Art Industry News: Kanye West Is Sick and Tired of People Asking Him to Do Gosh Darn NFTs + Other Stories

Plus, Florian Picasso is still trying to make his NFT project happen, and a museum dedicated to forgotten women artists is closing.

Kanye West. (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP 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 Tuesday, February 1.


Natural History Museum Workers Push to Unionize – Nearly 200 staff members at New York’s American Museum of Natural History have filed to form a new union after the museum’s existing union’s positions were repeatedly “shredded by management,” according to a museum specialist Jacklyn Grace Lacey. Covid-19 safety and compensation were listed among the union’s top concerns. (Hyperallergic)

Florian Picasso Is Still Trying to Make His NFT Happen – Florian Picasso postponed a planned sale of 1,000 NFTs inspired by a 1958 ceramic bowl created by his great-grandfather after the Picasso estate intervened. The estate cautioned that it never approved the crypto collection, which would make the release “counterfeit.” The younger Picasso, a DJ who planned to drop the “Man and the Beat” collection with a new John Legend song, still hopes he can make it work. A new date for the sale has not been announced. (The Art Newspaper)

Do Not Ask Kanye to Make an NFT – It seems that every famous person is hopping on the NFT train, from Gwyneth Paltrow (who just made a Bored Ape her profile picture) to Justin Bieber (who just bought one for an above-market $1.3 million). But Kanye West is here to make one thing clear: he will not be joining them—yet. Ye posted a handwritten note on Instagram that reads: “My focus is on building real productions in the real world—real food, real clothes, real shelter—do not ask me to do a f*cking NFT. Ye.” Under his name, he clarifies: “Ask me later.” (Instagram)

Kimberly Drew on Open Casket – In a special issue marking the 10th anniversary of the death of Trayvon Martin, Kimberly Drew reflects on the “misguided empathy” of Dana Schutz’s abstracted painting of Emmett Till, displayed at the Whitney Biennial in 2017. “Her own gestures bogart the image, reopening a decades-old wound without bringing a new dimension of understanding to it,” Drew writes, drawing parallels to the black squares posted during the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in 2020. (New York Magazine)


Portrait of Princess Diana Shatters Estimate – A study for a painting of Princess Diana by the artist Nelson Shanks sold at Sotheby’s for $201,600—well above its $20,000 high estimate. The 1994 work was a study for a full portrait by Shanks that now hangs in the late princess’s ancestral home in Northamptonshire. (Wall Street Journal)

A New Art Prize for Mental Health Charities – The newly created Borlem Prize awards $40,000 to an artist whose work brings awareness to mental health issues. The inaugural prize was awarded to artist Daniel Turner; it includes a $20,000 grant to the artist and a $20,000 donation to a mental health advocacy charity of the artist’s choice—in this case, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. (Press release)

Museum Spotlighting Forgotten Women Artists Closes – Berlin’s Das Verborgene Museum (Hidden Museum), which celebrated overlooked women artists, has closed after nearly 40 years because its founders are retiring. They will pass on the nonprofit’s archive and central mission to the Berlinische Galerie. (The Art Newspaper)

Former Artissima Director to Lead Museum of Digital Art – The former director of Artissima art fair, Ilaria Bonacossa, will head up a new digital art museum in Milan. The state-backed Museum of Digital Art is due to open in 2026 and will, according to Italy’s culture minister Dario Franceschini, play “a strategic role in the contemporary cultural scene, which is increasingly digitized, connected, and globalized.” (ARTnews)


Damien Hirst Drops Another NFT – He’s at it again! Damien Hirst has dropped a series of five red butterfly mandala prints titled “the Empress,” with individual prints named after various female rulers. Priced at $3,500 each, they are available as limited editions on the digital art-publishing platform HENI. Buyers will be given the option to receive the print directly or delay receipt for up to three years by buying an “NFT Deed” that allows collectors to redeem their NFT for the physical artwork at a later date. (Press release)


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