Eli Broad Dies at 87, Japan Courts Art Businesses, and More: Morning Links from May 3, 2021

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The Headlines

THE BILLIONAIRE ENTREPRENEUR AND ART COLLECTOR ELI BROAD DIED on Friday in Los Angeles, ARTnews reports. He was 87. A titan of philanthropy in Los Angeles, Broad plowed a fortune from the two Fortune 500 companies he founded into medical research, education reform, and the arts. With his wife, Edythe, who survives him, Broad was a prodigious art buyer, and the couple appeared on every edition of the annual ARTnews Top 200 Collectors list since its start in 1990. They amassed a formidable collection of blue-chip giants that includes Jeff KoonsCindy ShermanTakashi MurakamiEd Ruscha, and Jasper Johns. In 2015, they opened the Broad contemporary art museum in L.A. The city’s mayor, Eric Garcetti said, “Eli Broad, simply put, was L.A.’s most influential private citizen of his generation.”

REACTIONS TO BROAD’S PASSING CAME SWIFTLY from across the art world. He “was an ambitious and complex man who fell in love with an ambitiously complex city,” the artist Barbara Kruger told the Los Angeles Times, in a story that includes quotes from artists Mark Bradford and Shirin Neshat . Broad was a notoriously hands-on patron, and sometimes a fickle one. He “personified, to an almost lurid degree, the American belief that all the best things can be done and all biggest problems solved by insanely rich individuals,” the art critic Sebastian Smee writes in the Washington Post. L.A. Times critic Christopher Knight argues that Broad “tried to impose his for-profit success on the nonprofit museum sector, regularly creating havoc.” For former LAT editorial page editor Jim Newton, “The story of Eli Broad and Los Angeles has something of the dynamic of the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object.”

The Digest

In the wake of high-profile resignations at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, reporter Robin Pogrebin checked in with its director, Klaus Biesenbach. “We’re coming out of a year of a lot of internal focus, pause, reflection,” he said. “I’m humbly doing my best.” [The New York Times]

The architect Frank Schlesinger, who helped revitalize Pennsylvania Avenue between the U.S. Capitol and the White House in Washington, D.C., has died at 95. [The Washington Post]

The art collector and patron James V. Nixon, who supported museums around the Philadelphia area, and pushed them to diversify their collections and programming, has died at 61. “It is no exaggeration to describe that through his support and love, he made Philadelphia a better place for artists, especially for Black artists,” said William Valerio, the CEO of the Woodmere Art Museum in the city. [The Philadelphia Inquirer]

James Prigoff, a businessman (and title-winning squash player) who reveled in documenting street art in his photography, died at 93. What drew him to the endeavor? “I enjoyed photography, I respected the community aspect of public art, and I had a strong concern for social and political justice—often the subject matter of street art,” he once wrote. [The New York Times]

The Dark Mofo arts festival in Australia, which nixed a Santiago Sierra piece that was to involve blood donations from Indigenous people, has created a $60,000 fund to help Tasmanian Aboriginal artists develop projects for future editions of the event. [The Art Newspaper]

Japan has eased tax rules with the aim of attracting art dealers and art fairs. Pace Gallery chief Marc Glimcher is a fan of the changes, and said that he is considering opening a branch in the country. [Nikkei]

The Cuban dissident artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara has been hospitalized one week into a hunger strike that he began to protest the seizure of some of his art in connection with his arrest at a recent protest. He is a leader of the San Isidro Movement, which has been campaigning for greater civil liberties in Cuba. [Al Jazeera]

Artist Titus Kaphar, a MacArthur fellow, has signed with United Talent Agency, and will launch a production outfit to develop films based on his art. [Variety]

The Kicker

IN 1994, ELI BROAD USED A CREDIT CARD to buy a classic Roy Lichtenstein for about $2.5 million, the Associated Press reports. Broad received a free airline mile for each dollar and “donated the mileage to the California Institute of the Arts so that students could travel—a marvelous gift that, notably, also gave him a large charitable tax deduction,” notes  critic Christopher Knight. In 1995, New York Times reporter Carol Vogel locked down the story of the purchase, made by Broad with his American Express card at Sotheby’s. The auction house’s managing director for the Americas at the time (and its future CEO), William Ruprecht, told Vogel it “was not a typical transaction and not something Sotheby’s sees on a daily basis.”

Thank you for reading. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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