Art Industry News: How a Little-Known Colombian Painter Found Out He Was Actually the Son of Pablo Escobar + Other Stories

Plus, Wayne Thiebaud paints an ice-cream cone for the cover of the New Yorker and Douglas Latchford dies at 89.

Pablo Escobar Gaviria, the mythic leader of the Medellin Cartel. (Photo by Tony Comiti/Sygma via 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 Tuesday, August 11.


National Museum of China Opens COVID Show – The National Museum of China in Beijing has organized an exhibition dedicated to the country’s battle with coronavirus. The show, titled “Unity Is Strength: An Art Exhibition on the Fight Against COVID-19,” opened on August 1 with 177 works. Some 96 were drawn from an open call for submissions. Many of the works depict hospital scenes in the virus epicenter of Wuhan—but the whistleblower doctor Li Wenliang is a notable absence. (The Art Newspaper)

Los Angeles Authorities Seek to Remove a BLM Memorial – The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has said that the 2.2 mile-long Black Lives Matter installation surrounding the Silver Lake Reservoir must come down by August 15 because organizers did not get permission from the city to mount the memorial on public property. The “Say Their Names: Silver Lake Memorial” is made from colorful pieces of fabric and has been up since early June. (LA Times)

Pablo Escobar’s Son Is… an Artist? – Roberto Sendoya Escobar, who has been living in Mallorca as a little-known painter under the adopted name of Phillip Witcomb, found out at 24 years old that he was actually the son of Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. After his 14-year-old mother died in a shootout, he was adopted by a member of the British secret service MI6 and educated in England. Now, Witcomb has written a book, Son of Escobar: First Born, which recounts his incredible, made-for-Netflix story. Meanwhile, his personal website describes Witcomb as an “exceptional hyperrealist painter” and links his work to Joshua Reynolds and Canaletto. (Telegraph)

Explaining ‘Mansplaining’ With Help From 17th-Century Art – The Detroit-based writer Nicole Tersigni took to Twitter last year to share a series of memes that depict mansplaining throughout art history. (Think: an 18th-century painting, Conversation in a Park by Thomas Gainsborough, next to the caption, “you would be so much prettier if you smiled.”) The thread quickly went viral—and before long, she had a book deal. Her new coffee-table book, Men to Avoid in Art and Life, pairs art with incisive captions to lampoon a variety of scenarios in which men “mansplain” to women. (New York Times)


Mary Cassatt Painting Sets a Record at Christie’s – The American Impressionist’s Two Little Sisters (ca. 1902) sold for $519,000—the top price ever achieved in a Christie’s online American art sale. All told, the auction generated a total of $3.8 million. (Art & Object)

Art Brut Gallerist Daniel Cordier Turns 100 – The wartime French resistance fighter, artist, art dealer, and historian has turned 100 years old. After the war, he ran two successive galleries: one in France focused on Art Brut and another in Frankfurt am Main. (FAZ)


Art Dealer Douglas Latchford Dies at 89 – Douglas Latchford, who was known for dealing South East Asian art and antiquities to museums around the globe, died at age 89 on August 2. Last November, a New York District Attorney announced the indictment of Latchford for alleged smuggling and trafficking in stolen and looted Cambodian antiquities. He denied any wrongdoing. (The Art Newspaper)

Artist Judit Reigl Dies at 97 – The renowned abstract painter escaped political turmoil in her native Hungary for Paris in the 1950s, where she started working in a Surrealist style. In the mid-50s, however, she shifted to all-over abstraction. Her work was included in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Epic Abstraction” exhibition in 2018. (ARTnews)

Artist Mary Cozens-Walker Dies at 82 – The British multimedia artist worked across painting, sculpture, and embroidery. Her work is in the collection of the Arts Council of London and the Sainsbury Centre in Norwich. (Guardian)


Artists Create a Quilt to Remember One Pandemic Amid Another – A sewing circle of six women in New York has been working on two AIDS quilts to honor the memories of the late artist David Wojnarowicz and his partner, Tom Rauffenbart. While their project was interrupted by the lockdown, the quilts are now complete and will be included in the show “The David Wojnarowicz Correspondence with Jean Pierre Delage, 1979–82,” tentatively scheduled for 2021 at the New York gallery P.P.O.W. After that, they will be donated to the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. (NYT)

Wayne Thiebaud Covers the New Yorker – A delectable ice cream cone rendered by the nonagenarian painter adorns the cover of this week’s New Yorker. At almost 100 years old, Thiebaud is still painting. He chatted with the New Yorker about his impression of the magazine’s own cartoonists when he met them back in the 1940s: “I found them somewhat lacking in humor. They were kind of angry all the time.” (New Yorker)

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