News
This Week’s 10 Most Important Art News Stories
By Artsy Editors
Nov 20, 2015 5:11 pm
Protests in front of the Brooklyn Museum on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. Photo by Isaac Kaplan for Artsy.

Protests in front of the Brooklyn Museum on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. Photo by Isaac Kaplan for Artsy.

01

New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) will be returning Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s landscape Sand Hills (By Grünau) (1917-1918) to the heirs of Max Fischer, whose art collection was torn apart when the Jewish writer fled Germany for the U.S. in 1935. Fischer’s heirs first contacted MoMA about the painting in 2004, but the museum’s research on the work’s provenance seemed to suggest that it wasn’t Fischer’s. It wasn’t until a postcard of hills in Berlin’s suburb of Grünau showed an uncanny kinship to the landscape that the museum and Fischer’s heirs realized that the same painting had been given numerous names over the years, as owners had misidentified the location of the hills depicted. (via the Wall Street Journal)


02

After reporting a nine percent drop in its third-quarter earnings from auction commissions, Sotheby’s sent employees an offer for voluntary buyouts in efforts to downsize and become more cost-efficient. Without giving a specific number, Sotheby’s articulated the need to resort to layoffs if too few employees take advantage of the buyouts. Even as it reported that its losses narrowed, the auction house has seen a 33 percent decline in share prices (as of one week ago) while putting up a $515 million guarantee for the Taubman collection. (via Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal)


03

In efforts to crack down on smuggling and money laundering, the Swiss parliament has passed an amendment that increases regulation of freeports and storage warehouses, requiring more transparency. The art market may feel an impact from several of the measures, including a six-month storage limit on goods intended for export, a requirement that buyers be identified, and that the the contents of crates and their destinations be revealed. (via artnet News)


04

Billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, who has found himself in the middle of a scandal involving billions of dollars worth of masterworks, has finally offered his side of his lawsuit against two former associates. The Russian oligarch is adamant that Yves Bouvier and Tania Rappo overcharged him by over $1 billion, accusing them of money laundering and fraud (charges they deny). Rybolovlev himself has also been accused of evidence manipulation in the case, which is approaching trial in Monte Carlo. (via Town and Country Magazine)


05

French Minister of Culture Fleur Pellerin announced the allotment of $3.75 million to help with recovery of cultural institutions in the wake of last week’s terrorist attacks. The funds will compensate for cancelled performances and increased security, with an additional $540,000 to go towards the Société des auteurs, compositeurs, et éditeurs de musique. (via Le Point)


06

An analysis of the past six years of New York’s day sales in May and November by Karolina Prawdzik shows that total sales volume is up from May 2010, with a drop of 5% occurring in November 2015. The analysis also finds a rise in average price of works, which without a corresponding increase in number of works sold, suggests the source is “increased global liquidity among the world’s wealthiest.” When looking at the day sale as a percentage of the overall Contemporary auction sales, November’s day sale has the highest percentage since May 2010—an indication of the market broadening beyond overvalued top lots (the so-called “Masterpiece Market”). (via Art Market Monitor)


07

On Tuesday, over 100 demonstrators convened in front of the Brooklyn Museum to protest the “6th Annual Real Estate Summit.” The museum drew criticism after it rented its space to over 600 developers who paid $500 per ticket for the event, which advertised as a way to “learn how to create value” in Brooklyn. Artists and activists argue that the museum, by providing space to the developers, was facilitating gentrification and the displacement of marginalized communities. (via Artsy)


08

Fritz Grünbaum’s descendants are suing London art dealer Richard Nagy, claiming that two Egon Schiele works on display at The Salon Art + Design in New York were a part of the Holocaust victim’s collection. A New York judge blocked the dealer from selling or shipping the watercolors, valued at $5 million. Nagy rebukes the accusations, stating that neither piece is on Grünbaum’s prewar lists and there is no evidence of Nazi looting in this case. (via New York Daily News)


09

Phillips is undergoing an executive reorganization, with Michael McGinnis stepping down from his position as president at the end of the month. CEO Edward Dolman, who served as Christie’s CEO for 10 years, is recruiting former colleagues from the major auction house, including former Christie’s deputy chairman of postwar and contemporary art Robert Manley. Other recent departures from Phillips include co-head of contemporary art in Europe, Olivier Vrankenne, and chief business development officer Patricia G. Hambrecht. (via Bloomberg)


10

ARCOmadrid has announced the list of participating galleries for its 2016 edition. In celebration of its 35th anniversary, the fair will include the program “Imagining Alternative Futures,” in which 35 international galleries will represent their past programs and future possibilities through the work of two artists. The full list of exhibitors includes 209 galleries from nearly 30 countries. (via ARCOmadrid)


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