Art Industry News: Tom Sachs’s Former Studio Employees Speak Out Against a ‘Cult-Like’ Workplace + Other Stories

Plus, a survey reveals most U.K. artists make below minimum wage and a fake art dealer is indicted in a $1.8 million scam.

Artist Tom Sachs in his workshop in Soho, New York in Paris, France on October 23th, 2008. Photo by Alain BENAINOUS/Gamma-Rapho 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 Tuesday, March 14.


Survey Finds U.K.-Artists Making Below Minimum Wage – A survey of 100 artists working in the U.K.’s public sector found out that 76 percent of the respondents reported earnings below minimum wage, with smaller projects paying a median hourly rate of just £2.60 ($3), less than one-third of the minimum wage. The survey also reported a culture of unpaid labor and systemic exploitation, including unfair treatment of artists with disabilities and artists of color. (Guardian)

Fake Art Dealer Indicted in $1.8 Million Scam – A 69-year-old man named Nelson Counne has been accused of stealing more than $1.8 million through romance and investment scams over eight years from five women, most of whom he met via online dating. Counne was said to be posing as a wealthy retired art dealer and investor with homes in London, Manhattan, and the South of France, but it was found out that all his claims were false—the guy didn’t even have a passport. (Press release)

Tom Sachs Exposé – After artist Tom Sachs and his partner were revealed to be the art world family behind an exacting job listing for a personal assistant that went viral, a New York magazine exposé has uncovered details about the working conditions in Sachs’s studio. More than a dozen former employees said Sachs unabashedly curated a cult-like environment and culture of fear, which included name calling and inappropriate talk and behavior. Sachs’s studio has denied most of the allegations, or dismissed the behavior as in jest, and in a statement conceded that the “rigorous” studio environment was not right for everyone but that all employees should still feel “safe and secure” in the workplace. (Curbed)

Rome Unveils Major Culture Revamp Plan – The €100 million ($107 million) National Roman Museum initiative to restore four major sites, the Baths of Diocletian, Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Palazzo Altemps and Crypta Balbi, is the largest project of its kind in the Italian capital. The project is expected to take around four years. (The Art Newspaper)


Taipei Biennial Announces Artists – Pio Abad, Nadim Abbas, Nesrine Khodr, and Jacqueline Kiyomi Gork are among a selection of artists featured in the 13th edition of Taipei Biennial, curated by Freya Chou, Brian Kuan Wood, and Reem Shadid under the theme of “Small World.” The show will run from November 18 till March 24 next year at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum. (Press release)

Meta Won’t Support NFTs on Platforms – The head of commerce and financial services at the social media company that runs both Facebook and Instagram wrote that Meta is “winding down digital collectibles” in order to focus on “creators, peoples, and businesses.” In May 2022, the company launched a feature to allow certain users to display NFTs, and later allowed certain creators in the US to mint and sell them. (CoinDesk)

Museum of American Women Names Founding Director – The forthcoming Smithsonian museum has appointed Nancy Yao as the inaugural director, leaving her post from the Museum of Chinese in America. The institution received congressional approval and recently received $55 million in donations from leading female philanthropists including Alice L. Walton, Tory Burch, and Melinda French Gates. (New York Times)

Angela Basset’s Oscar-Winning Costume Heads to Museum Display – The award-winning costume donned by Oscar nominee Angela Basset in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will make an appearance at the North Carolina Museum of Art for the forthcoming exhibition “Ruth E. Carter:Afrofuturism in Costume Design.” The show honors Carter, who has designed costumes for films including Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, and Selma. The show runs from April 1 through August 16. (Press release)


JR Hits the Oscars – The French artist’s massive portrait series was featured at the 95th annual award ceremony, where celebs including Billie Eilish, Paul Mescal, Ke Huy Quan, Madonna, and Darren Aronofsky posed with their blown-up likenesses. (Instagram)

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