Art Industry News is a daily digest of the most consequential developments coming out of the art world and art market. Here’s what you need to know this Monday, January 10.
Nigeria Is Facing Tension Over Benin Bronze Returns – Who gets to control the Benin bronzes once they return to Nigeria? That’s the question at the heart of a power struggle between Oba Ewuare II, the current king of Benin, and the newly formed nonprofit Legacy Restoration Trust, which has been working to build a new museum to house the repatriated Benin bronzes. While the trust has already become a contact point for institutions around the world, the royal court has been planning its own Benin Royal Museum for the treasures. Now, Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments has added its hat into the ring to help oversee the returned objects. (The Art Newspaper)
Billionaire’s Looted Art Still on View at Israel Museum – Some of the stolen artifacts that American billionaire Michael Steinhardt recently surrendered as part of a deal with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office are still on display at the Israel Museum. The former hedge-fund manager handed over a total of 180 pieces valued at $70 million last month. But a 2,200-year-old limestone tablet known as Heliodorus Stele and two ancient masks are at the Israel Museum, where Steinhardt has been a longtime patron. The museum said it is studying the matter. (Chicago Sun Times)
Damien Hirst’s Country House Is an ‘Eyesore’ – Seventeen years after it was acquired by one of the world’s richest artists, the historic Toddington Manor in Britain remains uninhabited and covered in scaffolding, frustrating local residents who are calling it an “eyesore,” a “white blob,” and “a blight on the countryside.” When Hirst bought it in 2005 for £3 million ($4 million), he vowed to restore its former glory by turning it into his family home and a gallery for his personal art collection. (Guardian)
Ron Perelman Opens Up About His Downsizing – A Miró, a Matisse, and a Giacometti worth a combined $129 million are among the artworks that billionaire Ron Perelman sold in recent years to help make good on multibillion-dollar loans to his businesses, including Revlon and Vericast, which have been hit hard by the pandemic. He could be selling more art this year as he has reunited with his former art dealer Larry Gagosian, whom he sued in 2012. “One day, I just picked up the phone and said, ‘Look, we haven’t spoken for years but I don’t even know what our fight was about. Do you want to forget about it?’” Perelman recalled. “He said, ‘I’d like nothing better.’” (New York Times)
MOVERS & SHAKERS
This Website Wants to Be Tumblr for Crypto – JPG, a new platform that allows users to build their own NFT gallery by importing and displaying any NFT available on OpenSea, wants to become the Tumblr of the crypto world. The site, which launched in July, received $3.8 million in a recent seed funding round. (ARTnews)
St. Louis Museum to Close for the Month – The Saint Louis Art Museum is the latest U.S. art institution to close its doors due to a surge of Omicron cases among staff members. It expects to reopen on Tuesday, February 1. (KDSK)
Maryan Estate Joins Kamel Mennour – The estate of the late Polish-born Jewish painter Maryan has joined the Paris-based gallery Kamel Mennour. The announcement came on the heels of a well-reviewed retrospective of the artist, who was one of the first of his era to reflect the horrors of the Holocaust, at the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami. (ARTnews)
Melania Trump Is All in on NFTs – While Donald Trump has described cryptocurrency as a “scam,” his wife is fully embracing the NFT craze with a second auction on her new platform. “The Head of State Collection” includes the hat that Melania Trump wore when she welcomed French President Emmanuel Macron to the White House in 2018 and an original watercolor portrait of her in the hat (plus an NFT of the portrait, natch) by Marc-Antoine Coulon. The sale, which runs from January 11 to 25, accepts SOL, the cryptocurrency of the blockchain platform Solana. (Washington Post)
FOR ART’S SAKE
Frédéric Bruly Bouabré Takes Center Stage at MoMA – The Museum of Modern Art in New York will present the first U.S. museum survey of the Ivorian artist in “Frédéric Bruly Bouabré: World Unbound,” on view from March 13 to August 13. The show will present more than 1,000 drawings by the artist, who used his craft to invent a writing system. (Press release)
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