With all the recent talk of David Geffen selling off a Jackson Pollock painting to raise cash for a possible purchase of the Los Angeles Times, I thought it was an interesting coincidence that this story would run in today’s New York Times:
After retiring from truck driving in 1987, Teri Horton devoted much of her time to bargain hunting around the Los Angeles area. Sometimes the bargains were discovered on Salvation Army shelves and sometimes, she willingly admits, at the bottom of Dumpsters.
Even the most stubborn deal scrounger probably would have been satisfied with the rate of return recently offered to her for a curiosity she snagged for $5 in a San Bernardino thrift shop in the early 1990s. A buyer, said to be from Saudi Arabia, was willing to pay $9 million for it, just under an 180 million percent increase on her original investment. Ms. Horton, a sandpaper-voiced woman with a hard-shell perm who lives in a mobile home in Costa Mesa and depends on her Social Security checks, turned him down without a second thought.
Ms. Horton’s find is not exactly the kind that gets pulled from a steamer trunk on the “Antiques Roadshow.” It is a dinner-table-size painting, crosshatched in the unmistakable drippy, streaky, swirly style that made Jackson Pollock one of the most famous artists of the last century. Ms. Horton had never heard of Pollock before buying the painting, but when an art teacher saw it and told her that it might be his work (and that it could fetch untold millions if it were), she launched herself on a single-minded post-retirement career — enlisting, along the way, a forensic expert and a once-powerful art dealer — to have her painting acknowledged as authentic by scholars and the art market.
Horton is demanding at least $50 million to sell the painting. Her efforts to get the hyper-elite art world to validate her find is the subject of a new documentary, “Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock?”
If Horton doesn’t get the money she thinks she deserves, she told the New York Times:
“Before I let them take advantage of me,” she said, smiling broadly, “I’ll burn that son of a bitch.”
Maybe Geffen needs a partner?