Art Industry News: Is MOCA Director Philippe Vergne Packing His Bags, Too? + More Must-Read Stories

Plus, how Christie's landed the Rockefeller treasure trove and a lawsuit over California's resale royalty bubbles up again.

MOCA Director Philippe Vergne attends MOCA's 35th Anniversary Gala. Photo by Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for MOCA.

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 Thursday, April 12.


Germany’s New Humboldt Forum Will Offer Free Entry – The German government has decided to test out the notion of free admission to federal museums. When the forthcoming Humboldt Forum opens in Berlin in 2019, access to the permanent collection will be free—at least for the first three years. But some critics worry that introducing an entry fee at a later date will cause more consternation than having one in place from the beginning. (The Art Newspaper)

How Christie’s Sealed the Rockefeller Sale – The auction house went to great lengths to secure the more than 1,500-work collection of David and Peggy Rockefeller. Christie’s offered a reported $650 million guarantee, took out a special line of credit to enable the Rockefellers to be paid quickly, and even made a donation to David Jr.’s marine conservation charity. The sale’s proceeds, which could total $1 billion, will go to the Rockefeller’s various charities and to MoMA. (Wall Street Journal)​​

Will MOCA’s Director Follow Molesworth Out the Door? – Philippe Vergne has put his $4 million Hollywood Hills home on the market, triggering speculation that his days in charge of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, may be numbered. Neither the director nor the museum’s trustees have commented on his status—or much else—following Helen Molesworth’s abrupt exit as chief curator last month. (Los Angeles Times)

Museums Should Return African Loot, Says FTForget long-term loans and other half measures, says Philip Stephens, the Financial Times‘s chief political commentator. Great museums in Europe and North America that have African loot in their collections should send the works back—and share curatorial expertise, too. In return, African museums should lend art from their own holdings to fill the gaps left in encyclopedic museums, Stephens argues. (Financial Times)


Are Old-Fashioned Art Fairs Doomed? Fairs that focus on anything other than contemporary art have found themselves in a tight spot—there simply isn’t enough supply to support them all. As a result, some events, like BRAFA, have expanded to include contemporary, while others, like Masterpiece, have rebranded themselves as luxury shopping experiences. (Economist)

Gladstone to Represent Vivian Suter – The Guatemala-based abstractionist has signed up with New York’s Gladstone Gallery. The artist, whose work was included in documenta 14, will have a solo show there in spring 2019. (ARTnews)

California Resale Royalties Saga Continues – The seven-year-long lawsuit over California’s resale royalty act is in front of a judge yet again. Artists and their foundations are seeking to overturn a previous decision that concluded that Christie’s and Sotheby’s did not need to pay visual artists a five percent royalty on auction sales in California. (Courthouse News)​

Expo Chicago Adds Legal Forum – The Chicago fair is adding a legal strand to its talks program in the fall. Called the Professional Forum, it will host attorneys, art advisors, and a former FBI art crime analyst. The fair is also organizing a talks program during the Venice Architecture Biennale in May. (ARTnews)


Mike Kelley Foundation Announces 2018 Grants – The Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts has announced the 10 recipients of $400,000 in grants. LA-based nonprofit spaces JOAN and the Hammer Museum are among the winners. This year’s grants represent the largest sum the foundation has ever awarded. (Artforum)

Turner Prize Nominee Gillian Ayres Has Died The British abstract painter and Royal Academician has died at age 88. Ayres was one of the UK’s foremost female artists, known for her vibrant colors and compositions focused on space and shape. (Guardian)

Miami Nonprofit Launches “Ellie” Awards – ArtCenter/South Florida has launched “The Ellies,” a $500,000 grant program to boost the careers of Miami-based artists. The new initiative is named after Ellie Schneiderman, who founded the nonprofit organization more than 30 years ago. (Artforum)

There Is a New Director at Winterthur – The Winterthur Museum in Delaware has appointed Carol B. Cadou as its new director and CEO. Cadou is currently the head of historic preservation and collections at George Washington’s Mount Vernon. She will succeed David P. Roselle, who is retiring. (Press release)


The US Holocaust Museum Wants to Raise $1 Billion The Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, is looking to raise a whopping $1 billion by 2023 to mark its 30th birthday. In 2013, the museum set out to raise $540 million by this year (its 25th anniversary). Having achieved that goal in only 18 months, it has decided to raise the bar. (Washington Post)

Great Artists Aren’t Always Good People. What Next? – What do you do when you find out that art you love was made by someone who did terrible things? Sebastian Smee struggles to answer this question in light of the recent allegations against Nicholas Nixon, a photographer he loves. “I believe that art has its own life, independent of the people who make it,” Smee writes. “I only want to register my dismay.” (Washington Post)

Meet the Next Generation of Curatorial Activists – A new crop of radical curators is seeking to make the art we see more diverse in its representation of gender, race, and sexuality. London-based curator Fatos Ustek and the founding director of London’s Arcadia Missa gallery, Rozsa Farkas, are among those pushing a wider variety of voices into London’s white, male-dominated art scene. (Guardian)

Jeremy Deller Lends a Hand in Milan – It’s raining in Milan today, which means that Jeremy Deller’s bouncy replica of Stonehenge—brought to the city this week by the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi—was in dire need of help. The Turner Prize-winning artist grabbed a broom and joined assistants in sweeping water off the inflatable work so that the show could go on. artnet News’s own Naomi Rea recorded the action live. (Instagram)

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