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Black Has to Pay to Keep His Portrait by Warhol on the Wall

Media mogul Conrad Black must put up about C$400,000 ($408,000) to retain one of several portraits of himself painted by Andy Warhol—a silkscreened ink on canvas with a pink background—according to a Sept. 25 settlement recorded in Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice. Two other Warhol portraits of Black are scheduled to go on the auction

NEW YORK—Media mogul Conrad Black must put up about C$400,000 ($408,000) to retain one of several portraits of himself painted by Andy Warhol—a silkscreened ink on canvas with a pink background—according to a Sept. 25 settlement recorded in Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice. Two other Warhol portraits of Black are scheduled to go on the auction block at Christie’s—a circa 1981 image with a silver background, estimated at $150,000/200,000, will be offered in New York next month, and a third portrait of Black—against a blue background—will be offered at Christie’s London in February.

The proceeds of these sales are earmarked for RSM Richter, Canada, a court-appointed receiving company. RSM vice president Robert Kofman told ARTnewsletter that Black has agreed to post a bond for the “pink” portrait. The final price of the work will be based on “the average of the prices paid at the auctions,” the agreement states.

According to a report in the Toronto Globe & Mail, when Black’s privately owned Ravelston Corp., Toronto, filed for receivership, or bankruptcy, in 2005, RSM Richter said it owned the three portraits and wanted to sell them on behalf of creditors. Black, however, argued in court that the works belonged to him. On Sept. 27 an Ontario judge approved the settlement agreement under which the terms for the respective acquisition and auction of the artworks were detailed.

Black was convicted last June on three counts of mail fraud and one count of obstruction of justice while he was CEO of Hollinger International, his former holding company. His newspaper empire had included holdings in Chicago, England, Austria and Israel. At the trial, held in March 2007 in Chicago, U.S. prosecutors alleged that Black had cheated shareholders out of approximately $80 million in assets, mostly through inappropriate sales of company holdings. Black still faces several civil lawsuits and is appealing his conviction.

According to the Globe & Mail report, Black and Warhol first met in the early 1980s; thereafter they met several times at Warhol’s famed New York Factory studio, where the artist executed various versions of Black’s portraiture. Black displayed some of the pictures at his homes in London and Toronto; later he donated another one to the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Black told the Toronto newspaper, via email, that he was thinking of bidding on the “silver” and “blue” Warhol portraits scheduled for upcoming sales at Christie’s. The settlement also covers several other paintings to be sold at auction, and Black may bid on these as well.

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