Friday, February 19, 2010
It's hard to believe that, less than five years ago at the annual Federal Reserve gathering in Jackson Hole, Wyoming as the U.S. housing bubble was fully inflated and seeking out a pin, former Fed chief Alan Greenspan was lauded as the "greatest central banker ever".
Today, according to this story in the Wall Street Journal, some people are hiding portraits that they paid outlandish prices for under their beds or in the back of closets.
Fortunately, despite being largely responsible for two burst asset bubbles over the last ten years that have ruined the retirement plans (if not the lives) of millions of Americans, at least one person has benefited from the Greenspan term at the Fed - artist Erin Crowe who sold an entire series of these paintings for thousands of dollars apiece.
There are lots more details in the WSJ report:
In the years before the 2008 financial crisis, Wall Street and Mr. Greenspan's reputation boomed in tandem, and an obscure young artist, Ms. Crowe, gained notice for her distinctive oil portraits of the Fed chairman, now 83 years old. Working from photographs she found online and in newspapers and magazines, Ms. Crowe produced colorful, whimsical canvasses that highlighted Mr. Greenspan's wrinkled forehead, pursed lips, droopy ears, hand gestures and oversize glasses.The potential good news in all of this, expressed by Mr. Schirmer above, is that the portraits are likely to increase in value after Alan Greenspan passes on.
A gallery in the Hamptons that exhibited her paintings in the summer of 2005 sold every one within a couple of days, recalls Sally Breen, who organized the show with Rebecca Cooper. She had a second Greenspan show in downtown Manhattan. Ms. Crowe says she produced upwards of 50 canvasses of Mr. Greenspan. All were snapped up, some for as much as $5,000 to $10,000, she says.
As her popularity grew, Ms. Crowe flew business class to Hong Kong, where she painted portraits of leading financial figures, including Hong Kong's chief executive and the head of its Monetary Authority. She realized that she'd found her niche: painting financial gurus. The future looked dazzling.
She painted one of the portraits on live television when Mr. Greenspan retired. It fetched $150,400 for charity in an online auction.
Now, the man who bought that painting, Tampa Bay-area businessman Matthew Schirmer, says he keeps it under his bed.