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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Filthy Rich Oligarchs Trade Art

Hollywood entertainment mogul David Geffen, has sold a Jackson Pollock drip painting from his personal art collection for an estimated $140 million. That’s the highest price ever paid for a painting. Carol Vogel of the New York Times reports that Jack the Dripper’s No. 5, 1948 was purchased by fellow oligarch, Mexican financier David Martinez, who recently bought an apartment in New York’s Time Warner Center for $54.7 million dollars. Martinez has also been snatching up works by modern artists like they were going out of style - and oh how we wish they would!

Painting by Jack the Dripper
[ No. 5, 1948 - Jack the Dripper. Lovely isn’t it, and well worth $140 million, or at least it can be used as a down payment on purchasing a major U.S. newspaper. ]

David Geffen has also just recently sold two other paintings from his collection, Willem de Kooning’s 1955, Police Gazette (which sold for $63.5 million), and Jasper Johns’ 1959, False Start (which fetched $80 million). Corporate oligarch Kenneth Griffin and his wife Anne, managing director of the Chicago-based Citadel Investment Group, are the buyers of the Jasper Johns. The money-bags couple recently gave $19 million to the Art Institute of Chicago to finance a new modern art wing - no doubt to be called the Griffin wing.

But back to our benevolent bloated billionaire, David Geffen. There is speculation Geffen has been selling off his modern art collection in order to raise enough capital to buy the Los Angeles Times! For the denizens of this burg who pay attention to important matters, you may already know that in 2000 the Chicago based Tribune Co. bought the Times Mirror Co., parent of The Times, for $8 billion dollars. The fat cats at the Tribune were on the path to monopolize media in LA (the company also owns KTLA-TV Channel 5), but praise be to the internet, advertising revenues for traditional media companies have slumped, pushing the Tribune to sell off its "holdings." In steps David Geffen, who, according to Forbes magazine, is one of the 400 richest Americans with some $4.5 billion dollars to his name.

For decades now, art world elites have been telling us that art serves no social purpose, or as the postmodernist huckster Christo once famously said, "All works of art are good for nothing." But as the crux of this story regarding David Geffen proves, art can indeed have a social purpose after all - that of making the rich, richer!