René Magritte’s "Torse nu dans les nuages" (circa 1937) will lead Bonhams sale of the Collection of Amalia de Schulthess on Tuesday, December 7, in New York. The work, which they claim has been unseen for the last 70 years (and never sold at auction), dates back to the height of the Surrealist movement. (image courtesy Bonhams)

At a committee hearing in February, [GOP state Rep. Alan] Powell tried to explain his view, saying that widespread fraud “wasn’t found — it’s just in a lot of people’s minds that there was.”

The hate mail and ugly phone calls poured in. One Trump supporter called from Massachusetts to tell Powell, “I know who you are and I know where you live because your address is public.”

Colleagues urged Powell to report the call to state law enforcement. Instead, he called back. The man, a retired police detective, assured him that he didn’t mean for his message to sound threatening. “I’ll take you at your word,” Powell replied.

  • Bored Yacht Club is making a fortune on NFT’d images of cartoon apes, but are they just the new “Rolex” of the too rich to have taste set? Samantha Hissong has the story:

This summer, 101 of Yuga Labs’ Bored Ape Yacht Club tokens, which were first minted in early May, resold for $24.4 million in an auction hosted by the fine-art house Sotheby’s. Competitor Christie’s followed shortly thereafter, auctioning off an art collectors’ haul of modern-day artifacts — which included four apes — for $12 million. Around the same time, one collector bought a single token directly from OpenSea — kind of like eBay for NFTs — for $2.65 million. A few weeks later, another Sotheby’s sale set a new auction record for the most-valuable single Bored Ape ever sold: Ape number 8,817 went for $3.4 million.

At press time, tokens related to the Bored Ape Yacht Club ecosystem — this includes the traditional apes, but also things called “mutant” apes and the apes’ pets — had generated around $1 billion.

Indigenous food activists see it differently. Fry bread is neither culture nor tradition, since “one can make fry bread during any season with goods purchased from Dollar General,” as Professor Devon A. Mihesuah writes in the Native American and Indigenous Studies journal. Citing problems of diabetes, hypertension and obesity in Native communities, advocates for food sovereignty seek to decolonize Indigenous diets from the high-fat, high-calorie attractions of fry bread. From this view, fry bread is the antithesis of Indigenous vitality.

Tech companies started talking about their mission, and their mission was always magnificently inflated: transforming the future of work, connecting all of humanity, making the world a better place, saving the entire planet. Muskism is a capitalism in which companies worry — very publicly, and quite feverishly — about all manner of world-ending disasters, about the all-too-real catastrophe of climate change, but more often about mysterious “existential risks,” or x-risks, including the extinction of humanity, from which only techno-billionaires, apparently, can save us.

But Muskism has earlier origins, too, including in Mr. Musk’s own biography. Much of Muskism is descended from the technocracy movement that flourished in North America in the 1930s and that had as a leader Mr. Musk’s grandfather Joshua N. Haldeman, an ardent anti-communist. Like Muskism, technocracy took its inspiration from science fiction and rested on the conviction that technology and engineering can solve all political, social and economic problems. Technocrats, as they called themselves, didn’t trust democracy or politicians, capitalism or currency. Also, they objected to personal names: one technocrat was introduced at a rally as “1x1809x56.” Elon Musk’s youngest son is named X Æ A-12.

Goebbels is famously misquoted as saying that the word ‘culture’ made him reach for his gun, but the sentiment, lifted from Hanns Johst’s Schlageter, remains relevant. Art was not just an idea to the Nazis; it was a weapon. The Federal Republic recovered from the Nazi period not by seeking justice but by absorbing their cultural milieu for their own ideological warfare against Russia. It seems like no ordinary coincidence, therefore, that the city of Kassel which hosts documenta was located near the Federal Republic’s border with East Germany.

To this day, more than 250 works by ‘divinely gifted’ artists remain on display in Germany and Austria around public squares, zoos, parks, schools, and theatres. The institutional acceptance of former Nazis further proves that white supremacy pervades the highest rungs of European culture and that Western art museums have always adjusted their practices to avoid accountability. By welcoming Nazi collaborators, West German, Austrian, and even American institutions assisted in diminishing the controversy, allowing these artists and curators to repair their public image—much like disgraced defense contractors who restore reputations by artwashing their wealth.

  • Using Google Trends, Zippia has found what are some of the most popular Thanksgiving side dishes in each state. I’m embarassed to say Sweet potatoes with marshmellows is #1 for New York, but I’m going to assume a bunch of hipsters were simply googling “what is the worst side dishes” or something. And all the states that were googling “side salad,” yeah, sure:

In Hebrew, the word “meta” (מתה) means dead. That bit of brand confusion apparently didn’t make it to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg before his decision to rebrand his company. Evidently the years he spent at Temple Beth Abraham here in Westchester had no impact on him (I’m told he was an indifferent Hebrew School student, something he didn’t deny in this commencement address at Harvard, another school he was an indifferent student of many years later). Evidently his COO Sheryl Sandberg skipped out on learning much Hebrew too, despite her having been twinned with the daughter of a Soviet Jewish refusenik couple as part of her Bat Mitzvah ceremony (see below for a letter she wrote). It’s funny that for all their recent declarations of love for their Jewishness, neither Zuck nor Sheryl seem to be worried about the juxtaposition.

But that’s neither here nor there. Zuckerberg’s decision to focus his energies on building a “metaverse” is an understandable punt for someone who has already colonized most of the existing world of Internet users (outside of China and Russia, mainly) but who is clearly overwhelmed by the challenge of taming the Frankenstein he has brought to life. It’s interesting that this is Zuck’s third major pivot; there was the move to mobile, which Facebook nearly fumbled until he bought competitors Instagram and WhatsApp; the move to privacy and virtual currency, which were heavily criticized and appears stalled; and now the metaverse moonshot.

Included among the billionaires who received stimulus checks are philanthropist George Soros, worth $7.5 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, and financier Ira Rennert, worth $3.7 billion, the report noted. Soros’ representative said he returned the check, while Rennert didn’t respond to questions, ProPublica said.

To be sure, the bulk of stimulus payments were directed to households that legitimately qualified for the checks, but the fact that billionaires received the aid underscores how differently the U.S. tax system works for the ultra-rich. The 270 wealthy people who got the checks most certainly didn’t request the payments — the IRS automatically directed the aid to anyone it determined qualified by income.

It may seem mind-boggling that a billionaire could qualify for a $1,200 check from a stimulus program with an income threshold of $75,000 per single taxpayer. But because these billionaires tapped write-offs, deductions and other loopholes to minimize their incomes, they appeared to the IRS to have net incomes of less than zero, making them eligible for the payments.

Required Reading is published every Thursday afternoon, and it is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts, or photo essays worth a second look.

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic.