On Monday, August 7, HBO will debut Lisanne Skyler’s documentary Brillo (3¢ Off) about the Andy Warhol sculpture her father bought in 1969 from Ivan Karp at the OK Harris Gallery. The smaller, yellow Brillo box sculpture was only $1000 but even then buying it was an act of cultural courage.
The film is framed as a wistful search for lost opportunity and a study of how works of art increase in value. The Skyler’s Brillo Box, which sat in a protective plexiglass case in the family living room, was eventually sold to Charles Saatchi. He, in turn, sold it to a collector who also gave the work up to the dealer Robert Shapazian who ran Larry Gagosian’s LA outpost until his death in 2010.
When Shapazian’s estate was sold at Christie’s later that year, there was a bidding war for the Brillo Box driving the price to $3m. Would the Skylers have gotten so much money for their Brillo Box had they held on to it? After all, Saatchi and Shapazian are big names to conjure with in the art market.Continue Reading