Sunday, April 09, 2023

Move fast and break things Borges literary estate in limbo

   It’s no longer necessary that he connect in people’s minds with any actual art. It’s enough that he stands for that bigger thing: unfettered creativity. In fact, it’s better. A clear line connects Picasso’s description of his pictures as “a sum of destructions” and the capitalist mantra of “creative destruction” and the onetime internal Facebook motto “Move fast and break things.” Sublimating Picasso’s oeuvre into an essence of pure creativity certainly makes it easier for the marketing arms of corporations to invoke his name and for museums to sell tickets.

How good, really, was Pablo Picasso?

Borges literary estate in limbo 

       As I mentioned last week, Jorge Luis Borges' widow, María Kodama, has passed away. 
       Kodama controlled -- notoriously tightly -- Borges' literary estate, and was president of the Fundación Internacional Jorge Luis Borges
       The question, with her death, of course is, as the Buenos Aires Herald wondered just last week: Death of Borges' widow Kodama: what will happen with his work. 
       In that article they quote her lawyer:
Kodama’s attorney Fernando Soto told Télam that his legal team would now “take over the continuity” of Borges’ intellectual property. “María was very discreet and we will maintain that discretion to announce how we will continue to work with Borges legacy, not just his books, but also the library and the foundation, all things related to his huge

patrimonial and cultural legacy,” he explained.


       Looks like he was promising too much too soon. After hunting around for a while he apparently realized, as now widely reported in the Spanish-language press: María Kodama murió sin dejar clara la herencia de Jorge Luis Borges, as José Pablo Criales' report has it in El País. Yes, Kodama committed the ultimate act of irresponsible negligence for someone entrusted with handling a literary estate: she didn't leave a will. 
       As heir to Borges' literary estate she had every right to act as she did while she lived, much as those acts (and, especially, those prohibitions and restrictions) could be considered by many as a grave disservice to Borges' work. But not seeing to it that there would be some continuity of the handling -- or, indeed, the possibility of any handling -- of the estate with her death is beyond any pale. 
       It's unclear what will happen now. Five nephews have conveniently popped up to make their claims, and lawyer Soto qualified his original statement that there was no will by saying that that no will was deposited with Kodama's notary public and that no one in her circle knows of the existence of one -- so one still might be out there somewhere ...-- but apparently if there is no legal heir the estate would go to the city of Buenos Aires -- after ten (!) years --, which could then presumably do with it as they pleased. (Arguably, not the worst fate for the estate: the city government would be hard-pressed to do worse than Kodama did when she controlled it .....) In the near future, however, until this is sorted out, it looks like everything is very much in a dark limbo -- i.e. don't look for any new Borges editions, translations, or adaptations. 
       It's shocking that this could happen -- not least because Kodama and the Borges literary estate are represented by the Wylie Agency, who, one would have thought, would have had a strong interest in seeing to it that any transitions would go smoothly but now find themselves in this mess. What the hell is a literary agency for if not to see to it that this kind of thing does not happen ? (With the estate in limbo, it's hard to see how they can reach any agreements or (re)new contracts for the time being, too.) Yes, all sympathies to Soto and Wylie -- Kodama was no doubt a 'difficult' client -- but come on, guys ..... 

       Authors do far too little to ensure that their literary estates will be handled in the way they might wish, and even when they do, too often the whims of the executors diverge far from the author's wishes and there's nothing to be done about it -- but at least there's someone in control and able to make decisions. Not so with the Borges estate now, and for a good while, it seems. So take this as a reminder, authors: put your literary estates in good and very explicit order. 

Clarence  Thomas’s Billionaire Benefactor Collects Hitler Artifacts

Harlan Crow also reportedly has a garden full of dictator statues.

London's Courtauld Gallery is mounting an exhibition of 30+ forgeries that were previously attributed to notable artists. A Botticelli in the show was unmasked as a fake because the Virgin Mary too closely resembled movie star Jean Harlow.