Richard Prince Spars With Ivanka Trump (Again), Allegations Against Marfa Invitational Mount, and More Juicy Art World Gossip

Plus, which gallerist is soft launching a stand-up comedy career? What artworks cropped up on the walls of Nine Orchard?

Richard Prince at Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills. Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc.

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].


Your darling Wet Paint has heard some interesting rumblings around Gotham recently concerning the re-emergence into polite company of a certain disgraced former first daughter. Once blackballed from every gala that came with a red-carpet and four-figure ticket, Ivanka Trump has been spotted and even photographed at a couple of high-end events lately that she almost certainly would have been barred from during her father’s presidency. 

I’m not the only one who’s heard this. A tipster dropped a screenshot from Richard Prince’s private Instagram into my greasy paws, and apparently the artist is pretty incensed that Ivanka has been shopping around her “New Portrait” of herself for a six-figure sum. “Two months ago I heard Ivanka Trump valued her Instagram Portrait at 1.2 million. And this was after I publicly stated it was worthless. Maybe the stretcher bars are sixty-five dollars. #stretch,” read Prince’s caption. 

Courtesy a tipster.

As you’ll recall, Prince himself disowned his portrait of Trump back in 2017 by returning the $36,000 fee to the art advisor who brokered the sale of the work to Ivanka herself. “This is not my work. I did not make it. I deny. I denounce. This fake art,” he Tweeted at the time, as he was a member of the popular “Dear Ivanka” movement that many other artists had signed their names to at the time. Around that time, it became clear that Ivanka was clinging to some kind of involvement in the art world, posting photos of the Alex Israel artwork she kept in her breakfast nook, and remaining in close contact with Tico and Colby Mugrabi on the DL. (It all comes full circle, as this week, Ivanka testified on her father’s behalf during his ongoing fraud case in New York.) 

The irony behind Richard Prince’s work though, as always, is that the scandal added to the allure. The “New Portraits” were already infamous screenshot “paintings” of semi-famous women’s Instagram feeds that courted lawsuits and scandal, but Prince eschewing one himself caused speculation that he may have even added value to the work by taking his name off of it. 

“My intuition about this is that when history plays out, this will probably end up being a more culturally rich object than if this whole episode hasn’t happened,” advisor Joshua Holdeman told the New York Times in 2017. He may have been more right than he realized. 


City Hall in Marfa, Texas, which has been hit especially hard by shutdowns across the US. Photo by Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Getty Images.

City Hall in Marfa, Texas. Photo by Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Getty Images.

A few weeks ago, I reported that there was big trouble brewing in the art world’s favorite little Texas town of Marfa

The drama focused around Michael Phelan and the art fair he started in 2019, the Marfa Invitational, which was given 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status back in August of 2020, and then had that designation as a charitable foundation revoked by the Internal Revenue Service, as members of their board actively distanced themselves from the fair. According to the IRS papers, Phelan had failed to file taxes for three consecutive years. “We are no longer associated or affiliated with the Marfa Invitational and are not certain whether a formal board structure for that organization is in place any longer,” read a statement provided by former board affiliates Kathleen Loughlin and Alex Scull

Just a few weeks later, Loughlin has formalized her complaint against the fair and Phelan, filing a charitable trust complaint with the Texas Attorney General’s Office on grounds that Phelan mismanaged donated funds by using them for his own personal expenses, according to the Big Bend Sentinel

If you’ll recall from my story a few weeks ago, Phelan balked at the accusation that he was misusing funds, claiming that his failure to file tax returns was a mistake, and that the fair’s 501(c)(3) status will be reinstated “within days.” However, according to Loughlin’s complaint, her attempt to help Phelan re-apply for 501(c)(3) status is how she found that “2/3 of the financial gift I had given for a foundation building was already spent on what I deem as the director’s personal expenses” including “non-profit travel, car payment and other personal expenses.” Gulp. 

The funds that Loughlin—who is also a member of the The Contemporary Austin museum’s board of trustees—is referring to is a $150,000 donation she made to the fair’s effort to open a foundation in Marfa that never came to fruition. According to the complaint, $25,000 of that money was eventually returned to her, and Phelan held on to the remaining $125,000. 

Phelan didn’t respond to a request for comment about the complaint.


Chinatown’s Mother Gallery, run by artist Paola Oxoa, has unfortunately closed its doors; Oxoa stated that “The heart wants what it wants – or it does not care”… Meanwhile, in brighter news, JDJ is the most recent gallery to open up a space in Tribeca. Congratulations Jayne!… I toldja about Sam McKinniss joining David Kordansky… O’Flaherty’s is teeing up their next big opening next Thursday of surrealist, jocular paintings by Christian Ludwig-AtterseeBill Powers’s stand-up comedy career is beginning to take flight, and he’s currently on the hunt for a party in Miami that will host him as the talent (Want a teaser? Here’s some material he sent me: “I guess David Zwirner has been walking around town with a ‘Stop the Steal’ sign? I didn’t know he was such a Trump supporter, but someone told me, ‘No, he’s just still pissed about the Carol Bove thing.’” Ba-dum tss)… 


Damien Hirst’s girlfriend appears to be pregnant with what will be the artist’s third child. Mazel tov! *** Nan Goldin taking a long pause to behold Ed Ruscha’s gunpowder drawings on a lazy Sunday at the Museum of Modern Art *** The #1 boy Jeremy Strong posing with downtown New York’s favorite nightlife guru John Neidich at the Creative Time gala *** Artwork by Julie Mehretu, Claes Oldenburg, Kiki Smith, and Robert Rauschenberg has been added to the walls of Nine Orchard *** Mika Rottenberg has finally opened her bespoke bar, “Rottenbar“, at Hauser & Wirth on 22nd Street, which is now the second watering hole on their Chelsea campuses, counting the recently re-opened Roth Bar *** And finally, I can’t say I disagree with Walter Robinson here ***

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