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Crimes of the Art is a weekly survey of artless criminals’ cultural misdeeds. Crimes are rated on a highly subjective scale from one “Scream” emoji — the equivalent of a vandal tagging the exterior of a local history museum in a remote part of the US — to five “Scream” emojis — the equivalent of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist.
Royal Flush for Ace Gallery
Artists and collectors are demanding artworks, profits from their sales, or both following the takeover of Los Angeles’s bankrupt Ace Gallery by an accountant and bankruptcy trustee. The change of leadership happened earlier this month after Douglas Christmas, the gallery’s founder, failed to make a court-mandated $17.5 million payment to settle his debts.
Verdict: Something tells me that, for Ace Gallery artists, there will be no Christmas this year.
Where’d My Picasso Go?
Manhattan billionaire Wilma Tisch is suing Miami-based art dealer Kenneth Hendel for attempting to sell her Pablo Picasso painting “Tête,” which she hadn’t realized had been missing from her home since 2009. Tisch’s lawyer believes her ex-maid stole the work and sold it to a man who in turn offered it to Hendel. The latter consigned the work to Sotheby’s in 2013, but it never found a buyer.
Verdict: When Picassos turn up missing, têtes will roll.
Dealer Arrested Over Bungled Prince and Murakami Sales
Gallerist Perry Rubenstein was arrested in Santa Monica, charged with three counts of grand theft by embezzlement, and held on $1 million bail over allegedly violating contracts and keeping proceeds from sales in three transactions. The first involves a Takashi Murakami scroll that Rubenstein sold to the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation for allegedly far less than the minimum price set by the seller. The other two cases involve Richard Prince works consigned to him by Creative Artists Agency co-founder Michael Ovitz; Rubenstein allegedly sold them for far less than the agreed-upon prices, keeping the proceeds for himself.
Verdict: A cautionary tale to aspiring art dealers — don’t double-cross two of the biggest collectors in your city.
Studio Worker Got Rich Stealing “Afghan Girl”
Bree DeStephano, a former employee in photographer Steve McMurry’s Pennsylvania studio, pleaded guilty to selling stolen editions of his iconic “The Afghan Girl” photo and other images through a gallery in Colorado. In her plea bargain, she copped to making just $214,000 from sales of the stolen prints, though she was originally charged with flipping the photos for more than $600,000 (see Crimes of the Art #16).
Verdict: What was DeStephano thinking? Only one person can profit from McMurry’s romanticized images of poverty.
While staying as a house guest, a naked Le Corbusier defiled Gray’s minimalist, color-blocked walls that were only restored in 2015.
Keep your friends close and your bad art friends closer.
Hear from Holly Jean Buck, Carolina Caycedo and David de Rozas, Simon Denny, Elizabeth Hoover, Renee Kemp-Rotan, Joseph Kunkel, and more at this free public event.
In his new book, Tyler Green argues that landscape was Emerson’s method of glorifying territories shaped and bordered by white men.
“The 52-hertz Whale,” which sings a song at a frequency no other whale uses, is a social media phenomenon. But this film shows that the phenomenon says more about us than whales.
EFA Open Studios offers a portal into the creative habitats of over 65 artists working in Manhattan’s longest-running studio program, including Dannielle Tegeder, Wafaa Bilal, Cui Fei, and Anina Major.
The unvarnished photographs celebrate the lives, beauty, and resilience of an oppressed group at Chile’s social peripheries in the 1980s, and the series was recently acquired by MOCA in Los Angeles.
51 international publishers and galleries showcase their latest editions in prints and artists’ books at this free public fair, which is fully online this year.
The University of Virginia researchers wrote that the data “provides compelling evidence that these symbols are associated with hate.”
We are waiting for spectacle and when the quotidian, yet incongruous actions occur I wonder whether there is any real payoff coming.
Tanega’s approach to mark-making comes across as stream of consciousness, as if she’s engaged in a conversation with herself.