What’s the sound of a masterpiece crashing? Insiders say the glittering five-floor-high chandelier (left) that stars in The Museum of Modern Art’s “Ron Arad: No Discipline” exhibition clattered to the floor last week shortly after an opening party that saw Francesco Clemente, Aggie Gund and several hundred others salute the innovative designer. The gleaming sculpture-slash-light fixture, titled “Lolita,” is set with hundred of L.E.D. processors and weighs a daunting 535 pounds. Its ribbon scrolls messages that viewers text to the sculpture. (The original script read “MoMA 2009.”) The Modern says that rumors the chandelier was destroyed are “unconfirmed” but acknowledged that the pricey treasure went missing from the show and is now “not functional.” The Modern hurriedly called up another which will be on view today. Damage is an occupational hazard in hanging museum art: Last summer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a 15th-century statue of the Archangel Michael fell to the stone floor, snapping off his wings; and the Pompidou Centre in Paris has had a trio of pieces hit the floor in recent years. Swarovski Crystal introduced “Lolita” at the Milan furniture show in 2004; Nadia Swarovski describing it at the time as having “life and soul.” The piece can be custom-ordered from the company, but its price is hush-hush. That said, steel sofas by the Israeli designer have brought $206,500 and $409,5000 at auction in the last two years, and some rare or early Arad pieces available through New York’s Friedman Benda Gallery approach $1 million.
Ron Arad: No Discipline is on view at MoMA through October 18.