Wet Paint: The Daughter Behind the $450 Million Art Trove, Poker Pro Banned During Frieze, & More Juicy Art-World Gossip

Which tech billionaires hit up the Los Angeles fairs? Which artist has split from influential dealer Anton Kern? Read on for answers.

Serena Marron at the Coach and Friends of the High Line 5th Annual Summer Party on the High Line on June 23, 2015. ©Patrick McMullan. Photo: Clint Spaulding/PatrickMcMullan.com.

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].



Yesterday, the estate of the late collector Donald Marron shocked the art world by turning down $300 million in guarantees from Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Phillips respectively and making the virtually unprecedented decision to consign the financier’s massively important trove to a triumvirate of Manhattan dealer-kings: Larry Gagosian, Bill Acquavella, and the father-son duo Arne and Marc Glimcher at Pace. And while Marron was incredibly generous during his lifetime, giving $40 million to New York University and more than 500 works to the Museum of Modern Art (where he also served as board president), he left the rest of his collection—worth an estimated $450 million—to his family.

That means the sale will be quite the windfall for his widow, Catie Marron, a Vogue contributing editor who runs Good Companies, a consultancy and community for fledgling non-profits, and the couple’s children: William Marron, who could often be seen leading his father around fairs and evening sales, and Serena Marron, an early Instagram influencer and New York socialite. (Donald also had two children from a previous marriage, and four grandchildren.)

It is Serena who is probably the most conspicuous of all. In those heady days of the mid-aughts club-hopping, she could often be seen out with billionaire collector Peter Brant’s son Harry and Henri Matisse’s great-great granddaughter Gaia Matisse. Her classmates at Barnard were so taken by her jet-set lifestyle that she was profiled in The Tab, a network of college campus blogs, and the ensuing 2015 article included some snaps from her (currently private) Instagram account, including an image of one of her family’s Andy Warhols—a purple “Fright Wig” work that looks remarkably similar to the Self-Portrait (1986) that sold at Sotheby’s for $32.6 million in 2010, having been consigned by the fashion designer Tom Ford. Of the five large-scale “Fright Wig” works, three are in museum collections, with the other owned by Brant. The galleries declined to comment on whether the Warhol is among the Marron works available for purchase, or if it will be installed alongside other masterworks from the collection at Gagosian and Pace’s Chelsea galleries in May. 



Justin Smith, mid-hand. Photo courtesy Poker News.

To a somewhat alarming extent, the art market in Los Angeles revolves around a few semi-regular poker games, where rival dealers and artists talk shop over hands of Texas Hold ‘Em. Art star Jonas Wood first met the dealer Jeff Poe through gambling sessions with artists Mark Grotjahn and Matt Johnson, which is how Wood got introduced to his first New York dealer, Anton Kern. (The rest, as they say, is history.) And so it’s no shock that the card-hustle circuit would want to host a few games for out-of-town dealers during Frieze Los Angeles last week. But ahead of the action at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, word got out that a ringer might be joining in for a few hands: Justin Smith, the collector who hauled away more than $500,000 after placing second in the 2010 World Poker Tournament at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

Since he retired from professional poker five years ago—after earning more than $2.2 million—the 31-year-old has become a rising collector (he is known to work with the local dealer-slash-Svengali Stefan Simchowitz). But some of the card-playing VIPs got spooked by his prowess, so the organizers ultimately rescinded the invitation, saying that out-of-towners just wouldn’t feel comfortable playing with a pro. Smith, who now works as a movie producer, is a regular at amateur games with actors and Hollywood types. But apparently the art world is a bit more squeamish when it comes to losing money. 



Pace President Marc Glimcher with the musician Grimes. Photo courtesy Instagram.

Dealers like to complain that Silicon Valley’s mega-rich aren’t buying art like gangbusters. (Surely a billionaire should be able to drop a few hundred stacks on some new, I dunno, Nicolas Party drawing without breaking a sweat, right?) Some dealers have even moved away from participating in San Francisco’s FOG Design+Art Fair due to what they charitably call the “steep learning curve” of this prospective collecting class. That’s why it was a bit surprising to see tech’s biggest whales showing up to a fair in California’s other big city.

That’s right: these elusive kingpins were out in full force during Frieze LA. Jeff Bezos may not have bought at the fair (…that we know of), but he did attend Larry Gagosian’s dinner for Richard Prince, taking his usual perch next to the world’s biggest art dealer. And as the fair opened, it was revealed that Bezos spent $165 million on collector David Geffen’s Beverly Hills home, while rumors were flying that the Amazon founder was also the buyer of the $52.4 million Ed Ruscha that sold at Christie’s in November.

Meanwhile, the Pace and Kayne Griffin Corcoran banger at the San Vicente Bungalows brought out Mark Pincus, the Zynga founder who donated $3 million to James Turrell’s Roden Crater, as well as Leonardo DiCaprio (OK, it’s a bit of a stretch to call Leo a “tech guy,” but he is an investor in the environmental startup Aspirational). Above all, the biggest tech get of that particular party was Tesla founder Elon Musk, who made an appearance at the Bungalows to see his girlfriend, the musician Grimes, spin a surprise DJ set. 



Compton High School Marching Band. Photo courtesy Billy Farrell / BFA for Chateau Marmont.

The wildest party of Frieze LA was once again White Cube’s go-for-broke bash at that infamous City of Angels den of sin, the Chateau Marmont. This year, Jay Jopling‘s London gallery managed to double down on what made the party so nuts last year. Not only was there a string of La La Land royalty haunting the hallways, but hotel owner André Balazs decided to screen artist Sarah Morris’s Los Angeles (2004)—a slow-mo look into the celeb-obsessed mania of Tinseltown—on a wall by the hotel’s famed pool. Like last year, the marching band from Compton High School wound its way through the bungalows and lounges, but there was also an acapella gospel group to serenade guests as they came in through a special entrance to the hotel. Expect the top-notch drumline to come in from Compton again next year. 



Pop Quiz will return next week, but in the meantime, let’s give a big round of applause to the winner of last week’s contest: the art adviser Antoine Simon of London, England. As Antoine correctly answered, the work in the photo is by Urs Fischer, its owner is dealer Jeffrey Deitch, and it resides in the dealer’s house in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles—a house previously owned by Cary Grant, who’s seen right there on the table. 



Artist Robert Janitz has left Anton Kern Gallery, where he’s been on the roster since 2015, but will stay with Canada Gallery in New York and König Galerie in Berlin—and has also pretty much relocated his studio to the Juárez neighborhood of Mexico City … art advisor Lisa Schiff negotiated the purchase of Barkley Hendricks’s Father, Son, And… (1969) at Frieze LA for one of her clients, and Jack Shainman Gallery said the price for such works range from $1.5 million to $5 million, making it potentially the biggest sale of the fair … the keen-eyed artist and critic Aria Dean is now represented by Greene NaftaliRob Pruitt and B. Wurtz have work in the Maison Margiela boutique in SoHo … the rapper Pop Smoke, who died tragically in a home invasion earlier this week, was a student of the artist Gina Beavers when he took art classes in elementary school and middle school … collector and chef Daniel Humm has installed a work by Roni Horn at his new London restaurant Davies & Brook, inside Claridge’s … in addition to buying a James Turrell on behalf of Kendall Jenner, advisor Meredith Darrow also bought another Turrell and a Grotjahn from Blue & Poe at Frieze, both for the same Los Angeles client (who is not Jenner) … Rachel Comey, the designer of choice for female power dealers around the globe, is opening a Paris pop-up in the gallery-stuffed nabe of the Marais through March with an installation by former Andrea Rosen artist Ketuta Alexi-Meskhishvili Joel Mesler, the artist and Rental Gallery proprietor, wrote the press release for his new show at Harper’s Apartment in the form of a hypothetical letter to artist Darren Bader, inviting him to the opening.



Art handlers with the fingers of Damien Hirst’s very big arm. Photo courtesy Instagram.

*** Justin Bieber in some very acid-washed jeans in the New York backlot at Frieze Los Angeles, checking out the projects sector alongside fair director Bettina Korek *** Donald Glover (AKA Childish Gambino) in Jeffrey Deitch‘s booth at Frieze *** artists Jeff Koons, Judith Bernstein, and Carroll Dunham—plus Topeka and 10:04 novelist Ben Lerner—at the opening of Peter Saul‘s show at the New Museum *** Damien Hirst installing five-foot-long fingers for an utterly gigantic bronze arm that will serve as the spire of a chapel he’s erecting at Château La Coste in the south of France *** Johnny Depp at SPRING/BREAK LA, hanging with singer Tom Waits at a booth showing work by his daughter, Kellesimone Waits.



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