Former NYT “Money and Business” editor Judith H. Dobrzynski has raised good questions about a couple of auction sales but stopped short of coming to a logical conclusion.
One of Jeff Koons’ stainless steel sculpture of seven tulips (it comes in an edition of five) sold for $33.6 million, a record for Koons at auction. Meanwhile, Old Master Botticelli’s painting of a Madonna and child sold for $10.4 million, his auction high.
What’s wrong with this picture?
Koons, famed for reproducing commonplace items like balloon dogs, once sent a cease-and-desist to a group selling bookends in the shape of balloon dogs.
Sounds like a joke, doesn’t it? Koons, ace appropriator and ruler of replication, www.examiner.com/article/art-by-surrogate who has been sued four times for copyright infringement, became indignant when someone else replicated a balloon dog.
Enough about Koons, except to say that selling his work, which isn’t even one-of-a-kind, for $33.6 million – no questions asked - is nuts!
Yet Botticelli’work selling for $23 million less than Koons IS questioned. Art historian Davie Bellingham at London's National Gallery contends that Botticelli's masterpiece Venus and Mars shows an hallucinogenic plant in the bottom right side of the painting - Datura stramonium – the poor man's acid.
Bellingham went so far as to say that the reason Mars is reclining and looking out of it is because Venus drugged him. His implied conclusion is that Botticelli must have been on the stuff.
Seriously? History doesn’t support the notion.
Vasari, famed chronicler during the Renaissance, noted that the artist’s studio was a very busy one with a lot of output. The large number of works that have survived Botticelli also makes the case that he had little time to drop out for an acid trip.
As well, Vasari reports that for comic relief, Botticelli liked to play practical jokes. If the National Gallery historian believes what he says, the artist must surely be enjoying the joke he played on him.