Art Industry News: A Furious Former Cooper Hewitt Board Member Is Cutting a $5 Million Gift to the Museum Out of Her Will + Other Stories

Plus, classicist Mary Beard was blocked from a seat on the British Museum's board and Egypt is moving ancient monuments to tourist sites.

Judy Francis Zankel, on the far right, has removed the Cooper Hewitt from her will in protest against the firing of director Caroline Baumann, on the far left. Photo by Rob Kim/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 Monday, March 2.


The Museum of the Chinese in America’s Destroyed Archives Building Will Be Rebuilt – The irreparably damaged building that housed the archives of the Museum of the Chinese in America in New York will be torn down and rebuilt, the city government says. Around 80 percent of the museum’s archive remains stranded in the Chinatown building more than a month after a devastating fire broke out on January 24. The museum, which “is dedicated to preserving and presenting the history, heritage, culture and diverse experiences of people of Chinese descent” in the US, according to its website, has raised $440,000 to salvage its records. But according to the institution’s president, the full cost will likely be around $1 million(Hyperallergic)

A Cooper Hewitt Donor Cancels a $5 Million Gift – Former Cooper Hewitt board member Judy Francis Zankel is cutting the New York design museum out of her will after the Smithsonian, which oversees the institution, forced out its director, Caroline Baumann, for allegedly receiving improper gifts. Zankel, who has pulled a promised donation of $5 million, called the institution’s treatment of Baumann “unconscionable and disgraceful.” The former director has denied acting unethically, and called the investigation that led to her firing “discriminatory.” Six other board members have resigned along with Zankel in support of Baumann. (New York Times)

Frank Gehry’s LUMA Tower Is Nearing Completion – Finishing touches are being made to the architect’s aluminum-clad LUMA tower in Arles, France. Commissioned by Swiss collector Maya Hofftman for her LUMA foundation, the twirling, shimmering structure is the heart of the foundation’s Parc des Ateliers cultural complex. Frank Gehry’s team is working with architect Annabelle Selldorf on the controversial tower, which looms over a town made famous by Van Gogh and Gauguin. The entire complex is due to be completed in 2021. (Design Boom)

The UK Government Blocks Mary Beard as a British Museum Trustee – The government blocked the British Museum’s plans last year to add academic and broadcaster Mary Beard to its board of trustees because of her “pro-European views.” The news, which is only being reported now, has been called an “absolute scandal” by former museum trustee John Tusa, who wonders whether other Remainers will now be blocked from similar posts. (Guardian)


Police Clear a Billionaire Accused of Engaging in a Dodgy Banksy Deal  – South African police have dropped charges against Martin Levick, who was charged with fraudulently taking $3.5 million from a collector to buy a Banksy screen print, and using the money to pay off a debt. A representative for Levick says he has been “exonerated,” but according to South African authorities, the charges were cleared because the transaction took place outside the country. (The Art Newspaper)

A Beatles Guitar Is Being Valued at £400,000 – A prototype fretless guitar once owned by John Lennon and George Harrison has been valued at up to £400,000 ($511,408) after its owner took it to the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow. (BBC)


Egypt Is Moving Ancient Monuments to Tourist Sites – British Egyptologist Tom Hardwick surveys the Egyptian government’s recent efforts to move ancient artifacts, including obelisks, from far-off sites like Tanir to Cairo in an attempt to create tourist hubs. Critics of the policy say monuments could be damaged in the process, but the government says Egypt should have agency over its cultural heritage. “Querulous archaeologists and Egyptologists are about to be reminded that history may be written by historians, but it is made—and moved—by armies,” writes the author. (Apollo)

An Art Complex Planned for Madrid Has Been Cancelled – The Italian art collector Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo is nixing plans to open a second home for her art foundation in Madrid’s Matadero complex because the building, a former slaughterhouse to be retrofitted by architects David Adjaye and Arturo Franco, is not up to snuff. “The fundamental reasons are to do with the existing structural problems of the building itself, [which] cannot be solved,” she said. (Artforum)

William Keyse Rudolph Joins the Nelson-Atkins Museum – The Kansas City institution has named a new deputy director of curatorial affairs. William Keyse Rudolph joins the Nelson-Atkins Museum from the San Antonio Museum of Art, where he served various posts during his seven years, including his current position as the co-interim director. (Artforum)


Rembrandt’s Precocious Works Go on Show  “Young Rembrandt” at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford (on view until June 7) looks at the early phases of the artist’s storied career and draws attention to his learning process as he refined his mastery. Some paintings in the show have no sense of perspective, while others feature stiff characters. (Guardian)

The Public Can Finally See Canaletto’s Painting of Westminster Abbey – For the first time since 1792, Westminster Abbey With a Procession of the Knights of the Bath, Canaletto’s take on the famed building in the British capital, will be on view in the abbey. The 1749 picture is the earliest known artwork to depict the abbey’s west towers, which were completed just four years earlier. (Guardian)

Giovanni Antonio Cana’s London: Westminster Abbey, with a Procession of Knights of the Bath. (1749). Wikimedia Commons.

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