”Last year, U.S. art historian Gary Radke proposed that two of the figures in the silver version of the sculpture — including the young male holding a tray on the far left, were created by da Vinci and called Youth With a Tray ”. Silverman, who had acquired the clay model of the scene at a 1995 auction in London for about $6,000, immediately began seeking expert opinion, he claims, on whether da Vinci may also have been involved in the creating the terracotta piece — which is missing several elements, but still has the tray-holder intact.
….and so these incredible fish stories always seem to begin. A call of the wild rooted deep in the collective consciousness. Like incredible phantom gold mines, searches for holy grails and lost unicorns in the wilds of the Indies, the suction machine attracts like an elixir for eternal youth. A drawing of a young woman bought at auction for £11,000 and thought to be the work of an unknown artist has been attributed by several experts to Leonardo da Vinci, sending its potential value rocketing to £100m or more, although it had previously aroused little interest among experts over the past five hundred years. That was Silverman’s first discovery, purely accidental as he discovered it in a drawer.
”If confirmed, it would be the first work to be attributed to Leonardo since the Lady with an Ermine was identified as his work in the early 19th century.A Swiss-based collector, who is insisting on anonymity, bought the drawing, entitled Head of a Young Girl in Profile, at Christie’s in New York in 1998. It was catalogued as “German school, early 19th century”, by the auction house.The collector bought it on a whim. “He thought it was a nice, pretty thing,” said his friend Peter Silverman, a Canadian collector. The owner kept the work unframed in a drawer at his home.
Silverman was the first to spot Leonardo’s hand in the drawing when the owner, who was showing him his collection last year, pulled it out of the drawer. “My heart started to beat a million times a minute. I immediately thought this could be a Florentine artist. The idea of Leonardo came to me in a flash,” Silverman said.”This profile is almost too beautiful to be true,” said Alessandro Vezzosi, director of the Museo Ideale Leonardo da Vinci, pointing to a photograph of the work that now hangs here. (The original is kept in a Swiss vault.) Scientific studies aside, he said, “the iconography and the aesthetic speak clearly” that it is a da Vinci. Now, the sequel…
“It would seem to be reasonable to assume that if the silver piece was partly due to Leonardo, the terracotta — being a final study for the silver relief — would be the original model,” says Silverman, who collaborates in his art purchases with an unidentified Swiss collector. “It seems that the attribution is being received quite favourably and is being endorsed by some top art historians.”
No question, Silverman has the Midas touch. Its a good thing the Financial markets did not implode last year in the Flood or more appropriately, the Drought, of liquidity on Wall Street. It would have washed out the Art industry’s own hucksterous and equally synthetic manipulation of its own market. Their own credo of ”precious-object-in-a -gilded-frame” would have been victim to the same sand storm. Popular artists like Damien Hirst who have corporate sponsors stitched onto his clothing like Corporate logo’s on Formula I drivers racing suits, woud have to go earn a living sketching toursits in Hyde park or selling sculpted ashtrays outside football stadiums. Calling Hirst a great artist is akin to bestowing an award on Leonard Cohen or Bob Dylan as vocalist of the year or ceding the presidency of the U.N. High Commission on human rights to representatives of the Iranian goverment. Its absurd but it could happen.
Shareholder activist Evelyn Davis, and her call for a change at the helm at Goldman-Sachs annual meeting left many smirking as lloyd Blankfein racked up a 95% approval rating that reflected the corporate culture as much as it did how elections are tabulated in Libya. The ace up Davis’s sleeve is Peter Silverman. Any man who can pay $19K and turn around and ask $150 million is someone who speaks the kind of language Goldman-Sachs like to hear. These Hermes like qualities are hard to come by. After the chalk and ink portrait of ” La Bella Principessa” dossier, his present claim and call for a reattirbution to Da Vinci of a young man holding a tray in the martyrdom scene;shows a clay sculpture allegedly created in the fifteenth century artists workshop for the baptism area of the Florentine church that is likely to manipulate the art market as Goldman did mortgages.
The terra cotta bas-relief is being displayed this month allongside la Bella Principessa at a renaissance art exhibit in Sweden , where Mr. Silverman’s tentative claim about youth with a tray is scrutinized by scholars. Whether they are more meritorious in their work than the bond, stock, and commercial paper firms like Standard and Poor’s or Moody’s remain to be seen. But like Goldman-Sachs the intrigue of being able to create monetary value out almost nothing is a source of endless fascination. The art world has a long history of attribution and reattribution of value, making the case for the magic of Silverman an emore compelling case for this equally smooth operator to occupy the corner office suite.
Recruiting employees who share the same hunger, greed and ambition as Silverman may be the way to go for Goldman as they try to present a kinder, more sensitive version of the company to a skeptical and mob inflamed public. The art speculators are pure hustlers who fit right in and plausibly reduce Goldman’s excessive recruiting costs. ”Insecurity is hard-wired into the system. You feel it even before you are hired. Most applicants are interviewed at least 20 times before they are made an offer and some more than 30 times. Once hired, each staff member is constantly and confidentially reviewed by those they work with. There’s a metric for every aspect of performance and each staffer is measured against their department and the firm as a whole. Every year, staff are put into one of four quartiles by the Human Capital Management department. Note the “Capital”. At Goldman, people are money. The top are richly rewarded, while the fourth quartilers? Who cares? They won’t be around much longer. It’s up, or out. “We say goodbye to the bottom 3-5% every year [about 1,500 people],” says Richard Gnodde, 49, co-boss of the European operation, based in London.”
”Whatever the truth behind the bail-out, not even the smartest Goldmanite can deny that it is only thanks to government aid that the bank still has a financial system to work with. Washington has bolstered the US economy and banks to the tune of $12 trillion. Does Blankfein not acknowledge that it is maddening for most of us to watch Goldman gobble up so much cash while we struggle? Quite the opposite. He insists we should be celebrating his bank’s success, not condemning it. “Everybody should be, frankly, happy,” he says. Can he be serious? Deadly. Goldman’s performance, he argues, is the firmest indication of a nascent economic recovery that will benefit not just him and his firm but all of us. “The financial system led us into the crisis and it will lead us out.”
”Peter Silverman, a Canadian-born art collector may now be in possession of an original drawing by Leonardo da Vinci of Bianca Maria Sforza, the art world can be as litigious and backstabbing as the best on Wall Street.After purchasing what he believed to be an ordinary drawing back in 2007, Silverman decided to have it looked at out of curiosity that there may be something more to the picture.” A Swiss woman is suing Christie’s auction house in New York for failing to “exercise due care” almost 12 years ago when it sold a drawing she consigned for less than $22,000 (U.S.) – a drawing that several experts now attribute to Leonardo da Vinci, and that they estimate could be worth more than $150-million.
”In a complaint filed this week in Manhattan federal court, Jeanne Marchig, an animal rights activist based in Geneva, said Christie’s wrongly attributed the mixed-media profile drawing of a young woman to an anonymous 19th-century German artist working “in the taste of the Italian Renaissance.” She and her late husband brought the work to the auctioneer’s attention in 1997.” ( James Adams )
Also, the purchase over the years, perhaps knowingly,of worthless artwork forgeries with government money bears testimony to the government’s ability to take public tax money and enrich other forms of fraudulent acts. Its a Pandora’s box, a black box like Goldman, Bank of America et al. which like the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark may be simply too dangerous to open.
Now everybody understands the suction machine that ran out of control on the Street, hungry for bad loans in volume so immense that the Street finally invented imaginary ones, “reference notes” and synthetics. At the core of this sad saga is the Street’s discovery that it could make more money shorting bad loans than holding good ones.
”In Mel Brooks’ 1968 fraud epic, “The Producers,” arch-promoter Max Bialystock (portrayed by Samuel Joel “Zero” Mostel) was struck by revelation: a Broadway show that went bust could make a lot more money than a hit.
The scheme required two things: the chutzpah to sell a play many times to investors, and then finding a play so bad, so dreadful, that it was guaranteed to close after its first performance. Then keep the excess sales proceeds.Thus Max and his frightened but greedy accountant (portrayed by Gene Wilder) sat in an empty theater thumbing through piles of rotten scripts, until the grand, “ah-HAH!!” at discovery of awful perfection: the song-and-dance production, “Springtime for Hitler.”
Goldman Sachs helped to invent ABACUS 2007-AC1, a collateralized debt obligation (CDO) that billionaire hedge-funder John Paulson’s Paulson & Co. hedge fund allegedly shorted via credit default swaps (CDS).
This CDO, parts rated AAA (huh?) by folks at Moody’s, its bad mortgages earnestly (and cluelessly?) assembled by those at ACA Management LLC, bought by those at Germany’s IKB bank, the credit default swap provided by ACA’s sister company, ACA Capital, re-issued by ABN Amro Bank and the Royal Bank of Scotland back to Goldman. Upon the collapse of the CDO, valueless in five short months, the CDS through Goldman lost more than $840 million, most of which was allegedly paid to the Paulson & Co. hedge fund, according to an SEC complaint.
Part of Goldman’s defense: Many SEC rules do not apply in dealings with sophisticated investors. Like these. Another defense, different deal: According to Goldman’s head of German operations, Alexander Dibelius, banks “do not have an obligation to promote the public good.”