Art Industry News: Virgil Abloh’s Air Force 1s Rake in a Record-Busting $25.3 Million at Sotheby’s + Other Stories

Plus, artists withdraw from the controversial "Diversity United" show, and David Zwirner staffs up in Los Angeles.

Louis Vuitton and Nike “Air Force 1” sneakers and pilot case by Virgil Abloh. Courtesy of Louis Vuitton.
Louis Vuitton and Nike “Air Force 1” sneakers and pilot case by Virgil Abloh. Courtesy of Louis Vuitton.

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 Thursday, February 10.


Artists Withdraw From “Diversity United” – At least nine of 90 artists have pulled out of the star-studded exhibition: Yael Bartana, Mona Hatoum, Aleksandra Domanović, Katja Novitskova, Ahmet Öğüt, Agnieszka Polska, Martina Vacheva, Dan Perjovschi, and Constant Dullaart. The show celebrating “European values” was first staged at Kunsthalle Berlin, and then in Moscow and Paris. Some artists, led by Candice Breitz, have expressed opposition to Walter Smerling, the show’s curator and founder of Kunsthalle Berlin, who they say has ties to right-wing politicians. (ARTnews)

Pensioners Weigh Legal Action Against Sotheby’s – As Sotheby’s owner Patrick Drahi paves the way to take the auction house public again, former employees are protesting his decision to close its “defined benefit” pension plan, selling it to two insurance firms. The employees, some of whom are now consulting lawyers, say they took lower salaries in exchange for secure pensions that will no longer be adjusted for inflation. (The Art Newspaper)

Abloh’s Sneakers Bring in $25.3 Million – A charity auction of 200 pairs of Nike Air Force 1s designed by the late Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton fetched eight times its high estimate at Sotheby’s New York, setting a new record for the most valuable sneaker sale ever staged. Proceeds will go to a scholarship fund established by Abloh to support Black students studying fashion. (Evening Standard)

National Gallery of Canada Establishes Decolonization Department – The museum’s new department of Indigenous ways and decolonization will work to deepen its relationship to Indigenous communities and weave decolonization and reconciliation throughout the gallery’s work. It will be led by director Michelle LaVallee, formerly the director of the Indigenous Art Centre at Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, and curator, writer, and artist Steven Loft. (ARTnews)


David Zwirner Staffs Up in L.A. – Los Angeles-based dealer Alexandra Tuttle has been appointed as the gallery’s senior director, joining another senior director, Robert Goff, in the city. The mega-gallery does not have an outpost there (yet), but “Los Angeles, and California as a whole, is booming and an ever more important part of the gallery’s ecosystem,” Zwirner said. (ARTnews)

The Met Will Overhaul Its Ancient Near East Galleries – The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is embarking on a $40 million renovation of the galleries that house iconic works from the West Asia, or Near East, region. Curators Kim Benzel and Seán Hemingway are overseeing the project, which will be designed by Nader Tehrani of the architecture firm NADAAA. The galleries are expected to reopen in 2025. (New York Times)

La Biennale and Fine Arts Paris Merge – Two French fairs—Fine Arts Paris and La Biennale—are joining forces to stage the first edition of Fine Arts Paris & La Biennale at the Carrousel du Louvre from November 8 to 13. Aiming to promote the French capital and French culture on the international market, the newly combined annual event is expected to return to the renovated Grand Palais in November 2024. (Press release)


Dutch Museum Acquires Nine Mondrians – Mondriaanhuis, a museum located in Amersfoort, the Netherlands, the birthplace of Piet Mondrian, has acquired nine early works by the artist dating from 1899 to 1908. The acquisition was backed by the Rembrandt Association and the Municipality of Amersfoort. The newly acquired works will go on view on February 15. (Press release)

Piet Mondrian, Chrysanthemum flower (1908)

Piet Mondrian, Chrysanthemum flower (1908)

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