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An Art World Casualty

I am stunned  by the art market's indecent cash preference for Jeff Koons and Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst, mostly shlock in my eyes, all of it, in fact.  You know already what I think of the coming Koons exhibit at the Met and at the fancy shlock opening the Met is throwing for it. 

There's a very intriguing article, "An Old Master in Ruins," by James Panero in New York Magazine, intriguing and insightful and truly revelatory. It's about my good friend Larry Salander who was the best known old master dealer in New York, maybe aside Richard Feigen, older and more reserved.

The Panero piece is framed by Salander's outrage at the gargantuan prices paid for imitations of junk, most of which breaks the iron law of the market that rarity is the bedrock of high value. But that's not Salander's bitch particularly. It is that sheer crap is being sold for millions, and you can still buy a small Degas oil portrait for $150,000.

Now, it is true that Salander is in financial troubles and has filed for personal bankruptcy. Let me say that I, who have bought from him, have never been treated more honestly and responsibly, and I have bought from the best. 

It is true that among his complainants are people who one has prima facie reasons to suspect. They will stare out at you from the Panero article. 

I don't know any of those folk. But let me say that Arthur Carter, who used to own the New York Observer, now in much better hands, is a very savvy investor and he could not have thought that the investments he made with Salander were other than risky. If they'd worked, he would have added to his hundreds of millions.  

There is one mistake Salander did make, and it was to exhibit Carter's work. That stands in stark contrast to the gifted modern and contemporary painters, living and dead, whom Salander showed and to the artistic classics of our civilization on which he doted.