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Cutting criticism – a tale of Bendor Grosvenor’s cat

9 January 2019

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories

Art sleuth Bendor Grosvenor has suffered something of a cat-astrophe. Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph, the art historian and Britain’s Lost Masterpieces presenter revealed that he had been busy restoring a painting by the 17th-century portrait artist John Michael Wright when Padme, Grosvenor’s pet cat, decided to put a claw through it.

‘I bought it in 2015 for £5,250. I probably spent the same again cleaning and reframing it,’ Grosvenor told the paper. ‘And as I stood back to admire my handiwork, up jumped our cat, landing forcefully in the centre of the painting with a crunch.’ The cat, he added, is ‘not a fan of John Michael Wright, and regrets nothing.’

In other news…

‘I don’t do drugs. I am drugs,’ Salvador Dalí once said. But drugs – or the fortune they built for the late cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar – most certainly ‘did’ Dalí. Though Escobar was not much interested by the arts (he preferred vintage cars), his wife Victoria Eugenia Henao was quite the collector. In a new memoir, Henoa – who bought works by artists including including Claudio Bravo, Fernando Botero and Édgar Negret – reveals that Dalí’s The Dance, which she acquired in the 1980s, occupied a special place in her heart. ‘It was incredible,’ she writes of her first glimpse of the work, a copy the artist made of an earlier painting destroyed in a house fire. ‘I was struck by the movement of a couple in an endless desert, sexual and dreamlike.’


Jeremy Deller’s turn on Desert Island Discs last weekend gave us some first-rate musical selections as well as his mum’s assessment of his artistic success. ‘She’s just happy that I’m doing OK,’ he told presenter Lauren Laverne. ‘Weirdly, when I won the Turner Prize [in 2004], finally she could talk about her son. For years – about 10 years – there was nothing to say about me, because I was doing nothing basically. It must have been quite awkward for my parents when people asked: “Oh, what’s Jeremy up to?”. “Well, he works part time in a shop and he lives at home.” That’s not so great, really.’

Got a story for Rakewell? Get in touch at rakewell@apollomag.com or via @Rakewelltweets.