T.O. gallery selling Pollock painting for $50M
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Wednesday, October 29, 2008 10:57AM EDT
A Toronto art gallery is hosting the sale of a controversial Jackson Pollock painting that was purchased for $5 at a junk shop but now has a hefty price tag of $50 million.
The drip-style painting is on display at Gallery Delisle in the city's east-end neighbourhood known as The Beach.
"It's the first time a painting of this magnitude has been in our country and it's absolutely a beautiful work by Jackson Pollock," gallery owner Michelle Delisle told CTV's Canada AM.
"It's a classic drip painting of his and I'm extremely excited to be a part of this --- I'm excited to show it, I'm excited for Canada to have an opportunity to see it in person."
The 1.7-by-1.2 metre painting is the subject of the documentary film "Who the $%& is Jackson Pollock?" which chronicles Teri Horton's mission to get the painting accepted as a Pollock original in the U.S. arts community.
The title of the film is taken from Horton's response when she was first told she could have a Pollock in her possession.
She purchased the large canvas for $5 15 years ago after talking the sellers down from the original $8 price -- buying it as a gag gift for a friend who lived in a small mobile home.
The pair had a good laugh over the "scary" painting, then leaned it up against the trailer and pulled up chairs to drink beer. They even planned to throw darts at the painting.
"We were going to go get the darts out of the trailer and throw them at it, but we got to drinking too much beer and never got around to it," said Horton, a former truck driver from San Bernardino, Calif.
"So then I put it in my storage shed. I had no idea what it was. The canvas was all these colours, it was ugly as far as I was concerned."
It wasn't until Horton had a garage sale and put the painting out for sale that an art professor saw it and told her she could be in possession of an extremely valuable work of art.
"He took a look at it and said 'my God', and I said 'what?' And he said this could be the work of Jackson Pollock and I said who the bleep is Jackson Pollock? I know this is live television so I'll be nice," Horton told Canada AM.
Horton has come up against many challenges in her quest to authenticate the painting. Many in the elite U.S. art community have refused to accept it as a true Pollock.
In one memorable quote in the documentary, a snooty art expert says the painting doesn't "breathe" Pollock.
Horton has said she became so fed up with the refusal to accept forensic evidence of the painting's veracity, she decided to sell the work outside of the U.S.
Delisle's willingness to stand behind the painting as an authentic Pollock was what convinced Horton to sell it through her gallery.
"God love 'em for taking a stand for this painting because that's what it needs, it needs someone to accept the forensic authentification," Horton said.
"But I'm not an art collector, never will be, and I'm not going to start at this old age. I want somebody else to enjoy this work."
The painting will be on display at the small, six-month-old gallery for two weeks beginning on Nov. 13. However, appointments to view the painting privately can be made starting Nov. 1.
It will be guarded by a police officer 24 hours a day.