Art Industry News: A New Study Says Museums Are More COVID-Safe to Visit Than Grocery Stores and Offices + Other Stories

Plus, White Cube launches a secondary market online sales initiative and a British investor is named in the ongoing Inigo Philbrick saga.

The atrium of the new Kinder Building at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Photo by Peter Molick. Image courtesy MFAH.

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 25.


Museums Warn of Government “Interference” in Culture Wars – The director of the London-based Museums Association has warned the government not to “interfere” with museums’ independence after the culture secretary met with arts leaders on Tuesday to discuss implementing its official “retain and explain” policy on dealing with controversial statues and monuments linked to the UK’s imperial history. “It is both a hallmark of a democratic society and a cornerstone of museum ethics that our sector should operate at arms-length from the government,” Sharon Heal argues. (BBC)

Armed Robot Dog Stars in Art Exhibition – The prank-loving Internet art collective MSCHF has strapped a paintball gun to Spot, a tech company’s creepy dog-like robot, and are allowing people to control it remotely and shoot mocked-up artworks by the likes of KAWS and Andy Warhol in a makeshift gallery space. The piece, called Spot’s Rampage, is meant as a commentary on the potential violent use of the technology. The company behind the robot, Boston Dynamics, is none too pleased with the stunt. They say their terms prohibit violent uses of the robot, but so far, they have been unable to wrest control of the machine from MSCHF. (Wired)

Study Claims Museums Are the Safest Indoor Activity – Researchers at the Berlin Institute of Technology claim that visitors to museums and theaters have a far lower risk of catching COVID-19 than those to other indoor venues including supermarkets, restaurants, and offices. A study comparing the different indoor environments took into account the length of stay, airflow quality, and type of activity. It found that museums limited to 30 percent occupancy that require visitors to wear masks pose a lower risk than the other locations examined, including public transport. (Hyperallergic)

British Investor Named in Philbrick Case – British entrepreneur Peter Klimt has been roped into the ongoing legal saga surrounding disgraced art dealer Inigo Philbrick. Klimt has asserted a 50 percent interest in a 1994 Rudolf Stingel painting that is the subject of another claim from Athena Art Finance. The property tycoon, whose business went bust during the 2008 financial crisis, invested $1 million in the painting. It is one of a number of works that Philbrick is said to have sold multiple times to different parties, according to prosecutors. (Bloomberg)


White Cube Launches Secondary Market Initiative – White Cube launching a new initiative called Salon in which it will show individual secondary market works for sale in month-long viewing room online. It is debuting with a Carmen Herrera work on March 1. (Financial Times)

Long-Lost Painting Sets a Record at Auction – A long-lost work by the Viennese painter Carl Moll that has not been shown publicly since a show at Vienna’s Kunstschau in 1908 fetched a record $4.75 million at Freeman’s in Philadelphia. An American collector won the 1905 work after a heated, 10-minute-long bidding war. (ARTnews)


M+ Museum Gets Major Donation of Contemporary Asian Art – Hong Kong lawyer and collector Hallam Chow has donated 17 contemporary Asian artworks to the city’s forthcoming M+ museum. The works span the 1990s to the 2010s and include examples by Makoto Aida and Adrian Wong. (ARTnews)

Asymmetry Art Foundation Announces Curatorial Fellowship – A new nonprofit in London dedicated to developing curatorial research and cultural knowledge about Asia has named curator Hang Li as the recipient of its first curatorial writing fellowship. The London- and Beijing-based curator will begin the six-month fellowship at Chisenhale Gallery on March 1, and will work with the gallery’s team to present an ambitious project in the fall. (Press release)


Underwater Museum Opens in Cannes – A new underwater sculpture park has opened just off the island of Sainte-Marguerite in the French Riviera. The project by artist Jason deCaires Taylor aims to draw attention to ocean protection programs. (Architectural Digest)

André 3000 Releases Capsule Collection to Retain Trademark – The rapper and producer of Outkast fame has launched a new capsule collection of t-shirts, hoodies, and posters featuring a sketch of an ant he created in order to retain his trademark over the image. “This is a sketch I did a while ago and I am told I have to use it now in the marketplace or it stops being mine,” he wrote on Instagram announcing the collection. (Complex)


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