Art Industry News: John Oliver Is Sending His Profoundly Weird Art Collection on Tour to Museums Across the U.S. + Other Stories

Plus, Amsterdam's mayor reopens the case of a disputed Kandinsky, and Bard's Center for Curatorial Studies gets a $50 million windfall.

John Oliver with his art collection. Courtesy of Last Week Tonight via Twitter.

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 Friday, August 27.


Amsterdam Reenters Talks on Kandinsky Claim – Amsterdam’s mayor says she will enter into talks to return a long-disputed Wassily Kandinsky painting to the heirs of a Jewish couple who owned it before WWII. The then-director of the Stedelijk Museum acquired Kandinsky’s Painting with Houses (1909) at auction in 1940, just after the Nazi invasion. The Dutch Restitution Commission controversially denied the heirs’ claim to the work in 2018, and the mayor’s decision is part of a change in policy regarding restitution requests that seeks to “right wrongs.” (New York Times)

London Art Dealer Sentenced for Stalking – A London art dealer has been sentenced to nine months in prison after a jury convicted him for stalking involving serious alarm or distress. Earl Grinhaff, who owned an art consultancy in Kensington, will not actually see the inside of a cell, however, as he had already spent 12 months wearing an electronic tag while awaiting trial, and one month in police custody. (Evening Standard)

John Oliver’s Show Gave $10,000 to Five Museums – Comedian John Oliver is giving five U.S. museums $10,000 grants for exhibiting his “weird art” collection. Oliver began amassing a collection of weird art last year for his satirical news show Last Week Tonight, and its highlights include a remarkable painting of T.V. host Wendy Williams eating a lamb chop. The collection will begin touring on September 7 at the Judy Garland Museum in Minnesota, followed by Chicago’s Museum of Broadcast Communications, Baltimore’s American Visionary Art Museum, Detroit’s William V. Banks Broadcast Museum, and the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco. (Hyperallergic)

How Galleries Can Properly Vet Someone’s I.D. – As cyber-criminals seek to exploit the online art-sales boom and the U.K. enforces new anti-money laundering requirements, galleries are upping their security systems to verify their clients’ identities. Christie Lewis from TrustID shared a few tips on how to spot fraudulent identity documents, including checking for spelling mistakes and comparing the client’s key facial features to the photo on the document (TAN)


CCS Bard Gets a $50 Million Endowment – Collector Marieluise Hessel and billionaire investor George Soros have gifted a combined $50 million to Bard College’s Center for Curatorial Studies (CCS Bard). The donations, which commemorate the center’s 30th anniversary, are part of a broader endowment drive for Bard College. (The Art Newspaper)

Christie’s Nabs Major Print Collection – Christie’s will sell the collection of the late Boston art collector Lois B. Torf, who died last September. More than 250 prints and multiples will be included in two single-owner sales in September; they are estimated to fetch more than $4 million. (Barron’s)

Switzerland Added to the U.K.’s Green List – Good news for the U.K. art world hoping to travel to Basel next month: the government has upgraded Switzerland from “amber” to “green” status. That means travelers do not need to quarantine upon return—provided they complete a passenger locator form, provide a negative test taken within three days of departure, and another on the second day back in the U.K. (Evening Standard)


Marsha P. Johnson Gets a Guerrilla Bust in New York – A guerrilla memorial commemorating the revolutionary social activist and self-identified drag queen materialized across from the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan on Tuesday, Johnson’s birthday. The unofficial tribute by Jesse Pallotta is the city’s first statue of someone trans, and came after public authorities delayed plans announced in 2019 to erect two statues of trans activists at the site. (Hyperallergic)

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