Dealers on the Best and the Wurst of Art Basel, and More Juicy Art World Gossip

Plus, what gallery is showing work by a European prince in New York? What celebrity-turned-artist was partying at Les Trois Rois?

Levy Gorvy Dayan. Courtesy Art Basel.

Every week, Artnet News brings you Wet Paint, a gossip column of original scoops. If you have a tip, email Annie Armstrong—who’s spending her summer in Los Angeles—at [email protected].


Happy Basel week! Once more it has come and gone, just like Christmas, or my annual teeth cleaning. You’ve almost made it to the end of another spectacular trip to sunny, Big Pharma-loving Switzerland. I regret that I wasn’t there to sip on a schorle with you fine folks, so in lieu of my usual on-the-ground scene reporting, I hit the phones to get the chatter from the VIP opening at the Messeplatz. Bad weather, long lines for wurst, and keeping optimistic through gritted teeth during a tough time for sales ran the gamut of my conversations. Here’s what I got on the record, boiled down into single-sentence missives:  

David Nolan, owner of David Nolan Gallery: “The line for sausages at lunch was an hour long !!! Upstairs they ran out of sausages … cutting back too much.”

Ralph DeLuca, advisor: “It seemed to be a mostly European audience this year. And I know the American galleries try to prioritize non U.S.-based buyers in Basel. Luckily, I have strong enough access and relationships with the galleries I buy from that the things my clients were interested in were dealt with before the fair opening.”

Alex Logsdail, CEO of Lisson Gallery: “Day one in Basel is one of the few places where it is socially acceptable to drink a Diet Coke before lunch.”

Almine Rech, owner/founder of Almine Rech Gallery :”A market subject to the weather! It wasn’t great in the morning, so everyone focused on the art, some on purchasing. You couldn’t really enjoy the outdoor courtyard until around 3 when the sun came out. Guests, collectors, and dealers breaked to enjoy famous Swiss wurst between opening crowds.”

Isabella Icoz, partner at Lehmann Maupin: “We’re celebrating over 20 years of participating in Art Basel and can really attest to the fair’s resiliency during more challenging times! This year, we’ve observed a strong demand for works by women artists who have major institutional moments, and have placed works with European museums as well.”

Xavier Hufkens, founder of Xavier Hufkens Gallery: “The dives in the Rhine may have been canceled this year, but the real splash was made inside the Messe. This is Art Basel at its best.”

Andrea Teschke, partner at Petzel Gallery: “This iteration of the art fair in Basel proves once again that the quality of the art continues to be matched by its audience.”

Here, I will interject that collector Alain Servais disagreed with Teschke in a very savage manner on his reliably prolific Twitter account:  


Install of HRH Prince Nikolaos’s show “Nostros” on view at Ethan Cohen Gallery. Courtesy of Ethan Cohen Gallery.

This one goes out to my fellow warriors who remained stateside during Basel this year. Think reverence for nobility in the art world belongs only to Anglo-European countries? Think again! In New York City, Ethan Cohen Gallery just opened up a show of artwork by His Royal Highness Prince Nikolaos of Greece and Denmark in their Chelsea gallery. The exhibition, curated by Marilena Koutsoukou, is on display in their Chelsea gallery until July 13.

“I want people to know that this is not my hobby, this is what I do, and what gets me out of bed in the morning,” the Prince told me over the phone. His show, titled “Nostos,” pays homage to his Greek heritage via black-and-white landscape photography cast on to pristine white Grecian marble slabs. The gallery is selling the works for between $18,000 to $65,000

“I used to do a lot of portraits photographs, then I switched to landscape. I always say, tongue-in-cheek, that the landscape doesn’t complain when it sees wrinkles,” HRH told me of his practice. “But the truth is I have a very close relationship with nature, particularly wide, open spaces like deserts and the sea. It’s a very spiritual experience to photograph nature like that.”

If you’re not already familiar, Prince Nikolaos is the third child of the late former king of Greece Constantine II. European tabloids nicknamed him the “Playboy Prince”, and his recent high profile divorce from Princess Tatiana made headlines (Their union back in 2010 was commonly referred to “Mamma Mia with Aristocrats”—delightful!).

The Prince assured me that he was not counting on his royal status to get New Yorkers into the door. In fact, the tough audience in New York was part of what motivated him to show in Chelsea. “That’s why I love New York! There’s so many different walks of life, with colorful backgrounds. Nothing phases New Yorkers.”



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The son of real estate tycoon Aby Rosen, Charles Rosen, got hitched this past weekend at the ritzy Il Pelicano hotel in Tuscany…  Broadway Gallery has taken over Rashid Johnson’s studio out in East Hampton for the summer, beginning with a suite of paintings by Mickey LeeGavin Brown has resurfaced on Twitter after a year-long hiatus… Song of the summer? Kaytranada has released a song for art lovers titled “Do 2 Me”, with the lyrics “I might have to put your ass in a 5×4 case of glass and show you off/You know, some type of art expo/You Miami Basel type special, yeah”… Rest in peace to one of the few remaining dive bars in Chelsea, old reliable, Billymark’s West… Good news for a gossip columnist spending her summer in Los Angeles, the long-awaited Cipriani Beverly Hills is officially open for business… Speaking of which, I spotted the painting of a new mural dedicated to the late conceptual genius Pope L. near the Melrose Hill gallery cluster… 

(It’s hard to get a good iPhone pic will driving.)


Okay, I may have saved the best for last this week. You will never guess who has made their grand return to the art world! That is, unless, you were present for the perennially best party of Basel Week: Monday night at Les Trois Rois. Did you also spy retired conceptual artist James Franco at the bar

Courtesy a tipster.

A tipster sure did, if you can’t tell from this clandestinely taken photo. Sources told me that he was getting pretty animated while speaking about the art of Nate Lowman

Has it really been ten whole years since the Pineapple Express actor had his solo show of Cindy Sherman inspired photography at Pace? It has, and the times sure have changed since then. The celebrity-turned-artist spectacle is, thankfully, in our rear-view mirror. But a since-canceled Franco could not be kept away from Basel this year, as he was also spotted skulking around the aisles with his advisor, Jane Suitor.

The moral of the story is, you really never know who you’ll run into while drinking a €30 martini that tastes like a freshly un-boxed Birkin bag. I’ll be on vacation next week, so I’ll see you back here in two weeks.

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