Art Industry News: The Financial Times Tries to Throw Cold Water on the White-Hot Art Market + Other Stories

Plus, the US Supreme Court declines a Nazi loot case, and Ai Weiwei writes and op-ed to explain why he's taking Volkswagen to court.

A man poses next to Jeff Koons's Rabbit from the "Masterpieces from the Collection of S.I. Newhouse" sale at Christie's New York. (Photo: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/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 Friday, May 24.


Cranach Won’t Get to the US Supreme Court – The highest court in the United States has declined to hear arguments about the proper owner of a Lucas Cranach diptych that was looted by the Nazis from a Jewish Dutch art collector. The paintings of Adam and Eve, which reside in the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California, have long been the subject of a lawsuit by the dealer’s heirs, who lost a legal battle to recover the works in the Netherlands, where it was determined that the family gave up all rights to the paintings because of a missed filing deadline. “We look forward to continuing to display them to the public, as we have for nearly 50 years,” the museum said in a statement. (The Art Newspaper)

Ai Weiwei on Why He Is Suing Volkswagen – The Chinese artist has written an op-ed in the Guardian telling his side of the story in his legal fight against Volkswagen, which used an installation he made of hundreds of migrant life jackets—on the occasion of World Refugee Day—as a backdrop for a 2017 sales campaign. “As an artist, I face serious consequences for this misuse of my art,” he writes. “The advertisement gives the false impression that I have given permission for my work about refugees to sell Volkswagen’s cars.” He also accuses the company, which is investing heavily in China, of turning a blind eye to detention camps in the Xinjiang province, where up to one million minority people are believed to be held. (Guardian)


Is the Art Market “Cocktail Party” Losing its Fizz? – Pouring cold water on overheated talk about explosive new auction records, the Financial Times says the top end of the market is “a high-end retail business that takes the form of a global series of cocktail parties.” Today’s in-demand Modern and contemporary artworks could end up being just as desirable as Old Master paintings, which now make up a shrinking market. The FT columnist makes a bold prediction: “Oh, there will be a crash at the top end of the art market, just as there was in 2009.” (FT)

Koons’s $91 Million Rabbit Is Just Another Trophy – Critic Andrea K. Scott reflects on Koons’s “masterpiece,” writing that the sculpture is now “just another trophy” for risk-averse collectors, who she likens to “hunters picking off the same species of game.” The first owner of Rabbit, the artist Terry Winters, reportedly paid $40,000 for the work in 1986. “[He] must be off somewhere kicking himself at the moment,” Scott writes. (New Yorker)


Musée Delacroix Names New Director – Claire Bessède has been appointed director of the Musée National Eugène Delacroix in Paris. She leaves her longtime position at the National Museum Jean-Jacques Henner, where she was chief curator, to take up the new post on June 5. (Tribune de l’Art)

Berlinische Galerie Reopens After Temporary Shutdown – Berlin’s museum of Modern art, photography, and architecture that was purged by the Nazis has reopened to the public after it was forced to close in late April. Workers discovered structural problems with the building while planning to refurbish its roof. (Artforum)


The 2019 Joan Miró Prize Winner Is Announced – Video artist Nalini Malani has won the €70,000 ($77,800) award, which comes with a solo exhibition at Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona in 2020. Malani, who is based in Mumbai, is known for her installations that reflect on the legacy of colonialism in India. (ARTnews)

Yet Another Soccer Star’s Statue Gets Panned – After a lumpy bronze bust of Ronaldo went viral last year, another soccer legend’s sculpture is getting mixed reviews. The Belfast-based artist Tony Currie’s depiction of the late winger George Best looks to some like a White Walker from Game of Thrones, while others say it looks like Lionel Ritchie. The artist, who knew Best, has defended the new statue of one of Belfast’s most beloved sons. (Guardian)

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