Art Industry News: Now That Authorities Have Seized Oligarchs’ Yachts, Is the Art in Their Freeports Next? + Other Stories

Plus, France is the latest country to withdraw its art loans from Russia, and Taiwan's former first daughter gets a gig at the Met.

An interior hallway of the ARCIS freeport in Harlem. Image courtesy of ARCIS ©2018.

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 Friday, March 11.


France Withdraws Art From Kremlin Museum – Fifteen artworks drawn from world-class French institutions including the Louvre, Versailles, and the French National Library have been pulled from the exhibition “The Duel: From Trial by Combat to a Noble Crime,” which was due to open at Moscow’s Kremlin Museum. France’s move follows similar actions by the U.K., Spain, and Austria in wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. (ARTnews)

Suzanne Lacy Is Trying to Make Change From the Inside Now – Artist Suzanne Lacy’s activist work was once considered unsuitable for museum display. Decades later, it is taking center stage at institutions on both sides of the Atlantic, from the Queens Museum in New York to Whitworth Art Gallery and the Manchester Art Gallery in the U.K. (New York Times)

What’s Happening to All That Russian-Owned Art in Freeports? – As Western governments sanction ultra-wealthy Russian oligarchs by freezing their assets and detaining their yachts, freeports—where multimillion-dollar art collections are stored tax-free—may be the next target. But it could be challenging to trace the ownership of certain works, which can be owned by a Russian doll’s worth of shell companies, rather than an individual. The most action may come from those who aren’t yet on the sanctions list—but expect to be soon. “The logical instinct—and self-preservation instinct—is to take anything that’s not stuck in an EU or U.K. jurisdiction and get it inside of a freeport or a home,” says anti-money-laundering consultant Rena Neville. (Bloomberg)

Christian Boltanski Heirs Pull Russia Show – The late artist’s exhibition “Esprits,” which was scheduled to open on March 14 at the Manege Central Exhibition Hall in St Petersburg, is the latest Russian exhibition by a Western artist to be indefinitely postponed. Boltanski was a descendant of Jewish immigrants from Odessa, Ukraine’s third largest city. “To exhibit in a country that is militarily invading his father’s homeland would be contradictory to his thinking, his philosophy, and his works,” the artist’s estate said in a statement. (The Art Newspaper)


NFT Art Fund Gets High-Profile Investment – Curated, a new $30 million fund dedicated exclusively to investing in NFT art, has gotten high-profile backing from the likes of Marc Andreessen, Alexis Ohanian, and Justin Kan. The company—founded by Andrew Jiang and Todd Goldberg—is also exploring its own NFT drops. (TechCrunch)

Dallas Contemporary Names a New Director – Carolina Alvarez-Mathies, who has been serving as the institution’s deputy director since 2019, will be taking up the executive director position in May, succeeding the outgoing director Peter Doroshenko, who is leaving after a decade in the role. (Artforum)

U.S. Museums Drop Mask Requirements – U.S. museums are gradually dropping mask requirements and vaccination checks as the Omicron surge wanes in the country. Visitors to the Smithsonian Institution and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., are no longer required to wear masks; the Baltimore Museum will “encourage” visitors to put masks on, instead of making it compulsory. (The Art Newspaper)

Taiwan’s Former First Daughter Gets a Role at the Met – Lesley Ma, the founding curator of ink art at Hong Kong’s M+, is leaving to join the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York as its inaugural Ming Chu Hsu and Daniel Xu Associate Curator of Asian Art in the modern and contemporary art department. Ma is the daughter of former Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou. (Press release)


M+ Gets Zao Wou-Ki Gifts – Zao’s daughter Sin-May Roy Zao donated a total of 12 works to the Hong Kong visual culture museum: nine prints, two oil paintings, and one watercolor. M+ now holds one of the largest collections of the Chinese-French master’s works outside of Europe. The announcement was accompanied by the release of rarely seen archival images of the late artist with his second wife (Sin-May Roy Zao’s mother), Hong Kong actress May Zao (1930–72). (Press release)

May Zao and Zao Wou-Ki at the studio of Lui Canming (Lui Shou-kwan’s father) 1958 Source: The Lui Shou-kwan Archive, M+

May Zao and Zao Wou-Ki at the studio of Lui Canming (Lui Shou-kwan’s father), 1958. Source: The Lui Shou-kwan Archive, M+

Sin-May Roy Zao and Zao Wou-Ki Courtesy of Mrs Sin-May Roy Zao

Sin-May Roy Zao and Zao Wou-Ki. Courtesy of Mrs Sin-May Roy Zao

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.