Art Industry News: Scandal Brews Over an Art School’s Multimillionaire Leader + More Must-Read Stories

Plus, comedian Hannibal Buress gets arrested during Miami art week and editors resign over Jens Hoffmann accusations.

Savannah College of Art and Design president Paula Wallace. (Photo by NICK HUNT /Patrick McMullan via 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 this Monday, December 11.


Trump Protested at Civil Rights Museum Opening – The congressmen John Lewis and Bennie G. Thompson, both prominent members of the Congressional Black Caucus, boycotted the opening of the new museum in Jackson, Mississippi, because of Trump’s presence at the ceremony. In a joint statement, they called the president’s attendance “an insult to the people portrayed in this civil rights museum.” (Press release)

Comedian Hannibal Buress Arrested During Miami Art Week – The Broad City actor was arrested near Miami’s art-filled Wynwood district on Saturday night. The entire incident was caught on camera and circulated on social media. The 34-year-old comedian was charged for misdemeanor disorderly intoxication and released the following morning. (Salon)

SCAD Director’s Lavish Life Attracts Scrutiny – An investigation by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows that Paula Wallace, the president of the Savannah College of Art and Design, enjoys a lifestyle “unheard of in higher education.” Between 2011 and 2015, SCAD paid Wallace $19.9 million, more than triple the salary of the president of Harvard. Tax reports show irregularities, and former faculty describe a school run on “fear and loyalty.” (AJC) 

Climate Change Protests Return to the British Museum – The activist group BP or not BP? staged an elaborate theatrical action in the museum this past weekend, complete with a flash mob dressed in white leotards and wigs to represent melting ice. The oil giant is the sponsor of the museum’s Scythian exhibition. The artifacts on view, protesters say, were preserved by permafrost in Siberia that BP’s activities are now causing to melt. (Metro)​


Christie’s Rare-Map Dustup – The auction house withdrew a map thought to be an unknown fifth version of the first map to show America after experts questioned its authenticity. The lot, now believed to be a photomechanical reproduction, was due to go under the hammer on December 13 in London at an estimate of $800,000 to $1.2 million. (New York Times)

Understanding Damien Hirst’s Oft-Misunderstood Market – On the heels of Hirst’s latest show in Venice—where he made a reported $330 million in sales—Felix Salmon debunks the “false narrative” of Hirst’s rise and fall as it is recounted in the media. “Hirst has built an extremely pure and effective business,” Salmon writes. “It’s just not visible in the way that public auctions are.” (New Yorker)

Banksy Auction Comes to New York – Tomorrow, Forum Auctions in New York will sell 40 commercially produced prints certified by Banksy’s authentication service Pest Control. Banksy editions have made $2 million for the auction house over the past year, and this sale includes a rare signed example of Girl with Balloon (2004) as well as his only editioned wood sculpture, Watchtower (2007). (Press release)

A New World Record for Ernst Wilhelm Nay – An oil painting by the artist fetched over $2.7 million at Ketterer Kunst in Munich this past Friday—10 times the pre-sale estimate—setting a new record for the German abstract painter. Scheiben und Halbscheiben (1955) went to an overseas phone bidder. (Press release)


Danforth Museum Plans Merger to Survive – In May 2016, following the failure of the building’s heating system, the Danforth Museum was served an eviction notice—and fell into a state of limbo. Now, Framingham State University has come to the rescue, allowing the museum to use one of its sites. (Metrowest Daily News)

Taos Art Museum Director Steps Down – V. Susan Fisher has resigned from her post as executive director and curator of the Taos Art Museum at Fechin House, though no reason has been provided for her departure. Fisher had led the museum since January 2012. (

Editors Resign Over Jens Hoffmann Accusations – The three editors of The Exhibitionist, which Hoffmann founded in 2009, announced their separation from the journal following sexual harassment allegations against the curator. “We do not condone sexual harassment, intimidation, or abuse in any context,” the letter reads. “We support those who are coming forward in this profound moment of reckoning.” (ARTnews)

Kölnischer Kunstverein Names New Director – The Cologne institution will be helmed by Nikola Dietrich, who previously served as curator at Fraknfurt’s Portikus and later as director of Basel’s Museum für Gegenwartskunst. She will take up the new post on July 1, replacing Moritz Wesseler. (Press release)


Chicago to Get Gospel Music Museum – A birthplace of gospel, the former synagogue turned Pilgrim Baptist Church in Bronzeville, Chicago, could become the home of the $37.2 million National Museum of Gospel Music by 2020. (Chicago Tribune)

Artist Zardulu Is Back With a Toilet Iguana – The mysterious performance artist Zardulu has struck again, using the backdrop of Art Basel in Miami Beach to launch her latest viral media hoax: an iguana crawling out of a toilet. Called The Usurpation of Ouranos, the orchestrated event was first reported as hard news by a Telemundo affiliate in Miami. (NYT)

Portrait of Prince Philip Has Danish Touch – Australian-born artist Ralph Heimans has painted the 96-year-old Duke of Edinburgh wearing the blue sash of the Order of the Elephants, Denmark’s highest order, to highlight his Danish royal ancestry. The painting will make its debut at Frederiksborg Castle in Copenhagen, where the artist has a solo show. (Guardian)

Tate Britain Taps Anthea Hamilton for Commission – The artist behind the provocative polystyrene buttocks in the 2016 Turner Prize exhibition will take on the prestigious commission. Curated by Linsey Young and Sofia Karamani, Hamilton’s immersive installation is scheduled to be unveiled on March 21. (Press release)

Anthea Hamilton. Photo: ©Valerie Sadoun, courtesy Tate.

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