Wet Paint: The Mugrabis Go Big on Kenny Scharf, Jay-Z and Beyoncé Lose Out on an Amoako Boafo, & More Juicy Art-World Gossip
What supermodel went to the Boros Collection? What Soho spot did Chloe Sevingy diss for kicking out an old fave? Read on for answers.
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]
DEALERS SHARPEN KNIVES FOR SCHARFS
It took a few decades, but the hottest new artist on Earth right now is none other than Kenny Scharf, the graffito-gone-legit painter who made his mark in the 1980s East Village by co-founding the performance space Club 57 on St. Marks Place with Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Scharf’s downtown compatriots were sadly not around to see their profiles and auction prices rise steadily in the years since their deaths. Their buddy Kenny scraped by in the years after, and once Basquiats and Harings became baseball cards for collecting billionaires, Scharf settled for pop-culture relevance through the alchemy of street-art-to-real-art osmosis. New Yorkers knew him, but the work changed hands in the range of the low five figures.
Then, after years of showing somehow quietly at Honor Fraser in Los Angeles and Kasmin in New York—along with having regular solo shows at TOTAH, David Totah‘s gallery on the Lower East Side—Scharf had his first show with Jeffrey Deitch in 2017, the same year he featured prominently in ’80s-themed group shows at MoMA and the Whitney. Yahtzee. This fall, he popped up on both coasts, with solo shows at Deitch’s expansive space in Los Angeles and the outpost of global powerhouse Almine Rech on the Upper East Side. He currently has a show up in Miami at Deitch’s pop-up space in the Design District, and last week, Dior creative director Kim Jones announced he had tapped Scharf as his collaborator on the brand’s pre-fall line.
But the clearest sign of Scharf’s emergence in middle age is his caliber of collectors. Wet Paint has heard that Scharf is one of the latest favorites of the Mugrabi family, the taste-making mega-collectors known for playing creative geniuses like stocks, buying their work in bulk with the hope that the golden geese lay more sellable eggs. (One of the sons of patriarch Jose Mugrabi, Tico, is also known for his unshakable love for the Trumps and the Kushners—he and his wife, Colby Mugrabi, even traveled to Camp David for Javanka‘s wedding anniversary in 2019.)
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