This Week’s 10 Most Important Art News Stories
Auction Shot of Sotheby’s auction of Masterworks from A. Alfred Taubman’s Collection. Work: Amedeo Modigliani’s Portrait de Paulette Jourdain (circa 1919). Estimate in excess of $25 million, sold for $42,810,000. Courtesy of Sotheby's.
This Wednesday marked the first of Sotheby’s four sales of over 500 works from the collection of the late A. Alfred Taubman, the auction house’s controversial former chairman. Though he maintained innocence, Taubman was convicted of fixing prices and antitrust violation during his tenure there. The masterworks grossed $377 million at the sale in New York, surpassing its low estimate of $374.8 million, with
Reports also emerged this week that Taubman’s children sought offers from Christie’s against Sotheby’s during the bidding process for sale of the collection, a move that may have forced Sotheby’s to increase its original $350 million guarantee to $500 million—more than any previous auction guarantee, according to Vanity Fair. Challenging this characterization, Taubman’s son, while declining discussion of the financial details of the agreement, stated that while Christie’s offer was “excellent,” the Taubmans chose to give Sotheby’s the opportunity to counter it. (via Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal)
Thursday’s Impressionist & Modern Art evening sale at Sotheby’s New York fetched $306.7 million, with the auction house selling $575.8 million of art from the category in a period of 24 hours. This brings the auction house’s year-to-date total in the category to $1.67 billion, breaking the company’s previous annual record of $1.43 billion, set in 2014.
Whitney curator Christopher Y. Lew and former PS1 curator Mia Locks will be co-curating the 2017 Whitney Biennial, the museum announced on Wednesday. The 78th edition of the biennial was postponed for one year due to the move to the museum’s new building in the Meatpacking District, and will be the first edition hosted in its new location. (via the Whitney Museum of American Art)
On Wednesday, the German federal cabinet approved a draft of the controversial Cultural Protection Property Act. Though the bill is still pending approval from the parliament, Culture Minister Monika Grütters hopes that the law will be put into place in the beginning of 2016. Met with outcry from artists, collectors, and gallerists alike, the bill would further restrict the export of artworks that are 70 years or older and valued at over €300,000 ($326,000). (via artnet News)
The FBI is investigating the owners of retail chain Hobby Lobby for their collection of antiquities, which may include artifacts looted from the Middle East. The Green family has been amassing a collection of around 40,000 ancient artifacts meant for the Museum of the Bible, which is set to open in 2017 in Washington, D.C. But the vocally Christian family is now under investigation after 200 to 300 clay tablets were confiscated by U.S. Customs agents in 2011. The tablets were thousands of years old, and inscribed in cuneiform, an ancient script once used in the region that is present-day Iraq. (via the Daily Beast)
The lawsuit between New York art dealers and former partners Sarah Hasted and Joseph Kraeutler has escalated. Hasted, accusing Kraeutler of slander and neglecting to pay commissions to the gallery, is asking for $1.6 million in damages. Kraeutler claims that Hasted used the gallery’s credit card to fund an extravagant lifestyle, and is looking for $250,000 in damages. (via artnet News)
Julia Peyton-Jones has announced that she will be stepping down from her position as director of London’s Serpentine Galleries next July. Peyton-Jones has held the position for 25 years, co-directing with Hans Ulrich Obrist for the past decade. (via artnet News)
Over 300 artists released a letter last week in support of the writers who are returning state awards in protest over the Indian government’s role in the country’s increasingly hostile environment towards cultural expression. Following the election of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister in May 2014, right-wing extremist groups have gained momentum, leading to attacks on and murders of activists and free thinkers. (via Hyperallergic)
Rosa Barba has been awarded the 2016 Prix International d’Art Contemporain (PIAC) for her work Subconscious Society, a Feature (2014). The Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco also announced that Zian Chen won the Prix pour un Essai Critique sur l’Art Contemporain 2015 for contemporary art writing and critical thinking. (via ArtInfo)