Art Industry News: The Louvre Accidentally Sold a Copy of Its Top-Secret ‘Salvator Mundi’ Study in Its Book Store + Other Stories

Plus, Sotheby's is selling a rare trove of DC comics online and an all-star team of artists have assembled an activity pack for kids.

Leonardo da Vinci, Salvator Mundi (ca. 1500). Courtesy of Christie's Images Ltd.

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 Tuesday, March 31.


Where Is the Getty Trust? – Los Angeles-based journalist Jori Finkel pens an open letter to Getty Trust president James Cuno, asking why the wealthy organization has not yet come to the aid of Los Angeles’s ailing artists, art workers, and cultural institutions amid the current crisis. In 2019, the organization’s endowment was around $7 billion, and some of this fortune could be used to support much-needed emergency grants or provide interest-free loans to struggling nonprofits. Finkel concludes by reminding Cuno that he once said: “We have the money to do anything we want; we don’t have the money to do everything we want.” The LA art community, she argues, should be high on its priorities. (The Art Newspaper)

Art of Equal Pay Campaign Launches – Oakland artist Michele Pred is launching her year-long “Art of Equal Pay” campaign today, on Equal Pay Day—the day that women have to work until to match the earnings of their male counterparts over the previous year. She’s asking artists to raise their prices 15 percent for the day, and for galleries, collectors, and museums to support her efforts to eliminate the gender pay gap. The initiative has changed slightly in response to current events and fears that artists struggling financially can’t afford to lose sales from higher prices: Any profits earned from art sales today will go toward organizations supporting COVID-19 relief efforts. (Ms. Magazine)

The Louvre Published a Secret Salvator Mundi Book – The world’s most expensive painting was the subject of a 45-page book secretly published by the Louvre—but it never saw the light of day. The museum printed the book and withdrew it days before the opening of its Leonardo exhibition last October, after it became clear that Salvator Mundi‘s owner would not permit the painting to be included in the show. (The Louvre’s policy is not to comment on artworks that it does not own or has not exhibited.) The volume contains new scientific analysis by the Centre for Research and Restoration of the Museums of France and cautiously attributes the work to Leonardo himself. Although the museum sought to hide traces of the book’s existence, a few copies accidentally made their way into the bookshop, and at least one was inadvertently sold. If you are the lucky buyer, reach out, OK? (TAN)

How Will Coronavirus Change the Art Market – The Art Newspaper asked art-market heavyweights to reflect on the consequences of the global health crisis. Pace gallery president Marc Glimcher thinks the “hysterical, fast pace of double-time [art] fairs” is not the way the art market will recover. He is also candid about the limitations of online viewing rooms, which he believes will mainly benefit already in-demand artists—not to mention the fact that, right now, people are “just not buying.” Meanwhile, Iwan Wirth hopes the industry will experience a “V-shaped” recovery in the autumn because of pent-up demand, but he fears it might see instead a 1990s-style readjustment, with prices reset lower as the market contracts. Others fear that players’ initial altruism will diminish as the situation becomes a battle for survival. (TAN)


The Launch of Gallery Complex Cromwell Place Is Delayed – The gallery-share and exhibition complex in central London has pushed back its launch from May until the fall. Dealers that have taken space in Cromwell Place, a converted terrace of upscale homes in South Kensington, include Lehmann Maupin, Alexander Gray Associates, and Addis Fine Art gallery. (Press release)

Sotheby’s Sells Rare Comics Online – Looking for some reading material during your lockdown? A collection of some 40,000 DC comics featuring superheroes Wonder Woman, The Flash, Superman, and Batman is on offer in a private Sotheby’s sale. British music producer Ian Levine is the consignor of the comics, which date from the 1930s to 2014. They will be offered as a single lot. (Art Market Monitor)

The Estate of Nancy Holt Will be Represented by Parafin – The Holt/Smithson Foundation and the London-based gallery Parafin have taken their partnership to the next level. The small gallery will now represent Nancy Holt. Parafin plans to present a show of the artist’s room-sized installations, drawings, and photoworks in October 2020. The land artist is due to have a major retrospective at Bildmuseet in Sweden in 2022. (Press release)


Akron Art Museum Implements Furloughs – The Akron Art Museum in Ohio is furloughing some of its 35-person staff and slashing others’ pay after announcing it would be closed until at least June 30. The museum anticipates losing as much as $933,000—a quarter of its annual $4.2 million budget—due to the drop in revenue from admissions, facility rentals, and retail sales. (Cleveland Plain-Dealer)

Suellen Rocca Has Died – The Chicago Imagist and member of the legendary 1960s “Hairy Who” group has died at age 76. Late in her career, she taught art at Elmhurst College, telling students, “You need to look, because after we think we’ve seen things we don’t look at them anymore.” (ARTnews)

Bauhaus Dessau Chief Moves to Basel – The Bauhaus Dessau Foundation’s first female director, Claudia Perren, is leaving her post after six years to head up Basel’s University of Art and Design. She will take up her new job on August 1. (Monopol)


How Art Professionals Are Coping – Museum workers who have been laid off are more than just faceless figures—they are real people with unique stories. ARTnews captures a few of them, including student Alexandra Ivanova, a former frontline ambassador at the Hammer Museum who was one of the 250 staffers abruptly laid off by the Hammer Museum. She recently decided to enroll in a public health masters program at Yale University, but now she might have to defer because of the costs. (ARTnews)

All-Star Artists Design Activity Pack for Kids – A group of artists including Antony Gormley, Grayson Perry, Gillian Wearing, and Jeremy Deller have designed an “artists’ activity pack” filled with creative ideas for kids during lockdown. From writing songs about toilet paper to Michael Landy’s more outlandish instruction for kids to take something in the house apart, it is full of ideas for adults and children to keep the creative juices flowing. (Guardian)

A Guerrilla Projection Urges a New York Rent Freeze – The activist collective Illuminator has projected demands for New York rent relief—a cause that has also been taken up by various New York art associations—onto a Manhattan skyscraper. The light projection in Midtown says “CANCEL THE RENT,” and “Healthcare for All,” among other intermittent messages. (Hyperallergic)

Tracey Emin Shares Her Virtual Diary – The famous YBA has taken up residency over at her gallery White Cube’s Instagram account. She’s updating it daily with a visual diary chronicling her experience of the lockdown. From bath time to musings at dawn, the diary offers an insight into how this particular artist—albeit one who is better situated than many who are fearing for their livelihoods—is coping. (Instagram)

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.