~LIO MALCA (the anti-Josh) SUES YOSHII !!

LIO MALCA – the anti-JOSH !! – in the news !!
you gotta love it !! life, as in – real-world – truth – is always way better than fiction !!
you couldn’t make this stuff up – in your wildest dreams. so, yes – WE LIVE IN PUBLIC, or what !!
some background: LIO MALCA is the guy who bought Josh’s Spring St. loft when Josh’s web bubble burst and he went belly-up – and Malca still lives there. LIO MALCA is also famous – as a footnote character – in the WE LIVE IN PUBLIC annals – as he is the collector who dropped the dime on the ALFREDO MARTINEZ phony BASDQUIAT CAPER – after a brief trial – the feds sent Alfredo away to the big house for 2 years !! on interstate wire fraud charges.
much thanks to CHARLIE FINCH for the heads-up !!

FILE THIS UNDER: what goes around – comes around.


basquiat helmet
JEAN MICHEL BASQUIAT – ‘Untitled (Football Helmet)’ – the piece in dispute.

“An art collector claims a Manhattan gallery owner said he wanted to [borrow] a Basquiat painting to show it “to his family,” then sold it for $300,000 without permission. Lio Malca sued Katzuhito Yoshii and his Yoshii Gallery in New York County Court.
Malca claims the gallery at 980 Madison Ave. [uptown] sold his Jean Michel Basquiat artwork known as ‘Untitled (Football Helmet) which Yoshii had in bailment. Malca says he did not consign the work to the gallery, and it was ‘not offered as collateral against any debts,’ but was merely on loan to defendant Yoshii as a favor.
Malca claims that while Yoshii had the piece he offered to sell it to the gallery but Yoshii refused to pay the asking price of $300,000.
A few days later, Malca says, he asked for the art back, but the gallery told him it had been sold “without title”. Malca says he demanded that the gallery ‘return the artwork immediately,’ without success.
He demands damages for breach of duty as bailee, conversion, and fraud, and wants the art back or $500,000 (the “actual value of the piece”). Malca is represented by Larry Kramer with Kramer & Pollack of Mineola.

Lio Malca
LIO MALCA – attends the opening of ‘Furniture & Architecture by Jean Prouve’ at SONNABEND GALLERY, NYC.
Feb 22, 2003.


that’s so – NYC vs. LA in a nutshell – circa WINTER 2010 – 2 collectors, former partners, when I first encountered them – at each other’s throats over overpriced – decades old blue chip art now – Basquiats – and, neither of them known for their patronage. these guys are really ‘art’ bankers in the truest and saddest sense – are in the news here – while colorful and celebrated collector ELI BROAD is headlining the news out of LA !! at least Mr. BROAD is a known as a very far-reaching, influential trend-setting collector – a very generous patron of the contemporary arts, as well as a major philanthropist – albeit one with an “an iron checkbook” !! hey, from where I sit in NYC – a control freak patron is still better than a bunch of uninspired, one might even say, shifty couple of art bankers.

the thing is just how much the $$ bubble burst for the downtown art scene rebels when the bubble burst for JOSH. the sudden dead-end impact – couldn’t be more illuminated than the contrast between JOSH HARRIS and the man who bought his loft on Spring St – and, at a fire sale price I am sure – LIO MALCA. that’s why we called Lio – the anti-Josh !! (as in anti-Christ, get it ?)
Josh could also be an asshole – don’t get me wrong – I am the one who introduced the buyer Lio Malca to Josh – and they both stiffed me on the finder’s fee or any form of minimal commission – for the hook-up on a 2 million+ sale, and in very hard economic conditions – for Josh. but Josh was a patron, a true inspired independent-minded art patron – and the most amazing one that I know of so far. ok so he blew out on his tech side – but whiel the money flowed Josh fueld an art scene that was so wild – and far reaching – it became the subject of a documentary that stormed SUNDANCE – you know – that little SUNDANCE 2009 GRAND JURY PRIZE winner – WE LIVE In PUBLIC !! not only did Josh not to want to buy dead art, or even blue-chip art – he didn’t even want ya – if you were in a gallery or written up by the low-ceiling mainstream art press – Josh wanted pure juice – 100% alive and kicking. He did buy art for investment – he bought art – as part his own ‘art project ‘ – if you can follow that – a concept that went and still goes over many people’s heads !! for the artists on the scene at that time, and probably for all time going forward – this was the absolute ideal situation. a totally freak-ed inspired patron – a web visionary and internet guru no less – who paid you – and, big $$ well – to create on a huge scale – and you still !! got to keep most of the product – the product – to sell to someone else. (He did buy a few choice pieces from most of the artists – that he promptly put into storagae – he bought 2 watercolors from me, apart from shooting me his credit card for some pretty worthy antique American quilt purchases !!) but he was not into buying art for investment – his fever was all about the creative mode – in real time !! – and that was worth the $$ underwriting – and in fact – he was was kind of skeptical of it ever turning a return big bucks – at least back then, in his heart of hearts.

ok. click to the present. contrast that to ELI BROAD – one: his collecting is stale. I mean compared to Josh who – was of the absolute moment. two: his collecting begins with gallery and so-called critical ‘authentication’. three: his buying power speaks to institutions – note any similar rants, like mine to Josh – in his favor – bubbling up from the contemporary artists in LA & as a further indicator of his staleness on this level – he has to import JEFFREY DEITCH from NYC – to spark things up – he has fallen so far behind the curve – on that front, and lastly, four: just how much his headset is old school investment – he renegened on giving his collection away to the institutions he supported and now is creating a ‘lending library’. LOL.

but the contrast between JOSH HARRIS and LIO MALCA was brutal. I’m not the only one who used to pass by that former Broadway & SPRING ST loft – home of many parties and cry. unlike Josh who turned the tap on – LIO turned it off. and his kind of M.O. is pretty much indicative of the NYC collector head-set that has the downtown art scene is so bone dry and lonely – ever since. LIO was not a patron. I don’t even think you could really call him a collector. He is really an pencil pusher. an art investment banker for super rich people who want to create a diverse portfolio – one that aside from being more portable than the equivalent in gold bars – is , or was !! easily converted to liquid cash in a low profile way – and – that hopefully gains in value as well. the deal is Malca is supposed to buy them guaranteed no-lose positions. Kind of like the Mugrabis – except that family aspires to a higher profile as ‘cutting edge’ collectors – but, who really only buy a few proven (and for all accounts and purposes – art wise – dead) formulas. such as BASQUIAT, HARING, WARHOL, DAMIEN HIRST. Malca only bought WARHOLS and BASQUIATS – and, apparently – as this little legal matter – between Lio and Yoshii attests to – the whole game became way-over-wrought and over-priced. their little corner of the art market has declined at least 30% in market value to boot, obviously adding to the public tension – and they probably have some very heavy-duty people calling in with big time gripes !! YIKES !!

but who’s crying for those guys, and their shadowy clients !! not I. their M.O is much worse than lousy advice and greed – it corrupts the art scene absolutely.
what they don’t get – is it that their lack of patronage, insight – and inspiration – eats at the very roots of their sand castles. you’ve got to trickle down some of that play dough – to the truly kickin’ artists, and their grassroots gallerists – on the scene in the moment – in real time – to keep up the interest in the value of their predecessors. period. art 101.

so it was a big big hurt for the Josh Harris crew – to see this kind of art ‘banker’ installed in Josh’s loft – formerly filled with the stuff of the moment – now home to rotting and over-priced HARINGS and BASQUIATS. and if you worked for him, which I did as a representative of Josh’s in turning over the loft in working order to Lio’s liking – he paid you under $10 a hr and made you feel like a dog – while doing so. I guit. and never looked back. Alfredo tried to rip him. end of story.

summation: JOSH vs LIO. round one. JOSH bankrolled you and made you feel like a king. like being an artist – was the ultimate extreme sport. LIO bankrolled dead but certified artists and made you feel like a dog. JOSH vs LIO round two. WE LIVE IN PUBLIC sweeps SUNDANCE with the breath and vitality of his insight and vision – LIO ends up suing his former partner YOSHHII in a sleazy case of theft over an over-priced art object by a long dead artist – that has lost significant market value. (Lio and Yoshii were partners – in buying art – when I first crossed paths with them.

slight factual adjustment: ok. so Lio also sometimes, and very stingily as in, not too often – used to take baby steps and actually did buy new art. case in point. He bought some early TAYLOR McKIMENS from the CLEMINTINE GIRLS – way back when Taylor was doing those awful DONALD BAECHLER hamburgers !! when when Taylor came out with the first of the DRIPS !! family – Lio stopped in his baby step new art tracks. The amazin’ ‘DRIPS! – went right straight over his ledger markin’ head.

oh the beauty of lost opportunity . . . and woefully miscast characters.

malca loft # 1
full circle: Josh’s old loft on BROADWAY – corner of SPRING in Soho. Lio Malca bought it, fire sale – when Josh’s empire went belly-up.

malca loft # 2
that’s it – the floor-thru loft – on the 2nd floor over the store. you can just see – the head of one of Lio’s (dead) art trophies in the window. but the space is surely full of ghosts – in Ondi’s documentary – the inner WE LIVE IN PUBLIC section – where Josh records his time with TANYA – with over 60 motion sensitive hard wired interactive web cameras – even in the bathroom, and on the cat litter – !! – takes place in this exact space. it was home to many many parties – some gracious – Josh loved Grapa !! some totally over-the-top and wild – too wild to even speak of !! ask Leo Koenig !!

malca loft # 4
oh that black day, when Josh’s name came down – and Lio’s went up – on the intercom !!