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(See update here.)
In an article titled "Warhol Wars," The Independent on Sunday has reported new developments in Joe Simon-Whelan's lawsuit against the Warhol Foundation, the Authentication Board and their representatives. The article (which appeared in the July 11th issue of the newspaper) quoted one of the Warhol Foundation's lawyers as saying "When we win this case we will pursue him [Joe Simon-Whelan] wherever he is – he can run back to London and hide in a basement. The case has been a sham from day one." In a surprise development the paper also reported that the foundation's lawyer "claimed in a letter to the court that the painting was stolen from a home in Buckinghamshire before it came into Mr. Simon-Whelan's possession." The Independent article can be found here.
It is unknown whether the foundation's lawyer has contacted the police in the U.K. to report the alleged theft or has told the art dealers who sold the painting to Simon-Whelan that the work had allegedly been stolen at some point prior to its purchase by Simon-Whelan. Simon-Whelan purchased the painting from Michael Hue Williams and Lang & O'Hara in 1989. (Lang is currently the head of the Max Lang Gallery and O'Hara the head of the Jonathan O'Hara Gallery - both in New York.) The Independent article does not indicate when the work was supposed to have been stolen but it was presumably after Christie's auction house sold the same work to Daniel Templon in 1987.
The lawyer for the foundation is also quoted as saying "Regardless of whether he wins this case he [Joe Simon Whelan] expects to profit from a book he is writing and a film he is making about the case." The lawyer does not specify who the publisher of the alleged book is or who the backer of the alleged film is, nor does he explain, if the allegation is true, how it impinges on the merits of the case. The case is such a high-profile one that I'd be surprised if somebody wasn't writing a book about it, however it is doubtful that anyone would launch such an expensive lawsuit specifically in order to write a book or make a film about it as the cost of the lawsuit, if unsuccessful, would far outweigh any profits from such a book or film. Interestingly, the lawyer quoted by the Independent is from a different law firm than has been quoted in previous articles about the case. In September 2009 the Art Newspaper indicated that the "New York firm of Carter Ledyard & Millburn" represented "both the Authentication Board and its parent Warhol Foundation." The Independent article, however, quotes a different law firm as representing the foundation - Nicholas Gravante Jr. of Bois, Schiller and Flexner.
In regard to the background of the case, Joe Simon-Whelan was a friend of Warhol and presumably wanted a Warhol Self-Portrait as a memento of his friendship with the artist. (Simon-Whelan is mentioned in some issues of Interview magazine.) When he purchased the painting it had already been authenticated by the Warhol Foundation which, at the time, was headed by Warhol's confidante and business manager Fred Hughes. Later, when Simon-Whelan submitted the work to the current Authentication Board, the board denied that the painting was authentic and stamped it as "Denied" on two occasions.
Simon-Whelan has already passed one legal hurdle in his case. Prior to considering a work for authentication the Andy Warhol Authentication Board requires submitters to sign an agreement in which the owner of the work waives their right to sue the board, the foundation, the Estate of Andy Warhol and their representatives. Because Simon had signed such an agreement in order to get the Authentication Board to consider his painting, the Warhol entities were arguing that he had waived his right to sue. The Court upheld Simon's right to sue, despite his having signed the agreement, because according to the Court's decision "A party may not invoke such an agreement to insulate itself from intentional wrongdoing, such as that alleged in this action."
(See Art Newspaper, Courthouse News Service and "Warhol collector's monopoly suit gets green light" and "What Andy Warhol Didn't Do"
The case has attracted considerable press interest - not the least of which was a battle that broke out in the pages of the New York Review of Books last year and is still going on. The argument kicked off when, in October 2009, Richard Dorment (co-author of Pre-Raphaelite and Other Masters: The Andrew Lloyd Webber Collection and the art critic for the Daily Telegraph), wrote an article titled What Is an Andy Warhol? for the New York Review of Books in which he questioned the foundation's practices in regard to the de-authentication of the Self-Portrait. On 19 November 19, 2009 the magazine published further correspondence relating to the case, including a letter from ex-LA City Councilman Joel Wachs who is currently the head of the Andy Warhol Foundation, in which Wachs criticized Mr. Dorment's essay as "a highly partisan attack on a charitable entity whose principal activity is making significant grants to worthy nonprofit arts organizations." Also included was a letter from David Mearns who has a Warhol Self-Portrait from the same series owned by Simon-Whelan:
"My family owns one of the ten silk-screen self-portraits of Andy Warhol that the Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board is conspiring to remove from Warhol’s oeuvre and the art market. Despite not ever putting the picture up for sale or having any contact with the Authentication Board at all, we were surprised to receive a letter from the board in the spring of 2004 inviting us to submit our picture for authentication. Only persistent questioning of the board’s intentions saved our picture from being defaced with a denied stamp because its seemingly straightforward letter was ultimately exposed to be a premeditated and underhanded ploy to deauthenticate our picture."
On December 17, 2009 the magazine published another exchange of letters including one from Sarah Whitfield, writing on behalf of the Comité René Magritte, the Francis Bacon Authentication Committee and the Arshile Gorky Foundation. In her letter Whitfield criticized the foundation's practice of stamping a painting with a "negative verdict."
Sarah Whitfield (Comité René Magritte, the Francis Bacon Authentication Committee and the Arshile Gorky Foundation):
"... the decisions made by the committees named below [Comité René Magritte, the Francis Bacon Authentication Committee and the Arshile Gorky Foundation] are made in an advisory capacity. That is to say, if a work offered for examination is found not to be authentic, or if there is reason to have doubts about the authenticity, it is not marked or stamped with the negative verdict (nor is it seized, a course of action taken by some committees in the past). Thus, if at a later date new evidence comes to light, or if the committee is found to have erred in its judgment, the work is in no way compromised physically."
On February 25, 2010, the magazine printed yet another series of letters supporting Simon-Whelan from Paul Alexander, Michael Findlay and Richard Dorment, along with a letter from Joel Wachs responding to Mr. Mearn's letter:
"Mr. Mearns’s allegation that the Andy Warhol Authentication Board somehow “conspired” with the Andy Warhol Foundation to 'deauthenticate' his work is an utterly false, reckless claim, and completely unsupported by the facts. And here are the facts to set the record straight: the board and the foundation are separate and independent charitable organizations. The board, comprised of experts in the field noted for their integrity and scholarly excellence, conducts thoughtful, reasoned analysis of each work and engages in deliberations to reach decisions that are completely independent, by design, from the foundation."
Despite Mr. Wachs' assertions, the Mearns family has decided to launch a separate lawsuit against the foundation, the Authentication Board and their representatives.
In the same issue of the New York Review of Books as Wachs' letter was a letter from Rainer Crone who wrote the first catalogue raisonné of Warhol's work, published in 1970. Crone is quoted extensively in the current catalogue raisonné as an authority on Warhol's art. A Self-Portrait from the same series as the one owned by Simon-Whelan was included on the front cover of the original catalogue raisonné.
"From 1968 on, I worked closely with Andy Warhol. Under his supervision, I had access to his archives and was able to make a complete inventory of his work in his studio on Union Square. I collaborated with him until his death in February 1987.
Between June 1968 and July 1970, as a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Hamburg, in my mid-twenties, I produced and wrote the very first catalogue raisonné of his paintings, films, and works on paper, published in 1970 by Hatje Verlag, Stuttgart (in German); Praeger, New York; and Thames & Hudson, London. My original research was funded by a generous two-year doctoral grant from the German government and intentionally did not include any commercial backing or financial support from any gallery or individuals (like collectors, art advisers, etc.).
In January 1970, before the publication of my catalogue raisonné, Warhol and I met in his Factory on Union Square to discuss which image should be used for the cover of the raisonné of his work. To demonstrate his unique reproduction technique using silk screens, Warhol showed me two paintings, identical in colour and outline, of the same image, from the series Red Self Portrait. He suggested that we use one of these two paintings for the cover to illustrate his repetitive and multiple reproductions of the same image—in this case, his self-portrait. We chose the Red Self Portrait, which had been recently acquired by Warhol’s Swiss dealer and Interview magazine co-owner Bruno Bischofberger and signed and dedicated to “Bruno B.” My 1970 catalog, as well as the revised editions of 1972 (Milan: Mazotta Editore), which included an additional 406 works approved by Warhol, and 1976 (Berlin: Wasmuth), listed this Red Self Portrait as entry #169, but the work was omitted from the Zurich-based gallery Ammann’s 2004 catalogue raisonné (without any notification or query to me)—as if this painting never existed or had been destroyed."
In other words, not only was the painting that was featured on the front cover of the first catalogue raisonné from the same set of Self-Portraits as Joe Simon-Whelan's painting, it had been chosen specifically by the artist and had been signed by Warhol.
Since Crone's letter appeared, two other noteworthy letters have been published in the New York Review of Books in regard to the case: a scathing letter from Ed Hayes, the lawyer for Warhol's estate at the time of his death which can be found at:
and a response to Mr. Hayes' letter which can be found here.
The case(s) continue...
The Mohawk in Austin, Texas will be hosting a Warhol birthday party on August 6th - details here.
A special event is also being planned in Manhattan - details to be posted here soon.
The Anthology Films Archives in New York will be screening the full version (8 hours, 5 mins) of Andy Warhol's Empire on Saturday July 24, 2010. The film is part of the Anthology's "Boring Masterpieces" series - as covered in the Wall Street Journal here.
As noted on the Anthology's website, "those hearty souls who make it through the entirety of Warhol’s Empire (bathroom breaks allowed) will be rewarded with a very special prize: a free ticket to Warhol expert Thomas Kiedrowski’s weekly tour of Andy Warhol sites throughout Manhattan. You can learn more about the tour here." Kiedrowski's book on Warhol's New York is due to be published in the Spring.
Details of the screening of Empire can be found here.
On the following day - July 25th - the Anthology will be hosting a series of films dedicated to the memory of Warhol film scholar Callie Angell who passed away earlier this year. Included will be a special Warhol/Whitney Program (including Andy Warhol's Eat) and a separate screening of My Hustler. Warhol's film Lupe (starring Edie Sedgwick and Billy Name) which will be shown in a double bill with José Rodriguez-Soltero's film of the same name (and year) - Lupe starring Mario Montez and Charles Ludlam.
Last month - on June 12th - Billy Name suffered a stroke. In a recent email he notes that the stroke occured on a "new moon night" and adds that he "would like his friends and fans to know that after a month of physical therapy, he has made a full recovery and is now back to work as usual." He also "thanks all for sending get well wishes."
Billy Name's photographs will be exhibited in Arles as part of The Rock Trail section of Les Rencontres Arles Photographie which runs from July 3, 2010 to September 19, 2010 and also includes the photography of Andy Warhol, Stephen Shore, Robert Mapplethorpe and Wolfgang Tillmans, amongst others.
Partners/sponsors of the festival include SB Conseil, Air France, Crédit Coopératif, Manade Jacques Bon, Listel, Société Jean Martin, Union des Clubs Taurins Paul Ricard, Hotel d'Arlatan, La Feria du Pain, Libération, La Saif, Arte Actions Culturelles, Gares & Connexions, fnac, BMW, Olympus, the LUMA Foundation and SFR.
Mary Woronov: "The sexy people were the boys - the boys of the night."
Preliminary work samples of the new documentary on Warhol superstar Mary Woronov have appeared on YouTube. The documentary is currently in production under the working title of Quite Contrary! Mary Woronov, My Life as a Cult Queen - From Warhol to Corman.
Melba LaRose (standing) and Candy Darling (seated in front)
in Jackie Curtis' Glamour, Glory and Gold
Caffe Cino playwright Doric Wilson will receive a Golden Pineapple Award at this year's CringeFest in New York - a celebration of bad films, bad plays and bad musicals - which runs from July 19 to August 8th at the Grand Theatre at the Producers' Club, 358 W. 44 St. The awards ceremony will take place on July 23rd.
CringeFest is the brainchild of Melba LaRose of NY Artists Unlimited. Melba played the role of Nola Noonan in the original production of Jackie Curtis play, Glamour, Glory & Gold - the Life and Legend of Nola Noonan, Goddess and Star (see photo above).
An article featuring Warhol stars Mary Woronov, Bibbe Hansen, Brigid Berlin and Warhol's friend from the 80s - socialite Cornelia Guest - has appeared in the New York Post under the title "After their 15 Minutes." Inviting the reader to "Meet Warhol's babes: the women who partied with him - and lived to tell about it," journalist Shira Levine includes excerpts from her interviews with the "babes."
An online version of the article (which differs from the hard copy) can be found here.
The Autobiography and Sex Life of Andy Warhol panel discussion at NYPL (From top left: 1. Steven Watson (moderator), Bibbe Hansen, John Wilcock, Gretchen Berg, Gerard Malanga, 2. Taylor Mead and Gretchen Berg, 3. Gerard Malanga and Gretchen Berg, 4. John Wilcock and Taylor Mead) (Photos: Thomas Kiedrowski from The Andy Warhol Sites Tour)
Warhol star Bibbe Hansen replaced Brigid Berlin on the NYPL panel for John Wilcock's book, The Autobiography and Sex Life of Andy Warhol which took place on Thursday, June 23rd, after Brigid was was unable to attend. More than a hundred people had to be turned away due to limited space. Audience members included Reva Wolf author of Andy Warhol, Poetry, and Gossip in the 1960s; Patrick Smith, author of the 'bibles' of Warhol scholarship Andy Warhol's Art and Films and Andy Warhol: Conversations About the Artist; Agosto Machado; Caffe Cino playwright Robert Heide; John Gilman; superstar Ivy Nicholson and her daughter, the actress Penelope Palmer; and the artist and editor of Useless magazine, Conrad Ventur.
Joseph Freeman, who is referred to as "Little Joey" in POPism: The Warhol Sixties and other Warhol biographies, also made a surprise appearance toward the end of the evening. Joey was not a scheduled guest (and is not interviewed in Wilcock's book) but was invited to stand up in the audience and give his account of working as a "go-fer" for Andy at the silver Factory of the 60s. Joey was there when Dylan visited the Factory in 1965 and also sat with Warhol in the control booth while Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground recorded tracks for their first album. Freeman was only thirteen years old when he first started working for Warhol and recalled that Warhol insisted that he (Joey) call him "mother." In POPism Warhol notes (via Pat Hackett) that Freeman's real mother "would call up occasionally from Brooklyn and say, 'Where's my little Joey? Is he getting into trouble?'" and that Joey's mother was always asking her son, 'What do you want to hang around with all those queers for?'" (POP205)
Andy Warhol (via Pat Hackett in POPism):
"That summer  I was doing the album cover for The Velvet Underground & Nico, the jacket that eventually became the stick-on banana that you peeled off and there was a flesh-colored banana fruit underneath (I'd originally considered doing a plastic surgery series for the cover, and I'd sent Little Joey and a friend of his, Dennis, out to medical supply houses for photographs and illustrations of nose jobs, breast jobs, ass jobs, etc. - they brought me back hundreds! Little Joey was working full-time at the Factory this summer, picking me up at my house at eleven-thirty every morning. He'd grown a few inches and dropped about twenty pounds of baby fat since we'd met him in the fall." (POP173)
"I worked for Andy for three years... I started in early '65 and ended in early '68 or very late '67... I went to 2-3 shoots, More Milk Yvette and some Screen Tests shot at the Factory, come to mind. Edie was around a lot, when I started, then disappeared. Andy would give me cab fare and I frequently picked up new Kodak 16MM Tri-X film stock at the Kodak Factory on York Avenue/72nd Street, and brought in, just shot film, to be processed.
As far as any trips, Andy always felt very responsible for me. I was only thirteen years old when I started. He would never let me stay later then 7 pm at the Factory which was a big disappointment because that's the time when things really got interesting! New people coming by, dressed up and regulars getting ready to go out to all the parties. Andy, every afternoon, would go through the mail selecting the invites that seemed good. And there were always tons of invites... He would only go to really exclusive parties, if the person was super famous and very hard to meet. Then he would go with a girlfriend, Edie, Susan Bottomly or the latest cute boy he was stuck on, like Rod LaRod... When I begged him enough and there was no school day the next day, Andy would let me come out with him. The times I went out with Andy at night are stories in themselves..." (JF220407)
A full account of the panel discussion can be found here.
and on the ArtForum website here.
Brigid Berlin in The Autobiography and Sex Life of Andy Warhol
If you were unable to get in to the panel discussion for The Autobiography and Sex Life of Andy Warhol. at the New York Public Library on June 23rd (see below), here's another opportunity meet some of the people involved with the book. Photographer Gretchen Berg, author John Wilcock and publisher Christopher Trela will be doing a book signing at the Gagosian Gallery shop in New York on June 24th from 6:00 - 8:00 pm.
The book is a re-issue of the one published in 1971, with new, additional photographs, a new introduction ("Understanding Andy") by Wilcock and a foreword by Trela. Gretchen Berg's photographs are featured throughout the book. Berg, in addition to taking some classic photos of Andy Warhol and his entourage, was also the author of the often quoted "if you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface..." interview. Author John Wilcock, who is British, was one of the founders of Interview magazine and the Village Voice, having previously worked for the Daily Mail and the Daily Mirror in England.
Interviewees in the book include Eleanor Ward of the Stable Gallery where Warhol had his first Pop exhibition in a New York gallery; Charles Henri Ford; Nico; Gerard Malanga; Naomi Levine; Marisol; Fred Hughes; Sam Green who organised the ICA show at which Andy and Edie Sedgwick got mobbed; Mario Amaya, the founder of Art and Artists magazine, who was shot by Valerie Solanas during her assassination attempt on Warhol; Henry Geldzahler; Leo Castelli; Viva; Ultra Violet; Lou Reed; Ronald Tavel; Warhol's sound man Buddy Wirtschafter and Taylor Mead.
From The Autobiography and Sex Life of Andy Warhol:
Eleanor Ward (on hosting Warhol's first Pop show in NY): "Arthur bought a Marilyn Monroe. Bill Seitz, who's at the Museum of Modern Art, bought a Marilyn Monroe."
John Wilcock: "How much were they then?"
Eleanor Ward: "$250. Peter Selz was at the Museum at the time. And Peter came in to see the Warhol show, and he called up Bill Seitz to tell him he'd seen the Warhol show and he said 'Isn't it the most ghastly thing you've ever seen in your life?' And Bill said, 'Yes isn't it? I bought one.'"
The book signing will take place from 6 pm to 8 pm in the Gagosian shop located at 988 Madison Avenue in Manhattan (tel: 212.744.9200)
The website for the book is here.
[Update 30 June 2010: The painting sold for £217,250 but Sotheby's has removed "Nico Williams" from the title and are just calling it "Untitled." Likewise, they have removed the description of the Velvet Underground's Nico - although if you click on the photo of the portrait they do still include a photo of the Velvet's Nico.]
Sotheby's in London is selling a painting by Andy Warhol whose subject may have been wrongly identified in their upcoming Contemporary Art Day Auction in London on June 29th. Lot 303 of the auction is listed as "Untitled (Nico Williams)." In their listing, Sotheby's includes a description of Nico, the lead singer from the Velvet Underground, even though Nico was not known to have the surname of Williams. It's as though the person naming the subject of the portrait has confused Nico with the Velvet's lighting person, Danny Williams, and has come up with "Nico Williams." Despite this, the picture is expected to sell for 180,000 to 250,000 pounds (or 262,044 to 363,950 U.S. dollars).
The picture can be seen on Sotheby's website here.
The provenance and exhibition history of the painting is somewhat limited. The painting was not exhibited until well after Warhol's death and apparently only in Italy. According to the information on the Sotheby's website, in 2006 it was shown at the Museo Civico Archeologico in Bologna and the following year in an exhibition titled "Made in Warhol" at Lake Maggiore, Italy. It was also included in art dealer Tony Shafrazi's book Andy Warhol Portraits.
The portrait was originally from a private collection in Germany and was "acquired directly from the artist in 1981"- the year it was painted. Warhol generally worked from Polaroids which he shot himself of his subject when doing the commissioned portraits. By 1981 Nico was considerably overweight and did not resemble the woman in picture. It would have been highly unusual for Warhol to do a portrait in 1981 based on a photograph from the 60s. One would have thought that the person who acquired the painting directly from the artist in the year it was painted would be the same person who commissioned the painting, but that doesn't appear to be the case here because of it's "Untitled" title. Someone other than Warhol has presumably identified the subject as "Nico Williams" but who was Nico Williams?
If you know who Nico Williams was (or is) or have any other information about this painting, email me at:
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