Art Industry News: The $448.5 Million Reason Why the Louvre Probably Won’t Show ‘Salvator Mundi’ + Other Stories

Plus, Boston's Museum of Fine Arts bans two members for making racist comments and artist Nate Lowman joins David Zwirner.

Salvator Mundi 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 Tuesday, May 28.


Germaine Greer Says Leonardo da Vinci Was ‘Short on Imagination’ – The controversial feminist writer Germaine Greer has found her latest target: Leonardo da Vinci in general, and the Mona Lisa in particular. The academic and author described the Renaissance master’s most famous portrait as “this half-dead woman, this strange green-faced female.” In her off-the-cuff critique delivered at a literature festival, Greer pointed out that her famed smile is a “smirk” that crops up in other paintings by the artist: “You find it everywhere.” She acknowledged that he was a great experimenter, but said that he was “a bit short of imagination.” (Guardian)

MFA Boston Bans Two Members for Racist Comments – The museum has revoked the membership of two people and also banned them from visiting after a teacher took to Facebook to complain about students in her class being subject to racist comments during a recent visit to the museum. In a statement, MFA Boston director Matthew Teitelbaum said: “These young people left the museum feeling disrespected, harassed and targeted because of the color of their skin, and that is unacceptable.” All front-line staff will receive additional training in “unconscious bias,” as well as conflict resolution, he pledged. (NBC)

Why the Louvre Probably Won’t Show Salvator Mundi The Salvator Mundi drama just keeps on coming. Curators at the Louvre in Paris cannot agree whether the $450 million painting is by Leonardo or by one of his assistants, says Ben Lewis, the author of an exposé into the Salvator Mundi saga. The decision will likely determine whether or not the museum includes the work in its upcoming Leonardo blockbuster exhibition. Citing sources inside the museum, Lewis says: “If they did exhibit it… they would want to exhibit it as ‘Leonardo plus workshop.'” But such a label would devalue the world’s most expensive painting to “somewhere north of $1.5 million,” Lewis speculates—a roughly $448.5 million loss in value that its owner, widely thought to be the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, would be reluctant to allow. (Guardian)

Was the Founder of the Bauhaus a Doctrinaire Bore or a Brilliant Innovator? The author of a new revisionist biography of Walter Gropius says he was more heroic, romantic, and sexier than his reputation as the gray man of the Bauhaus currently suggests. British biographer Fiona McCarthy chronicles a surprising number of Gropius’s extramarital love affairs. But her book, while more colorful than previous biographies, is less than radical in its focus on the architect’s genius and achievement in bringing the Bauhaus design spirit to the US. Even within the context of a progressive design school, in its early days Gropius gave female students fewer opportunities than their male colleagues, the Times’s reviewer points out. (New York Times)


Over 100 Supreme Decks Zoom Into Bonhams – A rare collection of 126 skateboard decks by streetwear brand Supreme will lead Bonhams’s modern and contemporary sale art on June 27. The decks will be sold as a single lot and carry a high estimate of £150,000 ($189,981). Earlier this year, a complete set of Supreme decks sold for $800,000 at Sotheby’s. (Art Daily)

David Zwirner Adds Nate Lowman to Its Roster – Lowman, who previously worked with Maccarone Gallery, will have his first show with the mega-gallery this fall. Known for his bullet-hole paintings, the New York artist emerged alongside artist friends Dash Snow, Ryan McGinley, and Dan Colen in the early 2000s. (ARTnews)

Latin American Art Has a Lot of Bang for Its Buck – Is there such a thing as a bargain in the art market? Auction houses, gallery owners, and collectors say that the Latin American art sector is still a major opportunity for moneyed, enterprising buyers. Works by some of the sector’s biggest names—including Rufino Tamayo, Diego Riviera, and Joaquin Torres Garcia—can be had at auction for less than $5 million, a fraction of what you would pay for desirable items by artists including Jeff Koons and Richard Diebenkorn, and around the same level as prices for work by KAWS and Jonas Wood. (AFP)


Flemish Tourist Board Acquires Rubens’s Castle – The tourist organization Visit Flanders has purchased the castle where the Flemish master Peter Paul Rubens spent the last years of his life and made some of his best-known works after 1635. The castle was put up for sale in February with an asking price of €4 million ($4.5 million). The tourist board said on Twitter that they “intend to give [the castle] back to the community.” (Apollo)

An Artist Is Banned From Facebook Over Trump Protest Art – Artist Kate Kretz redesigns pro-Trump “Make America Great Again” hats into symbols of hate speech, such as a Nazi armband or a Ku Klux Klan hood. (She buys MAGA knockoffs rather than purchasing them from Trump’s organization to avoid giving him support.)  She was dismayed to find that Facebook, where she often advertises her work, had removed her from its platform for violating community guidelines. After she appealed the decision and added another image with text clarifying the photo depicted a work of art, her entire account was disabled. (The Hill)


Artist Jeff Elrod Is Accused of Harassment – The New York artist has been accused of exposing and kissing a woman’s breast while in Marfa last August. Elrod has been charged with a misdemeanor simple assault, which carries a maximum fine of $500 as punishment. Elrod’s attorney says, “We believe this is nothing short of an extortion attempt by the claimant.” (Daily Mail)

Peter Schjeldahl’s New Book, Reviewed – “Peter Schjeldahl is a great artist,” writes American author Charles Finch in his review of the art critic’s new book, Hot, Cold, Heavy, Light. With 100 collected writings on art spanning 1988 to 2018, Schjeldahl’s new compilation highlights his keen ability to “freeze an artist cold in a line, not through aphorism, which implies a slinking away from the specific, but with meticulous, writerly precision.” (NYT)

The Rijksmuseum Brings Louise Bourgeois to Its Gardens – An outdoor exhibition at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, includes 12 sculptures that span a half a century of the artist’s career, from the late 1940s to 2003. The exhibition is free to visit and the first to explicitly focus on Bourgeois’s outdoor works, according to the museum. (Instagram)

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