A Moroccan proverb: "Expect the worse from a frustrated person who wakes up."

 

The article was published in the Metro section of the NY Post on July 14th under the title “Artwork of late Moroccan painter the center of lawsuit”. The author, the journalist Julia Marsh, refused to make any comments by not answering my emails.

 

I have decided to reproduce the whole article and will comment for the time being, only on some issues that I feel are currently important.

 

"He died in relative obscurity in Manhattan, but the works of a Moroccan painter, who once hobnobbed with the likes of fabled Beat poet Allen Ginsberg and socialite Peggy Guggenheim, are now the subject of a fierce court battle since they greatly increased in value when his native government posthumously dubbed him a cultural ambassador.

Ahmed Yacoubi, born to a family of healers, became a jet-setting artist in the 1950s after meeting Guggenheim, who purchased his work for her private collection.

The thrice-divorced Yacoubi settled above a theater on the Lower East Side in 1976, where he lived with artist Carol Cannon until shortly before he died in 1985 of lung cancer. He left no will.

Just last year, the painter’s son and sole heir, Soufian Yacoubi, a police chief in Fez, sued Cannon for $400,000 in artwork, which he claims she has been selling online.

“She knew he had a son. She didn’t have any right,” to sell the pieces, said Larsen Krim, the Manhattan-based executor of the estate who represents Soufian in the United States.

Cannon counters in court papers that she is responsible for the late artist’s new posthumous fame.

Krim acknowledged in an interview that Cannon was the one who wrote to Morocco’s King Mohammed VI — a recognized patron of the arts — and gave him one of Ahmed Yacoubi’s largest paintings.

After the gesture, the king had Yacoubi’s body exhumed from a New Jersey cemetery in 2009 and returned to his native country, where he was given a state funeral.

While Krim and Soufian Yacoubi accuse Cannon of swiping Ahmed Yacoubi’s trove of works after he died, she claims she later purchased the collection from the estate of his daughter, who died in London in 2003.

“I never took a single thing,” said Cannon. In court papers she calls Soufian “the alleged son of the artist” and notes that he surfaced only after the state funeral.

Krim believes Cannon has roughly 50 pieces worth as much as $50,000 each. Cannon declined to comment on the collection, saying only that her goal is to preserve the works for a retrospective.

She admitted to having sold a few smaller sketches to pay for climate-controlled storage and a Web site dedicated to the artist’s legacy.

Today, Yacoubi’s works hang in MoMA and La Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris."

 

COMMENTS

 

Concerning the comments on Carol Cannon, I have kept all my correspondence with her by email during the four years I worked for and with her and therefore have proof of everything I mention.

With due respect to Carol Cannon who claims that she’s responsible for Ahmed Yacoubi’s new fame, and if she had claimed that it had been a team effort from herself and me, I would have accepted it without arguing nor making any comments.

Let me remind Carol that the artist’s new fame took place in Morocco where I was and still residing, not in New York or any other city or country for that matter. So in fact I deserve almost all of the credit for the “renaissance” or rebirth of Ahmed Yacoubi’s work. The positive evolution of auction results in Morocco during the four years I worked on the project are there to prove it and compliments by Miss Cannon as well; how wonderful of a work I was doing up to the point where she said that I had become her partner and not her agent anymore.

However, with sincere humility, I am going to share the credit with her and state that it was a team effort.

 

As for Mr. Hassan Ouakrim, a.k.a., Larsen Krim in the Post article, and going back in time, he, who claims that he was a very good friend of the deceased artist, would have done so much with the help of the late Ellen Stewart, to keep alive Ahmed Yacoubi’s artwork after his death at a time when the artist was very famous in his Morocco. Unfortunately, neither he, nor Ellen Stewart did nothing to promote Yacoubi’s art at the expense of the artist's reputation and fame, with the result that he and his art became unknown and forgotten in his home country unlike Jilali Gharbaoui and Ahmed Cherkaoui, the other two pioneers of Moroccan modern art.

Carol Cannon had mentioned a party given once a year at la Mama’s theater when Ahmed Yacoubi was starting to regain his fame with a few friends but nothing really of much interest or positive outcome.

 

H.E. The Moroccan Ambassador, Mr. Driss Slaoui, an art lover and very much aware of the importance of Ahmed Yacoubi’s art, is to be given a lot of credit and honored for having organized a retrospective at the Gallery International 52 in NYC in 1987. Unfortunately, neither the thought nor the desire came to Arsen Krim and Ellen Stewart’s minds to have taken over from the excellent start of the Ambassador.

 

Mr. Arsen Krim surfaced only after Ahmed Yacoubi’s paintings started selling at high prices in Morocco, at the time when Carol Cannon and I had put on a lot of work and energy to promote Ahmed Yacoubi’s artwork.

As for the number of pieces that Carol Cannon has in her possession, the number “50” is pure speculation from Mr. Krim. It comes roughly from the number of pieces I had told Mr. Soufian Yacoubi out of the blue when I met with him, his sister and mother in Tangiers; I am naïve but not to the point where I was going to give the exact number, not anything close to it.

According to Carol Cannon, Ahmed Yacoubi did not trust anybody when it came to his work, not even her as a matter of fact. He did not want anybody to be present when he was painting and kept all of his work locked in closets so that nobody would have known how many pieces of art he owned until Carol and Karima, Ahmed’s daughter opened the closets right after his death and after Carol Cannon provided me with the inventory to work with.

 

When it comes to the value of Ahmed Yacoubi’s paintings estimated at $50,000 a piece, again it’s pure fantasy.

The artist’s paintings had reached higher prices than that when Carol and I were working on the project. Unfortunately, for the past two years, as a result of once more being away from the art market in Morocco, nobody would buy his paintings these days even for less than $50,000 even though I had warned Soufian Yacoubi twice to always make sure that a painting of his father be at every major auction to keep his art alive and known. However, out of mistrust and ignorance, he did not do it until recently, unfortunately too late, when he gave the paintings he owned to be auctioned by the Mazad et Art auction house based in Tangiers.

The last painting that Mr. Choukry Bentaouit, owner of Mazad et Art claims was sold for $75,000 in June was still in his office when I walked in, in September. It is very obvious that Mr. Bentaouit, having been promised by Soufian Yacooubi to be given his part of the inheritance to sell, is making up fake rumors and giving fake prices to Artprice, the auction prices database web site, in order to boost the value of Ahmed Yacoubi’s paintings; although unfair, it is a common practice by auction houses in many countries.

 

Now, going back to Mr. Larsen Krim and according to Julia Marsh, the journalist who wrote the article, His Majesty Mohamed VI, King of Morocco had Ahmed Yacoubi’s body exhumed and given a state funeral in Morocco after Carol Cannon had given him a painting as a gift.

This statement could not have come from Carol Cannon because she knows the exact turn of events but surely must have come from Mr. Larsen Krim and it is to be considered a shameful lack of respect to His Majesty the King who does not need to be offered a painting to make such a noble and generous gesture. The truth is that Carol Cannon, after I had highly suggested to her, had sent a painting to His Majesty’s attention after Ahmed Yacoubi’s body was exhumed and buried in Tangiers, not before, as stated in the NY Post article.

This is again a proof that Mr. Larsen Krim is and was not aware of anything although he gives the impression in the NY Post article that he was in control or had managed the whole situation.

 

Mr. Arsen Krim, despite the fact that he had known the artist for a long time, is not the right person to have been chosen as the representative in the US or anywhere else of Ahmed Yacoubi’s art legacy or memory; it is such a pity, not to say a shame.

 

 

 

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PHOTOS:

 

To the left, a picture of the entrance to  the building's door and to the right the picture of the building of the studio rented by Ahmed Yacoubi in Tangiers on the Moussa ben Noussair Street. Ahmed Yacoubi had a sign on the door with the name given to his studio “MA Kan” according to Harry Atkins, friend of the artist.