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Lots (and lots) of Leonard Cohen

27 May 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

There’s plenty to keep fans of Leonard Cohen busy at the moment. In New York, the Jewish Museum is staging an ambitious multimedia exhibition devoted to the late singer-songwriter and poet. Originally presented at the Musée d’art contemporain in Montreal, the show brings together footage, archive material and contemporary art from the likes of Tacita Dean, Candice Breitz and Taryn Simon. Hallelujah indeed.

Then there’s a new documentary about Cohen and Marianne Ihlen – his girlfriend in the ’60s, and the inspiration for ‘So Long, Marianne’ – which will hit our screens in early July. And before that, Christie’s is to auction off a trove of around 50 letters that Cohen addressed to Ihlen, with estimates ranging from $300–$12,000. ‘Have apartment, need wife’, he writes in one missive from 1964. Which is certainly one way of constructing a chat-up line.

Still, this correspondence isn’t the most esoteric piece of Cohen memorabilia to have reached the saleroom of late. Back in 2018, the door to the room he once shared with Janis Joplin at the Chelsea Hotel, New York, went under the hammer in a sale of artefacts from the establishment – which stars such as Jim Morrison and Bob Dylan called home for a time. The lot sold for $85,000; Dylan’s door went for a staggering $100,000.

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