L.A. MOCA Trustees to Have Special Meeting Today

Broad. (Patrick McMullan)

After a rocky summer, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles is planning to hold a meeting today, the Los Angeles Times reports. The meeting is intended to bring together trustees whose “willingness to donate” is crucial for the museum, which recently suffered budget cuts. The Los Angeles Times interviewed six of the 39 trustees, some of whom telegraphed their disappointment with respect to the way the board is run in no uncertain terms, one claiming the whole board is “traumatized” by Eli Broad while another said, “Eli stepped in, and it sort of became a one-man show.” Read More


L.A. MOCA Former Chief Executive Urges Removal of Deitch

Deitch. (Courtesy Patrick McMullan)

In another stunning development in the situation at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art that was ignited by the abrupt departure of chief curator Paul Schimmel, former MOCA executive director Charles Young sent an e-mail to life trustee Eli Broad calling for the removal of director Jeffrey Deitch. The Los Angeles Times got hold of the letter, in which Mr. Young calls the debacle, which has resulted in the resignation of its four artist-trustees, a “four-alarm fire.” Read More


Eli Broad Sets Record Straight on Paul Schimmel

Eli Broad. (Courtesy Patrick McMullan)

In an effort to “set the record straight” about the departure of Paul Schimmel from the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, which we reported here, Eli Broad, wrote an op-ed piece for the Los Angeles Times. Mr. Broad, who was the founding chairman of the board of trustees of the museum (he’s now a lifetime trustee there), suggests Mr. Schimmel may not have been staging shows that were popular enough or cost-effective enough considering the museum’s history of fiscal woes. Read More


Paul Schimmel’s Departure From MOCA: Differing Takes in the Press

The Los Angeles Times has reported that Eli Broad, left, personally told Paul Schimmel that the MOCA board had voted to fire him. The museum's director, Jeffrey Deitch, told The Wall Street Journal that Mr. Schimmel resigned. At center, Edythe Broad, Mr. Broad's wife. (Courtesy Patrick McMullan Company)

More than two full days after news broke that the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and its chief curator, Paul Schimmel, had parted ways, the exact circumstances of his departure remain unclear, and various national newspapers are offering differing accounts of whether or not he was fired. The official line from MOCA is that Mr. Schimmel, who has declined to speak with press, resigned. Read More


Eli Broad Wrote A Book


It is called The Art of Being Unreasonable. It has a foreword by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The first sentence is “I am unreasonable.” There Mr. Broad is on the cover, smiling awkwardly next to a Jeff Koons balloon sculpture. The good thing about being a billionaire with a book deal is that you can get some very fancy people to write blurbs for you. Read More

occupy art

The Art of Noise: Is Occupy Wall Street Shaming Sotheby’s?

Jason Ide, left, with members of the Local 814.

Tobias Meyer, the fastidious German auctioneer at Sotheby’s, stood at the podium in the beige auction room two weeks ago, sweating gently in an uncreased suit and violet collar. Sotheby’s had a strong lineup of 73 lots, including four paintings from the “triumphant period” of Clyfford Still, an early proponent of Abstract Expressionism. But the Dow was down three points, the Italian prime minister had just announced his resignation over economic turmoil, and there was a mob of about 150 protesters outside the auction house’s glass facade, heckling the buyers and collectors on their way in.

“Shame on you! Go home!” protesters shouted as the likes of Eli Broad, Larry Gagosian and Jose Mugrabi scurried past the picket line before being sucked through the revolving door into the marble vacuum of the auction house. A small brass band outside Sotheby’s pumped out a zippy rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In” as a pair of girls clapped and two-stepped on the sidewalk. An older gentleman leaned over the metal barricades placed by the police and gave a zealous thumbs-down. “Boooo!” he taunted, then turned to Gallerist. “This is fun, isn’t it?”

The protesters were picketing on behalf of the Teamsters Local 814, the union that represents the 42 art handlers at Sotheby’s. When the union contract came up for renewal in July, Sotheby’s hired the infamous union-busting law firm Jackson Lewis and proposed changes to overtime, benefits and restrictions on the use of temporary laborers, a package the union says amounts to a pay cut and a ploy to avoid paying benefits. The negotiations stalled, and on Aug. 1, Sotheby’s told the art handlers not to come back to work. Since then, protesters at Occupy Wall Street have seized on the juxtaposition of Upper East Side art buyers versus blue collar art movers, giving what might have been a routine picket line an unexpected jolt.

One protester gave the Sotheby’s clients the finger, provoking a gray-haired buyer with a checkered scarf. “Fuck you! Fuck you!” he shouted in a French accent. Once inside, he stood behind the glass window like a kid at the zoo, sticking out his tongue, mouthing obscenities, zealously grasping an imaginary phallus and pumping it a few times into his mouth before he grew bored or realized how many cameras were around. “He’s in Sotheby’s a lot,” one of the locked-out art handlers told Gallerist as he aimed a flashlight at arriving clients’ eyes. One picketer hoisted a cutout of Sotheby’s CEO Bill Ruprecht’s head on the end of a long pole. “I’m Bill the CEO,” the back of the sign said. “I gave myself a 125% raise, HA.”

The real Mr. Ruprecht was inside with “a big African American bodyguard,” said one veteran art adviser, who noted that it was the first time they’d seen Mr. Ruprecht with a detail. “Sotheby’s had staff beyond, beyond,” the adviser noted. “It was like a hand-off. It started many feet ahead of the building, and as you got to the corner, a guy came and walked you a few feet to the next, who walked you a few feet to the next, so you’re not alone for a step.”

Sotheby’s was worried about protecting its clientele, but it likely was more worried about protecting the art. “I’m just always amazed that nothing hideous has happened,” the adviser said. “What’s to stop a Tony Shafrazi from coming in with a spray can, which is what he did to Guernica? The thing is, he never went to jail for it and it actually gave him some business credibility in the art world!” Read More