It has to be a bit ironic that website devoted to following the market side of the art market and rise of art as an asset should post about the confusion surround Richard Prince’s recent decision to return the fee paid for one of his New Portraits—this one of Ivanka Trump—and renounce the work.
First, Georgina Adam wondered on Twitter if VARA gave Prince the ability to destroy its value (then she tweeted that she applauded his decision); then, Artnet News thought it was a joke; and, now, the New York Times is pretty sure Prince isn’t doing some kind of performance art but they’re still more interested in whether the work will retain any asset value.
The Times does, in fact, clarify a few things. Ivanka Trump sought out a New Portrait of herself (or someone close to her did.) And Prince doesn’t care about the money:
Mr. Prince said that in 2014 he was approached by an art adviser, whom he declined to name, with a request that he make a painting based a post from Ms. Trump’s Instagram feed.
“I don’t do commissions and so what I said to the guy was, ‘Let me look at her feed and see if I like it, and if I do I’ll do it,’” Mr. Prince said. “I found an image of her looked like it was made up. It looked like the kind of thing I was interested in.” He added, of Ms. Trump: “I don’t care who she is. I care more about who I think she is.”
He continued: “She posts a lot of pictures of herself. It means I get a whole bunch of choices. I don’t have to meet her. It’s not Richard Avedon. I don’t have to invite someone over to my studio or meet them. I just find an image that I can imagine is what somebody is really like.” Of his interest in Instagram in general, he said: “It’s like going down a rabbit hole. It’s like a giant magazine. It’s frankly a lot of fun.” […]
Mr. Prince, asked whether he thought his disavowal would have any effect on the piece’s status as a legitimate Richard Prince work or on its market value, said: “Whether it will affect anything is not the point. It’s a way of me saying to them I don’t want my work in your possession. I don’t want anything to do with your family.”
Richard Prince, Protesting Trump, Returns Art Payment (The New York Times)