Andy Warhol's famous Brillo Boxes
By Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Published in August 2007

The Swedish daily paper „Expressen has uncovered in a series of articles that some of Andy Warhol's famous Brillo Boxes are most likely fakes and were manufactured in the year 1990, three years after the death of the artist. Approximately one hundred soapbox sculptures are in circulation on the international art market. Even if it is agreed on the fact that Warhol need not have touched a work to be considered as authentic, the catalogue raisonne of the artists work must be rewritten. Only recently a work by Warhol created attention in New York, when the American film producer Joe Simon Whelan sued the Andy Warhol art Authentication board for twenty million dollars plus damages, because they had twice rejected his Warhol self portrait for not being authentic.

This first Brillo Boxes of Andy Warhol (1929 to 1987) are plywood crates, were silk screened with the trademark Brillo's red-blue Design. These sculptures originated in 1964 and exhibited in the spring of the same year in the New Yorker Stable Gallery as well as others box Sculptures " by Warhol, among them „Campbell's Tomato Juice ", „Kellogg's Cornflakes "and „Heinz Tomato Ketchup ".

Replaced for Cost reasons:
The young Kasper Koning, currently director of the Cologne museum Ludwig, was impressed by the exhibition in New York's Stable gallery. Thus Koning proposed to the legendary Swedish museum director Pontus Hultén (1924 to 2006) a concept for a Warhol exhibition in the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, which would include Electric Chair paintings, Warhols films, silver helium balloons and screen print paintings of Warhol’s Ten Foot Flowers as well as Brillo boxes. In order to save costs, however cardboard boxes manufactured by the Brillo factory in Brooklyn were exhibited and not plywood Sculptures from Warhol’s Factory in New York. In 1968, The Brillo factory sent 500 of the folded up cardboard Brillo packing cases directly to Sweden and installed in the Moderna Museet for the exhibition.

Hultén recalls in his 2004 book „The Pontus Hultén Collection, how he had manufactured one hundred wooden crates in Sweden for the show. Warhol apparently asked „Why don't you make them there? ", And gave his consent to have them produced in Sweden. Hultén wrote the wooden boxes were piled up in the entrance area of the museum for the exhibition. Stacked on top of these were the additional cardboard boxes made by the Brillo factory. After the exhibition, according to Hultén, Warhol personally gave him these crates. He wrote in his book they were stored in the depot of the Stockholm Moderna Museet - even years after his departure from the museum in 1973. ___94 crates „Stockholm type "in circulation"___The Warhol catalogue raisonne of works of 2004 specifies 94 wooden boxes of 1968 as „Stockholm type ". They differ from the boxes made in 1964 by the fact that they are not made from plywood, as by the Warhol Factory, but from fiberboards, and that the white underground is not painted, but printed. In addition the Design contains the additive „of PAD Giant "over „the O "from Brillo. While the most expensive individual Brillo box created in 1964 sold for 710,000 dollars in November 2006 with Christie's in New York, the later Stockholm types of 1968 on auctions recently reached prices between 100.000 and 200,000 dollars. The Expressen revealed "that in 1968 in the Moderna Museet no wooden boxes were exhibited only exclusively the cardboard boxes created and directly sent by the Brillo company.

The Swedish newspaper refers to statements of the Co-curators of the show, Olle Granath, as well as to Paul Morrissey, the manager at that time of Warhol’s Factory, as well as other witnesses. Also Kasper Koning doesn't know anything about wooden crates being exhibited in Sweden. However he did not also see the exhibition( although Paul Morissey had attended) : At that time Koning preferred to cash in the prepaid flight to Sweden and remained in New York. The press spokeswoman of the Moderna Museet, Paulina Sokolow, confirms, that after the exhibition in the same year 1968 Hulten made ten Brillo boxes of wood: „ “Most likely with Andy Warhol’s permission, but so far no documents have emerged which confirms this.” Of this small edition Olle Granath received three, which he sold decades later to the Paula Cooper Gallery in New York.

Approximately one hundred crates from the year 1990. The Expressen reports “Three years after Warhol’s death Pontus Hultén manufactured approximately one hundred of the new wooden Brillo Boxes in a workshop in Malmo, with the date 1968.” The newspaper quotes the director of the Museum Malmö and other witnesses, who remember that in 1990 Hultén found suitable craftsman and sent a cardboard Brillo box as a sample to Malmö. Approximately one hundred of the new 1990 wooden boxes were shown in an exhibition in St Petersburg and fifty in the autumn of the same year in the Danish Louis IANA museum. It is clarified that these fifty were returned to Pontus Hultén after the show. Now the suspicion arises that these 1990 crates with the date 1968 infiltrated the art market as well as the Warhol catalogue raisonne. But where are they? Hultén gave 1995 six Brillo boxes to the Moderna Museet. Their provenance according to Sokolow, is currently being examined. (according to the Warhol catalalogue raisonne funded by the Warhol Foundation: Lord Palumo, who was a member of the Warhol Foundation Board of directors at the time, owns a 1990 authenticated wooden sculpture as well; others are owned by well known art dealer/ clients of the Warhol Foundation. The Warhol art authentication board refuse to accept first hand testimony from those who actually worked with Warhol, such as Paul Morrissey, Gerard Malanga, Sam Green, Billy name and others, but the testimony of a powerful art world figure turned dealer such as Pontues Hulten is accepted. )

Other arrived by Hultén into the collections of the artist OD Kienholz and the collector Stavros Merjos. The Antwerp art dealer Ronny van de Velde bought forty Brillo boxes from Hultén for $240,000 in 1994 - with its written, but no longer convincing explanation, that the crates were exhibited in the modenta museet in 1968. In retrospect, Kasper Koning cannot imagine that Pontus Hultén created the crates with the intention of selling them later: “most likely, he manufactured them for the exhibition in St Petersburg, afterwards they were stored in a house in France, with coffee stains, and finally probably someone asked it whether they were for sale. I am sorry that his reputation is now questioned, but I am sure that was not his intention. "
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