Art Industry News: Dorothea Rockburne Sues Ex-Twitter CEO After His Bathroom Leak Ruined Dozens of Her Artworks + Other Stories

Plus, authorities remove a tile from a controversial police mural in Detroit, and the Queen makes sculptor Phyllida Barlow a dame.

Dorothea Rockburne attends the Guild Hall Academy of the Arts Achievement Awards at the Rainbow Room on March 3, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan via 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 on this Monday, June 14.


Beijing Steps Up Censorship of Film in Hong Kong – Beijing authorities are expanding their crackdown of criticism of the Communist party in Hong Kong with new amendments to the guidelines for films shown in the city. The Film Censorship Ordinance can now censor any “portrayal, depiction or treatment of any act or activity which may amount to an offense endangering national security.” (AP)

Current and Former Staff Protest Racism at the Barbican – A dossier compiled by current and former staff at the Barbican Centre in London describes the employer as a “systemically racist institution.” The document includes “firsthand and witnessed accounts of racism and discrimination” and calls for radical change. The Barbican, which said it was “shocked and saddened” by the report, has begun an independent investigation in response. (BBC)

A Leak From Ex-Twitter Chief’s Apartment Destroyed Artist’s Work – A leak from the guest bathroom in the $8 million SoHo apartment of former Twitter C.E.O. Dick Costolo damaged some 176 works of art by 88-year-old Dorothea Rockburne, whose studio is on the floor below. (A full 25 of those works are fully destroyed, she claims.) Rockburne is suing for $2 million, alleging the Costolos did not act quickly enough when alerted to the problem, instead allowing water to leach through the floor for five hours. (New York Times)

The Queen Hands Out Art-World Honors – The sculptor Phyllida Barlow is now a dame, having received the honor during the Queen’s birthday celebrations this weekend. The author and ceramicist Edmund de Waal, the Bristol-based photographer Martin Parr, and William Ferris, the former CEO of Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, were all made CBEs (Commander of the Order of the British Empire). London-based gallerist Sadie Coles received an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire). (The Art Newspaper)


David Hockney Painting Could Fetch $18 Million at Phillips – A 1967 painting by the British artist of a residential California building is estimated to fetch between $12 million and $18 million when it hits the block at Phillips New York on June 23. Also included in the sale: a Wayne Thiebaud streetscape estimated at $6 million and a Matthew Wong landscape estimated at $1.5 million. (ARTnews)

Art Basel’s Latest Viewing Room Is Here – In lieu of a physical Basel edition this June (which will instead be held in September), Art Basel has organized a new edition of its online viewing room. “OVR: Portals” (June 16–19) will feature artists selected by three curators: Magalí Arriola, director of Museo Tamayo; Christina Li, a curator based in Amsterdam and Hong Kong; and Larry Ossei-Mensah, co-founder of the creative collective ARTNOIR. (FT)


Detroit Removes Tile From Controversial Police Mural – Following criticism, Detroit authorities have removed a tile from a mosaic accompanying a controversial mural on the side of a local police precinct that was sponsored by the Detroit Institute of Arts. The tile depicted the logo of Marvel vigilante the Punisher and a fragment of a “Thin Blue Line” flag, both of which have come to symbolize white supremacy and opposition to racial justice movements. (TAN)

Spanish Museum Leader Tomás Llorens Dies – The art historian and curator, who served as the first director of both the Valencian Institute of Modern Art and the Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid, died at 85 after a long illness. He championed modern and contemporary art in Spain in the wake of the fascist postwar period. (ARTnews)


Boris Johnson Gave Biden a Photo of a Mural – The U.K. Prime Minister gifted the U.S. President a photograph of a mural depicting abolitionist Frederick Douglass, which is part of the Edinburgh’s mural trail, to mark Biden’s first overseas visit to attend the G7 summit in Cornwall. The mural was painted by artist Ross Blair and the photograph taken by Melissa Highton. (BBC)

Extinction Rebellion Stages Mermaid Die-in on Cornwall Beach – Climate activists from Extinction Rebellion took their protests to Cornwall this weekend as G7 leaders met for a three-day summit. Protests included a noisy 90-minute march to “sound the alarm” on ecological and climate collapse and a mass stranding of mermaids washed up on the beach. (DW)


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