Art Industry News: Robert Indiana Estate Follies Continue as D.A. Says It Overpaid Lawyers by a Whopping $3.7 Million + Other Stories

Plus, the ousted director of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts gets a new gig and a coveted late Van Gogh could fetch $35 million at auction.

Robert Indiana with his LOVE sculpture in Central Park, New York City in 1971. Photo: Jack Mitchell/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 on this Monday, April 26.


Museum of Finland to Restitute 2,000 Artifacts – The National Museum of Finland is returning 2,200 objects collected by the museum between 1830 and 1992 to the Indigenous Sámi people. They will be presented in a new extension at the Sámi Museum and Nature Centre Siida. The parties first agreed on the deal back in 2017. (ARTnews)

Ousted Montreal Museum Head Gets a New Gig – Nathalie Bondil has been named head of museums and exhibitions at the Institut du Monde Arabe (IMA) in Paris for a three-year mandate. The news comes less than a year after the French curator was ousted from her post at the helm of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) following a clash with its board chair. (The Art Newspaper)

Robert Indiana’s Estate Overpaid Lawyers by Millions – Maine’s attorney general has ordered the executor of the artist Robert Indiana’s estate to repay almost half its legal expenses, saying the estate, managed by lawyer James W. Brannan, overpaid lawyers by some $3.7 million. The money will help Indiana’s foundation and sole beneficiary, Star of Hope Inc., convert his home into a museum. (New York Times)

Penn Museum Curator Under Fire for MOVE Remains – Activists are calling for the Penn Museum to fire curator Janet Monge following revelations that the institution has for years held the remains of a Black citizen who was killed in the 1985 MOVE bombing in Philadelphia. They believe the remains could belong to a 14-year-old, Tree Africa, and should be returned to the Africa family with an apology and financial reparations. (Hyperallergic)


Major Van Gogh Heads to Christie’s – Christie’s will sell Van Gogh’s Le Pont de Trinquetaille (1888) during its 20th century art auction in New York on May 13. It is one of few landscapes the artist painted during his time in Arles before his untimely death by suicide in 1890, and is estimated to fetch $25 million to $35 million. (ARTnews)

Oscars Gift Bag Unveils Chadwick Boseman NFT – Artist Andre Oshea has made a special edition NFT artwork in memory of the late actor Chadwick Boseman, who was favored to win the best actor trophy that went to Anthony Hopkins at last night’s ceremony. Oshea is represented by Black NFT Art, a company that promotes NFT art by Black artists. The one-of-one edition work was released in conjunction with a swag bag for the acting and directing nominees, and will be auctioned on Rarible, with 50 percent of the proceeds going to the Colon Cancer Foundation. The buy-now price will be $1.2 million—even though it appears to be based on 3-D print model that can be purchased via a royalty-free license for $50. (Twitter)

Colnaghi to Manage “Madrid Caravaggio” – The veteran Old Master gallery will spearhead the scholarly assessment, scientific analysis, and restoration of an Ecce Homo painting that is now believed to be the work of Caravaggio. The painting was due to be sold at auction in Madrid for just $1,780 when the consignors were made aware of its possible reattribution. (Press release)


Museums Reopen in Scotland – Museums and galleries have been given the green light to reopen in Scotland beginning today. A new campaign to help the public find their nearest art attractions, called #ArtUnlocks, is underway. (Evening Standard)

Museums in Germany Are Closing Again – Meanwhile, museums in Germany have been ordered to shut down again after the parliament initiated an “emergency brake” protocol to curb the spread of the pandemic. Museums in locations with an infection rate higher than 100 per 100,000 residents for three consecutive days—which includes Berlin—must close. (TAN)

Celebrated Norwegian Art Collector Dies – Hans Rasmus Astrup, an heir to a Norwegian shipping fortune who built a museum for his top-flight collection, has died at 82. He donated his entire holdings—including works by Anselm Kiefer, Cindy Sherman, and Matthew Barney—to a foundation in 2013 to support the Astrup Fearnley Museet, now considered one of the word’s best private museums. (ARTnews)


Activists Plan to Protest Inside MoMA – Activists behind a 10-week campaign to protest New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) plan to bring their action inside the museum on April 30. In a letter to director Glenn Lowry, a coalition called International Imagination of Anti-National Anti-Imperialist Feelings (IIAAF) said it would conduct a tour of midtown institutions, including MoMA, on Friday to spotlight the connections between philanthropy and exploitation. (Hyperallergic)

Andy Warhol Foundation Pushes Back in Fair Use Case – The Andy Warhol Foundation has filed an en banc petition asking the U.S. Court of Appeals to reconsider a recent ruling that concluded the Pop artist’s “Prince Series” does not qualify as “fair use” and instead violates the copyright of the photographer Lynn Goldsmith. The foundation says the narrow view of fair use goes against precedent and threatens artists, all the way back to Marcel Duchamp, who use appropriation in their work. (TAN)

The original Lynn Goldsmith photograph and Andy Warhol's Prince portrait of the musician, as reproduced in court documents.

The original Lynn Goldsmith photograph and Andy Warhol’s Prince portrait of the musician, as reproduced in court documents.

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