The sales, which took place in London on Thursday and Friday, consisted of three auctions and featured over 350 works from the late rock star’s collection
—all of which sold. On Thursday, at the first sale, forty-seven of those lots went up for sale, boasting a range of modern and contemporary art led by ’s Air Power
(1984). The sale brought in a total of £24.3 million, more than doubling the presale high estimate, and achieved records for 12 artists—11 of whom were 20th-century British artists, including
, with his Head of Gerda Boehm
(1965) selling for more than seven times the high estimate at £3.8 million. The pre-sale exhibition attracted some 37,000 visitors in total, making it Sotheby’s London’s best-attended pre-sale exhibition in history. “While the family have kept certain pieces of particular significance, now was the time for others to share David’s love for these remarkable works and let them live on,” a spokesperson for the Bowie estate noted. The second auction, which took roughly seven hours over the course of Friday afternoon, continued the success and brought in £7.2 million, well exceeding its high estimate of £2.5. The third and final auction fetched £1.4m Friday evening, beating the high estimate of £177,020.
06 Amid skyrocketing renovation costs and lengthy delays that have kept its prize Pergamon Altar shrouded from public view, Berlin’s Pergamon Museum has announced plans to build a temporary exhibition space.
Last week, news broke that the institution’s large-scale renovation project, which began in September 2014, was €216 million over budget and several of its most prominent galleries would be shuttered until 2023. The new date amounts to a four-year delay, exacerbated by the discovery of a concrete pumping system under the construction site. As a result, this week the institution disclosed plans to build a temporary exhibition space across from Berlin’s Museum Island, not far from the Pergamon Museum
itself. Historically, the museum has drawn the highest attendance in Germany, thanks in large part to its crown jewel, the Pergamon altar, which has been hidden behind scaffolding since work on the building commenced. The temporary space, scheduled to open its doors in the spring of 2018, will host elements of the altar, including its well-known Telephos Frieze, along with a 3D representation by Berlin-based artist Yadegar Asisi of the full altar and a panorama of the city where the artifact originated. Wolf Gruppe, the construction company captaining the museum’s renovation, will build the temporary space at their own expense on land the German government is offering free of charge.
07 Sharbat Gula, the “green-eyed Afghan girl” from the famous 1985 National Geographic magazine cover, has been deported from Pakistan for using fraudulent identity documents.
Gula, who had resided in Pakistan since the mid-1980s, was taken by Pakistani officials to the border earlier this week and transferred into the custody of Afghan authorities. Photographer Steve McCurry, who took the ubiquitous photo for National Geographic, said Gula was the “face of Afghan refugees, in fact of all refugees around the world, for more than two decades. And now she appears to be the symbol of unwanted migrants around the world.” Indeed, Gula is one of 2.5 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan, which is increasing pressure on them to return home. But for many, Afghanistan is a birthplace, not a homeland. “I had decided to live and die in Pakistan but they did the worst thing with me. It’s not my fault that I born there [in Afghanistan]. I am dejected. I have no other option but to leave,” said Gula, who will be flown to Kabul, where Afghan president Ashraf Ghani will host an event honoring her.
08 The chief curator of South Korea’s Ilmin Museum of Art will resign following allegations of sexual harassment.
Youngjune Hahm, the chief curator of Seoul’s Ilmin Museum of Art since May 2015, will step down after receiving a slew of sexual harassment complaints against him. In October, fashion photographer and artist Soma Kim described Hahm making sexual advances toward her and, on more than one occasion, molesting her. Her story spurred other victims to come forward. In response, Hahm issued two statements admitting to the claims and apologizing to his victims. In one, he acknowledged the hypocrisy of the feminist positions he has taken in his curatorial role. As outrage continued and art students protested outside the museum, Hahm posted a third statement on Facebook, this one on October 24th, conceding that he had abused his position and would seek counseling. News of his resignation comes amid a number of reports from young women on social media alleging that public male figures, including novelist Park Bum-shin and poet Park Jin-seong, committed sexual abuses. The Ilmin Museum of Art has not issued a statement about Hahm’s resignation.
09 The Toledo Museum of Art has been blacklisted by Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities after sending ancient Greek and Egyptian artifacts to the auction block.
The Ohio museum has received backlash from officials in both Egypt and Cyprus after deaccessioning 68 pieces from the countries, including valuable antiquities, in order to buy new artworks. The sale, brokered by Christie’s New York, took place last month in two sessions, on October 25th and October 26th. Upon receiving news of the sale, Egypt’s minister of antiquities banned all collaboration with the Toledo institution, which the ministry believes to have violated the code of conduct for the International Council of Museums. Meanwhile, the Cypriot ambassador to the USA, Leonidas Pantelides, encouraged the museum to cancel the sale, making reference to widespread “unspeakable destruction and illicit looting of cultural heritage” in recent times and citing his fear that the objects “may disappear into private collections and never surface again.” Despite these impassioned protests, the auctions went forward, fetching a total of about $800,000. On October 24th, the Toledo Museum responded to the outcry with a letter published on its website, explaining that the works sold were of subpar quality and rarely exhibited: “Quality has always been the outstanding attribute of our collection, and the objects being sold are not of the quality of our permanent display collection; have been on display rarely; have not been sought out by scholars.” While Christie’s released a statement claiming two of the 66 sold works went to museums, the buyers of the remaining 64 lots remain undisclosed.
10 While attempting to take a selfie, a visitor to Lisbon’s National Museum of Ancient Art knocked over an 18th-century Portuguese sculpture.
An image of the smashed work posted on Twitter shows the sculpture—a polychrome wooden depiction of the archangel Saint Michael—broken into multiple pieces on the museum floor. José Alberto Seabra Carvalho, deputy director of the National Museum of Ancient Art, called the situation “deplorable,” saying, “The statue is very affected in the wings, in one arm and mantle. The damage is severe but reversible.” The museum wrote on Facebook that a conservation team will assess the damage and detail a report about possible efforts made to repair it. Little is known about the selfie-snapping perpetrator, except that he was a Brazilian tourist. One doesn’t need to look far to find another instance of someone destroying a piece of art while trying to take a selfie: In May, a tourist climbed the facade of Lisbon’s Rossio train station to snap a picture with a 126-year-old statue and instead knocked it to the ground, shattering it.