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Artnet News
Oct. 17, 2006 

It's been a good week for Jeff Koons. Hot on the heels of Gagosian Gallery's reported $3.5 million sale of the artist's Cracked Egg (Blue) to Eli Broad at the Frieze Art Fair in London, the artist has won the "Artistic Achievement Award" from Americans for the Arts, the art advocacy group (previous winners have included Chuck Close, Cindy Sherman and Christo & Jean-Claude).

The honor is, of course, a way to raise funds for the organization, via a benefit gala held Oct. 16, 2006, at Cipriani in New York. On the committee that awarded Koons the trophy was, you guessed it, none other than Eli Broad himself and his wife Edythe, alongside Stephanie and Peter Brant, Lietta and Dakis Joannou, Samantha and Aby Rosen, Americans for the Arts chairperson Maria Bell and principal corporate patron Target (Gagosian is, in fact, also on the list as one of the event's additional sponsors next to the mega-retailer). David Bowie was on hand to present the award to Koons.

Other 2006 honorees were music legend Aretha Franklin for "Lifetime Achievement," actress and arts booster Kitty Carlisle Hart for "Outstanding Contributions to the Arts" and BET co-founder Sheila Johnson for "Philanthropy in the Arts." Heartthrob Jake Gyllenhaal took home the"Young Artist Award for Artistic Excellence."

It is Koons, however, that got the royal treatment today, when he rang the closing bell at NASDAQ stock market headquarters in Times Square, alongside Maria Bell and Americans for the Arts president Robert L. Lynch. The bell-ringing is a way of promoting the prize, and also serves as a plug for Americans for the Arts' initiative to make October National Arts & Humanities Month.

For an almost perfect parable about the superrich and art, check out Hollywood scribe Nora Ephron's blog account of Steve Wynn's recent accident with Pablo Picasso's iconic 1932 painting of his mistress Marie-Therese Walter, Le Rêve. Seems Wynn -- the 107th richest man in the U.S., according to Forbes, with a fortune of $2.6 billion -- was standing along with some guests in front of the painting, which hangs in his office, explaining its iconography (people say that Marie-Therese's bifurcated head contains an abstraction of a penis), when he accidentally put his elbow through the canvas, leaving a "black hole the size of a silver dollar" in the masterpiece.

The accident came at a particularly significant moment, as apparently Wynn had just finalized a deal to sell Le Rêve to hedge fund billionaire Stephen A. Cohen (its been a busy week in art-acquisitions for Cohen, see Artnet News, Oct. 12, 2006) for $139 million. Le Rêve was once the star of Wynn's collection -- he was originally going to name his new casino after it. The painting was sold at auction in 1997 for $48.4 million, an impressive price even then. Wynn apparently later bought the painting from the winning bidder, who is anonymous, for an undisclosed price. Close readers of Ephron's account may notice her implication that the new $139 million price tag was set specifically to top the $135 million that Ronald Lauder reputedly paid for Gustav Klimt's Portrait of Adele Block-Bauer. "Oh, that Klimt," Ephron enthuses. "It had set a bar, no question of that, and Wynn was thrilled to have beaten it."

According to a report by Nick Paumgarten in the New Yorker, the accident was interpreted as a "sign" and the sale is now canceled (and the painting is now at the restorer's). And, as it turns out, Wynn may have been less bothered by the accident than his art dealer, William Acquavella, whose response to the news was quoted as "Nooo!" Ephron describes Wynn and his wife as being in a "terrifically jolly mood" at dinner following the incident, and the multibillionaire even told the New Yorker, "My feeling was, it's a picture, it's my picture, we'll fix it. Nobody got sick or died. It's a picture. It took Picasso five hours to paint it."

The numbers are in for Art Forum Berlin, Sept. 29-Oct. 4, 2006, and they look pretty good. Overall attendance was 41,000, up from 37,000 in 2005. More transactions were made this year than ever before, according to the fair administration. Gerd Harry Lybke of Eigen+Art, the pioneer of the famous Leipzig school of painters, reported selling everything in his booth -- all sculpture, this time around -- at prices beginning at €600 for models by Berlin-based sculptor Kai Schiemenz and climbing to €28,000. Springer + Winkler gallery in Berlin sold works by Gerhard Richter and Sigmar Polke for more than €150,000 each, and New York dealer Leo Koenig sold works by works by Jörg Immendorf for €150,000 and Martin Kippenberger for $32,000. "Young Finnish photography" is on a market high, according to Taik gallery from Helsinki, which sold works for €250,000 and more. And New York's Goff + Rosenthal, which is soon to open a Berlin branch, sold through its suite of drawings by the California artist Christoph Schmidberger, priced at $12,000-$20,000.

The London-based art mag ArtReview has taken its new "Power 100" list of art world movers and shakers online at, where, thanks to an ingenious computer program, websurfers can "page" through the list just like in the real-world edition. Number one on the list this year is luxury goods magnate and art collector Francois Pinault. The first actual artist who has any heft is, oddly enough, Bruce Nauman, landing at #9, ahead of perennials Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst, because, as the mag puts it, he "doesn't have to try."

More interesting to the ink-stained wretches at Artnet News is, of course, the inclusion of Village Voice critic and Artnet Magazine contributor Jerry Saltz on the list at #57, citing him as the "guerrilla guy of art criticism" for, among other things, his deliberate attempt to champion women artists. Saltz even agreed to have himself photographed for the magazine looking to the side, so that the layout makes it seem as if he is staring at a photo of his wife Roberta Smith, who appears two spaces ahead of him at #55.

Ironically, Saltz's "guerrilla" criticism has in the past led him to take ArtReview's "Power 100" to task for under-representing women (see most recently, "Where The Girls Aren't"). This year's list is no different, featuring less than 40 percent women (that is, if you count men and women featured in couples individually; the total, depressingly, is much lower if you count only individual women).   

The U.S. Secret Service likes to keep a close eye on subversive artists who express animus towards the President of the United States, even when they're only 14 years old and express themselves on MySpace. According to a report by California attorney Stephen S. Pearcy at, the offending artwork is a collage featuring the face of George W. Bush with a bar crossing out his face and a knife in his hand, below the words "Kill Bush," posted and then removed from a MySpace account last summer. The artist in question is Julia Wilson, a 14-year-old student at C.K. McClatchy High School in Sacramento. The report details how last Thursday, two agents appeared at Wilson's home claiming the artwork posed a credible danger to the president as a potential inspiration for terrorists and, when it turned out that the teen was in class, visited her at school to interrogate her privately about the erstwhile MySpace posting and any possible relationships to subversive organizations. Artists who make political statements in more public venues, take note.

Fun Gallery, the pioneering East Village space operated by the glamorous blonde actress and art dealer Patti Astor in 1981-83 as a venue for artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Fab Five Freddy, Keith Haring and Lee Quinones, is about to have another 15 minutes in the spotlight. A new feature-length documentary film, titled Patti Astor's FUN Gallery, is in the works, courtesy of Roberts/David Films of Universal City, Ca. And, PowerHouse Books is publishing FUN! The True Story of Patti Astor, a first-person chronicle of those wild beatnik days of yore. Stay tuned.

According to an article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the art world is gaga for the Bravo TV series Project Runway. The PI cites Modern Art Notes blogger Tyler Green's assertion that the show accurately represents the creative process. "Artists who have cable make room on their couches for those who don't," the article says, describing the show's weight in art circles. "Unless held early in the evening, art openings aren't happening on Wednesday nights. Nobody would come."

The Dallas Museum of Art puts its latest contemporary and modern art acquisitions -- a total of 900 works from the families of Marguerite and Robert Hoffman, Cindy and Howard Rachofsky and Deedie and Rusty Rose -- on view next month in "Fast Forward: Contemporary Collections for the Dallas Museum of Art," a two-part exhibition that runs Nov. 21, 2006-Apr. 8, 2007, and Feb. 11, 2007-May 20, 2007. Organized by guest curator Maria de Corral, the show includes 275 works drawn from the three collections, the museum's own holdings and promised gifts by other local patrons.

The Hoffman collection includes concentrations of work by Joseph Beuys, Joseph Cornell, Marcel Duchamp, Ellsworth Kelly, Willem de Kooning, Jasper Johns, Gerhard Richter, Mark Rothko and Cy Twombly, and also features works by Lucian Freud, Wolfgang Laib, Susan Rothenberg and Bill Viola.

The Rachofsky collection is known for its concentrations of Arte Povera and Minimalist art, and includes contemporary works by Tom Friedman, Robert Gober, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Mona Hatoum, Jim Hodges, Donald Judd, Bruce Nauman, Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter and Kiki Smith. The family is also donating the Rachofsky House, designed by Richard Meier to showcase their collection, along with an operating endowment.

The Rose collection has a strong emphasis on sculpture, modern furniture and handmade objects, and includes works by Sol LeWitt, Ana Mendieta, Bruce Nauman, Sigmar Polke, Robert Ryman, Richard Tuttle and Franz West, as well as sculpture by younger and emerging artists.

This month the Museo del Prado presents "The Imitation of the Real: Spanish Still Lifes from the Naseiro Collection Acquired by the Prado," Oct. 24, 2006-Jan. 7, 2007, an exhibition of 40 works from the collection of Rosendo Naseiro, including paintings by Juan de Arellano, Pedro Camprobín, Juan de Espinosa, Juan Fernández, Juan van der Hamen, Tomás Hiepes, "El Labrador" and Luis Meléndez, as well as notable examples by another nine artists not previously represented in the museum collection. The works -- valued at €26 million -- were acquired two months ago in lieu of taxes.

Pierre Bonnard's painting The Dining Room (ca. 1940-46), plus six additional works by Bonnard and 16 other French works from the estate of Paul Mellon, have been presented to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts by Rachel Lambert Mellon, his widow. The bequest includes works by Antoine-Louis Barye, Rosa Bonheur, Eugène Delacroix, Theodore Géricault and Odilon Redon. The Mellon gifts go on view at the museum next spring. The VMFA also acquired a 1996 gouache on paper, Wavy Brushstrokes, by Sol LeWitt, and Chair (2000), a sculpture by Robert Lazzarini.

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, has elected three new members to its trustee board -- Peter Morton, founder of the Hard Rock Café and the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas; Steven Roth, founding partner of Creative Artists Agency and executive vice president of World Oil Corp.; and Art Bilger, founding partner of Apollo Advisors and now managing director of the Shelter Capital Partners venture capital firm.

Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts honors Rubin Museum founders Donald and Shelley Rubin at the organization's annual fall benefit on Oct. 23, 2006. Held at the Salander-O'Reilly Galleries, the event includes cocktails and a benefit sale of works by Chris Eckert, Jenny Holzer, Andres Serrano and Spencer Tunick. Tickets begin at $250; for details, see

By proclamation of New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, Oct 15-21, 2006, is "National Design Week." To promote the event, the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum is offering free admission to all museum visitors (ordinarily, adult admission is $12). The museum is also taking the opportunity to kick off its Seventh Annual National Design Awards; for details, see

Ready to begin penciling in special events for your schedule at Art Basel Miami Beach, Dec. 7-10, 2006? Well, add "Art Loves Film Featuring Dennis Hopper Presenting Easy Rider," Friday, Dec. 8, 2006, 8:30-11 pm, at the Colony Theatre in Miami Beach. Joining Hopper for the event is Vanity Fair contributing writer Bob Colacello.

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