Art Industry News: Macron Asks Italy’s President to Meet Him by Leonardo da Vinci’s Tomb in Bid to Reduce Tension + Other Stories

Plus, a German art heiress heads to court on $1.4 million theft charges and an art conservation student enjoys her night at the Louvre Airbnb.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella (L) and French President Emmanuel Macron pay their respects at the tomb of Italian renaissance painter and scientist Leonardo da Vinci to commemorate the 500th anniversary of his death, at the Saint-Hubert Chapel of the Chateau d'Amboise during a visit in Amboise, on May 2, 2019. (Photo by PHILIPPE WOJAZER / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE WOJAZER/AFP/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, May 2.


Why the Venice Biennale Is Still the Tops – There are hundreds of alternative biennales but Venice is still the world’s preeminent exhibition, and the only one the whole art world—curators, collectors, dealers, artists, critics, yacht-specializing art-handlers—flocks to as one ritzy mass. Ironically, the national pavilions, which are “frequently derided as outmoded, nationalistic, even xenophobic,” and the many collateral exhibitions probably make the difference. “It combines historical importance, glamour, and one of the most beautiful cities in the world with huge egos and large amounts of money,” says Shwetal Ashvin Patel, an expert on the global proliferation of the sprawling art shows. That’s why it “matters,” he says,  (The Art Newspaper)

Art Collector Faces Theft Charge in London – A dispute over a Yayoi Kusama pumpkin has landed a member of the famous Gulbenkian family in court. The German-born collector Angela Gulbenkian is accused of defrauding art-market participants of $1.4 million, which she denies. Hong Kong-based art adviser Mathieu Ticolat sued, claiming that his firm paid Gulbenkian $1.38 million for the pumpkin that was never delivered. A Gulbenkian by marriage, the art collector is the wife of the great-grandnephew of the Armenian oil tycoon and art collector Calouste Gulbenkian. (Bloomberg)

Macron Meets the Italian President at Leonardo’s Tomb – Strained French-Italian relations could be improved after the French and Italian Presidents met at Leonardo da Vinci’s tomb today. Emmanuel Macron and Sergio Mattarella took part in a ceremony to mark the 500th anniversary of the Italian Renaissance artist’s death in France. He is buried at the Château du Clos-Lucé d’Amboise, which has organized an exhibition about the polymath artist, scientist, and philosopher who died in 1519 after moving to France at the invitation of King Francis I. (BourseReuters)

Judge Rules Charlottesville Statues Should Stay – A judge has declared that the controversial statues of Robert E. Lee and “Stonewall” Jackson are war memorials, which blocks a legal avenue to remove them from the center of Charlottesville, Virginia. Lawyers for the city argue that the statues were monuments to white supremacy, but “while some people obviously see Lee and Jackson as symbols of white supremacy, others see them as brilliant military tacticians,” Judge Moore ruled. The city’s lawyers now plan to contend that state law is unconstitutional because it violates the 14th Amendment’s equal-protection clause. (TAN)


Christie’s Sells Jonas Wood Painting to Help Save the Rainforest – Jonas Wood has donated his large-scale painting Japanese Garden 3 to be sold at Christie’s New York evening sale on May 15 for a good cause: proceeds will fund a 600,000-acre reserve of South American rainforest. The charity Global Wildlife Conservation and Rainforest Trust have offered a 400 percent match of the hammer price to benefit the initiative. (Press release)

Ex-Sotheby’s Chief Now Works for the Mugrabis – Sotheby’s former chief operating officer Adam Chinn, who previously worked as a partner at the art advisory firm Art Agency Partners, has taken a position with the Mugrabis. Chinn, who was known as a take-no-prisoners dealmaker, left Sotheby’s at the end of 2018. (Baer Faxt)

Is Pre-Selling the New Selling? – Selling in advance of a fair, a practice once frowned upon (and, at the very least, kept quiet) is increasingly becoming standard practice. London’s Vigo Gallery sold his entire Frieze New York booth of paintings by artist Derrick Adams, priced between $30,000 and $50,000, before the first VIP stepped foot in the tent yesterday. “Art fairs are platforms that enable galleries to sell art—we expect that to extend before and after the fair,” says Frieze’s Victoria Siddall. (The Art Newspaper)


Estate of Chris Burden Appoints an Executive Director – Yayoi Shionoiri has been named executive director of the American artist Chris Burden’s estate. Shionoiri, who previously worked to develop Artsy’s presence in Asia, will also manage the studio of the artist Nancy Rubins, Burden’s widow. (ARTnews)

Miriam Katzeff Joins Artists Space – The co-founder of the nonprofit publisher Primary Information and former director of New York’s Team Gallery will begin her new role as deputy director of Artists Space when it moves to its new home in Tribeca later this year. (ARTnews)

Felix Will Return to LA in 2020 – The fair, founded by mega-collector Dean Valentine, will officially return to the historic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel for its sophomore edition, which is due to run during Frieze Los Angeles, from February 13 to 16. (ARTnews)


David Adjaye Scales Back the UK Holocaust Memorial – Months after Adjaye and co-architect Ron Arad first submitted their proposal for controversial Holocaust Memorial near the Houses of Parliament, the plans have been revised in response to concerns from local residents. The entrance pavilion featuring massive bronze fins is now revised to “a lighter, more transparent element that enhances and harmonizes with the existing gardens.” (Designboom)

Artist Makes Bootleg Versions Ahead of Christie’s Sale – Brooklyn artist Eric Doeringer will debut his Andy Warhol knockoffs in a show called “Christy’s” next week, which opens at the Chelsea gallery space High Line Nine. The works are all copies of art to be included in Christie’s New York sale that begins this Saturday and includes pieces by Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg with multimillion dollar estimates. (New York Times)

An Art Conservation Student Won the Mona Lisa Airbnb Contest – An Italian-Canadian conservation student has been chosen to spend a night in the museum, sleeping under the stars in the Louvre’s glass pyramid. Daniela Molinari, who wrote in her application about sharing a drink with the real Mona Lisa, was selected from over 180,000 applicants in a competition organized by the Louvre in partnership with Airbnb. (AFP)

artnet News’s Executive Editor Stars at Salon 94’s Frieze Booth – Several paintings that feature our editor Julia Halperin are on view at Salon 94 at Frieze New York through Sunday. She posed for the artist Natalie Gwen Frank’s series of mystical paintings that are inspired by the fairy tales of the French 17th-century writer Madame d’Aulnoy. (Instagram)

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