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the royal flush

by Charlie Finch  

Art & Auction

Mariko Mori
in costume


The Guggenheim Bilbao
June 1997

Year of the Horse

Love Boat


   According to reliable sources at Art & Auction, the magazine will be sold in the next seven to ten days to a consortium of three individuals whose identities are as yet unannounced. The sales price is rumored to be $1 million, an extremely low figure due to the fact that the magazine is not a money maker. Sources at the magazine indicate that a new multimedia auction service is part of incoming management's plan to reshape the publication and that editor Bruce Wolmer will be retained. We'll see ....

On a related note, Wolmer thinks that the Fed's massive subpoenas of gallery and auction-house records may be tied to a second 60 Minutes segment, scheduled for the fall, following up on last spring's program concerning Peter Watson's Sotheby's sting.

The thinking here is that Morley Safer has an inside source on the New York auction scene, who's also cooperating with the Feds. Stay tuned....

....Taking a tip from Waterworld, the new success standard for a work of art is not what it sells for, but what it costs to make.

On the cutting edge here: phrenological wonder Jerry Saltz, who drools in Time Out over Mariko Mori's million-dollar installation at the Venice Biennale.

Topping that, "The New Work of Jeff Koons, Year 6" is supposedly pushing the $5-million mark and counting. Of course, it's no accident that both artists work with Cecil B. Deitch, the duke of deduction.

....Synergy: Basque separatist demonstrations heating up just in time for the opening of the Guggenheim Bilbao....

There was a lot of grumbling at the Shanghai Museum's opening for "Masterpieces from the Guggenheim." The cliché centerpiece, Chagall's violinist, had Shanghai sophisticates feeling like provincial water buffalo, in the Goog's eyes.... Meanwhile the Shanghai's director, Dr. Ma, flew to Los Angeles for emergency heart surgery.

"It's all one song." -- Neil Young, responding to audience song requests, on his new live CD Year of the Horse.

....Here's an esthetic conundrum -- why won't New Yorkers vote for Ruth Messinger? Visceral answer: because she's ugly.

Now this reporter is no great beauty, but then again, I'm not running for mayor. And Rudy Giuliani, who looks as if his teeth were inserted last week, is definitely pasty-faced and ghoulish, but not, as Spike Lee would say, "mugly."

Ruth Messinger is.

Lest we be branded sexist, remember that Messinger's spin doctors spent most of the spring inserting one frilled-up image piece in the New York Times after another.

Nothing worked.

There are lots of ugly New Yorkers who could tell Messenger, "If you are ugly, get ugly.

Mix it up, Ruthie; put ol' Rudy in a hammerlock and pound. Be a ruthless messinger. What's to lose?

....Let's see, Douglas Cramer, producer of The Love Boat and Dynasty, lowers the taste of millions and then gets rewarded by being elected chairman of the acquisitions committee of the board of trustees of the Museum of Modern Art.

....Mingling grief with dishonesty, Interview editor Ingrid Sischy told the New York Times that Gianni Versace would visit Philip Taaffe's studio "at 2 a.m., after a party" to gawk at the Taaffster's work. No mention of Taaffe's displeasure that Versace ripped off Phil's paintings for his designs.

....Imitating Artforum, Granta, etc., the Review of Art, the magazine with no pictures, just added lengthy author bios to its dull dribblings, to wit:

Crapola Critica is currently an adjunct professor of simulacra at Dorkheim University in Marginalia, Slovenia.

She has contributed articles to High Art, Low Art, Dingus Monthly and Yo Mama, the Magazine of Rap.

Her forthcoming monograph, Let Me Out of the Gallery, or I'm Calling the Cops will be published in April by Bad Breath Press.

In this issue, Crapola examines the candy fetishists of Oaxaca.

....Quote: "You don't have to make a living, your husband's a doctor." -- Wall Street Journal editor Raymond Sokolov, firing critic Deborah Solomon.

Corollary: "You'll never get off welfare, your daddy's an art critic."

CHARLIE FINCH is the New York editor of Coagula Art Journal and has coauthored the forthcoming Most Art Sucks from Smart Art Press.