Inside Jimmy Iovine’s Star-Studded Charity Art Sale, Poolside Chatter at the Felix Art Fair, and More Juicy Art World Gossip

Plus, which powerhouse art couple has split? And who was behind the now-retired Instagram account @whos___who?

Poolside at the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel for the opening day of Felix Art Fair. Photo by Annie Armstrong.

Every week, Artnet News brings you Wet Paint, a gossip column of original scoops. If you have a tip, email Annie Armstrong at [email protected].


Here is a sentence I never thought I would write: The best party of Frieze Los Angeles this year may have been… a Sotheby’s auction.

Though ultra-expensive lots at standard evening sales can provide flashes of excitement, the events themselves tend to be rather sleepy. This was not the case at music-biz mogul Jimmy Iovine’s mansion on Tuesday night, as he and rapper/producer Dr. Dre, collector and Pulse Music Group founder Josh Abraham, dealer David Kordansky, and a bevy of Sotheby’s staffers joined forces to sell 11 artworks to benefit the Iovine and Young Center, Dre and Iovine’s experimental, tech-focused academy at the University of Southern California.

Before arriving, I dropped by poker whiz/producer Jeff Magid’s fabulous mid-century house in the hills for a glass of Champagne, where many of his fellow collectors had gathered before the auction. “It’s great Iovine’s doing this for charity,” one said, and we all nodded our heads as a beat passed. “But also I’m dying to see inside his house!”

A dazzling necklace of Teslas and vintage cars curled around the cul-de-sac where Iovine’s place sits in Beverly Hills. The event took place in the house’s rollerskating rink, which is, I kid you not, directly below its tennis courts.

Invitations had gone out strictly to VVVIPs, and both Elon Musk and Jeffrey Bezos were rumored to be on the guest list. Alas, they did not appear, but by early evening, a choice smattering of uber-moneyed art types were standing on the freshly carpeted rink, like advisor Sandy Heller, Gagosian director Sophia Cohen, and collector Stavros Merjos.

Hollywood was out in force, as well, with TV host Katie Couric, Splash producer Brian Gravin, former Boomtown Rat Bob Geldof, producer Benny Blanco, and sports agent Rich Paul all making appearances.

Many of our leading artists were on hand, too, including those offering work in the charity auction, like Jennifer Guidi, Chase Hall, Hilary Pecis, and even the elusive Ed Ruscha “It’s cool,” said Austyn Wiener, who had a work in the sale. “Artists aren’t typically in the room for these types of things.”

Lobster rolls were passed around, gin and juice was poured, and, in a surprise move, James Corden, the television personality and Keith McNally nemesis, took the stage to commence the auction. “It’s going to be a coup! A coup-de-ville, in the words of Ed Ruscha,” he said, referring to the Ruscha acrylic drawing that wound up selling for $130,000. “It is a pleasure—and quite frankly, a favor—that I am doing this,” he joked. Later on in the night, Timbaland grabbed the mic and performed as guests hobnobbed.

Naturally, the dealers were also on hand, including Jack Siebert and Honor Fraser. Karma’s dynamic duo, Brendan Dugan and Siniša Mačković, seemed to be enjoying themselves. Karma artists Ann Craven and Reggie Burrows Hodges had work sell for $60,000 and $320,000, respectively. “We really got involved because Dre and Reggie Burrows grew up in Compton at the same time,” Dugan said. “He’s a big collector of his work.”

The auction amassed a handsome $2.5 million, an average of about $225,000 per lot. When the hammer fell for a final time, one collector of Light and Space work asked me, “Does the allure of having an auction like this, with all of these people, beat the allure of an art fair?” The answer was obvious.


Poolside at the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel for the opening day of Felix Art Fair. Photo by Annie Armstrong.

Decade after decade, Los Angeles always seemed to be on the verge of becoming a fully fledged art capital. But after plenty of confusing stops and stars, its moment seems to have arrived—a “25-year overnight sensation,” as Ed Ruscha once said of himself.

“It feels in some ways that the art world here has doubled in size in the space of a year,” collector Dean Valentine, who co-founded the Felix Art Fair, told me in Artnet’s just-published Art Intelligence Report. “The issue with L.A. is that the artists were always here, and the creativity was here. But the art world infrastructure was lacking. All that seems to be catching up now.”

Walking into Hollywood Roosevelt for the sixth iteration of Felix on Wednesday, and sensing the excitement in the air, it was clear that Valentine was right. Sure, there be no World Series of Art Poker this time, as the game was moved to a private residence this year, but there were plenty of other diversions. (Last time, it was on the hotel’s top floor, where poker-loving bros like Jack Black, Jonas Wood, Jeff Poe, and Adam Alessi duked it out for all to see.)

This year, the chance to impulsively decimate one’s bank account came by way of a pop-up Dover Street Market in the lobby, with a bespoke retail experience by artist Oscar Tuazon. Can I interest you in a pair of Vans x Sterling Ruby shoes for $160?

Anyway, let’s talk about the art. Among my highlights were the macabre surrealist paintings by Kira Scerbin at King’s Leap, frenetic sculptures made of found objects by Black Dice co-founder Bjorn Copeland at Europa, mischievous memento mori by Jane Corrigan in Sea View’s room, and a suite of electric drawings by Tyson Reeder at Tif Sigfrieds.

As I did my laps around the poolside cabana galleries, opening day felt a little less frantic than in previous years. That was affirmed by chatter in the line for the elevators to get to the exhibitors on the 11th and 12th floors, where wait times were down significantly from 2023.

“It’s better organized this year,” Felix’s other co-founder, Mills Morán, told me. “We snaked the line, Disney World style.” Collector Dan Teran agreed. “I don’t think it’s slow for galleries, though. Things seem brisk.” He had his eye on the large-scale paintings by Kye Christensen-Knowles at Lomex and sculptural work by Matt Johnson at the Ranch’s booth. 

Upstairs, at her 12th floor booth, Silke Lindner told me, “I’ve come to anticipate a different pace.” Sales were happening immediately, but she had no doubt that, by the end of the week, she would come out strong. This is not an experience specific to L.A. right now, she said. “At NADA in Miami and with shows in New York, things start slow and then sales slowly but steadily start to happen. I was worried at the first of my last show, then it sold out! It’s a change of pace.”

Felix newcomers seemed as happy with the laidback energy as the sales. “I started my gallery in a sandwich shop in London, so doing an art fair in a hotel is, like, right up my alley,” joked Freddy Powell from Ginny on Frederick gallery, which was steadily selling pieces by various artists at prices between $4,000 to $10,000. “We’ve placed a number of works, so we’re happy,” Powell said. “And we’ve reconnected with some older clients. The American galleries I really love do it, like Tara Downs is opposite of us, and Alex Shulan,” Lomex’s owner, “is down the hall. For me, it’s a nice conversation to be in.”


Artist/activist Nan Goldin has officially joined (FKA Twitter) with the ingenious and self-effacing handle @crazynangoldin… The anonymous mastermind behind the copycat call-out Instagram @whos___who has retired the account, and Plaster magazine got the scoop about his identity: Chicago collector Ryan Kortman…  As the internet mourns Vice, author and artist Tao Lin announced that he is selling an illustration that he made for its late-lamented print magazine for a cool $1,600… Singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding and Caspar Jopling, the art-dealing nephew of White Cube founder Jay Jopling, have apparently split… On a lighter note, Loïc Gouzer tied the knot with Daniella Perez Lopez; the two co-founded the exclusive auction app Fair Warning… Ousted Artforum chief David Velasco is on the talent list for Dripping, the mid-June rave in Sparta, New Jersey, where he will do a reading with Juliana Huxtable


That earlier item notwithstanding, the party of the week actually has yet to occur: It is one that I am throwing alongside Cultural Counsel at MARS in Hollywood tonight. See you there?

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