Stanford's reverse Midas touch: A tale of art, gold and greed

File this one under "unexpected consequences of a financial scandal." Or, to turn a phrase, "life is stranger than art."

When the Gagosian Gallery in Los Angeles needed $3.3 million in gold bullion for an installation, they went to Stanford Coin & Bullion. Yes, Stanford, as in alleged Ponzi schemer Allen Stanford. Performance artist Chris Burden's proposed installation at Gagosian, One Ton/One Kilo, was to feature a pile of 100 solid gold bars. There aren't many companies that can provide gold in that quantity, and Stanford's company seemed like a natural choice.