Art Industry News: The Artist Jenny Holzer Has Debuted a Line of Impeachment-Themed Skateboards + Other Stories

Plus, Lucas Zwirner and Sienna Miller are now engaged and Venice has tallied the millions of damage wrought by the floods.

Jenny Holzer's new impeachment-themed skateboard is available from the Skateroom at High Snobiety. Courtesy of High Snobiety.

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 Tuesday, February 5.


German Court Rules in Favor of Looted Art Database – A German court ruled that the owner of a work of art cannot stop someone from listing the piece on the German government database, which is designed to help track Nazi-looted art. The lawsuit was brought by a collector who had bought a painting by Andreas Achenbach at auction, apparently unaware that it had been sold in 1937 by the Jewish dealer Max Stern, who the Nazis forced to liquidate his Dusseldorf gallery and flee Germany. The collector says his painting, which is listed on, was sold in a “perfectly normal gallery transaction.” (The Art Newspaper)

Steve McQueen Reveals His Early Artistic Influences – The filmmaker’s exhibition at Tate Modern opens next week, on February 13, and will feature 14 works including the early 1990s Super 8 film Exodus and his more recent video work End Credits, which focuses on the FBI’s surveillance of the early 20th-century African American singer and activist Paul Robeson. In a profile in the Financial Times, McQueen reveals the art that first moved him—Edward Burra’s paintings of the Harlem Renaissance—and recalls the importance of watching the BBC as a child. He says that “people have died to get me where I am today,” citing a young man named Stephen Lawrence who was the victim of a racially-motivated murder in London in 1993. He “didn’t die in vain,” says McQueen. (Financial Times)

Jenny Holzer Unveils an Impeachment-Themed Skateboard – Artist Jenny Holzer has unveiled her newest work, timed to celebrate the historic impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. Titled Impeach, the limited-edition skateboards are produced in marble and wood, with the single-word title etched into the surface. In a statement, Holzer said: “Some moments should never be forgotten. Some moments deserve to be set in stone. Make America Righteous Again.” The decks, commissioned by the company Skateroom, will be sold through High Snobiety beginning February 5. (TAN)

Calculating the Damage of the Historic Venice Floods – Representatives for mayor Luigi Brugnaro of Venice say that the cost incurred by the city after its historical floods is more than $3.9 million. The damage prompted the Italian government to declare a state of emergency back in November, when stunning images of rising sea levels circulated worldwide. Citizens of the so-called “floating city” worry that additional damage caused by the recent floods will further delay the implementation of infrastructure meant to prevent them in the first place. (TAN)


Judge Raises Botín’s Fine for Smuggling a Picasso  A Spanish judge has ruled that disgraced billionaire Jaime Botín, who runs banking megalith Santander Grupo, will have to pay a whopping $103 million and spend three years in prison, reversing the earlier sentencing of $58 million and 18 months. Botín’s lawyers are already formulating an appeal against the original ruling, which came in January, after authorities found Picasso’s Head of Young Woman on Botín’s yacht. (ARTnews)

Sotheby’s Will Sell Hockney’s Sunflowers in Hong Kong At the upcoming contemporary art evening sale in Hong Kong, Sotheby’s is offering David Hockney’s 30 Sunflowers for up to $10.3 million. The work, dating to 1996, is a steal compared to Hockney’s Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), which fetched a staggering $90.3 million in 2018, and held the title of most expensive work by a living artist for a few months until Jeff Koons’s Rabbit hopped over the record. (The Value)

Solid Gold Cast of Nelson Mandela’s Hands Headed to Auction – Guernsey’s auction house is selling four gold casts of the late human rights advocate on March 2, at a sale taking place at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York. Mandela sat for the cast sculptures in 2002 as part of an effort to raise funds for the his eponymous Children’s Fund. Highlights include sculptures of two fists: one inscribed with the date 1964, when he was imprisoned, and the other with 1990, the date he was released.  (Press release)


Mazel Tov to Sienna Miller and Lucas Zwirner! – In the latest chapter of Hollywood starlets hitching their wagons to art boys, actress Sienna Miller and Lucas Zwirner are engaged. Zwirner, the editorial director for David Zwirner Books, reportedly made things official with a large diamond ring that Miller was photographed wearing this week in New York City. No word yet on when the nuptials will be. (US Magazine)

The Mauritshuis Names Its New Director – Martine Gosselink will serve as the next director of The Hague’s Mauritshuis museum. Gosselink is currently the head of history at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and she also cofounded the De Collectie cultural collective. (Artforum)

CAA Honors Curator Denise Murell, Eleanor Antin – The College Art Association recognized the Metropolitan Museum of Art curator Denise Murell for her 2018 show “Posing Modernity: The Black Model from Manet and Matisse to Today,” which began as her thesis project and evolved into an international sensation, traveling from Columbia University’s Wallach Art Gallery to the Musee D’Orsay. Artist Eleanor Antin also received a lifetime achievement award for her contribution to the field of conceptual art with her physically rigorous series CARVING: A Traditional Sculpture. (ARTnews)

French Collector Felix Marcilhac Is Dead at 78 – The Parisian art historian and dealer was renowned for his collection of more than 300 art deco and art nouveau works, often spotting and acquiring decorative pieces that had been undervalued or overlooked. (ARTnews)


German Court Rejects Effort to Remove Anti-Semitic Relic  A court in Naumburg, Germany, has rejected a bid to have an anti-Semitic relief removed from the side of a 14th-century church and placed into a museum context. The court previously said the public is unlikely to view the relic as an expression of the church’s current beliefs. The relief, titled Jewish Pig, depicts a rabbi looking inside a pig’s rectum with Jewish people suckling on its teats. The court said that “in its current context,” it is not of “slanderous character.” The plaintiff plans to take the case to Germany’s Federal Court of Justice. (Courthouse News)

Lost and Stolen Paintings Reunited in Cyprus – After sitting in the basement of a cultural center in the Turkish Cypriot area of northern Cyprus, 219 paintings are seeing the light of day, more than 45 years after being removed from view. The artworks were believed to be lost or stolen after they vanished as part of a broad sweep of cultural objects after the Turkish invasion in 1974. The return is part of a pact to boost morale and trust between Cyprus’s Greek and Turkish communities. In exchange, Turkish Cypriots were given rare archival footage of cultural and sporting events from the state’s CyBC broadcasting organization. (Courthouse News)

Painting Looted by Nazis found in Royal Library of Belgium – A painting, originally owned by Jewish lawyer and art collector Arthur Dorville, has been found in the possession of the Royal Library Museum. The 1876 watercolor by Belgian artist Félicien Rops, titled La Buveuse d’Absinthe (The Absinthe Drinker), was sold under duress in 1942. (Brussels Times)

La Buveuse d’absinthe (1877) by Félicien Rops. Public domain.

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