Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.
Rakewell has been glued to Sky Atlantic’s Riviera, the thriller featuring art collectors, rich junkies, prostitutes and Russian gangsters getting in an almighty (and almightily luxurious) pickle in the south of France.
The pell-mell plot involves the widow and family of a murdered mega-collector, Constantine Clios, facing down an Interpol investigation into his money-laundering while various crooks who have unfinished business with the deceased make life hell for them (over cocktails).
Eagle-eyed picture experts will have noticed that the Clios collection is full of pictures that ought not to be in it… because they’re in museum collections elsewhere. This applies not least to the painting over which Constantine wooed his second wife, Georgina, Claude Lorrain’s Juno Confiding Io to the Care of Argus. The picture has been spirited from the National Gallery of Ireland to the Villa Clios by the enterprising writers of the show. There’s a scene that involves hanging Gauguin’s Tahitian Women (actually in the Musée d’Orsay), too.
Spoiler alert (of sorts): midway through the series, the Interpol brigade barge into the villa and confiscate the entire Clios collection as part of their investigation. Georgina Clios (Julia Stiles) stares, devastated, at the blank wall, the ghost outlines of frames still visible on it.
But hang on… Isn’t that a Brancusi head resting on the sideboard? Don’t the show’s producers (or their fictional cops) realise that these things can now fetch $50 million at auction? Perhaps they mistook it for scrap metal?