Three Jasper Johns paintings are at the center of a disagreement between two Wall Street titans. Yes, this is a tale of how the super rich have problems most of us only wish we had.
It seems that in 2008, billionaire Henry Kravis and Napa Valley vineyard owner Donald Bryant, Jr. bought a trio of paintings called “Tantric Detail” for a bunch of millions (the numbers are not important). Reportedly, they had both admired the paintings, and struck a deal for joint ownership. The artist, best known for his American flag paintings, sold the works from his private collection and participated in the decision to ultimately gift the works to MoMA.
The arrangement between Kravis and Bryant was that they would trade possession of the paintings back and forth, allowing each wealthy dude to appreciate—and presumable show off, the paintings in each of their homes. Then, upon both of their deaths, they would donate the paintings to New York City’s Museum of Modern Art.
Every January, “Tantric Detail I,” “Tantric Detail II” and “Tantric Detail III” — each soaring six feet high, and estimated to be worth $15 million to $25 million — were packed up and swapped between their two residences. Unfortunately, like many a partnership arrangement, one of the fat cats had a change of heart and no longer wanted the paintings to be donated, and that he had found that he had become tired of the complexities of moving the art from one Upper East Side apartment to the other East Side apartment.
Yes, you heard that right. The complaint by Bryant is about the annoyance of moving paintings (which he presumably hires someone else to do) and what will come of art after he is dead.
Like I said, the super rich have problems most of us only wish we had.
And, as what often happens when two wealthy dudes disagree, they got lawyers involved, and the two titans are now embroiled in a lawsuit over their agreement.
The paintings, which were described by the New York post as “a set of three abstract paintings depicting a skull and hairy testicles” are being held hostage by Bryant according to Kravis’ lawsuit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court.
Kravis and his wife are deeply engaged with MoMA and Bryant’s personal art collection reportedly includes a Picasso nude, a Jackson Pollock and a de Kooning that mixes images of testicles, bananas and tongues.
Let’s hope he doesn’t have joint custody issues with any of his other art collection that could lead to more fat cat squabbles.