Art Industry News: Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Joins Nude Performers and a Human Fly at a ‘Bizarre’ Art Party + Other Stories

Plus, meet the curator behind the Guggenheim's Basquiat show and Mitchell Algus may close his gallery after more than 20 years.

Hilary Geary Ross and Wilbur Ross at the 26th annual Watermill Center Summer Benefit on July 27, 2019 in Water Mill, New York. (Photo by Sonia Moskowitz/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 Wednesday, July 31.


Florence Court Rules Against NYU in Art Ownership Case – New York University has suffered a setback in its legal battle with Italian princess Dialta Orlandi over an art-filled villa in Florence. The university’s campus at Villa La Pietra, which was once owned by the Medici family, was donated by the British art collector and scholar Harold Acton. Orlandi could inherit a portion of Acton’s billion-dollar estate now that an Italian court ruled that she is his illegitimate niece. The university says it is deciding whether or not to appeal. A spokesman stresses that the court’s decision about Orlandi’s paternity “has no bearing on the inheritance claims, which remain before the court.” The case will now go before Italy’s Supreme Court. (Bloomberg)  

Meet the Woman Behind the Guggenheim’s Basquiat Show – Chaédria LaBouvier, a 34-year-old independent curator became the first black woman to organize a solo exhibition at the Guggenheim with “Basquiat’s ‘Defacement’: The Untold Story,” which explores Basquiat and other artists’ treatment of the death of Michael Stewart, a young black artist who was killed by police in 1983. But being the first, LaBouvier notes, is never easy. “If I didn’t review something, that meant that no person of color looked at that document or process,” she said. “And certainly it felt at times that there was an expectation that I would just be grateful to be in the room.” (New York Times)

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Attends the Watermill Benefit – The annual Hamptons event, which this year honored philanthropist Katherine Rayner and artist Carrie Mae Weems, featured nude performers in glass cubes, another wrapped head-to-toe in plastic, and even a visit from collector and commerce secretary Wilbur Ross and his wife Hilary. The juxtaposition of the flashy performances and the presence of a government official enabled Page Six to pen this literal but not-untrue headline: “Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and wife check out bizarre performance art.” (Page SixARTnews)

2001: A Space Odyssey Exhibition Comes to New York – A major exhibition at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York will offer a comprehensive examination of Stanley Kubrick’s film, including the display of original artifacts, an exploration of the film’s influence on cinema, art, and advertising, and a look at the director’s obsessive research process. The show, which was originally organized by the Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum in Frankfurt to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the film’s release last year, will be on view from January 18 to July 19, 2020. (Gothamist)


Mitchell Algus May Close His Gallery – The legendary New York gallerist, who has always put art before profit, has announced on Instagram that his space in the Lower East Side might be forced to shutter. The message says: “With a lease pending, the gallery may be unable to continue.” In his 20-plus years in business, Algus has been among the first to show work by artists including Barkley Hendricks, Betty Tompkins, Joan Semmel, and Lee Lozano. (ARTnews)

How Art and Superyachts Transformed Mykonos – When plutocrats dock their superyachts and celebrities jet into the Greek island of Mykonos every summer, Eden Fine Art is the gallery ready to greet them. Works by the graffiti artist Alec Monopoly, often featuring the famous board game character Rich Uncle Pennybags waving dollars in midair, are in demand at the gallery in the former fishing village. Works in the artist’s new exhibition “$PF Monopoly!” are priced around $200,000 each. “Pretty much every person who comes in here can buy everything,” says the gallerist Akaash Mehta. (Guardian)

Sydney Contemporary Fair Goes Big on Installations – The art fair has announced 15 artists who will create installations and site-specific works for its next edition, which runs from September 12 to September 15. The section will include work by Movana Chen, Rathin Barman, and Daniel Boyd, among others. It is curated by Mikala Tai, the director of the nonprofit 4A Center for Contemporary Asian Art in Sydney. (Art Daily)


Gallerist Karsten Schubert Had Died The distinguished gallerist and art publisher, who has long worked with artist Bridget Riley and helped launch Rachel Whiteread’s career, has died at age 57 from thyroid cancer. Born in Germany, Schubert opened his first gallery in London in his 20s, giving many YBAs their first commercial shows. (The Art Newspaper)

World Monuments Fund Names New CEO – The World Monuments Fund has named Bénédicte de Montlaur as its next CEO. Monlaur will leave her current role as head of the French Embassy’s cultural division in New York to take up the new position on October 1. (Press release)

Artist Wendell Dayton Has Died – The sculptor Wendell Dayton, who created massive steel sculptures from found parts, has died at 81. The Californian artist was one of a number of West Coast talents discovered late in life: He was 80 when Blum & Poe in Los Angeles gave him his first major solo exhibition in 2018. (Press release)


Kevin Durant Gifts Art to San Francisco – As the pro basketball player Kevin Durant leaves the Golden State Warriors for the Brooklyn Nets, he offered a parting gift to remind fans that, as he noted on Instagram, he has still “got love for the Bay.” The Kevin Durant Charity Foundation funded the colorful revamp of a neglected basketball court in the Hayes Valley Playground in San Francisco designed by the street artist Apex One (also known as Ricardo Richey). (Golden State of Mind) 

Pat Steir Prepares for Her Major Hirshhorn Show – After a banner year for the 81-year-old painter that included a presentation at the Barnes Foundation and two gallery projects, Pat Steir is planning to finish 2019 with a bang with a major solo exhibition at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in October. Steir is taking 28 monumental paintings to DC, where they will be displayed in the inner circle of the second floor of the museum.  (ARTnews)

Have Archaeologists Found the Church of the Apostles? – Archaeologists in Israel have uncovered what they beleive is the biblical “Church of the Apostles.” The ancient church, complete with mosaics and fragments of a marble chancel, was found in a site near the Sea of Galilee that researchers believe is Bethsaida, a biblical fishing village where apostle Peter and Andrew were born, according to the Gospel of John. (Daily Mail)

Aaaaaand… – Here’s another photo of Wilbur Ross hiding a glass of wine behind his back at Watermill with his wife.

Wilbur Ross and Hilary Geary Ross at the 26th annual Watermill Center Summer Benefit on July 27, 2019 in Water Mill, New York. (Photo by Sonia Moskowitz/Getty Images)

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