Art Industry News: MoMA Chairman Disputes Jeffrey Epstein Ties, Blaming a ‘Recording Error’ at His Foundation + Other Stories

Plus, German museums are in "chaos" over the restitution debate and the Studio Museum in Harlem names its new residents.

Leon Black speaks onstage at the Museum Of Modern Art Film Benefit on November 19, 2018, in New York City. Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Museum of Modern Art.

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 Thursday, July 11.


German Museums Are in “Total Chaos” Over Restitution Question – There are hundreds of thousands of objects in Germany’s ethnographic museums, many collected during the colonial era, that have never been looked at, let alone displayed. That makes the country’s current effort to re-examine its colonial collections more than a bit complicated. One curator called the situation “total chaos.” When Bénédicte Savoy and Felwine Sarr were commissioned by the French government to produce a report on restituting looted artifacts, they were able to see much of the material in question in online databases. In Germany, few museums have digitized their entire collections. (Sueddeutsch Zeitung)

Court Rules Heirs Can Keep Disputed Schiele Works – The heirs of the cabaret performer Fritz Grünbaum can proceed with the sale of two restituted drawings by Egon Schiele after an appeals court in New York upheld a decision that they were probably looted by the Nazis. Woman in a Black Pinafore (1911) and Woman Hiding Her Face (1912) will now head to Christie’s with an estimated value of $7 million. A lawyer for the art dealer Richard Nagy, who bought the works in good faith, said his client had not yet decided whether to pursue the case any further in court. (New York Times)

Leon Black Foundation Disputes Epstein’s Role – A spokesperson for Leon Black’s family foundation has disputed reports that billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein remained involved with the organization for four years after his 2008 conviction. She said he resigned in July 2007 “at the family’s request” and “has not been affiliated with or performed any duties for the Foundation since that date.” Epstein’s name remained on tax forms thorough 2012 due to a “recording error,” she said. Black, the chairman of the Museum of Modern Art, has donated millions of dollars to the institution through his foundation over the years. (Bloomberg)

BP CEO Finds Protests Against Its Arts Funding Odd – BP’s CEO Bob Dudley says he finds the growing backlash in the UK against its sponsorship of arts and culture odd. At a recent event, he described the protests as “very curious” considering that the broader public is overwhelmingly supportive of its arts funding. “The rest of the world finds this the oddest approach,” he said. What’s more, he added, BP shares the protesters’ belief that the status quo is not sustainable. In response, the advocacy group Culture Unstained said Dudley’s comments “seem out of touch with reality.” (Guardian)


Kayne Griffin Corcoran Hires a New Co-Director – The Los Angeles gallery Kayne Griffin Corcoran has lured Jamie Goldblatt Manné from the Marciano Foundation, which she led for the past two years. Manné will expand the gallery’s community outreach programming and help manage its growing list of artists as a co-director. (ARTnews)

Paddle8 Hires a Social Media Chief From Tumblr – Paddle8 has hired Valentine Uhovski as its head of partnerships, marketing, and social media. He arrives from Tumblr, where he worked with artists including Mickalene Thomas and Marina Abramović, as well as leading museums, as the social media platform’s head of fashion, culture, and events. (Press release)

Kasmin Releases Unseen Stuart Davis Material – Kasmin gallery is publishing a scholarly catalogue drawing on the archive of jazz-influenced American painter Stuart Davis, whose estate it has represented since 2018. Developed in collaboration with the artist’s son, Earl Davis, Stuart Davis: Self Portrait includes personal correspondence, family photographs, sketchbooks, and calendar pages. It will be published in fall 2020. (Press release)


Meet the Studio Museum’s New Residents – This year’s roster of artist residents at the uptown institution includes a painter, Naudline Pierre, and two performance artists, Elliot Reed and E.Jane (an artist with multiple personas including a musician known as Mhysa). Alumni of the prestigious residency include Kerry James Marshall and Njideka Akunyili Crosby. “It’s about creating new definitions for what a black artist can be, and what that looks like,” says Studio Museum curator Legacy Russell of the selections. (New York Times)

New York Gallerist Steve Cannon Dies at 84 – The poet and writer who championed Lower East Side creatives died on July 7 at age 84. Cannon, who founded the magazine and gallery A Gathering of Tribes and was a collaborator of artist David Hammons, passed away from complications following surgery on a broken hip. (ARTnews)

Himali Singh Soin Wins Frieze’s Prize for Emerging Artists – Singh Soin’s win marks the first time that the Frieze Artist Award, which comes with a major commission for Frieze London, has been given for a film. We are opposite like that, which explores contemporary climate change and Victorian fears that Britain would be frozen by Arctic ice, will premiere in October at Frieze Live during the London edition of the fair and will later be broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK. (The Art Newspaper)

LACMA to Honor Betye Saar and Alfonso Cuarón – The Los Angeles museum is honoring artist Betye Saar alongside filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón at this year’s Art+Film Gala on November 2. The fundraising event, in which artists and collectors rub shoulders with Hollywood stars, is chaired by LACMA trustee Eva Chow and the actor Leonardo DiCaprio. (Press release)


The Louvre Goes Hollywood With an Open-Air Cinema – This summer, the Louvre will screen some 30 films en plein air. The films, which include Da Vinci Code and Indiana Jones, as well as JR and Agnès Varda’s Visages Villages, will be screened in the museum’s main courtyard, as well as the nearby Villette Cinema, between July 17 and August 18. (France Info)

Artist Creates Border-Wall Replica in Front of Riverside Church – The artist Mia Toledo is installing a replica of the 2,000-mile-long US border wall across two blocks in front of Riverside Church in New York. The 48-panel installation, Separated: Border Wall Witnessopens tonight and invites spectators to meditate on the current dehumanization of refugees. (Press release)

Artists Pull Out of Science Museum Show Sponsored by Arms Dealer – The street-art collective Protest Stencil has withdrawn work from an exhibition at London’s Science Museum to protest its sponsor, Raytheon, a US defense contractor that deals arms to Saudi Arabia. A spokesman for Protest Stencil, which has carried out various actions objecting to arms deals in the past, accused the museum of enabling reputational “art-washing.” “Raytheon wants to distract from the death and destruction that is its business,” the spokesman said. (Middle East)

See the Simpsons Reimagined as a Russian Art Film – The popular YouTube animator Lazy Square (Lenivko Kvadratjić) has directed a dark version of the opening credits to the Simpsons. The fan-made bootleg called Šimpšoní, which features music by Goran Bregović, is populated with depressing versions of the bubbly cartoon family living in a true nuclear wasteland. Light-hearted couch gag, this is not. Watch it here. (YouTube) 

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