Frieze

Dealer Francois Ghebaly Is Opening a Second Space in L.A., Joining a Growing Throng of Galleries in Hollywood


Veteran Los Angeles dealer Francois Ghebaly is expanding into a new space in Hollywood.

Next week—not coincidentally just ahead of the latest edition of Frieze Los Angeles—he will open a his second gallery in a raw, un-renovated space, left “as we found it.”

“I was looking for spaces and I came across one that was perfect for us,” Ghebaly told Midnight Publishing Group News. The dealer previously operated galleries in L.A.’s Chinatown and then Culver City in the early aughts. For the past decade, Ghebaly has run a space in downtown L.A. “We’ve been downtown about 10 years. We have a wonderful space and community there and it’s been very successful. We love what we’ve done there.”

The facade of Francois Ghebaly's new space in Hollywood. Image courtesy Francois Ghebaly.

The facade of Francois Ghebaly’s new space in Hollywood. Image courtesy Francois Ghebaly.

“We’re not moving away, we’re expanding,” he said of the new Hollywood locale, which is situated off of Santa Monica Boulevard, on Poinsettia Drive.

“We are going to have a wonderful gallery that kind of keeps the spirit of our downtown gallery.” Both spaces are housed in 1940s-era buildings with brick facades.

Ghebaly said the new site is “basically the very beginning of West Hollywood, so my immediate neighbors are Karma and Nino Meier, and right down the street from Jeffrey Deitch and Matthew Brown.”

Sharif Farrag, Bodach, (2019). Image courtesy the artist and Francois Ghebaly.

Sharif Farrag, Bodach, (2019). Image courtesy the artist and Francois Ghebaly.

The gallery will open with a show of work by Patrick Jackson, and then will shut down for a while. Ghebaly is in conversation with several architects about the space, but hasn’t decided what route he will take.

When the gallery reopens, it will be with a solo show from Sharif Farrag, a young L.A.-based artist. Farrag’s fantastical ceramic sculptures feature a mashup of imagery including body parts, cigarettes, pop-culture cartoon references and imagery from graffiti and skater culture as well as his Syrian-Egyptian heritage. “He’s been building on an incredible body of work,” said Ghebaly.

Patrick Jackson, Heads, Hands and Feet, (2011). Installation view, "Made in L.A. 2020: A Version," The Huntington, Los Angeles, CA.

Patrick Jackson, Heads, Hands and Feet, (2011). Installation view, “Made in L.A. 2020: A Version,” The Huntington, Los Angeles.

Los Angeles is “such an ever-changing city and there is a very exciting group of galleries and a great community that is developing in Hollywood,” Ghebaly said. “L.A. is such a large, wide city that there are many cities within L.A. itself. In Hollywood, something very exciting is happening right now, and I felt like it would be interesting to be a part of it.”

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The L.A. Art Scene Is Expanding in Time for the Frieze Art Fair Amidst a Billionaire Scion’s Bold Investment in an Up-And-Coming Area


While reporting my doom-and-gloom column last week, I spotted a glimmer of hope: Los Angeles.

So I decided to follow up on it.

Indeed, the art scene in the City of Angels has been undergoing a major expansion, and anticipation is now building around the Frieze L.A. art fair in mid-February—an event that is poised not only to be a celebration of the West Coast art capital but also the year’s first stress test for U.S. galleries writ large. The fair is going through its own leveling-up, with a larger new venue in Santa Monica and 120 exhibitors, 20 percent more than at last year’s edition. Coinciding with Frieze are at least four other art fairs, as well as openings and other festivities by newcomers, including a cluster of New York galleries, led by David Zwirner, which is flocking to East Hollywood. (Although that opening is being delayed, more on that later.)

The locals, meanwhile are doubling down. L.A. mainstay Hauser & Wirth, for instance, is opening a new 5,000-square-foot location in West Hollywood with new paintings by George Condo priced at $2.6 million to $2.8 million. Nearby, homegrown François Ghebaly Gallery will launch a 3,000-square-foot branch, its second in the city. Entrepreneur Stefan Simcowitz’s recent opening of a gallery in Pasadena is followed this week by a new space on the ground floor of the Mohilef Studios downtown.

George Condo, Psycho (2022). Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth
Photo: Thomas Barrat

“There’s a lot of momentum,” said Mills Moran, co-founder of the local Morán Morán gallery and the Felix Art Fair. “L.A. is growing.”

Some of the excitement can be traced to a new art hub sprouting in East Hollywood. Dubbed Melrose Hill, the area was first populated by vendors servicing Paramount Studios and later furniture showrooms, whose column-free, high-ceiling layouts seem readymade for contemporary art galleries. These days, streets appear desolate, with empty lots and trash on the sidewalks.

Turning the area into a walkable, artsy, and cool destination is the passion project of Zach Lasry, the 32-year-old son of Marc Lasry, the billionaire hedge fund manager and co-owner of NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks team.

“He was just very motivated to make the neighborhood something organically interesting,” said Allegra LaViola, owner of Sargent’s Daughters gallery, which signed a five-year lease with the younger Lasry. “He liked the idea of a neighborhood that had a little bit of a New York vibe. You get out of your car, you can go to this restaurant, go to this coffee shop, go to this gallery, to a cool boutique—instead of getting in a car, driving to one thing, getting out of the car, getting back in the car, going to another thing.”

Morán Morán was first to sign on, opening a gallery near a gas station on N. Western Avenue in August 2021, with a 10-year lease. The 5,000-square-foot space with skylights was an upgrade from its former 3,000-square-foot quarters in West Hollywood.

“We were really early,” Moran said. “We saw Zach’s vision. It wasn’t hard to visualize. They’ve been acquiring property there for a long time. Our conversations started before the pandemic.”

Others followed. Clearing opened a temporary space in September. Sargent’s Daughters and Shrine, who share a space east of Dimes Square in New York, are moving in next month to coincide with Frieze L.A. James Fuentes will follow in March, across from Morán Morán.

James Fuentes, Los Angeles.

New York gallerist James Fuentes’s new Los Angeles outpost. Courtesy of the Gallery.

The biggest kahuna in the area, of course, is David Zwirner, whose limited liability company paid $6 million in 2021 for a building at 606 N. Western Avenue and another $1 million for a two-bedroom house with bars on the windows around the corner last year, according to property records.

The gallery had planned to launch its first West Coast flagship in time for Frieze L.A. with a long-awaited show of Njideka Akunyili Crosby. But the chatter mill is abuzz that the 15,000-square-food project by Selldorf Architects got mired in construction delays, and won’t open till later this spring. A spokeswoman for the gallery confirmed that it’s not debuting during the week of Frieze but declined to elaborate.

Moran said that his new neighbors are discussing coordinated openings to draw people to the up-and-coming area. Safety may be a concern, at least initially.

“There’s so much homelessness, it’s actually dangerous,” said Simchowitz, the art establishment’s perennial gadfly. A homeless man threw an iron bar at his car when he was in the area this week, he said.  

I raised the issue of safety with some New York transplants.

“It reminds me of Delancey Street, where the gallery is in New York,” said Fuentes, who signed a 10-year lease in Melrose Hill. “I never felt like I needed to be extra-concerned.”

 

Jemima Kirke, Bride in a Dark Room (2017) will be in Sargent’s Daughter’s first L.A. show, “Death of Beauty.” Courtesy: Sargent’s Daughters

LaViola said that she always takes safety into consideration, leading her to install a buzzer at her New York gallery, but that she wasn’t too worried about Melrose Hill.

Lasry’s plan to create denser foot traffic is part of what drew her to the area, she said. Affordable rent, a feature of a fringe locale, was another. “I would pay the same price for 500 square feet on the Upper East Side, where I would be on the third floor, as for the ground floor in Los Angeles, where we could renovate to our own specifications,” she said.

 

“Knowing that there was this built-in association was really key,” LaViola said.

Alison Knowles, The House of Dust Edition (1967). Courtesy of the artist, James Fuentes, and LACMA.

Alison Knowles, The House of Dust Edition (1967) will be part of “Coded: Art Enters the Computer Age, 1952–1982” at LACMA. Courtesy of the artist, James Fuentes, and LACMA.

Los Angeles has been increasing in significance for Fuentes, who has been cautious not to overextend during his 15-year gallery career. But a generation of budding collectors has made L.A. their home since the pandemic, taking advantage of remote work policies, resulting in a new pool of clients. The area is famously home to many artists, useful for the expanding gallery, and proximate to Asia. Fuentes’s artists show in the city’s world-class institutions. One, Alison Knowles, will be included in a group show about the rise of computer technology at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art next month.

“I am so careful with these types of decisions, and I spent a lot of time analyzing it and considering it,” Fuentes said about his move. “I am going into it with optimism.”

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The Back Room: Once Upon a Time in the West


Every Friday, Midnight Publishing Group News Pro members get exclusive access to the Back Room, our lively recap funneling only the week’s must-know intel into a nimble read you’ll actually enjoy. 

This week in the Back Room: A former LA textile mill churns out art stars, the law catches up to a scandalous SoCal dealer, Gagosian goes big online (again), and much more—all in a 6-minute read (1,824 words).

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Top of the Market

LA, LA, Big City of Dreams

Canyon Castator, courtesy of the artist.

Canyon Castator, courtesy of the artist.

The international art market’s next step out of the COVID riptide landed in Los Angeles this week, as the city hosts its first gallery weekend (organized by Gallery Association Los Angeles), the third edition of the Felix art fair, and a beach bag overflowing with associated art happenings. You can even scroll through Frieze’s LA-focused OVR while you crawl along the freeway from event to event!

But one of the city’s most exciting new art hubs will impact the industry well after the limelight turns to the next destination on the events calendar. Welcome to Mohilef Studios, a former downtown LA textiles factory now housing four stories of workspaces for an ensemble cast of rising art stars.

As Katya Kazakina reports, the driving force behind Mohilef Studios is the buzzy transplanted New York painter Canyon Castator. Six years after renting an 800 square-foot space to share with his sculptor father in what was then an arts-bereft building, Castator has grown into a hybrid curator, community builder, and entrepreneur tending what tastemakers increasingly feel is a can’t-miss hive of emerging talent.

Those tastemakers include local dealer and artists’ manager Niels Kantor, Hollywood producer and veteran collector Neal Moritz, and K-Pop supernova T.O.P. (Choi Seung-hyun). Among the fans on the gallery side are Bill Brady (who maintains spaces in New York, Miami, and Los Angeles) and Carl Kostyál (London, Stockholm), both of whom have now exhibited works by multiple current and former Mohilef tenants.

Who are some of those tenants, you ask?

  • Simphiwe Ndzube, now boasting a solo show at the Denver Art Museum and representation by Nicodim and Stevenson galleries.
  • Jess Valice, whose one-person exhibitions at Brady’s New York and Miami spaces sold out in January at prices ranging from $5,000 to $18,000.
  • Austyn Weiner, a Mohilef alum whose works have soared as high as $90,000 at auction and anchored shows at the JournalKohn Gallery, and Carl Kostyál.

Yet these successes have been refreshingly organic. Castator says the vision was always for Mohilef to be an affordable resource for artists, with a sense of community and a self-made spirit. The reality is living up to his expectations.

The two Castators have personally renovated every space and selected every new resident. Each floor has a different layout fit for different career stages, from smaller open-plan studios to about 3,200-square-foot private spaces. Prices are around $1.25 per square foot. Since neither Castator nor several of the tenants went to art school, the studio also doubles as a homegrown support network.

It has paid off for everyone, including Castator himself. His paintings now sell for $25,000 to $35,000 to buyers including KAWS. And as the buzz around Mohilef keeps mounting, his clout will only increase as an artist, talent scout, and maybe even a new SoCal cultural kingmaker.

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The Bottom Line

From the market’s perspective, Mohilef Studios is the right thing in the right place at the right time.

The COVID financial boom continues to send upside-minded buyers hunting for promising young artists, drastically juicing prices and opportunities for exactly the types of talent Mohilef welcomes. Merge this dynamic with the larger cultural and financial push toward Los Angeles in recent years, and its surging profile makes perfect sense.

No wonder Castator just rented 4,000 square feet on the top floor of an industrial building on Washington Boulevard to convert into more artist studios. You know LA loves a sequel…

 

[Read More]

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Paint Drippings

The Henderson, Hong Kong by Zaha Hadid Architects for Henderson Land. Rendering by Arqui9, courtesy of Christie's.

Visualization of the Henderson, Hong Kong by Zaha Hadid Architects for Henderson Land, where Christie’s will move in 2024. Rendering by Arqui9, courtesy of Christie’s.

Wet Paint is on hiatus this week, but here’s what else made a mark around the industry.

 

Art Fairs

  • Volta will debut in downtown Miami during Miami Art Week, replacing Pulse. (Both events are now owned by Ramsay Fairs.)

  • The Seattle Art Fair will return next summer, from July 21–July 24 at the Lumen Field Event Center.

 

Auction Houses

  • Christie’s Hong Kong will be an anchor tenant in the Henderson, a new Zaha Hadid Architects-designed tower in Central. The move (slated for 2024) quadruples the house’s showroom space, enabling it to hold a yearlong sales program in HK for the first time.

 

Galleries

  • Mike Egan, founder of the tastemaking Ramiken gallery, has teamed with respected Upper East Side dealer Meredith Rosen on a joint venture called (what else?) Egan and Rosen. The new business opened its inaugural show, “Otto Dix / Andra Ursuţa,” last night in its home at 11 East 78th St. (Both dealers will also continue running their pre-existing galleries separately.)

  • Andrew Kreps announced the representation of Hong Kong-based painter Henry Shum (in collaboration with Empty Gallery). Kreps will stage Shum’s first solo show in North America in fall 2022.

  • Nara Roesler added painter André Griffo to its stable (in alliance with Rio’s Galeria Athena); his first one-person exhibition with the dealer will bow in São Paulo next year.

  • Multidisciplinary artist Nicholas Hlobo has joined Goodman Gallery. (He will also continue to be repped by Lehmann Maupin.)

  • König Galerie expanded its artist ranks with painter Conny Maier, a recipient of Deutsche Bank’s 2020 Artist of the Year Award.

  • JTT added James Yaya Hough, whose work is currently on view in a solo show at the gallery (and was also featured in MoMA PS1’s “Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration” last year).

  • New York’s Tina Kim Gallery now reps installation artist Mire Lee, a nominee for the PinchukArtCentre’s Future Generations Art Prize.

  • Angela Cuadra and Laura F. Gibellini became the latest artists to join Madrid’s NF/Nieves Fernández gallery.

 

Institutions

  • Starting October 1, the next director of the Centre Pompidou will be 39-year-old Xavier Rey, who has helmed the Musées de Marseille for the past four years.

  • The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum named Ty Woodfolk its first ever chief culture and inclusion officer; it also promoted Trish Jeffers to deputy director of human resources.

  • New York’s Museum of Arts and Design chose Timothy R. Rodgers, formerly of the Phoenix Art Museum, to be its 11th director in eight years.

  • Tate Liverpool will host the fall exhibition of artists shortlisted for the 2022 Turner Prize. The artists will be selected next May, and the winner will be announced in December.

  • The Institute of Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University selected Sarah Rifky to be its senior curator and director of programs. It also promoted Amber Esseiva from associate curator to full curator.

  • The Seoul Museum of Art accepted a gift of 141 works from the heirs of late Korean sculptor Kwon Jin-kyu.

  • MoMA PS1 announced the 47 artists in its upcoming “Greater New York” exhibition, set to debut on October 7. ARTnews has the full list.

 

NFTs and Misc.

  • The Whitworth gallery in Manchester is partnering with versatile online art platform Vastari Labs to auction a William Blake NFT whose proceeds will fund “socially beneficial projects.”

  • A New York Supreme Court judge tossed out collector Michael Steinhardt’s lawsuit against Hirschl and Adler gallery and its president, Stuart Feld, over the sale of a $12 million portrait of another president, George Washington.

  • Jeremy Stowe, who had previously taken a leave of absence from his role as leader of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, has stepped down.

 

CORRECTION: Last week’s edition included a rumor that Blum & Poe’s Los Angeles headquarters would show collaborative works by Mark Grotjahn and Jonas Wood in September. In reality, the gallery will be presenting a solo show of works by Grotjahn, his first at the space since 2016. 

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Data Dip

Asia Outbuilds Everybody

Graph from AEA Consulting’s Cultural Infrastructure Index 2020.

Auction sales weren’t the only metric where the Eastern art industry fought off the pandemic more ably than the West in 2020. For the first time ever, Asia completed more cultural infrastructure projects above $10 million than any other region, finishing 34 to North America’s 32 per a new report from AEA Consulting.

The study covers new builds, renovations, and expansions of museums, galleries, performing arts centers, multifunction arts venues, and cultural hubs or districts. Like Asia, Australia/New Zealand, the Middle East, and Africa all saw either flat or increased numbers of new institutions open in 2020. Equivalent figures in North America and Europe both declined in a big way.

Still, this could be more anomaly than trend. North America announced 53 new cultural infrastructure projects last year—almost twice as many as anywhere else. But only time will tell whether the West will win the construction race, or just win the initial press conferences.

For more takeaways from the AEA report, click through below.

 

[Read More]

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“We try everything. Since NFTs exist, we need to try them.”

Mikhail Piotrovsky, general director of Russia’s State Hermitage Museum, on its imminent fundraising auction of NFTs linked to works by Giorgione, Kandinsky, Leonardo, Monet, and van Gogh.

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Express Checkout

The Feds Wage War on Chrismas + Three More Market Morsels

 

The FBI arrested notorious LA dealer Douglas Chrismas on charges of embezzling upwards of $260,000 from the bankruptcy estate of the now-shuttered Ace Gallery, which he founded in 1967 and lost ownership of in 2013. (The Los Angeles Times)

  • Chrismas, age 77, faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted on all counts. He pleaded not guilty, with his trial scheduled to begin in September.

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Marian Goodman gallery became the latest blue-chip gallery to announce a robust new leadership structure without mentioning the phrase “succession plan”; the headline moves include its namesake moving to CEO, and Philipp Kaiser becoming president and partner. (Press release)

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The Artists Pension Trust, once seen as a promising new vehicle to stabilize artists’ finances, has provoked accusations of mismanagement, an official complaint to British regulators, and at least one lawsuit from its members. (The New York Times)

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An insider’s look at the ascendant dealers and agents making Accra an art-market hotspot. (Midnight Publishing Group News Pro)

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Work of the Week

Chris Burden’s The Hidden Force

Chris Burden, <i>The Hidden Force</i> (1995). © 2021 Chris Burden / licensed by The Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Courtesy Gagosian

Chris Burden, The Hidden Force (1995). © 2021 Chris Burden / licensed by The Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Courtesy Gagosian

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Date:                      1995

Seller:                    Gagosian

Price:                     $2.25 million

Selling at:              Frieze Viewing Room, Los Angeles

Sale Date:              Through Sunday, August 1

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Still believe a savvy dealer would only post modestly priced, easy-to-sell works in an online viewing room? Gagosian is challenging that myth yet again in its Frieze Los Angeles OVR dedicated to the late California visionary Chris Burden. Standing out amid an ambitious array of genre-crossing works is The Hidden Force, an outdoor sculpture consisting of three partially in-ground concrete pools  that function as monumental compasses. Thanks to one magnetized end, the elliptical object floating in each pool always bobs back to due north, giving viewers both literal and metaphorical guidance on their life’s journey.

Originally commissioned for the McNeil Island Corrections Center via the Washington State Arts CommissionThe Hidden Force was decommissioned when the prison closed in 2011. The Burden estate recently secured the right to recreate the piece and will consult with an acquiring collector or institution to ensure it integrates with its new home in a site-specific, site-responsive way true to the artist’s intent.

So why offer it here and now? “2021 would have been Burden’s 75th milestone year,” said Yayoi Shionoiri, the estate’s executive director. “While Burden created The Hidden Force in the 1990s, this work feels as timely as ever, and serves to remind us all of the power of art.” That it’s being made available in this context should also remind us that both west-coast collectors and the OVR are stronger than ever.

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Thanks for joining us in the Back Room. See you next Friday.

The post The Back Room: Once Upon a Time in the West appeared first on Midnight Publishing Group News.

The Best and Worst of the Art World This Week


What’s Behind the KAWS Phenomenon? On this week’s Art Angle podcast, Ben Davis discusses his theories behind the metoric rise of the street artist.

A Could-Be Caravaggio – Authorities stopped the sale of a painting that experts now believe is a genuine work by the Old Master painter.

Art Basel Slims Down – The megafair revealed that its Hong Kong edition will host a slew of “ghost booths” and will be half the size of its previous edition.

Mutual Aid Marches On – Networks created during the worst of the pandemic for struggling art workers have no clear end in sight, and may become permanent.

An Art Flipping Donor – In the latest “Wet Paint” column, there’s juicy gossip on the newest location of a David Zwirner gallry, and a collector who reneged on a museum gift.

Parade of Mummies – Egypt threw an incredible parade of mummies across the city of Cairo to celebrate the opening of a new museum.

Picasso Portrait Could Rake in Millions – A 1932 painting of the artist’s young lover could fetch up to $55 million at Christie’s, suggesting a return in market confidence.

Fabergé Lays a Luxe Egg – The latest ornate egg is a collaboration with Game of Thrones to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

More Museums Consider Repatriation – A London museum is creating a plan that would potentially allow for the return of 15 Benin Bronzes.

Sale of Wartime Drawings Cancelled – eBay axed a planned sale of drawings by a Japanese artist interned during World War II after critics said it was profiteering from oppression.

Louvre Never Believed in the “Last Leonardo” – A new documentary reveals that the museum had doubts about the Salvator Mundi’s authenticity all along.

Police Nab Suspect in Lockdown Heists – Dutch authorities arrested one man suspected of stealing both a Van Gogh and a Frans Hals painting from museums during the pandemic.

Couple Mistakenly Mar $500,000 Painting  A couple visiting a street art show in a Seoul mall used paint and brushes on display to add their own mark, misunderstanding the installation.

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Embattled Dealer Accused of Brazen Heist, Frieze NY to Open for Vaccinated Fairgoers, & More Juicy Art World Gossip


Every week, Midnight Publishing Group News brings you Wet Paint, a gossip column of original scoops reported and written by Nate Freeman. If you have a tip, email Nate at [email protected]

 

BUSINESS NOT BOOMING

The pandemic year in America has not been especially kind to Robert Blumenthal. Last March, the collector-turned-dealer entered into a legal entanglement with Derek Fordjour, claiming that the in-demand artist—who just last month solidified his blue-chip status by joining David Kordansky Gallery out West in addition to his New York reps, Petzel—owed him $1.45 million after a 2014 deal in which Blumenthal paid $20,000 for 20 works fell apart. Perhaps the then-young artist was grateful for the funds at the time, but those $1,000 Fordjour paintings now go for $250,000, and Blumenthal said he only received 13 of the 20. So, apparently, Fordjour owed him seven more—at 2020 rates.

But in July, Blumenthal’s attorney exited the case, claiming he hadn’t been paid. The status of the case is now unclear. But Blumenthal’s got even bigger problems: A former partner is accusing him of stealing artworks. Blumenthal, on the other hand, claims he was simply taking what was rightfully his.

Robert Blumenthal. Photo: Patrick McMullan.

Robert Blumenthal. Photo: Patrick McMullan.

In a video sent to Wet Paint, the dealer Ford Phillips—who founded East Projects with Blumenthal in late 2019, but no longer works with him—can be seen entering his apartment on March 1 for what he says is the first time since November. “Robert Blumenthal has been here trying to steal artwork,” Phillips says in the video. “All the lights are on—typical. The place is a fucking mess.”

In another image given to Wet Paint, police can be seen in the apartment filing a report.

Phillips’s lawyer confirmed that his client had contacted the Art Loss Register and “the appropriate authorities… to resolve the issue.” (“The unfortunate reality is my client did work on various projects with Robert Blumenthal,” the lawyer said. “However, Robert never had a formal interest in my client’s business.”)

The police investigating the alleged theft. Photo courtesy a tipster.

Sources said Phillips was missing work by artists including the hotly in-demand Ivy Haldeman—who makes pastel-washed surrealist scenes that often feature hot dogs come to life—and others who had been featured in the last solo show at East Projects, which was curated by the London-based advisor Bjorn Stern.

Another artist whose work is said to be at large is Godwin Champs Namuyimba, the Ugandan artist who has seen his market rise over the pandemic. Three works in the last six months have doubled their high estimates at auction, selling for mid-five figures and gaining momentum.

Blumenthal, for his part, says he merely claimed what belongs to him. “This is simply a shakedown by someone who is financially desperate and trying to take what isn’t his,” he told Wet Paint. “I took the work to protect my financial interest as Ford was threatening to sell the paintings and keep the money.” He shared an email that appears to confirm his purchase of a work by Haldeman, which he says is now in “the townhouse Ford and I shared together.”

Meanwhile, he is unhappy with the way his estranged business partners have handled the work of Champs Namuyimba, who Blumenthal says is being included in the next Venice Biennale. After the trio planned to buy 25 works by the artist jointly, Phillips and Stern began “putting [them] directly at auction which is not the way I would go about building an artist career,” he said. “I hope we can resolve this, but I am not going to just let people steal from me.”

A billboard by Sayre Gomez, presented by Robert Blumenthal Gallery in 2017. Photo courtesy Robert Blumenthal Gallery.

The East Projects website no longer lists Blumenthal as a partner, and his own gallery on the Bowery, simply called Blumenthal, has not had a show since 2018. Sources say, however, that there is an intriguing development in his personal life. After a divorce that landed him some unflattering coverage in Page Six, Blumenthal is newly engaged to Olivia Wheat, stepdaughter for former Credit Suisse chairman and CEO Allen Wheat.

Mazel tov to the happy couple! Let’s hope all this mishigas gets sorted out before the wedding.

 

FRIEZE THAWS FROZEN PLANS FOR NEW YORK FAIR

The Shed in Hudson Yards. (C. Taylor Crothers/Getty Images)

Here’s a fun parlor game to play with dealers while dining outside as temperatures creep up: What will the actual first art fair be in the After Times? Many have their money on Art Basel in Switzerland, now delayed to September, and lack of rooms at the Drei Könige indicates a certain amount of confidence that there will be, um, something on the Messeplatz come fall. But flights are not booked, and Wet Paint hears that one prominent gallery owner is telling staff that a trip to the Rhine come fall is not exactly likely. If the last year taught us anything, trying to predict stuff like this so many months out is pretty worthless. (An Art Basel rep says the fair is still scheduled for September.)

But perhaps the plan for springtime has finally become clear—at least stateside. Europe has been in and out of lockdown since last fall, but New York’s numbers have been looking pretty dang promising since the start of 2021, knock on wood. Which is why, despite rumblings of its demise, Frieze New York is indeed going ahead with plans for its scaled-back fair, travel restrictions and general logistical headaches be damned.

In a letter to exhibitors obtained by Wet Paint, the fair says it plans to hold its mini expo at The Shed, the art center at Hudson Yards, and claims it has the pledged support of “all relevant authorities, medical consultants, collectors, and our participating galleries.”

Frieze will not look like this in May. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Getting in won’t be a cakewalk. All exhibitors, staff, and attendees need a negative PCR test—that’s a PCR test, not a rapid test—before they can enter, which means full quarantine in the days while you wait for the results. That, or proof of vaccination. Once you jump that hurdle, you’ll enter a facility geeked-out with an extra fancy ventilation system, a large space that will be sparsely populated at all times due to the timed ticketing system. Naturally, masks are required. Daily health checks will monitor the temperature of staff, exhibitors, and attendees.

And just to be extra careful, Frieze has established a “medical advisory team” that will oversee “an app to manage daily declarations, appointments for testing, private records of test results and/or proof of vaccination, as well as details for contact tracing.” Sounds like a party!

Frieze declined to comment beyond the email.

 

POP QUIZ

Excellent work on last week’s quiz, dear readers. So many of you knew that the work was Black Monolith, for Okwui Enwezor (Charlottesville) (2017–20) by Julie Mehretu, which is currently on view at the New Museum in its fantastic show, “Grief and Grievance: Art & Mourning in America,” conceived of by Enwezor before his death. Thankfully, it’s up until June—fingers crossed that some vaccinated non-New Yorkers can swing through town in the next few months to see it.

But identifying the owners proved a little trickier. The Mehretu is owned by Henry Kravis, the billionaire founder of investment firm KKR & Co., and his wife, the philanthropist Marie-Josée Kravis. (The wall text at the New Museum doesn’t mention that Henry Kravis was a prominent Trump donor who was once in the running to be secretary of the Treasury, though in November, Kravis did urge Trump to accept the results of the election and begin the transition, so, I don’t know, all is forgiven? Is that how this works?)

Henry Kravis and his wife Marie-Josee Kravis arrive at the White House for a state dinner April 24, 2018. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)

We had more than 10 correct responses, so here’s the first batch that landed in the inbox with a fully correct answer: Brussels-based curator Louis-Philippe Van Eeckhoutte; collector and patron Scott Lorinsky; Dan Desmond, executive director of the Blue Rider Group at Morgan Stanley; Pace Gallery’s Danielle Forest; Cyprien David, exhibition coordinator at Gagosian, Geneva; Los Angeles dealer Harmony Murphy; Kelly Long, curatorial assistant at the Whitney; Darrow Contemporary founder Meredith Darrow; self-described “Wet Paint fan” Cullen McAndrews; and the art historian and critic Phyllis Tuchman.

A hearty congrats to all!

Here’s this week’s clue: Name the artwork and its owner!

Winners will get hats—the next batch is coming in very soon… so send your guesses to [email protected]!

 

WE HEAR…

A work by Issy Wood set to be auctioned on Fair Warning. Photo courtesy Instagram.

Loïc Gouzer’s Fair Warning will be offering a dazzling work by the master Issy Wood Sunday, and it’s expected to go for big, as Wood’s work is impossible to get—even if you are world-famous art podcaster Russell Tovey!—and has never before appeared at auction … Longtime Bowery stalwart The Hole is branching out to a second location, right in the heart of the new gallery mecca in Tribeca … Rapper Ja Rule is doing NFTs now—look, this gimmick is already entering its Fyre Festival era, do we still have to pretend to care? … Ramiken founder Mike Egan is taking off his art dealer hat and putting his artist hat back on with a solo show at Meredith Rosen Gallery inspired by that eternal muse, Lana Del Rey … I feel like we’ve written this a few times but now Indochine is actually reopening March 30 … Josh Kushner and Karlie Kloss have brought another grandchild of former jailbird Charlie Kushner into this world … Greek shipping heirs Theo Niarchos and Eugenie Niarchos have opened a new gallery in Los Angeles with a show or works by Max Ernst

A detail of Tony Matelli’s Caesar, set to be shown in Mexico in April. Photo courtesy Winter Street Gallery.

Winter Street Gallery, the Martha’s Vineyard space founded by dealers George Newall and Ingrid Lundgren, will be popping up in Mexico City—there’s a lot going on in Mexico City in April, people—with an outdoor sculpture show featuring Carl D’Alvia, Al Freeman, Tony Matelli, Kayode Ojo, presented alongside Galería Hilario Galguera, and the grand opening is April 27 … Beloved East Village art dive Sophie’s, a place very close to your scribe’s heart, reopens today, along with its sister bar Josie’s, and we will see all you vaccinated folks at the pool table, get ready to lose … There may not be art fairs quite yet, but all the collectors down in Palm Beach can attend the billionaire-stuffed island’s International Boat Show, which, according to a release, is very much happening at the end of March very much in person, as there ain’t no online viewing room that can replace the smack of sea breeze taken in deckside …

 

SPOTTED

Good morning New York let’s get those non-fungible tokens! Photo courtesy Instagram.

*** Sotheby’s CEO Charlie Stewart, who was last seen drinking a fancy bottle of red with Kevin Love, on his businessman tip—this week on the Instagram stories, Charlie made sure to post proof that he got to the office early *** A large swath of the downtown set descending upon the Bushwick-based Pegasus Prints for a group show arranged under the auspices of Lucien Smith’s non-profit Serving The People *** Anton Kern director Brigitte Mulholland celebrating artist Hein Koh’s carrot-themed paintings at the gallery’s Tribeca window with, um, carrot cake, what else *** King Of All Media Chris Black taking a break from pumping out episodes of How Long Gone (which he hosts with Jason Stewart) to shoot pre-grammy pictures of Phoebe Bridgers wearing custom Thom Browne in a Los Angeles backyard ***

Phoebe Bridgers in Thom Browne. Photo by Chris Black.

*** A number of artists and writers celebrating the one-year anniversary of Dr. Clark, which had the distinction of opening on exactly the day the city’s restaurants shut down ***  The new LA set at Gigi’s, a Hollywood spot that on-the-town west coast tipsters tell us has attracted a continuous flow of models, artists and musicians, and everybody’s smoking constantly, which is great *** Artists Lily Gavin and Barry Keoghan screening films at the Gucci Bookstore on Wooster Street in Soho *** Bella Hadid hanging out by the big KAWS thing outside the Seagram Building *** Speaking, if anyone could put Lil Baby in touch with Per Skarstedt—Lil Baby, ladies and gentlemen, would like to buy some KAWS ***

 

PARTING SHOT

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