Art industry news: Tech CEO thinks France should sell Mona Lisa to pay for coronavirus relief and other stories


Art Industry News is a daily digest of the most important developments in the art world and the art market. Here’s what you need to know this Tuesday, May 19.


New online database tracks looted Beninese art – A new project plans to reunite virtually the 4,000 or so artifacts often called Benin bronzes that have been looted from the West African nation by the British. Hamburg Am Rothenbaum Museum (MARKK) is behind the database, Digital Benin, which seeks to track how the corpus has been divided and distributed around the world. So far, 17 museums in Europe and Nigeria – including the British Museum and the Ethnological Museum in Berlin – have agreed to share data. ((Wall Street newspaper)

Lawyer accuses Whitney of Smear campaign against Kanders – Lawyer Neal Sher calls on US authorities to deprive the Whitney Museum of American Art of its tax-exempt status due to its handling of protests that led to the resignation of Warren Kanders from its board of directors last year . Sher, who was a war crimes prosecutor in the 1980s and 1990s, claims that Whitney’s management “orchestrated and acquiesced in a concerted smear campaign” against Kanders and capitulated to illegal conduct by causing him to resign. Sher said he wrote to the IRS “on behalf of contributors and former public servants”, but that he acts independently. Over the weekend, he published another letter expressing his grievances to seven of the museum administrators. ((Financial times)

Tech CEO Says France Should Sell Mona Lisa – The founder of the technology company Fabernovel has a crazy idea of ​​how France can compensate for its losses from the closure: sell the Mona Lisa! “The price must be crazy for the operation to make sense,” said Stéphane Distinguin in a recent interview. “I estimate that it would take no less than 50 billion euros to acquire the Mona Lisa. Further promoting the idea that technology CEOs believe bitcoin can solve any problem, Distinguin added that if outright sale was not possible, the painting could perhaps be “symbolized” by through cryptocurrency, allowing nations around the world to share the painting via “a big global subscription.” “(Independent)

Artists urge governments to impose arms embargo on Israel – Shepard Fairey, Antony Gormley, Lawrence Abu Hamdan and Tai Shani are among 350 artistic figures who call on international governments to impose an arms embargo on Israel. The letter warns that COVID-19 could pose a deadly threat to Gaza and that pressure should be put on the Israeli government to increase testing and provide improved medical care despite a shortage of appropriate equipment. “What is happening in Gaza is a test for the conscience of humanity,” said the open letter. “We can stay at home, but our ethical responsibility shouldn’t. “(Hyperallergic)


Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Sale Brings $ 9.9 Million – In the wake of a record contemporary daily online sale that generated $ 13.7 million, the first edition of Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern online sale reached a total of $ 9.9 million. Some of the highlights include the presence of Giorgio Morandi Natura Morta (1951), which sold for $ 1.58 million, and the small portrait of Edgar Degas in 1876, Bust of the young woman almost naked, which sold above the estimate for $ 596,000. ((Art market monitor)

Reopening of French auction houses – French auction houses are allowed to reopen, but they will not be as packed as before. Visitors should keep four square meters apart on the premises. ((Arts Journal)


Italian museums resume their activities – Italian museums are starting to reopen this week after Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini gave them the green light on Saturday evening. The Capitoline Museums of Rome and the Castello di Rivoli open their doors today, but the civic museums of Florence will have to wait for a more substantial bailout to compensate for the loss of revenue, despite a 55 billion euro national spending program from the government to help revive the economy. ((BRONZER)

Italian designer Nanda Vigo dies – The artist, designer and architect, who became known in the 1960s for his artistic practice influenced by the Zero group, died at the age of 83. His glass and aluminum sculptures called “Chronotops”, illuminated in neon light, sought to exact sensory experiences of the viewer. ((Artforum)

Tate announces new appointments – Tate has appointed Neil McConnon as new director of international partnerships and Katherine Montague as director of human resources. Previously, McConnon was head of international business at the Barbican and Montague directed HR at the Royal Academy of Arts. ((Artforum)

The Finnish National Gallery has a reopening date – The Helsinki Ateneum Art Museum will reopen to the public on June 2. The museum will open a new exhibition, “Inspiration – Contemporary and Classical Art”, an exhibition of groups of Finnish and international artists who respond to the old European masters in their work. ((Press release)


The Sharjah Art Foundation awards 10 artist grants – The Sharjah Art Foundation has awarded its “Production Program” grants to 10 artists, who will receive a combined sum of $ 200,000 to support the realization of the proposed projects selected from an open international call. The 2020 beneficiaries are: Jumana Emil Abboud, Mohamed Abdelkarim, Noor Abuarafeh, Basma al-Sharif, Abdessamad El Montassir, Köken Ergun, Pak Khawateen Painting Club, Moad Musbahi, Philip Rizk and Subversive Film. ((Press release)

Julia Stoschek puts her video art collection online – The billionaire art collector, who recently threatened to withdraw his collection from its Berlin outpost, ensures that his assets will remain accessible to the public, in any event, at least virtually. She just created their video art collection, which includes works by Wolfgang Tillmans, Barbara Hammer and Cao Fei, available free online. ((ARTnews)

Creatives launch prints for Ethiopia for Temsalet cuisine – Ethiopian artists and photographers have launched a new initiative called Prints for Ethiopia to help raise funds for humanitarian relief and COVID-19. Proceeds from the sale will go to a social enterprise based in Addis Ababa that feeds homeless children and families, Temsalet Kitchen. ((Hypebeast)

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