You can't really blame Brett Gorvy for telling the whopper about the sale of a Basquiat boxer in Hong Kong taking place because of an Instagram post. After all, Gorvy has had a love affair with the image-driven social media service for the last few years. Now that he's making the transition from Christie's to becoming a private dealer in partnership with Dominique Lévy it behooves him to create the impression that his Instagram feed is a vital sales platform.
The mystery is why the press has been so eager to repeat the fiction. First Bloomberg ran the story with no corroboration beyond Gorvy's own self-interested claim. (Over the weekend, the Guardian garbled two of Gorvy's posts to claim the boxer sold by Christie's in Hong Kong was from Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich—it wasn't that was a painting Gorvy persuaded Ulrich to sell years before Basquiat values super-nova-ed.) Now, the Independent cribs Bloomberg's story. In the process, it provides plenty of evidence that undermines the basic premise of the tale:
[Gorvy] was just about to board a plane from New York to Hong Kong, and by the time he’d landed 16 hours later, three clients had texted him asking if they could purchase the painting.
One immediately made an offer and the painting was sold two days later for the incredible sum of £19.5m. […]
Although art sales through Instagram aren’t unusual any more, this one was particularly huge. At an auction in 2007, the painting was sold for £5.9m - through Instagram, it fetched over three times that amount. […]
And considering how quickly the Jean-Michel Basquiat painting sold, what the buyers want is immediacy.
(Below, we unpack the details for AMMpro subscribers.)
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