Art Industry News: Elon Musk Made a Surprise Visit to the Uffizi to Study a Sculpture of a Dying Roman Emperor + Other Stories

Plus, New York's International Center of Photography gets a new director and Nan Goldin protests the Sackler settlement plan.

Director Eike Schmidt, dealer Fabrizio Moretti together with Elon Musk with his partner Grimes and family at the Uffizi. Courtesy Uffizi.

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 Wednesday, August 11.


Researchers Work to Re-Assemble Secret Missives – Today in archival challenges: So-called “puzzlers” at the Federal German Archives are working to reassemble, piece by piece, torn-up documents that were ripped and hidden in sacks by the East German secret police, known as the Stasi, in the final days of the German Democratic Republic. (New York Times)

Trafalgar Square Is Hosting an Open-Air Show – If it’s difficult for visitors to enter museums right now due to health concerns, why not bring the museum to the people? London’s National Gallery has mounted some 30 to-scale reproductions of works en plein air in Trafalgar Square. Facsimiles by Van Gogh, Titian, Bronzino, and others are on view alongside blank easels for visitors to draw their own “masterpieces.” (BBC)

Elon Musk and Grimes Visit the Uffizi in Florence – The tech tycoon and pop star went to see some art on their Euro trip, surprising the Uffizi and its director Eike Schmidt. “When you install a space station on Mars, we’d like to bring us some artwork for our Uffizi Diffusi project,” joked the director. The couple, joined by dealer Fabrizio Moretti, was particularly fond of works by Paolo Uccello and Piero della Francesca. According to the Uffizi, Musk also spent some time studying the details of an ancient Roman sculpture of a dying Alexander. (Press release)

Art Collector Fights Extradition on Mental Health Grounds – Nirav Modi, the disgraced art collector and diamond dealer to the stars, has been granted the right to appeal his extradition to India from the U.K. because he has a “recurrent depressive disorder.” Modi has been held in London’s Wandsworth prison since 2019 and is wanted in India in connection with an alleged £729 million ($1 billion) bank fraud. Modi’s art collection was sold in 2019 to help pay down state income tax. (The Art Newspaper)


International Center of Photography Names New Director – David E. Little, who currently heads Amherst College’s museum, will assume the role of executive director of the ICP in New York in mid-September. He succeeds Mark Lubell. (TAN)

Barbican Shakes Up Staff Following Tell-All Book – The Barbican Centre is reshuffling its leadership following the publication of a dossier chronicling more than 100 instances of allegedly racist behavior at the London institution. Nicholas Kenyon will step down as managing director in September and the the director of arts and learning, Will Gompertz, and chief operating and financial officer, Sandeep Dwesar, will serve as interim managing directors. Nina Bhagwat joins in August as interim director of equity, diversity and inclusion. (TAN)

Phillips Is Selling Digital NFT Collage “What the Fork?” – Phillips will sell an NFT series by the digital collage artist Slimesunday called “What the Fork?,” which explores themes of sexism, consumerism, and censorship. (These NFT folks really know how to pick a name, huh?) Open for bidding from August 17–20, the works will also be on view at Phillips HQ in New York. (ArtFixDaily)


Nan Goldin and P.A.I.N. Lead New Protest – The artist and members of the activist group P.A.I.N. installed cardboard tombstones outside of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, New York, this week to protest a proposed settlement with Purdue Pharma and members of the Sackler family for their role in the opioid crisis. The settlement would shield the Sacklers from future litigation and find them not guilty of wrongdoing in exchange for $4.5 billion of their personal fortune. (TAN)


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