Walsh: The Tasmanian Devil
of Old and New Art
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 Walshs 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 doesnt
even like the shit."
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'Devil' Gambling Tycoon Shows Of Sex, Death, Vice
Et Al Art Exhibit...
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.
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.
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."
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.
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".
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
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."
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.
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
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.
generously shares "I think formal curation is
a form of mental masturbation."
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
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
of Old and New Art
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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.