Art Industry News: Kerry James Marshall on Why It Matters That Diddy Bought His Painting for $21 Million + More Must-Read Stories

Plus, new hope for a lost Caravaggio stolen by the mob and the super-realist painter Malcolm Morley has died at 86.

Kerry James Marshall, Past Times (1997). Courtesy of Sotheby's.

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 Monday, June 4.


Fresh Hope for a Stolen Caravaggio? – New evidence has revived hope that Caravaggio’s nativity altarpiece, which was stolen in 1969, might be recovered—or, at least, that experts might learn its fate. Mafia turncoat Gaetano Grado told investigators that the painting ended up with one of Sicily’s top mobsters, who died in 2004. He, in turn, passed it along to a Swiss art dealer, who said the altarpiece should be cut into pieces. (New York Times)

Steve Cohen on Office Art – Steve Cohen had some choice words about his art collection—and his employees’ taste in art—at the Museum of Modern Art’s Party in the Garden last week. “They like the art that’s square or rectangular,” the billionaire said of his staff. “Anything circular they hate.” His art advisor Sandy Heller interjected, saying, “He means geometric abstraction.” But Cohen would not be deterred. “No, I’m serious. They don’t like circles.” (Bloomberg)

Kerry James Marshall on Diddy’s Big Buy – The artist takes the long view of the recent record-setting sale of his work Past Times (1997), which the music impresario Diddy bought for $21.1 million at Sotheby’s in New York last month. The market moment is “probably the first instance in the history of the art world where a black person took part in a capital competition and won,” he said. (The Art Newspaper)

Stanley Spencer Painting Recovered in a Drug Bust – A landscape stolen while on loan to the Stanley Spencer Gallery in the artist’s hometown of Cookham, in the south of England, has been recovered from under the bed of a London-based drug dealer. Valued at $1.3 million, it was found next to his stash of cocaine and ecstasy tablets. (BBC)


Hauser & Wirth to Represent Gunther Fӧrg Estate – The estate of the German painter, sculptor, and photographer Gunther Fӧrg (1952–2013) is now represented by international powerhouse Hauser & Wirth. The gallery plans to support his forthcoming catalogue raisonné and show his work in New York in the spring of 2019. (Press Release)

Howard Hodgkin’s Final Paintings Go on Show – More than 30 of the artist’s late paintings, including ones created just months before he died in Mumbai, India, are on view at Gagosian in London. They impressed the FT’s art critic Jackie Wullschlager, who describes them as “rapidly executed, condensed statements memorializing pleasure or contemplating infinity.” (Financial Times)

Impressionism Makes a Strong Showing in New York – Even without the Rockefellers’ trove of Impressionist and Modern paintings, the category was “up significantly in dollar volume” in the marquee spring sales held last month in New York. The reasons for the shift are “not entirely clear,” says Marion Maneker, though he notes that the average price of an evening sale lot was more than twice the equivalent sum in May 2017. (Art Market Monitor)

Record Price for Beckmann in Berlin – Max Beckmann’s The Egyptian Woman (1942) sold for €4.7 million ($5.5 million), more than double its high estimate. Bought by a Swiss foundation at Villa Grisebach, it set a new record for a work of art sold in Germany, according to the auction house. The small canvas was acquired from the artist by the dealer Erhard Göpel during World War II. His widow died last year. (TAN)



Artist Malcolm Morley Dies – The “super-realist” painter has died at age 86, his dealers Sperone Westwater and Xavier Hufkens confirmed. Morley won the first-ever Turner Prize in 1984 and has shown in many major exhibitions over the course of his decades-long career, including documenta 5 and 6 and London’s 1981 Royal Academy group show, “A New Spirit in Painting.” (Artforum)

Artists Make Cubes for Parkinson’s Charity – The Cure Parkinson’s Trust is working with Bonhams and Art Wise on the second edition of a selling show seeking to raise funds to research a cure. More than 80 international artists including Ron Arad, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Ryan Gander, and Anish Kapoor are contributing to “Cure³” by creating works using a Perspex cube priced between $1,340 and $26,775. Last year’s show raised more than $400,000. (Press release)

Julien Frydman Leaves the Luma Foundation – After three years developing Maya Hoffman’s foundation in Arles, the former director of Magnum’s office in Paris has left the foundation to work on a new diversification strategy at Le Monde group. Christophe Danzin will succeeded him as Luma’s director of development and partnerships. (Le Journal des Arts)

Roman Abramovich Is Now an Israeli Citizen – The billionaire art collector has accepted Israeli citizenship on the grounds of Israel’s “Law of Return.” He will not have to pay taxes on foreign income for a decade. The Israeli passport also permits visits to the UK without a visa, a possible workaround for the Chelsea Football club owner’s recent visa trouble, amid which the billionaire has shelved plans for a £500 million Herzog & de Meuron renovation of his team’s Stamford Bridge stadium. (Monopol)



France Launches Lottery to Fund Heritage Conservation – French president Emmanuel Macron is introducing a national lottery scheme to finance the restoration of historic buildings and works of art. The €15 ($18) scratch-off cards will boost the country’s $382 million heritage budget and fund the restoration of a number of sites, including a 12th-century castle in Burgundy and a Roman aqueduct. The annual lottery will debut in September and hopes to raise $18 million to $22 million. (Guardian)

Alex Israel Launches a Conceptual Clothing Line – The limited-edition unisex athleisure line, called Infrathin, is named after the term coined by Marcel Duchamp to describe “the imperceptible difference between two identical things.” Israel launched the line at a pop-up shop in Gagosian Hong Kong, but says the clothes doesn’t have to be seen as art—each t-shirt is simultaneously just a t-shirt and also a readymade artwork. (Artsy)

Russian Billionaire Blames UK Government for Art Loss – Alexander Ivanov has pointed the finger at the British Border Force for allegedly misplacing, damaging, and selling objects from a £600,000 ($803,000) antiques collection after it was seized on its way to Ivanov’s Fabergé Museum in Germany in 2013. He is now threatening to sue British customs for the alleged damage and unfair treatment. (Times)

Fondation Carmignac Sculpture Island Opens – More than 300 contemporary works are on display in the middle of a national park on the Mediterranean island of Porquerolles, off the French Riviera. Founded by French investment banker Édouard Carmignac, the eponymous foundation offers 15 hectares of sculpture park and 2,000 square meters of underground exhibition space. The inaugural show, “Sea of Desire” is on view until November 2, when the site will close for the winter months. (TAN)


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