A Mega-Collector Will Pay a Billion Dollars After ‘Terrorizing’ His Ex (and Dominique Lévy), and More Juicy Art World Gossip

Plus, where did L.A.'s art stars celebrate Passover? What auction house had a break in this week?

Caryl Englander attends the International Center of Photography's 2018 Infinity Awards on April 9, 2018 in New York City. . (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for ICP)

BILLIONAIRE DIVORCE SETTLES OUT OF COURT

Call me crazy, but billionaires seem to struggle with feelings of entitlement a bit, no? 

I know of one who certainly does: the founder of Millennium Management and mega-collector Israel Englander, who, according to Forbes, is worth an estimated $11.3 billion. That figure likely changed this Spring following a civil suit filed in New York by ex-wife, Caryl Englander, filed in New York and alleging that Israel “terrorized” both her and the woman she left him for, gallerist Dominique Lévy.

According to a report from Page Six, Israel has now agreed to pay his wife “upwards of $1 billion” in a divorce settlement, while the spectacular civil suit Caryl had filed over the harassment was quietly withdrawn. A billion is a lot of money—and the settlement is said to include a chunk of their “sizeable art collection” too! (Reminds me a bit of that line by Roman in Succession this season: “A million is a thousand thousand. 500 times a thousand thousand of money we could be spending on snowmobiles and sushi.” Caryl gets double that!) 

When they were married, the Englanders were among the top 200 collectors in the art world as named by ARTnews, and were noted donors to the Jewish Museum. Caryl also happens to be a documentary and portrait photographer herself, and chair of the board of the International Center of Photography.

But the Englanders divorced in 2020, with Israel reportedly walking away with 95 percent of the value of their marital assets after coaxing Caryl to sign a post-nuptial agreement if he left her and Lévy alone. When they split, according to the court documents cited by Page Six (which have been removed from public access since the settlement), Israel had “set out to terrorize the two women to force a break in their relationship, believing he could intimidate Caryl into ‘waking up’ and coming back to him.”

(For the queer ladies in the house, this notion combines two violently presumptuous male modes of thinking that are as old as time: one about how lesbian relationships are a hypnotic fugue state you can be convinced out of, and the other, a dangerous sense of entitlement over your spouse. If I were a judge, I’d award any woman who has dealt with either the same consolation prize!)

The civil suit went on to describe a “years-long campaign of duress” in which Israel had both women followed by former cops and private investigators, including on a vacation to Italy in 2017. It also says that they both had their emails and phones hacked. 

Beyond the harassment the couple endured, there were also claims that Englander went so far as to defame Lévy and sabotage her business. The suit refers to the actions he took against Lévy and her business as “unconscionable.” These included “defaming her to senior reps at Christie’s and Sotheby’s—even threatening to stop giving his lucrative business to the auction houses if they continued to work with Levy,” as a previous story in the New York Post put it. He also hired a company to acquire private information from her business in order to falsely claim that she had committed tax fraud “seeking to prompt an unwarranted government investigation of her.” 

As it stands, Israel Englander remains among the top 200 richest people in the world. Reviewing the filings myself, Bob Dylan’s line pops into my head: “The wealthiest person is a pauper at times, compared to the man with a satisfied mind.” Perhaps some food for thought, Mr. Englander. 

 

WE HEAR 

 

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Katsu Sawada has completed his portrait of Mark Zuckerberg made of his own feces, and the comment section on the corresponding Instagram post is a pretty fun ride (“Skatsu” and “From the hole to The Hole” among my favorites)… A new No Agency zine about the adderall shortage is for sale at Cafe Forgot, with writing by Chloe Wise, Magdalena J Taylor, and yours truly… Various Small Fires has picked up representation of Wendy ParkMonica Lewinsky lamented that she and Marilyn Minter have both been “rejected by mainstream feminists” in Vanity Fair…

Among the more compelling job listings on NYFA right now is the project objects conservator to an ancient Egyptian coffin at the Brooklyn Museum for $56,500 a year… The sale of Toshiko Takaezu‘s sculpture Moon might be the most unexpectedly explosive auction result of this year, bringing in $542,000 on an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000 at Rago Arts (what happened there?!)… Sara Blazej has opened a new space in Soho called Sara’s, with an inaugural show by Nick KleinApparently a burglar broke into Heritage Auctions last month and stole eight Hermés bags, which was a pretty good tactic, because the sum of those parts equaled $242,000 in stolen value… 

 

SPOTTED

 

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Last week’s Seaport Talk between Dean Kissick and New Models’s Caroline Busta sure drew quite the crowd, including Emma Stern, Rachel Rossin, Genevieve Goffman, and Josh Citarella  all crowding into TJ Byrnes before an afterparty/opening at Rossin’s Dunkunsthalle across the street  *** Bling Empire’s Blake Abbie and Martine Gutierrez at Posteritati’s party for the new restoration of Gregg Araki’s The Doom Generation *** Derrick Adams, Zoe Buckman, Klaus Biesenbach, and Agnes Gund at Lincoln Center for the YoungArts New York Gala *** Perhaps the most star-studded museum opening of the year was Cecily Brown’s: Jeff Koons, Larry Gagosian, Stavros Niarchos & Dasha Zhukova, Dana Schutz, and Serena Marron were among just a few of the powerplayers at The Met *** Paul Schimmel seemed to enjoy his Passover at the house of Lisa Edelstein and Robert Russell *** Meanwhile, Yvonne Force Villareal’s Easter brunch set-up also looked pretty posh, as it came complete with Loie Hollowell plates, Cynthia Rowley tablecloths, and set against a Lisa Yuskavage painting ***

? ⭐ CASTING CALL! ?️ ?

The Casting Call went on a brief hiatus last week, and instead I asked a Wet Paint questionnaire question: Who in the art world could best survive on a desert islandI wasn’t alone in estimating that Amy Cappelazzo would be a pretty valuable asset in a survival scenario, but collector Scott Lorinsky provided a real gem of an answer: “I’m reminded of the old chestnut that the only beings likely to survive the end of the world would be Cher and cockroaches. In that same spirit, surely the indefatigable Mary Boone would be a strong contender.”

I’ll bring back the casting call this week though. The lucky winner will invariably receive a Wet Paint hat in the mail.

The warm weather has me dreaming of a visit to the Hamptons, and I recall reporting from the Watermill Benefit last year that apparently socialite/NFT artist Stacy Engman was attacked by a stalker because “I’m a billionaire and since my NFTs are worth so much,” as she put it to PageSix. Though its doubtful this actually was what happened (the Watermill Center never confirmed, and no lawsuits were filed), let’s pretend it did!

As we know, the Watermill Benefit is a kind of bizarro gala where somewhat disconcerting performance art pieces lie nestled in the center’s surrounding forest, creating a kind of Midsommar-esque fun house for the well-heeled attendees. I want to know who plays (1) Engman, who plays (2) the alleged attacker, and (3) someone who could be a disturbing performance artist that antagonizes the guests. Email your responses to [email protected].


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