Art Industry News: In a Leaked Letter, the UK Culture Minister Tells Museums to Become ‘as Commercially-Minded as Possible’ + Other Stories

Plus, Toyin Ojih Odutola paints a portrait of Chadwick Boseman and Keith Haring’s personal art collection heads to auction.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 08: Oliver Dowden, HM Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, arrives at 10 Downing Street on July 8, 2020 in London, England. The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak is expected to announce today an immediate stamp duty holiday for homes up to £500,000, £2bn temporary job creation scheme for the under-25s and a £3bn programme to make homes and public buildings more environmentally friendly. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden. Photo by Leon Neal/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 Monday, August 31.


Robert Mnuchin Is Still Appalled by His Son – The New York Times pens a profile of Steven Mnuchin, the US Treasury Secretary who helped design the CARES Act as well as a $1.5 trillion package of tax cuts during President Trump’s first year in office. One thing Mnuchin and Trump have in common, the article notes, are successful, self-made, and somewhat absent fathers. Artist Howard Saunders recounted bumping into the elder Mnuchin—the Goldman Sachs exec-turned-art dealer—at Matthew Marks gallery last year. When he asked about the relationship, Mnuchin replied, “His politics appall me, too, really appall me,” according to Mr. Saunders. “But he’s my son.” (New York Times

Confederate Statue Felled by Hurricane – The South’s Defenders Monument in Louisiana, dedicated to Confederate soldiers from the area, was felled by Hurricane Laura last week. Lawmakers had recently voted to keep the statue on view amid rising calls for its removal. But as Louisiana resident Devante Lewis tweeted, “Hurricane Laura had other plans and brought it down herself.” (The Art Newspaper)

UK Government Tells Museums to Become More Commercially Minded  After receiving praise for handing out a £100 million boost to the 15 national museums, the UK government has added a caveat to the promise of ongoing help. In a leaked letter from the culture secretary to museums, Oliver Dowden warned UK institutions that they must “take as commercially-minded an approach as possible, pursuing every opportunity to maximize alternative sources of income.” If they don’t, he wrote, he “will not be in a position to make the case for any further financial support for the sector.” (TAN)

ArteBA’s President Ousted Over Sexist Posts – Within days of being nominated as president of ArteBA, Juan Carlos Lynch was ousted from the honorary position. A local writer and editor found a string of racist and sexist jokes on his Instagram account and posted them on her own Facebook page, prompting widespread pushback from the feminist art community in Argentina. ArteBA said Lynch was removed to make room for “more appropriate future choices.” (Hyperallergic)


Keith Haring’s Personal Art Collection Heads to Auction – The late artist’s foundation plans to sell his collection of nearly 140 works by luminaries like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, and Roy Lichtenstein in an online auction called “Dear Keith.” All proceeds will benefit the Center, an LGBTQ+ community organization in the West Village. The sale, scheduled to begin on September 24, is expected to raise nearly $1 million. (New York Times)

Lock of Lincoln’s Hair and Bloodied Telegram Up for Auction – What do you get for the macabre history buff who has everything? A two-inch-long lock of Abraham Lincoln’s hair wrapped in a bloodstained telegram about his 1865 assassination. The artifact—send to Mary Todd Lincoln’s cousin—is up for sale in New Hampshire with a high estimate of $75,000. RR Auction has opened online bidding ahead of a live sale on September 12. (Courthouse News)

Sales Are Slow But Steady at SP-Arte’s Digital Fair – The online-only edition of SP-Arte was largely populated by Latin American galleries, with notable absences from international blue-chip dealers like White Cube and David Zwirner. Among the early reported sales were a painting by Sandra Cinto for $70,000 and a sculpture by Lucas Simões for under $10,000 from Brazil’s Casa Triângulo. (ARTnews)


Brisbane Lands Major Met Loan Show – As loan exhibitions resume and many parts of the world emerge from lockdown, the Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) in Brisbane announced it had secured a major loan exhibition from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The show of masterpieces by the likes of Titian, Rembrandt, Goya, and Vermeer coincides with an ongoing refurbishment of the Met’s European galleries. (The Art Newspaper)

Hong Kong’s Para Site Names Curator – Celia Ho has been named curator of the prominent artist-run space in Hong Kong. She first joined the organization in 2018 and previously served as its project manager and assistant curator. (Artforum)

Sudanese Poet Among Those Drowned Leaving Coast of Libya – Poet Abdel Wahab Yousif, known among his fans as “Latinos,” drowned alongside 46 others when a migrant boat was shot down after leaving the coast of Libya heading to Europe last week. (Arablit)


The Art World Reflects on Making Mistakes – Critic Lucy Lippard, curator Rob Storr, and writer Kimberly Bradley are among those included in Hyperallergic’s latest Sunday edition, in which art-world luminaries reflect on errors they have made, from mispronouncing an artist’s name to passing judgment too quickly. (Hyperallergic)

Milwaukee Art Museum Declines to Recognize Union – Workers at the Milwaukee Art Museum are the latest in a wave of American museum staff to organize. In a statement on Friday, workers said the museum had declined to voluntarily recognize their union. They will now proceed to a formal election process with the National Labor Relations Board. (WORT FM)

Toyin Ojih Odutola Paints a Portrait of Chadwick Boseman – The American-Nigerian painter, whose art often depicts imagined legends and alternative histories, posted a poignant portrait of the Black Panther star, who died on Friday following a four-year battle with colon cancer. (Instagram)

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