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damage control

April 16, 2011

[WSJ] For his part, Acquavella, who projects probity and gravitas, has an acumen for smoothing over any feathers ruffled by Freud. Like the time Freud became, as Acquavella says, “disenchanted” with the sitter of a portrait and, in response to the subject’s insistence he finish it, promptly took a knife and cut the face out of the canvas, leaving Acquavella to do damage control—and, as it happens, sell the spatially reduced painting. And dealing with a personality of Gibraltarian intransigence also requires a keen awareness of boundaries. Shortly after taking Freud on, Acquavella was contacted by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, who was eager to be painted by Freud. “I told him, ‘This is great, I’m sure he’d pay a handsome price.’ ” Freud’s answer was brutally to the point: “His face is too soft.” “And that,” says Acquavella, “was the end of that.” (read)

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