By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Unlike Castelli, who merely sold to Hollywood moguls, Glimcher dreamed of becoming a Hollywood player himself. In 1982, director Robert Benton gave him a cameo role as a bidder at an art auction in Still of the Night. According to Benton, Glimcher was so good that all of his footage made it into the movie. Then Ovitz pulled strings to get Glimcher an associate producer credit on Legal Eagles,the 1986 CAA package about the art world. Glimcher consulted with director Ivan Reitman (who became a Pace buyer), staged the art-happening scene, selected artwork for the sets and provided information about how the art business operated.
Soon, Ovitz was buying almost all of his art from Glimcher. Shortly after, Boone lured away the hugely respected artist Brice Marden from Pace, apparently in retaliation for Glimcher stealing Schnabel. The act stunned New York’s art community. The following year, Glimcher took away abstract painter Malcolm Morley from Boone in an almost gothic tale full of charges and counter-charges, including grave-robbing, slander, lawsuits and just plain gossip.
And in the middle of it all was Mike Ovitz.
By 1986, Morley was a major talent helped along by his long-time dealer, Xavier Fourcade. Fourcade had guided Morley to success by the start of the 1980s when the artist was 50. And Fourcade had lent Morley $500,000 to remodel the Methodist church on Bellport, Long Island, where Morley did most of his painting.
Still, Morley wanted to leave. His lawyer initially contacted several galleries, including Knoedler, Castelli, Robert Miller, Pace and Boone. In fact, the gallery that Morley most wanted to be with was Castelli’s, but the éminence grise steered Morley to Boone, who already had a long relationship with Morley. By February 1986, it came down to a choice between Boone and Glimcher. Boone offered Morley an incredible contract, which Morley signed with no fanfare in April 1986. The artist took an immediate million-dollar advance so that he could repay the $500,000 he had borrowed from Fourcade. But by the time Morley got his money, Fourcade had AIDS. Morley pledged he wouldn’t leave the dealer right then. So instead of making the contract public in September, as they had originally agreed, Boone, Morley and Morley’s lawyer decided to wait until after Fourcade’s death. That November, Pace announced it was organizing a show of prints for Morley. The artist flew to Los Angeles to make prints at Gemini G.E.L., the prestigious printmaker that Leo Castelli himself used. Staying at a friend’s home, Morley spent three months in Los Angeles mixing and mingling with the art world here. That’s when Ovitz made his move.
The first Boone learned of it was when producer Doug Cramer organized a lunch in Santa Monica at Michael’s Restaurant in Morley’s honor. Midway through, Morley took a phone call and then returned to his seat of honor. Then Morley took another call. And another. Three times in all. And each time, the phone call was from Ovitz. Cramer telephoned his pal Boone and told her that “something weird” was going on. Immediately, Boone became nervous. She grabbed the next plane to Los Angeles and arranged to meet with Morley. That’s when the artist began besieging her with questions. “I hear you’re going bankrupt,” he told her. “I hear Eric Fischl and David Salle are leaving your gallery. I hear you’re going to retire to the country and have a baby. I hear you cheat your artists.”
Boone was shocked. At first, Morley wouldn’t tell Boone who was spreading the rumors. When she pressed, he stammered, “Mike Ovitz is saying it.”
Boone asked Leo Castelli to intercede on her behalf. “I thought that probably Malcolm would be better off with Mary,” Castelli recalled during our interview. “Arne’s is a bigger gallery with lots of artists. He can’t take as good care, as Mary does, of artists. So that was my judgment. I spoke to Malcolm. He said, ‘Well, I’ll consider it.’?” (Morley later told Vanity Fair he was surprised to get the call from Castelli. “It was like God spoke! He said, ‘Stay with Mary. You can pop over the road anytime. We’ll have coffee...’”)
In February 1987, Fourcade died. The Morley-Boone contract was supposed to be announced. But Morley was still in Los Angeles, where Ovitz continued on an almost daily basis to lobby him, planting seeds of doubt about Boone while praising Glimcher. “Malcolm kept telling everyone that Michael was pushing and representing Arne and telling him that’s where he should go,” recalled Doug Cramer. According to a story in the New York Post, Ovitz told Morley that Boone was “going nowhere fast, that she was about to lose Eric Fischl and David Salle, that she was a pathological liar who had to pay her lunchmates like Philip Johnson to break bread with her.”