Some major collectors unwelcome at Warhol event

The cultured crowd expected Thursday at Phillips auction house for a panel discussion, “Andy Warhol: A Conversation,” won’t include some of the pop artist’s collectors.

After Warhol died in 1987, the Andy Warhol Foundation fiercely protected his legacy in a series of legal battles.

It sued Warhol’s former bodyguard Agusto Bugarin in 2014, claiming he had stolen the Liz Taylor silk-screen portrait that had hung on the wall of Andy’s home for decades. Bugarin denied the allegations, saying the work was a gift from Warhol.

The foundation may have gotten the artwork back, since it was on the block at Christie’s two years later, but the silk-screen failed to sell, valuing it at $10 million to $15 million.

Joe Simon-Whelan would also be unwelcome on Thursday, when former Brooklyn Museum boss Arnold Lehman moderates a panel including critic and Warhol archivist Blake Gopnik and Vincent Fremont, co-founder of the Warhol Foundation.

Simon-Whelan sued the foundation, the Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board, and others in 2007, bringing antitrust claims after the authentication board refused to authenticate the 1965 Warhol self-portrait he bought for $195,000.

The lawsuit settled in 2010, with Simon-Whelan withdrawing his claims because of the financial burden of litigating the case.

“Frankly, these people think they are above the law, and can do anything they want,” Simon-Whelan told me.

The Warhol Foundation stopped authenticating work in 2011.

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