Performance poet Bobby Miller alleges that, despite taking the photos himself, they’ve been reproduced and displayed publicly as ’s
self-portraits—an act Miller says infringes on his “exclusive rights” to the images. The works in question have appeared at Sean Kelly Gallery, the Whitney
, the Guggenheim
, and elsewhere. Miller is seeking $65 million in damages from the five institutions that have exhibited the photographs, $45 million to come from the Mapplethorpe Foundation alone. The news comes in the midst of renewed attention for Mapplethorpe, sparked by a recently released HBO documentary about the artist’s life alongside a pair of retrospective exhibitions at LACMA
and the Getty Museum
07 Unable to pay its debts, the French brass foundry known for producing controversial bronze Degas sculptures will close.
A French judge has ordered the Chevreuse foundry to shutter and liquidate its assets in order to reimburse its creditors. The bronzes produced there have been the subject of heated debate regarding their authenticity—though such disagreements haven’t prevented the works from finding buyers willing to pay up to $1.5 million at auction. The contention centers around whether the plaster molds used to cast the bronze sculptures at the foundry can be traced back to wax originals created by
himself (the artist only sculpted in wax or clay during his lifetime, soundly refusing to make works from bronze). Still, the bronzes have been cast by a series of different foundries authorized by Degas’s family after the artist died in 1917. This ruling will bring the production of the French artist’s bronzes to a close after nearly a century.
08 On Monday and Tuesday, two men linked to the 2009 theft of an Edvard Munch lithograph worth roughly $240,000 were arrested in Oslo.
The men—who were due to appear for a pretrial hearing on Wednesday—are no strangers to the police according to national media, who have reported that both had criminal records. Although the pair are currently under suspicion for handling stolen goods, they are not being charged with the
theft itself, a smash-and-grab job that occurred in November 2009 at an Oslo art dealership. The work in question, which was recovered Monday, dates back to 1914. Interestingly, thefts of Munch works are remarkably common. In one 1994 instance, thieves walked out of Norway’s National Gallery with a version of the Norwegian artist’s iconic painting The Scream
, leaving behind a card that said: “Thanks for the poor security.”
09 As of July 1st, Austria’s Essl Museum will no longer organize exhibitions, nor allow the public to view its collection.
According to the institution, which is just a short drive from Vienna, the closure is a result of the Austrian government’s refusal to provide public funds to support its operations. (It will come as little surprise that this is not conventionally how private museums are funded.) In 2014, Essel offered to sell his collection to the state, in an effort to save his home improvement store chain BauMax. The government turned him down, amidst criticism both of the quality of most of the work included in the collection and the use of state funds to, essentially, support a private company. Millionaire industrialist Hans Peter Haselsteiner then stepped in, purchasing a majority stake in a newly-formed entity which held the collection and was funded by a group of some 40 banks. The deal stipulated that the 44 most high-priced works from the 7000-work-strong collection would be sold. With the museum now closing, almost 90% of the museum’s staff will be laid off, with 38 of 44 employees losing their jobs. The remaining employees will continue to tend to the private collection originally put together by Karlheinz Essl, whose impressive trove of contemporary works includes the likes of
10 Christie’s announced Tuesday that it will be shuttering offices in Boston, Philadelphia, and Palm Beach, bringing its number of regional outposts in the U.S. down to eight.
Although Christie’s leads the pack in auction house revenue worldwide, it did report a 5% decline in January sales—perhaps an indication of the current art market slowdown that has auctioneers preparing for diminished sales in the coming months. Sotheby’s also recently bought out 5% of its staff in late 2015. However, a spokesperson for Christie’s said it has future plans to grow its presence in the Midwest, Southwest, and West Coast.
—Abigail Cain, Alexander Forbes, Isaac Kaplan, and Tess Thackara