Tom Wolfe's Back to Blood: The case of an art fair imitating life...

Alice Jones' Arts Diary

There’s a fun game of who’s who to be had in the chapter of Tom Wolfe’s Back to Blood set at the opening of Art Basel Miami Beach. Among the “maggots” mobbing the world’s most vulgar art fair, there is one “Harry Goshen”, a tall dealer with grey hair and “eerie pale-grey eyes like the slanted eyes of a husky”.

This “ghostly and sinister” figure with a name that sounds a lot like Larry Gagosian pops up to flog million-dollar pornographic etchings to Fleischmann, a sex addicted billionaire and Flebetnikov, a paunchy oligarch.

The etchings are the work of a certain Jeb Doggs, purveyor of “De-Skilled art” who photographed himself in flagrante with a call girl and then sent the images off to “Dalique” glass to have them made into art.

“He had no hand in making them at all”, Fleischmann’s art adviser explains. “And if he touched the photographs it was just to put them in an envelope and FedEx them to Dalique, although I’m sure he has an assistant to do things like that. No Hands - that’s an important concept now… And there you’ve got the very best, the most contemporary work of the whole rising generation.”

Any resemblance to Jeff Koons and his Made in Heaven series of glassworks featuring him and his pornstar ex-wife La Cicciolina is surely by chance. As for who Fleischmann and Flebetnikov are based on, well, that field is wide open.

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