the best part

Michael Ovitz, Chinese Aphorisms, and ‘Rent’

Michael Ovitz, not painted on hexed animal skin.Photo: Getty Images

If you’re like us, you greeted the splashy launch of Condé Nast’s huge new business magazine, Portfolio, with a yawn. Not even the presence of Tom Wolfe could get us excited about a business mag, though we did flip through it at the newsstand to see the photo of Wolfe in his sweet customized Cadillac DTS (white, natch). Then we turned to the table of contents and were surprised to see stories on culture: Contemporary art! Hollywood financing! Broadway! Rock and roll! So you don’t have to blow five bucks on Portfolio’s “premier” issue, we’re happy to present the best parts of the magazine’s cultural coverage.

Best argument for being rich: Eileen Daspin’s piece about philanthropists Clement and Karen Arrison, who loan out Stradivarius violins to young musicians in exchange for private concerts.

Juiciest dish: Katrina Booker’s piece on gallery owner Marianna Boesky: We learn that after Michael Ovitz sold off a Barnaby Furnas painting on the eve of the artist’s biggest opening in a seeming attempt to undercut the show’s value, Furnas planned an “Ovitz effigy painting” on hexed animal skin.

Biggest disappointment: Ovitz, Furnas, and Boesky all made up, and plans for the painting are on hold.

Best chart: A graphic accompanying a story on theatrical investment funds, in which investors put their money into a slate of Broadway shows. If you’d put $10,000 into Rent in 1996, you’d have $100,000 today — a pretty fantastic return. Meanwhile, the same investment in Movin’ Out would have returned $15,500. Didn’t that show make money hand over fist?

Best meaningless, Zen-sounding quote from a Chinese artist to cap off an otherwise illuminating piece about the Chinese art market: “It’s like you see a play and you try to follow the feelings to follow the story — but you never know how it will end.”

Michael Ovitz, Chinese Aphorisms, and ‘Rent’