Emmanuel Perrotin’s Jekyll-and-Hyde Turn at Art Basel, Dealer Sells Himself Artist’s Work to Flip, and More Juicy Art World Gossip
Which dealer sold himself a young artist's work and then flipped it? What's the beef between Perrotin and an art advisor? Read on for answers.
WHAT’S EATING EMMANUEL PERROTIN?
Art Basel didn’t even make it to the end of its VIP day before rumors started flying that one blue-chip dealer had threatened to “attack” an art advisor.
During the fair’s VIP reception, advisor Theo Lindqvist caused a stir by writing on his Instagram story that he’d received a voicemail from Emmanuel Perrotin “after his gallery cancelled a verbally agreed deal (hands were shaken) at Art Basel yesterday: ‘If you go after us legally we will attack you.’”
Lindqvist, who owns the Stockholm advisory firm Lindqvist Contemporary, deleted the story, but not until it had made its rounds to those in attendance to the fair. Nonetheless, Perrotin was spotted at the opening “with a big smile,” according to one source. So what accounts for the dealer’s mood swing?
The gallery reportedly had sold two thirds of its booth at the fair’s VIP opening on September 23, so Perrotin certainly had at least one reason to smile.
Lindqvist declined to comment on the post, and refused to confirm whether it was him who personally received the voicemail. On Lindqvist’s website, several Perrotin artists are listed under his acquisitions, including Daniel Arsham, Takashi Murakami, Xu Zhen, and Park Seo-Bo.
Emmanuel Perrotin declined to comment on the post.
L.A. DEALER SELLS HIMSELF AN ARTIST’S WORK—AND THEN FLIPS IT
On the topic of raw deals, artist David “Mr. StarCity” White took to Instagram this past week to decry the business dealings of Los Angeles’s Kantor Gallery, which hosted a sold-out show of White’s work, titled “LOVERBOY: Moonlit Roses And Heartache,” in 2020. According to White, the gallery’s owner, Niels Kantor, never informed him that he was cutting discounts with collectors, or that he was personally buying works—and giving himself a discount, too.
When White discovered the price changes, he approached Kantor to ask for the remaining balance. According to White, Kantor responded by calling him a “street thug.”
“It’s funny how I was called a ‘street thug’ for asking for my hard-earned money, yet in reality I was the one being robbed,” the artist, who is Black, wrote on Instagram.
One of the artist’s textile portraits, Moonlit Roses and Heartache (2020), which was included in White’s show at Kantor, just sold at Phillips’s “New Now” auction on September 28—the buyer having flipped it just a year later. The stakes for the work were especially high, given that it was White’s auction debut. The work carried an estimate of $30,000–40,000—but a handful of buyers chased the work all the way up to a hammer price of $113,400, nearly quadruple its low estimate.
“I know other artists who have and are experiencing similar situations and it’s just not okay,” he wrote in the Instagram post. “Artists shouldn’t have to fear for their careers and livelihoods at the expense of others’ greed and outright disrespect.”
Now, Wet Paint can exclusively reveal that Niels Kantor himself bought Moonlit Roses and Heartache from his own show, and is the one who flipped it. (White did not receive any proceeds from the auction.)
Kantor did not respond to a request for comment.
Then, yesterday, White seemed to have an abrupt change of heart. He posted a new photo of himself smiling ebulliently in front of the sold piece, accompanied by the caption: “I have great respect and admiration for the ecosystem of the art world. Flippers and speculators are just as important as galleries, institutions and artists. Now, how each of these entities conduct business… is another matter.”
When asked what accounted for his change of heart, White told Wet Paint: “I just took a step back and gave it a deeper thought and came to a much more greater understanding of the balance.”
It may also have had something to do with a phone call from resident Los Angeles provocateur (and sometime art flipper) Stefan Simchowitz, who told Wet Paint that he had a conversation with White about the art market’s inner workings, and that that could have influenced the artist’s new disposition.
White wasn’t entirely rosy about the market, however: “It still doesn’t negate from the fact that Neils conducted business with blatant disrespect and zero disregard of me and my career,” he added. “He didn’t lead with integrity and transparency and that’s why we are here.”
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