Art Industry News: British Museum Chairman Suggests Greece and the U.K. Could Share Custody of the Parthenon Marbles + Other Stories

Plus, a Stradivarius played on the Wizard of Oz soundtrack sells for $15.3 million, and Art Basel's top prize goes to Tourmaline and Helena Uambembe.

George Osborne speaks at the British Museum on February 2, 2010 in London. Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/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 Wednesday, June 15.


The Race of Recover Gaddafi’s Fortune (and Art) – In a story made for an HBO adaptation, Vanity Fair delves into the high-stakes race to recover the billions of dollars’ worth of art, cash, and gold purloined by Muammar Qaddafi as a motley cast of characters in Libya attempt to restore the country’s wealth. Hedge-funder Michael Steinhardt and Manhattan assistant district attorney Matthew Bogdanos make appearances. (Vanity Fair)

German Court Rejects Bid to Remove Antisemitic Relic – A German federal court rejected a Jewish man’s bid to have a 700-year-old antisemitic statue removed from a church where Martin Luther once preached. The Federal Court of Justice ruled that the Wittenberg church had suitably addressed the issue by adding a memorial that explained the harmful image’s history and context, therefore distancing itself from the statue’s original “defamatory message.” (Courthouse News)

Could Greece and the U.K. Share Custody of the Parthenon Marbles? – In a new interview, George Osborne, the chairman of the British Museum, suggested an openness to difference solutions in the stalemate over the Parthenon Marbles. Speaking to the LBC radio station, he said that a “deal is to be done where we can tell both stories in Athens and in London if we both approach this without a load of preconditions, without a load of red lines.” He suggested an arrangement in which some of the marbles could move between Greece and London could be suitable, but that he could not speak for “all of the trustees of the British Museum.” (The Art Newspaper)

Stradivarius Played on Wizard of Oz Soundtrack Fetches Over $15 Million – The violin, made in Italy and dubbed the “Da Vinci, Ex-Seidel” Stradivarius, after its owner Toscha Seidel, the Wizard of Oz composer, fetched $15.3 million at the instrument auction-house Tarisio on Thursday. The sale marked the first time in 15 years that a violin from what is known as Stradivarius’s “Golden Period” was offered at auction. (Newsweek)


Musée des Arts Décoratifs Chief Decamps for the Louvre – Olivier Gabet is leaving his post as director of Les Arts Décoratifs, a private non-profit that oversees the Musée des Arts Décoratifs and its library, after nine years on the job. Gabet, who oversaw shows on subjects ranging from Christian Dior and Elsa Schiaparelli to the Barbie doll and the Little Prince, will lead the decorative arts department at the Louvre. (Press release)

Art Basel’s Baloise Prize Awarded – This year’s Baloise Prize, which is given to galleries presenting works by emerging artists at Art Basel, went to Chapter NY for its presentation of Tourmaline’s new film Pollinator and Jahmek Contemporary Art, one of only a handful of African galleries at the fair, for its display of South African artist Helena Uambembe. The award comes with a CHF 30,00 purse, and works by the two artists will go to the Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt and MUDAM in Luxembourg. (ARTnews

ART SG Fair Releases Exhibitor List – The long-delayed Singapore art fair has released the list of more than 150 galleries participating in its inaugural event, which runs from January 11–15, 2023. The fair is produced by the Art Assembly group, which recently announced the launch of Tokyo Gendai. The lineup places megagalleries like Pace and Gagosian alongside local spaces including Gajah Gallery and iPreciation. (ARTnews)

San Diego Museum Reopens – The Timken Museum of Art in San Diego reopens this week after a $3 million renovation designed to better showcase its 84-piece collection of Old Master paintings, Russian icons, and 20th century American art. The institution was closed for two years during the overhaul, completed by architecture firm Gensler. (The Art Newspaper)


Ai Weiwei Launches Public Artwork in Sweden – The activist and artist has unveiled his latest public artwork in Stockholm. The sculpture is the first installment in a new public art series launched by Brilliant Minds, described as the “Davos of the creative industries” and founded by Spotify’s Daniel Ek. The work, titled Arch, is a 40-foot-tall stainless steel sculpture resembling a birdcage bisected by a silhouette of two people embracing. (Press release)

Brilliant Minds launches a new public initiative with the unveiling of Ai Weiwei's Arch in Stockholm. Photo credit: Yanan.

Brilliant Minds launches a new public initiative with the unveiling of Ai Weiwei’s Arch in Stockholm. Photo credit: Yanan.

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