Art Industry News: This Taiwanese Pop Star (and Basquiat Superfan) Will Curate Sotheby’s Summer Hong Kong Auction + Other Stories

Plus, anti-oil protesters return to the British Museum, and U.S. cultural institutions are still awaiting federal aid.

Jay Chou performs in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province of China. (Photo by VCG/VCG via 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 on this Monday, May 24.


Zabludowiczes Make Rare Statement About Their Israel Ties – Anita and Poju Zabludowicz, the founders of London’s Zabludowicz Collection, have put out a statement in response to criticism from artists and other art-world figures regarding their ties to a pro-Israel lobbying group and military aircraft services company. After a letter encouraging a boycott of their organization drew hundreds of signatures, the couple said they welcomed the news of a cease-fire and that they “passionately” support a two-state solution that would guarantee the rights of Palestinians and Israelis “to live and work side-by-side in peace.” (ARTnews)

Cultural Institutions Still Awaiting U.S. Aid – Cultural institutions are still waiting to see their share of the United States’s $16 billion Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program five months after it was first announced. More than 12,000 venues applied for the federal relief, but the government has yet to hand out money amid complaints of delays and a “chaotic” application process. (New York Times)

Basquiat Mega-Fan Jay Chou to Curate Sotheby’s Sale – Taiwanese singer Jay Chou—a leading figure in a new generation of agenda-setting Asian collectors—will curate Sotheby’s “Contemporary Curated” auction in Hong Kong on June 18. A self-professed Basquiat obsessive, Chou has selected an untitled 1985 work to lead the sale, which is estimated to go for at least $32.8 million. (ARTnews)

Activists Blockade MoMA Entrance – More than 300 activists from the Strike MoMA group blockaded the entrance to the museum on Friday, decrying the institution’s board members’ links to pro-Israel organizations. The protest held in solidarity with Palestinians occupied the museum’s entrance for around one hour. (Hyperallergic)


Unit London Launches NFT Trading Platform – The London gallery Unit has launched its own NFT trading platform in collaboration with cryptocurrency traders BTSE. The gallery has recruited Artnet News columnist Kenny Schachter to curate an IRL show of some 100 artists’ NFTs at the gallery to mark the launch of the platform, Institut, in July. (The Art Newspaper)

Handwritten Equation by Einstein Fetches $1.2 Million – A letter from Albert Einstein in which he wrote out his famous E = mc2 equation fetched more than $1.2 million at RR Auction, around three times its estimate. The October 26, 1946 note, addressed to physicist Ludwik Silberstein, is one of only four known examples of the equation written in Einstein’s own hand, and the only one in a private collection. (AP)


Chon Noriega Steps Down From UCLA – The director of UCLA’s Chicano Studies Research Center will step down in June. During his two-decade tenure, the writer and educator transformed the institution, building the world’s largest library and archive of materials related to Mexican Americans and Latinos and establishing four endowed funds to secure its future. (Los Angeles Times)

L.A. Arts Recovery Fund Gives $36.1 Million to Nonprofits – Nearly 100 small and mid-sized arts organizations in Los Angeles will receive multiyear grants totaling $36.1 million from the L.A. Arts Recovery Fund, which seeks to help institutions rebuild after the pandemic. (Press release)


Anti-Oil Protesters Target the British Museum – The activist group BP or not BP? held a performative protest inside the British Museum over the weekend, targeting its latest exhibition on Nero, which is sponsored by the oil giant BP. Referencing the myth that “Nero fiddled while Rome burned,” three professional violinists accompanied by a choir played a musical lament decrying the sponsorship. (Press release)

Pedro Reyes Brings a Sanatorium to Lisbon – Mexican artist Pedro Reyes has transformed Lisbon’s Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology (MAAT) into a temporary clinic. As part in the performance, SANATORIUM, visitors can take part in a series of placebo therapies designed to cure the maladies and diseases caused by contemporary life. (Press release)

Installation view, Pedro Reyes, <i>Sanatorium</i> at maat, Lisbon, 2021. Photo by Vasco Vilhena.

Installation view, Pedro Reyes, Sanatorium at maat, Lisbon, 2021. Photo by Vasco Vilhena.

Installation view, Pedro Reyes, <i>Sanatorium</i> at maat, Lisbon, 2021. Photo by Vasco Vilhena.

Installation view, Pedro Reyes, Sanatorium at maat, Lisbon, 2021. Photo by Vasco Vilhena.

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