The New York Times profiles Michael Govan and LACMA’s transformational expansion project. The profile has the usual take on Govan’s personality but focuses on the question of whether he can raise the money necessary to build a new museum.
The incomparable Jori Finkel profiles the media-genic Nicholas Berggruen (he’s turned this ascetic Billionaire schtick into a serious “branding” statement.) She explains that Berggruen has embarked on a long-term relationship with LACMA and Michael Govan. However, Berggruen doesn’t want to be Govan’s only beau, so he’s playing hard to get:
“I’ve been doing this very cooperatively with LACMA, so the artists are artists that Michael likes and the works are ones he likes,” said Berggruen, who became a museum trustee in 2008 with encouragement from friends like Broad and video game mogul Bobby Kotick. “I want to give this all to LACMA.”
The list consists of Ed Ruscha, John Baldessari, Paul McCarthy, Mike Kelley, Charles Ray, Chris Burden, Bruce Nauman, Joseph Beuys, Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, Martin Kippenberger and Thomas Schütte. Apart from Nauman, who now lives in New Mexico, all are either Californian or German; most are on the edgier end of the contemporary art spectrum. Five are represented by the Gagosian Gallery.
[…] Asked about his contribution to the acquisition list, Govan described it a bit differently than Berggruen did. “Just to be clear, this is not my list of artists, it’s Nicolas’ list,” he said. “It’s very much his personal sensibility.” […] But as Berggruen readily volunteers, he has not actually given any of the works he has bought to LACMA. Nor have any pledges been signed. […] “I’ve been very upfront with Michael. I’ve been very, very transparent. I want this to end up with LACMA, but LACMA should not be one person’s efforts; there should be four or five people who really contribute to give it the depth and critical mass and texture it needs to be really vibrant. If that happens, my donation makes sense. If it never gets there, it won’t,” he calmly explained that day at LACMA.
Nicolas Berggruen explains why he intends to give art to LACMA (Los Angeles Times)
The credit rating agencies are getting tougher all around. The Los Angeles Times reports that despite an improving financial position, Moody’s took LACMA’s bond rating from A2 to A3 on the understanding that it’s ability to repay the 3.5% on $383 million in construction loans would be severely constrained if the museum’s investment portfolio lost a third of its value. LACMA paid $14.7m in interest during the last fiscal year:
LACMA’s portfolio lost 23.4% of its value in 2008-09; Moody’s report, issued Wednesday, said the museum’s investments had bounced back in the ensuing two years with gains of 12.6% and 13.4%.
Barring such a crisis, Moody’s rating pegs LACMA’s bonds as having a “low risk” of default; it cited a number of fiscal strengths for the museum, including “good governance and management” and “good operating performance” in recent years. Govan said auditors are working on the books for the 2010-11 fiscal year that ended June 30, but it appears that LACMA will register an operating surplus in the six figures.
LACMA’s Bond Rating Drops to A3 (Los Angeles Times)
Jori Finkel’s weekend profile of Michael Govan, LACMA’s director, has these metrics:
Five years into his stewardship of LACMA, having just signed a contract for five more, Govan, 47, has transformed the museum and its reputation. He has overseen the completion of two sleek new exhibition halls by renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano, grown the collection by about 12,000 objects and helped boost annual attendance by some 40%.
Michael Govan Dreams Big for LACMA (Los Angeles Times)
Jori Finkel details the proceeds of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s annual Collector’s Committee Weekend which enabled the museum to buy eight artworks totaling around $2.7 million:
- Christian Marclay’s “The Clock” which was funded by Steve Tisch, who became a LACMA trustee last year, for $467,500.
- a 2006 sculpture made by Ai Weiwei which was purchased for $400,000 from the Friedman Benda gallery in New York.
Other acquisitions […] include a painted plastic curved wall-sculpture or “loop” made by the late Craig Kauffman in 1969, bought from Frank Lloyd Gallery in Santa Monica for $170,000; a Japanese Buddha head sculpted from cypress wood from around AD 1,000, purchased for $422,000 from the Kyoto gallery Taihaku Asian Art; and a set of three Spanish “casta” (or mixed-race narrative) paintings from 1760 by Juan Patricio Morlete Ruiz, bought for $570,500 from London gallery Derek Johns.
Individual donors stepped forward to buy a 1978 “prototype desk” that Donald Judd had made for his son Flavin (named after artist Dan Flavin) for $350,000; a 16th century, checkerboard-patterned Peruvian textile for $250,000 from the William Siegal Gallery in Santa Fe, N.M.; and a circa 13th century Mexican painted ceramic featuring serpent-human forms from the Stendahl Gallery in Los Angeles for $60,000.
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art Hits the Market (Los Angeles Times)