Art Industry News: Ja Rule Wants to Create the ‘Christie’s of Physical NFTs’ on the Strength of His Fyre Fest Bona Fides (?) + Other Stories

Plus, Chanel launches a new fund to support arts and culture, and the French architecture duo Vassal & Lacaton win the Pritzker Prize.

Ja Rule and artist Tripp Derrick Barnes with a painting of the Fyre Festival logo. Courtesy of Flipkick

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 Wednesday, March 17.


How Much Art Is Really Missing from Museums? – It’s Wednesday morning, March 17—do you know where your museum’s collection is? Experts say any number of works could be circulating out in the world, since museum storage facilities can be hotbeds for theft and it can take years for an object to be identified as missing. Furthermore, museums have historically been loathe to admit they were targeted, either out of embarrassment or fear that security concerns would impact future loans. Nowadays, it is easier to track stolen objects thanks to standardized inventory-taking practices and online databases of stolen or lost items. But many works that went missing in the past may never return to their showcases. (New York Times)

Christopher Knight Calls Desert X “Thin” – The Los Angeles Times art critic has reviewed the 13 artworks commissioned for the latest edition of Desert X biennial in California. His verdict: with the exception of Saudi artist Zahrah Alghamdi’s monumental barricade, the show feels thin. With the cancelation of a planned Judy Chicago smoke sculpture, the show was a third smaller than its previous iteration, and Knight was disappointed to find that five works were not ready for opening day. “In the most egregious case,” he writes, “visitors parked by the side of a remote road to climb a steep, quarter-mile path up a hill, only to discover at the top a construction crew assembling Alicja Kwade’s sculpture of steel beams holding chunks of white marble aloft.” (LA Times)

AAMD Narrowly Avoids Pursuing New Deaccessioning Rules – In a recent poll of the Association of Art Museum Directors, members narrowly voted against pursuing the extension of a temporary change to its deaccessioning policy that allows institutions to sell off artworks to finance direct care of their collections. The organization decided last year to relax the rules through April 2022 in order to help museums recover from the pandemic. The narrow margin by which the motion was rejected, 91–88 votes, shows how divided museum directors are on the historically controversial issue of deaccessioning. Some anticipate that the temporary allowance could yet be extended. (The Art Newspaper)

Antony Gormley Objects to Collector Installing His Work on the Beach – The British sculptor is pushing back against a collector’s plan to install a set of his sculptures on a beach in Suffolk. The artist says it would be a “misrepresentation” of the work, a set of bollards intended to be installed upright as “functional pieces of urban design.” The collector who owns them, Caroline Wiseman, says she should be able to display the works however she wants, and that she will sell them off if local authorities refuse to grant her permission to keep them on the beach. (BBC)


Rapper Ja Rule Gets Into the NFT Biz – If ever there were a reason not to board the hype train of NFTs, take it as a sign that Ja Rule, notorious for his involvement in the Fyre Festival scam, thinks it’s a great idea. The rapper is launching his own NFT business called Flipkick with the sale of a painting of the Fyre Festival logo by Tripp Derrick Barnes. The buyer has the option to redeem the NFT for the physical work. “I feel like we can be the Christie’s of physical NFTs,” Rule says. “We want to involve celebrities and dope influencers.” (TAN)

Middle Market Performs Well at Sotheby’s Mid-Season Sale – Sotheby’s mid-season contemporary art sale in New York brought in a within-estimate total of $24.3 million, with an 87 percent sell-through rate. Works priced between $50,000 and $500,000 performed well, with new records set for artists including Ed Clark, Chloe Wise, Louise Bonnet, and Firelei Báez. (ARTnews)


Fire Destroys Mexico’s “Sistine Chapel” – A colonial-era church, the St James the Apostle Church in Nurio, Mexico, burned down last week. Experts say that the Indigenous Purépecha community that worshipped there should decide what should replace the church, which has been described as one of the most beautiful in Mexico. (TAN)

New Appointments at Culture& – The London-based charity that advocates for equity within the arts and heritage workforce has appointed Miranda Lowe as chair of trustees and Svetlana Leu as vice chair. Lowe is a principal curator at London’s Natural History Museum and Leu is a cultural strategy and communications specialist. (Press release)


Chanel Unveils Culture Fund – Chanel has launched a global culture fund aimed at advancing greater representation across the arts. As part of the initiative, the brand has established the Chanel Next Prize, which will award grants of up to €100,000 to 10 artists it identifies as “radically redefining their fields.” It is also establishing partnerships with London’s National Portrait Gallery, the Underground Museum in LA, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris to fund programming that focuses on missing narratives, interdisciplinary collaboration, and new ideas. (Press release)

Pritzker Prize Awarded to Economical Duo Vassal & Lacaton – The French duo Lacaton & Vassal have won the world’s most prestigious architecture prize. The recognition of their subtle practice, which prioritizes economical strategies such as recycling and upgrading existing architecture, marks a departure from the flamboyant works that usually win the accolade. See a selection of projects below. (Guardian)


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