Colin Gleadell tracks down some of Greek collector Dimitris Daskalopoulos’s purchases now on view at the Whitechapel Gallery:
His collecting began with decorative Greek paintings of the 1950s and antiquities. But about 15 years ago he began looking at international contemporary art. A turning point came in 1999 with the purchase of Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain for a record $1.76 million (£1.1 million pounds).
One of the few historic works in his collection, Fountain is based on a urinal which Duchamp found, signed “R Mutt”, and exhibited as a work of art in 1917. Although the first Fountain was either lost or broken, it became a potent symbol through reproduction for artists in the 1960s, challenging the values of uniqueness and authenticity in art. So in 1964, Duchamp recreated it in an official edition of eight, plus four proofs. Daskalopoulos bought no 5, which was billed as the last from the edition of eight remaining in private hands, and it takes pride of place in his exhibition.
The display reveals Daskalopoulos as a buyer of key works at auction over the years. Apart from the Duchamp, there is a phallic latex sculpture by Louise Bourgeois bought in 2004 for $455,500, the third highest price for Bourgeois at the time. Sarah Lucas’s Bunny Gets Snookered, (1997), was bought a year earlier for $163,500, a record for the British artist then. One of his more recent auction buys is Sherrie Levine’s polished bronze, Fountain (Buddha), cast in 1996 from a different urinal to Duchamp’s, for which he paid a double estimate $444,000 dollars in November 2008, just as the market was plunging into recession.
Art Sales (Telegraph)