For decades, Adrian Dannatt has been one of those wonderful Zelig-like figures on New York’s arts and literary scene. Seeming to know everyone and to also know about everything, he’s a witty, wise gent from another, better time, as well as an artist from a different era—specifically, the wide open 80s. Until you happen to bump into him in a bar and have your socks charmed off of you, there’s no better way to spend an hour right now than to see “Doomed and Famous: Selections from the Adrian Dannatt Collection,” at Miguel Abreu Gallery. It’s not just the pieces by artists ranging from Richard Prince to Picasso, Nan Goldin to Noguchi—it’s also Dannatt’s text for each piece, in which he tells the strange story of how he came to own it.

Duncan Hannah’s Portrait of Adrian Dannatt, 2005, in colored pencil and paper.

As Hugo Guinness says, “Adrian Dannatt is an unusual collector and a collector of other unusual characters. You cannot mention a painter, a writer, or a society figure from 1600 A.D. to the present day without him knowing something about them or their circle. This makes him a delightful conversationalist, full of juicy gossip and witty insights into French, English, and American cultural odd balls—high and low—over the past 400 years.”

“Doomed and Famous: Selections from the Adrian Dannatt Collection” is on at Miguel Abreu Gallery, in New York, until March 13

Michael Hainey is a Deputy Editor for AIR MAIL