Art Industry News: An Artist Tried to Sell Her Actual Human Eggs as an NFT at Art Miami in Some Sort of Sign of the Times + Other Stories

Plus, the Hirshhorn's controversial sculpture park redesign gets the final green light, and an IRL NFT museum is coming to Seattle.

Artist Narine Arakelian poses for photos in front of her work at Art Miami on December 3, 2021. (Photo by John Parra/Getty Images for Jane Owen PR)

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 Monday, December 6.


Controversial Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden Plan Approved – After many, many meetings, the National Capital Planning Commission in Washington, D.C., has officially approved the controversial revamp of the Hirshhorn Museum’s sculpture garden. The $60 million redesign by Hiroshi Sugimoto will improve accessibility and expand the central reflecting pool, though critics complain it compromises original architect Gordon Bunshaft’s Brutalist vision. Construction will begin in fall 2022 and is slated to be complete by 2024. (ARTnews)

Meet the Artist Behind Elijah Cummings’s Portrait – The New York Times profiles the artist behind the portrait of the late Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings, which is going on view at the U.S. Capitol. Gibbs, who only started painting six years ago, was chosen unanimously by a panel assembled by the Baltimore Museum of Art. The recognition “gave me courage that people want to support what I bring to the table and believe that I have value,” Gibbs said. (New York Times)

Former Looter Who Helped Recover Stolen Artifacts Has Died – A reformed looter who once directed a crime ring that stole artifacts from Khmer-era temples in Cambodia has died. Toek Tik, who became known in recent years for helping authorities track down the very objects he helped steal, died due to complications from Covid. He had previously been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Cambodian officials will continue to use his testimony to seek the return of the country’s long-lost cultural heritage. (New York Times)

Artist Sells Her… Actual Eggs in Miami – You’ve already heard that this edition of Art Basel Miami Beach was defined by the NFT craze. But did you hear that one artist was actually selling her eggs as an NFT at Art Miami? Armenian artist Narine Arakelian’s painting Live includes an embedded contract promising one of her eggs to the buyer. She said she fully expects the person who buys the work to conceive a child from her egg. “My artworks are all my children and the fact this one will actually produce a child is wonderful,” Arakelian added. So far, it sounds like there were no takers. (Page Six)


A Physical NFT Museum Is Coming to Seattle – Tech executives Jennifer Wong and Peter Hamilton will open the Seattle NFT Museum in the city’s Belltown area on January 14. Programming will focus on local artists making NFTs, with the digital works presented on Samsung frames (visitors can also view them in the metaverse via QR codes). The first exhibition will include a number of CryptoPunks on loan from NFT collector Aaron Bird. (ARTnews)

Recovered Mucha Sells for 10 Times Its Estimate – Young artists aren’t the only ones shattering expectations at auction. A rediscovered work attributed to the Art Nouveau painter Alphonse Mucha sold for $965,000 at Toomey & Co. Auctioneers last week. The study depicting a young couple soared past its $200,000 high estimate. (ArtFixDaily)

AlUla Launches Artist Residency – Saudi Arabia’s controversial cultural hub, AlUla, has established an artist residency. Six artists will take up residence in the ancient city for 11 weeks and create new work surrounding the theme “rebirth of the oasis.” (But folks, make sure not to make any artwork that’s too critical until you get home safely, O.K.?) (ARTnews)

Australia Splits Art Prize – The jury for Australia’s $150,000 Doug Moran national portrait prize was divided on a winner, so it decided to split the accolade among three artists. The Moran Foundation agreed to double the prize pot to award $100,000 each to artists Vincent Fantauzzo, Andrew Greensmith, and Michael Vale. (Guardian)


Ghislaine Maxwell Courtroom Sketch Goes Viral – An unsettling courtroom sketch of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged accomplice has caught fire online. Sketch artist Jane Rosenberg captured Maxwell at her trial looking directly and defiantly back at the artist, sketching her at the same time she was being sketched. Unnerving! (Hyperallergic)

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