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.
A painting by Pierre Auguste Renoir estimated to be worth between 120,000 and 160,000 euros (~$136,500-182,000) was stolen from Vienna’s largest auction house, Dorotheum. Three professional thieves grabbed “The Golfe, Mer, Falaises Vertes,” out of its frame on Monday, November 26. The culprits fled through separate exits, and theft was captured on security footage, but the auction house has not provided further details. The Renoir was planned to go to auction on Wednesday, November 28. [Sky News]
Skinner Auctioneers in Boston has pulled seven lots from its upcoming American Indian and Ethnographic Art sale following objections from Native American organizations. Among the items were 19th-century artifacts including two separate Bella Coola shaman’s bird rattles (est $5,000-$7,000 and $6,000-$8,000), a Tlingit male shaman’s mask (est $30,000-$40,000), and a Tlingit female shaman’s mask (est $30,000-$50,000), sold by the Massachusetts Medford Public Library. The library acquired the artifacts in 1880 from James G. Swan, an ethnographer and one of the earliest Indigenous art collectors for the Smithsonian Institution. The institution has been criticized for not consulting Indigenous groups about the artifacts prior to the sale. [TAN]
An artist from the Bay area, Tim Collom, has raised over $100,000 for victims of the California Camp Fire by selling 11-by-14-inch prints of his 2017 painting, “California.” All of the proceeds are going to directly support firefighters and victims of the raging blaze. “This is our state and right now there are so many people fighting for its survival. Firefighters [are] sacrificing themselves to save homes, animals, and other people,” Collom wrote, explaining his fervor for the cause. He has sold between 3,000 and 5,000 $40 prints of the painting, including one to Senator Kamala Harris.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is world famous for its tilt, but the medieval tower’s Surveillance Group, which monitors restoration work, has announced it’s slowly going vertical. The tower has been straightened by 4cm (1.5in) over the past two decades, and experts say it is “stable and very slowly reducing its lean.” In 1990, the tower was forced to close in fear that it would finally topple. [BBC]
Archaeologists in China have discovered a Terracotta Army made up of miniatures statues depicting infantrymen, cavalry, and performers. They unearthed the collection, closely resembling the famous Terracotta Army built for China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, in a 2,100-year-old pit in China. According to Live Science, the new discovery was probably built a century after the original, possibly for the Qi prince, Liu Hong. [Daily Mail]
New technology has revealed a number of drawn corpses hidden beneath Pieter Bruegel the Elder‘s “The Battle Between Carnival and Lent.” Sometime in the 17th or 18th century, someone covered the hidden additions. The “Inside Bruegel Project” has been scanning the painter’s works with infrared macrophotography and reflectography to uncover their hidden secrets. You can view 12 of the paintings on InsideBruegel.net. [NYT]
India plans to — once again — build the world’s tallest statue. Just weeks after unveiling its £330 million, 600-foot high Statue of Unity, depicting freedom fighter Sardar Patel, the nation has announced plans to build a 725-foot high bronze statue of the Hindu god Ram. They are also planning a monument of the same height off of Mumbai’s coast depicting Hindu warrior king, Shivaji. [Telegraph]
Gaurav Bhatia, the managing director of Sotheby’s India, has taken an indefinite leave of absence following multiple accusations of sexual misconduct made against him. Bhatia has been accused by four people of assault, including forcible kissing and touching, on Scene and Herd, a social media account revealing anonymous confessions of sexual assault in the Indian art world. Sotheby’s is pursuing an investigation and says Bhatia has been compliant. The auction house had its first sale in Mumbai on Thursday, November 29. [TAN]
A three-quarter of a mile stretch of the Berlin Wall decorated by artists’ murals, known as the East Side Gallery, is now recognized with protected status after real estate developers threatened the historic monument. After the wall came down in 1990, 118 artists decorated the longest remaining segment with their colorful tributes. The Berlin Wall Foundation, which manages multiple memorials throughout the city, has taken control of the East Side Gallery to prevent developers from encroaching, following years of dispute about the proper monitor of the site. The director of the Foundation, Axel Klausmeier, assures that no additional segments of the wall will be removed. [Artnet]
A Chinese building material company, Yulong Eco-Materials, wants to sell 7.5 million shares, worth $10 per share, to purchase a $75 million painting by Michelangelo of the Crucifixion. Shares in Yulong Eco-Materials Ltd. jumped 47% after the company announced its purchase. [Bloomberg]
Waagner-Biro, the Austrian steel engineer building the dome of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, has run out of money after the Gulf nation delayed payments. The astronomically expensive dome is the size of five football fields, constructed to resemble a starry sky through light and shifting patterns perforated into its design. The company is selling off its subsidiaries to stay afloat. [TAN]
Around 300 pieces of ivory sculpture, worth about $1.3 million, were discovered and confiscated from Carlton Gallery in La Jolla, California. Fish and Wildlife officers found the items, many of which were for sale, after seeing two objects they guessed to be ivory in the gallery window. A salesperson and the owner were identified in a criminal complaint filed on Tuesday and face charges. [Courthouse News]
Sotheby’s has become the third auction house to swear off the sale of rhino horns, following suit of Christie’s and Bonhams. Nicolas Chow, Sotheby’s Asia’s chairman, said, “Sotheby’s deplores any illegal slaughter and trading of endangered wildlife, and strongly supports conservation efforts from the global community.” [South China Morning Post]
The J. Paul Getty Museum has acquired the Netherlandish painter Quentin Metsys’s “Christ as the Man of Sorrows” (c. 1520–30). For centuries, the painting has been in a private collection, previously unknown to art historians. “This discovery adds a major masterwork both to the artist’s oeuvre and to the Getty Museum’s paintings collection,” said Timonthy Potts, director of the Getty Museum. “It ranks among our most important 16th-century Northern European paintings and is already attracting much attention from scholars of this period.” The painting was exported from Germany to the UK, and according to the press release, the Getty Museum purchased the painting in a private sale. The work will go on view for the first time in modern history in the spring of 2019 at the Getty Museum, Getty Center. [via email announcement]
This and other notable sales and acquisitions are chronicled in our latest Transactions story.
More News from This Week:
- A Whitney Museum Vice Chairman Owns a Manufacturer Supplying Tear Gas at the Border
- Facebook Censors Art Historian for Posting Nude Art, Then Boots Him from Platform
- For Americans, Social Media Bots Are Almost Indistinguishable from Humans
- An Iconic Harlem Renaissance Frieze Is Crumbling in Brooklyn
- An Artist Representing Grenada at the 2019 Venice Biennale Must Raise $10,000 on GoFundMe
- After 4,300 Books Were Banned in Kuwait, an Artist Installs a Cemetery of Banned Books
- Nan Goldin and Drug Policy Activists Protest NY Governor Cuomo’s Inaction
- As the Getty Digitizes the Archives of the Woman’s Building, Artists Remember Its History
- French President Wants to Return Benin’s Artifacts, But Will French Law Allow Him?
- Artist Collective Plans Big, Inflatable Trump Butt to Kick Ass at the 2019 Women’s March
- Former National Gallery Educators Commence 10-Day Tribunal for Unfair Dismissal in Gig Economy
- Louvre Launches a Free Admission Night to Attract Low-Income and Younger Visitors
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