Art Industry News: Banksy Designed a Stab-Proof Vest for Rapper Stormzy’s Historic Glastonbury Concert + Other Stories

Plus, Sotheby's is selling a recording of the Apollo 11 moon landing for $1 million and a proposed merger of Italian museums draws criticism.

Stormzy performs on the Pyramid stage during day three of Glastonbury Festival. Photo by Jim Dyson/Getty Images.

Art Industry News is normally 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 Monday, July 1.


The V&A’s Plan to Lend Looted Treasures to Ethiopia Is Moving Ahead – The director of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, Tristram Hunt, says it is making progress in talks with the Ethiopian ambassador about lending looted treasure in its collection to the African nation. Hunt said the museum is “working toward” developing a display of treasures seized after the Battle of Magdala in Addis Ababa in the late 19th century. The Ethiopian government, meanwhile, is pushing for full restitution rather than a mere loan. But Hunt seems unconvinced. In an op-ed, he said that for a museum like the V&A, “to decolonize is to decontextualize.” (Guardian)

This Italian Businessman Allegedly Sells Supreme Fakes – The brand Supreme is waging an epic legal battle with Italian businessman Michele di Pierro, who has capitalized on the company’s failure to trademark its famous logo abroad. Di Pierro took out seven international trademark registrations with the word “Supreme,” including “Supreme Italia” and “Supreme Spain.” He even convinced Samsung to partner with his brand until the Korean tech giant realized its mistake. Supreme founder James Jebbia told Business of Fashion: “This is a whole new level with this criminal enterprise.” After an Italian court ruled “Supreme Italia” qualified as “parasitic competition,” di Pierro has been forbidden from trading in Italy, but he can continue to operate elsewhere, including in Asia. For his part, di Pierro claims that he did not know Supreme “even existed” when he filed for registration in Italy. (Complex)

Banksy Creates a Stab-Proof Vest for Glastonbury Headliner – British rapper Stormzy has earned rave reviews for his headline set at the Glastonbury music festival over the weekend, which made him the first black solo artist and second-youngest artist ever to headline the event. (Twenty-five-year-old Stormzy is second only to David Bowie, who took the stage at 24.) The rapper, who performed as statistics about knife crime flickered on screens overhead, had a particularly high-art costume: a stab-proof vest designed by none other than Banksy. The rapper called the street artist “the greatest, most iconic living artist on planet earth.” And the admiration appears to be mutual. On Instagram, Banksy posted an image of Stormzy in the vest with the caption: “I made a customized stab-proof vest and thought—who could possibly wear this? Stormzy at Glastonbury.” (CNN)

Proposed Merger of Uffizi and Accademia Sparks Controversy – A week after Italy’s populist governnment approved a new decree giving the culture ministry more control over Italy’s museum, the minister, Alberto Bonisoli, has revealed his intention to merge the Gallerie degli Uffizi with the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, home to Michelangelo’s David, to work under a single administration and joint director. Critics say the move will further erode the autonomy of some of Italy’s most important museums. (The Art Newspaper)


Sotheby’s Is Selling a Recording of the Apollo 11 Landing – Have you ever found yourself thinking, “If only I had three original NASA videotapes of the Apollo 11 lunar landing?” Well now, you are in luck. The artifacts are going on sale at Sotheby’s New York as part of an auction dedicated to space exploration on July 20. The three reels of tape are estimated to sell for between $1 million and $2 million and include Neil Armstrong’s famous declaration, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” (Press release)

Locks Gallery Will Rep Louise Fishman – The veteran American abstract painter will be represented by Locks Gallery of Philadelphia. Fishman, who was born in 1939 in Philadelphia, will have a solo show there in September. She was previously represented by the New York gallery Cheim & Read, which transitioned into private practice last year. (Press release)


See This Year’s BelgianArtPrize Shortlist – After being accused of racial and gender discrimination by the Belgian art community last year, the BelgianArtPrize has released a 2019 shortlist that features mostly women and people of color. The newly diverse jury selected five artists for the list: Agency, Sammy Baloji, Saddie Choua, Jacqueline Mesmaeker and Joëlle Tuerlinckx. (Press release)

Mona Lisa Is Going on a Brief Jaunt  The world’s most famous painting is going on a very short trip—about 100 steps away—so that her gallery can get spruced up ahead of the museum’s blockbuster Leonardo exhibition, which opens October 24. The ever-popular painting will return to its dedicated gallery for the show, rather than being hung with the rest of the Leonardos, to avoid a bottleneck in visitor flow. (AFP)

Visionary Arts Administrator Barbara Hunt McLachlan Has Died – The former director of Artists Space and the Judd Foundation has died at age 55 from cancer-related causes. She also served as executive director of the Children’s Museum of the Arts and led Visual AIDS, a New York–based organization dedicated to promoting HIV-positive artists. (ARTnews)

British Museum Gets £12.5 Million for Fire Safety – The UK government is giving £44 million ($55.6 million) to cultural institutions for a very un-sexy cause: maintenance, including fixing roofs and replacing old boilers. The British Museum received the largest amount of funding, with £12.5 ($15.8 million) to address fire safety and security. Some worry, however, that the overall sum will not be enough to solve long-term problems that have been worsening for years. (Financial Times)


Chinese Shoppers Love the British Museum Brand – Adrian Cheng, the founder of K11 art malls, is not the only retail mogul using art to attract China’s middle-class consumers. The founder of Alfilo Group, Yizan He, has found success through licensing deals with Western art institutions. “[Museums] have a huge fan base thanks to their heritage art pieces,” he says. In 2018, he teamed up with London’s British Museum to launch a pop-up shop in Shanghai’s LCM Mall, which attracted 90,000 visitors in one month—more than any other retail outlet. A video promoting a British Museum-branded scarf attracted 184 million viewers in just 48 hours. (Jing Daily)

Case Over Paul Westheim’s Collection Dismissed – A six-year-long restitution case over a group of Modernist works from the collection of the late art historian, critic, and publisher Paul Westheim has come to an end. A New York appeals court has ruled in favor of art dealer and collector Yris Rabenou Solomon and her family, who claimed they were the rightful owners. (ARTnews)

Damien Hirst Shares a Happy Moment With Ed Sheeran – Maybe famous people really do all know each other? The singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran and Damien Hirst have apparently been friends for several years; Hirst even showed Sheeran how to create a spin painting for a recent album cover and designed the pop star’s skull tattoo. Now, Sheeran has paid a visit to Hirst’s studio—and appears to have given a thumbs up to his new supersize paintings of cherry blossoms. (Instagram)

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