By MICHELE GRAHAM
Photography by CHICHI UBIÑA
What is art worth? For Jennifer Stockman, the renowned contemporary artwork collector and former president of the Guggenheim Museum, it was a question that stuck in her mind so much, she produced a documentary about it. The resulting film, The Price of Everything, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and is continuing onto some of the most prestigious film festivals across the globe, including San Francisco, Athens, Jerusalem, Moscow, Cape Town, and Nantucket. It has also been selected as the June 1st opening night film for the Greenwich International Film Festival.
The Price of Everything explores the high-flying, often stratospheric-priced world of contemporary art. Stockman, who has also served on committees at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MOMA, and the Aspen Art Museum, calls the film “an art odyssey. It is a tale of art and money, and how art matters.” The film features a who’s who of artists, dealers, art critics, museum curators, auctioneers, and private collectors. Viewers will recognize names like Jeff Koons, Gerhard Richter, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Larry Poons, Mary Boone, Jerry Saltz, Paul Schimmel, Simon de Pury, and Jeffrey Deitch.
Stockman says she “wanted to share this world that I’ve been privy to for a long time. Ninety-nine percent of the art world is not art selling for millions and millions of dollars. There’s a whole aspect that people don’t see. The art world is perceived as elitist, so it keeps people away. I wanted to make the art world more accessible.” Stockman had been dreaming about this project since 2012. “It started with my own concerns about the future of artists and art works.”
It’s not just the movie’s theme that strikes a chord, the film also breaks ground in style. Rather than a single biopic, The Price of Everything is an homage to Robert Altman’s acclaimed film, Nashville, wherein the stories of multiple characters unfold.
The movie caught the attention of HBO, the gold standard for documentary films, which bought it right before Sundance. With HBO’s support, The Price of Everything will have its theatrical premiere at MOMA in October followed by four additional red carpet premieres, and then its HBO debut.
As producer, Stockman was totally hands-on. She was at every shoot and involved in every decision, including the selection of the title. At one point in the film, the highly influential collector Stefan Edlis paraphrases Oscar Wilde: “Some people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.”
Clearly, these words would never apply to Stockman. What started as a hobby became a passion. She notes, “I got very serious about art. I attended museum and gallery shows. This was way before all the biennales and triennials. I buy what I love. I’ve never bought based on potential appreciation.”
In Greenwich, Jennifer and her husband David Stockman, were known for the impressive collection of art throughout their home. They lived in Greenwich for 27 years, raised their children, and were active in the community. In 2014, they sold their home. Today they split their time between Manhattan and Aspen.
“We have many friends here,” says Stockman. “It will be a surprise to many about what I’ve been working on. It’s crazy and very exciting to come back as a producer. I think I’m more nervous about Greenwich than any other festival!”
To attend the screening of The Price of Everything and the Q&A with cast and crew, visit the Greenwich International Film Festival at greenwichfilm.org.