Wet Paint: Hauser & Wirth Sells the Priciest Artwork Online Ever, Gallerist Survives a Hamptons Crash, & More Art World Gossip

What starchitect was seen sailing in Marina Del Rey? Who's moving into the old Team Gallery space on Grand Street? Read on for answers.

Alexander Calder, Untitled (1976). Installation view, Gstaad, Switzerland. © 2020 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Jon Etter

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].


Over the past few months, everybody’s gotten pretty great at doing things on the internet. You probably spent most of this week staring at a screen, clicking things. Hell, you’re doing it right now! And just as Slack has replaced water-cooler chatter and Zoom has replaced the boardroom meeting, selling art on the internet has replaced jetting around the world selling art at fairs.

For the world’s biggest galleries, that’s worked out just fine, considering the circumstances. In May, Gagosian sold Cecily Brown’s Figures in a Landscape 1 (2001) for $5.5 million through its online platform, and at Art Basel’s virtual fair in June, David Zwirner sold Jeff Koons’s Balloon Venus Lespugue (Red) (2013–19) for $8 million—a record online sale for any gallery to date, having looked at all the available data.

Hauser & Wirth co-founder Iwan Wirth. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Hauser & Wirth co-founder Iwan Wirth. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

That record has now been shattered. Wet Paint has learned that last week, Hauser & Wirth sold an 18-foot Alexander Calder sculpture through its digital sales platform for $15 million, nearly twice the previous high mark for an artwork bought off a screen.

When approached, the gallery confirmed that the work sold to a European collection with extensive Calder holdings, and that it was the gallery’s biggest online sale in its history. And it went quickly. The viewing room went live August 10, and the work sold by the end of the week.

“With a masterwork like this one, we were confident that we’d find the perfect placement for the work,” gallery president Iwan Wirth said in an email. “Perhaps not as quickly as it did, but we were sure it would happen.” He added that the 1976 work—which was last seen in a 2016 Hauser & Wirth Gstaad sculpture exhibition “Calder in the Alps”—is perhaps better suited to an online sale than an IRL one. It would not have been very easy to ship a 15-foot Calder around the physical art-fair circuit of the Before Times until it found a buyer.



Downtown Amagansett, near the scene of the crime. Photo courtesy 27East.

Downtown Amagansett, near the scene of the crime. Photo courtesy 27East.

With it being August and all, it’s to be expected that most of the big-shot art dealers would be out at their Hamptons houses for the remainder of the month. The difference this year is that they might stay out there… forever?

But it’s not all golfing and sunning out east for everyone. A source reading the East Hampton Star’s police blotter came across what appeared to be a write-up of standard hit-and-run involving a drunk driver turning onto Montauk highway in Amagansett—except the person hit by the drunk driver was Lawrence Luhring, the founder of Luhring Augustine, which has spaces in Chelsea and Bushwick, and another set to open in Tribeca.

Thankfully, Luhring suffered just minor injuries to his knees and didn’t need medical care after the accident last Friday. After the driver—an allegedly intoxicated local fisherman named William Carman—fled the scene, authorities caught up with him and charged him with drunk driving and unlicensed operation of a vehicle. Unfortunately, the report said that Luhring’s 2011 BMW convertible didn’t make it out unscathed, and had to be towed. Luhring didn’t respond to an email.



Last week’s Pop Quiz was a timely one. Why was it timely, you ask? Because the pictured work was a Wade Guyton painting owned by Ellen DeGeneres and her wife, Portia de Rossi. Timely, because whistleblowers have recently sounded the alarm about the toxic work environment at “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” and its host has been forced to ease tension and stave off a mass exodus by offering a host of perks—but hey, she does have a pretty amazing art collection.

First, a special shout-out to the Los Angeles-based writer Ali Pechman, who came up with that really wonderful clue—thank you Ali, our Pop Quiz special guest proprietor!

And now, here are the winners this week: Ellen Swieskowski, the founder of the gallery-going app See Saw; Sam Gordon, the artist and co-founder of gallery Gordon Robichaux; Jeremy Hodkin, publisher of the newsletter The Canvas; Alejandro Jassan, an associate director in the press department at Lehmann Maupin; and the anonymous author(s) of Contemporary Art Writing Daily. All first-time winners—a big congrats to all!

Here is this week’s clue: What is this work, who owns it, and where did its owner purchase it?

Winners will receive pens and boxes of matches from The Odeon, as the Wet Paint-branded pens and matchboxes are still in development. Submit your guesses to [email protected].



The new door at Mr. Fong's. Photo courtesy Instagram.

The new door at Mr. Fong’s. Photo courtesy Instagram.

A week after Wet Paint christened Henry Street the city’s new gallery hot spot, micro-neighborhood watering hole Mr. Fong’s announced it would reopen its outdoor patio this weekend—coincidence? I think not … Team Gallery has completely left the premises of 83 Grand Street after closing in the first few months of quarantine, and the new tenant is a83, a creative endeavor from young architects and creative-types Clara Syme, Phillip Denny, and Owen Nichols, whose father John Nichols owns the building and ran a print shop and gallery from 1978 to 1992 … All three Marianne Boesky staffers who were named partners in 2015 have now left the gallery, and Ricky Manne—who helped orchestrate the fruitful co-representation of Frank Stella—has been off the website since earlier this summer … Bill Murray plays an Upper East Side art dealer in the new Sofia Coppola movie On the RocksCrystal Bridges has acquired Alex Bradley Cohen’s portrait of the artist Chanel Thomas … Artist Oliver Clegg—who has been stuck in the jungles of Costa Rica since traveling to the Central American country prior to the March travel restrictions—will be releasing a set of 50 drawings called Bocetos, the Spanish word for sketches, through Exhibition A …



Mr. Gehry's boat. Photo via a source.

Mr. Gehry’s boat. Photo via a source.

Frank Gehry taking his 80-foot sailboat, Foggy, a Beneteau First 44.7, out in Marina del Rey, with the flag up to reveal its very personal registration number: USA 2829, which stands for Gehry’s birthday, February 28, 1929 *** Harold Ancart at the SoHo boîte Café Altro Paradiso—one of the most delicious and charming outdoor dining set-ups in this bizarro New York landscape—spilling details about his hotly anticipated solo show at David Zwirner, the artist’s first solo show at the gallery in New York, which opens September 10 *** Matthew Higgs admiring a Frank Stella in the spookily empty Neiman Marcus store, which is closing at Hudson Yards some 16 months after its glitzy opening *** Henry Taylor joking to collector Bernard Lumpkin on Instagram that if he ever sold his Taylor masterpiece, The Sweet William Rorex Jr. (2010), “please don’t auction it off w/ out giving me half”—though Lumpkin doesn’t seem to have plans to sell what he recently told Architectural Digest was the gem of his collection *** Greta Thunberg walking down Friedrichstraße in Berlin “very slowly and deliberately,” according to New Models founder Caroline Busta *** The artist Chivas Clem gifting the world with more images from his old Artforum rolodex from the ‘90s: listings for Bret Easton Ellis’s party pad in the American Felt Building, Brain Eno’s country house, and Jasper Johns’s P.O. Box in Sharon, Connecticut ***

The apartment where American Psycho was born. Photo courtesy Instagram.

The apartment where American Psycho was born. Photo courtesy Instagram.


A note to readers: Wet Paint will be on vacation next week.

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