Mary Boone Is Serving Her Debt to Society at This Nonprofit, a Carroll Dunham Fake Gets Yanked From Sale, and More Art-World Gossip

Plus, what East Village haunt is Patti Smith dining at? What artist is looking for a studio assistant who can comfortably lift 50 pounds?

Mary Boone in 2013. Photo by Neil Rasmus courtesy of BFA.
Mary Boone in 2013. Photo by Neil Rasmus, courtesy of BFA.

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].

 

MARY BOONE’S BELL TOLLS

If you’re anything like me, you love a good grift. That’s what makes the story of Anna Delvey so irresistible. So it was with grave disappointment that I watched perhaps the best con of a generation destroyed by trite writing and a stupid-sounding accent in Inventing Anna.

Luckily, there’s good news for those of us who live vicariously through the delusions of others, and it involves none other than Mary Boone, who walks among us as we speak.

Wet Paint has learned that the disgraced art dealer, who was convicted in early 2019 of tax evasion and bilking the U.S. government out of $3 million, is now serving part of her sentence through court-mandated community service for an arts nonprofit.

Boone, you’ll remember, was given two-and-a-half years in prison in February 2019 for filing falsified tax returns between 2009 and 2011. The case against her was a nightmare. Federal prosecutors said her illegal deductions included nearly $800,000 to remodel her home; more than $24,000 for trips to the beauty salon; and almost $14,000 on Hermès products.

None of it looked good—especially as it came on the heels of another scandal that had Boone right in the eye of the storm. Just two years before her sentencing, Boone was forced to fork over a seven-figure sum to actor Alec Baldwin for selling him a $190,000 Ross Bleckner painting that was actually a copy of the one he wanted. Yikes. Baldwin was also awarded a commissioned piece by the artist, about which the Hollywood bad boy famously quipped: “Maybe I’ll have Ross paint a picture of the seven-figure check that Mary paid me to settle.”

What a fall from grace for a dealer who was at the very center of the 1980s New York art scene. The raven-haired Boone made her name representing some of the most prominent painters of the era, including Jean-Michel Basquiat and Julian Schnabel. She had a reputation for working hard and playing hard. Nearly as big a celebrity as her artists, Boone was a high-flyer and champagne-sipper at the go-to spots of the era, including The Odeon and Max’s Kansas City

The last we heard of her, she had gotten a break from her 30-month sentence in a Federal Correctional Facility in Danbury, Connecticut, and was released early amid protests by inmates that the coronavirus’s devastating toll on prison populations was unjustifiable. She spent a total of 13 months in the clink.

Now, Boone is serving out some of the rest of her time doing community service for Free Arts NYC, a nonprofit organization helping underserved youth in New York City gain access to arts programming and mentorship. 

The news was confirmed by Liz Hopfan, the organization’s founder and executive director, although she did not specify what exactly Boone is doing, beyond acting as “an advocate for what we do.”

Really, it’s a good deal for everyone: Free Arts NYC gets to mine Boone’s enormous and invaluable experience in the art industry, and Boone gets to put her life’s work to good use. Boone told Wet Paint herself, “Liz Hopfan runs a remarkable program and I am lucky and honored to be a part of it.”

 

CARROLL DUNHAM FAKE WRESTLED OUT FROM AUCTION

 

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Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery—unless you’re a working artist, in which case it’s the sincerest form of forgery.

That’s my takeaway from the foiled attempt by Florida auction house Auction Kings to sell a work purportedly by Carroll Dunham depicting a slapdash version of one of the artist’s iconic wrestling figures at a sale scheduled to take place April 1.

The piece, estimated to sell for $40,000, would have been a steal: Dunham’s works on paper typically go for around $70,000, according to the Artnet Price Database. (Bigger works can fetch up to more than half a million.) 

Unfortunately, whoever forged the work didn’t do their due diligence. Anyone who knows anything knows that Dunham hasn’t ever worked in oil. He’s an acrylic-paint type of guy, and his nude wrestlers duking it out under the sun typically aren’t so, er, brushtroke-y. I believe that’s the proper term.

“You didn’t have to be me to see it wasn’t my work,” Dunham told Wet Paint.

Needless to say, as soon as Dunham caught wind of the fake, the auction house had the lot removed from the sale. “Different friends sent me pictures of the artwork and it was hard to take it seriously since the thing was so silly,” Dunham remarked.

This got me wondering: what else is in the Auction Kings sales? A bit of light snooping reveals works by Henry Moore, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Maria Lassnig, and Jean Michel-Basquiat.

I asked Dunham whether he thought more fakes might be in the sale.

“If that’s their business model,” he said, “they should really find better craftspersons.”

Auction Kings did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

 

WE HEAR… 


Jamian Juliano-Villani is very much not a fan of Marina Abramović … A delightful, 207-foot mural by art-market darling Nicolas Party has been completed at the Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles … Photographer Jamel Shabazz has been awarded the 2022 Gordon Parks Foundation/Steidl Book Prize Avery Singer is on the hunt for a studio assistant who can comfortably lift 50-plus pounds … Marfa’s Art Blocks is offering a $1,500 home-office budget to whomever will become its new artistic director … 52 Walker has opened its own library … Beloved Chelsea sushi spot Momoya will be taking over the vacant lot on the corner of Mulberry and Prince Streets … Vito Schnabel has been cast in a movie that he co-wrote with Jeff Solomon, which also stars Julia Fox and Steven Van Zandt 

 

SPOTTED 

*** Lily Allen, Mark Ronson, Tom Sachs, Waris Ahluwalia, and Sarah Hoover dining at Indochine to celebrate Saam Farahmand’s solo show with Gagosian director Adam Cohen’s itinerant gallery A Hug From The Art World *** Adam Driver and his pesky anti-iPhone security detail (which was no match for Wet Paint) at the opening of “Ride The Tiger” at Caelum Gallery with works by painters Colleen Barry and Will St. John *** David Kordansky, Shara Hughes, and former NFL player Keith Rivers at the opening of “Courage Before Expectation,” which Rivers curated, at the Flag Art Foundation *** Aaron Maine of the band Porches hocking vintage wares in Dimes Square with Chad Senzel, whose street-rack sales double as a groundhog harbinger of warm weather to come *** Patti Smith slurping down some udon noodles at Raku in the East Village *** 

Patti Smith dining at TK. Courtesy a tipster.

Patti Smith dining at Raku. Courtesy a tipster.

WET PAINT QUESTIONNAIRE

Two weeks ago (I missed you guys!), I asked about the best meals you’ve ever had at museum restaurants.

Personally, I recall making an inappropriately big deal about how good the spanakopita by chef Mina Stone was at the opening party for MoMA PS1’s “Greater New York” last year.

Former MOCA L.A. chief curator Paul Schimmel, meanwhile, named Castello de Rivoli’s restaurant, Gusto, adding: “and I have tried a lot.”

Collector Scott Lorinsky told us thatCafé Sabarsky at the Neue Galerie in New York remains superb. Best meal: goulash soup, a matjes herring sandwich, proper coffee, and more desserts than I’m comfortable admitting to.” Deanna Smith, the gallery and project manager for Art Basel, name-checked Holbein’s at the Städel Museum in Frankfurt.

Writer and editor Colleen Kelsey cut to the chase. “Any institution, any glass of anonymous chilled white—whether a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. It just sets the baseline.” 

This week, I ask: What’s the best mosaic in any New York City subway station? Email your responses to [email protected].


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