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Christie’s is getting into the ghostbusting business

6 October 2023

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

News reaches Rakewell that the art collection of film director Ivan Reitman – the director of Ghostbusters (1984) – is appearing at Christie’s, New York in November. While we are sure that certain members of the auction fraternity are particularly excited by Picasso’s rather lovely portrait of Marie-Thérèse Walter, Femme Endormie (1934), Rakewell can’t help but notice a rather thrilling aesthetic consistency between the great auteur’s work and his collection.

The art collection was, in fact, started by Reitman after the completion of Ghostbusters, when he was working on his follow-up movie – made in that famous genre: the legal romantic comedy thriller – Legal Eagles (1986). Legal Eagles tells the tale of the daughter of a painter (Darryl Hannah) stealing a work by her father from a millionaire – and enlisting the help of Robert Redford and Debra Winger to do it. There’s lots of back and forth about who owns the work, who is innocent, who is guilty, who loves who and who doesn’t. It’s classic Hollywood fare. Reitman, however, wanted to ensure the art side of the movie was as authentic as possible. He enlisted the help of Arne Glimcher, the founder of Pace gallery, who busily set about ensuring the film could borrow original works from galleries and private collectors.

During this process, Reitman, as the press release reveals, ‘fell in love with art’. There is no denying the quality of the works in his collection. Yet Rakewell can’t help but feel that some of them might be haunted by the look of his blockbuster hit. Is it only Rakewell who sees a flicker of a proton beam in the Brice Marden, or perhaps an ectoplasmic glow in Rothko? Is it too much to wonder if Femme Endormie is haunted by Slimer, the friendly green ghost of the Ghostbusters’ HQ? As fans of the movie will know, the team of ghost-catchers speeds through New York – including a dash through the Rockefeller Center. Rumour has it that Reitman didn’t have permission to film there; in a teaser trailer, you can see a security guard chasing the actors in a scene that didn’t make the final cut. How fitting that legitimacy is restored by the return of Reitman’s artworks to Christie’s in New York for a celebration of the man whose immaculate taste made the 1980s so much fun.

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