Carol Vogel is in Qatar with the rest of the New York art pack as the Qataris celebrate Damien Hirst. Of course, the focus on a Contemporary art provides ample opportunity for marketing other works:
Last week Sotheby’s took over a gallery in the Katara Art Center — a collaborative cultural village of galleries with an open-air theater — where it showed highlights from next month’s important contemporary art auctions in New York. On view were two major Warhols: “Liz #1 (Early Colored Liz),” a 1963 image of Elizabeth Taylor on a bright-yellow background that is estimated to sell for $20 million to $30 million, and “5 Deaths on Turquoise (Turquoise Disaster),” painted the same year and expected to bring $7 million to $10 million. While the seller was not named and officials at Sotheby’s declined to comment, the paintings are part of a larger group of works, which also includes an abstract canvas by Gerhard Richter, being sold by Steven A. Cohen, the hedge fund billionaire, whose company, SAC Capital Advisors, is fighting criminal charges of insider trading. Sandy Heller, an art adviser who works with Mr. Cohen, declined to comment on the sale, but art experts familiar with Mr. Cohen’s collection identified the works as his.
Dealbook adds the inference that Cohen is selling to pay his legal bills despite the fact the hedgie has assets of $9bn in his own fund:
Mr. Cohen has hundreds of works in his prodigious collection and, in keeping with his trader’s mentality, buys and sells them with frequency. Owners of fine art also often sell art for tax reasons, as they can defer their tax liability by exchanging one piece for another.
Still, the dispositions come as Mr. Cohen faces mounting legal bills and record penalties that he might be forced to pay as part of a settlement related to criminal insider trading charges brought against his fund, SAC Capital Advisors. The government has offered the fund a deal to resolve the case by pleading guilty and paying a penalty of nearly $2 billion. Mr. Cohen’s lawyers are in the midst of negotiating a possible plea deal with prosecutors, though the two sides have yet to reach an agreement.