10 oct 2017

From Düsseldorf to Paris, chronicles of an undercover reporter

From Düsseldorf to Paris, chronicles of an undercover reporter in the art world.

I don’t know if the curator Eva Birkenstock belongs to the family that makes German orthopaedic sandals, but she’s now the new director of the Düsseldorf Kunstverein. As for the shoe brand, it’s just lost the case it brought against artist Ida Ekblad and the Hamburg Kunsthaus for using an advertising image that featured the CEO’s six-year-old daughter. The Reichert family, owners of Birkenstock, insist that it’s less about copyright than the personal rights of the child. But the court threw out their argument, ruling that if they used the image for an advert they couldn’t have been that bothered about the child’s personal image rights in the first place.


A painting by Gerhard Richter entitled Düsenjäger [fighter plane] was the big fish in last November’s Phillips auction, going for $25 million to Chinese businessman and collector Zhang Chang. Unfortunately Chang still hasn’t coughed up for it. But Phillips had a guarantee in the form of a Francis Bacon which the collector left as security in case of non-payment. As it turns out, he hadn’t paid for the Bacon either. According to a report written by Dr. Clare McAndrew for Art Basel and UBS, between May 2015 and May 2016 41% of lots sold in Chinese auctions were never paid for.


In mid July, Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center put on its annual gala in the Hamptons, where the New York art world likes to get away from the city heat. This year Isabelle and Laurie Anderson were the guests of honour. In August, Aspen, Colorado – A merica’s up-market ski resort – played host to the ArtCrush gala, an annual event which raises funds for the Aspen contemporary-art museum, built by the architect Shigeru Ban. The collector Amy Phelan oversees the event and holds wine tastings in her house – WineCrush – that absolutely no one misses. Lawrence Weiner was this year’s star artist, and the event brought in $2.8 million.


But that’s nothing compared to the $45 million raised by Leonardo DiCaprio last year at the annual gala he organizes in Saint-Tropez for the future of our planet. At the time of writing, the amount brought in by this year’s bash isn’t yet known because internet bidding is still going on. Up for grabs were works by Jim Shaw, Lynda Benglis, Sterling Ruby, and Richard Prince, as well as a portrait of DiCaprio by Julian Schnabel, which Leo himself successfully bid on for a final hammer price of several hundred-thousand dollars.


In Paris this September a weeklong programme of events, We Dream Under The Same Sky, is taking place at the Palais de Tokyo, followed by a Christie’s auction at the Alaïa gallery to raise money for charities that look after refugees arriving in France. The project was the brainchild of Julie Boukobza, Blanche de Lestrange and the Galerie Chantal Crousel (http:// wedreamunderthesamesky.com/fr).