Los Angeles' biggest spending art collector was in London today and picked up Jeff Koons' stainless-steel sculpture "Cracked Egg (Blue)" for about $3.5 million. Broad has been collecting the artist's work since the 1980s and told Bloomberg News: "Unfortunately, we're paying more for Koons than we did in the 1980s. But if you're a collector, you buy a work when you find it. We don't pause when prices rise. The only thing that happens is our insurance bills go up.''
Culture journalist Lee Rosenbaum, who follows Broad as one of the country's leading collectors of contemporary art, found it notable that he told Bloomberg his works would be loaned to many museums rather than donated to one — such as the new Eli Broad wing under construction at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Rosenbaum posted today at her ArtsJournal blog Culturegrrl:
Maybe contemporary collector and art-museum philanthropist Eli Broad thought he was sufficiently out of earshot from his neighbors in Los Angeles when he chatted in London with Bloomberg's Linda Sandler.
Asked whether his collection would wind up in a museum, Broad said it would be divided and doled out to institutions that needed the specific works. The risk of donating an entire collection to a single museum was that much of it might wind up in storage, he said.
"Where it goes will depend on who needs what. We don't want them in storage.'' Giving a clue as to possible beneficiaries, Broad reeled off a number of boards he sits on, including MOCA [the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art]. LACMA [the Los Angeles Museum of Art] would be loaned more than 100 works, he said.
But a "loan" is neither a gift nor bequest. In a controversial move under its former director, Andrea Rich, LACMA gave Broad substantial sway over a new contemporary wing to be built with his money and with his name on it. "The gamble is that someday the museum will inherit the art," as Michael Kimmelman wrote in the NY Times. It would appear that Michael Govan, LACMA's new director, has some work to do.
Rosenbaum recently interviewed Tom Dresslar, spokesman for the state Attorney General's office, and found it a shocker that he raised the possibility of a new investigation of the Getty — this time over the return of antiquities to Italy. He said the AG might be interested in "whether any loss of art by the Getty was caused at the outset by negligence on the part of the trustees."