Art Industry News: This Mega-Collector Just Became the Richest Person on Earth (for About a Hot Second) + Other Stories

Plus, Cuban artists withdraw from a major museum show in protest of the government, and Banksy is the subject of a new children's book.

LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault. Photo: Sergei KarpukhinTASS via Getty Images.
LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault. Photo: Sergei KarpukhinTASS 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 Tuesday, May 25.


Cuban Artists Withdraw From National Museum Show in Protest – The artist and activist group 27N has asked the Museum of Fine Arts in Havana to remove their works from display in solidarity with artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara. Alcántara was taken into government custody in early May after an eight-day hunger strike to condemn the Cuban government’s crackdown on artistic freedom. The group alleges that he has been held against his will in the hospital and has not been heard from for three weeks. (The Art Newspaper)

San Diego Fights a Major Arts Funding Cut – A 50 percent funding cut to San Diego’s arts and culture budget introduced last year will remain in place for the upcoming fiscal year despite outcry from cultural institutions who fear for their future. An open letter is circulating to ask the government to reconsider. (TAN)

Bernard Arnault Was the World’s Richest Person (for a Minute) – Well, that was fast. On Monday morning, Forbes published news that there was a new world’s richest man in town: the French fashion tycoon, art collector, and private museum owner Bernard Arnault had overtaken Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk thanks to strong performance by his luxury group LVMH. On Monday, he was worth a whopping $186.3 billion. But over the next 24 hours, he was bumped back to second place by Bezos, whose net worth climbed up to $188.2 billion. (Forbes)

What Should We Call the Great Women Artists? – There is a lot of debate around what to call women artists. Should we refer to them by their feminine first names (Berthe) or their given last names (Morisot)? Calling them by their married names can be complicated when both partners are artists (think: Anni and Josef Albers). With an artist as famous as Artemisia Gentileschi, some argue that she should go by her first name—like Michelangelo or Caravaggio. (Hyperallergic)


How Bitcoin Is Like Art – Allison Schrager explores the parallels between cryptocurrency, contemporary art, and, yes, Beanie Babies—all of which have little inherent value, but benefit from a sense of artificial scarcity. In other words these assets have value because we decide they do… until we change our minds. (Bloomberg

“Charlie Bit My Finger” Video Sold for Over $700,000 – One of the earliest viral videos—of baby Charlie biting his older brother Harry’s finger—is being removed from YouTube after the 2007 clip sold as an NFT for $760,999 (£538,000). A collector who goes by the name 3fmusic won the work. (BBC)


“The Grande Dame of Landscape Architecture” Has Died – German-born Canadian landscape architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander has died in Vancouver, Canada. A pioneer in designing mid-20th century urban space, she immigrated to the U.S. from Germany at the age of 18 in 1938 after fleeing the Nazis. (The Architect’s Newspaper)

Upstate Art Weekend Announces 2021 Dates – The second edition of Upstate Art Weekend will take place from August 27 to 29, 2021 with 61 participants in the Hudson Valley, including Dia Beacon. Stoneleaf Retreat will host a solo show by Hiba Schahbaz and presentations by Art Mamas Alliance and Female Design Council, among others. (Press release)  


Hun Kyu Kim Meets His Moment – The 34-year-old South Korea-born, London-based artist blends Korean silk painting and Japanese pop culture and animation. His career began to take off soon after he graduated from the Royal College of Art—and last week, collectors battled it out for his paintings at Art Basel Hong Kong. (New York Times)

There’s a New Children’s Book About Banksy – Phaidon’s Banksy Graffitied Walls and Wasn’t Sorry explores the world-famous street artist’s life and career from a child’s perspective. It is the latest in a series of books about famous artists, including Yayoi Kusama, Jackson Pollock, and Yves Klein. Just don’t blame us if you come home to an unauthorized mural in your kitchen next time you leave the kids at home. (Colossal)


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