Art impresario Olyvia Kwok, founder and CEO of Willstone Management, is to host an exhibition of more than 30 works by the two lynchpins of New York Contemporary Art, Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, and three of their collaborations, in a Manhatten this November.
Following exhibitions of Basquiat’s works by the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris and by the Guggenheim Museum and the Brant Foundation in New York, this is the first buying opportunity for such a large number of museum-quality works by the two American artists who have commanded the highest auction prices and who admired each other’s work.
New York, New York: Basquiat and Warholis a carefully curated show, under the auspice of Olyvia’s Soirées, and it represents a unique opportunity to see a large number of works by each artist that have been in private collections for many years as well as some of their first-time-seen collaborations.
The works range in price from $300,000 for a Basquiat drawing to $30 million for one of the joint Basquiat-Warhol paintings. Certainly, there has not been a selling exhibition of so many Basquiat and Warhol art works of this quality under one roof in recent times.
In their collaboration paintings, Warhol was inspired by the energy and youth of Basquiat, who had always idolized him. Warhol’s contribution can be seen in his straightforward methods of hand-painting enlarged headlines, brand names and advertisements returning to the Pop paintings of the 1960s, while Basquiat responds with his trademark graffiti style, thus creating a dialogue between the personalities and aesthetics of each artist. Thin Lipsis a powerful example of the collaborations between the New York duo, where Warhol painted first on a mustard yellow background a haunting facial profile outline of the then American president Ronald Reagan and superimposed a commercial. Basquiat’s subsequent contribution with his trademark capital lettering and improvised oil stick mark may be minimal but it is telling.
Utterly redolent of his encyclopaedic relationship with visual culture, New York, New Yorkis another masterwork on view by Basquiat, that embodies Basquiat’s command of culturally loaded sign and symbol. Standing at the threshold of the artist’s impending stardom, this painting is a remarkable exemplification of the inimitable artistic conviction that propelled Jean-Michel Basquiat’s meteoric rise.
The works are being shown at a tower in Manhattan’s Billionaires’ Row, where the cheapest apartments cost $25 million and the penthouse apartment was sold for $130 million. This iconic tower was designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects. The idea behind the choice of venue is to exhibit the art works in the sort of space where they are likely to be displayed by their new owners. Says Kwok: “It represents the heart and spirit of New York in the same way as these paintings do. They complement each other perfectly.”
The exhibition is being sponsored by 520 Park Avenue, Rolls-Royce, Fraser Yachts, the Family Office Association, and tequila brand Casamigos, owned by Milk Midland and George Colony.
Olyvia Kwok graduated in mathematics, worked briefly in banking in London, and owned her own gallery in St James’s, London, by her early 20s. She was one of the first trendsetters to build an emerging market art fund and she acquired works for museums in China. She has advised European and American family offices to build exceptional collections for investment and legacy planning purposes. She was also one of the pioneers of auction guarantee finance and launched an art-backed lending fund in 2014.
Olyvia is the co-founder of Live Auction Art, a free cell phone app which allows users quick access to pricing of artists and sale rates in worldwide auctions. It has over 40,000 users and a return rate of more than 95 per cent.
Olyvia’s Soirées began in London in July, with private shows in her office in London’s Mayfair, and Olyvia intends to pursue this new business model in other American cities.
Through these soirées, Willstone Management is the first entity other than the auction houses to offer financing to prospective buyers as well as to those who may wish to leverage their ability to build their collections by using works they already own as collateral. Willstone Management is able to offer loans of up to 50 per cent of the agreed market value of the work purchased, at an interest rate of between 8 and 10 per cent.
Olyvia’s Soirées will be holding investment seminars in the exhibition space on different evenings in conjunction with various US-based financial institutions, as well as UHNW clients from the Private Banking sector.