Art Industry News: Why Were So Many Lost Masterpieces Rediscovered This Year? + Other Stories

Plus, Frieze Los Angeles launches a new award for rising filmmakers and the six-year-old boy pushed from the Tate's balcony starts to speak.

Madonna and Child newly attributed to Botticelli and workshop on Britain's Lost Masterpieces. National Museums of Wales.

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 Friday, December 20. This is the last digest of 2019—see you in the new year!


Inside the Making of an Art Scandal – Ben Luke explains how Maurizio Cattelan’s Comedian became a textbook art scandal by following a five-stage process. First, the artwork needs to garner attention, which Cattelan’s gallery Perrotin helped along by creating an Instagram account for the work in anticipation of the public’s reaction. It then needs notoriety beyond the art-world bubble. A key next step is outrage—people need to be angry—which prompts the fourth step, action. In the case of the banana, the action was having it removed from the fair floor (after drawing too many crowds and being eaten). Finally, art critics play a role in the final chapter, canonization. And the rest, as they say, is art history. (The Art Newspaper)

Tate Modern Victim Starts Speaking – The six-year-old boy who was thrown off the 10th floor of the Tate Modern by 18-year-old Jonty Bravery on August 4 has began to speak again, but is suffering more pain as his body regains sensation, his family revealed over social media. He suffered spinal fractures and severe bleeding trauma to his brain due to the fall. (BBC)

A Year of Masterpieces Hiding in Plain Sight – Museums in the UK have witnessed a whirlwind of rediscovered masterpieces this year, partly spearheaded by the BBC’s own art detective, Bendor Grosvenor, who most recently helped uncover a Botticelli in a Welsh museum. Outside the UK, a long-lost Cimabue was discovered in France, and a Klimt was found hidden inside a wall in Italy. Such new attributions, if publicized smartly, can offer a windfall for museums struggling with attendance. (FT)

Smaller Art Institutions Pay More Than Big Ones – A new report by the New York-based organization Working Artists and the Greater Economy (W.A.G.E.) has revealed that small and midsize institutions across the US spend more on artists’ fees and programming than larger ones: art institutions with budgets of over $5 million spent one percent on artists’ fees, while those with budgets of less than $500,000 spent around 7 percent. “People tend to think that changing the big institutions is what matters,” said Lise Soskolne, W.A.G.E.’s core organizer, “but at the level of actual cash money being paid out, and at the level of causing a real shift in the art system, small appears to be (or do) better.” (ARTnews)


Frieze Announces New Award for Aspiring Filmmakers – Frieze Los Angeles has announced the Deutsche Bank Frieze Los Angeles Film Award, which will provide one emerging filmmaker between the ages of 20 and 34 a $10,000 prize. The inaugural award will be announced on February 13, 2020, the VIP day of the second edition of the fair. (TAN)

Sotheby’s Announces 2019 Sales – The auction house, which went private this year, has announced $4.8 billion in sales for 2019. Sotheby’s Asian clientele accounted for 30 percent of the company’s live auction sales globally. This year also represented a record high for Sotheby’s France, which brought in $395 million, up 41 percent from 2018. (Press release)

Insurance for Hong Kong Skyrockets – Dealers sending art to Art Basel Hong Kong are struggling to insure the art they plan to send. The fair is working with a local insurance broker to offer coverage—but it costs 20 times what it otherwise would. Art Basel is also offering a refund of 75 percent of the booth cost if the event is canceled and has reduced the fee to withdraw late. The standard rate to insure works at an art fair is 0.1 percent of the cost; the fair’s broker is offering to insure works at 2.1 percent. (TAN)


Ludlow 38 Is Closing – Ludlow 38, the New York curatorial residency and gallery space founded by Stefan Kalmár and Stephan Wackwitz in 2008, had its closing party last Thursday. Former resident Hiji Nam writes a heartfelt goodbye to the space, which was backed by the German government and BMW/MINI. He quotes Robert Snowden to sum up the place’s appeal: “They were always very friendly. They always let me charge my phone, use the bathroom. Once someone let me borrow their phone and I called my dad and he loaned me money…. And I made a lot of friends there.” (Artforum)

Gordon Parks Fellowships Awarded – The Gordon Parks Foundation has named the artist Nina Chanel Abney and photographer Tyler Mitchell (best known for shooting Beyoncé on the cover of Vogue) as its 2020 fellows. Each artist will get $20,000 to support a new or ongoing project centered around issues of social justice, which will be presented at the foundation’s gallery within the next two years. (Artforum)


The Sacklers Challenge Tufts University – Members of the Sackler family are pushing back on a decision taken by Tufts University in Massachusetts to remove the opioid-maker’s name from its buildings and programs, becoming the latest institution to do so following a wave of protest led by artist Nan Goldin. In a letter to the school, a lawyer argued that the removal was unjustified and a violation of the agreement made when Sacklers agreed to financially support the institution. A university spokesman said the school stands by its decision: “We know that it is the right thing to do, and we are prepared to vigorously defend our position.” (New York Times)

The Incredible Shrinking David by Michelangelo – Researchers at a university in Switzerland have 3D printed a nearly perfect replica of Michelangelo’s Renaissance masterpiece, David, in copper, to show off the precision technology of their Exaddon printers. The only difference is that this one is so small you can barely see it. Tiny David measures just a fraction of an inch, or one millimeter, tall. (CNet)

The Prado Enjoys a Birthday Attendance Boom – In its landmark bicentennial year, the Prado Museum in Madrid has broken its attendance record, attracting more than three million visitors in 2019. In total, the museum, which has had special programming all year to celebrate the anniversary including its second-ever exhibition of female Old Masters, drew 3,388,102 people, with ticket sales bringing in more than €21 million ($23.3 million). (El Pais)

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