Born in 1928, Beniamino Levi is an art dealer, curator, collector, art connoisseur, owner of one of the largest collections of Dalí Sculpture currently part of the Dalí Universe Collection.
Beniamino Levi dealt personally with artists such as Picasso, De Chirico, Fontana and of course, Dali. Fluent in Italian, French, English, German and Spanish, Levi refers to himself as firstly a gallerist ( he opened the first Modern art gallery on Via Montenapoleone, Milan in 1955 at the tender age of twenty- eight). Making the acquaintance of household name artists was a regular occurrence in Levi’s life. During the Milan years he collaborated with Wilfredo Lam, the artist of Cuban Chinese origin, Rene Magritte whom Levi remembers for his enchanting and disarming simplicity, De Chirico, Arnaldo Pomodoro, the list goes on.
During one of his frequent trips to New York during the 1970’s, Levi approached Andy Warhol with a project to create screen prints of Dalí’s image. Warhol at the time was the leading figure in the visual art movement known as Pop Art. In his iconic pop art style, he created prints of famous personages such as Marilyn Monroe, Liz Taylor, Elvis and Lisa Minelli.
Levi recounts of the meeting, ‘I should not have given up with Warhol’s secretary, Andy was enthusiastic about doing a portrait of Dalí, but the negotiations with his secretary didn’t meet my expectation, the price was way out of my budget. I regret this, as it would have been a great opportunity to enhance my collection, having these two controversial yet outstanding artists together’
Levi met Warhol in his New York studio, the ‘Factory’. Warhol was at the height of his fame, leading the pop culture movement and employing assistants to increase his artistic output. That day, Levi recalls, ‘Andy had in his studio the actress Jane Fonda, he was working on her portrait. I remember her distinctly; she had her leg in a plaster cast’.
The project of course never went ahead. Levi returned to Europe and focused on negotiations with Dalí