Art Industry News: France’s Most Prolific Art Thief Is Caught Red-Handed—Again + Other Stories

Plus, the Morgan Library launches a $12.5 million renovation and an all-women art collective stage a protest outside the National Gallery of Art.

Stéphane Breitwieser in 2006. Photo by Jef-Infojef, >Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.

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 Friday, February 15.


Nicholas Serota Shares His Brexit Fears – Former Tate director Nicholas Serota is opening up about the negative effect of Britain’s withdrawal from Europe on the arts in the UK in a new podcast interview. Now the head of Arts Council England, he revealed that after the Brexit referendum, civil servants approached him with questions like, “If we wanted to replace international dancers by British dancers, how many years would it take to train them?” Serota described the inquiry as “slightly naive” with the following analogy: “If you confined the Premier League to only players born in England, you would find that the quality of the League diminished quite significantly.” (In Other Words)

Artsy Account Details Exposed in Hack – The names, email addresses, and IP addresses of around one million users of the online marketplace Artsy have been compromised as part of a large-scale hack of 16 websites that put reams of personal information up for sale on the dark web. Artsy’s chief technology officer Daniel Doubrovkine says there is “no evidence that commercial or financial information was involved,” but recommends users change their passwords. (The Art Newspaper)

Serial Art Thief Is Arrested Again – France’s most prolific art thief, Stéphane Breitwieser, has been arrested again. In a raid on his home, police found Roman coins from an archeological museum and other pieces from French and German galleries. Police swooped after he tried to sell a 19th-century paperweight on eBay, which is believed stolen. Over the years, he has confessed to more than 250 crimes, and at one point carried out a theft almost every day. Breitwieser’s mother is reported to have destroyed or thrown away dozens of paintings and drawings that her son brought home, some by Cranach, Bruegel, and Watteau. (TAN)

A Valentine’s Day Protest Comes to the National Gallery – The art collective Radical Matriarchy descended on the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, for Valentine’s Day to protest the museum’s lack of diversity. According to the group, 90 percent of the NGA’s works are created by white men, and less than 3 percent of its collection was created by people of color. The Valentine’s Day program offered speeches, spoken word poetry, and performances. This is the second year the group has staged such an event; the first one was held last year at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. (DCist)


Is the Art World Coming Around to Talent Agents? – Galleries have long had a tense relationship with talent agencies, but more and more artists are beginning to work with both. The latter can offer advice galleries often can’t—about brand partnerships, film and TV opportunities, and licensing deals. Still, some art-worlders remain skeptical. “Maybe I will start working with actors—it makes as much sense,” says the Los Angeles dealer Michael Kohn. (TAN)

An Early Gauguin Comes to Sotheby’s – Gauguin’s 1881 painting of Camille Pissarro’s garden, which has been in the same French family since the 1920s, is heading to auction at Sotheby’s Paris. An early work painted by Gauguin in honor of his older friend and mentor, Le Jardin de Pissarro, Quai du Pothuis à Pontoise is a highlight of the company’s Impressionist and Modern art sale on 29 March. The estimate was not disclosed. (Art Market Monitor)

Lehmann Maupin Now Represents Helen Pashgian – The veteran Los Angeles artist Helen Pashgian, who is associated with the Light and Space movement, is now represented by Lehmann Maupin. The gallery will organize her first New York show in 50 years in spring 2020. (ARTnews)

Ropac to Represent Rosemarie Castoro’s Estate – Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac has announced the newest addition to its roster: the estate of the New York-based Minimalist artist Rosemarie Castoro. The gallery will open a show of her work in its space in the Marais in Paris on February 21. (Press release)


Morgan Library Launches $12.5 Million Renovation – New York’s historic library and museum housing JP Morgan’s collection is getting a facelift. The $12.5 million project includes new landscaping and restoration of the architect Charles McKim’s Italian Renaissance-style palazzo in Manhattan. Renovations are due to be complete by the end of 2019, and landscaping by 2020. The Morgan’s director, Colin Bailey, says that 75 percent of the funding is already secured. (New York Times)

Seattle Art Museum Seeks to Raise $150 Million – Four donations totaling more than $56 million have brought the museum’s fundraising for its SAM Forward initiative to $125 million. Now, the museum is launching its public fundraising phase and hopes to raise another $25 million toward renovating and expanding its spaces, bolstering its endowment, and investing in future projects. (Press release)

Souls Grown Deep Names New Curator – Raina Lampkins-Fielder, who previously served as artistic director of the Mona Bismarck Center for Art in Paris, has joined the Atlanta nonprofit dedicated to promoting work by African American artists from the American South. She will work from Paris to expand the organization’s reach and develop relationships with European art institutions. (ARTnews)

Dallas City Council Will Remove Confederate Statue – The council has decisively voted to remove the city’s Confederate War Memorial—a 65-foot-tall obelisk topped with a Confederate soldier—from the city center. The measure also asked the city manager to get approval from the Landmark Commission to spend $480,000 to disassemble the monument. “We have to acknowledge the sins of the past, and what kind of Dallas do we want going forward,” Mayor Pro Tem Casey Thomas said. (Smithsonian)


Protesters Target London’s Goldsmiths – More than 100 protesters campaigning for the rights of outsourced security staff turned up at art school Goldsmiths in London yesterday. They were asking the university to terminate its contract with the outsourcing company CIS, which does not offer workers the same benefits the university accords to its in-house staff. (Hyperallergic)

Lucian Freud’s Daughter Offers an Intimate Portrait – Freud’s daughter Rose Boyt opens up about working with her truculent father ahead of an exhibition about his process titled “In the Studio” at Ordovas in London. (Some of Boyt’s portraits of her father at work are in the show.) From his penchant for strawberry ice cream to his habit of stabbing himself in the leg with a paintbrush if a sitting did not go well, Boyt offers unique insight into the legendary painter, for whom she felt both “angry and exhilarated” about posing nude. (Times)

The Prado Celebrates Its Hollywood Close-ups – The Prado has gotten quite a bit of screen time over the years alongside stars like Rita Hayworth, Jimmy Stewart, and Orson Welles. To celebrate its 200th birthday, the Madrid museum poured over film and TV archives to create a collage of its big- and small-screen appearances. The Prado posted teaser for the 400 clips on its website and Instagram. (El Pais

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