Art Industry News: Pranked Art Advisor Now Says Sacha Baron Cohen Is Our New ‘Voltaire’ + Other Stories

Plus, the fight over Robert Indiana's estate heats up and the Walker creates a Native art committee following the Sam Durant controversy.

Actor Sacha Baron Cohen, dressed as his character 'General Aladeen,' arrives at the 84th Annual Academy Awards held at the Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2012 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/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, July 20.


The Gardner Heist Becomes a Podcast – It’s like Serial—but for art! The radio station WBUR is teaming up with the Boston Globe to launch Last Seen, a 10-part investigative podcast that seeks to solve Boston’s last great unsolved mystery. The podcast, which debuts September 17, follows the journalists to Philadelphia, Florida, Ireland, and Italy as they try to crack the case. It will also include an interview with Richard Abath, the watchman who was on duty the night thieves stole 13 masterworks from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, as well as the first-ever interview with a second guard on duty. (Boston Globe)

Germany’s Green Party Calls for Artistic Freedom – Two members of Germany’s Green Party have created an online petition called “The Brussels Declaration” that calls to maintain artistic freedom amid rising nationalism across Europe. According to German politicians Erhard Grundl and Claudia Roth, several right-wing factions in Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Austria are “trying to direct the creative scene toward their own ends with a policy of national isolation.” (Artforum)

Sacha Baron Cohen’s Pranked Dealer Has the Last Word – In a new interview, the Laguna Beach gallerist Christy Cones—who has been an exceedingly good sport about her run-in with British comedian in the premiere of his latest show, Who Is America?—makes the case for Cohen as performance artist. “Sacha is carrying on a long tradition that was started thousands of years ago by guys like Aristophanes and Petronius and Jonathan Swift and Voltaire,” she says. (Vulture)

Robert Indiana’s Estate Is Embroiled in a Bitter Legal Battle – A dispute over the artist’s legacy is heating up following his death in May. A lawyer representing the artist’s estate told a probate court in Maine that there is “reasonable suspicion” that assets have been inappropriately sold or misappropriated. Meanwhile, the artist’s 2016 will, which names his studio assistant Jamie Thomas as the director of a museum the artist planned to open on the island of Vinalhaven, is also being challenged in court. (The Art Newspaper)


Horton Gallery Heads to Dallas – After operating galleries in New York and Berlin, art dealer Sean Horton is heading back to Texas to open a space in Dallas. The Lower East Side pioneer says he will maintain an office in New York. (ARTnews)

Seattle Art Fair Launches Acquisition Fund – The fair is providing $25,000 to Seattle’s Frye Art Museum to acquire a selection of work from its 100 exhibitors. The museum is also launching a contemporary council of supporters to boost its collection as part of the partnership. The Seattle Art Fair runs August 2 to 5. (Press release)

Royal Furniture Designer Posts $1.9 Million Loss – A high-end furniture company founded by David Linley, the Queen’s nephew and the UK Chairman of Christie, posted a $1.9 million loss in the most recent financial year. The company, which has a checkered financial history, blamed the loss on a revamp of its stores in Mayfair and Belgravia in London. (Daily Mail)


Saatchi Gallery Chief Leaves to Run Regional Gallery – The director and CEO of London’s Saatchi Gallery, Nigel Hurst, will become the head of contemporary art at the Box, the revamped and rebranded museum in Plymouth, this fall. He will oversee programming for the new museum, which is due to open in 2020. Hurst joined Saatchi in 1995 and helped organize the notorious “Sensation” exhibition. (ARTnews)

Canadian Culture Minister Ousted in Cabinet Reshuffle  Mélanie Joly has been demoted from her high-profile position as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet minister overseeing arts and culture after she misstepped on a key deal with Netflix over Canadian broadcasting. Joly will be succeeded by Pablo Rodriguez. (National Post)

Walker Appoints Native Art Committee The Walker Art Center has officially announced the creation of an Indigenous public art selection committee. The committee, first reported earlier this year by artnet News, will help choose a Native artist to create a new work for the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden or the Walker’s campus. The committee is a direct response to the controversy over Sam Durant‘s Scaffold. (Press release)

The Last “Monuments Man” Anne Olivier Bell Has Died – The editor of Virginia Woolf’s diaries and a female member of the so-called Monuments Men, who helped retrieve art stolen by the Nazis, has died at 102. She was related by marriage to the Bloomsbury Group, with her husband, Quentin Bell, being Virginia Woolf’s nephew. (Guardian)


Ai Weiwei’s Advice for Artists – Mega-collectors Don and Mera Rubell, Domenico and Eleanore De Sole, and Larry Fields squeezed into Aspen’s Anderson Ranch Arts Center alongside students and instructors to hear the Chinese artist speak with Guggenheim curator Alexandra Munroe. His pearls of wisdom for artists included: “Know less, care more.” Then he added, cryptically: “I am a cow, rather than different cuts of meat.” (Page Six)

James Rosenquist’s Swanky Manhattan Home Is for Sale – Got $14.5 million lying around? Then you can purchase the late Pop artist’s Lower Manhattan townhouse. The 10,020-square-foot TriBeCa home, available through Sotheby’s Homes, has five bedrooms and boasts Rosenquist‘s bright and spacious full-time studio on the first floor. The artist originally purchased the townhouse for $120,000 in 1997. (ARTnews)

Detroit Launches Inaugural Art Week – Detroit hosting a jam-packed lineup of museum tours, gallery receptions, and site visits for the inaugural Detroit Art Week (which, despite its name, is three days). The event, which kicks off today and runs through July 22, is the brainchild of art marketing exec and recent Detroit transplant Amani Olu. (Curbed)

eBay Is Selling a Cindy Sherman Pool Float – Place your bids! Now, you can float away on a conceptual pool float designed by the photographer (and Instagram sensation) Cindy Sherman. The eBay shop Third Drawer Down is offering a signed inflatable cellphone pool float to the highest bidder. All profits go toward the construction of a self-filtering public pool in New York City. Shoppers can also buy an unsigned version of the float for $250. (FlauntVogue)

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