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One for the Detectives: Franz Kline's Ferrari

Discussion in 'Vintage (thru 365 GTC4)' started by merstheman, Feb 2, 2017.

  1. merstheman

    merstheman F1 Rookie

    Apr 13, 2007
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    I was reading an interview with the recently deceased great art critic Dore Ashton, and within it she mentions abstract expressionist painter Franz Kline had a Ferrari. According to her getting a Ferrari was Kline's big dream, and one of the few extravagant purchases he made after becoming a 'big' painter.

    I'd love to know exactly what car this is, as it might just have the coolest 'celebrity provenance' I've ever heard of. There are few clues, however, as to what this car may be.

    Another interview I read with the artist Roy Newell, who was a friend of Kline's back in the day mentions he traded a painting to a collector, getting the car in turn.

    Considering the fact that Kline died in 1962, and really only achieved fame (and financial success) near to his death, I'd say we are looking at a car probably made in the mid to late 1950's. I'm also assuming it is actually a Ferrari, and that it isn't another italian sports car. The reason I say this is because sometimes people who don't really care about cars sometimes throw the term "Ferrari" around when referring to sports cars.

    Anyway, I'm throwing this out there to see if anyone might know the story behind this car, if there are any pictures of him with it, and where it might be now. In my opinion Kline was one of the greatest painters of all time, and knowing he owned a Ferrari (and loved the brand) is just another reason to admire him even more.
     
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  2. JAM1

    JAM1 F1 Rookie
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    As an abstract art fan and collector this is a very interesting topic. I found the following:

    July 8, 1960 "After arriving in New York from Rome, Kline and Elisabeth went to Provincetown for the summer. Kline bought a silver gray Ferrari."

    I wonder if Kline received this particular car in trade or purchased it and traded for a different one. It would be interesting to see what car was traded for what painting and compare values today.
     
  3. merstheman

    merstheman F1 Rookie

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    https://blog.sculpture.org/2014/11/19/salvatore-scarpitta/

    This blog post about Salvatore Scarpitta says Scarpitta named one of his car-themed sculptures Franz's Ferrari, "in honor of the Ferrari's Kline bought but didn't know how to drive."

    An affirmation that I would seriously doubt, but still, another clue...
     
  4. davemqv

    davemqv F1 Rookie

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    No info on Kline but Frank Stella has owned a few Ferrari's, and incorporated pieces of F1 cars into his sculptures.

    Also, I'm an artist and I own one. ;)
     
  5. merstheman

    merstheman F1 Rookie

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    Stella is a big car guy. He used to enjoy going to an F1 race or two.

    Still, considering how many people here know every little thing about the 1950's and 60's cars, I'm surprised no one knows what car Kline owned....
     
  6. davemqv

    davemqv F1 Rookie

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    Agree. That is strange. But nice to at least know there's another precedent for a Ferrari owning artist. One gets a bit of grief for it, to say the least!
     
  7. merstheman

    merstheman F1 Rookie

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  8. ray lewis

    ray lewis Rookie

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    Dear Mario,It is true that Franz Kline had a Ferrari.After becoming successful,he decided he wanted to buy a car.He saw an add for a second hand Ferrari by a private seller in the New York Times want ads.The car and owner were in northeast Pennsylvania,the area where Kline grew up.A friend drove him out there on a weekend to see the car.Kline wanted to buy the car and the owner accepted his offer.Kline proceeded to take out his personal check book to write a check for the car.The owner said,I can't accept a personal check for this sum of money.Kline says, there is a banker in this town that owns one of my paintings, let's call him at home and he'll assure you that my check is good.So they call the banker.The banker says to the seller, who wants to buy your car? The seller says Franz Kline,an artist from New York.The banker says, do not take his check, tell him you want one of his paintings for the car.The seller, knowing nothing about modern art says, you've got to be kidding.On the advice of the banker ,the seller did trade for a painting and Kline drove back to NYC in the Ferrari.This was told to me in the 1968 by Jon Schueler,a painter and younger contemporary of Kline's at the time of the swap.Ray Lewis
     
  9. audi_328

    audi_328 Formula Junior
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    Great story ^
     
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  10. Patek

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    It seems to me that someone, maybe Hurley, told me Frank Stella was in the car with Peter Gregg when they wrecked.
     
  11. merstheman

    merstheman F1 Rookie

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    Fantastic story Ray, thanks for bringing this thread back! Looks like both of them got off pretty well on that deal!
     

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