|Robert Indiana's LOVE in front of LHotel|
I received a call late Thursday night from my friend Lucie.
"You'll never guess what happened?" she said. She and two friends had gone for drinks at LHotel to hopefully catch a glimpse of Georges Marciano's priceless post-war American pop art collection displayed throughout his hotel in Old Montreal.
Last summer, Lucie and I had gone to see the collection. We were told that people having drinks in the bar could only view the work in the lobby, which included a portrait of Marciano, himself, painted by none other than Andy Warhol.When the hotel employee saw and heard our enthusiasm, he invited us to take a tour of the hotel, which was obviously reserved for guests. The only condition was that we had to be very quiet. . . No small feat considering the fact that we saw work by Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, Jasper Johns, Frank Stella, Jim Dine, Ed Ruscha, Christo, Claes Oldenburg, Willem de Kooning, and Robert Motherwell. Needless to say, the hotel employee was tipped handsomely.
In our tour of the art in the halls of the hotel, I noticed that there were some suites named after particular artists, and I was curious about the art behind the hotel room doors. I had read that Georges Marciano, founder of the Guess? Jeans empire, had experienced some legal problems in the US and still owed some $250 million to his creditors. In other words, the collection might not be in Montreal forever. With this in mind, I booked a room for our 10th anniversary, and my husband and I stayed in the Miro suite, which contained three of the artist's works.
I'm certainly glad that I acted fast.
When Lucie and her two friends walked into LHotel lobby on Thursday night, men were walking out with priceless art simply in their frames and putting them into the back of a white art storage truck parked in the street. Leaning next to the bar, Lucie and her friends joined in the conversation with hotel guests, as they watched the art being taken away. A regular guest at the LHotel said that some men had come the day before to take Marciano's collection of Ferraris and high-end cars that were stored in the underground parking lot.There was also some talk about the $18.1 million diamond that Marciano owned and which he had named after his daughter Chloe, but it was unclear whether it had been taken away or not.
|Marciano-Owned Sculpture by Botero|
A lot of unfavorable things have been written about the man who made jeans into high fashion items. Marciano had an eventful life in his precipitous climb to the heights of the extremely rich. But equally spectacular was his downfall, in which addiction apparently played no small role. His story has been sensationally scrutinized in the US media, in its golden era of schadenfreude. But, personally, I find it difficult to reconcile the crazed, delusional image of Marciano, as he has been portrayed in the US media, with the well-liked hotel owner and the person who so willingly shared his private art collection with people who simply loved art.
In this morning's La Presse, there is a video of Robert Indiana's iconic LOVE sculpture being removed from the front of the hotel. There were also reports that in addition to the large seizure of Marciano's sizable real estate holdings in Old Montreal, his orchard near Granby had also been put under lock and key.
Keep your eyes peeled for further developments.