Art Industry News: Trump’s Tax Law Might Offer Art Collectors a Lucrative New Haven + Other Stories

Plus, the National Gallery of Art closes due to the government shutdown and why moral pressure is not enough to recover Nazi-looted art.

Donald Trump holds up a copy of legislation he signed before before signing the tax reform bill into law in the Oval Office December 22, 2017. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/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 Friday, January 4.


The Radical Implications of African Restitution – Three people with deep expertise in African art—the Nigerian-American artist Toyin Ojih Odutola, the philosopher Souleymane Bachir Diagne, and the art historian Cécile Fromont—sat down for dinner at a Harlem restaurant to discuss the wider implications of the landmark Saar-Savoy report, which urges France to return art looted during the colonial era. All three agree with the report’s authors and reject European museums’ preferred solution of short- or long-term loans to Africa. “What matters in this debate is that the asymmetry between the two sides is so grotesque—there is no other word,” Fromont says. “Maybe in the future African countries will make long-term loans to Quai Branly!” (New York Times)

Aristocrat Failed to Buy Back Egyptian Statue Ahead of Museum Sale – The backstory behind the controversial $20 million sale of the Ancient Egyptian statue of Sekhemka from the collection of an English museum has finally been revealed. Documents released in response to a freedom of information request show that the Lord Northampton, whose ancestor donated the work to the museum, received a $7.6 million cut of the sale at Christie’s after he originally tried to buy the sculpture himself. The aristocrat fought a yearlong legal battle with local politicians over the statue before they joined forces to sell the work to an unknown buyer, thought to be American. (Northampton Chronicle)

Trump’s Tax Law Might Offer Art Haven – Want to trade in art without paying taxes? President Trump’s tax reform carves out protection for Qualified Opportunity Zones or (OZs), which could be used by collectors to avoid paying capital gains tax when they sell art. There are currently 8,700 OZs in the US. Designed to spur investment in distressed communities, the “opportunity zones” could take the place of 1031 “like-kind exchanges,” the tax loophole that Trump closed with the latest tax reform. Mitchell Drossman, the head of the National Wealth Planning Strategies Group at the US Trust, said that his clients are showing “very significant interest” in the potential tax benefits of investing gains in OZs. (The Art Newspaper)

Moral Pressure Is Not Enough to Recover Art Stolen by the Nazis – The man who helped negotiate the historic Washington Principles says that the lack of legally binding requirements is a barrier to returning art stolen during the Nazi era. Russia and a handful of other European nations have largely ignored or barely implemented them, according to Stuart E. Eizenstat, an expert advisor to President Trump on Holocaust-era issues. Provenance research is a low priority in museums and nonexistent in its private collections, he writes, while looted art still trades in the European market. (Washington Post)


Luhring Augustine Promotes a Director to a Partner – Lauren Wittels has been made a partner in the New York gallery where she is currently a senior director. Wittels, who is a board member of the Art Dealers Association of America, began her career at Luhring Augustine in 1989. In a statement, gallery co-founder Roland Augustine called her promotion “well-deserved recognition.” (Press release)

Paris Contemporary Sales Post Solid Results – After bumper sales in June, the contemporary art sales in Paris in December were less exuberant, but still “solid.” The top ten lots sold for a combined $22 million, while the average sale was around £130,000 ($165,000) as business returned to normal volumes. (Art Market Monitor)

Marinaro Gallery to Represent Anthony Iacono – The next artist-in-residence at New York’s Museum of Art and Design, Anthony Iacono, will now be represented by Marinaro Gallery. The gallery will present work by the New York-based artist, who explores queer culture and fetishism, in a solo booth by the gallery at Frieze New York in May. (ARTnews)


National Gallery of Art Closes Due to Shutdown – The Washington, DC, museum shuttered on Wednesday, one day after the government shutdown forced 19 Smithsonian museums, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, to close. The museums all used leftover funds to remain open for days after the federal government partially shutdown on December 22 due to budget negotiations. (ARTnews)

Andy Warhol Drawings Come to the New York Academy of Art – An exhibition dedicated to Warhol’s works on paper is coming to the Academy of Art on January 22. As an unofficial complement to the expansive survey show “Andy Warhol—From A to B and Back Again,” the institution will show “Andy Warhol: By Hand, Drawings from the 1950s-1980s,” featuring around 150 illustrations, many of which have never been shown before in the US. (ARTnews)


Oscar Niemeyer Modernist Wonder in Lebanon Is in Danger – Tripoli’s international expo site, designed by the modernist architect Oscar Niemeyer in the early 1960s, was expected to host more than two million visitors a year. But ever since civil war broke out in Lebanon in the 1970s (until 1990), the spaceship-like structure has suffered serious neglect. Now, experts say, it may be past the point of restoration and its future is in peril. (Guardian)

Sally Mann Mesmerizes at the Getty – Critic Christopher Knight gives “Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings,” which is on view at the Getty in Los Angeles until February 10, a rave. He considers what it means for a first-generation Virginian from a comfortable background to spend her career chronicling the rural town of Lexington. “A quasi-outsider, she looks back, trying to parse a region’s history as soaked in blood and tragedy as any place on Earth,” he writes, “at the same time as she looks forward into an unknowable tomorrow, sometimes with her growing children as markers of time’s passages.” (Los Angeles Times)

Guggenheim Dims the Lights for Its 60th Birthday – Combine mindfulness with Frank Lloyd Wright’s New York masterpiece on January 8, when the Guggenheim Museum dims the the spotlights and asks visitors to be quiet in its famed rotunda and ramped galleries. The hour-long “silent night” between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. aims to recapture something of founding director Hilla Rebay’s vision for a “temple of spirit.” To see how the museum has evolved over the past 60 years, check out its fast-forward video below. (Instagram)

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