Art Industry News: A Painting Bought at Auction for About $100 Could Be an Unknown J.M.W Turner + Other Stories

Plus, France and the UK team up to conserve the Bayeux Tapestry and a company auctioning off a night in Nelson Mandela's former prison cell sparks outrage.

A member of the public views Turner's classic painting Modern Rome - Campo Vaccino at the National Galleries of Scotland. The supposed newly discovered Turner is much, much smaller. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/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 6.


Auction to Spend a Night in Mandela’s Cell Sparks Outrage – After a swell of opposition, the charity auction SleepOut has removed its controversial offer of a sleepover at Nelson Mandela’s former prison cell at the Robben Island Museum. A spokesperson for the UNESCO World Heritage Site says it was not aware of the sale until it became public. One night in the prison cell was being offered at a starting bid of $250‚000. (Times South Africa)

France and UK Strike a Conservation Deal on Bayeux Tapestry Loan – The French government will work with the UK to conserve the exquisite and fragile 11th-century tapestry. The 230-foot work, which depicts in great detail the 1066 Norman conquest of England, will also be translated into English. It will be loaned to England for the first time in nearly 1,000 years from the French province of Normandy in 2022. (BBC)

Is This an Undiscovered Turner? Art historians are investigating whether a postcard-size watercolor bought at auction for about a hundred bucks could in fact be a previously unknown work by J.M.W. Turner. The Abbotsford Trust bought the painting of author Sir Walter Scott and his family at auction in London and has since put it on view at the writer’s former home. (The Express)

Will a New Lawsuit Turn the Sackler Tide? Last month, the state of Massachusetts became the first to sue individual members of the Sackler family over their role in the opioid epidemic. The new legal step adds a new wrinkle for museums that are trying to decide whether to accept additional funds from the family, which is among the most generous donors to the arts in the UK and US. The National Portrait Gallery in London is currently reviewing a $1.3 million pledge from Theresa Sackler. (The Art Newspaper)


White Cube Turns 25 Over the past quarter-century, White Cube has evolved from an upstart London project space to an international business representing 50 artists. To celebrate its birthday, the gallery’s Hong Kong location is presenting rarely seen archival material, including personal notes and handmade gifts given by artists to founder Jay Jopling. (TAN)

Parties Disagree on Proposed UK Ivory Ban – The bill to ban the sale of elephant ivory in the UK went through a third reading in British parliament on July 4. Some say it will have vastly important implications for ivory trading, while others believe that it will only cause further depletion of other ivory-producing animals, like rhinos. (Huffington Post)

Thanks to Online Platforms, the Art Market Is Soaring – The art market is destined to reach $2.39 billion by 2025, according to a new report from Hexa Research, thanks to rising numbers of online art shoppers and internet platforms that allow for easier procurement of artworks (without the hassle of travel). (Business Insider)


Hepworth Wakefield Puts Prize Money to Good Use Last year’s winner of the Museum of the Year prize will spend part of its £100,000 award to acquire a newly commissioned sculpture by Turner Prize winner Helen Marten. The West Yorkshire gallery will use the leftover money to turn an adjacent patch of land into the largest public garden in the UK. Tate St Ives  was announced this year’s winner at a ceremony last night. (Guardian)

Huntington Library Names a New Director – The LA library, museum, and botanical garden has named Karen Lawrence, the longtime former president of Sarah Lawrence College, as its new head. The board was drawn to her strong track record of fundraising and increasing diversity at the school. She begins her new post on September 1. (Los Angeles Times)

China Seeks to Add Mao’s Tomb to World Heritage List – Beijing is seeking to gain UNESCO status for Mao Zedong’s mausoleum, as well as Tiananmen Square and 12 other sites in Mainland China. The two world-famous tourist destinations are powerful symbols of China’s communist history. (Press release)


Wallach Gallery Teams Up With the Musée d’Orsay In an unusual collaboration, Columbia University’s art gallery is working with the Paris museum to present “Posing Modernity: The Black Model from Manet and Matisse to Today.” The ambitious exhibition, which opens in October, proposes that the representation of the black female figure has played a central role in the development of Modernism. (Press release)

Gucci and Frieze Celebrate the Second Summer of Love Artists Jeremy Deller and Josh Blaaberg are creating films that reflect on the 30th anniversary of the explosion of music and youth culture that swept the UK in 1988. (WWD)

Buy the Painting Prince Harry Bought for Meghan Markle The British artist known as Van Donna is selling prints of his work, Everyone Needs Someone to Love, for just $262 online. The prince bought the original painting of a boy and girl walking hand-in-hand in October 2016, just weeks before the now-duke and duchess made their relationship public. (People)

Influencers Flock to Narcissus Garden – MoMA PS1 has mounted Yayoi Kusama’s now aptly named Narcissus Garden, an installation of 1,500 reflective orbs that first appeared in the 1966 Venice Biennale, inside a former train garage at Rockaway Beach. It didn’t take long for the work to become catnip for Instagrammers. See a few of the shots below before they overtake your feed. (Instagram)

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