Art Industry News: Upside-Down Image Under Botticelli’s Portrait of Christ Shows He Tried Painting Him as a Baby First + Other Stories

Plus, the Palais de Tokyo names an art critic as its new director, and Peter Max's guardian sues his daughter for defamation.

Sandro Botticelli's The Man of Sorrows will be unveiled in Hong Kong as the appetite for Old Master work grows. Courtesy of Sotheby's.

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 Tuesday, January 11.


Peter Max’s Guardian Sues His Daughter – The court-appointed guardian to ailing 84-year-old artist Peter Max has hit back at claims from Max’s daughter Libra that he is being kept prisoner by the arrangement. Attorney Barbara Lissner is suing Libra Max—who is waging a “Free Britney”-style campaign on behalf of her father—for defamation. Libra falsely claimed Lissner kept the artist isolated, drained his funds, and confiscated his phone and cats, the lawyer claims, when in fact Libra is the one who has been mistreating him. (New York Post)  

New Art Ventures Aim to Do Well by Doing Good – A new class of art spaces is melding for-profit and non-profit, donating a percentage of their revenues to charitable causes. They are run by parties disillusioned with the old-world system who believe that “successful businesses needn’t be entirely profit-driven,” according to Charlie Siddick, the owner of the U.K. gallery Purslane. (Financial Times)

Composition Found Hidden Under $40 Million Botticelli – Sotheby’s has made a surprising discovery about Botticelli’s Man of Sorrows, which is expected to fetch at least $40 million on January 27. The painting, which has been in private hands since the 19th century and hadn’t been studied extensively, has an image of a Madonna and Child hidden underneath the portrait of Christ. The artist ultimately abandoned the image and turned the canvas—which was valuable and costly real estate at the time—upside down to create a new picture. (The Art Newspaper)

Asia’s Collecting Habits Are Changing Again – The stars of the art market in 2021 were rich Asian collectors, who, despite the challenges of the pandemic, continued to pour money into art. But the taste of these collectors is rapidly evolving. Now, “the focus is very much on the best of the best. Clients want the best blue diamond, the best wristwatch, the best Impressionist picture, but the second rate is of no interest,” art advisor Philip Hoffman said. When it comes to contemporary art, the interest lies in the “colorful and joyful” over the conceptual. (Bloomberg)


Palais de Tokyo Names New Director – Art critic Guillaume Désanges has been named the new president of Paris’s Palais de Tokyo. He replaces Emma Lavigne, who left to run François Pinault’s private museum Bourse de Commerce. Désanges has promised to return the museum’s programming to its “avant-garde” roots. (ARTnews)

Uruguay Gets Its First Museum of Contemporary Art – Uruguay has officially opened its first major contemporary art museum in the coastal resort town of Punta del Este. The Atchugarry Museum of Contemporary Art (MACA) has been named for sculptor Pablo Atchugarry, whose foundation built the museum. Its inaugural exhibitions include work by Christo and Jeanne-Claude and Argentinian artist León Ferrari. (ARTnews)

Delfina Foundation Taps New Curator – London’s Delfina Foundation has appointed curator Viviana Checchia to oversee its vaunted residency program and coordinate the organization’s public programming. Checchia, whose official title is residency curator, was previously a senior lecturer at the University of Gothenburg. (Press release)

India’s Largest Museum Will Open an Islamic Art Gallery – India’s biggest art museum, the Salar Jung Museum, is opening an Islamic art section. The Islamic galleries, which are slated to open in 2023, will be spread across two floors and will show around 2,500 Islamic works from the museum’s collection. (The Art Newspaper)


New Portraits of Kate Middleton Head to National Portrait Gallery – Three new photographic portraits of princess Kate taken to mark her 40th birthday will go on view around the U.K. before joining the permanent collection of London’s National Portrait Gallery. Photographer Paolo Roversi, known for his work for Vogue and his soft-focus romantic style, shot her in three custom-made gowns by Alexander McQueen. (New York Times)

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