As the art world’s powerful and secretive Wildenstein family tries to manage a messy public divorce between Jocelyne and Alec Wildenstein and allegations of Nazi ties, the family’s business partner, Pace Gallery founder and owner Arne Glimcher, has remained silent. Gossip abhors a vacuum, though, and even as Mr. Glimcher has held his tongue, a number of rumors about the future of the almost five-year-old Pace-Wildenstein partnership have filled the void.
The scenarios invariably have Pace and Wildenstein splitting again. (Back in the fall of 1993, the Wildensteins acquired 49 percent of Pace. Although the cost of the transaction was undisclosed, The Independent of London put the figure in the ball park of $50 million.) More recently, the art-world grapevine has Mr. Glimcher and Christie’s auction house talking about some kind of alliance along the lines of the acquisitions by Sotheby’s of the André Emmerich and Deitch Projects galleries in September 1997. In an arena in which these two leading auction houses often try to one-up each other, the Christie’s acquisition of Pace, considered an 800-pound gorilla in the contemporary and modern art world, would be perceived not only as a coup but as a signal that the art world is mirroring the recent trend of corporate mega-mergers.
Through a staff member at Pace Wildenstein, Mr. Glimcher said that an alliance between Christie’s and the gallery was “absolutely untrue.” (Officials of Christie’s were unavailable for comment.) Yet, the April 16 edition of The Baer Faxt , an art-insiders newsletter, reported “strong rumblings that there may be discussions going on between Christie’s and Pace Wildenstein,” although the newsletter added that this was “still strictly in the rumor phase.” The Baer Faxt ‘s version included an appearance by Mr. Glimcher’s friend, former Creative Artists Agency chief Michael Ovitz, as a broker for the deal. (A spokesman for Mr. Ovitz had not gotten back to The Transom by deadline.)
The Object of Love’s Ire
As the April 15 post-premiere party for The Object of My Affection wound down, Courtney Love and her publicist stood outside the V.I.P. area that had been roped off inside the Gotham Bar & Grill. Six months after Ms. Love had taken home a VH1 Fashion Award for the woman with “best personal style,” the million-dollar makeover that the actress-singer had gotten courtesy of Donatella Versace (her “fairy godmother,” she had called her) had faded. Ms. Love’s foundation and lipstick were in their proper places, and she looked fresh in a summery Tracy Feith sheath. But her hair was an alt-rock tangle, and she was missing that creamy perfection she radiated at the VH1 awards-the kind of perfection that only designers (and their armies of stylists) give to their adopted celebrity billboards.
Since the VH1 gig, though, Ms. Love had been conspicuously absent from the Versace entourage; she was at neither the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute gala in honor of Gianni Versace, nor at Ms. Versace’s Versus show on March 28.
At the Gotham, in a crowd that included Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche and the film’s stars, Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston, Ms. Love suggested that her association with the designer (and her appearance in an ad campaign) had been a one-time thing. “Oh, please. Gimme a break,” she told The Transom as she shifted in her black hippie-chick sandals. “They gave me a lot of dresses.”
Around the time of the Costume Institute gala, Ms. Love’s absence from the Versace camp generated a number of rumors, and The Transom took the opportunity to run them by Ms. Love. One was her alleged decision to keep four pairs of Manolo Blahnik shoes that the Versaces had sent over with the intention that she choose one pair to go with an outfit they had also sent over. “Oh, dream on,” said Ms. Love, denying she’d gotten any shoes. “I’m so not that big of a diva.” Ms. Love suggested that perhaps we had her confused with Sharon Stone.
Ms. Love seemed even more intrigued with the rumor, supposedly generated by her, that she and Ms. Versace were romantically involved. “Me and Donatella,” Ms. Love mused, “that’s a really hot idea.” Asked if she refuted such scuttlebutt, Ms. Love replied: “No, I’m not denying that. It’s genius. Why would I deny it? Keep it going.”
Ms. Love, who will next appear in a film called 200 Cigarettes , also seemed irritated by The Transom’s line of questioning. “You should stop being so cynical over there at the paper,” she said, with a hint of acid, just before her publicist took her by the hand and led her away. “The problem with the media is that they think my I.Q. is, like, 1.… That’s why they fuckin’ low-ball me so much.”
Don’t Call Me Shirley!
Out in Los Angeles, Victoria Scott D’Angelo has her fingers crossed, hoping that Shirley Lord’s new novel The Crasher gets a movie sale. That’s because Ms. D’Angelo-an actress and self-described “idea person”-is guaranteed a $50,000 payment if The Crasher becomes a motion picture.
Ms. D’Angelo, a party crasher, said that she sold the rights to her life story to TV executive Brandon Tartikoff in 1994, who in turn passed the story on to Ms. Lord, who then wrote a commercial novel published by Warner Books. “It’s my life,” Ms. D’Angelo said of Ms. Lord’s novel, “and I want people to know it.”
Ms. D’Angelo, a dead ringer for actress Diana Scarwid, met Tartikoff backstage at the Universal Amphitheater in 1990 after she crashed an event there. “I said: ‘Hello, I’ve worked for you before and I’d like to work with you again.’ I was stretching it a bit,” she laughed. She kept reintroducing herself to him until he finally started paying attention. “He would dare me to crash parties, and we’d meet at them. He kept encouraging me to write down my stories.”
In 1994, Warner Books gave Tartikoff, then with New World Communications, his own book imprint. His mandate, according to Maureen Egen, Ms. Lord’s editor at Warner Books, “was to find projects that could be made into books and ultimately movies.”
The Crasher grew out of two three-page treatments Ms. D’Angelo sold to him in 1994. She didn’t know that Tartikoff-according to Shirley Lord-began passing the idea off as his own. (Tartikoff died of cancer last August.)
Ms. Lord, who aside from writing novels is a contributing editor at Vogue and wife of New York Times man A.M. Rosenthal, told The Transom: “When he met with me [in 1995], he handed me one page.… He said he knew someone who was a professional crasher and that’s how he got the idea for the book.… He wanted to know if I was interested in writing a novel based on it.” Ms. Lord transferred the treatment’s locale from Hollywood and the film business to New York and the fashion world, which she knew better. She kept the title and the heroine’s name (Ginny Walker) and the plot premise: The crasher witnesses the murder of a powerful man. “I think Mike Ovitz got pushed off a roof,” said Ms. Lord.
Ms. Egen seemed annoyed over the contretemps. “It’s not like writers are sitting around in garrets waiting for ideas,” she said. Tartikoff’s attorney, Kathleen Hallberg, did not return calls. But Ms. D’Angelo said she and Tartikoff agreed to a $25,000 advance and a $50,000 bonus if The Crasher became a movie, though she retained her TV rights. At one point in 1995, she copyrighted her “collection of stories and vignettes” after getting what seemed like the brushoff from Tartikoff. And, in January 1996, she placed an item in the news section of The Hollywood Reporter , which Tartikoff apparently did not protest, announcing her deal and claiming authorship of the idea.
Ms. D’Angelo said she wrote late last fall to Owen Laster, Ms. Lord’s agent, and that her lawyer wrote to Tartikoff’s company, Moving Target Productions Inc., reminding all the parties of the movie-clause contract.
“If that woman got any money out of Brandon, good for her,” said Ms. Lord. But, she added, “I wrote [the book]. I talked to many party crashers. If she wants me to say she was one of the many I talked to, that’s fine.”
“I think she’s made a great contribution,” Ms. D’Angelo said of Ms. Lord’s novel. “I’d just like her to acknowledge mine. I have a whole bunch of great ideas for her.”
-Roger D. Friedman
The Transom Also Hears
… Getting into the Four Seasons restaurant wasn’t so hard as getting to the place on April 20. Diners told The Transom that 52nd Street between Park and Lexington avenues (where the restaurant’s entrance is located) was closed off and, inside, Philip Johnson’s design was heavily garnished with Secret Service agents. They were there because in one of the private spaces off the Grill Room, Vice President Al Gore and Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin were breaking bread with a number of big shots from the financial community, including Maurice (Hank) Greenberg, chief executive of American International Group Inc.; Peter Peterson, chairman of the Blackstone Group and Liz Smith’s stockbroker; Steven Rattner, deputy chief executive of Lazard Frères and Company; and James Dimon, chief operating officer of Travelers Group Inc. On his way out of the Grill Room, the Vice President saw that F.B.I. Director Louis Freeh was dining with former New York Law Journal publisher Jerry Finkelstein and stopped by the table to bore them a bit.
… Actress Uma Thurman didn’t look like one of the Misérables at the post-premiere party for the movie at Coco Opera, even after everyone in the room, in an effort to connect with a celebrity, approached the pregnant actress to show her pictures or regale her with tales of their own children. Ms. Thurman (who, by the way, is said to have chosen Vera Wang to do her wedding dress) graciously oohed and aahed so that everyone would then be able to go home, chuck their kids under their chins and say, Uma Thurman thought you were a gorgeous child!