Quick, someone call American Pickers! The Wall Street Journal reports that AutoMat Auto Interiors & Tops of Long Island, New York is housing a multi-million dollar art collection of Man Ray – “a pioneering photographer and Jazz Age colleague of Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí”.
In what is probably the oddest industry story of the year, The Wall Street Journal says that AutoMat Auto Interiors & Tops keeps the collection in its garage.
Beyond this shop’s no-frills showroom, which is lined with upholstered seat covers, sits the headquarters of the Man Ray Trust. The trust consists of 16 freezer-size vaults containing about 4,500 works from the artist’s estate. These archives include Dadaist and Surrealist photographs of the artist’s muse Kiki de Montparnasse, as well as props Man Ray used to make some of his experimental, camera-free images, called Rayographs. […]
Now, the collection is being privately shopped to museums, with a price tag of $20 million. […]
The stakes are high for the Man Ray Trust, which is overseen by Juliet Man Ray’s brother, Eric Browner, who owns the Long Island shop. Mr. Browner, now 86 years old, had only met Man Ray once before he and his brothers stepped in three decades ago to help their bereaved sister sort out the artist’s affairs. Today, Mr. Browner manages 15,000 copyrights for the artist and oversees licensing contracts worth roughly $300,000 a year—from Mandarin Hotel headboards embroidered with Man Ray’s images to Zara’s taupe-colored Man Ray shirts. The trust’s proceeds are split among a dozen heirs.
It sounds like a whole lot of people are about to retire. For more on this crazy story, check out The Wall Street Journal.