Art Industry News: Ai Weiwei Says He Won’t Go to the Met Now That It Charges $25 + More Must-Read Stories

Plus, Mexico City’s Kurimanzutto is coming to New York and a public sculpture of Harvey Weinstein pops up ahead of the Oscars.

Ai Weiwei alongside his work Straight (2015). Photo by Alex B. Huckle/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 this Monday, February 26.


Gardner Heist Suspect Gets Prison Time – The mobster associate Robert Gentile, 81—who denies that he offered to sell two paintings stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990 to undercover FBI agents—was sentenced to four and a half years in prison after pleading guilty to illegally selling guns to a convicted murderer. (Town and Country)

LACMA and Budi Tek’s Yuz Museum in Collaboration Talks – The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is in talks with Shanghai’s Yuz Museum to share collections and programs, with the first collaboration due to launch next year. Yuz’s collector and philanthropist owner, Budi Tek, is fighting pancreatic cancer and looking to secure the future of his private museum, which he hopes to turn into a public nonprofit. (ARTnews)

Ai Weiwei Condemns the Met’s New Charges – The Chinese artist, who appreciated paying only a penny to enter the museum when he was an impecunious New York immigrant in the 1980s, says he won’t be visiting now that it charges out-of-towners $25. He likened the move to “taking the jacket off a poor person.” Meanwhile, artist Ross Bleckner thinks the situation is sad but inevitable. “You can only squeeze so much out of the Kochs and the Sacklers,” he says. (New York Times)

Avedon Foundation Claims More Inaccuracies in Biography – A new biography of photographer Richard Avedon co-written by his former studio manager, Norma Stevens, is full of inaccuracies, the artist’s foundation claims. The foundation first expressed opposition to the salacious tome soon after its publication last fall. This week, it released a detailed list of 203 alleged errors. Publisher Penguin Random House is standing by the book. (Hyperallergic)


Mexico City’s Kurimanzutto Is Coming to New York – The well-regarded Mexico City gallery will open a project space on Manhattan’s Upper East Side this May. Ahead of its official debut, the gallery is planning a soft opening with an installation by Abraham Cruzvillegas from his ongoing series “Autoconstrucción” from April 2 to May 12. (Press release)

McArthur Binion Heads to Lehmann Maupin – The 72-year-old Chicago-based artist has been snapped up by Lehmann Maupin, which will show his work in Hong Kong this fall. Binion, who previously showed with Galerie Lelong, has enjoyed a flurry of success over the past decade and was prominently included in last year’s Venice Biennale. (ARTnews)

Benin Bronze Stolen From Jewish Art Collection to Auction – New research has proven that a rare royal Benin bronze head was seized and forcibly auctioned from the collection of Rudolf Mosse in 1934, along with four hundred other pieces. Recently, the heirs reached an amicable agreement with the current owner; the work is heading to auction on March 10. (Press release)

The Exhibitor List for 1-54 New York Is Out – The contemporary African art fair is returning during New York’s Frieze Week this May with 18 galleries from Africa, Europe, and the US. Five galleries on the list have locations on the African continent, including Afronova in Johannesburg, Galerie Cécile Fakhoury in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, and Retro Africa in Abuja, Nigeria. (ARTnews)


Pamela Joyner to Chair Tate Americas Foundation – The renowned collector will take up the chair of Tate Americas Foundation for a five-year term beginning April 1. Joyner, who has been a trustee since 2015, succeeds Jeanne Donovan Fisher, who served seven years in the role. (Press release)

The Site of Grenfell Tower Will Be Turned Into a Memorial – Now that the local council has announced it has no plans for the site of the tragic fire, which killed at least 72 people last June, it will likely be turned into a memorial to the victims per the community’s wishes. Steve McQueen is also working on a film tribute, having filmed the ruins of the tower before it was shrouded from public view. (Guardian)

Skowhegan Announces 2018 Honorees – At its annual awards dinner next month, the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture will honor Peter Doig with a medal for painting, Betye Saar with one for sculpture, and Barbara Lapcek for “outstanding service to artists.” The inaugural Skowhegan Impact Award will go to ArtPlace America and its director Jamie Bennett. (Press release)

Smithsonian Museums in DC Close for the Day – Due to the dangerous winds blowing through DC—expected to be the strongest wind storms in the region in at least three years—the Smithsonian Institution’s DC-area museums, as well as the National Zoo, will be closed today. The National Gallery of Art is also closed. (Twitter)


Oldest Tattoo Art Found on Egyptian Mummies – Experts at the British Museum have found tattoos on two mummified bodies. The male mummy, which has been on public display, has a bull and a goat-like creature tattooed on his arm, while the female mummy has a more abstract design. The designs date from around 5,200 years ago, making them the oldest known tattoo art. (Independent)

Politician Defends Heatherwick Garden Bridge Fiasco More than $55 million of public money was spent on the Thomas Heatherwick-designed green bridge across the Thames before it was scrapped. Former mayor of London Boris Johnson, who is now the British foreign secretary, has blamed the fiasco on reporting by the Architect’s Journal. (Guardian)

Weinstein Casting Couch Pops Up Ahead of the Oscars A sculpture of Harvey Weinstein on a casting couch wearing a bathrobe is ready for its close-up on Hollywood Boulevard ahead of the Academy Awards this weekend. LA-based street artist Plastic Jesus has teamed up with the artist who made sculptures of a nude Trump, Joshua “Ginger” Monroe, to turn the disgraced film producer into a pre-Oscars photo-op. (MSN)



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