Art Industry News: How Swizz Beatz Dissuaded Sean Combs From Buying a Subpar Picasso in Miami + Other Stories

Plus, architect Richard Meier's business is going strong despite #MeToo allegations and the NEA releases $27 million in grants.

Swizz Beatz. Courtesy of Swizz Beatz.

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 Thursday, February 14.


Richard Meier Is Still Going Strong After #MeToo Allegations – Almost one year after the starchitect Richard Meier was slammed with #MeToo allegations by five women in the New York Times, it appears things have returned to business as usual for the esteemed figure and his firm. Although the company announced that Meier would step back from the business last year, he is still advising on projects and available to review work as needed. Meanwhile, developers are still using the firm’s name prominently to advertise ongoing projects. “Obviously, it’s not the toxic thing we thought it would be,” said Bernhard Karpf, managing principal of Richard Meier & Partners Architects LLP. (Bloomberg)

Theaster Gates Will Chair Prada’s New Diversity Council – After the fashion house came under fire in December for releasing bag charms that resembled moneys with exaggerated red lips and bore an uncomfortable resemblance to blackface, Prada has pledged to expand its in-house diversity training. The label is launching a diversity and inclusion advisory council that will be be co-chaired by artist Theaster Gates and filmmaker Ava DuVernay. The group will work to develop “diverse talent” and create more opportunities for young people of color in the company, according to a spokesperson. (CBS)

Inside Swizz Beatz’s Collecting Campaign – Music producer Kasseem Dean, professionally known as Swizz Beatz, used the money he earned from his first single in the 1990s to buy a photograph by Ansel Adams. Since then, he’s built a significant and growing collection of works by primarily African American artists, including Kehinde Wiley, Jordan Casteel, and Cy Gavin. He was collecting art before a lot of other now-major collectors from the hip hop industry, including Beyoncé and Jay-Z. “I don’t take credit for a lot of things, but I will take credit for that,” Dean says. He also helped Sean Combs avoid buying a subpar Picasso lithograph at Art Basel Miami Beach. “I just said, ‘You’re not buying that Picasso. It’s not happening,’” he recalled. “I told him, ‘That’s a bathroom piece, bro.’” (T Magazine)

Annie Leibovitz Takes Stock – The photographer’s first show with Hauser & Wirth spans her long career via 4,000 photographs spread across 24 walls of the mega-gallery’s Los Angeles space. None of the images—which were printed on an Epson printer and push-pinned to the fabricated walls—is for sale. The show traces Leibovitz’s development between 1970 and 1983, when she photographed the likes of Elton John, Aretha Franklin, and Henry Kissinger. “It is the story of a young girl photographer going out and learning how to become a photographer,” Leibovitz says of the show. (New York Times)


Sotheby’s Will Celebrate the Bauhaus Centenary – The auction house is joining this year’s celebrations of the 100th birthday of the Bauhaus with a sale of works by 25 artists who taught at the legendary school or were proponents of the movement. The sale, spread across the day and evening auctions of Impressionist and Modern art in London on February 26 and 27, will include works by Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Oskar Schlemmer. (Art Market Monitor)

Gallery Weekend Berlin Releases Participants and Shows – Dealers are pulling out all the stops for Berlin’s biggest art-industry weekend of the year, which launches April 26. Galerie Buchholz will show works by Michael Krebber, Sprüth Magers will present works by Peter Fischli and David Weiss, and Galerie Neu will present a show by German painter Jana Euler. Galleries joining or returning to the event after an absence include Alfons Klosterfelde, Crone, and Niels Borch Jensen, among others. (art-agenda)


NEA Releases $27 Million in Grants – Good news: the US government shutdown didn’t delay the release of the National Endowment for the Arts’s latest round of grants to museums, artist communities, writers, dancers, and arts education. Among the highlights, the MCA Denver received $10,000 to support artist residencies; the Dallas Museum of Art got $55,000 to support a traveling exhibition highlighting Berthe Morisot’s importance as an Impressionist; and the Guggenheim in New York received $60,000 toward the Basquiat exhibition “Defacement.” (Press release)

Houston Patron Bill Lassiter Has Died – The Houston-based collector and patron Bill Lassiter has died at age 86. He was one of the first to collect Julian Schnabel’s work, when the artist was still a student at the University of Houston. Gary Tinterow, the director of the MFA Houston, said: “[Lassiter] supported every kind of creative action—artists, curators, musicians, and dancers,” often early in their careers. (Houston Chronicle)

The Bronx’s Museum of Hip Hop Gets an Opening Date – The Universal Hip Hop Museum is due to break ground in the Bronx in late 2019, with an opening date scheduled for 2020. The 50,000-square-foot museum will be part of a high-rise development within walking distance from Yankee Stadium. (Press release)


Brazil’s National Museum Salvages 2,000 Objects – Staff have recovered around 2,000 objects from the debris of the National Museum of Brazil. This week, journalists were allowed into the ruins of the museum for the first time since December’s devastating fire in Rio de Janeiro. (Le Figaro)

Henry Moore’s $25 Million Sculpture Stays in a UK School – The monumental bronze by Henry Moore, Family Group, an edition of which is in the collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, has been insured for $25 million so that it can remain on view in the foyer of a high school in Stevenage in the South of England. The artist’s gift to the town—which is owned by the county council—will remain there indefinitely on loan. (Comet)

Proenza Schouler’s Fall Collection Is an Homage to Sol LeWitt – Proenza Schouler returned to New York Fashion Week will a collection loosely inspired by conceptual art pioneer Sol LeWitt. Accentuated diagonals, pleated skirts, armpit cut-outs, and square-toed boots featured on the catwalk in the duo’s designs for fall/winter 2019. (W Magazine)

Patti Smith Can’t Help Falling in Love – Patti Smith and her longtime collaborator, guitarist Lenny Kaye, covered Elvis Presley’s Can’t Help Falling in Love With You on Valentine Day’s eve in Los Angeles. The heart-warming sing-a-long took place in the unseasonably chilly courtyard of Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles before a starry audience in town for the premiere of Frieze LA. MOCA LA supremo Klaus Biesenbach was in the front row to capture the magical moment. (Instagram)



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