Shortly before he died on March 12, Michael Graves gave his last artwork to the Sir John Soane Museum in London. A longtime advisor to the fabled house museum’s New York-based fundraising foundation, Graves donated the acrylic-on-paper piece, 5.8 by 8.3 inches, as part of an auction to help the Soane digitize its extensive drawings collection. On June 22, Steven Holl found he was the new owner of the unframed work: His bid of $2,500 is being matched by the Leon Levy Foundation in this intensive effort to electronically archive 18,000 items.
Holl told Record that he desired the painting because Graves had been such a strong supporter of the Washington-born architect when he first came to New York City in the late 1970s. Graves was a member of the jury for the 1982 Progressive Architecture Design Awards program for which Holl’s Metz House and Studio scheme in Staten Island was premiated. In a more public statement Graves selected Holl as his bet to be a leading architect of the future in the April 1984 Vanity Fair article “Fountainhead Syndrome.” Regarding the Soane, Holl adds “I studied in London at the AA, so I had a connection to the strange Sir John Soane’s Museum.” Holl also purchased Graves’ work he says “for the love of Architecture.”