A piece in next week's New Yorker will shed some light on Alice Walton, art collector and daughter of Walmart's founder, Sam Walton. Her collection, to be housed in her Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art --along with its $800 million endowment
-- has quickly become one of the biggest stories in art history. The museum, which is scheduled to open in November, is located in Bentonville, Arkansas, the same small town that houses Walmart's headquarters, but is poised to become a major Middle America road-trip destination.
Author Rebecca Mead details Walton's journey from heiress to art market oligarch, from her $20 million night on the phone with Sotheby's to accolades that she "will transform our field" by the head of the American Art Department at Christie's. Mead also considers the opposition, writing,
the Waltons’ retail empire—which sold ever-cheaper goods to Americans by outsourcing jobs to labor markets overseas, by forcing the closure of small stores in downtowns across the country, thanks to its vast hypermarkets—was denounced as antithetical to the values underlying the art that Walton was acquiring.
Walton has an answer for her critics, saying
"I don’t think our presence in the marketplace has made a difference in anything—these institutions were going to sell because they needed the money...They are there to fulfill a mission, and that is not to keep [masterpieces] two stories up, in a narrow hallway.”
The article, which will appear in the New Yorker's June 27 issue, is titled "Alice's Wonderland."