Art Industry News: A Cash-Strapped LACMA Is Selling Director Michael Govan’s House for the Second Time in a Year + Other Stories

Plus, Christie's is selling off the estate of Henry Ford II's widow, and the Frick Madison announces new opening dates.

LACMA CEO and director Michael Govan. Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for LACMA.
LACMA CEO and director Michael Govan. Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for LACMA.

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 Wednesday, February 10.


LACMA Is Downsizing on Michael Govan’s House (Again) – The director of the Los Angeles museum will have to move for the second time in nine months now that LACMA is looking to sell his house, which it owns, for an asking price of $2.4 million. Govan originally lived in another, $6.6 million home that the museum listed for sale last year. Govan will now have to do without the perk entirely as the museum tries to compensate for revenus drops amid the pandemic. (LA Times)

Was Rembrandt a Proponent of Slavery? – Art critic Jonathan Jones doesn’t think so. Looking at two paintings by the Dutch master depicting slavers, he says the artist was “more interested in their buckles than their personalities. In Rembrandt’s hands, this becomes not flattery, not professional hackery—but a judgment. This couple got the chance to be observed by the artist with the most penetrating eye in history, and all they could muster was lace, silk, pearls, and gold.” (Guardian)

On KAWS’s Meteoric Rise – Arts journalist M. H. Miller digs deep into the world of KAWS, the artist the art world loves to hate. Among the tidbits in his profile is the suggestion that a few Gagosian dealers have moved collectors down on their waitlists if they are known to own a KAWS. (The gallery denies the claim.) (New York Times)


Inaugural Art SG Fair Postponed Yet Again – The opening of the first edition of the Singapore art fair has been moved from November 2021 to January 2022 due to uncertainty around the pandemic, and also to align with Singapore Art Week. (The Art Newspaper)

A Ford Family Heir Sells Wares at Christie’s – The auction house is selling around 650 lots from the estate of Kathleen DuRoss Ford, who was married to the automobile manufacturer Henry Ford II. The single-owner sale is expected to fetch more than $5 million. (Bloomberg


Udo Kittelmann Has a New Job – The former longtime director of the Berlin National Gallery will be the new artistic director at the Museum Frieder Burda in Baden-Baden. He will start the new position on March 27. (Monopol)

Art Historian Robert L. Herbert Dead at 91 – The scholar, who was known for his studies on studies of paintings by Jacques-Louis David, Georges Seurat, Claude Monet, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, died of a stroke. (New York Times)

Frick Madison Announces Opening Date After a year-long closure, New York’s beloved Frick Collection is reopening on March 18 in a new temporary home at the former Whitney Museum of American Art, which most recently housed the Met Breuer. The Frick Madison, as it has been christened, will showcase selections from the museum’s collections of Old Master paintings and decorative arts. Tickets go on sale February 19, with the museum set initially to operate at 25 percent capacity. (Press release)


Prankster Art Collective Makes Sandals From Birkin Bags – The MSCHF art collective cut apart four Hermès Birkin bags (worth a total of $122,500) to turn them into what may be the world’s most expensive sandal. The “Birkinstocks” are priced between $34,000 and $76,000. Ten pairs of the irreverent fashion-art project are now for sale. MSCHF’s creative director, Lukas Bentel, says the idea “scared so many people… A Birkin bag is like an art object. It’s so sacred, you can’t damage it.” (CNN)

Ireland Names Venice Biennale Artist – Niamh O’Malley will represent Ireland at the Venice Biennale, which is now slated to take place from April to November 2022. Clíodhna Shaffrey, director of Temple Bar Gallery and Studios, will curate the pavilion along with Michael Hill. (Press release)

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