Art Industry News: A ‘Fake’ Botticelli Turns Out to Be an Original + Other Stories

Plus, Man Ray's grave was vandalized in Paris and the US is getting a traveling Michelangelo drawing show.

English Heritage conservator Rachel Turnbull completes the conservation of Madonna of the Pomegranate, a painting revealed today as a rare example by the workshop of Botticelli. ©English Heritage.

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 Thursday, March 28.


Tate Modern Attendance Overtakes the British Museum – Tate Modern was the most visited museum in the UK last year. The world’s most popular Modern and contemporary art museum has for the past decade played second fiddle to the British Museum in London. But, in 2018, Tate Modern attracted 5.87 million visitors while the British Museum drew in just 5.83 million. With a weaker pound making London more attractive to overseas visitors, the National Gallery also had a strong year with attendance increasing by 10 percent, to 5.7 million. Even though the National Portrait Gallery fixed a faulty visitor counter, its attendance fell by 7 percent to 1.56 million. (BBC)

Fire Damages Historic US Library – A fire badly damaged the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum building in St. Louis. It remains unclear whether any of its historic collection of books and manuscripts in the Missouri branch of the private museum were lost or damaged. Firefighters put out the blaze in two hours on Tuesday evening. No one was reported injured in the fire. The library holdings included a Gutenberg Bible, a copy of the Bill of Rights, and Babe Ruth’s first baseball contract, (St Louis Post)

A ‘Fake’ Botticelli Is Now Deemed an Original – A small version of Sandro Boticelli’s Madonna of the Pomegranate, thought to be a later copy by an unknown artist, is now being attributed to the Renaissance master’s 15th-century workshop. After scraping off a yellow varnish and conducting tests, experts at the preservation non-profit English Heritage are now convinced it is the closest version to Botticelli’s ca. 1487 painting at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. The newly authenticated work will be on display in London at Ranger’s House in Greenwich from April 1. (BBC)

Man Ray’s Paris Grave Is Vandalized – French police have arrested a man after the Surrealist artist’s headstone in Montparnasse cemetery was knocked over. The motive for the attack is unclear. Man Ray, who was born Emmanuel Radnitzky in Philadelphia and whose parents were Russian Jewish immigrants, was buried with the dancer Juliet Browner. A stone bearing the inscription “Together again” was also overturned. No other graves were attacked. (Guardian)


Jailed Billionaire Nirav Modi’s Art Collection Sells for $8 Million – Mumbai auction house Saffronart sold the collection of imprisoned Indian billionaire Nirav Modi yesterday, raising a total of INR 54.84 (around $8.1 million). The sale proceeds will go toward paying back Modi’s debt to the Punjab National Bank, which he allegedly defrauded. (The Art Newspaper)

Asia Week Generated $150.5 Million in Sales – The tenth edition of the sale week in New York concluded with sales totaling around $150.5 million. Some 48 gallery exhibitions spanned five centuries of Asian art and six auction house sales. (Press release)


Algeria Cancels Its Debut Participation in the Venice Biennale – The government has cited financial reasons for not continuing with its plan to inaugurate a pavilion in Venice this year. The project was criticized by some for being hastily arranged in the first place. The North African country is now the second of five newcomers to Venice this year that has decided to pull out, following Kazakhstan earlier this month. (TAN)

US Gets Major Show of Michelangelo Drawings – An epic show of nearly 30 drawings by the High Renaissance artist, titled “Michelangelo: Mind of the Master,” is coming to the US this fall. Organized with the Teylers Museum in the Netherlands, the Cleveland Museum of Art will stage it between September 22, 2019, and January 5, 2020, and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles will have it February 25 through June 7, 2020. (Press release)


A Christo Film Premieres in Berlin – The veteran artist attended the Berlin premiere of Christo: Walking on Water. The film focuses on the making of the artist’s work Floating Piers, which Christo finally realized in Italy in 2015. The 83-year-old artist and his late wife and collaborator Jeanne-Claude first proposed creating the fabric bridge in 1970. Their original intended site was the estuary of the River Plate that separates Argentina and Uruguay. (Frankfurter Allgemeine)

Tate Conservators Uncover a Van Gogh’s True Colors – As part of the research for an exhibition at Tate Britain highlighting the artist’s years in London, conservators have discovered that the dreary looking sky in the 1890 watercolor The Oise at Auvers was actually painted in a vivid pink. The bright pigment faded to brown over the years because the artist used cheap pigment of pink paint. (The Guardian)

Archaeologist Cracks a 2,700-Year-Old Gold Heist – An archaeologist seems to have solved the mystery of how a spectacular golden bowl ended up in the possession of three skeletons killed during the 800 BC sacking of a site in northwest Iran. Boston University researcher Michael Danti suggests that it was actually being looted by enemy combatants when a building collapsed onto them. (Archaeology)

Peninsula Hotels Launch Art Experience During Art Basel Hong Kong – The multi-sensory art experience curated by Isolde Brielmaier and Bettina Prentice  is called “Art in Resonance” and includes an ethereal shifting sculpture by Janet Echelman floating above the hotel’s façade, and a modern take on the Chinese teahouse designed by MINAX Architects founder Zhi-gang Lu called the Wonder Room. After its Hong Kong run, the experience will travel to other Peninsula Hotels in Paris in the fall, followed by London, Istanbul, and Yangon. (Press release)

Timothy Paul Myers, Alizarin, at The Peninsula Hong Kong. Photo by Simon J. Nicol for the Peninsula Hotels.

Close-up of Janet Echelman’s Earthtime 1.26 at the Peninsula Hong Kong. Photo by Simon J. Nicol for the Peninsula Hotels.

Gong master located within MINAX’s The Wonder Room. Photo by Simon J. Nicol for the Peninsula Hotels.

Ivan Navarro’s Home located outside the Verandah at the Peninsula Hong Kong. Photo by Simon J. Nicol for the Peninsula Hotels.

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