Art Industry News: The Notorious Nazi-Looted Gurlitt Trove Is Heading to the Israel Museum + Other Stories

Plus, global auction sales are down in the first quarter of 2019 and Olu Oguibe's divisive obelisk is returning to Kassel.

Curators working on the restoration and maintenance of works from the Gurlitt estate at Kunstmusem Bern. Photo by Christiane Oelrich/picture alliance via Getty Images.

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, April 22.


Whitney Museum Protests Enter Week Five – Members of the activist group Decolonize this Place protested for a fifth straight week at the Whitney Museum, where they continue to target Warren B. Kanders, the embattled board co-vice chairman who owns the weapons manufacturer Safariland. On Friday, the group was joined by Puerto Rican and Palestinian activists who spoke out against the use of Safariland tear gas by Israeli troops against Palestinians at the Gaza border. According to Hyperallergic, Kanders also owns millions of dollars of stock in the Clarus Corporation, which owns a company that produces bullets used by the Israeli army.  (Hyperallergic)

Meet the Insurance Adjuster in Charge of Notre Dame – With the fires cooled at Notre Dame, it’s now time to assess the damage to the cathedral’s famed relics, a task left to insurance agents at Sedgwick. According to Michel Honore, the firm’s head of fine art, around 90 percent of the artworks and holy artifacts are left intact, but there is still work to be done evaluating what needs restoration. A group of around 30 artisans and conservators led by Honore are now making those determinations. (Quartz)

The Gurlitt Trove Will Travel to Israel – As provenance research continues on the Gurlitt collection, with researchers looking to see if any more of the 1,500 artworks in the trove were stolen by Nazis during the World War II era, a group of works from the hoard will travel for the first time to the Israel Museum. In September, the museum will open “On Taste and Ideology: The Gurlitt Story,” an exhibition that contextualizes the paintings within their fraught history. It is being organized with the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn, which had a similar show in 2017. (Times of Israel)

Art Detective Says the IRA Definitely Has Some Gardner Loot – The so-called “Indiana Jones of the art world,” who recently tracked down a Picasso painting stolen from a yacht 20 years ago, says he has a lead on the stolen Gardner Museum treasures. He is convinced that some of the missing paintings are stashed in Ireland, but those who could come forward to claim the Gardner’s $10 million reward do not believe they will be able to walk away without being questioned by the police. (Boston Herald)


Is Gagosian’s New Art Advisory a Conflict of Interest? – News that Gagosian Gallery is launching an advisory service—which our columnist describes as the next step in its move toward becoming the Amazon of art—has some critics wondering if it will be able to provide unbiased services given its other commercial interests. Legally, the venture isn’t inherently problematic, according to attorney Daniel S. Kokhba, “but there needs to be proper disclosure and transparency, which benefits all involved.” (New York Observer)

Auction Sales Drop in the First Quarter of 2019 – Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Phillips reported drops in sales in the first quarter of 2019—the totals are lower than at this time last year, but not quite as dismal as during the last market dip in 2016. The US market share has increased compared to last year, while the proportion of contemporary art sold has dipped. (Art Market Monitor)

Grimm Gallery Names New Director – Grimm gallery in New York and Amsterdam has named Kat Sapera its co-director (with Margot Samel), beginning May 1. She previously worked as an associate director at Timothy Taylor gallery in London. (ARTnews)


MoMA Adds a Curator of Latin American Art – Beverly Adams is joining New York’s MoMA as the newly appointed curator of Latin American art. Adams, who begins September 1, has served the same role at the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin since 2013, where she helped cement the acquisition of a trove of Latin American works and organized exhibitions on artists including Javier Téllez and Clarissa Tossin. (Press release)

Controversy-Plagued Obelisk Is Returning to Kassel – A massive obelisk that debuted in 2017 at documenta 14 in Kassel’s main square—and which was later removed by the government after inciting a wave of criticism—is finally returning home, hopefully for good. The 50-foot-tall work by Olu Oguibe, called Das Fremdlinge und Flüchtlinge Monument (Monument for strangers and refugees), was criticized for its “provocative message,” though Oguibe won the prestigious Arnold Bode Prize for the work that year. (ARTnews)


This German Auction House Is Working to Return Looted Art – The Neumeister auction house in Munich, through which scores of artworks from Jewish family collections were sold under duress during the World War II era, is working to make amends. By looking in part through catalogues from the period, auction house researchers have identified at least 159 works from the collection of Siegfried Laemmle, a Jewish art dealer, that passed through Neumeister at the direction of Adolf Weinmüller, a Nazi party member who profited from the sales. Laemmle’s heirs, who now live in Denver, have since begun restitution processes with the museums where the artworks ended up. (CNN)

Archaeologists Discover an Ancient Pet Cemetery – Argentinian researchers have discovered a “bed of bones” that contains the fossils of around 10 ancient animals, some of which belong to dinosaur species that may have never been identified before. “This is something impressive; it’s as if, here, the carnivores had a well and were pulling the bones after the meal,” said one paleontologist of the discovery, which could date as far back as 220 million years. (Press release)

MFA Boston Honors Notre Dame In a tribute to Notre Dame, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston has installed six artworks on paper depicting the cathedral. Five works from 19th-century French artists hang in the institution’s medieval European gallery, while a large pastel by Dutch painter Pieter Dupont is on view in visitor center accompanied by a guestbook encouraging passersby to share their thoughts on the great building. (Press release)

Alfred Alexandre Delauney, Notre Dame (Abside) (1875), engraving, Harvey D. Parker Collection. Photo: MFA Boston.

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