Art Industry News: Larry Gagosian and His Longtime Art-Dealer Girlfriend Call It Splits + Other Stories

Plus, Iraq plans to reclaim thousands of artifacts in US collections and an Egon Schiele tours baggage claim at a Vienna airport.

Larry Gagosian and Chrissie Erpf at Art Basel Miami Beach. (Photo by Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan 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 this Thursday, May 30.


Iraq Wants to Recover Thousands of Artifacts From the US – Iraq plans to recover thousands of artifacts from the US, including many originally bought for the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC. Iraq’s Minister of Culture, Abdul Amir Al-Hamdani, has said he intends to travel to the US capital “to recover 5,500 artifacts from the Hobby Lobby company and 10,000 clay figurines from Cornell University, as well as artifacts from the University of Pennsylvania.” Hobby Lobby paid a $3 million fine after buying looted artifacts for the Museum of the Bible, which is founded by the company’s owner(Middle East Monitor)

Saudi Arabia Could Build a Hermitage Satellite – The State Hermitage Museum has held talks with Saudi officials about the possibility of opening its first satellite museum in the Gulf. The St. Petersburg museum’s longstanding director, Mikhail Piotrovsky, met Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in Riyadh last October during a controversial investment conference held shortly after murder of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggil. Meanwhile, the Hermitage is also planning to produce exhibitions for a new cultural center in Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014. (The Art Newspaper)

Larry Gagosian Relationship Status Update – The investigative art journalists over at Page Six are reporting that Larry Gagosian—understatedly referred to “the multimillionaire art gallerist”—has broken up with his longtime girlfriend Chrissie Erpf, a director at the gallery who also serves as part of its new advisory board. Gagosian, who recently announced sweeping changes in the structure of his business as the 74-year-old dealer reportedly undertakes succession planning, has moved on to a “much younger woman,” according to the tabloid item. (Page Six)

Frank Bowling on His “Masochistic” Tate Retrospective – The 85-year-old painter has given a rare interview to mark the opening of his retrospective at Tate Britain in London. The Guyana-born artist moved between London and New York during his long career and continues to maintain studios in both cities. Now assisted by a grandson, Fredrick, he is still making new work. “I’m like an extension of his brush,” Frederick Bowling says. The artist played a more hands-off role in his Tate survey: “I had to lie low and let them run over me,” he says. “It didn’t hurt. I almost found I was enjoying it. I’m a masochist.” (Guardian)


Phillips Is Selling a Model of Tatlin’s Tower – A reconstruction of Vladimir Tatlin’s Model for the Monument for the Third International is on display at the Park Avenue Cube courtesy of Phillips, which is seeking a private buyer for the 50-year-old copy. It was commissioned by the curator Pontus Hultén and shown at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1968. (Press release)

Matisse Painting Flops at Canadian Auction – A painting by the French artist hailed as a milestone sale for Canada by Heffel Fine Art Auction House failed to reach its reserve price. The highest bid for Woman Sitting on a Balcony (1919) was C$3 million ($2.2 million). It carried an estimate of C$3.8 million to C$5.8 million. (City News)  


Banksy’s Port Talbot Mural Is Moving to a Gallery – Workers have begun the delicate process of moving the mural that Banksy painted on the side of a garage in Port Talbot just before Christmas. It is headed for a new street art museum in the Welsh town. (BBC)

Getty Research Institute Names a New Curator – Naoko Takahatake is leaving the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where she has served as the curator of prints and drawings since 2010, to take on the same role at the Getty Research Institute. She specializes in Old Master works on paper, with a special focus on Italian Renaissance and Baroque prints. (Artforum)

Portland Museum’s $2 Million Legal Dispute With a Caretaker Proceeds – The legal battle between the Portland Museum of Art in Maine and the former caretaker of a museum patron who changed her will just before she died is continuing to heat up. The two parties are currently battling over whether the caretaker, Annemarie Germain, can continue to access the late patron’s money while the legal proceedings are underway. The case hinges on whether Germain wrongfully persuaded Eleanor G. Potter to leave her fortune to her rather than to the museum. (Press Herald)

An Ancient Sculpture of Dionysus Was Just Discovered – Archeologists have uncovered a 2,000-year-old marble head of Bacchus (or Dionysus, to the Greeks) in the Forum of Rome. The sculpture had been reused as part of a medieval wall. “Rome continues to surprise us every day,” said Virginia Raggi, the mayor of the Italian capital. (The Local)


Journalist Loses a Case Against the Louvre – The Paris museum was challenged by a journalist from the newspaper Libération on its prohibition against the photography and filming of temporary exhibitions. The Louvre argued that one reason for the ban was because private collectors might be reluctant to loan works if they were photographed. A Paris tribunal found in favor of the Louvre. (Next Impact)

Is Glenstone Great or a Billionaire’s Folly? – The critic Sebastian Smee, initially a Glenstone skeptic, has declared the institution outside Washington, DC as “the most exciting new private museum in America.” He acknowledges that the prescribed visiting experience can feel “a little weird” and “a bit Willy Wonka-ish.” In the end, however, he is won over by the top-notch art, chatty tour guides, and conspicuous absence of wall text: “Instead of compromising aesthetic encounters with endless commentary, it lets you make up your own mind,” he writes. (Washington Post)

Jordan Casteel Thinks About This Alice Neel Painting a Lot – The painter Jordan Casteel, whose solo show is on view now at the Denver Museum of Art, explains why Alice Neel’s portraits of residents in what was then known as Spanish Harlem are a constant source of inspiration. Casteel’s new “Subway” series is visual biography of the now fast-gentrifying but still diverse neighborhood. (T Magazine)

A Schiele Painting Is Spotted a Baggage Claim – A video shared on Twitter of Egon Schiele’s Portrait of Wally (1912) appearing to trundle down a baggage carousel at Vienna Airport raised eyebrows—and received more than 2,000 likes. The crate carried a Leopold Museum label and a stamp from the Austrian art handlers HS Art Services. But in fact, it was just a copy designed to drum up publicity for the Vienna museum. The real portrait is hanging safely on the museum’s walls, a spokesman confirmed to artnet News. (Twitter, Instagram)

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