On the preview day of the second annual Frieze Los Angeles fair, guests weren’t just gossiping about which galleries were making big sales—they were also keeping track of the bold-face names prowling the aisles. Jason Statham and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley were there, as well as James Corden, Amy Poehler, Katie Couric, A$AP Rocky, and Natalie Portman, to name just some of the art-savvy celebs in attendance. Artnet News managed to track down a few of the stars and glean a little bit about what they were admiring, buying, and coveting.
Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez
Perhaps the most talked about celebrity sighting of the day was former baseball star Alex Rodriguez and actress and singer Jennifer Lopez, fresh off her much-talked about performance with Shakira at the Super Bowl halftime show.
The couple, who announced their engagement last March, got a whirlwind tour of the fair from their art advisor, Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn of New York’s Salon 94. Among their highlights was Genevieve Gaignard at Vielmetter Los Angeles, where the Rodiguez and Lopez bought a work, the gallery confirmed, before posing for photographs with the young artist, whose work addresses race, class, and gender.
“They love the energy [of the fair]. A-Rod is coming back later this afternoon,” Greenberg Rohatyn told Artnet News. “They want to support young local artists. They bought a few small pieces.”
Rodriguez and Lopez also chatted with Per Skarstedt about the work of George Condo. “[Rodriguez] owns a Condo. He owns Keith Haring and Richard Prince,” the dealer told Artnet News. “He’s a nice guy.”
Waris Ahluwalia and Russell Young
A fixture on the New York art scene, actor and designer Waris Ahluwalia didn’t make it to Frieze Los Angeles last year.
“I’m a first-timer,” he told Artnet News. “There’s a lot more people than I expected. It’s crowded!”
He was visiting with artist Russell Young, who currently has a show at local art gallery Art Angels. And Ahluwalia had work in the fair, in a way.
“We’re doing a tea service in the Backlot,” he said. Was that the $27 tea vending machine at the MATCHESFashion shop, I wondered?
“You’re talking about $27? I feel like maybe the $27 tin of tea there will do you more good than some of the work that’s up on the walls. I think you’re concerned it’s too cheap for this space!” Ahluwalia joked. “The tea is sourced from all over the world. The ones we’re selling here are functional blends to help you address deficiencies in love and clarity and focus and rest.” Well in that case.
“My wife and I are new collectors. I came with Nathaniel Mary Quinn,” actor Michael Ealy told Artnet News. “I don’t know much about what I’m doing right now!”
Walking the aisle with Quinn was both a blessing and a curse, he admitted. “We literally just got here about ten minutes ago, and we haven’t been able to see much because he keeps getting stopped every five feet. He’s the celebrity here today—I’m just the bodyguard.”
A first-time visitor, Ealy was excited to see what the fair had to offer. “I’m hoping to see something that kind of blows my mind,” he said. “It’s hard. There’s so many people here! But I’m sure there are beautiful things.”
Tennis star Maria Sharapova, at the fair with her boyfriend, Paddle8 president Alexander Gilkes, was headed to the Frieze Backlot when Artnet News stopped to ask her if she collected art.
“Yeah, for fun,” she responded. “I have a Lita Albuquerque. I collect a lot of my friends. I find art very personal and touching, so [it’s] things that I either have history with or people I have connected with.”
Luann de Lesseps
The longtime star of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New York City was an early arrival at the fair, where her niece, Nicole Nadeau, was one of the featured artists in the Street & the Shop, art critic Michael Slenske’s pop-up in the Frieze Backlot.
It was her first time at Frieze LA, but the countess, as she’s known to her fans, started her collection some 15 or 16 years ago, at Art Basel Miami Beach. “My first piece was a James Welling,” she told Artnet News. “Today, I’m not looking at anything in particular, so far, but I’m loving it.”
De Lesseps and her niece were walking the aisles with Kim Heirston, de Lesseps’s longtime art advisor—who said that the Welling was still a keeper, with the artist now showing with David Zwirner—and her daughter, Victoria de Lesseps, also an artist.
“It’s funny. We have an art family for sure,” the younger de Lesseps said. Her brother, Noel de Lesseps is an artist as well, and Nadeau is curating a booth of his work for SPRING/BREAK Art Show next month in New York.
At the back of the Frieze tent, we snuck a quick photo of the Weeknd, who gave us a thumbs and smiled when asked how he was enjoying the fair, but declined an interview with Artnet News. He was, on the other hand, happy to speak to the equally press-adverse Leonardo DiCaprio when they bumped into each other in the aisles.
A regular on the art-fair circuit, DiCaprio typically does his best to blend in to the crowd, but his hoodie-over-baseball cap look is so well known by now that it renders him more conspicuous than ever. Moving booth to booth with a trio of guy friends, the actor paused to admire—and photograph—millennial art star Avery Singer’s paintings at Hauser & Wirth before lingering in front of Pace and Kayne Griffin Corcoran’s joint presentation of light works by James Turrell.
Had he ever visited Roden Crater, the artist’s long-running project in Arizona’s Painted Desert, Artnet News asked? “No, unfortunately not,” one of his friends responded, stepping forward to block access to DiCaprio, who studiously avoided making eye contact while backing away.
Not all the stars came with a full entourage. As the afternoon wore on, Usher was spotted chatting with a staffer at Eva Presenhuber. The gallery had already sold out its booth of Ugo Rondinone, to the disappointment of the singer, a first-time Frieze LA visitor.
“Everything I had my eye on was already spoken for,” Usher told Artnet News. “But what’s beautiful is that all the artists who are here, you can commission work.”
He didn’t leave empty-handed, however. Activist artist Michele Pred handed him a signed dollar bill, painted pink and stamped with the words “Equal Pay,” offering a quick elevator pitch about her new initiative calling on women artists to increase their prices by 15 percent to help correct the gender pay gap. Usher smiled and shook her hand before continuing on his way.
Frieze Los Angeles will take place at Paramount Pictures Studios, entrance at Lot B 5400 Melrose Avenue or 801 N Gower Street, Los Angeles, February 13–16, 2020.
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