Art Industry News: Christie’s Responds to Claim That da Vinci Didn’t Really Paint the $450 Million Salvator Mundi + Other Stories

Plus, an artist is inserting anti-Trump art into New York City's streets and the NEH announces $43.1 million in new grants.

A woman holds up a paddle with the likeness of Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi" at Christie's. Photo courtesy Timothy A. Clary/AFP/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 Friday, August 10.


Brexit Voters Are Culturally Divided – A study comparing government data on cultural engagement across England with the results of the 2016 Brexit referendum shows that areas with lower levels of arts participation also had a higher percentage of Leave voters. A correlation was also found between high rates of museum attendance and Remain voters. In related news, studies of plummeting attendance rates at London’s museums show that a worrisome number of people are deciding to Leave art institutions and not come back. (Arts Professional)

NEH Announces $43.1 Million Round of Awards The National Endowment for the Humanities is supporting 218 projects across the US through grants totaling $43.1 million. Projects include an exhibition of contemporary indigenous art at the Crystal Bridges Museum, the conservation of Taliesin West (Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home and studio), and a new cultural center in Juneau, Alaska. The announcement follows congress’s vote at the beginning of the month to increase funding for the NEH and NEA despite the Trump administration’s threats of budget-slashing. (Artforum)

Christie’s Responds to Salvator Mundi Doubter – The auction house has refuted the opinion of the Oxford academic who claims Salvator Mundi wasn’t painted by Leonardo da Vinci but by an assistant, pointing to the “broad consensus” of scholarly opinion that says otherwise. Another Oxford scholar, the famed Leonardo expert Martin Kemp, promises a book he’s publishing in 2019 will present “a conclusive body of evidence that the Salvator Mundi is a masterpiece by Leonardo.” Meanwhile, the Russian oligarch who sold the painting has drawn scrutiny for non-art-historical reasons. (Antiques Trade Gazette)

Anti-Trump Pothole Removed by New York City – The Chicago-based artist Jim Bachor is known for beautifying potholes with flowery mosaics, but his newest series in New York is titled “Vermin of New York” and features mosaic depictions of rats, cockroaches, pigeons… and Donald Trump. Where back home Bachor is celebrated for his work, New York’s Department of Transportation isn’t a fan, calling the art a danger to road users, and promising to pave over the works wherever it finds them. (New York Post)


Art Berlin to Test the German Market – With more than 120 galleries taking part in the second edition of the fair—now running from September 27 through 30 at the historic Tempelhof airport—some worry that it is doomed to repeat the failure of Art Berlin Contemporary because of the lack of a solid local collector base. Fair director Maike Cruse, however, has hope that the endeavor will profit from established collectors moving back to Berlin and a boom in young collectors who are just starting out. (The Art Newspaper)

Mika Tajima Joins Kayne Griffin Corcoran – The New York-based artist is now represented by the Los Angeles gallery, which will stage a solo show of Tajima’s work in November and also bring it to the West Bund Art Fair in Shanghai. Tajima is still represented by Taro Nasu in Tokyo and Van Doren Waxter in New York. (ARTnews)

Marilyn Monroe’s $5.6 Million Dress Is Back on Sale – A version of the famous “subway grate” dress made for Monroe for tours and exhibits is among other items that belonged to the Hollywood starlet will feature in an October sale in Beverly Hills organized by auction house Profiles in History. In 2011, the original dress that Marilyn Monroe wore to film The Seven Year Itch sold for $5.6 million in another Beverly Hills auction. (Fox Baltimore)


Change Abounds on the Stedelijk’s Board – The interim chairman and the three remaining board members of the Amsterdam museum have stepped down. A new supervisory board will be appointed, and the former vice-chairman of the Van Gogh board, Truze Lodder, will lead the comprehensive board renewal at the museum, which was rocked last year by Beatrix Ruf’s abrupt resignation. (Press release)

Norton Museum Director to Step Down – The Florida museum’s director, Hope Alswang, is retiring in March 2019 after the completion of its Norman Foster-designed expansion. Alswang has led the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach for the past nine years. (ARTnews)

Studio Museum Names New Associate Curator – The author of the forthcoming book Glitch FeminismLegacy Russell will join the Harlem museum as its associate curator, exhibitions. Having worked everywhere from the Bruce High Quality Foundation to the Met to Artsy, she has curatorial projects under her belt that range from organizing multimedia events on digital feminism and queer nightlife at the ICA London to hosting the 2017 Serpentine Marathon. (Artforum)

Cranbrook Appoints Another Interim Director While the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan hunts for a director, Susan R. Ewing, will temporarily lead the art school. A metalsmith, educator, and arts administrator, she leaves Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Ewing will hold the fort after the Michigan college’s first appointment dropped out. (ARTnews)


List of Migrants Returns to the Biennial – An outdoor work listing the names of more than 34,000 refugees and migrants who have died on their journey to Europe is back on view at the Liverpool Biennial. The List, an ongoing work by the Turkish artist Banu Cennetoglu, was torn down by unknown vandals. (TAN)

AirBnB Cancels Great Wall Contest – Airbnb has cancelled a competition to win a night’s stay on the Great Wall of China after a backlash on Chinese social media. The company had second thoughts, issuing a statement stressing its desire to to promote “sustainable, local, and authentic travel to China.” (Engadget)

Facebook Censors Feminist Art – Borghildur Indridadóttir, a feminist artist in Iceland, is upset that Facebook censored her art after she posted images of young women standing topless in front of portraits of older men that hang in various public spaces in Reykjavik. Facebook also pulled a video and comments about the work, titled Demoncrazy (TAN)

Sleep Well on Monet’s Water Lilies – The National Gallery and Savoir Beds sell a luxury range that includes pieces featuring Monet’s Water-Lillies, Setting Sun (2007), Degas’s ballet dancers, as well details of Dutch and Renaissance Old Masters. Not to be outdone, the Victoria & Albert Museum has got into bed with Coco de Mer, “creators of the finest lingerie and erotica.” The company has launched a range of lingerie inspired by designs in the museum’s archive. (Times) (Hyperallergic)

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