Well, thank goodness Madoff pal Ezra Merkin still has something to offer. It’s been rough of late for Merkin, what with losing more than $2 billion with Bernie Madoff, at least four ensuing lawsuits, and the call for his ousting as head of GMAC. However, his art adviser Ben Heller, 83 has his phone ringing off the hook with inquiries about Merkin’s art. The Ponz pal has $150 million worth of Mark Rothko paintings—the world’s largest private grouping, according to Bloomberg.
The Rothkos, housed in Merkin’s Park Avenue duplex, include two 9-by-15-foot studies for murals that Rothko executed for the Four Seasons restaurant in the Seagram Building and Houston’s Rothko Chapel, and a third, smaller study for a Harvard University mural. The Four Seasons mural paintings are in the National Gallery in Washington.
…”If you go up to that apartment, you would drop your socks,” said Heller, who assisted the Merkins in creating an environment to complement the Rothkos, with subdued rugs, furnishings and dim lighting. “It’s much closer to a chapel.”
Heller is dealing with his own Madoff situation by the way. He lost most of his own money, more than $10 million, as well as his charitable money, $3.4 million, with the Ponzi. Oh, and his stepdaughter? Actress Kyra Sedgwick who, along with husband Kevin Bacon, were also Madoff victims.