Art Industry News: Was the Salvator Mundi Record Set by Accident? + More Must-Read Stories

Plus, a battle of the Basquiats is coming to New York and Yale University Art Gallery appoints a new director.

Bidding underway for Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi" at Christie's on November 15, in New York. Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/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 Thursday, March 29.


Chicago Rains on Houston’s Kapoor Parade – The British sculptor Anish Kapoor insists that Cloud Column, the reflective work installed yesterday on the grounds of MFA Houston, is “completely different” from Chicago’s pride and joy, Cloud Gate. But some in the Windy City are unconvinced, mocking Houston for its shiny look-alike and dismissing it as an “uptight bean.” (Chicago Tribune)

University’s Canaletto Is the Real Deal – A painting donated to the University of Aberdeen in 1863 and believed to be from the school of Canaletto has gotten an upgrade. Experts have reattributed A Capriccio with Roman Ruins and a Bishop’s Tomb to the Italian artist himself after spotting his family coat of arms on the walls of a building in the painting. (BBC)

Was the Salvator Mundi Record the Result of a Mistaken Identity? – The Daily Mail has a whopper of a yarn about the Salvator Mundi sale. The publication suggests that a representative for the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and the de facto UAE leader Mohammed Bin Zayed were behind the bidding war—because both thought the other was rival Qatar. When they discovered the mistake, the Saudi prince offered his friend the $450 million Leonardo in exchange for a yacht worth the same amount. (Daily Mail)

Hauser & Wirth Eyes Bigger Asian Expansion – In a new interview, mega-gallerist Iwan Wirth reveals that he is looking beyond Hong Kong and mainland China to Korea, Japan, Indonesia, and Thailand. Wirth says “incredible projects” with museums and other partners across Asia will be announced soon, and notes that he has been particularly excited by Bangkok’s planned Sansab Museum and the Museum MACAN in Jakarta. (ArtAsiaPacific)​


Battle of the Basquiats Heads to New York – It’s a Basquiat smackdown! Sotheby’s will offer the artist’s monumental Flesh And Spirit (1983), estimated to sell for around $30 million, at its contemporary sale on May 16 in New York. The next day, Phillips will offer Flexible (1984), which carries an estimate of around $20 million. (Press release, Art Market Monitor)

Churchill’s Art Goes on a US Tour – A selling show of Winston Churchill’s paintings includes nine works consigned by the great politician’s great-grandson. The works are currently on view at Heather James Fine Art in Palm Desert, California. They will travel to the gallery’s outposts in San Francisco in June and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in the fall. (The Art Newspaper)

Spanish Police Make ISIS Antiquities Arrests – Two men have been arrested in Barcelona in a police operation against a gang suspected of selling looted antiquities from Libya to finance Islamic extremists. Authorities in Libya believe the objects seized come from the sites of Apollonia and Cyrene. (El País)

Sotheby’s Sells Rare Pollock Drip Painting – Jackson Pollock’s abstract Number 32 (1949), which was included in the artist’s breakthrough solo show at Betty Parsons Gallery the year it was made, is heading to auction at Sotheby’s in May. Offered by the same New York family that has owned it since 1983, it could break the artist’s auction record of $58.4 million. (TAN)


Yale University Art Gallery Appoints New Director – Stephanie Wiles will take the helm of America’s oldest college art museum in July, after Jock Reynolds steps down at the end of June. Wiles, an Old Master drawings specialist, served most recently as the director of the museum at Cornell University, where she was led the university’s museum and served as a specialist in Old Master drawings. (New York Times)

Croatian Artist Josef Vaništa Has Died – The celebrated Croatian artist who co-founded the 1960s Yugoslav collective the Gorgona Group died on March 24, at age 93. (Artforum)

BMW Announces Art Journey Shortlist – Artists Ali Kazim, Zac Langdon-Pole, and Gala Porras-Kim—all of whom are showing in the Discoveries section of Art Basel Hong Kong—are in the running to travel the world in a mobile studio sponsored by BMW. The globetrotting winner will be announced this summer. (Press release)

New Director for Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art – Laura Sillars will lead MIMA, replacing Alistair Hudson, who left the gallery earlier this year to run Manchester’s art galleries. Silars, who previously worked at Tate Liverpool, heads to Middlesbrough after seven years as the artistic co-director of Sheffield’s Site Gallery, which is also in the north of England. (Gazette Live)


Kusama Infinity Room Acquired by North Carolina Museum – Yayoi Kusama’s Light of Life, last spotted at David Zwirner in New Yorkwill go on view at the North Carolina Museum of Art in April 7, when its new acquisition makes its debut in the show “You Are Here: Light, Color, and Sound Experiences.” (Press release)

Former Tate Art Handler Gets His Own Show – Ken Simons served as Tate Liverpool’s art handling manager from 1988 until he retired last summer. To mark the museum’s 30th anniversary, he has picked 30 of his favorite works from the collection, including pieces by JMW Turner, Barbara Hepworth, and Mark Rothko. (BBC)

Ranking the Kardashian Art Collections – W ranks the art collections of reality television’s first family, which includes Kourtney Kardashian’s fake Modigliani, Kylie Jenner’s signed Basquiat print, Kendall and Kris’s Tracey Emins, not to mention Kim’s George-Condo-on-a-Birkin-bag. (W Magazine)

Beuysian Coyote Visits Albany Museum – A coyote was caught hunkered down outside the New York State Museum in Albany on Tuesday. The animal was found to be in good health and was released back into the wild. The spirit of Joseph Beuys lives on in America. (New York Post)

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