Deep Throat isn't the only identity mystery laid to rest recently. Rampant speculation about just who had spent $27.4 million on Brancusi's Bird in Space at Christie's early last month the most ever paid for a sculpture culminated in an art world outing when Colin Gleadell announced in the Telegraph that it was financier Leon Black. He is the 53-year-old founder of the investment management firm Apollo Advisors.
Black and his wife Debra are already well known in the art world, and this revelation just adds to the list of their noteworthy acquisitions. Last month, the New York Times named Black as part of a very small circle of people willing to spend upwards of $10 million on a single work of art. The Brancusi purchase brings them into an even tighter circle: those willing to spend upwards of 20 million on a piece.
A director's note from Phillipe de Montebello on the website of the Metropolitan Museum notes the Blacks' involvement in recent acquisitions. Montebello refers to the Blacks' association with the purchase of Gauguin's 1894 portfolio, saying that "it is my pleasure to observe here that their names are being linked to acquisitions with increasing frequency."
Gleadell's announcement links them to yet another high-level acquisition despite Black's short-lived anonymity.