Art Industry News: Meet the Secretive Billionaire Brothers Who Got Swept Up in the Inigo Philbrick Art Scandal + Other Stories

Plus, the Garage unveils a new platform for digital art and Chinese tourists are flooding Russia's museums.

Simon and David Reuben made the mistake of doing business with the dealer Inigo Philbrick. (Photo by David M. Benett/Getty Images for Lyric Hammersmith)

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, December 10.


Chinese Tourists Are Flocking to Russia’s Museums – Russia is experiencing a boom in Chinese tourists thanks to electronic visas—but the influx is now causing problems for its most popular museums and historic houses. The country’s deputy culture minister said he had been receiving “mass complaints” that Chinese tourists at the Catherine Palace in Tsarskoe Selo near St Petersburg were crowding out Russian visitors. The director of the former imperial palace plans to introduce timed tickets that would require passport identification for purchase. The Hermitage Museum is also considering timed tickets, but seems more relaxed about its booming Chinese demographic. (The Art Newspaper)

Banksy’s Latest Work Vandalized… With Red Noses – Banksy’s latest mural, unveiled in Birmingham and designed to call attention to homelessness in the UK ahead of the holiday season and the country’s elections, has been given an unlikely new accessory. Someone took the liberty of adding red noses to the reindeer in the artwork, who are pictured as if they are pulling a bench where a homeless man was lying down. The vandal managed to get past a barricade and a crowd of people to make his mark. (Independent)

Billionaire Brothers Get Swept Up in Philbrick Scandal – British billionaires Simon and David Reuben have been unmasked as the owners of the mysterious company Guzzini Properties, which invested in art sold by the embattled art dealer Inigo Philbrick. The company is suing to secure its title to a $6.6 million painting by Rudolf Stingel that two other firms also claim to have stakes in. [Related: read Kenny Schacher’s latest column, where he actually tracks down and interviews the fugitive Philbrick.] (Bloomberg)

The Rise and Rise of the Art Collective – The unprecedented decision by the 2019 Turner Prize nominees to become a politically engaged collective and jointly accept the award was “a dadaist gesture,” says Ellen Mara De Wachter, the author of a book on creative collaborations. “These four artists didn’t just talk the talk, they walked it.” She views the gesture as a victory for collectives worldwide. Art Review’s Oliver Basciano examines the history of the collective, extending his examination all the way back to the Fluxus group, arguably the first artists to turn collaboration into a political statement. (Guardian)


Sotheby’s to Sell a Cache of Aboriginal Australian Artwork – The auction house is selling 33 works of Australian Aboriginal art dating from the 1950s from the collection of Thomas Vroom and Fiona Brockhoff. The sale at Sotheby’s New York on Friday has a combined upper estimate of $2.7 million.(Barrons)

A Floppy Disc Signed by Steve Jobs Sells for $84,000 – A 1988 floppy disk the Apple co-founder autographed has sold for $84,000 at the Boston-based auction house RR Auction. (Daily Mail)

Miami Condo Sales Saw a Bump Amid Art Basel – A $5.1 million condo in Key Biscayne, which had been on the market for nearly a year, was the top sale last week in Miami. It was part of a $49 million splurge on luxury property that coincided with art collectors flocking to South Florida during Miami’s art week. (The Real Deal)


Lawrence Abu Hamdan Wins the Edvard Munch Art Award – One of the joint winners of the Turner Prize, the artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan, now has an award all on his own. Abu Hamdan has won the $63,000 Edvard Munch Art Award, given by the forthcoming Munchmuseet in Olso, where he will also be given a solo show, as well as a residency in the city. (ARTnews)

Iceland Names its 2021 Venice Biennale Artist – The multimedia artist Sigurður Guðjónsson will represent Iceland at the 59th Venice Biennale in 2021. Guðjónsson is known for his video and sound installations, and was selected by the Icelandic Art Center to represent the country at the prestigious exhibition. (ARTnews)

The Mexican Artist Carla Herrera-Prats Has Died – The Mexican conceptual artist and curator, Carla Herrera-Prats, has died at age 46. The artist, who was known for work that draws on collaborative practices and archival research to comment on cultural and economic transactions and question the documentary value of image and text, died from complications due to breast cancer. (Artforum)

Catherine Opie Gets an Endowed Chair – Following a $2 million donation to UCLA’s art school from billionaire collectors Lynda and Stewart Resnick, the artist Catherine Opie has been named to a newly endowed chair position. Opie, whose own photography examines sexual and gender identity, has been a member of the faculty since 2001. (Los Angeles Times)


ICA Announces New Acquisitions From Art Week – Donors to Miami’s Institute of Contemporary Art—Andre Sakhai, Ed and Helen Nicoll, and Alberto Chehebar—gifted the institution with new works by artists Jadé Fadojutimi, Dalton Gata, and Shara Hughes during Miami’s art week. The ICA also purchased a video work by the Hong Kong artist Wong Ping. (Artforum)

Garage Launches New Platform to Promote Digital Art – Moscow’s Garage Museum of Contemporary Art has launched a new initiative to promote the study and creation of digital artworks called Garage Digital. The platform, which the museum likens to the New Museum’s Rhizome initiative, so far includes a four-part work produced by the artist Ezra Miller with the musician James Ferraro called Xerces Blau. (Press release)

War Artist Unveils Bosnian Massacre Painting – The Scottish artist Peter Howson has unveiled a new painting commemorating one of the worst atrocities during the Bosnian War. The former Imperial War Museum’s official war artist has created The Massacre of Srebrenica, which depicts the killing of 8,000 Muslim men and boys by Bosnian Serb troops 25 year ago. The huge canvas is on loan to Glasgow’s St Mungo Museum of Religious Art for the next three years. The artist said that what he witnessed during the conflict can only be described “as hell on earth.” (Herald)

This Venice Is Made Entirely of Candy – Teams of leading designers, architects, and engineers have been working on a model of Venice made entirely out of candy for the latest edition of the Gingertown D.C. competition. See the saccharine take on famous Venetian landmarks such as the Doge’s Palace and Saint Mark’s Basilica, all along some jellybean canals. (Bonus: No flooding!) (NPR)

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