Art Basel Miami soaked up a lot of ink this week, but we keep hearing that it was less glamorous than in previous years, with fewer of the right people showing up, and more of the wrong people rushing to 2d-rate parties and throwing money at 3d-rate art.
Like all trendy scenes, they peak, then they decline. The new crowd is the same desperate heat-seekers who polluted the Hamptons, then poisoned Christmas week in St. Barths. You know who we mean.
Our man in Miami, national correspondent Eric Newill, noticed what was on the walls. He writes, “Still a rare find to run across an important Basquiat or Warhol. But there are tons of Keith Harings; I think he’s devalued.” [ Sorry to hear that. He was a wonderful guy, sweet and generous.]
Newill continues, “One thing I noticed is that many major pieces by 20th-century people like Miro and Calder are suddenly for sale. I think the owners of these, who bought them 60 years ago and decorated their Mayfair and Park Avenue places with them, are dying off and their kids don’t want them.”
ORB SAYS: Although the bubble is slowing, the prices are still astronomical. We knew Andy and we knew Jean-Michel. If they were here to see naive speculators paying more for canvases that they knocked out in 45 minutes than it costs to purchase a mansion in New Orleans or Savannah, they would laugh their asses off. Andy, in particular, was realistic about money. Although he was not parsimonious and not ungenerous, he never squandered it. And he never sold a piece for more than a million dollars.
The most interesting art news was made yesterday in New York, where an Appellate Division panel ruled 5-0 that just because Ron Perelman is no longer happy with some art deals he made with his former BFF Larry Gagosian, he is not entitled to civil damages.
The court held that Ron is a big boy who has been around the block a few times and he failed to show due diligence by not asking Larry to prove the value of the Koons, the Twombley and the Serra that he claims was misrepresented.
If you think this sounds like a schoolyard punchout, you ain’t wrong. When Mr. Perelman gets pissed, he goes to court. He has sued ex-wives, ex-in-laws and others who looked at him the wrong way. For certain people, litigation is therapy and more fun than lying on a shrink’s couch.
Perelman’s spokeswoman, the adorable Christine Taylor, spun it the best she could: “It is obvious that this is no vindication for Mr. Gagosian. To the contrary, while the court decided that we were not entitled to rely on Gagosian, it did not conclude that he did not act fraudulently. [ORB loves double negatives; they obfuscate deliciously.] Indeed, when it comes to the art market, apparently it’s buyer beware and when it comes to Larry Gagosian, it’s buyer be damned.” (per CNBC web site)
POW RIGHT BETWEEN THE EYES. Chris Taylor, as you know, is the tough sassy blonde Perelman pays over a million dollars a year, on dit, to manage the press with a carrot and a stick. Ron lured her away from Mike Bloomberg, for whom she’d done similar work. Chris is worth every penny.
Gagosian lawyer Matthew Dontzin counter-punched: “We are gratified that the court unanimously dismissed the case, supporting our view that’s in keeping with Perelman’s lengthy history of unsuccessfully trying to use the courts to bully his business associates. This lawsuit was filed as a shameless pretext for Perelman’s refusal to pay what he owed the gallery.”
Don’t you hate it when friends fall out over something as unimportant as money? Of course you do.