New York Post
ART OF THE ‘STEAL’
MoMA star burns through $2M, dumps project, stiffs donors
Marina Abramovic (below) became famous for staring down museum visitors during her 2010 “The Artist is Present” exhibit. Now she’s making nearly 5,000 donors squirm after scrapping plans for her $31 million arts-center project upstate and not issuing refunds.
The artist is present, but the cash is gone.
Performance artist Marina Abramovic has backed out of her grandiose plans to open an upstate arts institute, and questions loom over what happened to the $2.2 million she raised for the project over four years, including donations from the likes of Jay Z and nearly 5,000 donors in a Kickstarter campaign.
The edgy artist, famous for staring down people in her 2010 MoMA show, “The Artist is Present” (inset), had touted her multimillion-dollar Marina Abramovic Institute for the Preservation of Performance Art as a place for artists to experiment.
The Yugoslav-born Abramovic, 70, had also promised it would “change the local economy” in the quaint city of Hudson.
She retained renowned Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas to resurrect a dilapidated theater into a sleek, 33,000-square-foot space where visitors would have to surrender their cellphones and commit to a six-hour experience.
But last month, the artiste revealed she was abandoning the project after learning the price tag had mushroomed to $31 million.
The announcement left Hudson residents shocked and donors questioning where the cash went. In addition to a 2013 Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $660,000, her nonprofit institute raked in $1.5 million in donations from 2011 to 2015, tax filings show.
Jay Z donated a “substantial” sum to the online campaign, press reports said. He did not respond to a request for comment last week.
Asked if donations would be repaid, a spokeswoman for Abramovic said all the money raised on Kickstarter, plus additional funds, went to pay Koolhaas’ firm.
“The funds were raised not for the renovation itself but specifically for the schematics and the feasibility study,” the rep said.
Multiple calls and an e-mail to Koolhaas’ offices in Amsterdam and New York were not returned.
Kickstarter donors were promised rewards, including a signed DVD of the artist demonstrating such exercises as drinking water. Some claimed they never got them.
“I was supposed to receive a signed copy of the Abramovic Methods Exclusives DVD for a $200 pledge back in 2013 and am still waiting for it,” one donor wrote on the page in August.
In Hudson, a city of 6,700 about 35 miles south of Albany, Abramovic sold macarons “that tasted like her” to raise cash for the insti- tute, a local blogger wrote.
A local official recalled, “There was a lot of excitement when she first announced it, but the price tag just kept climbing.”
The group’s 2015 tax filings, the latest available, show it had assets of $2 million.
She announced that she was scrapping the project at a London gallery last month.
“I, as a performance artist, could never raise $31 million unless some amazing guy from the Emirates [came forward] or some Russian who just wrote a check because he believed in me,” Abramovic told The Art Newspaper.
In 2007, Abramovic bought the building in downtown Hudson for $950,000 under a limited liability company, Abramovic LLC. She donated it to her nonprofit in 2013.
State records show the LLC racked up $88,966 in unpaid state taxes, with a lien filed against it in January. A spokeswoman said the state taxes have been paid.
Abramovic confirmed through her spokeswoman that she would sell the building and use proceeds to pay off unpaid school taxes.
Hudson records show the nonprofit owes $15,379 in school taxes for the 84-year-old building, which is now a crumbling eyesore.