Art Industry News: Beeple Used to Think ‘Art History Was Stupid’ But Then a Superdealer Changed His Mind + Other Stories

Plus, a Chinese sculpture becomes the priciest work ever sold at auction in Germany, and the Palm Springs Art Museum names a new director.

It's Beeple! He's also known as Mike Winkelmann. To his mom. Photo: Katya Kazakina.
It's Beeple! He's also known as Mike Winkelmann. Photo: Katya Kazakina.

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 Thursday, June 24.


Jay Chou Spends All His Money on Art – Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou—who recently lent his name to a successful sale at Sotheby’s Hong Kong—says that, for him, “art is the most important asset class.” His collection includes Peter Doig’s Road Home, a pink Picasso, and a massive Jean-Michel Basquiat. “I’ve spent almost all my earnings from my concerts on artworks,” Chou said. (CNN)

Can the Uffizi’s New Program Fight Overtourism? – The Uffizi Galleries in Florence are about to launch their Uffizi Diffusi program, which will scatter its masterpieces in galleries around Tuscany in a bid to reduce the tourism pressure on Florence. The ambitious project has earned praise from the sustainable tourism industry. “Tourists and residents will get the opportunity to see remarkable art away from the crowds, businesses… will see revenues grow, and residents of Florence may get respite from the pressures of honeypot tourism,” said Justin Francis, CEO of Responsible Travel. (CNN)

Beeple Hasn’t Found the Art World Super Welcoming – There’s been much curiosity about the next move for Beeple (real name: Mike Winkelmann) after his record-busting $69 million NFT sale at Christie’s in March. Now, he is planning a new NFT venture that will transform historic moments into collectible NFTs, beginning with Andy Murray’s 2013 Wimbledon win. As for the art world, he said, it hasn’t been “overly welcoming,” but he’s gotten some guidance from auctioneer Loic Gouzer. “I used to think art history was stupid, but I realize I need to know the story of art if I’m going to push that story forward,” Winkelmann said. (Wall Street Journal)

Antwaun Sargent Makes His Gagosian Debut – Gagosian’s superstar director Antwaun Sargent is opening his first show with the gallery today at its West 24th Street space in Manhattan. “Social Works” presents work—much of it created over the past year—by 12 Black artists, including Rick Lowe and Lauren Halsey, who are active within their communities both through art and efforts like food banks and mentorship programs. (New York Times)


Chinese Sculpture Breaks German Auction Record – A gold and bronze Ming dynasty sculpture of the god Vajrabhairava broke Germany’s auction record for the highest price ever paid for a work of art when it sold at Nagel Auktionen in Stuttgart for €14 million ($16.7 million). It was purchased by a Chinese collector. (The Art Newspaper)

OOF Gallery to Open in London – The publishers of OOF magazine, which focuses on the intersection between art and football (that’s soccer to y’all Americans), are opening a commercial art gallery on Tottenham Hotspur’s home grounds. The first show, “Balls,” opens July 23, with football sculptures by Sarah Lucas and Hank Willis Thomas priced between £2,500 and £50,000. (FT)


NEA Releases Latest Round of Grants – The National Endowment for the Arts has announced $135 million in grants for arts and culture organizations as part of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. “Cultural organizations were among the first businesses to shut down at the start of the pandemic, and they’ll be among the last to fully reopen,” the NEA’s chief of staff Ra Joy said. (NPR)

Palm Springs Art Museum Names Director – Adam Lerner will be the next director of the Palm Springs Art Museum, replacing Louis Grachos, who left after less than two years. Lerner, who will begin in the post July 15, was previously the director and chief animator of the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. (Press release)


You Can Visit a Futurist’s Apartment – The former residence of Italian Futurist Giacomo Balla is open for weekend tours in Rome through November 21 as part of the MAXXI Museum’s exhibition on the artist. The multicolored flat on Via Oslavia is a living embodiment of the artist’s “total fusion of art and life,” according to the show’s curator. (The Art Newspaper)

Street Artist Jerkface Installs a Giant Donut in London – New York street artist Jerkface has embellished the façade of Maddox Gallery in London with a bright pink Simpsons-style D’ohnut to mark the opening of his latest exhibition, “Villainy” (on view through July 15). The artist has reimagined classic cartoon characters from Mickey Mouse to Winnie the Pooh in the tradition of geometric abstraction. (Press release)


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