Chuck Close and other artists used to sit around bars like the Cedar Tavern and Max’s Kansas City and talk about art. “I have more conversations today over what we’re going to do to protect our spouses, our children, our work,” Mr. Close said.
At 77, Mr. Close is among a critical mass of prominent — and profitable — artists in their twilight years (including Claes Oldenburg, 88; Ed Ruscha, 79; and Gerhard Richter, 84) facing important decisions about how to secure their creations and provide for their heirs just as the exploding market has significantly increased the value of their work. And the art world hopes to cash in on it.
“You have the greatest number of artists there has ever been who are wealthy from their own creative work and have to make provisions for the posthumous stewardship of that work,” said Christine J. Vincent, the project director for the Artist-Endowed Foundations Initiative at the Aspen Institute, which helps private foundations created by visual artists. “More and more entities are getting involved in servicing it.”
Sotheby’s just hired Christy MacLear, the chief executive of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, in an attempt to start managing artists’ careers, estates and foundations, a role historically played by galleries.