Month: February 2014

Saatchi’s ex personal assistant Francesca Grillo opens art business

While browsing through the Evening Standard  and munching on a turkey leg at dinner this evening, I was amused to find this article announcing Charles Saatchi’s ex-personal assistant, Francesca Grillo (who he accused of raking up £685,000 on his and Nigella’s credit cards last year), has started her own art business with his former financial assistant, Sharrine Scholtz.

It’s called Laizzez Faire Art. There’s not much on the website yet (did they have an opening already?)  just a list of artists I guess they’re representing (Wayne Chisnall, Tessa Farmer, Natasha Bailey, Pierluigi Catilli and Adele Morse) and a statement of purpose on the home page. The ES quotes it as saying, “Quite simply put, let’s enjoy art and be decadent about it!” although now it just says, “Quite simply put, let’s enjoy art!” So soon without the decadence?

Online gallery, events business, gallery space? I’m not sure what it’s all about as yet but will check out their artists tomorrow.

Art Detective Charley Hill interviewed on BBC World Service TV about recovering ‘The Scream’


Today is the anniversary of the theft of Edvard Munch’s famous painting The Scream (1893). It was stolen on 12th February 1994, the same day as the start of the Winter Olympics taking place in Lillehammer. It took the thieves 50 seconds to climb a ladder, smash a window, grab the painting and get away. They also had time to leave a note which said, “Thanks for the poor security” – well at least they had a sense of humour.

Several months later Charley et al., recovered The Scream. He talks about it in an interview on the BBC World Service TV which you can watch here.

Andy Warhol Does Edvard Munch’s Muse at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction

There’s lots of Warhol works in the contemporary art sales happening this week in London. Here’s a few that interested me:

Warhol does Munch’s Muse


The lithograph above is called The Brooch by Edvard Munch. It’s of Eva Mudocci a young gifted British violinist who Munch met in Paris in 1903 and who he became very close to, initially in an erotic way and then as a dear friend. Her real name was Evangeline Hope Muddock  but she changed it to the more Italian sounding Eva Mudocci when she started touring Europe, giving concerts with her friend the pianist  Bella Edwards. Today, the lithograph can be found in the National Museum, Oslo.


This photo however, shows a work entitled Eva Mudocci (After Munch) by le Warhol. It’s for sale at Sotheby’s  Contemporary Art Evening Auction this coming Wednesday. It’s acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas, measures 127.3 by 96.6cm, with an estimate: £1,000,000 – £1,500,000, (sold for £2,322,500 including buyers premium). You can see where he got his inspiration from.

Two of the Same Again

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While Diamond Dust Shoes (above) is for sale at Sothebys evening sale, Shoes (below) is up for grabs at Phillips Contemporary Art day sale tomorrow. The first is a huge 228 x 178 cm acrylic, silkscreen ink and diamond dust on canvas with an estimate of  £750, 000 – £950,000. (Sold for £1,184,500 incl. buyer’s premium) The second is a screenprint with diamond dust on paper number 13 of an edition of 60 (13/60) and measures 102.5 x 151.4 cm and has an estimate of £35,000 – £45,000. (Sold for £56,250).

Shoes – eh I have enough, but I do like Gondola with Two Figures

I was rather touched by this little drawing entitled Gondola with Two Figures coming up at Phillips tomorrow. I think it’s one of the only works by Warhol – that I’ve seen anyway – that hasn’t been reproduced. It’s 57 x 36.4 cm and comes in with an estimate of £15,000 – £20,000. (Sold for £23,750).


Of course being a staple in the auction circuit, there were lots more Warhols for sale in Christies, Sothebys and Phillips but if you’re a fan I can imagine you’ve already checked them all out.


Don’t Look Now But He’s Pointing A Gun At You – Wherever You Stand


Last night I moseyed down to the newly located HayHill Gallery on Baker Street for a private view of two German artists: Peter Henryk Blum and Oliver Estavillo. The painting above is by  the latter. It’s entitled ‘Killers’ Tango’. The guy in the sunglasses is pointing his gun right at you wherever you stand. This is because, as my friend artist John Gillan pointed out, the gun is painted without showing any angles, no 3D affect, as in it’s completely flat, so when you move to the left for example he’s still pointing it directly at you:


I can see why Estavillo has been called the “Pop – Brueghel” and “Tarantino of Painting”. He exposes the dark side of life in a very visually appealing way embodying a pulp-fiction sentiment that takes the image one step beyond ‘real life’ although all his characters are drawn from people he knows. I was also taken by his painting ‘Minotaur’s Sauna’ not that I’d hang it on my living room wall or anything but it did catch my attention for rather a long time…

DSC04821As I had to leg it early to get the tube before the strike started, I didn’t have a chance to have a good look at Blum’s work but the exhibitions of both artists run until 1st March 2014.

Degas – Hey that Looks Like My One!


You know the guy who loved to paint ballerinas – Edgar Degas (1834 – 1917) – well one afternoon while I was in Southgate Auction House I chanced upon a Degas drawing of a horse. It was signed in red and stamped with the printer’s stamp. Could it be a sleeper? Nah, it’s just a print I thought to myself (as in a print of the original stamped print) and went for a cuppa in their little café.

Still, I couldn’t help wondering (even though NOBOBY else was paying any attention to it) what if it is an original signed print? Maybe it’s a sleeper after all and I’m the only one in the room who sees it. But honestly, I know nothing really about Degas. Did he even draw horses? I checked on my phone. Yes, he did!

The auction was well underway when I returned to the salesroom, in fact the Degas print was about to come up and acting impulsively (always a mistake) I bid on it and bought it for something silly like a £5er plus commission.

At home I carefully undid the back of the frame and had a proper look at it. It was a print of a print – bugger n arse – well what did I expect?


This afternoon as I wandered – as opposed to rummaged – around Sotheby’s upcoming Impressionist and Modern Art day sale, I saw this lovely drawing of a horse by Degas – lot number 489. It hit a familiar chord and I really enjoyed looking at it up close and even asked to see the back of the frame. (I love frames; I think they tell a lot about a painting). As it’s a drawing, it’s going to be a lot more expensive than a print or lithograph. This one’s estimated to sell between £10,000 – £15,000, a tad above my budget but at least now I know what the real thing looks like.

Above, the picture on the left shows the Sotheby’s drawing, the one on the right is from my own private collection! Will report back on the final sale price of the real thing.