Art Industry News: Ridiculously Overpainted Statue of St. George in Spanish Church May Find Salvation + Other Stories

Plus, a Russian museum founder flees and the director of the Berkshire Museum announces his retirement.

Photo: courtesy of ArtUs Restauración Patrimonio.

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, June 29.


Spain’s Botched Saint Can Be Saved – The town of Estella in northern Spain could salvage its reputation after news of the disastrous overpainting of a statue of Saint George in a local church went viral. They just need a skilled conservator to reverse the paint job. “Fifty percent of the work I do is restoring art that someone has overpainted,” says the art conservator Jill Pratzon. “But, in all the cases I’ve ever had the paint can be reversed. It’s painstaking work, but necessary.” (Observer)

Italy Pursues a Giotto Through English Court – Italy is suing a British art dealer over a painting worth $13 million that has been attributed to Giotto. Kathleen Simonis paid less than £5,000 ($6,570) for the painting, which was originally believed to be a 19th-century copy, at auction in Italy in 1990. She allegedly took the work out of the country in 2007 without the proper export license. (Telegraph)

Glasgow School of Art Will Be Dismantled – Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s building was so badly damaged by a recent fire—its second in four years—that much of it will need to be dismantled. Experts say that the south facade of the ruined art school must urgently be taken down as it is now dangerously unstable. They used mobile cranes, drones, and lasers to carry out a survey of the building in recent days. (Guardian)

Russian Museum Founder Flees to London – The real estate developer Boris Mints, who opened the Museum of Russian Impressionism in Moscow in 2016, has fled Russia. He is reportedly facing a criminal investigation over bank dealings. For now, the director of his museum says it will continue to operate as normal—but its future remains uncertain. (The Art Newspaper)


TEFAF New York Fall Exhibitors Announced – There will be 10 new participants among the 93 dealers at the fair in late October, which focuses on fine and decorative arts form antiquity through the early 20th century. Galerie Florence de Voldère of France and Antonacci Lapiccirella Fine Art of Italy are among the newcomers. (ARTnews)

Bank Secrecy Act Threatens Art Dealers – If passed, the bill would require American art dealers with as little as $50,000 in annual purchases or sales to report transactions and collect clients’ personal information. Trade organizations are lobbying hard, protesting there is no evidence that its members aid and abet money launderers. (Art Daily)

Masterpiece Names Best in Show – The fair’s award for best stand was shared by Ronald Phillips and Landau Fine Art, while the cross-collecting prize went to Daniel Crouch and Les Enluminures for mixing books, maps, and Medieval art. Meanwhile, a sculpture by William Turnbull earned the New Art Centre Masterpiece London’s “best piece” award. (Press release) ​


Berkshire Museum Director Retires – After seven years at the helm of the museum, during which he oversaw its highly controversial plan to sell off work from its collection, Van Shields announced he would retire. A consultant, David W. Ellis, has been named interim director while the museum launches a national search for a replacement. (Berkshire Eagle)

Mike Kelley Foundation Adds Board Member – Financial consultant Edward Rada is joining the board of the Mike Kelley Foundation of the Arts. Rada provides consulting services for nonprofits, trusts, and estates. He previously served as interim director of finance for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. (Artforum)

Jameel Joint Prize Winners Announced – In a first for the £25,000 ($32,800) biennial prize, Iraqi artist Mehdi Moutashar and Bangladeshi architect Marina Tabassum have been named joint winners. They will be awarded the Jameel Prize 5 at a ceremony at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum on Wednesday. (Gulf News)

Serbia’s Forgotten National Museum Reopens – After 15 years and a $14 million refurbishment, the state-funded museum in Belgrade reopened its permanent display to the public yesterday. Serbia’s minister of culture apologized to a “whole generation of young people” for its lengthy closure. (Balkan Insight)


Artist Jeremy Deller Disses Trump – In an interview with the Evening Standard, the 2004 Turner Prize winner likens the US president to “some creepy psychotic pervert from a David Lynch film.” He also strikes out at Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, comparing him to a “crime boss.” (Evening Standard)

World Cultures Gallery Opens at London Museum – The Horniman Museum in London opens its new World Gallery today. Displaying more than 3,000 artifacts from Maori weapons to Tibetan textiles, the gallery succeeds one devoted to Africa. The museum’s new director, Nick Merriman, also announced it would also launch a new MA in museum studies with Goldsmiths College in south London. (Times)

The Rijksmuseum Announces Summer Escape Game The Amsterdam museum has launched an escape game for the summer, in which players must seek out a secret formula stolen from an 18th-century book of alchemy in the library, finding clues concealed throughout the museum’s displays. There will be two versions of the game available in Dutch and English, one for kids ages 6 and up and one for adults. Tickets cost around $20 per group. (Press release)

Keith Sonnier Gets Super Colorful Survey in Three Parts – The pioneering light and installation artist, who hasn’t had a solo show at an American institution in 35 years, is having a moment with three shows in New York this summer. “Tragedy and Comedy” opens today at the Tripoli Gallery and on Sunday, “Keith Sonnier: Until Today” opens at the Parrish Art Museum and “Dis-Play II” opens at the Dan Flavin Art Institute. (East Hampton Star)

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