Kravis Sues Pal Over Ballsy Johns Paintings

Kravis. (Courtesy Wikipedia)

Kravis. (Courtesy Wikipedia)

In case you missed it this weekend: Henry Kravis has sued his friend Donald Bryant Jr., owner of the Napa Valley vineyard of that name, over three Jasper Johns paintings that the two purchased together and agreed to donate to the Museum of Modern Art.

The two purchased the paintings, Tantric Detail I, Tantric Detail II, and Tantric Detail III, in 2008. Mr. Kravis alleges that they agreed to give the painting to MoMA at that time, but says that Mr. Bryant now wants to renegotiate the terms under which they will donate the painting, and in the meantime refuses to relinquish possession of them (the two have generally traded the canvases back and forth each year). Bloomberg reports that the works may be worth between $15 million and $25 million.

The New York Post, in a piece that makes no fewer than four references to parts of the male genitalia, reports that the paintings feature both penis and testicles (in addition to a floating skull). From Bloomberg:

“The overt sexuality is unusual for Jasper Johns,” [Art Advisor Todd] Levin said. “If there’s a figurative element in his work, it’s usually used as a symbol. In this case, it really is a skull and a pair of balls.”