Week in Review is a weekly collection of news, developments, and stirrings in the art world. Subscribe to receive these posts as a weekly newsletter.
Nearly 50 years after Caravaggio‘s masterpiece, “Nativity With San Lorenzo and San Francesco” (1609), was scandalously stolen, the thieves have still not been found. The painting, which portrays Mary admiring baby Jesus, hung in the Oratory of San Lorenzo in Palermo, Sicily until it was cut from its frame in October 1969. On October 15, experts met at the Vatican to discuss reinstating an active search. Speculation of mafia collusion and espionage have circulated around the case in the decades since it was taken. (Earlier this year Mafioso Gaetano Grado suggested the painting had been smuggled and sold, and other former mafia members have given their own hints.) The scandal places second on the FBI’s list of top ten unsolved art crimes. Experts have estimated its value at $20 million. [The Local; FBI]
The Autry Museum of the American West has received its largest-ever gift from a Native American community or tribe. The landmark donation came from California’s San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, who have bestowed the museum with $414,101 to support the museum’s compliance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. The grant will allow the Autry to implement protocols for gathering, documenting, and integrating recommendations and requests from Native communities. The board has been a longstanding supporter of Native Voices at the Autry, the US’s only theatre company exclusively producing works by Native American, Alaska Native, and First Nations playwrights. [via email announcement]
Craigslist founder Craig Newmark is financing a grant program through the nonprofit Eyebeam Art + Technology Center, encouraging artists to pursue journalism. The Eyebeam Center for the Future of Journalism will award commissions between $500 to $5,000 to artists working for major media outlets, particularly those interested in technology and its placement within society as a creative force. “[Artists] can help us interrogate the world we live in. I think artists really have an ability to help the culture at large gain a better understanding of the relationship of society and issues we face,” the center’s director, Roderick Schrock, told the New York Times. [NYT]
In 2013, hedge funder manager Steven Tananbaum paid influential gallerist Larry Gagosian $13 million to commission a set of Jeff Koons sculptures. Tananbaum, a MoMA trustee who heads a multi-billion dollar asset management fund, launched a court case against Gagosian and Koons in Manhattan Supreme Court. Gagosian has told the collector the years-long wait should be expected with an artist like Koons, and rejects the notion of foul play. In a motion to dismiss the case, Gagosian’s lawyer says as a leading art advisor, Tananbaum should be aware, “Mr. Koons is a perfectionist who often takes years to make each sculpture; (ii) Mr. Koons provides only estimated completion dates for the sculptures; and (iii) those estimated dates are often extended by multiple years.” [NY Post]
A fine art consultant in New York and interior designer in Florida stole a wealthy elderly women’s identity to bid millions at Sotheby’s auction house, according to the FBI’s court filings. Initially convincing Sotheby’s they had permission to bid on the retiree’s behalf, they offered the highest bid on an untitled Mark Rothko for $6.4 million, and Ad Reinhardt‘s “No. 12” for $1.16 million. Authorities say the thieving duo was quickly discovered after Sotheby’s called the alleged buyer, a wealthy retiree, who rebutted making the bids, and told investigators she was not even an art collector. [AP]
Christie’s will become the first auction house to employ blockchain as currency. The auction house has partnered with art registry service Artory for its 20th-century American Modernist sale of Barney A. Ebsworth paintings on November 13. [artnet News]
Four forgotten drawings by Gustav Klimt were uncovered inside the Leipzig Museum of Fine Arts. Reportedly, the drawings were purchased by the sculptor Max Klinger. Three of the discoveries will be on display in the Leipzig’s Klinger Hall this Saturday. [Monopol]
Waddesdon Manor in England is planning the exhibition Brought to Life: Eliot Hodgkin Rediscovered for May 2019. With 850 reported Eliot Hodgkin works in existence and only 550 accounted for, the manor and Hodgkin’s lineage are have launched a public campaign called, “Have you got a Hodgkin at home?” to recover the British painter’s full repertoire. [Art Daily]
The Deutsches Museum in Munich, Germany caught fire on October 10, leaving the building in danger of collapse. The museum is one of the world’s largest technology museums. A statement said vehicles, medical equipment, computers, and textiles were affected in the damage. The extent of the damage and artifacts lost is still unknown. [TAN]
After Olu Oguibe’s contentious “Monument to Strangers and Refugees” in Kassel, Germany was dramatically removed from the city’s center, the city and artist have agreed upon a new public location for the obelisk. The monument to those displaced will move to Treppenstrasse, a shopping area, where it will be surrounded by other works crafted displayed in Documenta 14, which took place in Kassel and Athens, Greece in 2017. [TAN]
Artists Elmgreen & Dragset have decorated the streets of Paris with 100 starfish made of bronze and steel. The duo, commissioned by the FIAC fair, says the work’s purpose was to explore the possibilities of climate change. “We imagined water coming all the way to the Place Vendôme,” Michael Elmgreen told the New York Times. “What’s left when it recedes? A swarm of friendly intruders. [NYT]
The Jewish Museum and The New York Public Library (NYPL) have jointly acquired the complete series of 57 gouaches on paper created by Maira Kalman for the 2005 edition of The Elements of Style. Kalman’s book adapts the title of the reference book by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White, pairing her illustrations with its grammatical rules. “Since I am Jewish and since I adore libraries,” Kalman said, “isn’t it thrilling that these two glorious institutions share the work? I make books. And I make art. The works are the intersection of these, mixed with a great dollop of curiosity. In a kind of Talmudic manner, I think E.B. White would be pleased. Doesn’t it all make complete wonderful sense?” [via email announcement]
This and other notable sales and acquisitions are chronicled in our latest Transactions story.
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