Kanye West Donates $10m to James Turrell’s Roden Crater; Getty Museum Buys Neo-Impressionist Painting; Damien Hirst Gets CBS Profile; Libbie Mugrabi Talks to the NY Times; Jeffrey Gundlach adds $10m Albright Knox matching grant.
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Kanye’s Bromance with James Turrell Yields $10m Donation
Kanye West made no secret of his traipsing around America in December with artist James Turrell. They were at Turrell’s installation at Mass MoCA and visited the artist’s Roden Crater project. Today, the Wall Street Journal’s Kelly Crow has the news that West has donated $10m to Turrell’s massive project in Arizona:
- “Mr. Turrell, who is 75 years old, is under pressure to finish his project after years of off-and-on funding. He recently teamed up with Arizona State University to raise $200 million to help complete his artistic projects at the site and also turn the 2.5-mile-wide crater into a creative campus with an amphitheater and residencies. Thus far $40 million has been raised. The goal is to open to the public in five years, the foundation said.”
Getty Buys Giovanni Segantini’s Spring in the Alps
The Getty announces the purchase of a seven-foot-wide “Neo-Impressionist” work originally commissioned by a director of the Levi Strauss company in the waning days of the 19th Century and spent seventy years on view at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor before it was sold in 1999:
- “The J. Paul Getty Museum announced today the acquisition of Spring in the Alps, 1897, by Giovanni Segantini (Italian, 1858-1899). Originally painted for Jacob Stern, a San Francisco collector and director of Levi Strauss & Co, the painting has a long connection to California. Spring in the Alps joins another important work by Segantini in the Getty Museum’s collection, Study for “La Vita” (1897), a large pastel that parallels the painting’s composition and is dedicated to his friend Toby Rosenthal, who facilitated the commission of Spring in the Alps from Jacob Stern. In excellent condition,Spring in the Alps comes to the Getty in the elaborate frame that the artist originally designed for it. It will be put on exhibition in the Museum’s West Pavilion on February 12th, alongside other works of art from 19th century Europe.”
Damien Hirst’s Biggest Fear
CBS Sunday Morning has a surprising profile of Damien Hirst. The nearly 8-min segment would not be remarkable if it had been pegged to the sale of a major work from his Venice show of works from the Wreck of the Unbelievable purchased by the Fertitta’s for their Las Vegas hotel. Instead, this look at the painter assumes that one of the world’s most famous artists is totally unfamiliar to the viewer. Turns out, that’s Hirst’s biggest fear:
- “My biggest fear was only making an artwork that you could walk up, look at, think Naah, and walk away from. And I just thought, I didn’t want art you could choose against. I thought I wanted art that just got you, whether you liked it or not.””That was the biggest fear?””Yeah, to be ignored, yeah. I didn’t want to make art what you could ignore.”
Libbie Mugrabi Tells All
Set aside the salacious parts of the Libbie Mugrabi article by gossip writer Ben Widdicombe that the New York Times ran over the weekend and you’ll find some interesting details about the Mugrabis and how they do business. David Mugrabi’s estranged wife, Libbie, says they were partners “at home and in business” so she wants half of whatever he made while they were married.
The Times teases that resolving that question might reveal the holdings and inner workings of the Mugrabi family’s art dealing:
Ken Jewell, a matrimonial lawyer in Manhattan who is not involved with this case, said that under New York State law, a person in Ms. Mugrabi’s position can expect to claim half the income the couple earned during their marriage.
And while Ms. Mugrabi does not likely have a right to the wealth Mr. Mugrabi brought into the relationship, she could have a significant claim on the family’s art business, and potentially the art.
What’s not clear is from whence David and Libbie Mugrabi derived their income. The family’s art business seems to operate through a variety of separate entities controlled by David Mugrabi’s father, José, whom the Times tells us bought a Gulftstream jet from Steve Wynn.
Central to Libbie’s version of events is David’s decision to remove art from the couple’s home in the Hamptons shortly after the marriage blew up. Libbie views this move as an attempt to hide assets from her:
“He took a bunch of Basquiats, he took multiple Warhols, he took about a dozen KAWS paintings out of the house. Two huge George Condos,” she said. “I would say he took at least $200 million in art.”
Whomever the court decides is the rightful owner of the art. Libbie’s decision to tell her side of the story has given us a little information on what role she played in the Mugrabi’s art dealing. Being married to a Mugrabi involves a lot of travel: Summers in Sardinia or Portofino; Winters in Aspen, Miami and St. Barts; and always lots and lots of yachts.
According to Libbie, though, the real work of family was done at home:
“I just copied his mother, and she told me what to do,” she said. “She’s like, ‘Well, you just do the home part with the entertaining. The way we run our business is mostly through the home, because we don’t have a gallery.’”
$10m Gundlach Matching Grant Gives Albright Knox Boost
The Albright-Knox Art Gallery has raised $131m of the $155m it needs to break ground on its planned expansion. The latest jump came when a $3.3m grant triggered an additional $10m from bond king, Jeffrey Gundlach, of Double Line who previously announced a gift of $42.5m.