Celebs Show Their Faces, But Not Their Paddles, at (Auction)REDLast night’s (Auction)RED at Sotheby’s was a complete success, succeeding in raising more than $42 million to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa. It also saw a heavy celebrity turnout: Michael Stipe, Russell Simmons, Christy Turlington, Martha Stewart, Ed Burns, and Dennis Hopper all showed up to support hosts Damien Hirst and Bono. But oddly enough, the money and the star power didn’t seem to be connected. Michael Stipe, for example, told us earlier in the week that he had his eye on an Ed Ruscha. But he told us last night he “didn’t get a paddle.” Even though it was Valentine’s Day and he was there with his boyfriend! “We’re not going to buy each other $5 million paintings, I’ll tell you that!” Stipe said, limping away on his crutch, the result of a go-karting accident. Brian Williams also told us he “can’t afford a single thing they’re auctioning tonight.” But he added, “if there’s a collection bowl, I’m good for probably twenty bucks.” Even Queen Noor of Jordan said she “couldn’t even remotely dream about” buying one of the pricey Hirst pill cabinets on the block. So who’s buying all this expensive art, if even movie stars and royalty can’t afford it? (RED) campaign co-founder Bobby Shriver cleared that up. “Sotheby’s and Gagosian are willing to stage this, with their lists, to their buyers,” he explained. “Here, you have a commercial company promoting to their commercial buyers, which is a tremendous asset of theirs, selling products that they could have sold at their normal markup. That’s a new platform for raising pro-social money.” —Bennett Marcus
See and hear more from Bono, Queen Noor, Christy Turlington and others from last night’s (RED) auction.
Blogging ‘The Colbert Report’Last night, like you, we were thrilled to sit down and watch The Daily Show and The Colbert Report as they returned from their WGA–strike-induced hiatus. It was going to be great, we assumed. Either that, or it was going to suck, which would also kind of be great, in the whole “this will get us a lot of mileage by the office soda machine tomorrow” kind of way. So we tuned in, AND, in a Daily Intel first, we IMed about it with our culturally superior colleague, the Vulture blog. As it turned out, the two shows weren’t all laughs and rubber faces. In fact, The Daily Show turned out to be a bit of a tough act to swallow (and follow; as a lead-in, it must have cost The Colbert Report some viewers). Since Vulture knows more about the nuances of the writers’ strike, they are hosting our conversation about Jon Stewart’s somber effort. But below, here’s what Vulture editor Dan Kois and Intel editor Chris Rovzar had to say about last night’s glorious episode of Colbert:
Kois: HAHAHAHAH. “This is the ColberT ReporT.”
Rovzar: HAHAHA. We’re already laughing! He pronounced it the white-trashy way.
Rovzar: Did you read that GQ story about when he changed his last name at Northwestern? I loved that.
Rovzar: It used to actually be COLbert. With the “t” pronounced, when he grew up in South Carolina or whatever
Kois: So he just did it to be intentionally snooty? Awesome. ColBERTian, actually.
white men with money
Jimmy Cayne: The End of an EraFor Bear Stearns CEO Jimmy Cayne, his 74th year was a difficult one. In August, two of Bear’s hedge funds collapsed, heralding the subprime crisis and tipping off the worst losses in the firm’s history. Then there were the firings, the Wall Street Journal article that painted him as a slacker pothead (and also weird), plus the investor retaliations, the regulatory investigations, the whispers that, after 39 years of service, he might need to be canned. It’s enough to make anyone want to take refuge in golf and ganja. Which, the Journal and other media outlets are reporting, is what Cayne is doing. Citing “sources” who have been briefed on the situation, the papers are reporting that as early as today, Cayne will step down from his role as CEO at Bear Stearns and be replaced by Alan D. Schwartz. Cayne is “relieved,” one source told the Times. As with a great movie where the hero dies in the end, we knew this was coming, and yet still, we’re surprised. With his bridge addiction, his aversion to breakfast cereal, and his rumored affinity for the wacky tabacky, Cayne was a Wall Street original, an orchid in a sea of carnations, if you will. We’ll miss you, old chap.
Cayne to Step Down As Bear CEO [WSJ]
Bear’s Cayne Will Quit As Chief Executive [NYT]
Earlier: Intel’s coverage of Jimmy Cayne
Any Takers for Big Lloyd?Artist Geoffrey Raymond, who has in the past peddled larger-than-life paintings of Maria Bartiromo, Dick Grasso, and Rupert Murdoch on Wall Street, was out on the Street today with his latest work, a portrait of Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein titled Big Lloyd II (Now More Than Ever). The painting, an acrylic rendering of a smiling, multicolored Lloyd (“an excellent example of Mr. Raymond’s drip technique,” according to the artist’s statement) with the words “Big Lloyd I (.6 Billion)” lingering in the space above it, is indeed big, at four feet, five inches. It is available on eBay at a starting price of $3,999. “I painted it in acknowledgment of Mr. Blankfein’s stewardship of Goldman Sachs through a recently difficult environment on Wall Street,” sayeth the artiste. “It is either homage or fromage — whichever isn’t the cheese.” So far, there are no bids.
Big Lloyd Hits the Street [Year of Magical Painting]
Big Lloyd II (Now More Than Ever) [eBay]
A Cappella, Applebee’s Change the Face of AstoriaAstoria: This blogger doesn’t know which new arrival to the neighborhood is worse: the Broadway chorus-boy gays or the Applebee’s. [Manhattan Offender]
Bay Ridge: They’re gonna move the ugly-ass Gowanus Expressway onto a sleek cable suspension roadway and fill in the old area with emerald parkland! Well, wouldn’t it be pretty to think so. [NYDN
Cobble Hill: A developer wants to build townhouses on the empty land surrounding the pretty old Lamm Building on Amity Street, but locals object because the new houses wouldn’t face the street and leave room for backyards like all the other houses. Tense. [Brownstoner]
in other news
When Phillips de Pury Closes a Door, Does Brandon Davis Open a Window?So this auction season has finally limped to a close, with lackluster results from the city’s third auction house. The Times reports that the offerings of Phillips de Pury, whose contemporary sale included small works by big-name artists and a smattering of works by hipper, younger artists, “seemed like leftovers.” Sotheby’s and Christie’s sold like gangbusters this season, but Phillips (perhaps owing to the timing of the sale or the uncomfortable location, surmises the Times), didn’t seem to have much steam. Only a smattering of dealers stuck around through the end of the sale, though the pieces that did best were the ones that were selling for well under $1 million. Which is bad news for Phillips but could be great news for none other than Brandon Davis. With Phillips focusing its energies on their London office right now, some of the air might be going out of the lower end of the contemporary market. Upon hearing that Brandon Davis wanted to come to the city to become an art dealer to the young and overbudgeted, one auction-house source scoffed to us, “I can’t wait to see Gagosian eat him for breakfast.” But who’s to say that Davis isn’t coming at exactly the right time? Is this face going to be the new icon of the day sale? Is this what the future of new contemporary looks like?
We want to know so we can prepare. We just weren’t ready for the face of young art to be so, you know, shiny.
Fall Art Auctions Limp to Finish on Mixed Night at Phillips [NYT]
Michael Wants That Back
Desperate to ogle some obsolete technology? You’re out of luck, unless you want to fly to Las Vegas. Guernsey’s auction house will be selling thousands of Jackson Five items tomorrow and Thursday at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, but Friday some of the highlights were displayed at the auctioneer’s Upper East Side headquarters in Manhattan. Behold, the microphone Michael used in the seventies.
The Jacksons [Guernseys.com]
Location, Location, Location
Next month, Christie’s will auction a 1951 prefab aluminum house designed modernist icon Jean Prouve, but, for now, it’s on display on the Long Island City waterfront. The auction house estimates the Maison Tropicale, as it’s called, one of only three constructed, will sell for $4 to $6 million; the winner bidder will receive simply a kit, a collection of metal parts. (“Like an Ikea piece, but bigger,” as the Times described it this week.) Which is a shame: $6 million for these views is a steal.
Related: From Africa to Queens Waterfront, a Modernist Gem for Sale to the Highest Bidder [NYT]
So Who Really Bought the Rothko?Wait a sec turns out it wasn’t a bearded guy who bought the Rothko yesterday at Sotheby’s. Silly us for trusting the Times! Our compadre Vulture has the real deal: There were four bidders, and two of them were probably Russian. The winning bid came in over the phone. And the bearded guy? That was actually David Rockefeller Jr., who was watching the auction from a skybox.
Who Actually Bought the Rothko? (Hint: The ‘Times’ Was Wrong! [Vulture]
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Yeah, It’s Art
Further signs that the art market is officially nuts: Yesterday at Sotheby’s, a Rothko got hauled away for nearly twice the estimate by our favorite kind of buyer the Bearded Mystery Collector. The sale price, $72.8 million, is the new world record for a piece of contemporary art. The painting is titled White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose) and will look great over a $40 million dollar couch. The seller was David Rockefeller, MoMA’s chairman emeritus, a fact which may actually signal that the market’s about to turn: After all, if anyone would know when it’s time to unload a Rothko, it would be Rockefeller. As usual, Sotheby’s won’t blab about the buyer’s identity. We’re voting a Russian dude (perhaps the same one who bought Picasso’s Dora Maar au Chat for $95 million last May?), based on the combination of the beard and yesterday’s sudden introduction of the ruble to the room’s currency board. So the painting may be on its merry way to Mr. Marcus Rothkowitz’s birthplace as we speak.
Rothko Breaks a Record for Contemporary Art [NYT]
The Hunt for the Red Collector [NYM]
Christie’s to Sell Pigeons, Shit
After a weekend full of avant-garde art — Scope, the Armory Show, and so on — Christie’s is stepping up to the plate with a contemporary-art auction of its own. Together with Swiss art dealer and contemporary-art fiend Pierre Huber, the stately Rockefeller Center auction house will tonight offer Huber’s eccentric collection of photographs (e.g., Thomas Ruff’s hazy, glammed-up Internet porn), paintings (Christopher Wool’s enormous abstract canvases), sculpture (Piero Manzoni’s famous canned shit, which is, well, exactly that), and large-scale installations (i.e. Mike Kelley’s wackily eerie Test Room). Each one is sporting a hefty price tag — even the shit is estimated at $50,000 to $70,000 — for a total sale estimate of $11 to $15 million. That’s low for postwar and contemporary sales, but pretty significant considering there’s nary a Pollock in sight. —Rachel Wolff
Duck! That Decoy Costs $800,000!
More ways to spend your fat bonus this year, Wall Streeters: a very manly wooden duck. On January 19, the auctioneers at Christie’s are hoping to be the first to break the $1 million barrier in folksy duck decoys, hawking a cute, rare, and immaculately preserved white-bellied merganser. Carved from cedar and hand-painted shortly after the Civil War by a Massachusetts cemetery caretaker named Lothrop Holmes, the merganser decoy (used by hunters to attract waterfowl) is estimated by Christie’s to go for between $400,000 and $600,000. In November, an 1890s-era feeding plover fetched twice the presale estimate: $830,000. “Decoys are the new macho territory of folk collecting,” declares Margot Rosenberg, who runs Christie’s furniture, folk, and decorative-arts departments. “For hunter-gatherers on Wall Street, collecting is a sport unto itself.” Along with the hedge-funders, collectors from across the country will be bidding on 58 lots of decoys. Geoffrey Gray
Phillips de Pury Auction Panics Art WorldGulp. At Phillips de Pury auction house last night, as the New York art-auction season drew to a close, there was a moment of pure, unmitigated, and industry-wide panic.
Phillips was the final big sale of a two-week season that has moved a staggering $1.4 billion in art. At auction after auction, sales records have been set, and the hundreds of people who packed Phillips’s meatpacking-district showroom expected more of the same.
But then a Matthew Barney didn’t sell. (Gasp!) A Richard Prince went cheap. (What?) When the most expensive piece of the sale, Charles Ray’s convoluted carousel, got no bids, a tsunami of nervous chatter swept from the front to the back of the room. (Impossible!)
Auction Season Breaks $1 Billion; New Stars Anointed on Insider Info
New York’s big annual art-auction season broke $1 billion for the first time in history last night, and nearly two dozen artist’s records have been set in just the past two days. Amid the skyrocketing prices, new stars are being anointed left and right. New geniuses suddenly discovered? Hardly. The artists hitting record prices are often either backed by a network of powerhouse alliances or their buyers are betting on the art world’s version of insider information.
The sales crossed into ten-figure mark late last night at Christie’s, where the main sales room featured every major art-world player from Jeffrey Deitch to Aby Rosen to artist and Louis Vuitton handbag designer Takashi Murakami. (The auctions are something like the Oscars of the art world: There’s campaigning and backroom deals, and everyone in the room has gotten a new haircut for the event.) The waiting list for seats, the auction house said, numbered more than 1,000.
Breakfast at Truman’s
Joanne Carson’s glee grew with each sale of Capotiana, her arms shimmying with delight. Truman Capote’s longtime friend, with whom he frequently stayed in L.A. and at whose home he died, Carson put over 300 of the writer’s personal items up for sale today at Bonhams & Butterfields auction house on Madison Avenue. Tweedy men and reedy women sat tightly among the writer’s belongings. Bidder No. 4445 declined to answer questions, but he did repeatedly knock his chair and elbow into a dummy wearing a diminutive blue “Kid Capote” jersey that somehow retained its shape. (It looked like 4445 was bidding on Lot 1095, two engraved and, one hopes, durable pewter mugs.)
The early lots were books from Capote’s personal library.
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Nazis, ‘Cats’ Conspire Against Mendelssohn, PicassoLet’s say your parents force you to give away your puppy. A month later, you walk past a pet store and see Fido — and he’s unmistakably yours — in the window, for sale. It’s not a good feeling, and, ultimately, there’s not much you can do. Julius H. Schoeps is experiencing something similar, except his puppy is a Picasso. As auction season gets started, a Manhattan judge yesterday dismissed a suit in which Schoeps tried to stop Christie’s from selling The Absinthe Drinker; he says his great-uncle was forced to sell the work under duress because of Nazi persecution. The claim didn’t fly, Christie’s wanted to know why the heir waited 70 years to speak up, and the judge ultimately tossed the lawsuit on a technicality. The painting will be auctioned today, and it’s projected to fetch between $40 and $60 million. But what makes this all much more interesting is the cast of characters. The painting’s current owner is Andrew Lloyd Webber, who bought it through his charitable foundation in 1995. And Schoeps is a descendant of Felix Mendelssohn. So not only are judges, painters, and Nazis involved, but the whole business also has the strange auxiliary whiff of a Broadway tunesmith thumbing his nose at the phantom of a classical composer. It’s enough to put anyone in a blue period.
Judge Refuses to Halt Auction of a Picasso [NYT]
Houses on Fire [NYM]