Monday, November 24, 2014

Warhol's 'Triple Elvis' Leads Record-Setting $852.9 million Total at Christie's Auction

Michael Ovitz - Andy Warhol Christie's auction
Andy Warhol with one of his series of screenprinted paintings of American singer Elvis Presley
Michael Ovitz was in attendance at Christie’s recent record-setting auction totaling $852.9 million, driven by two Andy Warhol works: the 1963 screen printed painting "Triple Elvis (Ferus Type)", selling for $82 million, and the artist's 1966  "Four Marlons," of actor Marlon Brando, selling for $69.6 million.

The auction house had assembled 80 works total, 22 of them expected to sell for more than $10 million and nine poised to bring more than $20 million each.  "It's our highest total ever," worldwide chairman of postwar and contemporary art Brett Gorvy told the New York Times. "We saw a lot of new bidders tonight from the Middle East and Asia, but the biggest and most powerful buyers were still from America."

In addition to Michael Ovitz, other art aficionados included J. Tomilson Hill, Stefan Edlis and Andrew Saul.

Both "Triple Elvis (Ferus Type)" and "Four Marlons" were put up for action by German casino company WestSpiel. The works had been displayed in Casino Aachen since the late 1970s, and were purchased by unidentified telephone bidders.

An avid art collector, Michael Ovitz commissioned Michael Maltzan Architecture in 2000 to build a new residence for his family and to be able to display his art collection. The house was completed in 2010 and now acts at a permanent home for works from modern and contemporary painting and sculpture, to Ming Dynasty furniture and African antiquities. The house features three dedicated galleries, one of which is a rotating project space where commissioned artists create site-specific installations on an annual basis, thereby allowing the collection to expand while also establishing new and lasting relationships with contemporary artists.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

MOMA's 'The Forever Now' Opens Dec 14

Michael Ovitz Family Collection: “Carlotta” (2013), by the German-born, American-based painter Charline von Heyl
“Carlotta” (2013), by the German-born, American-based painter Charline von Heyl
The Forever Now,” which opens on Dec. 14 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City includes 'Carlotta' by the German-born, American-based painter Charline von Heyl from the Ovitz Family Collection, according to this recent article in The New Yorker Magazine.

The show, curated by Laura Hoptman, examines painting today 'and finds it more vital than ever' via 17 painters 'whose approaches are all over the map, from figurative to abstract and boisterous to restrained.'

Born in 1960 in Germany, Charline von Heyl 'lives and works in New York and Marfa, Texas. Her work has been exhibited both in the United States and abroad, including solo exhibitions at The Tate, Liverpool; Kunsthalle Nurnberg, Nurnberg; Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn; ICA Philadelphia; ICA Boston; Westlondonprojects, London; Le Consortium, Dijon; the Dallas Museum of Art and in the Vienna Secession. Von Heyl's works reside in the collections of the Tate, London; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; among many others.'

Charline von Heyl’s paintings 'are not abstractions of objects or figures; rather, she is interested in creating abstract images that stand for themselves. They are new pictures, composed inventions. ...further expansions (and revolutions waged) upon the bounds and rules set by the history of painting, in which abstraction stretches toward representation, image and non-image indecipherably integrate, and where the distinction between image and object dissolve.'

Read the entire The New Yorker article, Winter Preview.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Michael Maltzan's Innovative Apartment Complex for Homeless Opens on Skid Row

Star Apartments by Michael Maltzan, Ovitz residence architect
Michael Maltzan, the architect behind Michael Ovitz's  28,000-square-foot home (covered here in this W Magazine article), continues his collaboration with developer Skid Row Housing Trust with the new Star Apartments located at 6th Street and Maple Avenue bordering Skid Row.

The innovative, modern building provides permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless via 102 apartments, consisting of prefabricated "modules" stacked like blocks over the existing building's roof, allowing a lower budget and shorter timeframe to completion (or, better said, to "ensure a higher quality of construction, meet tighter construction tolerances, and dramatically accelerate construction time, producing a parallel reduction in cost").  The 95,000 square foot building is 'mixed-use', with a retail street level zone, community program zone (2nd floor), and four terraced floors above for residents.  Amenities include a community garden, running track, exercise and art rooms and a library.

Maltzan has designed numerous modern structures throughout Los Angeles for the homeless,  including the Rainbow and New Carver apartment buildings, all of which have garnered international recognition for their innovation and purpose.

Learn more about the Star Apartments in this L.A. Times article, "Innovative Apartment Complex for Homeless People Opens on Skid Row."

Read more about Michael Maltzan's design of the Michael Ovitz residence in this W Magazine article, 'The Client Whisperer'.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Chris Ovitz Launches Workpop - Job Board for Hourly-Wage Workers

Michael Ovitz - Workpop startup of Chris Ovitz
Many job seekers use LinkedIn to find work, but what online resources exist for the hourly-wage worker?  Michael Ovitz's son Chris Ovitz has launched Workpop, a site designed just for the 76 million people in the United States who work for hourly wages and often don't have detailed resumes or work histories online.  

Ovitz and co-founder Reed Shaffner maintain that dropping off resumes by foot wherever a 'We Are Hiring' sign is displayed is outdated and ineffective - and the VC world apparently agrees:  Workpop closed a $7 million Series A funding round led by Trinity Ventures, following an initial seed round of $900,000 in April 2014 that included investments from SV Angel, Box Group, Obvious Ventures, Cornerstone OnDemand, Slow Ventures, Ironfire Capital, Plus Capital, Joe Lonsdale (a partner at Formation 8), Lee Linden (Facebook), Dennis Phelps (IVP), and Aaron Levie (chief executive of Box Inc).   

Workpop is a free service benefitting both employees and employers in several ways.  For workers, in addition to a much easier place to find potential work, they also receive anonymous feedback from employers who reject their applications, a response when a job they applied for has been filled, and advice on what successful applicants who got the jobs they wanted had that they didn’t, such as specific skills.  In addition, a job applicant will see a photograph of the hiring manager and a response rate (similar to AirBnb).

For employers, the service matches jobs to a pool of strong applicants less likely to quit quickly, as well as tools for background checks.

Co-CEOs, both Ovitz and Shaffner are veterans to the online startup world.  Ovitz is the co-founder of Viddy, a social video startup while Shaffner is a former Zynga executive.   The founding team also includes CTO Benjamin Berman and Director of Product Henry Jay Yu.

Friday, September 12, 2014

How Andreessen Horowitz Is Disrupting Silicon Valley

Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz - Michael Ovitz
Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz of Silicon Valley VC firm Andreessen Horowitz
Peter Sim's recent Medium article How Andreessen Horowitz Is Disrupting Silicon Valley is an insightful look at the ways the Silicon Valley venture capital firm distinguishes itself from the competition "thanks to some combination of brilliant salesmanship and marketing — a new model that is highly differentiated, ...more creative and more entrepreneur-friendly than the traditional venture capital firm model."

In discussing the unique aspects of A.H., the article explores the relationship between the firm and the model originated by Michael Ovitz at CAA:

"When Andreessen and Horowitz came together in 2009 to start a firm after their time together at Opsware, they focused on recreating a talent management model like the one pioneered by Michael Ovitz, the founder of Creative Artists Agency. Akin to CAA, yet unlike traditional venture capital firms, A.H. employs dozens of people whose job it is build relationships with people who can help Andreessen Horowitz companies. In Hollywood, Ovitz’s model of talent management, agents spend a great deal of time building up their clients and developing their talents; the focus is on using relationships to advance the talent’s best interests. A.H. puts that model into motion to support all that it does to source, develop, and support entrepreneurial ventures."

Much of Horowitz's philosophy is captured in his recent book The Hard Thing about Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers, "well-received by everyone from Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to The Economist magazine."  In May Ovitz hosted a party at his Beverly Hills estate celebrating the new book - read the full coverage here.  Guests included MC Hammer, Nas, Kanye West, and many others.

Read the entire Medium article, How Andreessen Horowitz Is Disrupting Silicon Valley

Monday, September 8, 2014

Ghostbusters Cast Looks Back

Harold Ramis, Ivan Reitman, Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd 

Esquire Magazine's recent An Oral History of Ghostbusters reunited the entire cast to reminisce about the film, including Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ivan ReitmanSigourney Weaver and the late Harold Ramis, as well as Michael Ovitz and other industry executives who helped make the classic comedy.  The article is highly entertaining and contains a number of previously unknown insights from the film's production.  We've included a few excerpts below, starting with Aykroyd's original conception of the script:

DAN AYKROYD: In about 1981, I read an article on quantum physics and parapsychology in The Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research. And it was like, bang--that’s it. It was also a combination of my family’s history--my great-grandfather was an Edwardian spiritualist, and my mother claims she saw an apparition of my great-great-grandparents while nursing me-and watching films like the Bowery BoysGhost Chasers and Bob Hope’s The Ghost Breakers. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to update the ghost movies from the ’40s?”

Dan Aykroyd
Originally I was writing it for me, Eddie Murphy, and John Belushi, and I was about a third of the way through. On a beautiful March day, I was writing a line for John when the phone rang and it was Bernie Brillstein. He told me that John had died in the Chateau Marmont. I finished the script with Bill Murray in mind.

BERNIE BRILLSTEIN: Dan came to my office with this whole scheme about three fellows who chase ghosts. He even had a sketch of the Marshmallow Man.

AYKROYD: They were like vacuum cleaner or elevator repairmen, or firemen. The idea was to have them blend into the urban landscape. Calling a Ghostbuster was just like getting rats removed.

MICHAEL OVITZ: Dan and Bernie got me the script just as I was going to London. I read it on the plane, and I was laughing so hard that it was embarrassing.

In another section, Ovitz talks about Murray and Aykroyd's extreme popularity in New York City:

OVITZ: Bill is like the Mayor of New York. He knew every doorman and everyone in every restaurant. He would go to an ATM machine, get a couple thousand dollars’ worth of small bills, and pass them out to homeless people as we walked down the street.

RAMIS: Bill and Dan were just legendary in the city. People would open restaurants for us two hours before they were supposed to, or they’d keep them open two hours after they were supposed to close. Suddenly, New York felt like a small town to me.

ERNIE HUDSON: Cab drivers would just stop in the middle of the street and jump out of their cars because they were huge fans of his. It was funny to see the way people responded to Bill, especially women.

AYKROYD: I think we all grabbed a few crinkles just from the enjoyment of seeing what walked around in the wake of Bill Murray. Women were falling, I mean, I had to help them into taxis. We actually had to escape on police bikes one night.

WEAVER: Bill was kind of expected to come up with brilliant things that weren’t in the script, like day after day after day. Ivan would say, “All right, Bill, we need something here.” And there would be like a hundred of us waiting around, and Bill would just come in and do something. It was absolutely effortless. The one I remember clearly is when we come into my apartment for the first time and there was a piano next to the door. He plays it and says, “They hate that.”

Check out the entire interview in the Esquire Magazine article, An Oral History of Ghostbusters