Montreal: Marciano's Priceless Art Collection Seized

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
In spite of the fact that some of Marciano's former employees had sued him after he had accused them of stealing, Lucie learned on that cold fall evening that his employees at LHotel thought very highly of their boss. The bartender, once an employee at Home Depot with no hotel experience, was personally hired by Marciano. At his hotel orientation meeting, the bartender met other people just like him. The man standing next to him was a former construction worker. When Marciano greeted his new staff, he told them that he had asked them all to work at his hotel simply because he liked them the first time they met.

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 shares his private art collection with people who simply love 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.


Unknown | December 16, 2012 at 10:23 PM

I am Georges friend and was his publicist, manager of his employees and even campaign manager when he ran for Governor of California. I can tell you without any hesitation that Georges Marciano is a true gentlemen, great person and will always be considered my friend. He has done so much for me since the day we met...over the last 4 years. The press has really done a number on his matter what was said they always slanted it and modified it to suit them and their agenda. Feel free to contact me as I will never give up on support of my friend Georges.

Rod L. Harrell

Heather | December 18, 2012 at 7:07 PM

And you forgot to mention that he went from rags to riches then to emotional and psychological ruin. But he soldiered on...was vindicated by the Quebec Superior Court for the illegal seizure of his property and then was named best hotelier by Expedia. His name should be Georges Never-A-Dull-Moment Marciano.

His employees speak very highly of him, and they seem to enjoy their work. I'm sure you're right. Thanks for your comment Rod! Heather

J.L. Thompson | March 23, 2014 at 4:35 PM

I agree with Heather and Mr. Harrell. I was invited to Mr. Marciano's home in Beverly Hills to go over the details of his life to write his biography, and was treated with tremendous respect by Mr. Marciano and his son Matt. I could see that his staff was very devoted to him and that he treated them very kindly as well. I was permitted to look into the matter of those former employees whom he was suing, and all I can say for sure is that hundreds of millions of dollars are certainly missing from his accounts and art storage facilities, and he has the right to answers about those matters from those who were entrusted with his estate. I have watched with interest as the lower court was overruled on appeal, and hope that Mr. Marciano is vindicated in a real trial. J.L. Thompson

Unknown | August 21, 2014 at 4:52 PM

George sets the standards for class, design and style.

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