Qatar, Brazil, Peru, Malawi, Rwanda | WIKILEAKS PODESTA 8396 | APR 16, 2012

Last Thursday, April 12, I met individually with the Ambassadors from Qatar, Brazil, Peru, Malawi, and Rwanda, in Washington, DC. Below is a summary of key points from each meeting, and we are following-up on each point. I’d welcome your feedback.

Sincerely, Ami

QATAR – Would like to see WJC “for five minutes” in NYC, to present $1 million check that Qatar promised for WJC’s birthday in 2011. – Qatar would welcome our suggestions for investments in Haiti – particularly on education and health. They have allocated most of their $20 million but are happy to consider projects we suggest. I’m collecting input from CF Haiti team.

RWANDA – Kagame is organizing an event in June to commemorate closing of Gacaca process for the genocide. They asked if WJC could go. I said Africa trip is probably in July and we haven’t decided countries yet but if there’s anything they’d want WJC to do in Rwanda in July, to let us know. I also said to let us know if they’d want a message from WJC for the June event; they’ll let us know. – Ambassador asked if WJC/CF/CGI could do anything to help on education/universities in Rwanda. I explained we are constrained by funding but if they have specific ideas, to let us know. He said they’ll put together some ideas for us. – Ambassador asked about attracting more investments/businesses to Rwanda, including mining/natural resources investors. I emphasized CGI as an opportunity for Kagame to engage investors. I also mentioned Barclays interest in doing something at CGI on investing in Africa. Also mentioned Kagame doing a side-meeting at/around CGI that convenes investors interested in Rwanda, akin to WJC’s investor meeting for Ireland or session WJC did for Haiti last year at CGI. – Ambassador said criticism of Kagame seems to have quieted, partly due to WJC and Blair’s unwavering support for Kagame. Ambassador said Kagame and Rwanda very much appreciate WJC’s unflinching support.

U.K. Serious Fraud Office to Decide Soon on Barclays Qatar Charges | WALL STREET JOURNAL | MAR 21, 2017

The head of the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office said Tuesday it would decide soon whether to file charges against Barclays BCS 1.27%▲ PLC and several former top executives over their handling of Middle Eastern investments that rescued the bank at the height of the financial crisis.

“There’s no deadline, but certainly I would like charging decisions to be made as soon as possible,” said David Green, the SFO’s director. “I think that time is approaching quite fast.” Launched in 2012, the SFO’s investigation centers on how Barclays structured a £7.3 billion ($9 billion) capital injection from Qatari investors as it teetered during the 2008 financial market meltdown.

Good Morning from Qatar | WIKILEAKS PODESTA 12514 | MAR 18, 2014

A number of my friends from my Texas training were on the flight and it was nice to see some familiar faces. I learned yesterday that a Colonel and Lieutenant Colonel I trained with will be the Senior Contracting Officer–Afghanistan and the Deputy Senior Contracting Officer–Afghanistan.

Fwd: In Country | WIKILEAKS PODESTA 39490 | MAR 21, 2014

–Sent from my iPad–
For scheduling:
Begin forwarded message:
From: Gabe Podesta <
Date: March 20, 2014 at 12:05:25 AM EDT
To: Megan Rouse <>, Mae Podesta <>, Mary Podesta <>, “” <>, Gordon Rouse <
Subject: In Country
I made it to Bagram Air Field. Later today I’ll travel to Camp Phoenix. As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’d thought that I’d only be there for a couple months before moving. I learned yesterday that the plan is now for me to only be there for a month and then come back to Bagram. I’ve decided to just go with the flow. If you’ll pardon my French, it brings to mind one of my favorite USAF expressions: flexibility is the key to air power–and getting fucked. I want to be here for 30 consecutive days so as to ensure that I earn the Afghanistan Campaign Medal. Beyond that, the mission can send me to the North Pole and I’ll manage.

Vatican | WIKILEAKS PODESTA 58986 | APR 15, 2014

Date: 2014-04-15 13:14
Subject: Vatican

Qatar | WIKILEAKS PODESTA 57350 | JUN 11, 2014

I finished my time in Afghanistan with the most dangerous thing I hope to do on this deployment–I flew out of Bagram with a bunch of MRAPs (if one breaks free of its chains the plane will crash from the shift in weight). The crew was kind enough to let me snap some photos however. First is me hanging off an MRAP. Second is the hold (three MRAPs and a tank of explosives). Third is literally the view from my seat (no zoom). Remember it the next time United sticks you in the middle seat on a transcontinental trip. Qatar is sterile. Glad to be here but I also kind of miss Afghanistan.

Re: Qatar Update | WIKILEAKS PODESTA 46464 | JUN 16, 2014

Doha Museum of Islamic Art | WIKILEAKS PODESTA 41443 | AUG 24, 2014

Re: WSJ | Foreign Government Donations | WIKILEAKS PODESTA 46421 | FEB 18, 2015 

At least four foreign countries gave to the foundation in 2013—Norway, Italy, Australia and the Netherlands—a fact that has garnered little attention. The number of governments contributing in 2014 appears to have doubled from the previous year. Since its founding, the foundation has raised at least $48 million from overseas governments, according to a Journal tally.

United Arab Emirates, a first-time donor, gave between $1 million and $5 million in 2014, and the German government—which also hadn’t previously given—contributed between $100,000 and $250,000. A previous donor, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has given between $10 million and $25 million since the foundation was created in 1999. Part of that came in 2014, although the database doesn’t specify how much. The Australian government has given between $5 million and $10 million, at least part of which came in 2014. It also gave in 2013, when its donations fell in the same range.

Qatar’s government committee preparing for the 2022 soccer World Cup gave between $250,000 and $500,000 in 2014. Qatar’s government had previously donated between $1 million and $5 million. Oman, which had made a donation previously, gave an undisclosed amount in 2014. Over time, Oman has given the foundation between $1 million and $5 million. Prior to last year, its donations fell in the same range.

South Asia ‘shares blame’ for Gulf migrant abuses | ASIAN REVIEW | JUN 30, 2016

Amid growing concern about Qatar’s treatment of South Asian migrants building the infrastructure for the 2022 soccer World Cup, activists are warning that labor abuses are widespread throughout the Gulf, and that workers’ home countries share the blame. Concerns have been raised over working conditions with Emir Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, Qatar’s authoritarian ruler.  Amnesty International, a human rights group, said that almost all of more than 200 laborers it interviewed on two World Cup-related construction sites in Doha were being exploited by their employers. However, Qatar is neither the top Gulf destination for South Asian migrant workers nor the worst alleged violator of their rights. Indian embassies received more than 7,000 labor complaints from Gulf countries in the 11 months to November 2015, mostly from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told parliament in New Delhi in December.

Revealed: Qatar’s World Cup slaves | THE GUARDIAN | SEP 25, 2013

Dozens of Nepalese migrant labourers have died in Qatar in recent weeks and thousands more are enduring appalling labour abuses, a Guardian investigation has found, raising serious questions about Qatar’s preparations to host the 2022 World Cup. This summer, Nepalese workers died at a rate of almost one a day in Qatar, many of them young men who had sudden heart attacks. The investigation found evidence to suggest that thousands of Nepalese, who make up the single largest group of labourers in Qatar, face exploitation and abuses that amount to modern-day slavery, as defined by the International Labour Organisation, during a building binge paving the way for 2022.

Migrant workers in Qatar still at risk despite reforms, warns Amnesty | THE GUARDIAN | DEC 13, 2016

Workers building 2022 World Cup stadiums in Qatar will remain at risk of forced labour because of “meagre reforms” that “barely scratch the surface” of the Gulf state’s exploitation of migrant labour, Amnesty International UK has warned. A law change that comes into effect on Tuesday, which Qatar says guarantees greater flexibility, freedom and protection for workers, will not “significantly change the exploitative relationship between employers and workers”, said the rights group.

The Gulf state is spending an estimated $200bn on new transport infrastructure, housing and sports facilities, including six stadiums designed by architects including Lord Foster and the late Zaha Hadid. Construction for the 2022 World Cup will peak in the coming two years, and Spanish champions FC Barcelona are due to play an exhibition match in Doha on Tuesday.

But Qatar’s kafala system, which is used to recruit the majority of its workforce from countries including India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, has prompted international outcry because it prevents workers from changing jobs or leaving the country without a permit. It is alleged to have resulted in modern-day slavery for some workers. Qatar said on Monday it was abolishing kafala and that it was “enormously grateful to the millions of workers who have come to Qatar to build our nation’s infrastructure during this period of rapid change”.

‘We’re cheated, first in India, then in Qatar’: how World Cup workers are deceived | THE GUARDIAN | MAR 19, 2017

There are an estimated 1.8 million migrant workers already in Qatar, with 600,000 Indians and 500,000 Nepalese making up the largest number, followed by those from other south Asian countries. The gas-rich nation is spending about £400m a week on infrastructure projects, directly or indirectly related to football’s most prestigious tournament, and the demand for labour is expected to increase over the coming year as work intensifies.

It all represents rich pickings for the likes of Thapar, whose business forms part of a flourishing, pernicious chain that begins in remote villages in India and other south Asian countries and ends on the bustling hi-tech construction sites of Qatar. Human rights activists describe it as a form of “modern-day slavery”.


Qatar: Profit and Loss | Counting the cost of modern day slavery in Qatar: What is the price of freedom?

The cost of doing business in the slave state of Qatar is the denial of the fundamental rights and freedoms for 1.8 million migrant workers; for companies, the cost is corruption. When a company makes its profits from slave labour it accepts the debasing of humanity.  No CEO would preside over a business model that enslaves their own sons or daughters. Doing business in Qatar means accepting the kafala system, in opposition to the rights and freedoms granted in the democratic nations of their company headquarters.  Every CEO operating in Qatar is aware that their profits are driven by low wage levels – wages that are often based on a discriminatory racial system – and that these profits risk safety, resulting in indefensible work-place injuries, illness and deaths.  Local and foreign companies stand to make profits of $15 billion from Qatar’s infrastructure rollout, based on an average profit margin of 7.5 per cent.

Construction companies which take responsibility in other locations for accommodation that is clean and food that is fresh, fail to do so in Qatar. Hotel chains that are required by law in other nations to guarantee minimum hours between shifts and increased pay rates for overtime often fail to do so in Qatar. Retail chains that abide by laws in other countries to pay workers on time, and the salary they were promised often fail to do so in Qatar.  And “Western Universities”, whose intellectual freedom is the cornerstone of their value as academics, fail to address slavery on their campuses. The system of compliance for companies and those trapped in Qatar is both inefficient and open to political interference and corporate influence. Companies are clamoring for licenses to operate in Qatar under these conditions and are enslaving other people’s sons and daughters. We demand that companies afford workers in Qatar treatment which is equal to what they would provide in their home nations.

Qatar’s kafala system means that migrant workers are controlled by another person. Workers are: denied the right to leave the country, or work for another company, unless their employer agrees; denied the right to freedom of association; denied the right to borrow money from a bank or get a driver’s license unless their employer agrees. The ITUC released its special report, The Case Against Qatar, in March 2014, and nothing has changed for workers in Qatar. The Government has promised a decent housing compound for a mere 3.9 per cent of migrant workers in Qatar, based on the current workforce. The number of migrant workers in Qatar is likely to peak in 2017, five years before the start of the 2022 World Cup. The Government has made no changes to labour rights or compliance and refuses to sign the ILO’s forced labour protocol. The much promised labour law, which will not come into effect until 2017, adds a new layer of repression for migrant workers.

Qatari Riches Are Buying Art World Influence | NY TIMES | JUL 23, 2013

The prices have been record breaking, and startling.More than $70 million for Rothko’s “White Center” in 2007, a high-water mark for that artist.More than $20 million later that year for a Damien Hirst pill cabinet, then a record for a living artist.And $250 million for Cézanne’s “Card Players” in 2011, the highest known price ever paid for a painting.

Given the secrecy of the art market, few knew at the time who had laid out such unprecedented sums.But it has become increasingly clear that those masterpieces and many more have been purchased by Qatar, a tiny Persian Gulf country with enormous wealth and cultural ambitions to match: it is buying art at a level never seen before.

The purchasing is directed through intermediaries by Sheika al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, chairwoman of the Qatar Museums Authority and a sister to Qatar’s new emir. At age 30 she has become one of the most influential players in the art world.

No one knows exactly how much Sheika al Mayassa has spent on behalf of her family or the museum authority since she was named chairwoman by her father, the former emir, in 2006. But experts estimate the acquisition budget reaches $1 billion a year and say the Qataris have used it to secure a host of undisputed modern and contemporary masterpieces by Francis Bacon, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons.

Where all this art will eventually end up remains something of a mystery. But it seems clear that, just as Qatar has used its oil riches to boost its influence in the Middle East with ventures like arming Syrian rebels, its wealth is also being deployed to help the country become a force in the world of culture.

Auction houses and galleries will often wine and dine these collectors before a big sale. Significant works will be flown to their homes. The Qataris don’t take part in this. They delegate their purchasing to a handful of experienced art advisers who do it for them — initially the dealers Philippe Ségalot and Franck Giraud and now Guy Bennett.

Mr. Bennett, a former co-head of Christie’s Impressionist and Modern art department worldwide, is known as a master dealmaker. He is just one of a number of Christie’s alumni who have taken on roles with Qatar. In June 2011 Edward Dolman, the auction house’s former chairman, was named executive director of the Qatar Museums Authority. Jean-Paul Engelen, the director of public art programs for the authority, is also a Christie’s veteran.

The Qatar team typically buys from dealers, though some of its most major purchases have been at auction. Experts said that another intermediary may act on Mr. Bennett’s behalf so that the sales cannot be traced to the Qataris, who want to keep their buying private to prevent driving up the market and fueling speculation about their plans.

“They are very secretive about their purchases and activities in the art market and I am not quite sure why,” Mr. Nash said.

Where all this art will eventually end up remains something of a mystery. But it seems clear that, just as Qatar has used its oil riches to boost its influence in the Middle East with ventures like arming Syrian rebels, its wealth is also being deployed to help the country become a force in the world of culture. Qataris have used it to secure a host of undisputed modern and contemporary masterpieces by Francis Bacon, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons. Until Qatar’s 2007 purchase, for example, the most expensive Rothko ever sold at auction (“Homage to Matisse”) had drawn $22 million in 2005, less than one-third of the price Qatar paid. $250 million for Cézanne’s “Card Players” from the family of Greek shipping magnate George Embiricos

 Sothesby’s | George Embiricos Tribute


Paint the Town: Final Collector’s View at the Podesta’s | WASHINGTON LIFE MAGAZINE | JUN 18, 2010

“I’ve been collecting since the early 80s,” said Tony, when asked about his start. “I worked for Ted Kennedy when he ran for president in 1980. The campaign wasn’t as successful as we had hoped, and rather quickly they cut everybody’s salary in half. And at the end of the campaign, the way the campaign stayed afloat was to get artists – like Warhol, Rauschenberg, Lichtenstein – to make art for the campaign. They sold the art to keep the campaign afloat. And at the end of the campaign, they kept track of how much the other half of the salary was that we didn’t get and I walked out with a big tube of Warhols, Rauschenbergs and Lichtensteins! And that’s how I started collecting art. It was involuntary collecting!”


Tony Podesta, standing in front of “The Arch of Hysteria. Based off of work done by Jeffrey Dahmer.

Inside Homes: Private Viewing | WASHINGTON LIFE MAGAZINE | JUN 5, 2015

Inside power lobbyist, philanthropist and contemporary art collector Tony Podesta’s Kalorama home.

If you’ve ever dreamed of strolling through a museum with a slice of pizza and glass of wine in hand, you need to befriend superlobbyist Tony Podesta. Known about town as a legendary political “fix-it” man, Podesta has turned his Kalorama home into a shrine to contemporary art, ranging from relatively under-the-radar artists such as Serbian painter Biljana Djurdjevic to those who are much better known (like French sculptor Louise Bourgeois). The collection got a rather accidental start. After taking a 50 percent pay cut for his work during the last nine months of Ted Kennedy’s failed 1980 presidential campaign, Podesta ended up being handed a tube of artwork donated by major Kennedy-supporting artists of the day, such as Roy Liechenstein and Jasper Johns, in lieu of his foregone salary. He didn’t bother to open for five years, but when he did what he found were gems. “I walked away with 10 or 12 pieces in that tube, including my first two Rauschenbergs and my first Warhol,” Podesta says.

Though his collection currently stands at 792 works (and rising as he still actively buys), only about 10 percent is displayed at any one time in the house, as Podesta prefers to rotate artwork annually. However, his first major purchase, a nearly-2,000-pound bronze sculpture by Bourgeois called “Arch of Hysteria,” is never taken down. Over the years he has donated more than 1,300 pieces to local museums, including the Corcoran, Hirshhorn, Katzen Center at American University, National Gallery of Art, National Portrait Gallery and the Phillips Collection; his largest donation stands at 505 pieces to the National Museum of Women in the Arts. In New York City, he has donated to the Museum of Modern art and the Whitney. Last year alone he  gifted more than 200 works.

He has dedicated himself solely to contemporary works — Bourgeois is one of only two deceased artists represented in the collection — and prefers to buy from the same artists once he establishes that he likes their work. Currently he has collected from 40 different artists in some depth, with his top five being Marina Abramovic, Vik Muniz, Bourgeois, Olafur Eliasson and Antony Gormley.

Podesta is constantly on the move. The day we met he was dashing home from a Hillary Clinton fundraiser and preparing for an early-morning flight to his vacation home in Venice the following day. Not to mention the rapid-fire nature of his work as founder and chairman of The Podesta Group, whose client roster includes such high profile names as Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Wal-Mart, Wells Fargo and Lockheed Martin. Because of his busy schedule he needs his house to be a refuge from daily stress. While its open floor plan and rather sparse décor can give off a museum vibe, particularly in the basement where white-walled rooms are lined with glass containers of shelved art highlighted by recessed lighting, Podesta’s feelings towards his guests are far from cold or regimented. He regularly opens his house to casual pizza parties co-hosted by his friend James Alefantis, the owner of Comet Ping Pong. Over 200 pies emerge from the outdoor pizza oven as guests wander through the house and garden while studying his art collection.

Lobbyists Set to Fight Royalty Bill for Artists | NY TIMES | MAR 23, 2014

Lawyers for Sotheby’s auction house paid an unusual visit to a few lawmakers on Capitol Hill this month and brought along some high-powered lobbying muscle. They had come to complain about a new bill that even some supporters acknowledge faces a difficult road in this divided Congress: a proposal to give visual artists — or their estates — a cut of the profits when their work is resold at public auction.

Despite the long odds, Sotheby’s and Christie’s have spent about $1 million in the last couple of years to hire well-known legal and lobbying talent in Washington such as Paul D. Clement, a solicitor general under President George W. Bush, and the Podesta Group, run by the Democratic super-lobbyist Tony Podesta, whose brother, John D. Podesta, recently joined the Obama administration as a top aide.

What Are The Top 10 Al-Thani Family Art Acquisitions? | ARTNET | NOV 14, 2014

1. Paul Cézanne, The Card Players, $250 million
This masterpiece is supposedly the most expensive work ever sold.
2. Mark Rothko, White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender), $72.8 million
This “Rockefeller Rothko” was reportedly purchased by the Al-Thani family at a Sotheby’s auction in May 2007.
3. Andy Warhol, The Men in Her Life, $63. 4 million
Philippe Ségalot reportedly orchestrated the acquisition of Warhol’s 1962 work. It was sold at Phillip’s in New York in November 2010.
4. Fabergé egg, $9.57 million
The egg was bought at a Christie’s auction in New York in 2002.
5. James John Audubon, Birds of America, $8.8 million
The late Sheikh Saud Al-Thani purchased this masterpiece, which at the time was the world’s most expensive book.
6. The Clive of India Flask, $5 million
During Sheikh Saud’s shopping spree in London, he beat London’s V&A museum to purchase the £3m Clive of India flask.
7. Girault de Prangey, The Temple of Jupiter in Athens, $922,490
When Sheikh Saud purchased this photograph in 2003, he set a new record (beating one of his own previous purchases) for the most expensive price paid for a daguerreotype and for a photograph.
8. J. Ezra Merkin’s 11 Rothkos, $310 million
The family supposedly bought 11 Rothko paintings from financier J. Ezra Merkin when he had to liquidate the largest Rothko collection in the world due to his involvement with the Madoff scandal.
9. Werner Bokelberg‘s Photography collection, $15 million
Sheikh Saud in 2000 bought up Bokelberg’s 136 photograph collection which included masterpieces by Man Ray and Alfred Stieglitz.
10. Damien Hirst, Lullaby Spring, $19 million
Damien Hirst‘s pill cabinet was purchased in the spring of 2007 at Sotheby’s.

9/11 wicked but a work of art, says Damien Hirst | THE GUARDIAN | SEP 10, 2002

The artist Damien Hirst said last night he believed the terrorists responsible for the September 11 attacks “need congratulating” because they achieved “something which nobody would ever have thought possible” on an artistic level. Hirst, who is no stranger to controversy, said many people would “shy away” from looking at the event as art but he believed the World Trade Centre attack was “kind of like an artwork in its own right”. In an interview, Hirst told BBC News Online: “The thing about 9/11 is that it’s kind of an artwork in its own right. It was wicked, but it was devised in this way for this kind of impact. It was devised visually.” Describing the image of the hijacked planes crashing into the twin towers as “visually stunning”, he added: “You’ve got to hand it to them on some level because they’ve achieved something which nobody would have ever have thought possible, especially to a country as big as America. “So on one level they kind of need congratulating, which a lot of people shy away from, which is a very dangerous thing.”

Tony Podesta owns entire collections of Damien Hirst pieces | NGA | OCT 24, 2016

Qatar’s oil boom created the world’s most extravagant art scene—and also led to its demise | QUARTZ | AUG 24, 2016

Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, and Naomi Campbell made their way through the VIP crowd, past the fleet of Bentleys, and toward the waiting helicopter.

Hirst—the English artist best known for his multi-million dollar sculpture of a shark floating in formaldehyde—was in town on official business. Qatar Museums (QM) had ponied up over $20 million to fund a retrospective of his work and commission a series of pieces. He had spent the last hour showing QM’s chairperson, Sheikha Mayassa (who is also the daughter of the Emir), around the exhibition, pointing out exactly how her country’s money had been spent. The other two were just tagging along, presumably. Besides, the after-party sounded promising: QM had organized a pop-up Prada shop in the middle of the desert, and guests were being ferried there via private helicopter.

As the rotor blades sprang to life and the unlikely trio was lifted into the sky, the South-Asian laborers working nearby stopped to watch the spectacle. They were being paid $11 a day to swing pickaxes in the desert sun and lay the groundwork for the new Qatar National Museum.

These purchases—perhaps destined to gather dust in a museum basement—nonetheless endeared Qatar to the international art market and provided the media with a compelling, feel-good narrative about the young princess who was helping transform the region via art and museums. That may have been true, but the reality of day-to-day life for the staff at QM was a series of temper tantrums, meltdowns, threats, and people running to the bathroom in tears. But I guess that’s to be expected when you throw a couple hundred expats into a 14-story tower in the desert, pair them up with local bureaucrats, and tell them to launch a series of ludicrous exhibitions and international conferences in a country where a single shipping form or budget request can take months to process.

Like all other aspects of Qatar society, life within the tower followed a very clear hierarchy based on a person’s passport, skin color, and surname. While Qatar isn’t as religiously conservative as neighboring Saudi Arabia, it’s also not that far removed. All Qataris are expected to wear their “national uniform” while in public (a black abaya for women, a white thobe for men). Workplaces pause for daily prayers, and fraternizing between members of the opposite sex is generally discouraged.


Distinguished Artists to Join Curators, Art Collectors and Museum Directors at the New York Times ‘Art For Tomorrow’ Conference | NEW YORK TIMES | JAN 20, 2016

Artist Marina Abramović, Art Basel global director Marc Spiegler, UNESCO’s Francesco Bandarin among diverse mix of art-world leaders to appear in Doha March 12-15

Qatar: The Shape of Tomorrow | BLOUINARTINFO | JUN 19, 2016

Doha: Plastic and ready-made, it’s a city built for Jeff Koons.  When I run into him in March at the elevator bank at the
 W Doha Hotel, it feels staged. House music plays at a tasteful volume for nine o’clock in the morning. Koons’s smile is cartoonish and his gray skinny tie impeccably knotted. A frequent guest of the Qatari royal family, the artist is in the desert peninsula’s capital to headline the New York Times Art for Tomorrow conference.

“I love the readymade because of the idea of acceptance,” Koons tells me, “that everything is in play and that everything is perfect in its own being.” It’s little wonder that he is attracted to Qatar.

“I’ve heard stories of an artist being in prison,” Koons told me, as we sat on white couches in the W. “My idea of participating and of art having a moral responsibility, I think, comes from my experience of growing up,” he said, “in that first you have a concept of self and of transcendence of the self, and then you become aware of your place within the community and your responsibility to the community, and that just gets played out on larger scales later in life, depending upon your desire for participation.”

Jeff Koons Endorses Hillary Clinton for President, Says Trump Not ‘Suitable’ | ARTNET | OCT 20, 2016

Jeff Koons joins a growing list of artists and art world personalities who are endorsing Hillary Clinton in the upcoming American presidential election.

Speaking to the German art magazine Monopol, the artist argued that the Democratic candidate will do more to support the visual arts in America than Republican nominee Donald Trump. He revealed that he has supported Clinton since meeting her at the White House 20 years ago. The two have had a number of interactions since then; for instance, in 2012, Clinton presented him with the Medal of Arts. “Hillary Clinton has always supported the arts,” Koons said, adding that she “closely follows the developments in the art world.”

Artists raise millions for Hillary Clinton | THE ART NEWSPAPER | NOV 3, 2016

Jeff Koons’s donation of $50,000 to Correct the Record, a “Super Pac” (Public Action Committee) backing Hillary Clinton, is the biggest cash donation by an artist to this year’s US presidential campaign. According to reports from the Federal Election Committee, Koons made the donation on 17 June this year. But the artist has potentially donated significantly more in kind: he created a print in an edition of 40, Gazing Ball (da Vinci Mona Lisa), which was given to those who bought a $50,000 ticket to an auction hosted by Larry Gagosian in September. If all 40 of those prints sold, it would raise $2m for the Hillary Victory Fund, however a spokesman for the campaign said it could not release such donor information.

Koons was not available for comment, but recently told Monopol magazine that he had supported Clinton for 20 years. She awarded him with the Medal of Arts in 2013, when she was Secretary of State.

Other prominent artists to have supported the Clinton campaign according to the FEC reports, through cash donations or auctioned works—many given as part of September’s Gagosian auction—include Marina Abramovic ($2,700 cash donation made in May), Glenn Ligon ($30,000 “joint fundraising contribution” in September), Ed Ruscha ($12,500 contribution in September), Richard Serra ($28,000 contribution in September), Cindy Sherman ($33,400 and $75,000 contributions in August and September) and Sarah Sze ($21,000 contribution in September).

“Art dealers including Larry Gagosian and David Zwirner have also donated to the Clinton campaign.”

Jeff Koons donated contributed to Correct the Record | FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION

Jeff Koons donated $50,000 to Correct the Record, a political hit squad founded by David Brock, a close associate of John Podesta and James Alefantis.

Jeff Koons is on the Board of Directors at the International Center for Missing & Exploited Children | ICMEC BOARD OF DIRECTORS



Dakis Joannou, a close friend of Jeff Koons, is a former Board Member at the International Center for Missing & Exploited Children | ICMEC BOARD OF DIRECTORS

This photo of Jeff Koons, Dan Friedman, Jeffrey Deitch, and Dakis Joannou was taken some time before 1995. Dan Friedman died of AIDS in 1995.


(L-R) Jeffrey Deitch, Jeff Koons, and Dakis Joannou

A Fool for Art | THE NEW YORKER | NOV 12, 2007

Jeffrey Deitch and the exuberance of the art market.

A wave of new American and European collectors, many of them youngish hedge-fund managers, has driven auction prices to unprecedented, almost unimaginable levels—$104 million for Picasso’s “Boy with a Pipe,” at Sotheby’s in 2004—and even higher prices have been registered in private sales. (The billionaire hedge-fund owner Steven A. Cohen is said to have paid $143.5 million last year for a painting by Willem de Kooning.) More recently, money pouring in from non-American sources—Russian oligarchs, mysterious collectors in Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, India, and South Korea—has pushed prices even higher, and confirmed the ever-expanding art market as a global enterprise.

A huge portion of the new money in this market is being spent on contemporary art…

This yacht named “Guilty” belongs to Dakis Joannou. The exterior design was created by Jeff Koons


Dakis Joannou is the chairman of J&P (Overseas) and J&P-AVAX, publicly traded companies on the Athenian stock exchange. His son Christos is the chief operating officer of the two companies. The strategy of these companies is to form partnerships with other capital entities to develop every kind of public and private facility in Greece, the Arab Mideast, Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe. J&P participates top to bottom in these developments, including capital formation, design, construction and operation.

Among the projects J&P has pursued to completion and beyond in the Arab world are the Four Seasons Sharm El Sheikh, the Albussan Palace in Muscat and the Doha International Hotel. In 2007, J&P won the contract to build and develop, plus a 25-year deal to operate, the new airport in Amman, Jordan. With a 20 percent stake, J&P is the largest shareholder in the Amman strip.

In spite of the severe debt and liquidity problems of the Greek nation, J&P, which currently trades at €2 on the Athens Stock Exchange, continues to make deals aggressively on a daily basis. Just last month, J&P created a consortium with SorensaSpA Ltd. to acquire the hotel business Argestis SA, a deal which awaits approval by the European Union. In addition to its flagship hotels in Athens, the SemiRamis, designed by starchitect Karim Rashid, and the Athens Intercontinental, J&P is currently building the YES! Athens hotel, scheduled to open at the end of 2010, designed by two more starchitects, the Campana Brothers. Tourism is, of course, a major industry in Greece.

In this hotel project and other new projects, J&P has joined forces with Dolphin Capital Partners, whose principal, Milton Kambourides, is a former partner in Soros Real Estate Partners. An overview of the Dakis Joannou/J&P operations could yield two divergent prospects for a complex, interlocking business, dependent on amortization and wide debt-to-capital ratios. The first is that Dakis is smart enough and aggressive enough to take advantage of buying opportunities during a worldwide recession and increase his bottom line significantly. The second is that J&P is so overleveraged and so dependent on the luxury market that it is at serious risk of default, should its capital pipeline dry up. J&P’s low stock price would indicate a potential problem in this area.


Dakis Joannou is a Greek-Cypriot billionaire tycoon who specializes in construction, shipping, distribution and art. Dakis Joannou has been collecting art for over 50 years. He is, without a doubt, one of the most influential art collectors of all time.

The Joannou family’s core business is construction and concessions through J&P (Overseas), where Dakis Joannou is Chairman and J&P-AVAX, where Christos Joannou is Chairman. The family is also active in shipping, quick service restaurants, real estate development, and hotel ownership and operations, including the Intercontinental Hotel in Athens, and YES Hotels Group, comprising of premium design hotels such as the Semiramis Hotel, designed by Karim Rashid and New Hotel, designed by the Campana brothers.

Dakis Joannou is a majority stake holder in 30+ companies in various industries. Dakis Joannou is a leading distributor of Coca-Cola in 27 countries through out Europe, Africa and beyond. This includes Russia. Coca-cola uses their supply-chain experties to help medicines reach remote regions in Africa.

Dakis Joannou’s son, Christos Joannou, serves, or has served, as an executive and/or board member at many of those companies including: Dakis Joannou (Holdings) Ltd., Coca-Cola HBC AG, Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Co. SA. J&P Energy & Industrial Projects SA, Aegean Airlines S.A., Yes SA, Nucorp Hellas SA, Smile SAS, and many more.

Dakis Joannou is a major stake holder in the construction company founded by his father and his father’s partner, Joannou & Paraskevaides. The company has been performing major infrastructure projects in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) since the 1960’s. Past projects include airports in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Jordan & Oman. They are also heavily involved in the oil & gas industry. In all of these countries, the majority of labor is performed by migrant workers, many of whom are forced in working for very low wages. Many of these workers are slaves.

Joannou & Paraskevaides – List of Major Projects (pdf)

Joannou & Paraskevaides Airport Projects (pdf)



Dakis Joannou | INTERVIEW MAGAZINE | JUL 24, 2016

You’d think an art-besotted industrialist whose construction company helped build the modern Middle East, North Africa, Cyprus, and Greece would have a lust for power. Not Dakis Joannou. The 76-year-old Greek Cypriot happily flouts the rules of typical mogul behavior. When he sails on Guilty, his custom-built, 115-foot art gallery of a yacht—with a razzle-dazzle paint job by Jeff Koons—his passengers are less likely to be fellow captains of industry than the artists and curators he admires. They know Joannou to be a man who thinks more like they do than like a businessman. He’s certainly the polar opposite of the developer who built Trump Tower, where Joannou and his wife, Lietta, have maintained a pied-à-terre since the late 1980s. Joannou has zero interest in politics—he doesn’t even vote—and he hasn’t plastered the family name on any of his six hotels in Athens. Nor does it appear on the foundation he established 33 years ago as DESTE, a Greek word for “look” and an acronym for International and Greek Contemporary Art. Interestingly, he founded DESTE before he started collecting. That happened in 1985, when he bought One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank (Spalding Dr. J 241 Series), by the then little-known Koons. (The discounted price: $2,700.) It changed Joannou’s life.

Born in Nicosia, Cyprus, Joannou was schooled in Athens and earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in civil engineering at Cornell and Columbia universities, respectively, before getting a doctorate in architecture at Sapienza University in Rome. In 1967, he returned to Cyprus to join Joannou & Paraskevaides, his father’s construction firm, married Lietta, and had four children. In 1974, when Turkey invaded Cyprus, the family relocated to London and in 1980 settled in Athens, where the couple currently lives in a modernist mansion that Joannou expanded to house his still-growing collection. Among the 600 or so artworks that he rotates in and out of storage are those by the likes of Koons, Ashley Bickerton, Robert Gober, Paweł Althamer, Urs Fischer, Chris Ofili, Charles Ray, Tim Noble and Sue Webster, Maurizio Cattelan and his latest interest, the Los Angeles-based artist Kaari Upson.

Not even a little. This June DESTE is celebrating its 33rd anniversary at the Benaki Museum in Athens with “The Equilibrists,” a group show that introduces the work of Greek and Cypriot artists in their twenties and thirties, after the first New Museum triennial, “Younger Than Jesus.” Opening at the same time is a solo show by the Italian artist Roberto Cuoghi at the Slaughterhouse, DESTE’s project space on the Greek island of Hydra. “I think he’s going to do something very strange,” says Joannou. “Something with crabs crawling all over the place.” DESTE 33 Years was sitting on a dining table designed by Urs Fischer when I arrived at Joannou’s Trump Tower apartment to talk about the foundation, his life in art, and his felicitous rapport with artists. The presidential primary campaign was in full swing, and Donald Trump was on the television in the living room, with the sound turned off.

Dakis Joannou’s Art Addiction | VULTURE | JUN 17, 2016

This combination of freedom (Joannou can afford it, since he owns a lot of real estate and a large construction company with projects across the Middle East) and compulsion (he has put a particular kind of investigatory patronage in the heart of his life) has made him at once influential and evasive. There’s a reason why the collection and its associated activities go under the name of the foundation, and he often seems to operate at a kind of half-smile remove. The ever-more-bedazzling art world as a whole doesn’t seem to concern him much, and he seems to look askance on many of the forces that drive it. But most basically, Joannou doesn’t see himself as just another bigshot international art collector. And there are lots of those these days, after all.

I met up with him at his apartment high up in Trump Tower, where there’s serious-looking earbudded security in the lobby these days. Joannou’s place is a kind of enchanted toy chest, full of the kind of amusingly haunting art he’s often attracted to, starting with the seared, totemic stacked blobs of a Helmut Lang sculpture, arranged like a sinister shish kebab, that you meet when you walk in. “It’s his entire archive,” Joannou says, patting it affectionately, and when you look closer, you see on the skewer fabrics and papers and all kinds of things. Joannou tells me that he has owned the apartment since the building was new, in 1983, which is the same year that DESTE was founded, and two years before a young Citibank art-adviser executive named Jeffrey Deitch took him around the East Village. That’s when he became transfixed by a work by a young artist named Jeff Koons, One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank, that he bought for $2,700 from the gallery International With Monument.


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”Guilty” by Ivana Porfiri for Dakis Joannou | YATZER | OCT 03, 2008

Dakis Joannou is a Greek Cypriot industrialist and one of the leading collectors of European contemporary art. The earliest work in his collection is from 1985 and the latest one is his own yacht which name is Guilty, a project of Ivana Porfiri and exterior camouflage design by Jeff Koons. 

Dakis Joannou’s Guilty Pleasure | NOWNESS | MAR 7, 2010

The Yacht That Koons Designed
As far as nautical luxury goes, it would be hard to outdo Greek billionaire Dakis Joannou’s “Guilty.” The yacht was built in 2008 by specialist Cantieri Navali Rizzardi, the Italian company that showed the first superyacht longer than 100 feet at the Cannes International Boat and Yacht Show of 2002 (owner Gianfranco Rizzardi refers to his vessels as the “haute couture” of pleasure boats). With an exterior by Jeff Koons, the 115-foot floating hulk is something of a museum-worthy masterpiece. Koons’s design was inspired by the “dazzle”camouflage of WW1 ships—complex geometric patterns that created opticalillusions to confuse enemy gunners. The interior, designed by Milan’s IvanaPorfiri, is no less wowing, with works by artists such as Martin Creed andSarah Morris, whose text painting Guilty inspired the yacht’s name. In between overseeing his Athens-based, non-profit DESTEFoundation, which has supportednumerous projects since 1983, and liaising with major art world figures (Larry Gagosian, Marian Goodman and Maurizio Cattelan all attended the christening of “Guilty”), Dakis Joannou sails his prized boat to his villa in Corfu, where he spent ten days with Koons last summer. When Joannou is in Greece, “Guilty” can often be seen mooredon the island of Hydra—the site of the new DESTE projectspace.

Jeff Koons Jets Off to Greece to Ride Billionaire Dakis Joannou’s “Guilty” Yacht | ARTNET | JUL 21, 2015

Later this month, he told T magazine that he’ll be jetting off to Corfu, Greece to hang out on the yacht he designed for Greek billionaire and art collector Dakis Joannou in 2013.

What exactly does this 115-foot luxury seacraft look like, you ask? In a 2013 Forbes article that begins with the polite observation, “there have always been charges of excess in the art world,” the ship is described as a Lichtenstein-esque creation comprised of bold geometric designs. It was reportedly inspired by Razzle Dazzle, the British naval camouflage from World War I that was intended to confuse the viewer. If you’re looking at it from a bird’s eye view, there’s a massive picture of Iggy Pop, who Koons regards as a “contemporary Dionysus figure.” “We did what we wanted; style was irrelevant,” Joannou told Forbes. “We designed a boat in an antistyle method. We have no rules, no programs, no plans.” The yacht, one of several owned by Joannou, goes by the name of “Guilty,” and once had to be wrapped in paper to guard against a swarm of paparazzi in Italy. Word is Joannou doesn’t use it too often. Except, of course, when he’s hitting the high seas with its visionary designer.

As art dealers and gallerists in Greece struggle to stay afloat, it appears Joannou is doing just fine.

The Collection As a Dialogue | ART TERRITORY | MAY 05, 2014

Joannou is a little over 70 years old, and his name can be found in ArtReview’s Power 100, a list of the world’s most influential figures in the art world. Last year he was ranked #37, and he’s been on the list every year since it was formed. Born in Cyprus, Joannou studied engineering in the United States and later studied architecture in Rome, after which he joined his family’s construction business. The company, J&P Group, was established by Joannou’s father in 1941 and has since grown into a global empire. Joannou is the chairman of the board at J&P Group but also owns shares in more than 20 other companies ranging from the shipping sector to tourism to real estate.  He is a shareholder in one of the largest distributors of Coca-Cola products in 27 countries, including Greece, Russia and Nigeria. He owns the YES! network of boutique hotels, which includes Semiramis (designed by Karim Rashid) and New Hotel (designed by the Brazilian design company Campana Brothers) in Athens.