David and Libbie Mugrabi Move On, Christie’s Staff Scouts for Private Sale on Discord, and More Juicy Art-World Gossip

Plus, which dealer extraordinaire got outbid on the Macklowes' Picasso sculpture? And what Hollywood celebrity came out to fete David Salle?

Libbie Mugrabi and David Mugrabi in April 2018. Photo by Patrick McMullan, ©Patrick McMullan.
Libbie Mugrabi and David Mugrabi in April 2018. Photo by Patrick McMullan, ©Patrick McMullan.

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]

 

KEEPING UP WITH THE MUGRABIS

This week, the art world has been alight with gossip about one of the most contentious, salacious, and moneyed divorces in recent history: the split between Harry and Linda Macklowe, which culminated in the historic $676 million sale of their art collection at Sotheby’s on Monday. The Macklowe divorce was certainly one of my favorite spectacles of the past few years (remember that billboard?). But while they’re getting all the attention, I thought I’d check in on our other darlings of conscious uncoupling: Libbie and David Mugrabi.

The last time we heard from the couple, over the summer, Libbie had filed to re-open the divorce case that had been settled one year earlier, claiming her mega-collector ex intentionally damaged a Warhol and Basquiat she was owed as part of the settlement. Having parted ways with her lawyer, she’s now representing herself.

But that’s not the only dispute that’s brought Libbie to court. She is also currently being sued by a canned fruit company (these high-level divorce stories are all the proof I need that truth is indeed often stranger than fiction).

Jane Scher (right) and Libbie Mugrabi sporting Libbie's hats at an event on May 28, 2021 in Southampton, New York. (Photo by Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

Jane Scher (right) and Libbie Mugrabi sporting Libbie’s hats at an event on May 28, 2021 in Southampton, New York. (Photo by Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

Allow me to back up. After the collecting duo divorced (divvying up sports cars, Hamptons and Manhattan properties, the world’s largest collection of work by Andy Warhol), Libbie released a line of accessories, LibbieLove, which mainly consists of trucker hats emblazoned with bold text reading things like “DIVORCÉE GLAM” and “REBEL” and “BOUGIE” for a cool $125 a pop. Apparently, the success of this venture threatened Libby’s canned fruit company, which, the lawsuit alleges, shares a manufacturing factory in Hawaii with LibbieLove (it’s a small LibbieWorld!).

The fruit company decries Mugrabi for causing and “likely [continuing to cause] substantial injury to the public and to Libby’s Brand.” The court papers continue, “Libbie’s actions demonstrate an intentional, willful, and malicious intent to trade on the goodwill associated with the trademark of Libby’s Brand to the great and irreparable injury of Libby’s Brand.”

Libbie’s lawyers didn’t respond to our request for an update on the legal proceedings, but as of November 17, the complaint against Libbie is still open in Tampa, Florida. In a response filed earlier this month, Libbie’s lawyer contended that the suit should be moot because “the consumer audience [for their products] is not the same or similar.” It’s a good point: how likely are you to confuse a trucker hat that says GASLIGHTING with a can of peach slices in pear juice concentrate?

Meanwhile, it seems that David can’t be bothered with Libbie’s legal tussles, as Wet Paint learned that he has moved on and was dating someone new for a year and a half. Through a mutual friend, 47-year-old David met Tyler Ersoff, who, much like another beloved May-December relationship, is around 25 or 26 years old.

David didn’t respond to a request for comment, and not much is known about Ersoff other than that she seems to be from Greenwich, Connecticut. But she did tell Wet Paint herself that the relationship was now over—though it seems to have been a more cordial parting than his split from Libbie. “I have nothing but the utmost respect and love for [David],” Ersoff told us.

 

GET OUT OF THE AUCTION HOUSE AND GET ON DISCORD

Since spearheading the sale of Beeple‘s Everydays for $69 million in March, Christie’s online sales specialist Noah Davis has not been shy about his enthusiasm for NFTs. “The idea of selling an NFT is not crazy,” he said in a recent interview. “We sell dinosaur bones.” And in another instantly classic statement to the Guardian, he said, “Beeple is kind of my Jesus. I look at life as pre-Beeple and post-Beeple—like the world thinks about before Jesus Christ and after.”

It should probably come as no surprise, then, that Davis has been very active in certain corners of the crypto-enthusiast internet, particularly on a Discord channel called CryptoPunks, which is run by Larva Labs. (Still with me? Great!) Other popular users include (we assume) a gentleman whose username is simply an emoji of a pizza slice accompanied by a telling profile photo of some Damien Hirst dots.

But Davis, who goes by the online name oeuf.eth, isn’t just hanging out in the Discord to shoot the breeze about the next big thing in generative art. (The term refers to a category of digital art where the final results are generated by algorithms created or refined by an old-fashioned human being, and a lot of crypto-art falls into that category. You don’t get 10,000 CryptoPunks by designing every one of them manually!) He’s there to do deals. 

Last month, Davis jumped into a conversation about something called Meridian, which is essentially composed of 1,000 online “blocks” or “art blocks” or “ABs,” which live on the blockchain. One such “AB,” called Art Blocks Curated, led Christie’s “Postwar to Present” auction on October 1—but it failed to sell.

What is a plucky auction salesperson to do when their newfangled NFT product does not sell alongside work by Helen FrankenthalerWayne Thiebaud, and Joan Mitchell? Head online, of course! In the chat, Davis revealed that the crypto-lots had a reserve price of 700 Ether ($2.2 million on that day’s exchange rate), but that he could sell to a resident of the chat for as little as 600 Ether ($1.9 million).

“[I] sent these messages after the lot went unsold, with the consignor’s permission,” Davis told Wet Paint. “I tweeted to invite any offers, too. All above board and not uncommon in this space. NFT market is hyper social and efficient. Twitter and Discord are incredible vectors for engaging directly with collectors.”

Forget auction houses setting up private salesrooms in Palm Beach and Aspen. You heard it here first: the future of client outreach is in private Discord channels. What a world!

 

SPOTTED 

*** Seth Rogen showing off his new line of rolling trays in front of what appears to be a Barry McGee wall piece *** Richard TaittingerJacob de Rothschild, Veronica Bulgari, and Indira Cesarine at the Plaza Hotel celebrating The French Institute Alliance (FIAF) Trophée des Arts Gala, which honored novelist Marc Levy *** Matt Copson and Raúl de Nieves DJing the annual gala for the Swiss Institute *** Musician Beck and Brooke Wise gossiping about Justin Bieber at the opening of the show Wise curated at the historic Bradbury Building in downtown Los Angeles *** Jeffrey Deitch in the elevator at Sotheby’s lamenting that he couldn’t get his hands on the Picasso sculpture Figure (Projet pour un monument à Guillaume Apollinaire) (1962), which wound up selling for $26.3 million at the Macklowe sale***

 

WE HEAR…

…. Sotheby’s global fine arts chairman Brooke Lampley became whatever the opposite of a folk hero is to the masses behind ConstitutionDAO after it was made clear she was bidding against them in the $43.2 million sale of the rare document … Freakonomics Radio is set to release a podcast series dedicated to the art market featuring interviews with such luminaries David Zwirner, Glenn Lowry, Tom Sachs, Amy Cappellazzo, and Tschabalala Self … A new bar, Saint Tuesday, has cropped up in the midst of all the hot and trendy Tribeca galleriesDarren Bader is opening a show at Real Pain featuring film memorabilia and Americana he gathered online throughout the pandemic, including Tyler Durden‘s American Express card from Fight Club …True N.E.R.D. Pharrell and Daniel Arsham have launched a DAO of their own with artist-led minting lab CXIP, and if you ask me to explain to you what that means I am going to revoke your Artnet News Pro membership …Beloved Dimes Square clothing rack Chad Senzel Archive is calling it quits after one more month of weekend sales.. Awol Erizku is selling merch for his show “Scorched Earth” at Night Gallery … Film studio A24 has released a horror-movie themed cookbook, Horror Caviar, which features essays by the likes of Carmen Maria Machado and Sohla El-Waylly alongside recipes by artists Chloe WiseOnline Ceramics duo Elijah Funk & Alix Ross, and Laila Gohar … Josh Baer is teaming up with Sotheby’s alum Liz Sterling and three other advisors to launch a membership-based advisory service just in time for for Art Basel Miami Beach

 

WET PAINT IN THE WILD

To know me personally is to know that I have soft spot in my heart for the state of Texas. Though its politicians may not respect my bodily autonomy and its weather may not respect my hair’s ideal volume, I find magic in the Lone Star State whenever I visit. This was no less true last week when I headed to the Dallas Art Fair, which was, predictably, a blast. Perhaps one of the best things about Texas is its sartorial singularity—the belt buckles! the rhinestones! the bolos!—so I brought my camera to the fair’s VIP vernissage to snap some of the best dressed under Texas’s big sky.

The fringe jacket was made by the person wearing it, Arianna Alexis, who calls her wares “elevated West.”

I’m not sure who this guy is, but his vibe is equal parts Tom Wolfe and Goodfellas.

It wouldn’t be Texas without an all-light denim outfit.

One of many bolo ties I saw throughout the evening.

Upon my return to New York, I almost immediately turned around to hit up Greenwich, Connecticut, for the Brant Foundation‘s annual party. This year, it honored the great Pictures Generation painter David Salle (who also happened to write one of my favorite books of criticism). Though the fête wasn’t quite as elaborate as in previous years—there was no band, no tent, no full barbecue—the crowd made the afternoon feel festive nonetheless.

Alex Katz stole the show in his plaid bathrobe.

Owen Wilson likely thinking “Wow!” to himself in front of an Urs Fischer sculpture.

Yvonne Force and Leo Villareal.

Writer Tom Lee lights up on the back porch.

Jeff Koons and the man of the hour, David Salle.

The Brant Foundation, sans tent and barbecue this year, but a fabulous party nonetheless.

One of the better outfits of the soiree belonged to interior designer for the art world, Ricky Clifton.

Artist Tamara Gonzales and her perfect blue hair.

WET PAINT QUESTIONNAIRE

Last week, I asked my lovely readers what artist, living or dead, they thought would make the worst dinner guest. Artist James Cherry answered “Tom Otterness, because he might shoot my dog, eek…” An anonymous dealer from New York named Jordan Wolfson, adding, “I’m sure that’s not the first you’ve heard that.” Another anonymous dealer from Los Angeles named Aurel Schmidt. We sort of assumed people would choose dead artists, but you do you!

Wet Paint will be on holiday next week, which means the next time I’ll be seeing you will be in Florida for Art Basel Miami Beach. On that note, my question for you this week is… What’s the wildest party you’ve ever been to at ABMB, and why?


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