Every once in a while, an anonymous website or social media account comes along that rattles the art world. This time around, it’s Whatanartshole, an Instagram handle that is downright savage. Megagallerists, collectors, advisors, and curators all come in for a drubbing, and in Miami during Art Basel this past week, the inner circle of the art world was abuzz with speculation as to who is the cruel, very insidery perpetrator.
This is not the first time this has happened. Back in the early 2000s, the website to watch was “How’s My Dealing,” an anonymous blog by artists for artists that had a page for every major dealer, and allowed anonymous comments on things like: How quick are they to pay? Are they fair to their employees? It seems “How’s My Dealing” came back in a new version, but it doesn’t quite have the hype around it that it used to.
More recently there was icallb. A few years ago, that Instagram handle, short for “I call bullshit,” had a nasty word for just about all of the art world’s major players. Collector and gallery owner Adam Lindemann, then writing for the New York Observer, described it best: “[Y]ou’ll find art-world luminaries taken to task and called out in a gratuitous, irreverent, anarchic rant. Glenn Lowry and Nick Serota are lampooned in a duel of dryness; the much-loved Paul Schimmel is dubbed ‘far too enamoured by the sound of his own voice.’ Popular art adviser Meredith Darrow is called out as the ‘guiding light of bad taste.’ Susan and Michael Hort, an old-school art-collecting couple, earn the tag ‘you think you matter but you don’t.’ ”
But Whatanartshole is another story altogether. Its disgruntlement seems anchored in deep knowledge of the scene. It doesn’t have thousands of followers—in fact, it only has 1,121 of them—but those followers are dominated by a bevy of art-world insiders—artists Jonas Wood, Roe Ethridge, Hugh Scott Douglas, Marco Brambilla, Kaari Upson; dealers Eleanor Acquavella, Lucy Mitchell-Innes, Matt Moravec, Ricky Manne, Stellan Holm, Kristine Bell, Claudia Altman Siegel, Deborah McLeod, Marianne Boesky, Christophe Van De Weghe, Adam Sheffer, Alma Luxembourg, Michael Kohn, Paul Kasmin, Max Falkenstein, Nino Meir; collectors Michael Hort, Laura de Gunzburg, Maria Baibakova, Jean Pigozzi. A handful of art journos follow it, as well as some art-savvy generalist press like WSJ magazine editor Kristina O’Neill and journalist Eliza Lipsky Karasz. Brandon Davis follows it. So does Contemporary Art Daily.
Who is behind this evil account? Here at ARTnews we have to admit we don’t know, but we have our suspicions. If you have some solid intel on this, get in touch.