Richard Prince is negotiating to donate his book collection to the Morgan Library. The Times of London reports on the plan to swap the trove, much of it purchased with the proceeds of Prince’s fairly recent fame, in return for a long-term exhibition:
“Sometimes it seems like this collection is too good to be in private hands,” Prince said. “Collecting like this is a full-time hobby, and I have other things I want to do.” [ . . . ] The artist is also working on a catalogue of his 3,000-item collection, which includes a hand-painted psychedelic motorbike crash helmet signed by Ken Kesey, writer of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. [ . . . ]
“Basically, my collection is about sex, drugs, Beat [poets], hippies, punks – and great reads,” said Prince, who keeps his most valuable manuscripts, letters and autographed literary memorabilia in a fireproof, waterproof, room-size vault near his studio in northern New York state.
Not content with run-of-the-mill first editions, Prince, 59, has spent the past 25 years seeking out the rarest – and often most expensive – examples of some of the best-known books, magazines and other publishing ephemera of the past century. [ . . . ]
With money seemingly no object, Prince became every rare-book dealer’s favourite customer. He paid $175,000 for the Cock Book in 2005; spent another $175,000 on the only known copy of Dashiell Hammett’s The Glass Key with its original dust cover; and added the first issue of Zap Comix, a 1960s underground comic, for $15,000. His copy of Ulysses is estimated to be worth more than $400,000.
Artist Gives Away Vast Library of Sex, Drugs and Classics (Times of London)