Wet Paint: Marlborough Exiles Rebound With New Galleries, Market Sensation Julie Curtiss Gets a Pop-Up in SoHo, & More Juicy Art-World Gossip

What gallery-owner hangout did Michael Cohen dine at alfresco? What US fast-food joint opened next to the Kronenhalle? Read on for answers.

Pascal Spengemann, Max Levai, and Leo Fitzpatrick in front of a work by Andrew Kuo. Photo courtesy Marlborough.

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].



The aftermath of the Marlborough takeover—where the father-son duo Pierre Levai and Max Levai alleged they were cut out of the legendary gallery’s operations while Levai the elder was recovering from COVID-19—is still seeing more twists and turns.

Last week came the news that Levai the younger filed a lawsuit against Marlborough and two of its board members for allegedly attempting to ruin his reputation; the gallery filed a suit against Levai as well. In the background of this legal drama, two former Marlborough directors have already cemented their next moves, setting up a constellation of spaces run by exiles from the onetime Chelsea juggernaut.

Future home of Broadway, a gallery on Broadway. Photo courtesy Google Maps.

Future home of Broadway, a gallery on Broadway. Photo courtesy Google Maps.

Pascal Spengemann, who was vice president at Marlborough, will open a gallery at 373 Broadway just off White Street in the middle of the exploding Tribeca art scene, called—simply, ingeniously, un-Googleably—Broadway.

“The gallery named itself,” Spengemann said. He’s set to open the second week of October and has found a partner in Joe Cole, the rising collector who recently relocated from Dallas to upstate New York. The first show—which will be in collaboration with the artist John Riepenhoff‘s legendary Milwaukee space Green Gallery—is of work by Sky Hopinka, who will also open a show at Bard College on October 17.

Interior of Public Access. Courtesy Max Levai Instagram.

Interior of Public Access. Courtesy Max Levai Instagram.

Meanwhile, fellow former Marlborough director Leo Fitzpatrick opened a subterranean space on Thursday at 8 St Marks Place, the Champs-Élysées of the East Village. The dealer and actor, who famously broke out playing Telly in the Larry Clark film “Kids,” has long called the neighborhood home. The gallery is called Public Access, and the first show is of Mark Gonzales, the skateboarder and artist who came up in the Alleged Gallery scene, and has had solo shows at Franklin Parrasch and appeared in group shows at Luhring Augustine and Hauser & Wirth.

Exterior of Deep Hollow Ranch. Photo courtesy Deep Hollow Ranch.

Exterior of Deep Hollow Ranch. Photo courtesy Deep Hollow Ranch.

It remains to be seen what Max Levai’s big post-Marlborough move will be, but sources say he’s planning something big—but not in the city. Instead, he’s looking out east, in Montauk. We can reveal that Levai is the secret buyer of former J. Crew and Gap CEO Mickey Drexler‘s 24.7-acre Deep Hollow Ranch, said to be the oldest cattle ranch in the United States. It sold for $8.2 million in July. As for what he plans to do with the historic land, stay tuned.



Julie Curtiss, <em>La Machine</em> (2020). Photo courtesy Anton Kern Gallery.

Julie Curtiss, La Machine (2020). Photo courtesy Anton Kern Gallery.

For over a year, Anton Kern Gallery has been planning a FIAC booth with new work by Julie Curtiss, the painter whose small surrealist paintings have consistently smashed expectations at auction, hitting $423,000 at Christie’s in November 2019 and performing admirably in this lost pandemic year. (Works have sold in the low-to-mid six figures through 2020.)

FIAC, the glamorous Paris fair held in the glass-and-gold fortress of the Grand Palais, was supposed to be the cherry on top of a rollercoaster 12 months for Curtiss. The native French-speaking artist would be present to see a suite of new paintings at the world’s most attractive art fair, where the gallery would place them in top-notch collections.

The site of a pop-up show featuring work by Julie Curtiss. Photo courtesy Parasol Projects.

The site of a pop-up show featuring work by Julie Curtiss. Photo courtesy Parasol Projects.

Alas, like everything else, FIAC is cancelled, and naturally, the French have declined to do something as gauche as an online viewing room—c’est très américain. So Kern decided to double down on in-person viewing and rented a gallery-esque event space in SoHo, on Broome between Wooster and West Broadway, for two weeks in October to show the entirety of the booth. (Masks and distancing required, of course.) It’s a new model for a post-fair world. Instead of paying as much as $54,000 for a large booth at FIAC (plus endless more in plane tickets, dinners, hotels), the two weeks will set Kern back just $30,000, according to the price listed on the website for Parasol Projects, which leases the space. Hey, SoHo’s no Paris, but in 2020, we’ll take what we can get.



Us laborers here at the Wet Paint headquarters, well, we have to say: For a fairly complicated three-part clue, a good number of you knocked it out of the park. The still was indeed from the mid-aughts classic New York media movie “The Devil Wears Prada,” specifically the scene when Anne Hathaway’s Andy Sachs has to drop off “the book” at the Upper East Side townhouse of Runway editor Miranda Priestly, as played by Meryl Streep. In the background is Alex Katz’s Harbor #3 (1999), and it is owned by Caryn and Craig Effron, who generously loaned their apartment to the shoot. (Perhaps the filmmakers were making a sly reference to the fact that Katz painted the portrait of Priestly’s not-so-veiled inspiration, Vogue editor Anna Wintour, that hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in London.)

Here are the winners: Art advisor Michelle Plastrik; veteran Chelsea gallery registrar Kate O’Brien; Mnuchin Gallery exhibitions director Emma Laramie; Art in America associate editor Rachel Wetzler; Winter Street Gallery associate Katherine McGrath; and Artnet News content coordinator Katie Rothstein (who did not receive any help from a certain colleague, promise). Congrats to all the winners!

Another movie still this week. Once again, name the film, the artwork on the far right, and the owner.

Winners will get hats very very soon, promise, they are coming. And they will be amazing. Email [email protected] with guesses—and all guesses are appreciated!


Exterior of Galerie Marguo. Courtesy Galerie Marguo.

… Former Hauser & Wirth Asia director Vanessa Guo will open her own space in Paris with veteran dealer Jean-Mathieu Martini during what would have been FIAC week, with the programming at the Marais-based Galerie Marguo starting with Shanghai-based artist Zhang Yunyao … A branch of beloved coffee and donut shop Dunkin’ has opened next to the Kronenhalle in Zurich, if you want to have a very high-low one-two punch … Polina Berlin—a vet of galleries such as Ortuzar Projects, Paula Cooper Gallery, and Kasmin—has taken a new job at Grimm Gallery, which will open a new space in Tribeca later this year … the New York Academy of Art’s annual benefit will now be called Artists for Artists, as the former name, Take Home a Nude, is evidently too racy for these times … Your Wet Paint scribe was an honored guest on the truly must-listen podcast How Long Gone, hosted by quick-witted cultural mavens Chris Black and Jason Stewartlisten here! … Many very prominent collectors are moving their permanent residencies to the Hamptons in order to avoid New York City taxes … In what has now escalated into a full-on crisis, the Odeon is in its third week of not having any french fries on the menu due to a problem in its kitchen, spurring nothing short of an existential crisis in its loyal customers …


Courtesy a tipster.

*** Ivana Trump, ex-wife to the president and mother to Ivanka, Eric and Donald, Jr., dining alfresco at the perennial hotspot Waverly Inn *** ’90s music icon and Church of Scientology defector Beck at the still-hopping center of the New York universe, Lucien, arriving just before this city’s criminally early 10:30 p.m. last call with a few friends *** Marcus Jahmal checking out the installation of his painting on the opening day of “Good Pictures,” a group show at Jeffrey Deitch curated by artist Austin Lee *** Cecily Brown taking to Instagram to sigh about the state of attending virtual benefits in this cursed year of 2020, saying she’s “never going to another one ❤️ can we all just agree galas should be over” *** Alec Baldwin coming on TBS from his basement guest bedroom, where he’s installed Ross Bleckner’s copy of his old work, Sea and Mirror—which Baldwin sued Mary Boone over in 2016 and settled the following year, evidently with both sides agreeing that Baldwin could keep the new version of the painting that he received because Boone had already sold the original version *** Michael Cohen, President Trump’s muscle-turned-nemesis, taking an outside table at art-world boîte Sant Ambroeus *** Bella Hadid commenting “ur my painting” on Austyn Weiner’s Instagram of a new painting *** Artist Wendy White taking to Instagram to slam Eileen Fisher for dropping a new collection for West Elm that looks mighty similar to the overlapping denim aesthetic she’s long deployed in her work *** Bret Easton Ellis in an distressingly empty Beverly Hills Hotel lobby ***



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