Brooke Shields Saves Art Mistakenly Thrown in Trash

The $8,000 sculpture luckily didn't end up in a landfill.

Will Kurtz, Keep America Great Again (2016). Courtesy of the artist and New York Academy of Art.

It’s not the first time art was mistaken for trash, and it surely won’t be the last.

Page Six reports that art included in a booth co-curated by celebrity Brooke Shields that was part of the recent Art Southampton fair was accidentally tossed by cleaners prior to the VIP opening at Nova’s Ark Project this past Thursday.

In fairness to the cleaners, the work, titled Keep America Great Again by sculptor Will Kurtz, did in fact consist of a raccoon next to a large trash can filled with—you guessed it—trash.

When Shields and the artist showed for the preview and realized that the trash can had been emptied, “the actress and the artist were forced to go rummaging in the real trash to recover his valuable work,” according to Page Six. Kurtz’s work is valued at $8,000.

Brooke Shields and David Kratz, president of New York Academy of Art. Courtesy of Nicholas Hunt, © Patrick McMullan.

Brooke Shields and David Kratz, president of New York Academy of Art. Courtesy of Nicholas Hunt, © Patrick McMullan.

Hours later, Shields and her co-curator, New York Academy of Art president David Kratz, happily chatted with artnet News about the show, titled “Call of the Wild,” and all appeared to have been smoothed over. We spotted the installation in the booth, with trash spilling out over the top—presumably restored to its original condition.

Kurtz was sanguine about the episode, judging from his tweet this morning: “Ha. Good thing animal control didn’t pick up the raccoon…”

Fair director Nick Korniloff explained to Page Six that with so many valuable artworks on display, “we have a very aggressive cleanup crew because we like to keep the event pristine.”

In another notable instance of art accidentally getting trashed, in 2001, a cleaner threw away work that he did not realize was an installation by British art star Damien Hirst at a London gallery. It consisted of piles of full ashtrays, half-filled coffee cups, empty beer bottles and newspapers strewn across the gallery, which the cleaner assumed was the remnants of a party.


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