Excellent article in the (Australian) Financial Review...
Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page’s people have been in touch, as have Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan’s.
Perth gallerist Robert Buratti won’t talk about the other customers for his next show – actual and potential – other than to say they include “prominent international and local business figures”.
But even before the November 30 opening night, he has sold $200,000 of the $500,000 total for the 13 works by magician, occultist and all round bad boy Aleister Crowley, variously known in his early 20th-century heyday as “the Great Beast and “the wickedest man in the world”.
The show, which will travel to Sydney next year, is the latest in a flurry of idiosyncratic exhibitions looking to mop up excess cash riding around the wealthy west.
Perth property developer Nigel Satterley recently showed fashionable Australian artist Tim Maguire in a Peppermint Grove mansion renovated for the purpose, a follow up to his 2012 Jeffrey Smart show, at which more than $4 million worth of work changed hands.
Painted during Crowley’s time in the 1920s in Sicily, where he founded the Abbey of Thelema – “a sort of occult boot camp,” says Burratti, the works were studies for the now rotting frescoes that covered the central room, decorated for initiations, of what looked more like a peasant’s cottage than an abbey.
Borderline naive and about as terrifying as a kid’s drawing, only a particularly potent magic – or Crowley’s other favourite, drugs – could have transformed the works into what he intended: an alternative Sistine Chapel. But while the art itself is a bit “hit and miss”, Burratti says they have already attracted interest internationally, not least from devoted Crowley followers such as Page. He has bought everything from Crowley’s clothes and manuscripts to his former estate, Boleskine House, on Loch Ness in Scotland down the years, and once described Page as “a misunderstood genius”. (Crowley’s rockstar cred was famously cemented by his appearance on the cover of The Beatles’ St Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band – alongside Mae West).