Wet Paint: Inigo Philbrick’s Reality TV Star Girlfriend, Claws Come Out at Art Basel Miami Beach, & More Juicy Art-World Gossip
What iconic Miami restaurant is opening in Art Basel's convention center? Which hot new art-world couple showed up at Lucien? Read on for answers.
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]
SWINDLER’S GAL PAL A REALITY STAR
Where in the world is Inigo Philbrick? As lawsuits naming the dashing young jet-set art dealer pile up—filed by multiple parties who accuse him of withholding art and funds into the tens of millions—even his lawyers have begun to abandon him, reportedly claiming that he has “failed to fulfill his obligations.” His assets have been frozen and he has yet to make a single appearance in court or any public comment about his predicament. His eponymous galleries in London and Miami also appear to have shuttered. But while this (potential) Bernie Madoff of the art world is MIA, our investigations are not a total loss: we found his girlfriend. Sources have confirmed that the paramour of the on-the-lam dealer-turned-alleged scammer is Victoria Baker Harber, an English socialite who found fame by appearing for years on the popular British reality show “Made in Chelsea.”
For the uninitiated: “Made in Chelsea” is a super trashy guilty pleasure in the mold of “Jersey Shore” or “The Hills,” but set in upper-crust London society. Having been raised in a wealthy family—and having partied with the family of retail billionaire Sir Philip Green—Baker Harber joined the show in 2011, and she quickly became a fan favorite for her expensive taste and tendency to stir up drama. How? She feuded constantly with the show’s ostensible “star” Millie Mackintosh, and got into spats with other cast members, such as Cheska Hull, who Baker Harber once called—to her face—a “fat fucking turkey.” (Happy Thanksgiving!)
These days, Baker Harber’s off TV, but still in the spotlight, running a Miami boutique space called, appropriately, the Space. Messages sent to the email address listed on her Twitter account—which has an inigophilbrick.com domain—were not returned. And while she wasn’t able to answer any questions about where her beau may be, apparently her father has a house in the Bahamas, which would be a pretty convenient place for a fugitive dealer to hide out for the time being. Just saying.
BASEL GETS CRABS
If you’re reading Wet Paint right now, there’s a good chance you’re flying southward next week for Art Basel Miami Beach. And there’s also a chance that you’ve got plans to have a long celebratory meal at Joe’s Stone Crab, the exemplary watering hole and high-end seafood emporium that’s been serving up plump meat from primo locally caught crustaceans since 1913. But perhaps you didn’t know that, in addition to the classic spot on the southern tip of the island, this year there will be a new pop-up outpost of Joe’s inside the Miami Beach Convention Center, home to Art Basel, steps away from the new Meridians sector. The 100-seat space is a near facsimile of the classic location, with even the photo murals reproduced and waitstaff whisked in from the original location. And while it may not have the 100 years of history of the original, dining at the pop-up will save you the time spent in Miami traffic trying to get down to Joe’s from the fair. So, if you see someone sporting a plastic bib in the aisles, now you know why.
KANYE MUSE MIAMI-BOUND
The artist Vanessa Beecroft has in the past few years become known primarily for her collaborations with Kanye West. Last weekend, they unveiled a new collaboration at the Hollywood Bowl: a religious-awakening spectacle called “Nebuchadnezzar” that was billed as an opera, though the New York Times classical music editor said it “wasn’t really an opera, and it wasn’t really good.” Oh well! Now, Beecroft is heading to Miami to debut another performance, and like many artist-led events during Art Basel Miami Beach, there’s a corporate tie-in. Here, it’s the Italian sportswear brand Kappa, and Beecroft is presenting an “exploration and interpretation” of the brand’s famous logo, which depicts a naked man and a naked woman sitting back to back. It’s unclear if the born-again Kanye will be making an appearance, especially given the week’s sinful reputation for over-the-top excess. (Wait a minute…)
NO FAIRS FOR KIEFER
One person who’s decidedly not making an appearance down in Miami is the artist Anselm Kiefer, who told the Guardian this week, with regard to art fairs, “They destroy art. They destroy it.” Now, that’s just Anselm being Anselm, but more surprising was the revelation that the artist has a set a diktat that restricts any of his galleries from bringing his work to any fairs, ever. Could that actually be a set-in-stone policy?
Reps for Larry Gagosian and Jay Jopling—whose White Cube gallery in London opened a Kiefer show this week—didn’t get back to us, and a rep for Thaddaeus Ropac said he couldn’t be reached. But Lia Rumma, which reps Kiefer in Milan and Naples, did respond, and confirmed that Kiefer has a strict no-work policy at fairs.
“All the galleries that represent Kiefer directly, like us, respect his willingness not to bring his works to the at fairs, in the booth space open to the public,” Paola Potena, the director of the gallery’s Milan space, told us in an email. “This concerns both his primary and secondary market works. As far as I remember, this indication has been given since ever and we will continue to follow it, until Kiefer wishes so.”
But while Kiefer can control his production, he can’t tame what’s already out there in the market. That’s why the only place you’ll be likely see Kiefer next week in Miami is at the Ben Brown Fine Arts booth—they’re bringing a 12-foot-by-9-foot Anselm Kiefer painting from 2009–10.
… Celebrity chef Bobby Flay has desperately been trying to buy work by Gerhard Richter … Izabela Depczyk, who just stepped down as CEO of Paddle8 and was once the CEO and publisher of ARTnews, led a strategic investment by her family office in MCH Group, the parent company of Art Basel that has suffered from financial setbacks in recent months … and a certain Lower East Side dealer smuggled stacks of cash back from Paris’s FIAC in sculptures he had shown at the art fair, and got away with it.
*** Matthew Barney and Neville Wakefield having an early dinner at the Odeon in Tribeca *** Arthur Jafa and Tara Subkoff, who we revealed to be a couple in this column a few weeks back, waiting for a table at Lucien *** Eric N. Mack celebrating the opening of his show at Chinatown gallery Jeffrey Stark with a dinner upstairs at Bacaro, while artists such as Dan Colen and Andrew Kuo were honoring the late downtown fashion designer Ben Cho with dinner downstairs.
Follow Artnet News on Facebook:
Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.