Art Film Art History

Daniel Radcliffe: The Boy Who Was Rejected at Frieze

Image courtesy of Alexander Koerner/Getty Images.

This is Art History, your weekly primer on the art world’s salacious past. From heists to heartbreaks, CULTURED brings you the most scandalous stories from the history books, guaranteed to dazzle your dinner companions.

The art world is notoriously fickle. It takes time and dedication to work your way into the center, where illustrious artists are given solo presentations and prized collectors are given their pick of the lot. Back in the late aughts, at the height of Harry Potter mania, at least one art dealer at Frieze didn’t think Daniel Radcliffe quite fit the bill. 

In the midst of playing the franchise’s titular character, Radcliffe himself came of age. The young actor was only 11 years old when cast, and had turned 20 by the time the series wrapped. In a 2009 interview with The Guardian, he recalled being given financial independence on his 18th birthday, having previously relied on his parents to handle his sizeable fortune. 

In the following year, he considered buying a car, but settled on becoming an art collector instead. He coudn’t, after all, drive. In 2011, he told OK Magazine, “The only sensible investment I’ve personally made is in art.” Other than that, he admitted, he was still having his mom handle his portfolio. 

Radcliffe’s first love was Jim Hodges. The actor encountered the sculptor and installation artist’s work at the Frieze art fair in London and hoped to buy a piece on the spot. “[I] was like, ‘Oh my god, that’s amazing,’” he recalls saying. “And the dealer said, ‘Oh no, well we’re actually waiting for a more prestigious collector to buy that.’”

Photography by Fred R. Conrad. Image courtesy of the New York Times. 

Radcliffe’s dreams of making it in big time art circles were briefly crushed, until word of the interaction got back to Hodges himself. The artist, a personal fan of the Harry Potter films, insisted the piece be sold to the budding collector. “Ever since then I've been really good friends with Jim and his best mate Tim, a photographer,” Radcliffe told The Guardian

Radcliffe’s hodges artwork is titled Mona D, Mary And Me, a blue ink drawing on white paper featuring the phrase “Oh for crying out loud,” a frequent saying from the artist’s mother. "I suppose—without meaning to sound like it's a link to Harry Potter,” Radcliffe explained, “it's about finding something magical and fantastical in a mundane phrase. That's what's lovely about it."

By 2013, the actor had begun snapping up pieces, telling The Guardian in a separate interview that his most extravagant purchase was a work of art. "I won't say [how much I spent], but it was a Damien Hirst butterfly painting. But other than that I'm just so dull with my money." Since then, Radcliffe is also said to have invested in works by Craigie Aitchison and Andy Warhol for his home in London.