Turner Prize nominees Jake and Dinos Chapman, announced that they were jumping ship—in a tweet, no less (cold!)—and left an email address in case anyone wanted to get in touch (thirsty!). As of Thursday evening, the gallery’s website seemed to be in denial, keeping them listed as represented artists. Another bad sign for Blain Southern? Sources say the will be vacating its current New York space by June 2020 after just one year of operation—perhaps a Chelsea record for going from a grand opening to a grand closing. No word yet on whether they plan to relocate elsewhere in the city.


The Two x Two for AIDS and Art benefit went down last weekend deep in the heart of Texas, and Dallas society came out in full force—even if, as some attendees said, the bash was slightly less splashy than in past years. In fairness, it’s hard to compete with the 2018 edition, when the Rachofskys invited a crowd to their modernist home that included the actor Armie Hammer—great-grandson of the storied art collector and museum founder Armand Hammer—together with his costar from Call Me by Your Name, heartthrob sensation Timothée Chalamet. After last year’s festivities, the two celebs led a slew of dealers and artists to Dallas’s In-n-Out Burger and racked up a tab that approached the five figures… which is a lotta double doubles, animal style. But while this year’s attendees missed out on the burgers, they did throw down some serious cash for art. During the live benefit auction, art advisor Adam Green bought a Derek Fordjour painting for $220,000—well over the artist’s auction record. And Marguerite Hoffman, one of the grand dames of Dallas art collecting, bought an Alex Katz—this year’s artist honoree—for a cool $1 million.


Just last May, gallery owner Robert Mnuchin was on the verge of tears when a New York Times reporter asked him to speak about his son, Steven Mnuchin, who as US Treasury Secretary is best known for taking Bond villain-esque pictures with lots of money, shielding Trump amid calls for his tax returns, and putting the country on the precipice of recession over a trade war with China. But now, it may be the son’s turn to shed some tears, because papa Mnuchin has come out in full-throated support of Trump’s impeachment, recently posting a shot on Instagram of him wearing a hat that says “Keep Calm and Trust Pelosi.” Robert Mnuchin: former master of the universe banker, current David Hammons champion, and newly crowned shade king. That’s going to be a fun Thanksgiving!


… that Glenstone, the DC-area art sanctuary presided over by billionaire Mitchell Rales and his wife, Emily Wei Rales, acquired Kerry James Marshall’s stunning Untitled (Underpainting) from his October 2018 show at David Zwirner’s space in London and have now put it on view … that the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden has installed new acquisitions of works by the artists (and market darlingsHarold Ancart and Avery Singer side-by-side on the same wall, which is an interesting curatorial choice given that the two used to date… and that Kimberly Drew, the writer, curator, and former Met Museum staffer, has been signed by Hollywood agency WME.


*** Anish Kapoor arriving with his father-son art dealers Nicholas Logsdail and Alex Logsdail to Artnet’s 30th anniversary party at the Top of the Standard, fondly known as the Boom Boom Room. *** Nicholas Braun, who plays the hapless Cousin Greg on HBO’s “Succession,” drawing adoring fans at Creative Time Gala—although he refused to be photographed in front of the the nonprofit’s banner, asking the assembled photogs to snap him elsewhere. *** Warren Kanders cheating on the Madison Avenue Sant Ambroeus by going to the West Village Sant Ambroeus. *** Producer Mark Ronson, fellow “Succession” actress Annabelle Dexter-Jones, and dealer Lucas Zwirner with girlfriend Sienna Miller all dressed in throwback ‘80s garb at artist Oliver Clegg’s annual Halloween party at Acme. *** US Commerce Secretary and dedicated Magritte collector Wilbur Ross browsing TEFAF New York Spring on opening night.


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