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Celebrity Art 4/23/99
by Baird Jones
  At the gala reception for the Whitney Museum's new show, "The American Century: Art & Culture, 1900-2000," museum chairman Leonard Lauder was greeting guests in a neck brace. When asked what happened, Lauder said, "I've had a bone spur in my neck for several weeks. My doctor told me it comes from saying 'no' too many times. I should be okay by the end of the month."

One topic of conversation at the premiere was the neighbors -- specifically, Mary Tyler Moore, who lives across the street and has been complaining that the museum lighting is too bright and is bothering her eyes.

Another topic at the Whitney was the move of rock-and-roll offspring into the art world. Next month P.S.1 in Queens is debuting a 20-minute art film by Adria Petty, 24, and Anna Gabriel, 25, old school chums from Sarah Lawrence who happen to be daughters of veteran rockers Tom Petty and Peter Gabriel. Petty the younger has been going to New York University film school and has worked as an assistant to directors Penny Marshall and Jonathan Demme.

Lastly but not least, word at the Whitney was that the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh has acquired a 1966 Warhol painting of Marlon Brando.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute plans to mount "Icons of Rock Style," Dec. 9, 1999-Mar. 19, 2000. The show features fashions from the 1950s to the present, largely from the collection of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland. Could this be the beginning of the shutdown of that much maligned undertaking and the shift of its main enterprises over to New York, where most of its fund-raising is already being done? The show is scheduled to travel to the Rock and Roll museum and then to the Barbican Centre in London. The exhibition is organized by Met curator Richard Martin and James D. Henke, v.p. of exhibitions and curatorial affairs at the R&R Hall. Fashion mavens will be watching for the Hall of Fame's anatomically correct male mannequins that Steven Sprouse commissioned when he organized the fashion collection in Cleveland several years ago. It was the first time genitally correct dummies were used in a mainstream exhibition and they had to be custom made.

Christie's East's auction of memorabilia on Apr. 20 included the original mugshot of the 22-year-old Frank Sinatra, arrested in New Jersey on Nov. 26, 1938, for "seduction." The cops nabbed Frank for having had sexual intercourse with a married older woman. The photo was the first entry in what became Sinatra's thick FBI dossier. Winning bidder was Tina Sinatra, who paid $3,200. Her plans for the pic -- to be the cover of an album of swingin' Sinatra tunes!

Kinky sex was the order of the day in the Apr. 21 celebrity memorabilia auction byR & R Enterprises in Bedford, N.H. A signed lithograph by John Lennon of Yoko Ono masturbating with her legs splayed, titled Yoko Oh No and measuring 30 by 22 inches, carried a mimimum bid of $1,000. A color photo of a nude Sissy Spacek from the movie Carrie menstruating in the high-school shower was labeled "disturbing" and the bidding started at $50. Incredibly, it's signed by the actress. A photograph of Groucho Marx being kissed by a man, signed on the back, was also offered at an opening bid of $50. Perhaps to compensate, the auction catalogue's selection of swimsuit photos of Antonio Sabato had his nipples tastefully blacked out. For more info call R & R at (800) 937-3880.

Miss the Apr. 17 opening of the new Leo Castelli Gallery at 59 E. 79th Street, just around the corner from the venerable Pope of Pop's Fifth Avenue abode and only two blocks away from his very first gallery at 4 E. 77th? Then watch video auteur Bill Rabinowitch's "Art Seen" on Manhattan Cable channel 34 this Saturday, Apr. 24, at 12:30 p.m. See Leo and his lovely young Italian wife Barbara Bertozzi visit with Lauren Hutton on the couch. Hear Bill tell Lauren that she looks like the Mona Lisa in Jasper Johns' monotype, and Lauren say that Mona Lisa had a gap in her teeth, that's why she smiled with her mouth closed! No sign though of Johns himself, whose monotypes are the subject of the show.

The Boston Globe reports that Denzel Washington was so unhappy with a portrait that he had commissioned for $15,000 that he sent it back, requesting that the artist knock 10 years off his age

Who did the realistic body painting for Sports Illustrated's annual cheesecake, um, swimsuit issue? It's Joanne Gair, 40, a New Zealand native who lives in L.A., recently profiled by the Chicago Tribune. The world's most pre-eminent body painter prefers hairless models -- they either wax or shave -- and has body-painted Madonna, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith and Demi Moore on the cover of Vanity Fair). Her fee begins at $5,000 a day

Reports that an old girlfriend of billionaire CNN mogul Ted Turner has painted an epic series of portraits depicting him as Julius Caesar, Napoleon, Alexander the Great and other giants of history are untrue, according to the Daily News. Frederique D'Arragon, described as a gorgeous French blond of noble birth and independent means who lives in New York, told the paper, "I am a painter and a very old friend of Ted's." But she insisted she had never done any such portraits. "I stay in touch with Ted," she concluded, "but I'm not interested in saying anything about it."

Rock star and photo collector Graham Nash has donated two works by photographer Edward Steichen to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. The former member of the folk-rock trio Crosby, Stills and Nash gave the Getty a 1904 photo called Wedding Self-Portrait, one of only three known prints from the negative, and an untitled 1930 picture of Steichen's grandchildren.

Over the past 10 years of making movies, Woody Allen and his producer, Jean Doumanian, have accumulated a lot of props -- and they're all stored in a warehouse in Long Island City. Now, the Woodman plans to auction them off to the public on Apr. 24. Among the offerings: medieval weapons from Deconstructing Harry; antique skulls and bottles from Shadows and Fog; antique radios and microphones from Radio Days and Bullets Over Broadway; and items from Woody's new project with Sean Penn and Uma Thurman. Proceeds benefit the National Alliance for Breast Cancer, the American Foundation for AIDS Research and Elton John's AIDS Foundation. Previews begin today, Fri. Apr. 23. For more info, call (212) 582-9062.

New York magazine reports that photographer Todd Eberle is suing the estate of Minimalist Donald Judd for $5.5 million. Eberle took nearly 1,000 photos of the artist and his work from 1990 until Judd died in 1994, and Eberle figures the estate owes him $5 million for copyright and about $500,000 in expenses and back pay. Judd's estate has counter-sued, claiming that it owns Eberle's photos because they were "works for hire" and asking for a $75,000 sculpture back that Judd had given the artist. Trial is set for July 26. Neither Eberle's attorney, Sally Stevens, nor the lawyer for the estate, Michael Ward Stout, would comment.

The 80-year-old father of rock pioneer Jimi Hendrix is publishing a memoir. My Son Jimi by James "Al" Hendrix (as told to Jas Obrecht) is designed to set the record straight about Jimi's childhood, which Al says "had a whole lot of bearing on who he became." Al relates the details of the tragic life of Jimi's mother, Lucille Jeter Hendrix, who died at the age of 32 in 1958 -- an event that Al thinks was the catalyst for Jimi's becoming a guitarist instead of a commercial artist.

In addition to a collection of family photos and photos of Jimi's earliest bands, the book contains never-before-published artwork by Hendrix -- more than 30 reproductions in all. Subjects of the sketches are family members, basketball and football players, battle scenes, knights in armor, a dragon, early rock and roll bands, car crashes, boat races, cartoons, and abstracts, plus pastoral water colors of mountains, city lights and the like.

The 185-page book is due out from ALJAS Enterprises, Seattle, Wa., in June 1999. It's priced at $29.95. Al will also sign and number 300 copies, which will come with a special color lithograph of a Jimi artwork not in the book. These will sell for $150 a set via the Hendrix webpage. For further info, go to

Nic Cage, who has a serious hoarding habit (he collects everything from rare bugs to Murano glass), has recently acquired a four-inch piece of rock from Mars, according to the London Telegraph. Officially authenticated by NASA, the snip of rock cost $46,000 at an auction in Los Angeles. "I've started reading up about rocks and planets and geology," Cage told the reporter, sounding for all the world like a retired accountant who has just taken up fretwork. "It's fun to find a new interest at this stage of my life."

BAIRD JONES is a New York curator and writer.