Last night, Christie’s auction house sold “Salvator Mundi,” which it claims is the last painting by Leonardo da Vinci in private hands, for an astounding, record-setting $400M (the final price was over $450M with fees). The sale was controversial for a couple of reasons: that mind-numbing number itself, but also the fact that there are a lot of questions — and serious doubts — about the painting’s authenticity, restoration, and provenance.
One can therefore be forgiven for initially overlooking another elephant in the room — the identity of the seller. When there’s this much money involved, though, it usually pays to follow it, and here the money leads directly back to the Russian billionaire Dmitry E. Rybolovlev. Rybolovlev’s family trust sold the painting, through Christie’s, to an undisclosed buyer, but if his name sounds familiar for other reasons, that might be because in 2008 he paid (through a company he controlled) $95M to buy a Palm Beach mansion from Donald Trump. Or it could be that he’s also known for allegedly using his art collection to shield money from his wife, a bitter conflict brought to light in the Panama Papers. Or it could even be in connection with “Salvator Mundi” itself: Rybolovlev has been in a protracted legal battle involving Sotheby’s and “freeport king” Yves Bouvier over alleged overpayment in Rybolovlev’s purchase of the painting.
With much of the public-facing art world firmly turning its back on the Trumps, it’s yet another example of the fraught, high-stakes interests at play. When a controversial piece of such dubious authenticity is sold at prices no museum can afford, making it available only to the increasingly indistinguishable cliques of oligarchs and their head-of-state business pals, it contributes to a market where expertise and devotion to art are dispensed with; the final word on what’s a Leonardo and what isn’t goes to the highest bidder, not the most knowledgeable or most dedicated scholar. It’s hard to envision any benefit to society, or artists, or art.
“Our bodies are not that cheap,” said one Iraqi artist who signed an open letter to the biennale’s curators.
Museums will have to install “prominently placed” placards alongside the works, according to a new suite of laws signed by Governor Kathy Hochul.
Choose from over 140 courses for adults and youth ages 13 to 17, including options for beginning, intermediate, and advanced students. Enroll by August 23 for an early bird discount.
Scientists borrowed the ecological “unseen species” model to estimate how many works of medieval European literature have gone extinct.
As bodily autonomy and workers’ rights remain under constant and often intertwined threat, The Work of Love, the Queer of Labor reminds us of what is still at stake.
The Brooklyn organization is now accepting new project inquiries for its fee-based fabrication services in printmaking, ceramics, and large-scale public art.
The emphasis in Semmel’s retrospective Skin in the Game is on the various points of view she has taken on herself — and, briefly, on others too.
The artist and former SWAIA chief operating officer and executive director has found a stable of dedicated collectors and a close-knit community at Santa Fe Indian Market.
The Newark Museum of Art Presents Jazz Greats: Classic Photographs from the Bank of America Collection
Photographers Antony Armstrong Jones, Milt Hinton, Chuck Stewart, Barbara Morgan, and more capture a breadth of legendary and local musicians and performance artists. On view through August 21.
Each voice in This Long Thread intersects to reveal the collective chronicles, struggles, and triumphs of women of color in today’s craft landscape.
Works by the Abeyta family of artists encourage thinking beyond activism and legislation as a means for political progress.
Despite faithfully recreating the story of the beloved comic book series, the TV show lacks the verve of the original.