David Walsh


David Walsh: The Tasmanian Devil

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Museum of Old and New Art

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David Walsh - Not a great deal is know about this Tasmanian - Australian, but he founded MONA - (Museum of Old and New Art). Australian press has described him in a few colourful ways, such as - "multi-millionaire professional gambler and one of the nation's leading art collectors - dismisses himself as "just a privileged guy with a megaphone". He might be right. But the world is about to discover just how wonderful, disturbing, beautiful and occasionally challenging that megaphone is". In the second year of his science degree at the University of Tasmania, he was asked by friends to develop a model that would enable them to win at blackjack in the nearby Wrest Point Casino. When he discovered that the scope for winning at card games was limited he dropped out of his degree and, for most of the ’80s and early ’90s, spent 100 or more hours per week developing a mathematical model that would enable him and his partners to win at other forms of gambling, especially horseracing. This he now pursues on a large scale in a number of countries. There is a network of people involved in Walsh’s outfit, most notably his business partner of 30 years, Zeljko Ranogajec. Walsh met Ranogajec at university where the latter studied law and economics before he too dropped out to pursue a career in gambling. Walsh describes Ranogajec as a “relentless motivator and a loyal friend” who, despite not sharing his interest in art, has provided financial support for his collecting mania “whenever my cashflow dried to a trickle”. As Walsh inelegantly puts it: "I am throwing the shit, he is happy to be the fan. And he doesn’t even like the shit."

 

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Tassie 'Devil' Gambling Tycoon Shows Of Sex, Death, Vice Et Al Art Exhibit...

Art and gambling do mix, at least that's the experience of Brits Damian Aspinall, Phil 'Tuffers' Tufnell, Australian artist Gina Sinozich, Media Man (bodypaint and burlesque "fetish") and Tasmanian gambling whale - tycoon, David 'Wicked' (satire) Walsh. You will pick up on Dave's affectionate nickname by us later. We like you David, ok mate.

Tasmania's most famous or infamous gambling figure, millionaire, David Walsh yesterday gave us a peak into his art exbit...the biggest (and weirdest) private art gallery in Tasmania, if not the Asia Pacific. The $110 million Museum of Old and New Art is nestled on the banks of Hobart's Derwent River.

He was going to give a press announcement everyone was eagerly awaiting. A minder advised. Next thing... "No I'm not" and the formalities were done. His pink t-shirt sported the charming words - "FUCK the art, let's rock'n'roll."

His expo has been championed "Subversive Disneyland at the end of the world", and the word is that Walsh might be now challenging Sydney for the title of 'Sin City'. Maybe in your dreams Dave, but if you keep going, you might get there.

A Media Man insider shouted "Bring the freak show to Sydney David. Show em how its done in Sin City, if you are the king on Sin". Walsh didn't respond, but leakers reckon he broke into a devilish smile, perhaps the MM sparking something. Yep, this bloke likes a bit of attention, and it seems he wants to be known as #1, even if his art is "for fun".

It was the hottest (sexiest and darkest) ticket in town. A party for 1350 invited guests and ballot winners, the art collector and number cruncher, who we understand made his millions via syndicate gambling, showcased his idea of art with punters and news media lapping it up.

MONA director Mark Fraser went on the record "This museum is David's...he makes every decision and that is very, very different to most museums."

On display in the multi-level gallery - the steel structure designed by Melbourne based architect Nonda Katsalidis is built into a cliff. There's roughly 200 artworks purchased by the "devilish" Walsh over 2 decades. Insiders understand its one-tenth of his entire collection. Artefact's, traditional art, contemporary art and a good dose of what we might just call sex and death art.

Walsh has been upfront saying that MONA "explores sex and death", but that's just a fraction of the collection. Insiders say he also includes it to make sure he gets strong media attention, something he missed out on in the past, as hard as that may be to believe.

Fancy a wall of plaster casts of women's genitalia? Line up, line up. The greatest show on earth, you could imagine P.T Barnum shouting at the top of his lungs.

Walsh generously shares "I think formal curation is a form of mental masturbation."

Traditional curators and galleries, he said, threw together what works they could manage and then invented ways to categorise them in a manner that was essentially superficial and misleading.

"I'm not really that interested in a bunch of big names. Most of the works are by people most people haven't heard of and still won't have heard of because there's no wall labels."

Walsh advised he wanted MONA to become one of Tasmania's biggest tourist destinations, and judging by the response, he might just meet that goal. He's also impressively created the museum without formal government assistance, such is the health of his gambling and casino endeavors.

There is no board of directors unlike the nation's other supposed leading private museums, such as TarraWarra in Victoria, Walsh has not sought not-for-profit status.

"I don't want to lose control (or) something that ends up looking like a pale version of the National Gallery of Victoria," he said in a way that you could tell he's thought the questions and potential answers through his brain before.

Profits from the adjacent winery, restaurant, brewery and boutique hotel will help underpin annual running costs of $8m. If there's a shortfall, we think 'Our David' should be able to pick up the slack.

There's something for almost everyone here, but we suspect big Sunday church goers might be giving it a big miss. Oh, celebs and a-list types the world over dig David and his works, and substantial steps had been taken to protect the names of... wait for it...David Bowie and Mick Jagger. If they are fans, they are not saying or publicly endorsing it (yet). Sex, a bit of vice, the gambling connection. Sounds like you? Yep, that's what we thought. Have you booked your ticket yet?

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Museum of Old and New Art

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Tasmania is an Australian island and state of the same name. It is located 240 kilometres (150 mi) south of the eastern side of the continent, being separated from it by Bass Strait. The state of Tasmania includes the island of Tasmania, which is the 26th largest island in the world, and other surrounding islands. The state has an estimated population of 500,000 (as of December 2008) with almost half located in the greater Hobart area, and an area of 68,401 square kilometres (26,410 sq mi), of which the main island covers 62,409 square kilometres (24,096 sq mi).

Tasmania is promoted as the Natural State and the "Island of Inspiration" owing to its large and relatively unspoiled natural environment. Formally, almost 37% of Tasmania is in reserves, National Parks and World Heritage Sites. The island is 364 kilometres (226 mi) long from the northernmost point to the southernmost point and 306 kilometres (190 mi) from west to east.

The state capital and largest city is Hobart, which encompasses the local government areas of City of Hobart, City of Glenorchy, City of Clarence and generally included is the satellite town of Kingston, part of the Municipality of Kingborough, into the Greater Hobart area. Other major population centres include Launceston in the north and Devonport and Burnie in the northwest. The subantarctic Macquarie Island is also under the administration of the state, as part of the Huon Valley Council local government area. (Credit: Wikipedia).

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