Coronavirus Rips Through the Berlin Art World, Notorious Flipper Puts More Work at Auction, & More Art-World Gossip

Emilee Geist

Every week, Artnet News brings you Wet Paint, a gossip column of original scoops reported and written by Nate Freeman. If you have a tip, email Nate at [email protected]   ACHTUNG! ART-WORLD OUTBREAK! As you may have noticed, America’s art-world events are very much not happening. Optimists think the next stateside […]

Every week, Artnet News brings you Wet Paint, a gossip column of original scoops reported and written by Nate Freeman. If you have a tip, email Nate at [email protected]

 

ACHTUNG! ART-WORLD OUTBREAK!

As you may have noticed, America’s art-world events are very much not happening. Optimists think the next stateside fair will be the Armory Show in September 2021. Many others have written off fairs entirely until 2022. But in Germany, where a robust response to the virus has kept infections at bay, gatherings had returned by late summer. Gallery Weekend Berlin, postponed from April to September, actually happened in September, and it lined up with the annual citywide Berlin Art Week

Dealers, critics, and artists parachuted in from elsewhere in Europe—and, if they possessed a foreign passport, even from the States. There were a number of gallery dinners, brunches, and well-attended openings.

Positions Berlin Art Fair. © Positions Berlin Art Fair.

Positions Berlin Art Fair. © Positions Berlin Art Fair.

Things did not go as planned. Sources said that the virus, once contained, ripped through a large swathe of the cultural demimonde in Berlin during the festivities. Largely mask-less openings were held throughout the city, despite the presence of bouncers to break up rowdy behavior. And a number of prominent art-world figures are said to have contracted the coronavirus at a dinner in Berlin organized by one of the galleries following an opening held during Gallery Weekend. The names that sources relayed to Wet Paint include a jet-setting mega-collector, the director of a prominent European museum, several household-name artists, and one of Berlin’s most admired old-guard dealers. 

Sources stressed that the dinner was held by a gallery and was independent of Gallery Weekend’s official programming. Cognizant of safety concerns and optics, the event coordinators did not hold their annual 1,000-person dinner and instead had a socially distanced outdoor brunch. Gallery Weekend’s organizers did not respond to a query from Wet Paint, but a rep told the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung that “a few positive cases have been confirmed that are probably related to dinner at the gallery or private events (which took place at the same time as the GW, but not within its framework).”

Still, reps have said they would take further precautions in the future, and the organizers of Art Cologne, set to be held in late November, said they will cancel all events, dinners, and parties set to be held parallel to the fair—that is, if Art Cologne actually happens. Cases are currently surging in German cities, and Berlin has imposed its first bar curfew since World War II. Sadly, it’s hard to say if anywhere in the world is safe for large art festivals right now. 

 

LET ‘ER FLIP, PART II

Leelee Kimmel, <em>Face Off</em> (2018). Photo courtesy Christie's.

Leelee Kimmel, Face Off (2018). Photo courtesy Christie’s.

The mysterious serial flipper strikes again! Last November, Takumi Ikeda—a shadowy Japanese collector who somehow charmed his way into getting first-look offers to buy in-demand artists on the primary market from several top-notch galleries—started unloading the gems from his collection very shortly after acquiring them.

Last year, Ikeda consigned to Christie’s the Dana Schutz painting Shooting on the Air (2016), which he had bought that year from Berlin gallery Contemporary Fine Arts for $300,000. When it sold at auction, it netted Ikeda a cool $1.1 million. That week, he also sold two works at Sotheby’s: Josh Smith’s No Sound (2018), which sold for a mid-estimate $162,500, and Lucas Arruda’s Untitled (2018), which went for $312,500. Both of those works were sold to Ikeda by David Zwirner. In a sign that dealers are very, very fed up with Ikeda’s flipping antics, the source for that last nugget of gossip was a rep for David Zwirner. Galleries usually don’t reveal the names of collectors they sold to unless the business relationship is already dunzo. 

Leelee Kimmel in her studio. Photo courtesy Instagram.

Leelee Kimmel in her studio. Photo courtesy Instagram.

This has not scared Ikeda. This week, he flipped Leelee Kimmel’s Face Off (2018), which was bought at Almine Reich’s Paris gallery in June 2019, at Christie’s, where it sold during the postwar and contemporary day sale for $37,500, well over its $20,000 high estimate. The source of this news was the artist herself, as Kimmel kindly reached out over Instagram to alert us that the reseller was back on his bullshit. And here we were thinking being shamed not once but twice by Wet Paint would put an end to all this—clearly, there’s no bottom to Ikeda’s flip-’em-all approach. Expect more works to end up on the block before too long. 

 

NEW HAUS FOR HAUSER 

The newest shop in town. Photo by Nate Freeman.

The newest shop in town. Photo by Nate Freeman.

It’s been five years since Hauser & Wirth announced that it would demolish a 1940s building on West 22nd Street that once housed a plastic factory and build a five-story behemoth with expansive column-free gallery spaces designed by Annabelle Selldorf—the mega-gallery’s first purpose-built space after decades of taking over historic buildings, such as a bank in London, a brewery in Zurich, and a flour mill in Los Angeles. It was supposed to open in 2018, but after delays, it finally opened this week with polished concrete floors, a second-floor events space with retractable glass walls that create a deck overlooking the roof of Dia‘s Chelsea spaces, and a top-floor space with dramatic high ceilings. As promised, not a column in sight.

The original plans for an ambitious opening show involving a number of loans was scuttled by the pandemic, so instead, Hauser has as inaugural show a group survey “Artists for New York,” with proceeds from sales benefitting a number of the city’s art spaces hurt by the shutdowns. Not only are all your favorite Hauser artists present, but there are also a number of white-hot market artists repped by rival shops. If you’ve ever wanted to see a work by Jordan Wolfson at an outpost of Hauser & Wirth, this is your first and probably last chance. 

A new work by Jordan Wolfson in an unfamiliar place. Photo by Nate Freeman.

A new work by Jordan Wolfson in an unfamiliar place. Photo by Nate Freeman.

Given the high-quality offerings, it’s no surprise that many sold in the first few days—more than 60 out of the 128 on offer, according to sources. Sales include new works by Nicolas Party at $200,000, a Rashid Johnson for $475,000, and an especially manic George Condo painting for $1.4 million. The gallery’s programming will begin this fall with shows of work by Jack Whitten on the bottom two exhibition floors and new paintings by Condo on the top floor. 

 

POP QUIZ

As a gloriously large number of you knew, the artwork in last week’s clue was Marilyn Minter’s Frostbite (2006) featured on Gossip Girl, a show near and dear to this columnist’s heart—you know you love me, xoxo. The winners were: Darrow Contemporary founder Meredith Darrow; Lucas Casso, the proprietor of the gallery Sweetwater, Berlin; writer Lauren Nussbaum; Fiona Laugharn, research associate at Pace Gallery; William Leach, a former trusts, estates & valuations coordinator at Phillips; Isabel Casso, who is the Marjorie Susman Curatorial Fellow at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Lio Malca gallery’s Elie Rizel; Lian Giloth of Hauser & Wirth’s LA gallery; and Lexi Bishop, a former associate director at Nino Mier Gallery who is opening a space in Pittsburgh called Here. Congrats to all the winners! 

Here’s this week’s clue. Name the painting and its artist; its owner; and where the owner acquired it. 

Email [email protected] with whatever you got off the top of your head. The hats are coming, we’re just getting the funding together, but every guesser with all three parts of the quiz correct will get one, courtesy moi, so guess away!

 

WE HEAR…

Kit Keenan attends the front row at the Cynthia Rowley fashion show February 2020. Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Cynthia Rowley.

Kit Keenan attends the front row at the Cynthia Rowley fashion show February 2020. Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Cynthia Rowley.

Kit Keenan—the daughter of designer Cynthia Rowley and interior designer Bill Keenan, stepdaughter to Rowley’s husband, Half Gallery founder Bill Powers—will appear on the next season of The Bachelor, taking her career as a fashion designer to the next level … Dan Lopatin, the musician who makes records under the name Oneohtrix Point Never, is dating Dasha Nekrasova, who appears on the podcast Red ScareEric Firestone is opening a ground-floor space at 40 Great Jones Street—on the legendary block that previously housed the boutiques Filson and Partners & Spade, right across the street from Eva Presenhuber’s New York space—with a show of work by Futura, while maintaining the upstairs loft space it has at 4 Great Jones, apartment #4 … Frieze London’s online viewing room does not have the gender search tool included in the Frieze New York site in May—the categories had included “female,” “male,” “non-binary,” “transgender,” and “other” … Baer Faxt scribe Josh Baer had to change the name of his online art-market talk show from “The Hammer” to “No Reserve” after the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles attacked the writer and advisor for infringing on a name they claimed to have trademarked (the museum has also gone after the Hammer Museum in Haines, Alaska, which hosts exhibitions of, guess what, actual hammers) … Victoire de Pourtalès is out as director of David Zwirner’s Paris space …

The first-ever hat designed by Larry Gagosian. Photo courtesy Gagosian Shop.

The first-ever hat designed by Larry Gagosian. Photo courtesy Gagosian Shop.

Larry Gagosian personally designed a baseball cap being sold at the Gagosian Shop that says “LET AMERICA BREATHE AGAIN” on the front and “VOTE 2020” on the back; profits will be donated to Black Lives MatterJeanette Hayes made a capsule collection with Richardson, including a jacket that the artist says “doesn’t say ‘vote’ on it anywhere, I promise” … The situation on West Broadway has become even more dire: we are now entering week six of no french fries at The Odeon, a salty spud stick drought that has sent Tribeca’s artists, writers, and dealers into a full-on tailspin, the world they once inhabited ripped to shreds … 

It's the 40th anniversary of the Odeon next week. Photo courtesy Instagram.

It’s the 40th anniversary of the Odeon next week. Photo courtesy Instagram.

SPOTTED

KAWS set against the Seagram Building. Photo courtesy Skarstedt.

KAWS set against the Seagram Building. Photo courtesy Skarstedt.

KAWS and Skarstedt installing the gigantic silver sculpture WHAT PARTY (2020) in front of the Seagram Building, sending a shudder through the spines of New Yorkers as they realize that, despite all the uncertainty in the world, there will still be a KAWS retrospective opening at the Brooklyn Museum in the not-far-off February 2021 *** Julie Mehretu checking out the excellent Titus Kaphar show at Gagosian’s West 21st Street location *** Mills Morán, who co-runs LA gallery Morán Morán and LA fair Felix, back in New York and having dinner with gallery artists Eric N. Mack and Jacolby Satterwhite (who both have shows up in Chelsea, at Paula Cooper and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, respectively) at the reliable art-world canteen, Lucien *** David Zwirner director Thor Shannon having dinner with storied art-world scribe Linda Yablonsky at Altro Paradiso *** Aby Rosen at his house in Formentera, Spain, holding a jamon de bellota the size of a refrigerator *** a number of writers, artists, and dealers at the late-night opening of Genevieve Goffman’s show at Alyssa Davis Gallery, an 11th-floor spot in the West Village with better views of the Empire State Building than any art space in town ***

A work by Genevieve Goffman at Alyssa Davis Gallery, with the Empire State Building in the background. Photo courtesy Instagram.

A work by Genevieve Goffman at Alyssa Davis Gallery, with the Empire State Building in the background. Photo courtesy Instagram.

PARTING SHOT

 

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