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Oral history interview with Tony Ganz, 2014 December 6

Oral history interview with Tony Ganz, 2014 December 6

Ganz, Tony, 1947-

Producer

Overview

Collection Information

Size: Sound recording: 4 sound files (2 hr., 4 min.) digital, wav

Transcript: 41 pages

Format: Originally recorded on 2 SD memory cards as 4 digital wav files. Duration is 2 hr., 4 min.

Summary: An interview with Tony Ganz conducted 2014 December 6, by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp, for the Archives of American Art and the Center for the History of Collecting in America at the Frick Art Reference Library of The Frick Collection, at Ganz's home in Brentwood, California.

Ganz speaks of his parents, siblings, and early childhood; growing up in New York city; his family's collection and interest in art; collecting Picasso; going to museums and galleries as a kid; understanding Picasso; Putney School; his interest in photography and film; attending Harvard; making films; meeting his wife; beginning collecting; collecting drawings; building his collection; equity; Eva Hesse; Amber Whiteread; Gordon Matta-Clark; Moving to Beachwood Canyon; Robert Smithson; Paul Thek; Ted Bonin; Claes Oldenberg; Frank Stella; plan for his collection; following one's intuition; ones that got away; and friends in the art world. Ganz also recalls Victor and Sally Ganz, Paul Ganz, Sol Ganz, D. Lisner Jewelry, Chuck Fries, Gail Mutrux, Matthew Marks, Anthony D'Offay, Jeffrey Deitsch, Lee Bontecou, David Zwirner, Adam Weinberg, and Glenn Lowry.

Biographical/Historical Note

Tony Ganz (1947-) is a film producer in Brentwood, California. Hunter Drohojowska-Philp is an art critic and writer from Beverly Hills, California.

Provenance

This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.

Funding

Funding for this interview was provided by Barbara Fleischman.

Transcript

Preface

The following oral history transcript is the result of a recorded interview with Tony Ganz on 2014 December 6. The interview took place at Ganz's home in Los Angeles, California, and was conducted by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. This interview is part of the Archives of American Art and the Center for the History of Collecting in America at the Frick Art Reference Library of The Frick Collection.

Tony Ganz has reviewed the transcript. Corrections and emendations appear below in brackets with initials. This transcript has been lightly edited for readability by the Archives of American Art. The reader should bear in mind that they are reading a transcript of spoken, rather than written, prose.

Interview

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: This is Hunter Drohojowska-Philp interviewing Tony Ganz at his home in Brentwood, that's Los Angeles, CA, on December 6, 2014 for the Archives of American Art Smithsonian Institution card number one.

[. . . –TG]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: The recording system is not probably the very, very best.

TONY GANZ: It's fine. It's fine.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: But it is digital and the actual recorder itself is extremely clear. But you might want to move a little bit closer because I can't quite move too much in your direction. All right. So here we are with Tony Ganz at his home and we're just going to sort of start at the beginning, which is to say: When were you born, specifically? When and where were you born?

TONY GANZ: I was born in New York, on March 23, 1947.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: And you were born to your parents, who were?

TONY GANZ: Victor and Sally Ganz.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.] The famous art collectors. I understand you have three siblings.

TONY GANZ: I do. I have a twin sister Nancy. Kate, the middle sister.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.]

TONY GANZ: We'll leave me out of it, but she's a very distinguished collector and art dealer herself.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.]

TONY GANZ: Again, as an old master drawings dealer—

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.]

TONY GANZ: Excuse me. And the eldest of the four is Vicky.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Okay, so four siblings.

TONY GANZ: They're all smarter than I am. I assure you of that. I think that may be why—I mean I only say that, partly as a joke but not really as a joke because I think it happens to be true. But I have been asked why is the collection so heavily weighted with women artists? I really have no idea. I don't think there's a programmatic—I know there isn't a, sort of, intentional programmatic answer to that. I realize we're getting ahead of ourselves, but I do want to say I think it may have something to do with having had three sisters.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.] And having good relations with them?

TONY GANZ: Yes.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: One assumes.

TONY GANZ: Yes.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Okay and having a powerful mom.

TONY GANZ: Yes, that too.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: If we were to start right at your childhood, we're going to talk about you. Growing up, tell me about the home in which you grew up in New York City?

TONY GANZ: We lived at 1175 Park Avenue and 93rd Street in a big, rangy 12th floor rent-controlled apartment.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.]

TONY GANZ: I think it was quite a sort of straight forward, Upper East Side Jewish upbringing. All three of my sisters went to Brearley. I went to Collegiate School. I do not think—I cannot think of a single occasion on which any of us ever was inside a temple.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: [Laughs.]

TONY GANZ: We did not have a television set. I mean it was a classic, you know—they were Jewish intellectual, German, in the case of my father German Jewish intellectual people interested in ideas and in reading. Neither of them went to college, really. I think my mother went to like a semester at Wisconsin. She was born in Louisville, Kentucky.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.]

TONY GANZ: And Dad was born in New York City and was a profoundly inveterate New Yorker.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.]

TONY GANZ: Grew up on the West Side. His father—do you want me to tell you about this?

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Yeah.

TONY GANZ: I mean I can do it very quickly, but—I mean, there's no question actually their story is infinitely more interesting than mine [laughs.]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Not at all, but your story flows out of theirs, so we should have some background about them as well.

TONY GANZ: Well, I think that—I don't really remember his parents at all, but I know that his father would come home—his father was in the costume jewelry business.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.]

TONY GANZ: And he would come home at night and settle into an armchair and read the paper and fall asleep.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.]

TONY GANZ: And his mother was an iron-willed German Jewish, you know, relentlessly protective kind of maternal figure. He had a brother, Paul, and—who was himself a collector— that's a whole different story—of old masters.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.]

TONY GANZ: Paul was a little crazy. That's the story my sister Kate could tell you, if you really ever wind up interviewing her, or have a particular interest in Paul. It's just interesting that out of this—out of this history of no formal, you know, collegiate education, emerged these two hyper-dedicated collectors.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.]

TONY GANZ: Completely self-generated and self-taught.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.] Paul and Victor. And so and—but Paul—did Paul and Victor inherit your grandfather's jewelry business of just your—

TONY GANZ: No. There's a lot of that I don't really know, but when Dad—Dad dropped out of CCNY, City College of New York, very early. He was very bright. He went to college, I think when he was, you know, like 17.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.]

TONY GANZ: I think he may have done a year or two, and he dropped out and went to work for the jewelry company—

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.]

TONY GANZ: —immediately, and spent the rest of his life working for that company.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.]

TONY GANZ: Paul was a more—Paul did not work for the—the company was D. Lisner, L-I-S-N-E-R, & Company. And actually, in the world of costume jewelry, they kind of—

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Keep going I'm just turning it up.

TONY GANZ: It was a sort of ironic twist. This mere jewelry novice would become himself a collectible.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: [Laughs.]

TONY GANZ: It's true. So he lived to—a kind of schizophrenic life. That is, he went to work dutifully and, you know, would religiously, every day of his life, at 393 Fifth Avenue, running this company, which he took over after his father died.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: And I should just take a moment here to ask, what were your grandparents names, these, your paternal grandparents?

TONY GANZ: Saul and I can't remember my paternal grandmother's name. [Laughs.]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Saul Ganz?

TONY GANZ: Saul Ganz.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.]

TONY GANZ: The thing is—so he lived, you know, a fully committed and fully developed businessman's life.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.]

TONY GANZ: Although it did have a kind of creative component, which was—had to do with designing the jewelry, which I think he was very involved with, actually.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.]

TONY GANZ: That was Victor Ganz's life by day. And by night, and on weekends, he became the art collector we all know.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.]

TONY GANZ: You know, that he became.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.]

TONY GANZ: Beginning with their buying their first picture in 1941, within a few months, I think, of their getting married.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: And that's the Picasso's The Dream

TONY GANZ: Yes.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: —Le Rêve, which they buy for I think $7,000.

TONY GANZ: Yes. Roughly.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Which seems inexpensive today, but was probably considered a decent amount of money in 1941.

TONY GANZ: I think it was.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: You could buy a house, you know, a small house.

TONY GANZ: Yes.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: And how is it that Victor happened to get—how did he get $7,000 cash together in 1941?

TONY GANZ: You know, I don't know. One of my—and maybe this is something that's familiar to you, I've given this some thought knowing that we were going to have this conversation. I think [I regret –TG] some of the questions I didn't ask them.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.]

TONY GANZ: And that was one of them.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.]

TONY GANZ: They were never, by today's standards, you know, remotely wealthy, and yet, I think the entire collection we figured out after my mother's death—dad died in 1987, at age 74.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.]

TONY GANZ: He died—mom died in '97 at age 85.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.]

TONY GANZ: And when we put it all together, they spent less than two million dollars on the collection, in its entirety. Now, of course, they did begin in 1941, although it really began after the war because they bought The Dream in 1941, and then nothing until 1946, when in fact they bought that picture that we looked at in the living room, The Still Life With Blood Sausage. I mean I think that his father's—the D. Lisner Company was really a very successful sort of medium-sized costume jewelry manufacturing company.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.] So they did this, they had these four children, you end up growing up in this apartment increasingly filled with works by Picasso because as I understand—

TONY GANZ: Only.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Yeah. As I understand for 20 years they only collected Picasso.

TONY GANZ: That's right.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: So on that note, did they explain this work to you as children growing up? Or discuss it with you?

TONY GANZ: I have one distinct memory about that.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.]

TONY GANZ: I mean, everything about the art world that, as we all well know, now, retrospectively, was light years from its scope, scale, aesthetic, reach, you know, through the financial realities, all of that, that we're experiencing now.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.]

TONY GANZ: It was a much more constrained universe. I think that—and I don't know how—I think it is right to say, but a scholar would have to really look into this, and it's—I think it's quite an interesting question because by the time he finished around 1960, he—I don't remember the number exactly, but he had acquired roughly 25 Picassos. It may have been the largest Picasso collection in private hands. Certainly in America. And some drawings, not many really, and some prints, but some very significant prints and some sculpture.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: But mostly paintings?

TONY GANZ: Almost entirely paintings. And—

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: And from whom did he by?

TONY GANZ: Well, we could—one could easily—this was all in the book that was—

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Yeah. Yeah. I'm sorry, I shouldn't—

TONY GANZ: No, it's okay. But a good deal of that work came from Kahnweiler, with whom they had an active, ongoing over many years relationship, but there were other dealers in New York. The Seidenbergs, Perls, [Curt Valentin –TG], two or three others whose names I can't think of, but that world existed on Madison Avenue [coughs] excuse me, in the '70s and on 57th Street, I think, and that was essentially it.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.]

TONY GANZ: But the point, or one of the points, is that it was possible for an upper middle class [. . . –TG] guy, not formally educated—completely self-taught, to build a collection like that all by himself. And, of course, you can build a collection like that and wind up with 25 mediocre Picassos. The thing that so distinguishes it, not to mention the second half of this collecting life, with Johns, and Rauschenberg, and Stella, and Eva Hesse [coughs] excuse me—was that he had an unfailingly, penetrating, rigorous, demanding [eye –TG]—and where that came from, you know, in the way of all very talented people, I think is its own, you know, wonderful human mystery.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: So you're growing up with this father. Was he available to you as a father? Would he take you under his wing and say, "Now I want you to understand why I like this material?" Or would you ever be invited to go out and look at galleries with your parents?

TONY GANZ: It was—given the—it was a very sort of casually rendered Picasso upbringing.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: [Laughs.]

TONY GANZ: I mean we were aware that it—and we were children, you know, so—but it's not as if the pictures were cordoned off in any way, or taken with that kind of protective seriousness. The whole attitude in the apartment in the family life was very relaxed, I would say. And I don't really—I remember we used to certainly go to museums together, and often on Saturdays, that was their day, his in particular, we would go to galleries together.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.] So he would take you to galleries.

TONY GANZ: Yes. But I lived, you know, a kids life. I went to Collegiate School, I played in the park. He had no interest in any of that. None. He hated nature. He didn't know how to throw a ball. Girls threw balls better than he threw balls. The one thing that we did together—he was very funny, very funny. And so in that sense, he—was a great deal of fun to be around, and our friends all loved our parents. We wish our parents were like your parents. Of course that's kind of a two-dimensional reading, you know. I mean families are always so much more complicated than that, as we know.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Yes. [Coughs.] Sorry, my tea went down the wrong way.

TONY GANZ: You okay?

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Yeah I will be okay in a second. Two-dimensional reading, yes, but apparently you got along. You didn't feel oppressed by this upbringing?

TONY GANZ: No. No, no I didn't ever—but I remember one thing specifically I have never forgotten this, and my memories of childhood are very few and far between. My sisters remember, you know, have like Proustian recall.

[They laugh.]

I don't know how old I was. I don't know what the occasion was. I don't know what the picture was, but I do remember on a number of occasions saying to my mother. I was probably afraid to say this to Dad. Thinking Picasso, looking at Picasso, "I don't understand it. I don't get it." And I remember her saying to me, at one point, I remember this vividly, her saying, "If you don't get it, I can't explain it to you." I felt sort of hurt by that, actually. I don't think she meant it cruelly. I think in fact she meant you have to get there on your own if you're going to. And then the second half of that is, I don't remember when it was or what it was, but I do remember there was an absolute, sort of, distillate, distinct moment where I looked at a picture once, a Picasso, and I did get it. I completely got it. And that—and I think—

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: How old do you—

TONY GANZ: —I was so pivoted around that moment, in a way.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: About how old were you at that point?

TONY GANZ: I don't know.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Well, like maybe a teenager or a—

TONY GANZ: I think a teenager, a young, I think a young teenager.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: —out of college?

TONY GANZ: Oh yeah, no older than that. But I have to say that I never, ever, a single time thought I would ever collect a work of art.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: And why is that?

TONY GANZ: Because my interests were—you know, I went away to Putney School at whatever, age 14. I left Collegiate, I went to Putney School. I loved it. I was very happy.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Why did you love it there?

TONY GANZ: Well, do you know Putney School?

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: I don't know much about it. Boarding school?

TONY GANZ: But you've heard of it? No, it's a coed school, very progressive, in Vermont. So there you are in the early '60s, '61 to '65, my sister Kate had preceded me there, and I just fell in love with the whole thing. I mean Vermont itself was so beautiful. I think I wanted out of—to get out of New York. I think I wanted to get out of whatever sort of academic claustrophobia it was that Collegiate School probably represented. I mean Collegiate School's a fairly well known, you know, high-octane, rigorous, the second oldest private school, a church—a Dutch-church school.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: [Laughs.]

TONY GANZ: You know, I think that just wasn't my kind of thing, or something.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: So what—what changed for you when you go to Putney School?

TONY GANZ: I got very interested in photography.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.]

TONY GANZ: And I thought I would be a photographer, and it was the beginning of the '60s, and that's what I wanted to do. And then I started on my own, and in a very, very modest little way making—shooting 16mm film. And then I continued—you know, then it was I went to Harvard. It was everything that we both know all about was happening all around us in exactly that moment.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: What years were you at Harvard?

TONY GANZ: '65 to '69. And I wanted to be a photojournalist. And I wanted to make documentary films. And when I graduated, that's all I cared about. I had no interest—I took no art-history classes, I had no interest in the arts per se. I deeply regret that now. You know, I just—but I will say—I wouldn't apply this to myself because it has such a pretentious ring to say this, and it really would not be true, but I remember Michael Fitzgerald saying to my mother at one point, "People who are self-educated never stop learning." And I think, although I missed any and all formal art-history training in an academic sense, I—once I started, once it happened to me, I taught myself whatever I have wound up learning, happened in that way. And that I think is—can be powerful as good a way to learn as any.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Sure. Self-motivating.

TONY GANZ: Yeah.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: And back at Harvard, what kind of person were you then—at Putney and what kind of person were you at Harvard? How does your evolution—how is your evolution as a person? And were you rebelling against your parent at that point?

TONY GANZ: No. I never did.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Like so many people?

TONY GANZ: I never did.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Okay.

TONY GANZ: No, we were always quite close. I would say Kate and I were especially close to Mom and Dad and Nancy and Vicky somewhat less so. But I had, you know, I went back.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: And Kate's your twin?

TONY GANZ: No, that's Nancy. Kate is the middle sister.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Middle sister.

TONY GANZ: Yeah. And Kate—I mean Kate's story is–she has her own story to tell about all of this she went to—she got a Master's at—she went to Berkley and then got a Master's in Art History at Columbia. And then she moved to London with her husband and opened an old master print gallery.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: What a family. You know, back to you. You get out of Harvard then, and it's 1969. The world has changed.

TONY GANZ: And all I wanted to do was make documentary films, and I got a job, I was lucky enough to get a job, I can't believe we're really talking about all of this—but for PBS, doing—making little documentaries. 16mm film for a show called Great American Dream Machine, which was fairly well known at the time. It only ran for a few years. And I had a partner and we had the time of our lives making these little films.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: I saw that there were a few documentaries by you from 1971 that are uploadable, I think, through YouTube.

TONY GANZ: Oh really, they are?

[They laugh.]

Oh, that's funny. Yeah, there was also the show called 51st State, which is a pretty remarkable PBS news show about life in New York City, and we made documentaries for them for a few years, and then I thought, "Oh, well I've learned how to do this, I'm going to go to LA and be a director." And that never even came close to happening, but I—

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: What year did you move to LA?

TONY GANZ: '73.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: And what was your experience like, moving out here to LA? Excuse me. You die-hard New Yorker, you.

TONY GANZ: Well, on the one hand, I'd never really liked Los Angeles. To this day, I don't like Los Angeles particularly. I always missed New York. It—I do believe if Gail weren't, didn't feel so differently—

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: This is Gail your wife, who is also a film producer.

TONY GANZ: Yes. We would have moved back a long time ago because I really missed the city. But when I came out here I dove, you know—

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: This is a good time to give me Gail's last name.

TONY GANZ: Oh. It's Mutrux, M-U-T-R-U-X.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Okay.

TONY GANZ: And I got very involved in trying to develop and produce films. And thought about absolutely nothing else for a long time.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: But you did develop and produce quite a few films.

TONY GANZ: No, not really. Well, I worked for a guy who was—and it was my education—who was an extremely successful television movie producer back in the early days of TV movies. So I learned about the business that way.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: And what was his name?

TONY GANZ: Chuck Fries. He's still alive.

 

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Oh, yes, of course, we know Chuck Fries, F-R-I-E-S, right?

TONY GANZ: How do you know him?

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Believe it or not I know his step-daughter Diane Sherry.

TONY GANZ: Oh. There were many children, yeah.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: He was married to, who's the daughter of his, I assume, I don't really know, I think it's his last wife.

TONY GANZ: Eva?

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Eva.

TONY GANZ: Yeah.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: So the world is small, it's all [inaudible]. So Chuck Fries was your first—

TONY GANZ: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.] And I worked for him for a long time, for I don't remember, eight years of something. You don't really want to hear this, but—

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: I want to know now, you're working for this man, making TV movies. Eventually, you do make films that are—you make, you make Clean and Sober with Michael Keaton, which was a pretty major film, and Gung Ho, which I haven't seen, and—

TONY GANZ: Oh, it's a riot, you've got to see it. Gung Ho is also Michael Keaton.

[Cross talk.]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: It's also Michael Keaton. And I picked a few up off of—

TONY GANZ: That's all right. We don't need to discuss the others.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: But you see you did what a lot of people do here. You worked in the trenches, and then eventually you got to do your feature films.

TONY GANZ: Yes.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: And so you had success in this area.

TONY GANZ: Yes. To that point, but then, and this gets us—

[cell phone vibrating]

—finally to the thing we really want to talk about, which is that in the early '80s, I felt completely consumed by my own ambition to make, produce films. Is that—

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: It's yours. Or maybe it's mine, but I'm ignoring it. Somebody's phone.

TONY GANZ: Okay. All right. I bought a little house in Beachwood Canyon, and I called Dad, one of his genius—I mean just to double back, just for a moment. I mean we can be swallowed whole by talking about Victor and Sally Ganz, but the last picture they bought, which was I—the last Picasso they bought was I think in around about 1960 and you saw it in the Lauder collection. We called it the Woman with the Golden Breast. It's that great surrealist picture of a woman in an armchair.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Beautiful.

TONY GANZ: A great, great picture. And, I mean you could imagine, here he was this man I described to you. Their living room, that picture, was directly across from the The Dream. And between them was Diver. And other amazing things.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: You mean Jasper Johns' Diver.

TONY GANZ: Yes. Anyway, he—that was the last Picasso they bought. The prices had—they caught up with him finally. I think they paid $200,000 for that picture, but I may be wrong about that. It was no longer possible, plus they'd been doing it for 20 years. It filled the apartment, and in that—right around then, they had begun to develop relationship, a friendship even, with Leo Castelli, and one thing led to another, and he bought his first Johns in 1960 or '61. And Rauschenberg. And then he began—and he never bought another Picasso, and then he—this is all well-known material, he pursued that work.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: So he—the same dedication that he applied to Picasso, he now applied to contemporary art after 1960.

TONY GANZ: Yes. Yes. Specifically Johns and Rauschenberg. And somewhat later, Frank Stella.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: And at that point, you're at Putney School.

TONY GANZ: At that point, I'm yeah leaving Putney School, going to Harvard. You know, I still think, well this is—I knew then because the art world had begun to erupt in the way that it did in the '60s in New York, so I had this real clear sense that he had done a remarkable thing. But it was—and I—but I never thought it would touch me in any direct way then.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: So when you buy the little house in Beachwood Canyon?

TONY GANZ: I call him, and I say, "Dad, I bought the house. White walls all around." Yeah, I got off the track there, I'm sorry.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: No.

TONY GANZ: One of the things that he did in his way was that he acquired every print that Jasper made at ULAE, and there certainly was not enough room in that apartment to begin to hang all of that work because there were a lot of painting at that point in the apartment. And I said, "Would you mind sending me out some prints that are just thrown in storage? This is now, I don't know, 1983 or something like that. And this I remember vividly. He—so he does, and I hang them. And I'm immediately kind of riveted by them. And I call him again and say, "Well, would you send some more?" And he says, "Well," I think he had all of us sort of secretly hoped this would happen, he said, "You know, Jasper's just produced a new print, a tryptic called Voice 2. Why don't you buy one?" And he said, "I'm buying one. Why don't you buy one?"

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: [Laughs.]

TONY GANZ: I think they were $7,500. And I had the money, and was able to do that, and I did it. And I've often thought of this metaphor. I think it's reasonably apt. It was like, for better or worse, like one of those '40s or '50s, you know, ridiculous sort of archeologist goes to Egypt horror movies where he finds some seed-pod in a tomb. He brings it back to the laboratory, leaves it overnight in a Petri dish with water, and comes back in the morning and the thing has like taken over the whole fucking lab.

[They laugh.]

I am telling you, you know, by the time I got it back from the framer, it was all over for me.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: [Laughs.]

TONY GANZ: That really is what happened.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Great. So here you are with your little bit of money, and you're getting—and in the '80s you actually do quite a few movies. Several—at least four are big movies come out that are produced by you in the '80s. Now are you still a single man at this point?

TONY GANZ: Yes.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Okay, is Gail your first wife?

TONY GANZ: Yes.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: So you're a successful movies and presumably making a little bit of money.

TONY GANZ: Yeah. Very little, really. The idea that producers make money is—you know this to be true—it's actually sort of laughable. You can make money in television, but.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Okay.

TONY GANZ: Scott Rudin makes money, but.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: I was going to say. Some producers make money.

TONY GANZ: Some producers make money.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: So you have—

TONY GANZ: Thousands do not.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: So how do you pursue your new collecting passion with your little bit of money.

TONY GANZ: Let me tell you one other story because I think it's fairly comical. I called, and I said, "Dad, I was just looking at a Sotheby's—a print catalogue, and there's a small Twombly etching that's very beautiful, and it's in for like $3,500, you know, $3,500 to $4,500, something like that. Would you bid on it for me?" He—I think he was secretly delighted at this idea. "Oh, of course, I would be happy to do it. You know, I'll be in the room. I'll take care of it." I said, "Dad, now I don't have—I can't really go past a high estimate. Maybe I could go to $5,000." He said, "Okay, don't worry. I understand." So I wait for the phone to ring all day, and it rings at the end of the day, and he's terribly excited, and he says, "We got it." It's sort of like the dad I never had going out to the park, throwing the old ball around or something, and I got drafted into, you know, some farm system, the Dodgers or something. We did this. And so we're talking about—you know, he said, "It's a beautiful print, congratulations." All this stuff was sort of the first thing, aside from Voice 2. At the end of the conversation, I said, "Well, how much was it, Dad?" And he said, "$14,000."

[They laugh.]

I tell that story because you now understand everything you need to know about why Victor Ganz—or how Victor Ganz became Victor Ganz.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Well, I also then—so you're in a position where you say, "But Dad, I don't have $14,000."

TONY GANZ: Honestly, I don't remember how that got worked out. I still have the prints. You know, that print was in Tanya Grossman's bedroom when she died.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.]

TONY GANZ: It is a beautiful little print.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.]

TONY GANZ: Anyway, there I was. So to make a long story a little shorter, what happened was I did continue buying Johns' prints for a little while, but what I really got caught up in—those years happened to coincide directly with Frank Stella doing his amazing print making work with Ken Tyler. Those very large scale great, great groundbreaking prints. They were, you know, astonishing. Virile, experimental, fearless, all things that he himself is. And I bought quite a number of them. And—

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: From?

TONY GANZ: From Ken Tyler.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Directly from Ken Tyler?

TONY GANZ: Yep. And kind of filled the house with them. I mean I bought maybe six or eight of them. But I—clearly I had inherited a sense of no restraint—

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: [Laughs.]

TONY GANZ: —without realizing it. I also had inherited the impulse of—it's not as if I figured any of this out for myself because I did not. I had inherited the impulse to [. . . –TG] collect, not that I thought of myself as a collector, but vertically. I mean I was very happy to buy Frank Stella prints and nothing else. And that was, you know, really generated its own knowledge and understanding and all of that.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: That's interesting.

TONY GANZ: And that came directly from them because-—

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Okay so here we are in the '80s, and you're just getting rolling as a collector, and it's taking over your life, and then doesn't your father pass away at that point?

TONY GANZ: Well, what happened was, I feel like this is taking too much time, it's not that interesting.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Okay. It's not uninteresting.

TONY GANZ: We'll get through this quickly. A woman named Gail Mutrux walks into my office. I had an office at Disney at this point.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: What year is this?

TONY GANZ: '85 or '6, '86 I would say. And I had these Johns' prints in my office. And my experience had always been that people would come into the office, and without fail no one would ever remark on them in any way. And she walked in and looked around and said, "Oh, are these Gemini or ULAE?"

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: [Laughs.]

TONY GANZ: And I thought, "Hmm, maybe we can go out to dinner sometime." And so we started going out, and I only tell this because it's kind of a funny anecdote, I think. And she said to me one day, "Well, aren't you going to invite me over to your place to show me, you know, all these prints you've told me about, these Frank Stella prints and stuff?" So I did. As far as I'm concerned, I feel unequivocally about this, the greatest print he ever made or will make was called Pergusa. And it happened that I owned it. And you can Google it and have a look at it you'll see what I mean. Really beautiful print. Last few years, I've been trying to find it again and can't. Anyway, dad had been approached by a—also dad helped me very much with Ken Tyler, introducing me to Ken Tyler—so suddenly, we're on the phone talking about collecting prints through these years. A graduate student in art history had approached dad and said she wanted to write a paper about Pergusa because she had this idea that it was taken from a Picasso painting. There are many of these, and of course there are sculptures as well of a woman combing her hair in front of a mirror. That there's a distinct relationship between what appears to be, you know, this abstracted image and this Picasso, not abstracted image. And dad had worked with her on this idea because he was so deeply involved with both Stella and Picasso. So I knew this. And so we walk into the house, Gail and I, and she looks around the living room. There are a number of these prints in the room, and she looks up at Pergusa and she says, "Oh, a Picasso-Stella."

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: [Laughs.]

TONY GANZ: So that night, I call—I remember calling Mom and Dad and tell them this story, and there's a long pause, and Dad says, "Marry her." And then within a year, at age 74, out of nowhere, he is stricken with lung cancer and dies.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: How sad.

TONY GANZ: Yeah, it was very sad.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: But he got to see you become a collector before he went.

TONY GANZ: Yeah.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: He got to know that you were going to be involved in his passion.

TONY GANZ: Yes. To a certain extent, that's true. I hadn't bought any drawings, it was all prints. And after he died, within a few weeks, we went, Gail and I, this is where it all really started, to London, and I think it was the trip that I'd, we we're—I guess what happened was we were shooting Clean and Sober, it wrapped, and we decided to go to London. And she, I would never have done this, of course, but she researched some galleries in London, among them D'Offay, who I'd never even heard of, I knew nothing really about the art world. I mean I knew—I had a very limited kind of, you know, through the reverse telescope of my parents. And we went there, and met the very young Matthew Marks. And Gail said to me, at some point on that trip, "Why don't you quit screwing around, and start buying drawings if you really want to do this?" And the first drawing we bought was a really beautiful Twombly watercolor.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: From?

TONY GANZ: From Matthew. From D'Offay. And that began for me also a relationship with Matthew, which has lasted all these years.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: And how much did you pay for that first drawing? About?

TONY GANZ: I'd have to look it up. It wasn't inexpensive. I really don't remember. It might have been $60,000. I mean, those—

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: It's a lot of money.

TONY GANZ: It was a lot of money. You know, it was a big commitment. And the other thing was we had been in Margo Leavin's office, Gail and I together, right around this period, and she had a beautiful drawing on the wall. I mean I really was just starting. My art history knowledge was very specific to what I had experienced at home. And I asked her what it was, and she said that's a David Smith drawing, which was a complete revelation to me. But we both thought it was absolutely beautiful. And it happened Matthew and Anthony D'Offay had begun working with the Smith estate in Europe. And Matthew called me some while later and said, "We've just come back from Bolton Landing with a whole group of beautiful Smith drawings." And I said to Gail, and this again I think partly had to do with youth and partly had to do with the kind of person Dad was as a model. I said, "Let's get on a plane and fly to London." It's not a kind of thing I've ever actually done, again. But I was completely intoxicated by the whole thing, and we looked at them and we bought several. And then I was really in trouble.

 HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: [Laughs.] Well, or not because, you know—

TONY GANZ: Yeah, well.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: —it's like it's its own reward in many ways.

TONY GANZ: Yes. It's not like putting it up your nose, or buying cigarette boats, or.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: So how does your taste form from that point on? Now you have your Twombly drawing, you have your Smith's drawing, then how does your taste form? It's—you're clearly very dedicated to drawings. I mean your house is, I would say, primarily drawings.

TONY GANZ: Yes, it is.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: So how did you make that distinction, or that decision to sort of cleave to that?

TONY GANZ: Well, of course I knew you would ask that question, and it's something that, you know, [clears throat] excuse me, I've asked myself. I mean it's the obvious question that one would ask any drawings collector. I think on the one hand—you have to say that the kinds of people I began—artists—to be interested in and really gripped by were, first of all they weren't painters in the main. They were sculptors and conceptual artists like, say, Smithson. And the other thing was that I wasn't then and never have been in a position to buy large scale sculptural work, even then, in the—'80s. I mean the prices were laughable by today's standards, but still it was a lot of money and I couldn't possibly do that. But I do think that I—whatever this is worth, and I have thought about this a lot, I think from early on, even at home in that apartment, I had just had some innate feeling about drawings. And I think that any drawings collector, regardless of whatever the financial economic realities and circumstances might be of their lives, I think that has to—that switch has to have been thrown, you know, in the beginning. And then of course you get into sort of all the clichés about what is it that is so great about drawings. I mean, the sense of intimacy. The kind of human touch. The feeling that they're done, you know, in a moment. I mean, Jasper Johns does not do a drawing in a moment, but, they're carefully calibrated and considered and all of that. But still, there is, I think, a very tender human quality that drawings have that—and if you respond to that or it grips you in some way, there you are.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Well it's also interesting because you have that, but you're also collecting those drawings by people whose work isn't normally associated with that realm, like Smithson or Matta-Clark or, I'm talking about Gordon Matta-Clark, Robert Smithson. Even, you know, in the other room you have Richard Serra, you know? It's interesting because you think of that work as being almost doing—that you're finding a side to the artist that isn't so frankly on display. Would you agree with that?

TONY GANZ: I think it's more—I understand what you're saying, and I wouldn't disagree with it, but I think it's obviously more three dimensional than that. I mean—this isn't actually answering your question. If you said to me, you could spend the rest of your life living with, I mean, a ridiculous idea but, you know, living with a house filled with Johns' drawings or Johns' paintings, which would you prefer? I don't think I would have to think about that at all.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: That's great. That's very interesting.

TONY GANZ: And, I mean this is-—there are no absolutes to say the least in any of this, but I feel, in a lot of ways, the same about Picasso. And those two bodies of work on paper are clearly the great drawing productions of the 20th century. They are also the two great printmakers of the 20th century.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.] All right, so now you're totally caught up in it. What year do you and Gail get married?

TONY GANZ: On the year after Dad died. No, no it was a couple years later, actually. I can't remember now if it was '89 of '90. I guess '90.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: And you, together—now how much—how involved is Gail in the collecting?

TONY GANZ: She's very involved, but in the same way that my parents was a true partnership. But if at some early juncture Dad had, for whatever reason, decided to stop collecting, or had to stop collecting, she would never have bought a single picture again. And I would say, very roughly speaking, the same is true for Gail. I mean I don't think that Gail, although she loves the whole experience of living with the work and the friendships that have come—you know, been generated by and relationships that have been generated by our involvement in the art world. The obsessional, insatiable, indefensible, neurotic, narcissistic, acquisitive, you know, errant gene that drives collectors? That ain't in her.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: So she's lucky.

TONY GANZ: She's lucky, yeah.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Let's put—stop this and put in a new disk. So we do—

[END OF TRACK ganz14_1of2_sd_track01_r]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: This is Hunter Drohojowska-Philp, interviewing Tony Ganz at the artists' home in Los Angeles, California, On December Sixth, 2014, and for the Archives of American Art Smithsonian Institution, card number two.

[END OF TRACK ganz14_2of2_sd_track01_r]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: This is disk two with Tony after we've had a little pound cake and we're revived. And we were talking about, at this point, it's—your father has passed away, but you've—not without leaving you as being a dedicated collector of drawings.

TONY GANZ: Well, I was starting, insipient. The thing was I didn't have any money. I was making very little money, and I guess looking back on it as a kind of indication of how far gone I was. I mean how beyond—

[They laugh.]

You know, I was—[. . . –TG] I had this idea, and I went to Citibank Private Bank, which at that time, I think Jeffrey Deitsch was an important, maybe instigating force, though I didn't meet him. I think I spoke to him on the phone. It doesn't matter. I—the thing is I went to them and I said: "Look, I don't—I'm making very little money," which was true, "but I have this—but I want to build a collection, and you know my parents collection very well. And it would be kind of an act of trust and faith, but if you are willing to bet on the reliable likelihood that I will inherit at least some of that money someday, I would like to open a line of credit for a million dollars." And they said, "We don't normally lend as little at a million dollars."

[They laugh.]

 "But because of Victor and Sally, et cetera, et cetera, we'll do it." And they did it. And that is why and how and the only reason I was able for the next 10 years to collect. And I spent that million dollars over the next 10 years, from the time that Dad died, in '87, to the time that Mom died in '97.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Can I just say that this is something?

TONY GANZ: Is that light in your eyes?

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Not at all. This is like completely crazy. Thank you.

TONY GANZ: Is that your pen?

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.]

TONY GANZ: You're the only—excuse me for interrupting, but I love these pens.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: So do I.

TONY GANZ: I bought like 40 of them.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Yeah. They are the best pens.

TONY GANZ: They are the best pens. You're the only person I know who has these pens.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: I keep going back and getting more.

TONY GANZ: That's what I do.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: And just for the record, Tony and I both love the Zebra.

TONY GANZ: The Zebra.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: The Zebra 301, which is just terrific. Anyway, I have to say this is slightly—did you know at the time that this was slightly mad? Or did you actually think this was actually going to be—it was a business—a calculated business risk on your part?

TONY GANZ: I didn't think there was any risk of any kind. I mean, I knew—none of us knew what the collection was going to be worth even then.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: You mean your parents collection?

TONY GANZ: Yes. My parent's collection. But I did know that certainly when Mom died, whenever that day came, my share of the estate would be more than a million dollars. And that's all I cared about. Just to double back for one second, I want to say this because, I mean it has more to do with collecting than anything I could say about myself. Dad—Mom and Dad came out to Los Angeles in May of '87, and Dad was 74 years old, and I spent a wonderful day with him driving around looking at Frank Gehry houses. He'd made little notes in his obsessively perfect, tiny handwriting and a little Hermès notebook that he kept in his jacket pocket. And he knew exactly what he wanted to see. He basically hated LA If it wasn't New York or Europe it wasn't for him. And I took him back to my house in Beachwood Canyon for the first time, and he saw the prints and everything, and he was very supportive, and that meant a lot to me. I remember that.

And when they went back to New York, and no—I'm skipping the whole point of the story, actually, in a way. We drove down to my sister Vicki's house in Orange County for dinner that night, he and I. And he said to me, and in a general way I knew this had been true for his whole collecting life, he said, "I don't have any money, and I don't know what to do." Now, he said, "I guess I have to sell something." I said, "What do you mean you don't have any money?" He said, "I have maybe a couple hundred thousand dollars in the bank." And I said, "Dad, you could walk into any bank, anywhere on Earth and get a line of credit for any amount of money you could possibly need for the rest of your life, using the collection as collateral." "Oh, really, do you think so? Oh, I don't know that I would do that. I really—do you think?" I mean he really in a way—what that collection was, what it proved to be worth, his place in art history, all of that, it's not that he was completely naive, I don't mean to suggest that. He was very knowledgeable and sophisticated, and smart. Very, very smart. But two things. One is that the art world was on the cusp of its, you know, this kind of volcanic event that, you know, was about to happen and has been happening ever since. But it hadn't quite happened then. And the other was that I think he still, you know, as I said, if you add all of the invoices up, for everything, you know, it was less than two million dollars. So we had that conversation, and he said, "Well, I guess so. Maybe that's what I'll do. I'll think about it." And he went to London. They went to London a couple weeks later, and he—visiting Kate, and on the last day of that trip, he got up and he was shaving and he found a little bump on his neck. That was in July. And he was dead—he died in October.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Wow. And he had no symptoms? Like no—

TONY GANZ: Nothing. Nothing. It wasn't until they knew, when they did a needle biopsy—we we're shooting Clean and Sober when this dreadful thing happened and he—I remember the phone call because they did a needle biopsy of this thing, which then became more like a golf ball than a little [bump –TG]. And they knew it had come from somewhere else in his body, but they didn't know what kind of cancer it was or its primary site. And they did this needle biopsy and it came back malignant. And he knew at that—I found out at that phone call that he had a year to live, which turned out to be about four months.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: And the other thing that happens after your father passes away is that, if I understand correctly, your mother had to sell some of the art to support herself.

TONY GANZ: That's true.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Because she had to—pursuant to the conversation you just related it to me. So—

TONY GANZ: We had that first sale at Sotheby's.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: So twelve paintings were sold, and nobody had to go get a line of equity.

TONY GANZ: No, that was a complicated—emotionally complicated difficult, traumatic family event. I mean, without going into detail, I was against it. I thought it was completely unnecessary to sell much of anything because I knew how great the pictures were individually, and, you know, that they would only be worth, in every sense worth more and more with every year that passed. But anyway, the decision was made by other people to have that auction.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: And so your father passes away. Some of the pictures are sold from your mother's and father's collection to support your mother.

TONY GANZ: Yes.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: You—

TONY GANZ: The interest from that, the money that's generated from that sale, was made available to her.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.] Oh, the interest was made available to her?

TONY GANZ: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: I see. So the principle then was divide between you and your siblings?

TONY GANZ: No. It was kept in, I don't know what the legal vocabulary of that was at the time, but that money—she couldn't touch that money and we couldn't either, which was fine. None of us felt—we didn't want, we weren't looking, expecting, wanting that to happen. We just wanted her to be comfortable and be taken care of and not worry. But there was no distribution of money.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.] So essentially, you're in the same situation. If you want to keep collecting, you have to go off your line of equity.

TONY GANZ: And I—the ten years between his death and her death, and the first thing I did after she died, and some money was distributed to the four children, was to pay that line of credit off.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.] And when you look back at what you bought with your line of credit, how do you perceive your track record as a collector? I mean did the works you bought go up in value?

TONY GANZ: Oh, yes. I mean—

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Not that that's the motivation.

TONY GANZ: Yeah. No, no. [. . . –TG] I began by this conviction, which now seems sort of laughably obvious, but, and without going into a lot of detail about this, it's a whole other story, but I had—Mom and Dad were very involved with Eva Hesse, as you know.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.]

TONY GANZ: And—

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Well let's just quickly lets—for the record, as I understand it, your father saw the last Eva Hesse show?

TONY GANZ: The only—the Fischbach Gallery show, the only one person, woman, show that she actually ever had. And that was in 1968, I guess. I mean it's kind of a well told story, you know, or often told. It was a Saturday, Mom was tired, she went back to the apartment; he kept going in his relentless way, on 57th street. He went to Marlborough. There was a cocktail party there. He didn't want any part of that. He went upstairs to the Fischbach, and walked into this exhibition. And Eva was there. And I believe, and all of us felt this way, they had stopped collecting by then. It had been quite some years since they had bought, you know, what had happened with the Picassos had been happening with Johns and Rauschenberg so it was really no longer possible because in the early days of the '60s, they were buying great, great Johns' and Rauschenberg's for, you know, $3,000, $4,000, $6,000. Major combines. And, you know, and that was, it was just over and had been over for a while.

And anyway, he looks at this work, meets her, and in the way of whatever it is that a brilliant collector has, he immediately started, and brought some work home. And it was a whole wonderful story after that. Also, he fell for her. She looks like Kate, you've seen her picture. Sort of looks like my sister, Kate. And the three of them became very friendly. I mean she lived down in the Bowery, you know where her studio was. And I, on a few occasions, met her, came down from college to spend the weekend with them, and she would be there. At this point, she was getting ill, and I remember that quite distinctly, and I remember driving her home with Dad one evening, and putting my hand on the small of her back and pushing her up the stairs to her studio, that little one, 136, I think the Bowery or 138. But my point is, he—it was actually after her death when they acquired either 12 or 13 major sculptures from the estate. But before then, he had begun to show the work, so to speak, in the apartment, but immediately after her death, in the spring of 1970, I think it took a year or two for the deal to be made, but suddenly, when you went to 10 Gracie Square, you weren't looking at—and I thought this was remarkable, you know, collecting conviction and courage. You're looking at the work of an unknown artist next to these great pictures of the 20th century.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: When you say 10 Gracie Square, that's because that's where your parents moved after they left Park Avenue?

TONY GANZ: Yeah.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: They moved back down—

TONY GANZ: They moved there in 1969, I think.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: [Affirmative.] But you've continued to collect Eva Hesse after that.

TONY GANZ: Well, I got us a little off the track there, but I think my first real commitment was to start buying Hesse drawings with that money. I was in love with her drawings, and they were absolutely affordable. Yeah.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: When you say affordable, what would that price range be?

TONY GANZ: Well, I remember that, it was of course all of these numbers are ridiculous by—given the way most people have to live their lives, it's a given. But I remember Margo Leavin called me one day and said, "I have a really good Hesse drawing." I said, "What page is it on in the Overland catalogue?" And she told me. I knew these catalogues very well. It's that great large-circle drawing, which really is one of the great—

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: It's great.

TONY GANZ: —drawings. I said, "I'll be there in half-an-hour." This is not a story about how brilliant I was, believe me, but she showed it to me. I couldn't believe it, it was so beautiful. I said, "How much is it?" She said, "$75,000." Which I didn't really have, but I thought okay, and I said, "Fine." And I bought it. Because and I guess all that kind of—and that's what I've always done. I guess I knew that intuitively from him. If you could ask me anything about what I think it takes to collect successfully, I don't mean in a financial sense, but it's I guess true of everything and anything else in life, if you have complete confidence and conviction and belief in your own instincts, then you can do anything. Nothing else matters.

I remember I was very friendly with Dan Weinberg, this is now in the '80s, and he called me one day, this is when his gallery was in San Francisco, before he moved down here. He said, "I have spent years carefully putting together a Lee Bontecou show of drawings. I said, "Really, I didn't know she really made drawings." I'd never seen one. I knew the sculpture, of course. A little. And he, I remember this perfectly. He sent me like a dozen transparencies, and I really I don't mean this in a self-serving way, I just mean I looked at them, I called them, and I bought six of them. I just knew. You know, the way you do at a certain point in your life when you've found something you're reasonably good at.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: So did you put aside to any extend your profession as a film producer to pursue this as your primary activity?

TONY GANZ: No. But I have to say, it's a kind of confession in a way, as the years—this is a whole other conversation, but the film business, as you very well know, became something that it wasn't when I came out here in the '60s and the early '70s. In addition to being driven by other forces, corporate kind of forces, you know, corporations buying studios, all of that stuff. Putting all those considerations aside, it became increasingly maddeningly difficult to get good movies made. That's not to say that if I could have gotten a shitty movie made, I wouldn't have made one of those.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: [Laughs.]

TONY GANZ: But getting anything made, and as that became more and more of a problematic given, I would say that the grip that this whole thing had on me was increasing in sort of some inverse relationship. That's true.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Well, I'm sure it's more rewarding?

TONY GANZ: It is certainly more rewarding [Laughs.]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: [Laughs.] And now so as you build—as you start out with these Hesse drawings, and then how does your collection—what is the progression by which you develop your collection, which artist do you collect first?

TONY GANZ: Well, I'd have to think through a little—we're taking a little time to actually work that out, but I thought of this a bit before you came over. A couple of things happened. I can't remember exactly the order in which they happened. Mom dies, and it's suddenly obvious to me that I can, for better or worse, I can start buying art with more of a vengeance. Not a vengeance by today's standards, but—and the first thing that happened was I got a postcard for a Sotheby's sale. I mean this is ironic in a way when I think back on it. Do you remember that crazy—

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: You were saying?

TONY GANZ: It's was a crazy, what's sort of wonderfully crazy Boston doctor who was put in charge of the hospital finances, their pension plan, whatever it was. This is now the late '90s, 1997, actually. And he, without anyone realizing he was doing it, he drained millions of dollars from the hospital fund and bought art. Remember this?

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: [Laughs.] No I don't.

TONY GANZ: It's a great story.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Okay. Okay.

TONY GANZ: He went to jail for this. Anyway, Sotheby's sold that collection, and one of the postcards they sent out to promote the sale was of the Rachel Whiteread Amber Mattress that we looked at in the studio. That comes in the mail. Now I didn't really know her. I knew who she was, and I knew about House and the Turner prize, and that was sort of all I knew. But if you've been doing a thing long enough with a certain intensity, you're familiar with the atmospherics of what's going on—anyway, this arrives, I still have the postcard. I showed it to Gail, this is a month after Mom died, I said, "We're buying that goddamn Mattress and I don't care what it costs." And then we started buying Rachel Whiteread's work at every given opportunity for the next five years. One thing I've learned, which I think interesting, I've seen this happen over and over again, in the case of someone like Rachel. Right in the beginning, there are a handful of people, usually friends, who buy the work for almost literally nothing, like a hundred pounds. Then if Rachel Whiteread turns out to be Rachel Whiteread, five or six years go by and suddenly these people realize that the plaster tub they bought is worth a lot of money. So there is a window that opens for a brief period when all of that work becomes available. I mean I'm oversimplifying it, but that's what happened in her case.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: You mean after the initial inexpensive work, a few years later, people go, "Oh, my gosh, now it's worth $50,000, or $100,000, I'm going to sell it."

TONY GANZ: Yes.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: They decide to cash out before—they're not in it for the long haul, they want to cash out.

TONY GANZ: No. I mean, they we're friends. They were people of no means. They're not in the art world.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Okay.

TONY GANZ: It's a great opportunity and they seize it.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Okay.

TONY GANZ: I seized, in her case, seized that same opportunity. That's really how we built that collection. Interestingly, that led, my sister Kate's daughter Lilly, who was a senior at Yale, and this is now, I don't know, I've lost track, 15 years ago, decides, for her own reasons, that she wants to write a senior paper about Rachel Whiteread. Rob Storr was a very close friend of Mom before she died. They spent an enormous amount of time together. He went and visited her almost every night in her apartment on his way home.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Ah [Affirmative].

TONY GANZ: Anyway, I guess Kate probably suggested to Lilly that she go speak to Rob about Rachel Whiteread, which she did. I remember talking to Lilly after that conversation, and I asked what he had said. She said he began talking about, not in a sort of not in a terribly directly programmatic way, but he talked about an artist named Gordon Matta-Clark. I said, "Oh, that's pretty interesting. I really don't know that work." I should know that work, but I really don't know that work. So I did homework. Then it happened that there was a show at the Whitney and a sculpture, an important sculpture of Matta-Clark's was in it, and I went and saw it, and I called David Zwirner and said, "If I come to New York," they're handling the estate, in which few people had any interest, and I said, "Can you show me some work?" I will never forget this, this is still when he was on either Wooster or Greene Street in a little space, and I went there, and they got a lot of work out of storage and put it all around the room, leaning against the gallery walls, and I just thought it was that he was an absolute genius, that is was just so obvious, there was just no question about it. I began doing everything I could, with their help, they were very generous to me, in buying Matta-Clark.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: That connection to Rachel Whiteread really is very interesting. So there is a sort of progression of interests here.

TONY GANZ: Yeah, I guess that's true. But I think, I do think, [. . . –TG] I think that the connection—you could make it a literal connection if you felt like it, but it wasn't literal to me. It was emotional. I just felt like, at this point, after all these years, looking at all the art I'd looked at, suddenly, there I was standing in the middle of Gordon Matta-Clark and I remember thinking to myself, "How is it possible that this body of work is still largely intact? He's a complete genius."

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: So you bought quite a few pieces by Gordon Matta-Clark that you have here. You have bought the drawings, and you have bought the piece that—

TONY GANZ: The Cibachrome prints.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: —and the piece that has the two X's in it that's sort of a model based on that work that he had done.

TONY GANZ: Yes. These glass bricks that are here in the sun porch that's an early piece where he melted down bottles, coke bottles and stuff. I mean I wish I'd bought more.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: And the valise. The little valise filled with broken glass.

TONY GANZ: The little valise, and there's some other works that we have. I mean it's incredibly lucky.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: So you have what is now a gallery filled with Rachel Whiteread sculptures. I mean, where are you putting all these things when you live in your Beachwood house? Or did you already move up here?

TONY GANZ: Oh, no, right after Mom died, within a year we had bought this house.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Okay. So you moved up from Beachwood Canyon to the bigger house, the bigger of your houses actually?

TONY GANZ: Actually, it doesn't really matter. But when Gail and I got married, I sold my little Beachwood house, she sold her Nichols Canyon house and we sort of met in the middle and bought a really nice, it no longer exists, smaller than this house, but eastern in feeling the way this is, a house in Outpost.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Then when the Paul Williams became available, you were able to make the move— [. . . –TG]

TONY GANZ: Yeah.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Anyway, so now you've got a space to put these things in. So you put your Rachel Whiteread's here, your Gordon Matta-Clarks, and then after that, can you tell me a little more about the progression?

TONY GANZ: I think I skipped over something important, which is while Mom was still alive, I remember this really like it was yesterday. We went to an important exhibition at the Whitney, and I should but I can't remember, I have the catalogue somewhere, it's really a well-known moment of American sculpture. I think Eva actually had a piece in it. And the Whitney door, elevator door, opened and I knew exactly what this looked at, I'd never seen this before, and right in front of us, on that Whitney floor, were two or three Robert Smithson sculptures, those sand and mirror sculptures. I thought to myself that they are the most beautiful things that I'd ever seen in my life. I just—wiped me out. I certainly didn't have the money then to do anything about that, but I thought I could buy drawings.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: But you must have known Spiral Jetty.

TONY GANZ: I knew Spiral Jetty. But that was about it.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: But you'd never seen the sculptures?

TONY GANZ: I'd never seen the sculptures.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: The site/non-site pieces?

TONY GANZ: I didn't know what site/non-site meant.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Okay.

TONY GANZ: Went down to John Weber, and they start pulling out great drawings for $8,000. No one gave a shit. Crazy. And then we stayed on that for ten years.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: When you collect like this, do you try to keep your decision making private?

TONY GANZ: No.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: You're not worried about saying, "Well, I just got all these drawings from Smithson drawings, they were only eight grand and people are going to race off and get them?"

TONY GANZ: No.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: You don't talk about—you speak freely about what you've bought?

TONY GANZ: Sure. Yeah. I really wouldn't take myself that seriously.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: [Laughs.]

TONY GANZ: Really, you know, I think that would be ridiculous.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: So now we have a big body of work by Smithson and Weber—Smithson and Whiteread and Gordon Matta-Clark. Then what's your next—

TONY GANZ: And Bontecou.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: And Bontecou.

TONY GANZ: And then, and I'd have to give this some thought, I can't remember quite how this happened, but then I met Ted Bonin. He showed me the work of Paul Thek. No, I do know what happened. A dealer in Santa Barbara called me one day and said, "Do you know who Paul Thek is?" I said, "No." And I thought at that point, I thought I was fairly knowledgeable about post-war art. I didn't know who Paul Thek was.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: And what year was this?

TONY GANZ: I was at Disney at the time, so I don't know, I'm sorry, I'd have to think. I could look it up. Twenty years ago. 16 years ago. He sent me a JPEG of a small, meat-piece sculpture. Small meat-piece covered with flies in a little vitrine. Nasty.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Yeah, those are horrible.

TONY GANZ: I thought this guy is a fucking genius.

[They laugh.]

And he said, "Would you like to buy it?" I said, "Absolutely." He said, well "Lynn Zelevansky is in love with it. If LACMA doesn't buy it, you can buy it." LACMA bought it, which was great for them. That led me to Ted Bonin and the meat piece that we have in the dining room. And then—do you know Ted Bonin?

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: I've never met him.

TONY GANZ: The greatest, sweetest, smartest, nicest, most honorable, decent—great guy. He really made Thek. You know, he had carried, you know, that flame of the estate and everything for all these years, and was instrumental in the retrospective and everything else.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: You got all those great drawings.

TONY GANZ: The drawings came from him.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: And the small sculptures.

TONY GANZ: And the sculpture, yeah. But, when I say this, I think it sounds, what I'm trying to say about these stories is I think you just reach—it's like ground water filling up to the point where when it's rained a lot and then you go outside and you walk on the grass, and all the water comes up in your footprints, I think it's like that, with accumulated knowledge, probably of anything. I had just reached a point where this guy sends me this JPEG of Paul Thek, or Dan sent me the Bontecou or whatever it might be with the Matta-Clark experience that I just knew. I had enough, sort of, under my belt that—and then the other thing, which I know how to do with growing up in that apartment, even though I never thought it would lead me in the direction it did was, I think—I really mean this, I don't give myself any particular credit for this, at all. I just think I had to, without knowing it, inherited a kind of confidence in my own eye or judgment or whatever you'd say.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Now, do you have personal relationships or friendships with any of the artists you collect? I mean many of them aren't around anymore, but some of them are.

TONY GANZ: Yeah, that's a slight problem. I'm trying to think who's still alive. See, I never met—

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Rachel—

TONY GANZ: Rachael we have a real friendship with. That would be the main thing. Unfortunately, I'd never met [. . . Gordon Matta-Clark –TG]. I mean everyone who knew him was crazy about him. I really regret that I never met him. Smithson died in '73 in a plane crash. Eva dies in 1970. I certainly know Therrien well. We collected quite a bit of Therrien, actually. We didn't talk about that, but that happened.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Now but you don't seem to have as much of it now.

TONY GANZ: It's just not up. No, it's just we've run out of space. We have quite a few Therrien drawings, and I haven't talked about Oldenburg. But you've seen in the house there are a lot of Oldenburg drawings, and that's happened over the whole trajectory of this story.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: You mean you've been collecting them from the beginning.

TONY GANZ: —from the beginning. It happened because I remember—I think this is why it happened—I remember going with Dad to the Oldenburg retrospective at MoMA. So long ago. [. . . –TG] They only bought one Oldenburg in their life. But it was one of the great Oldenburg's of all time, the vinyl toilet, which they gave to the Whitney. Another instance of his brilliance. Anyway, I completely fell in love with Oldenburg. You know, really young as a kid way before any of this happened. So I have, for all these years, in a very determined way, whenever possible, bought Oldenburg drawings.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: And Frank Stella?

TONY GANZ: The Stella belonged to Mom and Dad.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: But you didn't continue to collect it?

TONY GANZ: Well, I've tried to find Stella drawings, and I had some opportunities that I just missed, unfortunately. By the time I was collecting in anything resembling earnest, the pictures were way too expensive.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: So do you have an approximate price range that you will spend? In your head?

TONY GANZ: Yes. It's always more than I should. No, I really don't, but I have spent more than I should, and I have to say, from the beginning, I have had this ambivalent feeling that we were kidding around about before, about doing it at all because I do think it—I mean, look it's a wonderful life in so many ways. But I do think it's pretty selfish that the one thing in our case that's defensible about it is because we don't have kids. I mean I'm not looking forward to dying—

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: [Laughs.]

TONY GANZ: —but to be able to give it away, and I'm now at a point where when I think about it, can I, should I spend because now a scrap of paper is $150,000, whatever I do from now on, and I've been feeling this way for a while, I think really hard about it, and I try to think about when it goes to a museum, is that what they would want.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.] Interesting. So you ever sell any material to buy something else? Do you winnow and control your purchases and through sales?

TONY GANZ: No. I've only sold one thing once when I really ran out of money because the movie business hasn't paid any money, and Gail has her own little production company and I have mine, and we have this house and I keep buying art.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: [Laughs.] So you need liquidity from time to time.

TONY GANZ: Yeah. But that's the only reason.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: That's interesting because now, of course, people do buy and trade art. And in collectors, they're—in history buy and sell art just to change the direction of their collection. You haven't found it necessary to do that?

TONY GANZ: No. No.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: I think that there's a great, I would say a subdued palette would correctly describe much of what you've collected. Not too many bring and shiny, brightly colored, shiny moments.

TONY GANZ: I think, I remember when Dad died and there was that Sotheby's sale, David Sylvester, who was a friend of the family's, was asked to write a kind of introduction or a forward to the little, I mean it's not so little, but to the catalogue for that sale. I remember he talked specifically about the grays and the browns and the blacks that ran through the whole collection. I know for myself that it seems it just happens every time. [. . . –TG] I almost always go for the black drawing. Which again is not [. . . –TG]—that that work is innately of greater consequence or significance than a drawing that's filled—[. . . –TG] with color. It's just I think we all wind up with our own aesthetic.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Well, yes, hopefully. That's the other thing, you've never used, obviously you didn't have to, but I mean you have. Did you ever have use an advisor or asked or had anybody help you in that regard?

TONY GANZ: No.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Do you have opinions about it? Are you okay, do you need some water?

TONY GANZ: Yeah, no I'm fine, thanks. [. . . –TG] But I really have come to feel two things. I would say. One is I was unbelievably fortunate, through nothing, through no achievement of my own, to learn, for want of a better way of putting it, not necessarily the right way to do this thing, but certainly one of the right ways to do this thing. Other people just weren't—how many people are that fortunate? I think early on I felt fairly judgmental about all that. But I figured out that that's not right, it's not fair, and also people, if it makes them happy to do it that way, then okay.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: [Laughs.]

TONY GANZ: You know? I don't think in the end those collections have much soul. They don't have a center of gravity. They aren't really about much of anything. But so what? The people who bought that art and live with it, if it has made them happy, then that's fine.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Do you have a plan for where you will leave your art?

TONY GANZ: Oh, terrible question. It's hard. It's very hard because I've made a lot of friends in the museum world, and the curatorial world, and it is a collection that [some –TG] museums would be happy to have.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Oh, I'm sure.

TONY GANZ: Because it fills lots of holes and gaps.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: How do you feel about keeping it together, as opposed to breaking up parts of it and sending it to different places?

TONY GANZ: [I really wouldn't want it, exhibited as a collection, catalogue it as a collection. I really wouldn't want our name over any doors. But, I would like to keep it together. –TG] Of its own aesthetic volition, it has developed, I think, a reasonable sort of interior integrity. It's all of a piece. And, you know, I'm acutely aware that when we leave it somewhere, that's sort of going to dissolve because it goes into storage, and then it's shown in pieces. So in fact, probably the nicest thing to do would be to just to break it up and spread it around to a number of institutions.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: So if you gave six Whiteread's to one institution, you don't believe they would show them together?

TONY GANZ: That would be much easier than having the whole collection somewhere, but I have to say my own ego seems to be in the way of that. I mean I at least now feel like I'd like to keep it together, and give it in one piece. But it's a profound question that you ask—plus there's another thing, which is that Kate's husband, Dan Belin who's a very knowledgeable person in the art world.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Oh, I didn't know that was who she was married to.

TONY GANZ: Yes. He has often said to me, another thing you could do is to sell the whole goddamn thing at auction, or just sell it however you want to sell it and take all that money and, make some not insignificant philanthropic choice because in the end, maybe it would take several generations, it will all wind up in museums anyway [. . . –TG].

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: I don't think that feels comfortable for you.

TONY GANZ: No, it really doesn't.

[They laugh.]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: You actually looked pained just even discussing that [Laughs.]

TONY GANZ: I know. I mean I'm just saying that you can't not think about these things.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Of course you can't. You know, you can't not think about the—you have to think about them. And—but because you've purchased in depth to the best of your ability with certain significant artists, it is a different kind of donation question, you know. I mean, do you give whole—do you give a single grouping to a museum, or do you give like one Whiteread to each museum, or what's the most advantageous place to do that?

TONY GANZ: Yeah, right.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: But I would say that you—it's interesting to me how you felt so comfortable following your intuition. And I'd like to ask you, at what point did you know that your intuition was going to be okay? Lots of people follow their intuition, and it doesn't work out, so.

TONY GANZ: I think from the very beginning, without realizing it, I felt that way. I think I've always felt that way. I mean, [. . . –TG] as I said, I never thought I'd collect. But once I started, I never thought, you know, am I making a wrong decision here, a wrong choice here? Am I going down the wrong street here?

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: What was the single biggest stretch for you, in terms of a purchase? When you really had to pull out all the stops? Where it was painful?

TONY GANZ: A wonderful London dealer named Simon Lee called me fifteen years ago and he said, I was telling you this when we were walking around the house, he said, "Do you know Johns' painting Watchman?" And I said, "Sure, you know, it's in Japan." And he said, "Well, the man who owned it has died. I have a partner and we're buying the estate and there are lots of great things in it, Watchman being the greatest, but there is a Watchman drawing." Now it happened that Victor Ganz had bought—there are several Watchman drawings, and he had bought a very beautiful Watchman drawing a long time ago, and when dad died mom gave it to MoMA. I knew what this other drawing was. [. . . –TG] And I said I couldn't possibly afford a thing like that. And he said, "Well, actually, you know, make us an offer. Because my partner needs money, it's the summer, no one's around. You never know, make us an offer." So I did. I made them a very low offer, but it was still way more money than I had. It was $600,000. And I remember thinking I hope to god they don't accept this offer. And he called the next day and he said, "Are you sitting down?" And I think that was the most I've ever spent.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Did you get palpitations?

TONY GANZ: Not really. But I do lie awake at night thinking, "I've got to stop." [. . . –TG] At the same time I'm thinking, "But, I know with absolute and unequivocal certainty that that Hannah Wilke drawing, you know, that Alison Jacques is showing and people aren't buying is the greatest drawing she ever made. And I really should buy it." I didn't, by the way.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: So that like the next question, of course, is what was the one that got away? What didn't you buy that you really regret to this day?

TONY GANZ: There was a Johns drawing that came—that Jim Corcoran had that he showed me and it's a great drawing—we haven't talked about Johns' drawings except for what I said before, but it's the greatest body of work except for Picasso on paper of the 20th century, just unequivocally.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Yeah.

TONY GANZ: And my sister Kate has spent the last five years of her life on the catalogue raisonné of Johns' drawings.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Oh, really?

TONY GANZ: Anyway, he offered it to me, and it's a beautiful drawing, but Gail and I really didn't have the money and it was just a very difficult moment.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Now how much money was it?

TONY GANZ: Well, it was $150,000. [. . . –TG]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: And to this day you think, "Oh, if I had only had that $150,000."

TONY GANZ: I think two things. I think that, and then I think [. . . –TG] every collector has one that got away. That's a given. It's one of the, you know—

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: At least one.

TONY GANZ: —at least one. And it's really healthy, for whatever we do in life, for there to be one that got away. A girl, a Johns drawing, whatever it might be.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: I mean it's good to know that there are limits.

TONY GANZ: Yeah. Yeah. And that sometimes maybe you lose courage.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Well, because there's sometimes collecting within limits is an advantage because you have to hone your—

TONY GANZ: Yes.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: —method of operation. Do you think that's true for you?

TONY GANZ: Oh, definitely. Not only are a great many of these drawings by women, a great many of them are by sculptors. I would have loved to have been able to acquire a lot of sculpture, fill the house with sculpture. You don't have to be a genius to know this, but it's surprising how a lot of people to this day still don't understand that by far the greatest sculptor of the 20th century was Picasso.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: I think that's probably something that people would be shocked at because they think of significant sculpture as being non-figurative. And of course his sculpture isn't always figurative, of course, but I think most people think of sculpture as, the big moment being the liberation from figuration.

But you could have collected sculpture, conceivably. Well, you have, you collected all those Whitereads.

TONY GANZ: Yeah, well I always wanted to try to buy David Smith's sculpture, but that was never possible.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: [. . . –TG] But do you buy young—what you don't seem to buy are sort of young emerging artists. Artists who are coming up today, who are 22-years old and having their first show at some of the younger galleries. Did that appeal to you?

TONY GANZ: Well, I wouldn't say that was true of Rachel, but it was sort of true of Rachel. I mean I committed myself, not right in the beginning, but it was—

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: But early.

TONY GANZ: —but early. No, I'm acutely aware of that.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Although I noticed you did collect at one point some Tara Donovan.

TONY GANZ: [Oh, that's right. Yeah, and Tim Hawkinson. The way I feel about that is that to do it with real integrity, or conviction, requires enormous amount of time—and being involved in the scene. And I don't really feel like investing that kind of time. Don't really have it. And being involved in the scene is being involved in the scene. And I have no regrets about that. That's why I said that I thought what dad did with Eva Hesse late in his career was a singularly, remarkable gesture. People thought he was fucking crazy. –TG]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: [Laughs.] And not so. Now, I want to talk a little bit about your siblings. Your sister Kate, doing the catalogue resume for—I know, it's almost over, it's almost over—the drawings as she was a dealer, an old master print and also an expert in old master—

TONY GANZ: Drawings.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: —drawings, okay.

TONY GANZ: And then she opened a gallery on 73rd Street in New York.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: And what was it called?

TONY GANZ: Kate Ganz Limited. And she dealt in contemporary work as well as old master material. And has a fabulous collection of her own.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: And she lives here in LA?

TONY GANZ: She lives in New York, really. [. . . –TG]

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HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: And Nancy?

TONY GANZ: Nancy lives in Pasadena. Nancy and Vicky do not suffer the genetic affliction that Kate and I—they—

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: They don't, it doesn't, it never—

TONY GANZ: It never gripped them.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: It never gripped them.

TONY GANZ: No. Vicky lives in Laguna Canyon, I guess it's called. [. . . –TG]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: [Laughs.] What have I not asked you?

TONY GANZ: Nothing.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Are you sure there's not something you would like to add that I've overlooked?

TONY GANZ: I would just say considering that I never thought [collecting art –TG] would happen to me, aside from a handful of old friends from college and high school, and a handful of friends that I've made here through the film business, after all these years, my best friends, the people I admire the most, like the most, think the most highly of, have turned out to be in the art world, actually. I know you know this very well, there are in fact so many dealers who are people of the highest integrity, and do what they do because they are wildly passionate about the artists they work with, and art in general [. . . –TG]. Not to mention really significant friendships with curators and museum directors, too. People like Adam Weinberg and Glenn Lowry and Annie.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Annie Philbin.

TONY GANZ: I mean, they are remarkable people.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Am I correct in thinking that you're most actively involved with LACMA, though? I know you're on the LACMA collectors committee.

TONY GANZ: I'm not.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Oh, you're not anymore?

TONY GANZ: I never was.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Oh, I'm so sorry.

TONY GANZ: I've only been on drawings committees. MOCA, the Modern, the Whitney when it first started. Then I was quite involved with the American Friends of the Pompidou. I've resisted joining boards and acquisitions committees. [I haven't done it. . . . –TG] I think that people give up a lot to do it. I probably should do more of it. But what I really have enjoyed doing is finding specific works, engaging in specific conversations about them with curators, helping, in some instances, to make acquisitions like that happen. [. . . –TG]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Mm-hmm [Affirmative.] So in that way you sort of in a sort of neutral position somewhat with regard to the various museums you don't have that awkward, or maybe not so awkward, you don't have to feel as though you are bound to one particular institution, is that correct?

TONY GANZ: That's true. I hadn't thought of it that way, but that is definitely true. [. . . –TG]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Well, you're going to be around for a while.

TONY GANZ: Well, that'd be nice. Yeah.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: You don't have to worry about it today. [. . . –TG]

[They laugh.]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Again, is there anything else you would like to add before we wrap this up?

TONY GANZ: You've been great. I've read your work for years. I've always admired—

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: We don't need to hear that on the Archives of American Art.

TONY GANZ: —you're a wonderful writer.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP: Thank you for that very much.

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[END OF INTERVIEW.]

How to Use This Collection

Transcript is available on the Archives of American Art's website.

Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Tony Ganz, 2014 December 6. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.