Week in Review: Art Basel Backer Fined $4.2B for Tax Fraud, Art Schools Hit with ADA Lawsuit

Also, Ai Weiwei’s contribution to the film Berlin, I Love You was pulled, an ivory trader has been sentenced to 15 years in prison, and more.

The Morgan Library & Museum (via Wikimedia Commons)

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.

After learning the Morgan Library & Museum is only exhibiting solo shows by white men in 2019, artist Elizabeth Meggs launched a petition demanding the museum only exhibit solo shows by women of varying ethnicities and backgrounds in the following year, “as a way to rectify their institutionally gender-biased programming.” Meggs writes, “When major institutions devalue women, it hurts the careers of living women artists both professionally and economically.” Currently, the petition has almost 200. []

Ai Weiwei‘s contribution to a film called Berlin, I Love You was cut by producers fearing the movie would be blocked for distribution in China and other territories. Ai directed a segment of the film focused on his relationship with his son while he was detained in China in 2015, in which they were relegated to communicate solely via Facetime. “It was infuriating to find our involvement had been erased,” Ai said on Deutsche Welle television. He added, however, “If Zhang Yimou [a popular Chinese cinematographer] or I can face this dramatic situation, you have to think about the young people.” [TAN]

UBS graffiti (via Martin Abegglen/Flickr)

UBS, the main sponsor of Art Basel, has been fined €3.7 billion (~$4.2 billion) by a French criminal court for aiding its wealthy clients to evade taxes. Five former UBS directors have received suspended prison sentences and up to €300,000 (~$340,000) in fines. UBS denies the claims and plans to appeal. The company issued a statement saying: “The conviction is not supported by any concrete evidence, but instead is based on the unfounded allegations of former employees who were not even heard at the trial. […] The verdict also lacks proof and a credible methodology for the calculation of the fine and damages.” [TAN]

Philip Sullivan. Jr., a disability rights advocate who is deaf, has launched a civil rights lawsuit against five art schools — the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, the Ringling College of Art and Design in Florida, the Art Academy of Cincinnati, and the Stephens Institute in San Francisco — of “failing to design, construct, and/or own or operate a website that is fully accessible to, and independently usable by, deaf and hard-of-hearing people.” Recently, 75 art galleries in New York, including Gagosian, Pace, and David Zwirner, were served with lawsuits for failing to make their websites accessible to blind or visually impaired people. [artnet]

A guerilla street artist and confident critic painted over a popular new drawing believed to be by Banksy in Edinburgh, Scotland. Covering the stencil of a young girl with a black box and a red “X,” the naysayer also called the work “Trite Boring Dull Badly Painted” in black lettering, rating it a “0/10.” [via Twitter]

After years of debate, Dallas officials have voted 11-4 to remove a huge Confederate War Memorial from the downtown area, declaring it “a non-contributing structure for the historic overlay district.” The monument stands 65-feet tall, topped with a Confederate soldier and surrounded by lifesize statues of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Albert Johnston. Officials have asked the Landmark Commission to disassemble the monument, which will cost $480,000. [Dallas News]

The inaugural Frieze Los Angeles announced that they attracted over 30,000 visitors in its inaugural weekend. Among some of the big-lot sales were: Hauser & Wirth sold Mike Kelley’s “Unisex Love Nest” to a European art foundation for $1,800,000; Jack Shainman Gallery sold “Topos” by El Anatsui for $1,250,000. [via email announcement]


Peter Doig, "Two Trees" (2017), oil on linen, 94 1/2 inches × 11 feet 7 3/4 inches (image courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of George Economou, © Peter Doig / 2019 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York)
Peter Doig, “Two Trees” (2017), oil on linen, 94 1/2 inches × 11 feet 7 3/4 inches (image courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of George Economou, © Peter Doig / 2019 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has acquired Peter Doig’s landscape painting “Two Trees” (2017). The painting was a gift from George Economou in celebration of the Met’s 150th anniversary next year. “Peter Doig is one of the most important figurative painters of our time,” said Sheena Wagstaff, the Leonard A. Lauder Chairman of Modern and Contemporary Art. “‘Two Trees’ is a masterpiece, as well as a watershed work in the artist’s oeuvre. It poses provocative questions about modern life, even as it sits within a lineage of peers such as Goya or Munch, who also touched on the rawness of contemporary life with distinctive painterly invention and strange beauty.”

This and other notable sales and acquisitions are chronicled in our latest Transactions story.

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