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Sunday, December 12th, 2010

Crime Alert

The recent buffing over of Blu’s commissioned mural for MOCA LA has been the talk of many bloggers. I’m still putting my thoughts together on that and will post soon. This posting is to alert readers to a name that popped up in Los Angeles Downtown News’ Dec 9th article, Moca Commissions Mural, Then Whitewashes It. The article mentions Mr .Daniel Laohoda, referring to him as “a street art advocate” whose Freewalls Project “connects artists with building owners who offer their walls for murals.” Many of us in the young collecting community are no stranger to Lahoda’s name, but not for his supposed good will or support of the arts. On the contrary, according to the LAPD, Lahoda and his business Jet Set Graffiti are responsible for baiting and defrauding several collectors, galleries and businesses, including multiple members of the TAC community. He currently resides on the LAPD’s Art Theft website, which summarizes the numerous allegations against him including, “embezzling funds” from two separate galleries he was employed by, and more than $47,000 from Acumen Entertainment Group in Las Vegas.

Read the full Crime Alert here

We would like to hear from you if you have had similar experiences or any information regarding Mr. Lahoda. Send messages to us at info@theartcollectors.com and contact LAPD’s Art Theft Detail at (213) 486-6940 or by e-mail at artcop@lapd.lacity.org.

Posted by ATARMS | Filed in Legal | Comment now »


Friday, November 26th, 2010

Flying High :: Murakami in Macy’s Parade / Settles Lawsuit

(Image via NYClovesNYC)

Happy Thanksgiving!

With the 84th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade complete, Takashi Murakami becomes the latest artist to contribute balloon designs to the iconic holiday celebration, following previous collaborations with the Estate of Keith Haring, Jeff Koons and Tom Otterness. Giant renditions of his signature characters Kaikai and Kiki floated through Manhattan accompanied by Murakami himself, who was adorned in a furry dragon costume topped off with a headdress featuring his flower design.

In other news, according to a recent KaiKai Kiki press announcement, Murakami and Kaikai Kiki Ltd. have reached a settlement with Cerulean Co., Ltd. regarding the sale of an original work titled Flower Ball Blood (3-D) V. The sale was conditioned on Cerulean not reselling the work for a fixed period of time. However, when the piece was slated to be auctioned by Christie’s in London five months after its purchase, Kaikai Kiki filed its lawsuit demanding immediate return of the painting, along with s compensation for damages. On October 30, 2009, the suit ended in an amicable settlement, resulting in agreement for the return of the work in question.

(Image via sandrasoroka)

(Image via NYClovesNYC)

(Image via sandrasoroka)

Murakami shows off his parade costume (All Artwork including Kaikai and Kiki (c)Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All rights reserved., via New York Times.)

Concept Illustration. (All Artwork including Kaikai and Kiki (c)Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All rights reserved., via New York Times)

Murakami works on concept sculptures. (All Artwork including Kaikai and Kiki (c)Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All rights reserved., via New York Times.)


Monday, August 30th, 2010

Accidents Will Happen :: Barry McGee Hits Houston Street

(All images and text © Jeff Newman/TheArtCollectors)

After a month away overseas (more on that to follow), I’ve come home to New York. Before leaving I had gotten word that Barry McGee and company would be coming to the city sometime soon to lend their treatment to the Houston Street mural wall on the Lower East Side. I thought for sure I would miss it, but returned earlier this week to learn I had made it back just in time. So, after several weeks of being absent from TheArtCollectors, I couldn’t have imagined a better way to jump back into things. I hope you’ll agree.

In an amazing twist, life imitated art in New York Sunday night when Barry McGee and crew descended on the Houston Street wall. Beginning at midnight, McGee, together with longtime collaborator Josh Lazcano (Amaze), began a massive spray-painting spree, bombarding the surface with hundreds of simple red tags. Working through the cover of night, the team created the ultimate graffiti writer’s roll call and a strangely beautiful, if not challenging piece of commissioned abstract art. By dawn, it would go much farther than even they could have imagined.

In the coming weeks, reactions to the piece are sure to be mixed, and it didn’t take long for questions to begin. Police made their first visit around 2am, clearly not knowing what to make of the Tony Goldman sanctioned property previously occupied by a Ketih Haring replica, a meticulously illustrated mural by Os Gemeos and the design heavy graphics of Shepard Fairey. No, this couldn’t be legit, this couldn’t be art. After a minor interruption a permit was produced and the police were on their way. They’d be returning though.

By 4am (with some added contributions from Chino) Twist and Amaze had completely filled in the wall with the names and crews of graffiti writers past and present. Seeing the project near completion, spectators, assistants and overseers had left the scene, leaving the artists free to “touch up” a few things. They were soon disrupted by a carload of ass-shaking club girls who briefly hijacked the sidewalk for a personal photo op. Acting as official photographer, Martha Cooper quickly stepped in keeping control over the site, and we turned our cameras on the drunken booty bunch. Barry and crew entered the frame. However amusing it was, this was clearly not how those involved had intended to end the night. Whatever – DFW – this bullshit would all be over soon and they could get back to what they were here for and waiting till dawn to complete.

4:45am and back to work. As it ascended to a few of the harder to reach spots, the buzz of the boom lift was suddenly drowned out by screeching tires. We turned our heads left just as a passing SUV smashed full force into a graffiti-adorned box truck, briefly taking flight and coming to rest on its side. The smell of oil and gasoline filled the air as it trickled out and drenched the pavement. “Call 911,” “Get that fucking cigarette away from here!” A few passersby rushed in and attempted to tear back the shattered windshield to reach the driver. Trapped on his side in an airbag filled compartment, they eventually opted to use the back end as an escape hatch. Bleeding from his forehead, but able to walk, he was pulled from the rear of the vehicle and helped into an ambulance.

By 5am the street was blocked off by police and fire department, bringing more unwelcome attention to the wall. Ordered down from their perch, the artists were subjected to another round of police scrutiny, this time focusing on their recent early morning final additions and concerns regarding the exact zone the work permit covered. Things seemed uncertain, if not dismal over the next hour.

What the hell had just happened? Walking west from the wall, a few hundred feet down the street to the accident and back up again, I started to take it all in – the totaled truck flipped on its side, the broken glass, the flashing lights and sirens all set the backdrop of 850 sq. feet of graffiti. I felt a certain sort of chaotic energy and unnerving excitement, as if one of Barry’s frenetic gallery and museum installations had spontaneously slammed full force into the middle of Houston Street. By 6am he and his mates were in there clear and off to the airport to get the hell out of New York City. Me? I walked up the block and back home where I couldn’t fall asleep for another three hours.

READ ON FOR MORE IMAGES Read the rest of this entry »


Sunday, July 11th, 2010

Saatchi to Gift Gallery and Millions in Art to England

Tracy Emin’s My Bed (1998),  one of the 200 works of art Charles Saatchi plans on gifting to the British government.

Outspoken advertising and art collecting tycoon Charles Saatchi has announced plans to gift his London gallery and some 200 works of art to the British government upon his retirement. While terms of the donation have not yet been ironed out and Saatchi has not specified a retirement date, the deal would put an estimated $37.5 million worth of art, along with Saatchi’s 70,000 sq ft exhibit space (to be renamed The Museum of Contemporary Art, London) in the nation’s hands.  Statements from the gallery clarified that no charges would fall on the nation’s taxpayers, nor would Mr. Saatchi himself receive any tax benefits from the gift.

While the works to be donated may serve as hefty building blocks for a new museum, ultimately its success as a major public art institution will rest on what government agencies are given the task, who is brought in to curate and direct, how new works will be acquired by the collection, and in doing so, what will be purged.

More at the NYTimes and Guardian

Posted by ATARMS | Filed in Interview, Legal, London, Market Talk, Museums | Comment now »


Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

Amidst Controversy, Brandeis Weighs Renting Rose Collection

A sign erected by protesters on the night of a public hearing at the Rose Art Museum in February of last year. (Sarah Ewick via Bostonist)

Nearly a year and a half after Brandeis came under attack for voting to shore up university funds by closing down and selling off the Rose’s collection, the future of the museum still remains in question. After flip-flopping under pressure on its initial decision, Brandeis’ board is now considering renting out works from the Rose to generate income for the university.

In a press release dated May 28 and first reported by the Boston Globe, Brandeis announced that it was taking steps to “explore a range of alternatives to the sale of art from the Rose Art Museum in an effort to generate value from a portion of the collection while still maintaining ownership of the artwork.” More specifically, University President, Jehuda Reinharz, revealed that Brandeis was already “in discussions with Sotheby’s to solicit advice on non-sale partnerships, lending agreements and other creative solutions in the fundraising arena.”

To be clear, “lending” is less than upfront terminology to describe the potential plan. Simply put, Brandeis may be close to renting out portions of the 7,000+ piece Rose collection for profit.

Though the recent announcement makes sure to clarify that “Brandeis is committed to using a portion of any proceeds it realizes from art in the Rose Art Museum to directly benefit both the museum and the university’s Department of Fine Arts,” this really seems like lip service. It is abundantly clear that the universities’ motivation remains unchanged  – to offset the economic troubles of Brandeis (not the Rose) by leveraging its control over the Rose’s collection as a cash-asset. No one who has been following these developments since last January has any doubt where the majority of any such revenue would end up – with the financially burdened university, and not with the Rose.

Furhtermore, while the university emphasizes that it would “Ideally…continue to own the art but find an innovative way to get value from it,” and that they have “not sold any art since that vote, and will not do so while it examines non-sale alternatives,” no guarantees have been given. In fact, Brandies has already cut a deal with Christies to put works on the auction block, if it ultimately decides to permanently shutter the Rose and deassess the collection.

Lee Rosenbaum (who has been diligently shedding light on the story since its beginning) makes some insightful new suggestions over on CultureGrrl – that preference should be given to Boston-area museums or educational institutions, that under no circumstances should Rose works be lent for private use by collectors or corporations, and that the core collection of important works from the collection should remain on campus, with the right to borrow back works from renters for educational or exhibition purposes.

For those who haven’t been following, the battle over the Rose began in January of last year, after Brandeis’ trustees announced it would close the museum and sell off its $350 million collection to insulate an increasingly threatened university endowment (see our previous reports here and here) which was hit hard by the global recession and Madoff scheme. With the support of every major museum association, The Rose’s board fired back on the grounds that the museum was not a university asset and such action would be in violation of the intentions of the museum’s founders, donors and established ethical codes. Controversy escalated further in July when museum overseers filed a lawsuit (read the full transcript here) to halt Brandeis from moving forward with its plans. While Brandeis has held off selling any art or closing the museum, they did fire the majority of the Rose’s staff, including the museum’s director, who has been outspoken against the university’s actions.

The proposed rental plan is certainly less egregious than the initial move to close the museum and toss its important public collection to the highest bidder. Moving forward, if Brandeis were willing to adhere to some ethical guidelines, like those proposed by Rosenbaum, at least it would allow for the Rose to remain a vital and active public institution, and carry out its original mission, as envisioned by its founders and early benefactors when it opened its doors in 1961.


Monday, May 10th, 2010

Poster Boy Gets Jail Time

(Image via Poster Boy)

The Wall Street Journal reports that NY subway ad slasher, Poster Boy, has been sentenced to 11 month jail time after violating the terms of his probation, stemming from felony charges of criminal mischief. The 28 year old graffiti artist, whose real name is Henry Matyjewicz, was taken into custody late last week after failing to appear at a probation hearing. Matyjewicz’s lawyer said “He’s quite shocked. It was completely unexpected,” and plans on appealing the judgement.

On the upside, the news is bound to help sales of Poster Boy’s upcoming book, which he can then funnel right back into legal fees. Joy.

Posted by ATARMS | Filed in Graffiti, Legal | Comment now »


Saturday, February 27th, 2010

Big Week for Fairey Amidst Growing Controversy

Art of Elysium’s 2010 Heaven Gala (Image via Art of Elysium)

It wouldn’t be a week without some sort of news from the Shepard Fairey camp, and this one is jam packed.

Fairey was named Visionary of the Year and lent design and decoration to children’s charity The Art of Elysium’s 2010 Annual Heaven Gala (pictured above). Fairey is participating in their annual benefit auction, and has donated several items to the fundraising event. The most exciting lot is a personal portrait sitting with the artist.  The winning bidder will be entitled to a visit with Fairey for a photo shoot, which the artist will use to create a one of a kind 30″ X 44″ mixed media canvas. The prize is valued at $30-$40,000 for the in person sitting and final artwork (or $20-$30,000 if photos are sent). Other lots include unique 40″ x 60″ canvas depicting his Burmese Monk image, estimated at $20,000, and a rather quirky one of a kind collaged 7 foot lamp, valued at $7,500 (both pictured below).  Both the portrait sitting and Burmese Monk can be bid on live via CharityBuzz until March 4, 12pm EST. If interested in the lamp, download an absentee bid form here

The opening of the third and final stop of his museum retrospective, Supply and Demand, set record attendance numbers at the Cincinatti Contemporary Arts Center this past week. Naturally, while in town, Fairey and crew were also out making their mark on the streets. (Lots more photos of the exhibition preparation, opening celebration, and outdoor campaign at the end of this post.)

(All museum and street images via Obey Clothing)

Next, Fairey’s design firm, Studio Number One, has lent their hand to titling sequences for the new Basquiat feature film, which can be seen in the trailer below.

Finally, the controversy over Fairey’s Obama portrait continues. The artist is now the subject of a federal grand jury criminal probe. Authorities are investigating whether Fairey violated federal laws prohibiting evidence tampering and perjury in connection to his copyright battle with the Associated Press. In October the artist released a public statement admitting, “in an attempt to conceal my mistake I submitted false images and deleted other images.”  As noted by Copyrights and Campaigns, the criminal investigation hinges on whether or not Fairey (along with his wife) violated 18 U.S.C. §§ 1512(c)and 1621. Section 1512 makes it a crime to “alter, destroy, mutilate, or conceal an object with intent to impair the integrity or availability of the object for use in an official proceeding,” while section 1621 declares that any person who “willfully subscribes as true any material matter which he does not believe to be true…is guilty of perjury and shall, except as otherwise expressly provided by law, be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.”

Fairey has filed an injunction hoping to postpone the civil suit with AP. The injunction argues

“Plaintiffs submit that there is a compelling case for postponement. Mr. Fairey is now the subject of a criminal investigation…It appears that the AP is, at minimum, encouraging and supporting that criminal investigation. Mr. Fairey’s criminal defense counsel believes that a deposition at this time would prejudice him and impair council’s ability to properly represent Mr. Fairey. Therefor, if a deposition does take place while the criminal investigation is pending, counsel would advise Mr. Fairey to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.”

While we here at TAC have supported Shepard’s fair use claims in creating his Obama portrait (which now sits in the National Portrait Gallery), we will wait for the facts to further develop before weighing in on the separate criminal investigation, and confine our comments to reporting the findings as they emerge.

Read on for more pictures from Cincinnati opening night and installation Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by ATARMS | Filed in Artist Talk, Benefit+Fundraiser, Events, Exhibition, Graffiti, Legal, Museums, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Big Week for Fairey Amidst Growing Controversy


Friday, February 26th, 2010

Rubell Collection to Expand to D.C.

The recently sold Randall School building was purchased from the by the Rubells in partnership with the Telesis real estate firm from the Corcoran School and Museum. The joint venture will see the site developed into a new Rubell museum, a hotel, and private residencies. (Image via)

Famed Miami based collectors Don and Mira Rubell have just announced plans to open up a new museum in Wasington D.C. to showcase their ever expanding collection of contemporary art. The location will serve as a satellite to their Miami museum, and was purchased for $6.5 million from Corcoran College and Gallery of Art in partnership with real estate investment firm, Telesis. Part of the building will also be developed into a hotel and private residences.

This isn’t the Rubell’s first foray into the D.C. area. In 2002, the couple bought the Capitol Skyline Hotel. The seven story building was designed by their friend, architect Morris Lapidus, known for the Fontainebleau Hotel and other Miami Beach properties. Around the same time, they began focusing on D.C. artists. “The reason we even bothered to find a business [in D.C.] is that the art is amazing,” noted Mera Rubell in a December interview with Art in America. “A hotel is a natural place to create a kind of home. I want artists there—it’s exciting for my existence here whenever I’m here.”

(Image: Jenny Yang via Art in America)

The Corcoran is slated to host an exhibition organized by and culled from the Rubell’s collection. 30 Americans focuses on African American artists in the Rubell’s personal collection and was first on view at their private Miami museum in December of 2008.  Last week, Tyler Green’s Modern Art Notes raised concern over the arrangement. Clarifying that works in the exhibit are owned by the Rubell family and not by their foundation, he notes:

“The last line of the Washington Post story on the deal is a classic case of burying the lede: “Officials said the exhibition is not related to the sale.” Really? When an art-museum-and-school is preparing to exhibit a family’s private collection at the same time it is cutting a real estate deal with the owners of that collection (and curator(s) of the show), the arrangement deserves significantly more journalistic examination than a toss-off at the end of a story.”

Spokespersons for the Corcoran affirm the exhibit and property sale are not related. Yet, if the recent hoopla over the New Museum’s upcoming exhibit of museum trustee Dakis Joannou’s personal collection is waranted, perhaps the Rubell’s dealings with the Corcoran are also worth further examination.


Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

Pot-Art :: Warhol Foundation + Paul Morrissey Sued For Torture

Director Paul Morrissey is also named in the lawsuit against the Warhol Foundation

A family is suing the Andy Warhol Foundation for $300,000 in damages, claiming the art icon tortured their late father when he was 14 years old while filming him smoking pot for a short silent film. The lawsuit argues that the Foundation, along with director, Paul Morrissey are still profiting from DVD sales of All Aboard to Dreamland Choo Choo, where the footage appears, and goes as far as to call the film “child pornography.” Click here to read the full text of the complaint filed in Pennsylvania.

Info: Courthouse News Service via Art Tactic

Posted by ATARMS | Filed in Artist Talk, Legal | 1 Comment »


Sunday, October 18th, 2009

Shepard Fairey Exhibit Opens Amidst New Legal Controversy

(All Images via Obey Clothing)

After a hugely successful run at the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art, Shepard Fairey’s museum retrospective opened today at The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. The exhibit premiers just as new and disheartening information surfaces about the artist’s ongoing legal battle with the Associated Press.

Read on for the full story Read the rest of this entry »