Art Industry News: Picasso Tied Up in Alleged Money-Laundering Scheme + More Must-Read Stories

Plus, Trump nominates a new NEH director and Piet Mondrian's heirs make a claim to four works in a German museum.

Pablo Picasso made many paintings, and now one of them has gotten tangled up in an investigation. (Photo by George Stroud/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, March 4.


Mondrian’s Heirs Claim Four Works in German Museum – Heirs of Piet Mondrian have hired a restitution lawyer to reclaim four paintings in Krefeld’s Kaiser Wilhelm Museum that they say Mondrian lent for an exhibition in 1929—and never got back. The museum maintains that the works were gifts from the Dutch artist, although it has been unable to support its claim with hard evidence. (New York Times)

More Dutch Millionaires Open Private Museums – A wave of private initiatives is transforming the Dutch art landscape. Businessman Geert Steinmeijer opens his museum, the Museum No Hero, on April 15, joining the private Museum Voorlinden and Museum MORE. Meanwhile, Museum Contemporary Amsterdam is showing works lent by millionaires who have decided not to bankroll their own museums. (Financial Times)

US Authorities Investigate Picasso Money-Laundering Scheme – US authorities are investigating a $50 million stock fraud and money laundering scheme that involved the attempted sale of a Picasso painting for $9.2 million to an undercover agent. A London-based art dealer, Matthew Green of Mayfair Fine Art Limited, is named as a defendant in court papers filed by the US Department of Justice. (The Art Newspaper)

Artists Withdraw From UK Exhibition Over Arms Sponsorship – The Great Exhibition of the North, which is due to open in Newcastle-Gateshead in June, has been overshadowed by protests over its lead sponsor, the arms dealer BAE Systems. A group of artists have launched a petition calling on the show’s organizers to refuse funding from the corporation. (TAN) ​


Want to Back Out of a Winning Bid? Try These Excuses – Online bidders have blamed children, the family cat jumping on the computer mouse, and human error—accidentally bidding on Rodin when they meant to bid on Redon—to avoid paying for a work. Sometimes, these excuses arrive after the buyer realizes the object is too large to fit in their living room, says auctioneer Robin Starr. (Observer)

Private Digital Club Launches Art Show – The members-only online “club” Clade, which markets itself as a destination for the world’s wealthiest investors, has partnered with Maccarone gallery to launch its first selling show of works by Nate Lowman. Clade brings “private ‘back-room’ gallerist and collector conversations online,” gallerist Michele Maccarone says. (ARTnews)​

The Antiques Market Tries to Reinvent Itself – Since the turn of the 21st century, the market for antiques from the 18th and 19th centuries has plummeted. Powerhouse dealers have had to remodel their businesses to push contemporary, living designers. Now, the prestigious Winter Antiques Show in New York has eliminated its age restriction to fully accommodate contemporary design. (NYT)

A José Joya Breaks Its Auction Record – As Art Fair Philippines wrapped up in Makati, a 1959 abstract painting by Filipino artist José Joya sold for almost $2 million, breaking the artist’s record and setting a new high mark for a work of art sold at auction in the Philippines. Space Transfiguration hit the auction block on March 2 at Makati’s Leon Gallery Auction. (ABS-CBN)


Meet Trump’s Nominee for NEH Director – President Trump has nominated Jon Parrish Peede to lead the National Endowment of the Humanities, an agency that he has repeatedly targeted for elimination. Peede, a literature scholar and the former publisher of the Virginia Quarterly Review, has been the NEH’s acting director since May. (NYT)

Head of Pollock-Krasner Foundation Dies – Charles C. Bergman, chairman and CEO of Pollock-Krasner Foundation, died in late February at age 84. He worked to establish the foundation, which was dedicated supporting to the legacies of painters Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner. (ARTnews)

Winners of Isamu Noguchi Award Announced – Industrial designer Naoto Fukasawa and landscape designer Edwina von Gal are the 2018 winners of the award, dedicated to individuals who share Noguchi’s sense of innovation. Fukasawa is the director of 21_21 Design Sight and von Gal runs her own landscape design agency. (Press release)

ADAA Appoints New President – The Art Dealers Association of America has appointed board member Andrew L. Schoelkopf as the organization’s new president. Schoelkopf is co-founder of the New York City gallery Menconi + Schoelkopf. He succeeds Adam Sheffer, who has held the position since 2015. (Press release)


Art School Uses Facial Recognition to ID Missing Migrants – Students in a facial reconstruction workshop at the New York Academy of Art are working to identify eight migrants who died on the border of Arizona last year. Led by forensic artist Joe Mullins, the initiative signals an expansion of the field of forensic facial reconstruction to fuse science, art, and anthropology. (NYT)

The Barnes Takes a New Approach to Audience Engagement – The museum is eliminating audio guides and replacing them with an even older-school tool: human guides. The Barnes’s eight-person “Art Team” holds pop-up talks in the galleries that aim to add a “human layer” to visitors’ experience. (The Inquirer)

Sale of WWI Soldier’s Silhouettes Hit £1 Million – A World War I memorial campaign that brings artist-designed silhouettes of soldiers to public spaces across the UK raised £1 million ($1.4 million) in just one day. The profits from the purchase of the £30 sculptures will go to veterans’ charities. (The Times)​

Steve Bannon Poses at Piazza Navona in Rome – The former White House chief strategist seems to be enjoying his free time at the Italian cultural site in Rome. His visit to the European country coincided with the Italian elections, in which populist parties surged to claim victory. (Twitter)

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