Kenny Schachter Surveys the Start of the Fall Art Season, Unearthing Feuds, Farces, and Secret Identities Galore
Oh, and our columnist also has some thoughts on his former friend Inigo Philbrick's rapidly nearing release date.
In a summer devastated by increasingly biblical levels of natural disasters from fires and floods to earthquakes and hurricanes, all exacerbated—if not wrought—by human malfeasance, we are additionally hobbled by pointless wars, excessive levels of crime, and political imbroglios. If that’s not enough to ruin your day (and/or life), tack on the increasingly erratic, asinine behavior of dumb tourists doing their best to chip away at the wonders of civilization by graffitiing Rome’s Colosseum and the like. The goings-on in the art world are, for the most part, not much better. In other words, we are nothing short of doomed.
Oh, I forgot to mention Congressional testimony on the existence of aliens. My theory is that there’s yet to be credible evidence of otherworldly lifeforms due to the fact that the extraterrestrials who did land on earth had the misfortune of stumbling upon a group show featuring Daniel Arsham, Murakami, KAWS, Damien Hirst, and Jeff Koons. The unfortunate, traumatized beings were never seen or heard from again.
Prior to the onset of the fall art season, gallerist-about-town Vito Schnabel hosted Ivanka Trump in the house he co-owns with Olivier Sarkozy (half-brother of Nicolas, former President of France), on Harbor Island, the Bahamian resort and tax haven known for long stretches of pink beaches. (The arrangement that sounds like a new-fangled, upscale timeshare.)
Ivanka, before the shambolic presidency of you-know-who, was often depicted swanning around her apartments drenched in artworks by Alex De Corte, Alex Israel, Nate Lowman, Dan Colen, Christopher Wool, and Richard Prince—the last of whom went on to disavow the infamous Instagram portrait he did of her (failing to mention she had commissioned it). I guess after the recent $2 billion Saudi windfall “earned” by her husband Jared, they are art world pariahs no more. Kushner and Hunter would make for perfect roommates—in prison.
When I followed up with Vito—whose first pop-up exhibit I advised 21 years ago, when he was at the tender age of 16—to confirm the sleepover with the former First Daughter, I found that he had Insta-blocked me. Feels like seventh-grade schoolyard redux. Or, with rumors swirling that Ivanka’s marriage is on the rocks, is there something more adult at play? (She is his type.)
Back to Prince, a friend who is an official card-carrying member of the artist’s fan club (and they are legion—mostly certain male gallery owners) unearthed an early secondary-school yearbook on eBay that suggests the elusive/reclusive artist may actually have been born Richard Oppenheim—which would mean that “Richard Prince” is in fact yet another fictitious name on his string of aliases, including Fulton Ryder, John Dogg, and Joan Katz. (The various identities, akin to the passports in Jason Bourne’s knapsack, may be inspired by the fact the artist’s parents were CIA operatives… if you believe Prince on that account.)
Carol Bove, whom I befriended more than 30 years ago when I exhibited the works of her then-husband Christian Schumann, nearly killed me back then when I donned her shoes and promptly fell down two flights of stairs on my behind one New Year’s—a tumble I survived by the sheer grace of God and the bodily elasticity that results from imbibing an excess of cocktails. In my capacity as part-time (mal)practicing lawyer back then, I executed her divorce, but chose the wrong end of the stick when I got paid with a Schumann drawing.
She may have almost contributed to David Zwirner’s premature passing as well when she jumped ship to Larry G recently. A Zwirner senior partner did not respond to my inquiry on the reason for her departure, but my intel puts the blame solely on David’s failure to step up and cover her not-insubstantial production fees incurred in the act of procuring, bending, and painting heavy metal. In fact, during the impending United Auto Workers strike, the Big Three might consider surreptitiously building cars in her state-of-the-art production and paint facility. Since Larry stepped into breach, he’s still hawking her primary sculptures (some of which I happen to covet) at the same $400,000 level as Zwirner, but don’t expect that to last much longer with Mr. G footing the studio bills now.
More on the inimitable Larry G—and if the tedious New Yorker profile wasn’t enough, fear not there’s a full-length book underway by Boom author Michael Shnayerson—Cady Noland once threatened to “shoot” Larry Gagosian if he did a solo exhibition of her work, stating that “artists go to Gagosian to die.” Hey, one of my mantras is: If you can’t contradict yourself, who are you going to, and it seems Cady is of the same opinion considering that first solo outing in nearly 30 years is at none other than Gagosian’s bodega-like storefront space on 75th and Park Avenue. Or, maybe the grenade entombed in a block of plexiglass is live and intended to blow when (or if) Larry makes it by the venue?
It seems this exhibition only came to pass because former Marian Goodman director Andrew Leslie Heyward joined the gallery last year, after relocating from London to New York; and, as the newly minted Gogo-er is a longtime Cady cohort, he was able to persuade her to join the ride. The artist literally took up residence in the gallery, using the space as impromptu studio all summer long and toiling on all fours to physically install the scattered floor installations, which are comprised of her signature motifs—beer cans, walkers, handcuffs, readymade filled metal baskets, remnants of the wild west—and signal a flawed, failed America on the verge of self-immolation.
I want them all! But at prices beginning at $250,000 (for the one editioned work, of 10 examples) reaching upwards to $1.5 million, I am regretfully priced out of the game—but the fees are certainly no impediment for Mitchell Rales, president of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and part owner of the Washington Commanders, whose wealth stands at approximately $5.4 billion.
Rales is proprietor—or founder at least—of the wildly inaccessible, barely-open-to-the-pubic Glenstone “Museum” (which happens to be in Rales’s backyard, or is it front yard?), flush with more dough than Pillsbury. Glenstone is certainly better endowed than every publicly funded and starved museum extant on the planet, and thus can well afford to put the contents of the entire Noland show—16 works in total—on hold, which I can report is exactly what he had done as of my second visit to the gallery over the weekend.
Mark Richards is a collector/dealer (I think) that I “met” online when I found out he painted a caricature of me three years ago. When I learned a year later that market titan Jonas Wood was publishing a book of Mark’s art-world portraits and showcasing them in an exhibition at Blum & Poe, I asked the artist why—particularly when so many other full-time artists would be much more deserving. Jonas, none-to-pleased, described Mark as a “turbo-charged hobby artist” before going on to personally attack me for poking fun at KAWS in another post. Why do I feel like the art world often has the nuance and complexity of a heated checkers match?
Anyway, it seems Jonas told Mark about my comment, which led to him harboring a grudge that culminated recently when he commented that “mentioning painter Matthew Wong and van Gogh in the same sentence was ridiculous” when I posted about an introductory essay I wrote for the artists’ upcoming two-person show at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. (I also participated in an accompanying documentary.)
As I am not the most mature actor myself (far from it), I replied that such pairing was no more ridiculous than him showing at Blum & Poe. It escalated from there: “You are a 2nd rate writer, a 3rd rate academic and full time clown!” I love it! I will add “4th rate artist” and put it all on my new business cards. Richards then proceeded to threaten me with physical violence the next time I come to Los Angeles. Admittedly, that was a little unsettling, because even though we are about the same (old) age and in similar condition, I am an utter coward who recoils from violence unless shielded behind my keyboard.
In the end, we made nice-nice. Thank the lord. Maybe I’ll buy my portrait now.
Alfredo Martinez, the recently deceased artist/felon/gunsmith/shit-stirrer and Anna Delvey’s jailhouse curator of choice, was a longtime acquaintance whose work I included in many group shows during the heyday of my itinerate curatorial practice. This didn’t stop Martinez from marching into the hotel room I organized in the first iteration of the Gramercy International Art Fair in the mid-1990s with the bravado of Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry, brandishing a homemade pistol.
Martinez aimed his weapon, pulled the trigger, and unleashed an ear-splitting explosion, causing a patron in the room to let out a blood-curdling scream. I simply looked down in silence at my lap, where I felt liquid pooling. Luckily, the liquid was margarita (there was room service, what do you expect?), the gun was packed with blanks, and I survived another day.
Searching through one of my storage units (I’m the consummate hoarder’s hoarder, lest we forget) to find fodder for an exhibition called “kennyslist ☮️” (modeled after Craigslist) opening next month at Morton Street Partners—a project space that features new art and old cars—I found Alfredo’s gun, together with a motorcycle he had fabricated from garbage found in the street. I also found the first 10 years of my own art, which I had all but considered lost. By the way, Martinez once made me a gun made out of plastic with the sole intent of evading airport security—a feat he readily accomplished without much fanfare. Come see for yourselves at 16 Morton Street.
Inigo Philbrick came back in the headlines this week when his partner-in-crime, Robert Newland, admitted in testimony to “stuffing” unwitting partners during their multiyear scheme—a colorful term for intentionally not paying back some clients (including me) in order to pay others. Read the incredible reporting on the subject by Artnet’s own esteemed Eileen Kinsella here. Lovely.
Since Philbrick was incarcerated in 2020, I’ve received four consecutive “victim notices” from the Federal Bureau of Prisons to the effect that more (and more) time has been shaved off his original sentence of seven years, which has now been whittled down to four and a half, culminating in his release on December 1st, 2024. For someone in the hole $86 million—the sum he ultimately stole from his clients and ordered to restitute—he sure has managed to procure some fine lawyering talent.
Which brings me to an email I received from Rosebery, a London auction house I had never previously heard of (have you?), asking whether I would like to bid for artworks by two of my sons, Adrian and Kai, and a work by myself. After scratching my head as to who might have owned the art of the Schachter family collection in the UK, I came to the realization it was none other than Inigo. (Though he paid for my kid’s stuff, my sculpture had in fact been stolen after a casual consignment between us for his Miami gallery.) Rosebery is an agent of the “High Court Enforcement Officers,” charged with liquidating a debtor’s assets to partially repay creditors. I swiftly lodged a complaint and was able to recoup my self-fellating elephant, you’ll be relieved to know.
Lastly (you will also be happy to know), just the other day I heard of an emerging art gallery that has devised a novel approach to dealing with today’s brutally downward-trending art market. They offered an unknown artist a solo exhibition with a caveat: They wanted to buy the entire contents of the show at a whopping 90 percent discount, telling the artist he was lucky for the opportunity and should thus shoulder the steep discount.
Flabbergasted, the artist pushed back and managed to strike a (slightly) more equitable arrangement, featuring a lower discount on the batch purchase plus a yearlong contract for sales from the studio with a fee spit of 65 percent/35 percent—with the lion’s share going to the gallery! In my 35 years of practice I have never heard of such usurious, unscrupulous terms before. Desperate times call for desperate actions indeed, but Christ, there are limits. Or should be. Why are artists (from musicians to writers) always on the short end of the brush?
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