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Saturday, October 07, 2006

2 Articles: Steve sells one of his Hoppers

Steve Martin's Moody Hopper to Be Offered by Sotheby's N.Y.
By Lindsay Pollock

Oct. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Comedian and noted art collector Steve Martin is parting with a moody Edward Hopper painting that is likely to break auction records at Sotheby's Holdings in New York.

``Hotel Window,'' a 1955 painting of an elderly woman seated on a couch in a hotel lobby, is estimated to fetch up to $15 million. It will be sold as part of a Nov. 29 American painting sale.

``These pictures just don't change hands,'' said Seattle-based American art collector Barney Ebsworth, who owns Hopper's famous ``Chop Suey'' and said he is friendly with Martin. Ebsworth said that only 32 Hopper oils are in private hands, ``and the best ones haven't moved in 25 years. If anyone wants to own a great Hopper and they don't move on this, they might have to wait forever.''

The current Hopper record was set 16 years ago for the 1930 painting ``South Truro Church,'' sold at Sotheby's in New York for $2.42 million. In 2005, Christie's New York offered a large, awkward 1965 Hopper called ``Chair Car,'' which was bought by Berry-Hill Galleries for a record $14 million. The sale was later canceled.

Hoppers have sold privately in the $10 million to $15 million range, according to Dara Mitchell, Sotheby's director of American Paintings.

A 2001 exhibition of Martin's collection at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas included ``Hotel Window'' as well as Hopper's ``Captain Upton's House,'' a 1927 landscape with a lighthouse. Sotheby's did not disclose the seller's name.

Owned by Forbes

``Hotel Window'' claims a distinguished roster of previous owners. It was part of the famous Thyssen- Bornemisza collection and later sold to Malcolm Forbes, according to Sotheby's, for $1.32 million in 1987.

The painting was recently featured at the Whitney Museum of American Art's Edward Hopper exhibition.

``Hopper was concerned he was being left behind by the abstract artists of the 1950s and 1960s in New York,'' said Mitchell. ``What he didn't realize is how revered he was, and how influential he was.''

(Lindsay Pollock is author of ``The Girl with the Gallery,'' a history of the first modern art gallery in Greenwich Village to be published in November by PublicAffairs. She writes on the art market for Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are her own.)

To contact the writer of this story: Lindsay Pollock at
Last Updated: October 6, 2006 01:19 EDT


Inside Art
Edward Hopper Paintings Change at Whitney Show
Published: October 6, 2006


Until recently Edward Hopper’s “Hotel Window” (1955), a stark canvas showing a woman of a certain age sitting in an empty hotel lobby staring out the window, hung at the Whitney Museum of American Art as part of its Edward Hopper exhibition, on view until Dec. 3. “Hotel Window” was on loan from the actor Steve Martin.

On Monday the painting was replaced by “Nighthawks” (1942), Hopper’s well-known image of a diner at night, from the Art Institute of Chicago. It is shown alongside preliminary drawings for that painting from the Whitney’s permanent collection.

“We’d always planned this replacement,” said Barbara Haskell, a Whitney curator, who had also intended to make several other switches.

“The show has had an unusually long run,” she added. “And in many cases museums were unwilling to part with these key works for such a long period of time.” (The show opened on June 7.)

As a result three other works left the Whitney recently: “Morning in a City” (1944), from the Williams College Museum of Art in Williamstown, Mass.; “Office at Night” (1940), from the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis; and “Hotel Lobby” (1943), from the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Along with “Nighthawks,” the museum added “Cape Cod Evening” (1939), on loan from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, and “Cobb’s Barns and Distant Houses” (1930-33), a large painting from the Whitney’s collection. It has also hung a group of works on paper related to the show’s additions.

Meanwhile Mr. Martin’s “Hotel Window” will soon be on public view elsewhere in Manhattan, this time at Sotheby’s York Avenue headquarters, where it is to be auctioned at a sale of American paintings on Nov. 29.

Experts consider “Hotel Window,” one of Hopper’s late paintings, to be a prime example of his vision of solitude and human resilience. It is expected to sell for $10 million to $15 million.

While Sotheby’s lists many museums where the painting has been exhibited, it neglects to include the Bellagio Art Gallery in Las Vegas. “Hotel Window” and “Captain Upton’s House” — Hopper’s 1927 view of a white Victorian house perched on the rocky Maine coast with a lighthouse looming behind it — were part of a 2001 show there featuring 28 works by various artists in Mr. Martin’s collection The exhibition was accompanied by an audio tour narrated by Mr. Martin.

At the time Mr. Martin wrote that he was showing his art in Las Vegas because “it sounds like fun.” When asked this week why he was selling “Hotel Window” next month, his response was simply, “I needed the excitement.” He declined to be more specific.

The painting, which has been promised to a traveling Hopper exhibition next year at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the National Gallery of Art; and the Art Institute of Chicago, has an illustrious list of previous owners. In addition to having been in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, then in Lugano, Switzerland, it was owned by Andrew Crispo, the Manhattan dealer jailed in the 1980’s for tax evasion and, in a separate case, acquitted of charges that he had kidnapped and tortured a Norwegian art student.

Mr. Crispo sold the painting at Sotheby’s in 1987; Malcolm Forbes, the publishing magnate, bought it for $1.3 million. In 1999 the Forbes Collection sold it to Mr. Martin privately for around $10 million.


Steve Martin isn’t the only person with an itch to sell in today’s strong market. Visitors to Otto Naumann’s Manhattan gallery who are used to seeing not just old master paintings but also many of the actual objects found in 17th-century still lifes — silver-gilt cups, Chinese ceramics, Dutch earthenware, painted cabinets — will discover a far emptier environment. Mr. Naumann has decided to sell these objects along with paintings and drawings in a single-owner sale at Sotheby’s on Jan. 25. The sale is expected to total $2 million to $3 million.

Known primarily as a dealer in Dutch and Flemish canvases, Mr. Naumann said he had decided to branch out. “My new objective is to sell European old master paintings that include Italian, German, Spanish, French in addition to Dutch and Flemish,” he said.

Mr. Naumann, who is moving his home to Manhattan from Irvington, N.Y., has organized the sale catalog in different sections to appeal to young buyers who could acquire instant collections. One section is devoted to small cabinet paintings and a large group of drawings.

“To get the biggest bang for your buck it may be wise to consider drawings with questions of attribution,” he wrote in a catalog essay. “Included in this sale are several puzzles that I have been unable to solve, but that does not mean the new owner might not be more successful.”

The best mystery, he said, is who made the study of a woman that Mr. Naumann said he thought was done by the 17th-century Dutch artist Leendert van der Cooghen. It is estimated at $5,000 to $7,000.

Portions of the sale proceeds will go to the American Friends of the MauritsHuis, which supports that Dutch museum; the Committee of Friends of the Rembrandt Corpus; and the European paintings department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Since 1993 the Public Art Fund, the nonprofit organization that presents art around the city, has been creating exhibitions for MetroTech Center, the corporate complex in Downtown Brooklyn. Its latest installation, to be completed on Oct. 26, is called “The World Is Round.” It consists of new works by six young artists linked “by a common language, a universal message,” said Rochelle Steiner, director of the fund.

The artist Jacob Dyrenforth, from Brooklyn, created a sculpture depicting a rock concert moments before the show; Diana Guerrero-Maciá, from Chicago, made an installation spanning more than 70 feet that shows a flattened, giant soccer ball; Chris Hanson and Hendrika Sonnenberg, a Canadian-born team, sculptured three cast-aluminum soapboxes; Matt Johnson, from Los Angeles, carved a three-ton boulder of Precambrian granite flecked with quartz veins that spell out “4eva”; and Ryan McGinness, from Manhattan, produced a set of signs that will be installed throughout the MetroTech commons.

“None of these artists are household names,” Ms. Steiner said. “We wanted to give young artists a platform to show their work in New York for an extended period of time.”


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