Ebsworth's taking things into his own hands, not waiting for economic recovery. He believes in this project, plainly. It also will serve as his burial grounds (otherwise, it is a public, non-affiliated house of worship except for a weekly high Episcopalian service).
In a video on the web site of Christie's auction house today, he reveals that he's auctioning a major Warhol from his collection to help fund the chapel. The sale takes place Wednesday night, and the painting is Big Campbell's Soup Can with Can Opener (Vegetable) from 1962. It was the first Warhol painting shown in a museum, and it's rare and extremely valuable: It's expected to bring $30 million to $50 million. Most of the Campbell's soup can paintings are small; this one is a whopping 72 by 52 inches. More about the painting is here.
An important Warhol for an unbuilt Ando? I do feel a little bit of pain at the painting leaving Seattle; it was exhibited here in 2000 as part of Ebsworth's collection (an exhibition that also showed at the National Gallery, where Ebsworth is also a major donor). The can opener is a suggestive element added to the otherwise branded, sealed-off soup can imagery; it's a killer painting. Despite the risk, I'm inclined to think the exchange is exciting. It's ballsy, frankly. Ebsworth has had incredible taste as a collector; maybe he will also be a great architectural benefactor.
And in other Campbell's soup news...
(Thank you, tipper Laura O'Quin.)