Art Industry News: A Tech Exec Says He Would Have Spent $70 Million on Beeple’s NFT But Christie’s System Didn’t Let Him + Other Stories

Plus, Lauren Haynes joins the Nasher Museum at Duke University and Stuart Weitzman's stamp collection could fetch $37 million.

Justin Sun, founder of Tron and CEO of BitTorrent, speaks during Ifeng Finance Summit at China World Summit Wing on November 4, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Jiang Xin/Visual China Group via 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 Friday, March 12.


Kate Winslet Is Jazzed About Banksy’s Latest – Actor Kate Winslet hopes that Banksy’s new work on the wall of Reading Prison will add fuel to the campaign to transform the former jail into an arts venue. Winslet said Banksy’s intervention—a stencil work of a prisoner escaping down the wall—was “incredible.” The local council will bid next week to purchase the site from its current owners, the Ministry of Justice, and turn it into a cultural complex. “If Reading had a legacy space like that, to hand on to generation after generation, it could really be as valuable as some of those central London theaters,” Winslet says. (BBC)

Police Hunt for New Suspects in the Dresden Heist – Police in Dresden are on the hunt for four new suspects on suspicion of aiding and abetting the spectacular jewel heist at the city’s Green Vault. Investigators believe that four people posed as visitors to case the crime scene ahead of the November 2019 caper. The individuals were captured on CCTV examining both the window through which the thieves would later gain access and the showcase that was later smashed. The information is being made public after investigators failed to make progress with their internal lines of inquiry. (Monopol)

Meet the Underbidder on the $69 Million Beeple – We don’t know who shelled out a shocking $69 million to buy an NFT by Beeple at Christie’s yesterday, but the world has learned the identity of the underbidder. Chinese tech entrepreneur Justin Sun, the founder of file sharing network BiTorrent, says he was prepared to bid $70 million in the final seconds of the sale, but Christie’s website would not allow it. He later tweeted at the house, “If you need my assistance in incorporating blockchain technology to your system, let me know! Happy to help :)” Sun previously bid $4.5 million at a charity auction to have lunch with American investor and cryptocurrency skeptic Warren Buffet. (The Art Newspaper)

Tristram Hunt on Museums’ Responsibility Post-Pandemic – The former politician and current director of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London says that art institutions will emerge from lockdown with a renewed sense of civic mission. “In an era of ‘fake news,’ echo-chamber righteousness, and self-regarding identity politics, museums can be bolder in explaining the crooked timber of humanity through the wonder of material culture,” he writes. (TAN)


Christie’s Offers a Sanyu for $11 Million – Christie’s will offer a floral still life by the Chinese-French modernist Sanyu—whose market has caught fire over the past year—in its Hong Kong Modern and contemporary sale on May 24. The estimate for the painting is $11 million to $15 million. (ARTnews)

Stuart Weitzman Is Selling His Collection of Stamps – Apparently shoe designer Stuart Weitzman is a hardcore stamp collector! Sotheby’s is selling a selection of his holdings on June 4, including the world’s most valuable individual stamp, the 1856 One-Cent Magenta from British Guiana. All told, the collection is estimated to fetch as much as $37 million; proceeds will go to charity. (New York Times)


Lauren Haynes Joins the Nasher Museum – Influential curator Lauren Haynes is leaving the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art to take up a new role as senior curator at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University in North Carolina. Haynes will begin her new role on June 7. (ARTnews)

Guggenheim Curator Joins Art Gallery of Ontario – Xiaoyu Weng has been named curator of Modern and contemporary art at the Art Gallery of Ontario. She is leaving her job as associate curator at the Guggenheim in New York to assume the post this summer. (ARTnews)


Artists Announced for the Speed’s Show on Breonna Taylor – Work by artists including Sam Gilliam, Lorna Simpson, and Hank Willis Thomas will be included in the Speed Art Museum’s exhibition honoring Breonna Taylor and other Black lives untimely taken. Curated by Allison Glenn, the show will reflect on Taylor’s life and her killing by police in 2020, as well as the year of Black Lives Matter demonstrations around the world. (Press release)

The Met Acquires a Work By Rashid Johnson – The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has acquired Rashid Johnson’s The Broken Five. The work, which incorporates jagged pieces of mirrored glass and ceramics, is on view now alongside work by Jackson Pollock and Sam Gilliam. The mixed-media piece it is the first unique work by Johnson to enter the Met’s collection, following its acquisition of a 2015 etching by the artist. (ARTnews)

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