Busybodies, Hoarders and Egomaniacs
Individual works by these artists can go for tens of millions. An example: In November 2006, Hollywood’s David Geffen sold “No. 5, 1948” by Jackson Pollock to financier David Martinez for $140 million—the highest price ever paid for a work of art in the history of the world. (See the illustration at the end of this issue.)
Quietly selling off two paintings means MOCA would lose a couple of trees, but the forest would be saved.
You Do Whatcha Gotta Do
When you are running a business that is going south, don’t dither. Remember Lord Horatio Nelson’s rule for winning a sea battle: “Nevermind the maneuvers. Go straight at 'em!”
What triggered this screed was a story earlier this week that the National Academy—a relatively unknown school and museum in New York City—was in desperate need of dough ($800,000 deficit on a $3 million budget) and stealthily sold from its collection two 19th century landscapes by Hudson River School artists for an estimated $14 million and change.
So what’s the big deal?
It turns out a bunch of nosey-parkers operating under the banner of the Association of Art Museum Directors issued the following press release:
The National Academy is now breaching one of the most basic and important of AAMD’s principles by treating its collection as a financial asset, rather than the cornerstone of research, exhibition, and public programming, a record of human creativity held in trust for people now and in the future.
In the notification of its decision to AAMD last evening, the National Academy voluntarily withdrew from membership in the organization. It is not, however, membership in AAMD per se, but rather a broader commitment to ethical museum practice that demands adherence to the principles governing deaccessioning. Therefore, we have no choice but to censure the National Academy for this action. Consistent with AAMD’s Code of Ethics, we call on our members to suspend any loans of works of art to and any collaborations on exhibitions with the National Academy.