Treasury Nominee Steven Mnuchin Looking to Shed de Kooning Painting Worth $12M-18M

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Steven Mnuchin

According to the auction house, the artwork, de Kooning's "Untitled III," is leveraged by an unnamed third-party guarantor.

After announcing plans to divest his Hollywood holdings, Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin is shedding still more assets to avoid conflicts of interest between his business interests and the responsibilities of his office. Among the financier’s interests in 43 companies and investments targeted for divestment is a painting by artist Willem de Kooning, “Untitled III,” valued by Christie’s between $12 million and $18 million.

According to the auction house, the artwork is leveraged by an unnamed third-party guarantor. In a disclosure report filed with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, it is listed as “other assets and income” as part of a “dynasty trust” that is sheltered from taxation by the estate tax loophole. Also in the trust are a corporate jet and securities filings from Goldman Sachs, where Mnuchin and his father, Robert Mnuchin, were executives. Robert Mnuchin is a well-known art dealer and gallery owner based in New York. 

The painting was acquired from L&M Arts, the ‘M’ of which stands for Mnuchin. It happens to be Robert Mnuchin’s previous gallery, co-operated with his partner, Dominique Levy, before it was dissolved in 2012. A longtime collector, the elder Mnuchin speaks with authority on de Kooning.

“I did have the pleasure of meeting him a number of times,” he said before the opening of “Chamberlain / de Kooning” at the Mnuchin Gallery last fall on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. “I visited him in the Springs [Long Island], when his dealer, Xaxier Fourcade — I had an avid interest in de Kooning’s work — brought me to the Springs to see this fascinating studio he had that he created. It was all glass.”

A key figure among the Abstract-expressionists, de Kooning experienced a creative lapse in the 1960s as he struggled with alcoholism during a separation from his wife, Elaine. Reunited with her in the 1970s, he sobered up and moved to Springs, where he painted “Untitled III” in 1978. It was during this period that his creative output experienced a renaissance before he succumbed to dementia in the 1980s.

Before he was chosen by Donald Trump for the treasury post, Steven Mnuchin partnered with filmmaker Brett Ratner and Australian billionaire James Packer at RatPac-Dune Entertainment, producer of such hits as Mad Max and American Sniper and losers like Pan. Mnuchin’s interest in Warner Bros. through RatPac is estimated to be between $5 million and $25 million.

Though he’s not an actor, Mnuchin can currently be seen in a cameo in Warren Beatty’s Rules Don’t Apply, along with his fiancée, Scottish actress Louise Linton (Cabin Fever).