Art Industry News: Authorities Are Investigating an Alleged Van Gogh Forgery Ring + Other Stories

Plus, Berlin's Jewish Museum will refuse further Sackler donations and investigators recover jewels stolen from a Roman museum six years ago.

Vincent van Gogh, Self-Portrait, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence (1889). Copyright Musée d’Orsay, RMN-Grand Palais/Patrice Schmid.

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 4.


Michael Rakowitz on His Whitney Biennial Protest – The Chicago-based artist explains his decision to turn down an invitation to take part in the forthcoming biennial in solidarity with staffers demanding the resignation of board member Warren B. Kanders. First, he noted, he talked it over with the curators, who told him they would not stop anyone from making work that critiqued the issue or the Whitney for the show. But the artist says: “I am very skeptical of reacting that way, as I think museums are very good at appropriating that institutional critique and turning it into product.” (Chicago Reader)

Mercedes-Benz Sues Street Artists – Four street artists in Detroit are being sued by Mercedes-Benz USA, which wants a federal judge to rule that its use of their murals in promotional Instagram posts did not infringe on the artists’ copyright. Daniel Bombardier, who is named in the lawsuits along with James “Dabls” Lewis, Jeff Soto, and Maxx Gramajo, says he feels like he is being “bullied and intimidated” by the company. Roula David, the director of the Murals in the Market program, which commissioned the street art, says it supports the artists, adding, “Mercedes has contacted us in the past to license other works for similar advertisements.” (Detroit News)

Van Gogh Forgery Ring Investigated – French authorities are investigating a Belgian man living in France who allegedly attempted to sell a fake Van Gogh self-portrait. Two men and a woman have also been implicated in the alleged fraud. A would-be buyer raised the alarm about the drawing when they were offered it for “several million euros.” Experts from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris are reported to have declared the drawing to be a forgery. Investigators found several works of art at the Belgian man’s house, which are all now being investigated as part of the case. Meanwhile, in other Van Gogh news, the gun that killed the artist is heading for auction. (Connexion France)

The Shed Is a Great Space, Shame About the Social Control – New York’s huge shiny new multipurpose venue is technically impressive, the program is diverse, and the stagecraft is slick. But Clare Bishop is worried about the Shed. The art history professor writes that the Hudson Yards behemoth “feels like the harbinger of a horrible new world.” The Shed wants to be seen as the heir of the radically democratic multipurpose Fun Palace of the mid-1960s, which was designed (but never built) by Cedric Price. Instead, however, it is a monument to the super-wealthy, who want to “evade taxes by pouring a fraction of their profits into a cultural project that enhances their social status.” The space claims to be open but participation is invitation-only and carefully controlled. Stay tuned for our own critic’s take on The Shed later today. (Artforum)


Gagosian to Rep Nathaniel Mary Quinn – The American artist known for bold, collaged portraits—whose market and career has taken off like a rocket in the past few years—will make his debut with the gallery this fall in Beverly Hills. Gagosian will also bring work by Mary Quinn to Art Basel in June. The artist will continue to show with Rhona Hoffman in Chicago and Almine Rech in Brussels. (ARTnews)

Lehmann Maupin Adds Lari Pittman to Its Stable – The LA–based artist is now represented by Lehmann Maupin, which will be presenting his work at Frieze New York. He formerly showed with Gladstone Gallery in New York and continues to be represented by Regen Projects in LA. The artist has a solo show at the Hammer Museum in the fall. (ARTnews)


Longtime Curator of American Folk Art Museum Steps Down – Stacy C. Hollander, the museum’s longtime deputy director for curatorial affairs, chief curator, and director of exhibitions, is stepping down at the end of June to “pursue independent curatorial work and writing projects.” Hollander had led the American Folk Art Museum for more than 25 years. (New York Times)

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Adds Three Fellows – Cathy Davidson, a professor at the CUNY Graduate Center, Stephen Pitti, a professor at Yale University, and Olga Viso, the former Walker Art Center director, will each serve for a 12-month period. (ARTnews)

Jewish Museum in Berlin Will Refuse Further Sackler Donations – Jewish Museum in Berlin has joined the growing chorus of institutions who have publicly stated they will not accept future money from the Sackler family. It last received funds in 2002; the museum will, however, keep the name of its Sackler staircase in place. (TAN)

Investigators Recover Jewels Stolen From Roman Museum – The carabinieri art theft squad has recovered artifacts stolen in a major heist at the National Etruscan Museum in 2013. The thieves have been identified and are now standing trial in Rome, though investigators believe the job may have been commissioned by a Russian woman who has not been charged. (New York Times)


Germany’s State Prosecutor Is Investigating a Provocative German Art Collective – A member from the German collective Center for Political Beauty is under investigation on suspicion of “forming a criminal association.” The group member, artist Philipp Ruch, was involved in the installation of a replica Holocaust memorial near the home of far-right leader Björn Höcke after the politician called the permanent memorial in Berlin a “monument of shame.” (NYT)

Photoville Makes Its West Coast Debut – The Brooklyn-based nonprofit United Photo Industries is taking Photoville to Los Angeles. The free pop-up festival will be hosted by the Annenberg Space for Photography over two weekends (April 26–28 and May 2–5). (LA Times)

Rashid Johnson’s Directorial Debut Gets a Big Meh – The Chicago artist’s debut into film directing falls a bit flat, according to Alex Greenberger. “Johnson doesn’t show as sure a hand as a director as he does in his other forms of art, and an operatic finale to the film proves a misfire,” he writes. Native Son, Johnson’s screen adaptation of Richard Wright’s 1940 novel by the same name, premieres on HBO in America on Saturday. (ARTnews)

Daniel Arsham Transforms a Yankees Cap into “Crystal Relic”  What should you get for the elusive art and baseball lover in your life? Daniel Arsham has just the thing. The New York-based artist has released an edition of 500 crystal Yankees caps. Each comes with a metal identification card, a pair of white art gloves for handling, and a holographic label to verify its edition number and authenticity. Just don’t try it on, OK? (Instagram)

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.