Art Industry News: $500 Million Opioid Lawsuit Targets Members of the Art-Patron Sackler Family + Other Stories

Plus, Brazil's national museum opens its first exhibition after a devastating fire and the curator of the next Bienal de São Paulo is named.

The Sackler Courtyard, a new addition to the Victoria and Albert museum is unveiled to the public in London on June 28, 2017. Photo: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images.

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 Thursday, January 17.


Denver Museum Says Vandalism Was Not as Bad as Reported – Can you hear the sigh of relief from Colorado? The Denver Art Museum has confirmed that that the majority of the Mayan and Chinese artifacts damaged by a young vandal last month can be repaired. It could cost less than $100,000 to conserve the works, instead of the $2 million figure reported earlier this week. That’s also good news for 18-year-old Jake Siebenlist, who is now accused of damaging museum property between $20,000 and $100,000, instead of the more than $1 million cited in the first court papers. (Denver Post)

Brazil’s National Museum Opens Pop-up Show – The show must go on: The Rio museum that burned in a devastating fire is staging an off-site show of fossils recovered from the Antarctic. It marks its first exhibition since its building and collections were devastated by the inferno last year. The show, held in a former national mint, includes a pterodactyl bone that was spared from the fire because it was being studied off-site at the time. (AFP)

Sackler Family Members Added to $500 Million Opioid Lawsuit – New York City has included eight members of the Sackler family in its $500 million lawsuit against the makers of OxyContin, Purdue Pharma, and retailers that sold the addictive opioid. Individuals named include Richard Sackler and Jonathan Sackler (whose father, Raymond, helped finance the Sackler Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art) and Kathe Sackler (whose father, Mortimer, has donated to the Louvre, the Royal College of Art, and other arts organizations). Allegations that the drug company misled the public about the dangers of OxyContin has also inspired the artist Nan Goldin’s anti-opioid campaign, P.A.I.N, targeting Sackler-supported institutions. (Courthouse News)

New Global Fund Will Help Rebuild Mosul Museum – Aliph, the new global fund to restore cultural heritage damaged in conflicts, has announced its first projects. Based in Geneva and launched by France and the UAE, the fund will support the reconstruction of the ISIS-damaged Mosul Museum and a monastery in Iraq, as well as a 15th-century tomb in Mali. So far, France has contributed half the $60 million fund, Saudi Arabia has contributed $10 million, and the UAE has put forward $7.5 million, among other pledges. The American billionaire collector Thomas Kaplan is the chair of the fund, which is led by former French diplomat Valéry Freland. (The Art Newspaper)


A New Gallery Comes to Hollywood – The curator Matthew Brown, who has worked at Gagosian, Hannah Hoffman, and Moran Moran, is teaming up with Brandy Carstens, a former associate director at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery in New York, to launch Matthew Brown Los Angeles. The gallery opens on January 26 in Hollywood with a solo show of work by Kenturah Davis. Shows focusing on Tomm El-Saieh and Vincent Valdez will follow. (ARTnews)

Bonhams Names New Head of Postwar and Contemporary Art – Clémence Tasiaux will lead Bonhams’ postwar and contemporary art department in London. She previously worked in Sotheby’s contemporary art department and at the art advisory and brokerage firm Alcacer Ltd. (Press release)

Artsy’s Co-Founder Steps Down – Sebastian Cwilich, the co-founder Artsy, will step down as president and COO of the online art marketplace in July. He will continue to advise the company in an advisory role and remains the second-largest shareholder. Co-founder Carter Cleveland will continue as CEO. When the company was founded nine years ago, Cwilich says galleries were reluctant to bring their inventories online. Today, 40 percent of works on Artsy include prices. (TAN)

The ADAA’s Art Show Takes a Feminist Angle – Six galleries have buddied up to present work by leading female artists at The Art Show, which runs February 28 through March 3 at New York’s Park Avenue Armory. Salon 94 and Jessica Silverman Gallery will present work by Judy Chicago, while Anglim Gilbert Gallery and P.P.O.W will show work by Judith Linhares and Annabeth Rosen. Finally, Fraenkel Gallery and David Zwirner will juxtapose Diane Arbus’s photographs with Alice Neel’s paintings. (Press release)


Curator of São Paulo Biennial Announced – Jacopo Crivelli Visconti will organize the next Bienal de São Paulo in 2020. The independent critic and curator worked on the biennial foundation’s exhibitions team between 2001 and 2009. (ARTnews)

Warhol Foundation Announces 2018 Grants – The foundation is awarding $3.65 million in grants to 42 arts organizations this fall. Individual grants for the artist-centered nonprofits range in size from $44,000 to $120,000, and recipients include MoMA PS1, the UC Berkeley Art Museum, and Cincinnati’s Contemporary Arts Center. (Press release)

For Freedoms Artists Will Be Honored by the Bronx Museum – The artists behind the US-wide public art initiative For Freedoms, Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman, will be honored at the Bronx Museum’s 2019 benefit gala in April 8. They will be recognized alongside Stan Lee Foundation president Junko Kobayashi and the playwright Carey Lovelace. (ARTnews)

UrbanGlass Names Executive Director – Devin Mathis will lead the organization dedicated to glass as a creative medium in the Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District. Mathis was selected for the job following a national search, and was previously program director at the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy. (Press release)


Bridget Riley Unveils National Gallery Mural – The large-scale mural featuring purple, green, and orange spots is titled Messengers after a John Constable quote about clouds. The shape and color of Riley’s discs are dependent on the viewer’s perspective, and the artist says she hopes the work inspires “a kind of joy in feeling alive.” (Guardian)

France Will Open a Musée Fernand Léger – A museum devoted to the painter and his friend André Mare is due to open in Léger’s childhood home in Argentan, France, in June. Among the works on display will be a signed watercolor titled Cycles X, which Mare’s grandson sold for €10,000 (around one-sixth of its market value) to the local heritage patrons club on the condition that it would be exhibited in a museum. (France3)

Murakami Hits Paris Fashion Week – The fashion-art crossover continues: The artist Takashi Murakami attended Paris Fashion Week, stopping for a few selfies with fans outside the Louvre. He also scored front-row seats at his sometime-collaborator Virgil Abloh’s Off-White menswear show, which was inspired by TV shows Abloh watched growing up. (WWD)

Takashi Murakami attends the Off-White Menswear Fall/Winter 2019-2020 show. Photo by Foc Kan/WireImage.

Takashi Murakami attends the Off-White Menswear Fall/Winter 2019-2020 show. Photo by Foc Kan/WireImage.

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