Art Industry News: Thieves Steal Qatari ‘Treasures’ in a Doge’s Palace Heist + More Must-Read Stories

Plus, photographer Thomas Roma is accused of sexual misconduct and art-market researchers have a new theory about the "death effect."

The Al Thani Collection at the Doge’s Palace in Venice

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 4.


Photographer Thomas Roma Accused of Sexual Misconduct – Five women have accused the documentary photographer of inappropriate sexual behavior. The allegations date back to the 1990s, when he taught them as the director of the photography program at Columbia’s School of the Arts in New York. His lawyer denies that any sexual relations were predatory or coercive. (New York Times)

Opposition Grows to La Salle’s Art Sell-Off – A former director of La Salle University’s art museum, Caroline Wistar, has described the plan to sell 46 works of art at Christie’s as a “rape” of the institution. The directors of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts also questioned the university’s decision to sell the art, which carries an estimated value of $4.8 million to $7.3 million, to fund teaching programs. (The Inquirer)

Qatari-Owned Jewels Stolen From Venice Show Two thieves deactivated an alarm and stole bejeweled earrings and a brooch on the final day of “Treasures of the Mughals and the Maharajahs,” a loan exhibition at the Doge’s Palace in Venice. The show of Sheikh Hamad bin Abdullah Al Thani’s collection of Indian jewels has traveled heist-free to the Met in New York, London’s V&A, and Grand Palais in Paris. (AFP)

Plans Scrapped for London’s Film and TV Center – After years of planning, the British Film Institute blamed the uncertain economic and political conditions surrounding Brexit for the cancellation of a new £130 million center on London’s South Bank. The institute will focus instead on its existing home nearby. (Guardian)


The “Death Effect” on Artists’ Prices Starts When They’re Alive – Economists Robert B. Ekelund and John D. Jackson are redefining the “death effect” (in which the death of an artist boosts his or her prices). They attribute rising prices for some artists of advanced age to the fact that collectors recognize their work has a low chance of being devalued due to oversupply. (Artsy)

Christie’s Plans Another Themed Sale – The auction house is planning a themed sale to accompany its Impressionist, Modern, and Surrealist auctions in London. It will present a collection of 10 works that trace the development of abstract art across Europe throughout the 20th century. Titled “Abstraction Beyond Borders,” the sale within a sale includes examples by Francis Picabia, René Magritte, and Pablo Picasso. (Art Market Monitor)

Sotheby’s Opens Outsider Art Show – The auction house’s first exhibition of outsider art is scheduled to open in London next week. The show, presented in partnership with the charity art organization Outside In, includes pen and ink drawings by punk rocker Nick Blinko and cardboard sculptures by James Lake, who developed an interest in art while undergoing treatment for bone cancer. (Guardian)

Georgina Adam’s 2018 Art Market Predictions – The art market expert gives her forecast for the coming year. She predicts the sale of Salvator Mundi will have “a long-term effect on the market” and also foresees a revival for Old Masters, an increase in private sales, and more cross-category auctions. Stay tuned for our own market columnist Tim Schneider’s look at the year ahead in the coming days. (The Art Newspaper)


Kenny Schachter Named “Best Arts Writer” – The BaerFaxt has named artnet News’s own redoubtable columnist Kenny Schachter as the top art scribe of 2017, in part crediting “Steve Bannon who voted (through Breitbart) for KS.” (Take that with a grain of salt.) The poll also named the Whitney Biennial the “Worst Museum Show USA,” so use a whole pinch of salt. (BaerFaxt)

Andrea Fraser Appointed Chair at UCLA – The Los Angeles-based artist Andrea Fraser, who is a professor at UCLA, took over from Hirsch Perlman as chair of the university’s department of art on January 3. (Press release)

Nevin Aladağ Nabs German Sculpture Award – This year’s Ernst Rietschel art prize for sculpture, awarded since 1991, went to the Turkish-German artist whose work was among the highlights of the 57th Venice Biennale and documenta 14. A solo exhibition of her work will open in conjunction with the award this March at the Albertinum museum in Dresden. (Press release)

Italian Sculptor Mauro Staccioli Has Died – The artist, a co-founder of the Gruppo di Iniziativa and later the director of the Brera Art School, died on January 1 at the age of 80. His monumental, geometric iron sculptures are installed in public spaces in cities across Europe. (Artribune)


Peek at the Art Collection of It-Girl Tavi Gevinson – Gevinson, the 21-year-old founder of Rookie, has been working in the fashion and media worlds since she was 12. So it’s no wonder that the influencer already has a hip art collection, including a Jenny Holzer poster and a portrait of herself by Adrian Tomine. (NYT)

Berkshire Museum Inquiry on Track – The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office has filed a progress report stating that everything is on track for the investigation into the Berkshire Museum’s plan to sell off 40 of its most valuable works to be released at the end of January. The office’s statement comes after the museum’s legal counsel criticized the duration of the AG’s investigation. (ARTnews)

The Art Institute of Chicago’s Affordable Art Scheme – Did the Art Institute of Chicago ever rent out paintings to the public? As it turns out, it did. The women’s board began a program in 1954 that made original works affordable to rent or own, thereby supporting nearly 2,000 local artists. For between $2.50 and $25, a renter could keep a work that was not part of the permanent collection for up to two months. Unfortunately for locals, the scheme ended in the ’80s. (WBEZ)

Bruce Weber Denies Allegations of Abuse on Instagram After two male models came forward to accuse the acclaimed fashion photographer of sexual harassment, Weber took to social media to publicly and “unequivocally” deny the claims made against him. (Instagram)

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