In what has become a mirthlessly rote exercise, Portfolio magazine tries to breath life into a story about the fall of art market prices. Using Richard Prince as a case in point, the magazine makes a direct connection between art collectors who made their money running hedge funds and Prince’s prices. It must be because they spied noted multi-strat fund manager Valentino Gravano bidding on Prince “Nurse” paintings from the front row over several auction. Prices must have collapsed once he got one and returned to his trading desk.
Nevermind that Adam Sender, one of the hedgies cited as driving the Prince market beyond reason, was publicly abused for having sold a Prince work at Phillips for a big profit in 2006. (That, and the real price of Damien Hirst’s “The Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living” which Portfolio has at $17 million, could have been easily established by a fact-checker. A recently published book bears the title, “The $12 Million Shark” and the introduction makes a point that the likely purchase price was $8 million. That was paid by aging dress designer Steven Cohen.)
Pointing to facts is a fool’s game that Prince smartly avoids. Portfolio’s journalism is no match for Prince’s self-confidence. Watch how he handles the premise of the story:
So has Prince’s bubble burst? He declined to be interviewed for this story, though he did send an email from St. Barts, where he was vacationing. “I don’t have any real thoughts about the market,” he wrote. “It’s another way of ‘judging’ art. That’s what people do.” He added, “I never planned to have one of my paintings sell for over $8 million.” In a follow-up email, Prince denied a rumor that he is trying to stop collectors from putting his works up for auction. “I can’t stop it if a collector wants to sell something of mine, and I can’t help it if a collector wants to bid on something of mine,” he wrote. “It’s flattering when a ‘nurse’ or a ‘cowboy’ or a ‘joke’ painting realizes a big price, but I’m not interested in consigning any of my work directly to an auction house.” [ . . . ]
Prince, via email, said he’s sanguine. “I drive a beat-up Volvo. I keep time with a $15 watch. I wear dungarees and T-shirts. I eat Cheetos and watch the Playboy channel.” In his free time, he added, “I’m learning to fly my own plane.”
Back to Earth (Portfolio)