The evidence in question, unearthed in July
, pertained to just how much of his ear Vincent
severed. While researching the
painter’s life, author Bernadette Murphy stumbled across a note
in an American archive written by van Gogh’s doctor. It included two sources which appear to indicate that the artist lopped off his entire ear, not simply a piece, as some historians believe. Research for Murphy’s book, appropriately titled Van Gogh’s Ear: The True Story
also shed light on the identity of the girl to which van Gogh gifted his severed ear. Long assumed to be a prostitute named Rachel, it turns out that she was actually a maid in a brothel whose given name was Gabrielle Berlatier. A more important debate around the artist’s oeuvre
came in November
when two respected art historians proclaimed 65 ink drawings in a newly revealed sketchbook to be authentic works by van Gogh. The Van Gogh Museum
responded swiftly with a wholehearted rejection of the claim. The book’s French publisher, Le Seuil, has subsequently threatened legal action due to the losses they’ve incurred following the dispute.
12 The 1MDB corruption scandal sent ripples through the art world when works from the collection of Jho Low, a Malaysian financier and rising art patron, were seized by prosecutors.
seizure arose following allegations that Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak had personally recieved over $1 billion, largely from the 1Malaysia Development Bhd. fund, more commonly referred to as 1MBD. According to reports
, Low purchased works including ’s Great Saint George
(1908-1912; for $35 million) and Water Lilies With Reflections of Tall Grass
(1914-17; for some $13.6 million) with funds from 1MDB. Four works have been seized so far by prosecutors. Low is a confidant of Prime Minister Razak and quickly ascended in the art world ranks over the past three years, thanks to multiple high profile, eight-figure purchases at Christie’s and Sotheby’s. In October
, the matter was complicated further when David Nahmad claimed that Water Lilies With Reflections of Tall Grass
was in fact his painting and thus should not have been confiscated. Though the court complaint details communications between Nahmad and Low regarding the purchase of the painting, the dealer claimed that the deal had not been completed. Nahmad had purchased the work at a Sotheby’s sale in 2013 for $13.6 million. The court filing only detailed an initial $2.25 million transfer from Low’s account to Nahmad’s.
13 Artists erected statues of a naked Donald Trump across five U.S. cities, one example of the many critical artworks created in response to the now-President-elect.
The work, titled The Emperor Has No Balls,
was conceived of by anonymous anarchist art collective INDECLINE and simultaneously placed in public spaces in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Cleveland, and Seattle on the morning of August
18th. The collective worked with a Las Vegas-based artist named Ginger to produce the life-sized Trump from 300 pounds of clay. The obese caricature lacks a particular body part but has otherwise exaggerated physical features, from veins to stomach fat. The work was created in protest to the Republican nominee and immediately set off a slew of selfies with the naked Trump—along with critiques for body shaming. But this was neither the first nor the last instance of artistic protest. In November, more than 150 of New York’s artists and art-world figures gathered in SoHo, outside of Ivanka Trump’s apartment, to make a plea to president-elect Trump’s daughter in a candlelight vigil as part of the @dear_ivanka Instagram campaign organized by curator Alison Gingeras and artist
. Among those in attendance were artists
, and art dealer Bill Powers.
14 Following a bizarre four-year-long legal battle over the authorship of an alleged Peter Doig painting, a federal judge ruled that it was not the artist’s work.
Though the owner of the painting claimed it was by
—the internationally renowned artist whose paintings are worth millions—the artist insisted that he could not have painted the work. U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman agreed, ruling
that Doig “absolutely did not paint the disputed work” based on “massive evidence” put forward over the seven-day trial in Chicago. The ruling also determined the creator of the work was actually Peter Edward Doige, a carpenter and amateur painter who has since passed away. Following the hearing, Doig issued a statement regretting the duration, and the mere existence, of the case: “Today’s verdict is the long overdue vindication of what I have said from the beginning four years ago: a young talented artist named Pete Edward Doige painted this work, I did not.… Thankfully, justice prevailed, but it was way too long in coming. That a living artist has to defend the authorship of his own work should never have come to pass.” Meanwhile, gallerist Peter Bartlow still believed the work was by Doig, while fellow plaintiff Robert Fletcher, who owns the painting, maintained that he brought the case in a desire to uncover the truth about the painting’s authorship, rather than for a potential payday. The painting was estimated to have been worth $6 million—if it was found to have been painted by Doig.
15 The judge presiding over a long-running Holocaust restitution lawsuit shocked observers by ruling that the Norton Simon Museum will keep two Cranach the Elder paintings.