Australia’s The Age tells the story of a collector who out muscled a museum for an important Australian artist’s work only to see him reverse course and sell the work for the A$3.12m he paid plus fees and the cost of cleaning. John Brack’s The Bar is an “iconic” work in Melbourne. Three years ago, the National Gallery of Victoria lost out in a bidding war to David Walsh, a professional gambler and art lover who is building a private museum in Hobart
“I bought it because I liked it a lot … But it isn’t fundamental to my collection.”
Mr Walsh’s collection is unashamedly provocative, inspired by the themes of sex and death and intended to challenge viewers and ignite debate. The Bar, he decided, did not really fit his aims.
He also cringed when the word “destination painting” was used in reference to The Bar.
“As soon as I heard the words ‘destination piece’, I was uncomfortable,” he said. “I didn’t want the museum represented by a single work, I wanted it to be an intellectual whole.”
Mr Walsh was also moved to sell The Bar when he loaned it to the NGV last year and it hung alongside Collins Street, 5 pm.
“I saw them together and thought they were meant to be together,” he said.
Change of Heart Has NGV Shouting The Bar (The Age)