Art Industry News: California Man Who Masterminded a $6 Million Art Fraud Scheme Will Go to Prison for Years + Other Stories

Plus, meet the 10 curators who will change art history, and the Canadian art world advocates for universal basic income.

Philip Righter, who pled guilty to trying to sell art forgeries, at a 2019 Oscar viewing party at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Photo by Amy Graves/Getty Images for Charmaine Blake.

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 on this Friday, July 17.


Meet the Art World’s Next Star Curators – Cultured magazine has released a list of 10 curators who will define the future of art. They include Zoé Whitley, the director of Chisenhale Gallery in London; Qu Chang, the curator of Para Site in Hong Kong; Ryan Dennis, the chief curator of the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson; and Maurin Dietrich, the director of the Kunstverein München in Munich. (Cultured)

A New Open Letter Targets SFMOMA’s Board as the Museum Announces Reforms – The San Francisco museum has announced it will create a diversity, equity, and inclusion plan after coming under fire for its treatment of employees, particularly those of color, and its handling of issues of race and equity. Among the promised steps: the hiring of a director of employee experience and a director of diversity, inclusion, and belonging, as well as implicit bias training for all staff. Meanwhile, a new open letter from a dozen former employees says the 75 museum trustees are to blame for the museum’s “ongoing violent treatment of BIPOC, disabled, queer and trans employees, and the continued development of a white supremacist exhibition and collecting program.” (HyperallergicThe Art Newspaper)

California Man Gets Prison Time for Art Fraud Scheme – Former film producer Philip Righter has been sentenced to prison for five years after pleading guilty to trying to sell forgeries of works by artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, and Andy Warhol to a Florida gallery. The West Hollywood man was also accused of using the forgeries as collateral for loans on which he later defaulted and filing false tax returns, masterminding a wide-ranging fraud to the tune of $6 million. (AP

UK Museums Will Lose More Money Than Estimated – The Creative Industries Federation said it made a major error in estimating the impact the shutdown would have on arts organizations across the UK. After originally stating that public galleries and libraries would see revenues drop by nine percent, it has revised that number upward to 45 percent. Job losses in creative fields had also previously been estimated at 4,000, but are now expected to be as high as 7,000. (TAN)


David Zwirner Adds Andra Ursuţa to Roster – The New York-based artist, whose evocative sculptures combine everyday objects with human forms, will now be represented by globally by the mega-gallery. She will continue to work with her longtime New York gallery, Ramiken. Her first solo show with Zwirner will be held in Paris next spring. (Press release)

A Bad Year for the Market Means a Good Year for Art Loans – Wealthy private-banking clients with existing credit lines against their art collections have been cashing in amid the current crisis. (The debt was a handy source of income for property owners in particular, whose tenants suddenly stopped paying rent.) An individual with a collection of top postwar and contemporary art may be able to borrow up to 50 percent of its value. (Wall Street Journal)


MCA Denver Names New Top Curator – Miranda Lash has been named as the new head curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, Colorado. Lash, who currently serves as curator of contemporary art at the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, will take up the new role in September. (The Know)

RFK Train Photographer Paul Fusco Has Died – Paul Fusco, the Magnum photographer who captured the famous images of Robert F. Kennedy’s funeral train, has died at age 90. Over the course of his long career, he also captured stories ranging from police brutality in New York to the long-term effects of the Chernobyl disaster. (ARTnews)


Canadian Artists Push for Universal Basic Income – More than 300 artists, arts workers, and organizations in Canada have signed an open letter pushing for the government to introduce a national basic-income strategy. The letter, penned by artists Craig Berggold, Zainub Verjee, and Clayton Windatt, describes how artists and art workers (as well as the general public) would benefit from the strategy as job security in the sector has been decimated by the gig economy. (Canadianart)

Serra Statues Come Down Near Los Angeles – The city council of Ventura, California has voted to remove a bronze statue of the 18th-century missionary Saint Junípero Serra from its city hall amid pressure from the public. Serra was part of the Roman Catholic mission across California that ended up decimating many Native American tribes by introducing foreign diseases, and forced others to build new missions under perilous conditions. (Los Angeles Times)

Kanye Adds Himself to Mount Rushmore – The rapper, designer, and James Turrell enthusiast is still working to get on the ballot for his late-breaking presidential bid. But in the meantime, he’s acclimating the public to the idea of having him in the highest office of the land. Today, West tweeted a photoshopped image of Mount Rushmore with what one assumes is his own face added to the row of presidents. (It really doesn’t look that much like him at all, but we get the idea.) The accompanying caption? “2020.” (Twitter)

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