Art Industry News: Congo’s President Will Demand Looted Art From Belgium’s Africa Museum + Other Stories

Plus, Leonardo DiCaprio's love affair with dinosaur skulls continues and London's Old Master auctions are patchy.

Democratic Republic of Congo president Joseph Kabila. Photo: TUTONDELE MIANKEN/AFP/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 for Monday, December 10.


Is Miami’s Art Scene Sustainable? – As the hedge funder Bruce Berkowitz unveils the design for Greater Miami’s latest private museum, some—including Alberto Ibargüen, the president of the Knight Foundation—have begun to wonder whether there are enough philanthropists to support the city’s growing number of arts organizations. To make matters more complicated, condos in Miami and Miami Beach, including in the Faena Arts District, are now selling at a discount. Larry Gagosian is reported to be among the “exodus” of high-end condo owners. (New York Times)

Leonardo DiCaprio Apparently Loves Buying Dinosaur Skulls – The Oscar-winning actor and art collector was spotted at Art Miami eyeing a $2.5 million set of 150 million-year-old skeletons of an Allosaurus dinosaur and its offspring. Earlier this year, Russell Crowe’s divorce auction included a Mosasaur skull that he had acquired from DiCaprio. (Vulture)

Congo Will Demand Art from Belgium’s Africa Museum – The President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo will demand the return of artifacts from the Africa Museum, which reopened in Belgium over the weekend. The museum, which has been closed for a five-year, $84 million renovation, has sought to update what has been known as the “last colonial museum.” Congo president Joseph Kabila told Le Soir newspaper that the Congo would make an official request when its own new national museum, which is being built with South Korean funds, opens next year. Guido Gryseels, the director of the Africa Museum, said it was open to repatriation requests but stressed that not everything had been acquired illegally. (Guardian)

Pollock-Krasner Foundation Locked in Legal Battle – In a series of documents filed last week in New York Surrogate’s Court, the widower of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation’s former CEO argues that his husband, the recently deceased Charles Bergman, was “strong-armed” before his death by lawyer Ronald Spencer and his wife Janet into making Ronald the executor of his estate. (TAN)


Old Master Auctions in London Show a Picky Market – Christie’s sold around 200 works of art and books from the collection of the British private school Rugby for a total of $18.8 million. A large portion of that figure was due to Lucas van Leyden’s drawing of a young man, which outperformed its estimate by a factor of seven to sell for $14.6 million. Sotheby’s, meanwhile, sold a rediscovered study of the Head of Christ by Rembrandt for $12 million. But the rest of the week’s Old Master sales in London were patchy. (NYT)

Dealer Howard Read Reveals New Commissions – What’s next for storied gallery Cheim & Read after it closes its Chelsea space? Co-founder Howard Read announced during a panel at Art Basel Miami Beach that the gallery would continue to take part in select art fairs and also focus on public art projects. It is overseeing a mural in Palm Beach in conjunction with the Norton Museum of Art and a new sculpture for the collector Paddy McKillen’s private museum and winery in France. (ARTnews)

New Rules for Basel Exhibitors – This year’s Art Basel Miami Beach marked the first fair in which the organization’s ethics rules, first announced last fall, were in effect. As part of the new regime, exhibiting dealers must agree not to accept works known or suspected to be stolen, fake, or subject to legal claims. (TAN)


Scottish Artist Carol Rhodes Has Died – The painter, Glasgow School of Art alumna, and professor has died at age 59 from motor neuron disease. She was known for her landscapes, which often featured modern industrial interventions. In the 1980s, Rhodes was a radical feminist and activist. (Herald Scotland)

Jeff Koons Is Coming to Oxford – Ahead of his exhibition of 17 major works (14 of which have not been shown before in the UK), Koons shares Fortune Cookie-worthy thoughts on perfection (he doesn’t believe in in it) and the remedy for anxiety (accept everything). “Jeff Koons at the Ashmolean” opens at the Oxford University museum in February. (Financial Times)


Israel Tries to Block Funding for Berlin’s Jewish Museum – Israel asked German leader Angela Merkel to halt funding to the Jewish Museum in Berlin because of an exhibition on Jerusalem that shows “a Muslim-Palestinian perspective of the city.” (Haaretz)

Thieves Target the Egyptian Museum – Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities, Khaled El-Enani, said he is investigating a major theft at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Although he declined to identify the stolen work, he said he believes it was smuggled from inside the museum. (Middle East Monitor)

Ai Weiwei Designs a Flag for Human Rights – The dissident artist has made a symbolic flag for human rights to mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The blue flag features a footprint, which Ai says “relates to everybody who has been forced to flee, whether in Africa, Afghanistan, or Bangladesh. There is nothing more human than a footprint.” (Guardian)

Photo: Camilla Greenwell

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