Art Industry News: Mega-Collector and Putin Friend Roman Abramovich Hit With U.K. Sanctions + Other Stories

Plus, Dayanita Singh wins one of photography's biggest prizes, and there is new hope that Maria Prymachenko’s art has survived a blaze.

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is seen on the stand during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge in December 2015 in London. Photo by Clive Mason/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 Thursday, March 10.


Maria Prymachenko’s Works Are a Sign of Unity – The Ukrainian folk artist’s work has become a symbol for peace in Europe just a week after a blaze sparked fears that her paintings had been destroyed in a Ukrainian museum. The Maria Prymachenko Family Foundation said that Prymachenko’s works were likely rescued from the building by a local resident. A partner at the foundation claimed that the fire was likely an intentional attempt to destroy Ukrainian cultural heritage. (CNN)

Jonathan Jones Does Not Like Damien Hirst’s New Show – Art critic Jonathan Jones was not impressed with Hirst’s “Natural History” show at Gagosian Britannia Street in London, which presents an array of his formaldehyde sculptures. “This is art for the penthouses of oligarchs who look out of their windows and ask who really cares about all those pieces of meat walking about down there,” Jones wrote. (Guardian)

Mega-Collector Roman Abramovich Hit With Sanctions – Speaking of oligarchs: Abramovich is one of seven Russians just sanctioned by the U.K., complete with a full asset freeze and a travel ban. On Thursday, the government introduced its most heavy crackdown on Russian oligarchs since Russia invaded Ukraine. Because of the freeze, Abramovich—who co-founded the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow and owns major works by Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon—will no longer be able to sell his Chelsea football club as planned. (Financial Times)

Erdogan Accuses Europe of “Witch Hunt” Against Russian Artists – The Turkish president accused Germany and other European nations of conducting a “witch hunt” of Russian artists. Speaking to his party in Ankara, Erdogan condemned the ouster of the famous conductor Valery Gergiev from the Munich Philharmonic after he refused to denounce Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. (Monopol)


Open Letter Criticizes the Namibian Pavilion – ArtAfrica has published an open letter expressing its concerns about the first-ever Namibian Pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale. The letter’s authors say news of the presentation—a group of “Lone Men” sculptures by an anonymous artist who is a member of the tourism industry—came as a surprise to many in the country’s art community and is not representative of its creative milieu. (Art Africa)

Christie’s Middle East Chairman Departs After 23 Years – Michael Jeha will step down from his post at the end of March and relocate from Dubai back to London. Though he is leaving for personal reasons, some have observed Christie’s pulling back in the region, especially with regard to cultivating collectors and consignments. From 2020 onward, the division has seen several poor auction results and recently cut its contemporary art spring sale. (The Art Newspaper)

Wexner Center Employees Move to Unionize – The Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, is the latest American museum to see staff launch a union effort. Calling themselves Wex Workers United, a group of employees asked the Wexner to voluntarily recognize them on March 4. (Artforum)


Dayanita Singh Awarded Hasselblad Foundation Photography Prize – The Indian artist won one of the world’s top photography prizes on Wednesday. The Hasselblad Foundation award comes with 2 million Swedish krona, or about $206,500. She is the first artist of South Asian descent to win the award, which has previously gone to Wolfgang Tillmans and Nan Goldin. (ARTnews)

Photo-artist Dayanita Singh. Photo by Priyanka Parashar/Mint via Getty Images.

Photo-artist Dayanita Singh. Photo by Priyanka Parashar/Mint via Getty Images.

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