Visitors to Sotheby’s expect to find Manet mixing it up with Picasso, and Bacon facing off with Basquiat, but on 17 October the New York headquarters of the international auction house hosted a gathering of greats largely from outside the art world: José María Aznar, the former Prime Minister of Spain, had the chance to compare notes with chess grandmaster and human right champion Garry Kasparov, while Elliott Abrams, the former US Assistant Secretary of State, rubbed shoulders with prescient economist Nouriel Roubini. They and many other A-listers from the worlds of finance, the art world, education, media, politics, foreign policy and entertainment came together to participate in the inaugural gathering of the Octavian Forum.
OCTAVIAN REPORT PUBLISHER RICHARD HUROWITZ. COURTESY OCTAVIAN REPORT.
The forum was the brainchild of Richard Hurowitz, publisher of The Octavian Report, a print and digital quarterly dedicated to bringing the deepest, most inspiring thinkers together for a sophisticated and influential global audience. Hurowitz, who is a hedge-fund founder and writer, among other accomplishments, conceived the forum as a live version of the magazine, which has attracted an astonishing list of global influencers in the three years since its founding. (Its list of contributors ranges from world leaders like Ehud Barak and F.W. De Klerk to financial giant Asher Edelman, economist Lawrence Summers and artist John Currin.)
DR. NOURIEL ROUBINI. PHOTO BY DAVE KOTINSKY/GETTY IMAGES FOR OCTAVIAN FORUM.
More than 150 people attended the stimulating day of discussion and insight featuring many of the biggest thinkers tackling the thorniest issues facing our world today, including journalist Jacob Weisberg, former German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, hedge funder Boaz Weinstein, and U.A.E. Ambassador to the U.S. His Excellency Yousef Al Otaiba.
ARTIST JOHN CURRIN. PHOTO BY DAVE KOTINSKY/GETTY IMAGES FOR OCTAVIAN FORUM.
Dr. Julian Fennessy, the world's foremost giraffe expert, and head of Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF), explained the challenges facing these magnificent creatures, while former Pixar CFO Lawrence Levy recounted his years working with Steve Jobs building one of Hollywood’s greatest success stories.
ARTIST RACHEL FEINSTEIN, CURATOR AND ART ADVISOR SHARON COPLAN HUROWITZ AND KARA MEDOFF BARNETT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF AMERICAN BALLET THEATER. PHOTO BY DAVE KOTINSKY/GETTY IMAGES FOR OCTAVIAN FORUM.
But panel discussions weren’t the only order of the day. The event featured an exhibition curated by art adviser (and former Sotheby’s specialist) Sharon Coplan Hurowitz. A rare Picasso etching of his wife ballerina Olga Khokhlova, joined works by Marcel Duchamp, Jasper Johns and a Jean-Michel Basquiat. Forum participant John Currin was represented as well, with a painting on loan from Larry Gagosian’s collection.
INVESTOR AND COLLECTOR THOMAS KAPLAN BEING INTERVIEWED BY BLOOMBERG NEWS DURING THE FORUM. PHOTO BY DAVE KOTINSKY/GETTY IMAGES FOR OCTAVIAN FORUM.
With participants at this stellar level, it was no surprise that the media was on hand to cover the proceedings, including Barron’s, Bloomberg News, Business insider, CNBC’s “Power Lunch,” and The Jerusalem Post. But it was The New York Post that nailed it, calling the first Octavian Forum “Davos Meets Aspen Ideas.”
The Octavian Forum was sponsored by Sotheby’s and Italian menswear house Brioni.