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Thursday, June 23, 2005

D'Arcy on Lewis, Krens, and the Guggenheim

In today's Wall Street Journal David D'Arcy shows that he's not going to be threatened by another major New York art institution and goes for the Guggenheim's throat. (Or maybe he just figures that if it's only a single freelance piece no one can get him fired for it.)

D'Arcy has former Guggenheim chair Peter Lewis on the record with details of what caused him to leave the board after a public fight with museum director Thomas Krens.

"In speeches, it was, 'We're the museum of the future.' It was sold that sort of way," he says. In fact it was driven by the need for revenue. "The rationale always was, 'We had a nongenerous, noncontributing set of trustees--therefore we had to have other sources of revenue and capital--that's why we must expand,'" he says.

"It's not the Guggenheim--it's the Guggenheim merchandising the Bilbao effect," says Mr. Lewis.

And on his partnership with Krens over the years, Lewis says the following.
"They tried to keep me from leaving. They told me, 'You two were such a team,'" Mr. Lewis said. "Yeah, we were a team. I wrote the checks and he [poured] the money away."
Lewis does plan to honor his pledge to support restoration of the Frank Lloyd Wright building, even though he has left the board. But he has his own architect monitoring the process and determining when, and how much, to dole out as work is completed.

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