$450 Million Leonardo da Vinci Stuns Art World and Smashes Records—and the 9 Other Biggest News Stories This Week
01 Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi sold for $450 million at Christie’s on Wednesday, becoming the most expensive artwork of all time.
Auctioneer Jussi Pylkkänen began bidding for the Leonardo painting, lot nine in the house’s post-war and contemporary evening auction, at $70 million. After some anxious early seconds of tepid reception, bidding took off, surpassing the rumored $300 million that billionaire hedge fund manager Ken Griffin paid for
02 The major evening auctions in New York this week brought in a combined total of $1.5 billion with fees, excluding the work by Leonardo.
New York’s fall auction week kicked off Monday evening with a strong $480.4 million sale of Impressionist and Modern art at Christie’s, the house’s highest total for the category in a decade. Driven by a record-breaking
03 Two Swiss journalists covering the opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi were detained by authorities in the country for over 50 hours.
(via Al Jazeera)
Journalist Serge Enderlin and cameraman Jon Bjorgvinsson were accredited and slated to interview the museum’s architect, Critics have argued that the Louvre Abu Dhabi was constructed using forced labor, though the museum denies the charges. “All we wanted to do was put the opening of the Louvre in a wider context - as a flip-side to the glitz of the museum, we wanted to show the migrant workers who actually built it,” Enderlin told Al Jazeera.
The New York museum’s fourth triennial, titled “Songs for Sabotage,” will run from February 13th through May 27th. The exhibit, which focuses on bringing emerging international artists to New York, will involve works by 26 young artists from 19 countries, the majority of whom have not been exhibited in the United States. Curated by Gary Carrion-Murayari and Alex Gartenfeld, the exhibition will span all four gallery floors of the downtown space. Among the artists included are
05 Police are searching for a woman caught on surveillance footage mailing back two photos stolen from MoMA PS1.
(via the New York Post)
The two gelatin silver prints by Alex V. Sobolewski, valued at $55,000 and $50,000 apiece, were reported missing in late October, after an unknown thief took them from the “Carolee Schneemann: Kinetic Painting” exhibition on view at MoMA PS1 in Long Island City. On Friday, the institution received a FedEx box with the two stolen works inside. Both pieces were back on view as of Sunday. Surveillance footage at the Office 11211 store on Bedford Avenue, where the package was sent from on Thursday, caught a woman, described as being in her twenties, dropping off the box. Police are now actively seeking her as a suspect in the crime, and if caught, she could face charges of grand larceny and possession of stolen property, according to the Post. The motive for the crime is not publicly known.
06 Walker Art Center director Olga Viso has stepped down from her post amid “a challenging year” for the institution, which included tension with the board and controversial artwork.
On Tuesday, the Minneapolis museum announced that Viso, who has served as executive director since 2008, would be resigning, effective by the end of the year. Viso oversaw the ambitious expansion of the museum’s sculpture garden, which initially included the contentious
What made the lastest Documenta most distinctive also proved to be its downfall. A report presented this week by auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers found that the price of operating the exhibition in Athens, Greece, took Documenta out of the black and into the red, due to added “personnel, transportation, space, and security costs,” according to artnet News, plunging it into financial trouble and eventually requiring an emergency loan to stave off bankruptcy. The quinquennial is a staple of Kassel, Germany, but curator Adam Szymczyk had taken the controversial and ambitious step this year to host the art event in Athens, as well. Although any changes to management structure and oversight as a result of the financial challenges have yet to be announced, the dates for the 2022 edition were announced this week, mollifying concerns that Documenta’s next iteration was in jeopardy.
08 Artist Marina Abramović is disputing claims that money raised partially through Kickstarter for her now-canceled arts center was mishandled.
The article that ran on November 11th asked where the money had gone and charged in the headline that following cancellation, the artist “hasn’t given money back.” A spokesperson said the donated money went towards the architect’s firm, as originally intended. The artist ultimately shelved her insitute due to ballooning costs and the difficulties inherent in the Koolhaas design. Today, the site is “empty and dilapidated and full of pigeons,” according to Vulture.
09 A judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by an artist whose work was removed from the courtyard of New York’s Trinity Church.
(via the New York Law Journal)
Artist ruling filed Tuesday, Judge Lorna G. Schofield dismissed Tobin’s suit, ruling that merely moving an artwork doesn’t rise to the level of damaging alteration specified under VARA, and that the artist had failed to show evidence of gross negligence on the church’s part. Tobin also alleged that Trinity Church violated its promise to always display the piece in the courtyard, but Schofield actually found that Trinity Church was granted wide latitude by the contract to use the work as it saw fit in the agreement between the parties.
In a ruling issued late last Friday, Justice Joseph A. Trainor put a 30-day halt to the contentious auction that had previously been given a green light by a lower court judge last Tuesday. The deaccessioning of some 40 artworks at Sotheby’s in New York by the Massachusetts museum has drawn wide criticism, since the institution planned to use the $60 million it expected to raise for renovations and other purposes that violated industry guidelines around selling art. After a case brought to halt the sale last week was tossed out by a lower court, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office filed an emergency appeal for an injunction to halt the auction, which Trainor granted. Following the judge’s ruling, the Berkshire Museum works were removed from the Sotheby’s showroom. The museum has requested an “expedited trial” in the appellate court so that it can plot its financial future with certainty.
Cover image courtesy of Christie’s.
Marc Quinn Iris
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