Art Industry News: Whitney Biennial Artists Claim They Have Found Dark New Evidence Against Warren Kanders + Other Stories

Plus, the Palais de Tokyo names its first female president and mega-collector Dasha Zhukova is engaged to shipping heir Stavros Niarchos.

Activists protesting Warren Kanders at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Photo by Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via 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 22.


Bert Kreuk’s Historic D-Day Flag Visits the White House – The Dutch collector best known for his dispute with artist Danh Vo plans to present the American flag that flew on Utah Beach on D-Day to President Donald Trump in a ceremony at the White House next week to coincide with the state visit of Netherlands Prime Minister Marke Rutte. Following the ceremony, the flag will be transferred to the Smithsonian Institution. Kreuk bought the flag, considered one of the most important in private hands, at Heritage Auctions in 2016 for $514,000. (Press release)

Turns Out Hitler’s Looted Art Was Looted, Too – German researchers are investigating what happened to the hundreds of looted works that disappeared from the basement of the Führerbau, Hitler’s former HQ in Munich. The Central Institute for Art History estimates that around 400 works stolen in a two-day spree after the Nazi dictatorship collapsed are still missing. Although many paintings were recovered by the Monuments Men, the German government was never very active tracing them in the decades that followed. Now, it is belatedly reporting the 1945 thefts to Interpol, the German Federal Criminal Police Office, and is also listing them on the Art Loss Register and databases. (New York Times)

Collective Claims It Has Found New Evidence Linking Kanders to Violence in Gaza – The activist collective Forensic Architecture has become the latest to withdraw their work from the Whitney Biennial in protest of the museum’s board vice chair Warren Kanders. The move comes after a member of the collective discovered a bullet in Gaza used against Palestinians that he says appears to have been made by Sierra Bullets, a weapons manufacturer partially owned by Kanders. Forensic Architecture’s Whitney work, Triple-Chaser (2019), is a video that aims to explore how weapons produced by Kanders’s company Safariland are used around the world. “What may have started as the Tear Gas Biennial is now the ‘Sierra Bullet Biennial,’” a member of Forensic Architecture said. (Hyperallergic)

Artists Lead Protest Calling for Puerto Rican Governor’s Resignation – Thousands of protestors are taking to the streets of San Juan to call for the resignation of Puerto Rico’s governor, Ricardo Rosselló, after his sexist and homophobic comments in a private chat room were made public. Singers, performers, and visual artists have been at the forefront of the demonstrations, while illustrators have designed banners for marches and on social media. “Most of the protests I’ve been to in the past were led mainly by pro-independence people,” illustrator Mya Pagán, whose sketches of government officials have been widely shared, said. “In this protest, people are more united and organizes.” Notably, one report states that the tear gas used against protesters was manufactured by Safariland, the company helmed by Whitney vice chair Warren Kanders. (Hyperallergic, Hyperallergic)


Bonhams Withdraws Vessel Amid Accusations It Was Looted – The auction house has withdrawn an ancient Greek drinking vessel from a planned sale in London after the archaeologist Christos Tsirogiannis alerted Interpol to evidence that it may have been illegally excavated. He produced evidence that linked the object to convicted traffickers in stolen artifacts. (Telegraph)

Sotheby’s Space Race Auction Totals $5.5 Million – Sotheby’s Space Exploration auction fared much better than Christie’s, flying past its high estimate by $1 million. The sale, which brought in a total of $5.5 million, offered items from the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions, including NASA’s videotape recordings of the Apollo 11 moon landing, which sold for $1.82 million. (Press release)

Bernard Arnault Is Now the World’s Second Richest Person – The French billionaire art collector and luxury goods mogul, who opened the Fondation Louis Vuitton outside Paris in 2014, has overtaken Bill Gates on Bloomberg’s rich list for the first time. The Microsoft co-founder’s extensive philanthropy partly explains why he now has $200 million less than Arnault. (Bloomberg)


Emma Lavigne Is the New Head of the Palais de Tokyo – The director of the Centre Pompidou-Metz, Emma Lavigne, has been named as the first female president of the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. She will take over the kunsthalle from Jean De Loisy, who left the institution in January to lead the city’s École National Supérieure des Beaux-Arts (and was promptly criticized for being too “conservative” for the leading art school). (ARTnews)

Collectors Dasha Zhukova and Stavros Niarchos Are Engaged – Zhukova, the art collector and founder of the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art (and the former spouse of oligarch Roman Abramovich) is now engaged to the Greek shipping heir Stavros Niarchos. The glamorous duo, who made one of their earliest public appearances as a couple at Art Basel Miami Beach in 2017, are due to tie the knot later this year. (Page Six)

Architect César Pelli Dies at 92 – The Argentinian-American architect, who designed some of the world’s tallest buildings, including the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, died on Friday at age 92. Pelli was also the designer of the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco and Manhattan’s Brookfield Place. His renovation of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, however, was short-lived: completed in 1984, it was partially torn down to make way for Yoshio Taniguchi’s design in 2002. (Guardian)

British Museum Staffers Release Statement Supporting Resigned Trustee – Workers at the British Museum have come out in solidarity with former trustee Ahdaf Soueif, who resigned over the museum’s controversial partnership with oil giant BP, its relationship to its workers, and the legacy of colonialism in the museum. Members of the Public and Commercial Services union issued a public statement of support for Soueif and her damning letter, calling on the remaining trustees to “make every effort to address the inadequacies raised.” (Artforum)


Judy Chicago Finally Gets a Full Retrospective – The pioneering feminist artist is getting a long overdue retrospective at San Francisco’s de Young Museum in May 2020. The exhibition, organized by Claudia Schmuckli, will be the largest of her work to date. But if you are looking for her most famous creation, The Dinner Party, you’ll be out of luck. It’s staying put at the Brooklyn Museum. “I’ve been working for a long time,” Chicago said. “I used to say I hope I lived to long enough to come out from behind the shadow of The Dinner Party.” (ARTnews)

LACMA Teams With Snapchat to Present New Christian Marclay Work – The Los Angeles museum is collaborating with the social media messaging company to give Christian Marclay’s Sound Stories its United States premiere. The artist worked with Snapchat engineers to develop five installations drawn from millions of publicly posted Snapchat videos. The show runs from August 25 to October 14. (Press release)

Crystal Bridges’s Contemporary Space Announces Opening Exhibitions – The Arkansas museum has announced its inaugural lineup for the Momentary, its contemporary art-focused satellite space due to open on February 22, 2020. The former Kraft Foods plant will host a sequel to Crystal Bridges’s 2014 “State of the Art” group show and an exhibition by Nick Cave. The museum’s main space, meanwhile, will present surveys of work by artist Hank Willis Thomas and photographer Ansel Adams. (Art Daily)

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