Art Industry News: Malcolm Gladwell Has an Ingeniously Elegant Solution to Eliminating Toxic Philanthropy in the Arts + Other Stories

Plus, David Zwirner plans an artists' retreat in Montauk and Sotheby's hires a luxury ecommerce exec to guide its expansion in China.

Malcolm Gladwell presents
Malcolm Gladwell presents "Revisionist History" at the Apple Store Soho on August 10, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/WireImage)

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 Wednesday, January 5.


David Zwirner Plans a Montauk Artist Retreat – David and Monica Zwirner have submitted plans to refurbish 17 cottages and a large house on Lake Montauk to turn them into an “artist’s retreat.” The art dealer and his handbag-designer wife plan to subsidize the rental fees of the so-called Bridgeford Cottages “to ensure that artists, many of whom could not normally afford such a retreat, will be able to come and enjoy the natural beauty of Montauk while they work.” (East Hampton Star)

It’s Time for International Museums to Sever Ties With China – Journalist Rachel Spence argues that international museums can no longer do cultural deals with Chinese companies or state entities in good conscience, especially since a London tribunal called the accumulated efforts to destroy “a significant part of the Uyghurs” in China a “genocide.” Yaqui Wang, a senior China researcher for Human Rights Watch, told Spence that the Chinese Communist Party uses alliances with international museums to validate its standing in the world and obscure its human rights abuses. Museums, Yaqui contends, must “leverage” their power and pull out of China. (Hyperallergic)

Malcolm Gladwell Has a Solution for Toxic Philanthropy – The celebrity author has an idea for how institutions can divest themselves of the troubled Sackler name (or the names of other donors whose sources of wealth have proven illegal or immoral): a “simple” change to tax law that makes donors choose between a tax deduction and naming rights. “You can donate the money and get the corresponding tax deduction,” he writes. “But if you chose to exercise the tax deduction for that gift, you cannot have the building named after you. Or you can donate the money for a new building and put your name on it, but in that case you cannot exercise the charitable tax deduction.” Clever? Yes! Simple? Probably not. (Bulletin)

Port Talbot Man on Trial for Either Trying to Save or Destroy Season’s GreetingsA local man who was upset that a 2018 Banksy on the side of a wall in Port Talbot in the U.K. was sold to a collector and would be removed has been taken to court. The prosecution argued that Michael Thomas tried to break into the locked area, saying the Banksy was one of the few things Port Talbot had, and that “they’re taking it away, some rich man has it.” He has been ordered to pay a £1,058 ($1,433) fine and must wear an electronic tag for 12 weeks. (BBC)


Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Books Head to Bonhams – The large personal library of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will go up for sale at Bonhams online from January 19 to 27. The lots range from annotated law tomes from RBG’s time at Harvard and Columbia Law School to books by Toni Morrison and Gloria Steinem. (Robb Report)

Sotheby’s Taps Managing Director of China – Sotheby’s has appointed Jean Qian as its managing director for China. She takes up the role immediately and is based in Shanghai. Jean previously worked at the online luxury fashion platform Farfetch, where she led a team of 150 people across Asia. (Press release)

Auction of Key to Nelson Mandela’s Prison Cell Stirs Controversy – Guernsey’s auction house is selling memorabilia connected to the late South African president and anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela on January 28. The 33 lots on offer include signed books and personal effects, but the star lot is the key to his jail cell, which is being sold for charity by the guard who watched over him (the two struck up a friendship during Mandela’s two decades in prison). (Hyperallergic)


JD Malat Gallery and W1 Are Transforming Flannels London – The London gallery is working with the public art platform W1 to celebrate the work of Ghanaian artist Kojo Marfo by lighting up the luxury clothing store Flannels London with monumental LED screens displaying the artist’s vibrant paintings. Marfo is based in London and was a butcher before he become a painter. The presentation runs until January 16. (Press release)

Kojo Marfo’s Stranger #1 on Flannels London, Oxford Street by W1 Curates

Kojo Marfo’s Stranger #1 on Flannels London, Oxford Street by W1 Curates.

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