Bill Acquavella and Acquavella Gallery have purchased a paid obituary notice in the New York Times in tribute to their artist and friend Lucian Freud for five straight days. The normal run is three, tops.
This can mean only one thing, that a fierce battle is shaping up to represent the Freud estate with Lucian's swinging London heirs putting a lot of major galleries in play, to Acquavella's potential disadvantage, thus the special memorial pleadings in the Times. Per usual, Gagosian and Pace are the main competitors, with Jay Jopling, precisely because of his swinging London persona and connections, a dark horse. Still crowing over taking the de Kooning estate back from Gagosian, Arne Glimcher has been out and about with his son and business heir Marc Glimcher, the latter with grizzled beard and graying hair suddenly the spitting image of his dad in gravitas. They could be twins!
In this stylish maneuver, Pace reminds 66-year-old Larry Gagosian that he is childless and heirless, art being long and life short, with estates going on forever. Indeed, my Hamptons spies (young, trendy and female) all report that Gagosian "suddenly looks very old" out on the East End rialto, in danger of becoming the art world's Hugh Hefner. But Pace has its own competitive worries, specifically with rise of PolyCorp in China.
The Beijing-based auction house, with the backing of the all seeing, all powerful People's Liberation Army of China, may push Pace (not to mention Sotheby's and Christie's) out of the China game all together. News from Ai Weiwei's sister that the artist was held for three months in a prison cell the size of a closet, with two round-the-clock guards shining flashlights in his face, has, meanwhile, made no splash in the high-end art world. Ai remains a tiny, if irritating, pebble in its diamond encrusted shoe.
CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).