Art Industry News: Bette Midler Got Shamed by the Internet for Posting This Judgmental Museum Tweet + Other Stories

Plus, Zahi Hawass launches a new effort to reclaim Egypt's antiquities and the Marciano Art Foundation is closed for good.

Bette Midler in New York City on November 5, 2019. (Photo by Vera Anderson/WireImage)

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 9.


Zahi Hawass Wants to Retrieve Egyptian Treasures – The high-profile archaeologist has stepped up his long-running campaign to recover Egyptian antiquities in Western museums. Hawass, Egypt’s former antiquities minister, has launched a private attempt to restitute famous artifacts such as the bust of Nefertiti, the Rosetta Stone, and the Dendera zodiac ceiling. Speaking in London at the opening of the King Tut show, he said he is leading a private team of Egyptians and foreign experts “to encourage restitution” from museums including the Louvre, the British Museum, the Hermitage, and Berlin State Museums. (The Art Newspaper)

Pussy Riot Announces a North American Tour – The Russian feminist art collective and punk band will tour North America in 2020. The group, which released a song No More Wire Hangers in July in Alabama to protest the state’s new anti-abortion law, will donate a share of the tour’s proceeds to Planned Parenthood. The 19-date tour starts in Los Angeles in March and ends in Toronto. Tickets, as well as a promotional video, are available on the group’s website. (Newsweek)

Bette Midler Shamed for Museum Tweet – Broadway star Bette Midler has not made herself any friends in the museum world after her December 8 tweet of a picture of three young women sitting on a bench in a museum looking at their phones. Her accompanying comment—”What’s wrong with this picture?”—has been rejected by many who argue that anyone, particularly teenagers, should feel welcome in a museum, even if they look at their phones from time to time. What if they were simply googling the painting? Scroll to the bottom to see the offending tweet and its reaction. (Twitter)

A Grudging Defense of Cattelan’s Banana – Maurizio Cattelan’s Comedian is more than a banana-flavored stunt, Jason Farago argues in a reluctant defense of the artist’s sculpture, which went viral at Art Basel Miami Beach last week. The key, he writes, is to look past the banana and focus on the duct tape. In a sweeping survey of the satirical artist’s career so far, Farago stresses Cattelan’s “decades-long reliance on suspension to make the obvious seem ridiculous and to deflate and defeat the pretensions of earlier art.” Unlike the “tedious” one-liners created by Banksy, Cattelan is, like all the best clowns, “a tragedian who makes our certainties as slippery as a banana peel.” (NYT)


Where in the Art World Is Inigo Philbrick? – The beleaguered art dealer, and the multimillion-dollar lawsuits he is facing. were the talk of the art fair. To date, six lawsuits have been filed against the dealer in London, New York, and Miami. He failed to appear at court hearings last month. One of his early boosters, White Cube’s Jay Jopling, says he is now in the midst of legal proceedings against his former protege. (Bloomberg)

Businessman’s Fakes Were Fully Insured by Prince Charles’s Charity – When the bankrupt businessman James Stunt lent four fake paintings to the British royal’s charity, it insured them as if they were worth millions of dollars. Last month, it emerged that paintings purported to be by artists including Picasso were in fact pastiches by forger Tony Tetro. (Daily Mail)


Marciano Foundation Will Close for Good – The embattled Marciano Art Foundation issued a statement on Friday announcing that its closure—once merely indefinite—is now officially permanent. The Los Angeles museum in a former Masonic temple opened in 2017 and housed the collection of Guess founders Maurice and Paul Marciano. It closed temporarily after its employees shared their intention to form a union (though the organization said it was closing due to low attendance). The foundation’s website has already been discontinued. (Los Angeles Times)

Collector Donald B. Marron Has Died – The prominent Wall Street financier, collector, and former president of the Museum of Modern Art’s board has died at 85. Marron founded the UBS Art Collection and was himself an avid collector of postwar art with holdings by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Jasper Johns, among others. He recently opened a private gallery in Manhattan where he would share his works with friends. (New York Times)

PAMM Makes an Acquisition at NADA  The Pérez Art Museum Miami made its annual acquisition from the New Art Dealers Alliance fair in Miami Beach. The painting New Hat by Dominican-American artist Kenny Rivero, on view at Charles Moffett’s booth, is the third work to join the museum’s collection through the partnership. (Artforum)


New York Times Critics on the Best Art of 2019  Critics Holland Cotter, Roberta Smith, and Jason Farago have made their picks of the year’s top moments in art. Farago tips his hat to Sea & Sun (Marina), the award-winning Lithuanian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale; Cotter shares his admiration for the takedown of “bad money” lurking in museums thanks to Sackler P.A.I.N. and Decolonize This Place; and Smith loved the “visual feast” that was the MoMA reopening(New York Times)

Protesters Remember Sackler Victims at Harvard’s Museum A group of Harvard students, academics, and mothers of opioid victims assembled at the university’s Arthur M. Sackler Museum on Friday to mark the unveiling of an installation called Remember Their Names, which lists victims of the opioid epidemic. The work was designed by three students in the department of art and architecture who are pushing for a permanent marble memorial to be placed at the art museum’s entrance. The organizers collaborated with a student group from Tufts University, which successfully lobbied their own institution to remove the Sackler name from buildings and programs. (Harvard Crimson) 

And… Here Are the Bette Midler Museum Tweets:

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