Art Industry News: An Investigation Reveals That Jeffrey Epstein Had Planned to Meet With Art-World Bigwigs, Including Jeff Koons + Other Stories

Plus, Aki Sasamoto wins the Calder Prize and U.S. museum foundations pledge $11 million to increase diversity.

Jeffrey Epstein attends Launch of RADAR MAGAZINE at Hotel QT on May 18, 2005. (Photo by Neil Rasmus/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 on this Thursday, May 4.


Jeffrey Epstein Had Planned to Meet With Art-World Bigwigs – A new investigation has revealed that the deceased sex offender and financier had planned a studio visit with artist Jeff Koons in 2013, had intended to have a visit to Sotheby’s with director Woody Allen in 2017, and had scheduled more than 100 meetings with financier mega-collector and former MoMA board chair Leon Black between those dates. (Wall Street Journal)

Foundations Pledge $11 Million to Increase Diversity – The Alice L. Walton Foundation, Ford Foundation, Mellon Foundation, and Pilot House Philanthropy have committed $11 million over the course of five years in an effort to help diversify leadership positions at museum departments. The Leadership in Arts Museum initiative selected 19 museums including the Mississippi Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and the Perez Art Museum; each will create or maintain diverse roles and commit to expanding diverse applicant pools. (ARTnews)

Crowdsourced Pictures of King Charles Ahead of Coronation – An immersive entertainment space has crowdsourced a massive digital portrait of King Charles III to mark his coronation this week by inviting the public to send in their own portraits of the monarch. Currently on display on massive digital screens at Outernet, in London, a version of The Royally Big Portrait will be auctioned at Christie’s to raise money for the Children in Need charity tonight, May 4. (The Art Newspaper) 

Treasure Hunt for Nazi Gold Hoard – A team of historians hoping to discover a hidden trove of treasures hidden by the Nazis during World War II were disappointed after a hand-drawn map from a German soldier led them nowhere. The team had overlain the map with historical maps of the area to get a location for an excavation, but after searching with metal detectors and digging, and enlisting the locals to pitch in on the search, they did not find the valuables, which had been snatched after a bank vault explosion during the war. (New York Times) 


Bénédicte Savoy Wins Berlin Science Prize – The art historian, known for her research on colonial-era African objects in French museums, has won the annual €40,000 ($44,000) award for outstanding scientific and research achievements. (Tagesspiegel) 

Original Site of Barnes Foundation to Reopen – The original location in Lower Merion, Pennsylvania, is set to relaunch as the Frances M. Maguire Art Museum. The extensive collection of Albert Barnes moved to Philadelphia in 2012, and the St. Joseph’s University renovated the location that will now house its 3,000-piece-collection. (WHYY)

Calder Prize Winner Named – New York-based artist Aki Sasamoto is the recipient of the 2023 award, a biennial prize that includes $50,000, a three-month residency at Calder’s former studio in France, and the inclusion of work in a collection of a museum. Sasamoto’s installations incorporate everyday objects to “evoke the absurdity of the human experience.” (Artforum) 


Sculpture of Beloved Walrus Unveiled – The massive sea animal named Freya, who charmed the Norwegian capital of Oslo last year when she sidled up to tourists before she was euthanized, has been immortalized in the form of a life-size bronze sculpture. Titled For Our Sins, Astri Tonoian explained that her work is meant to serve as a “historic document about the case” and hopes it will remind humans that “we have to practice coexisting” with wildlife. (New York Times)

A bronze sculpture created by artist Astri Tonoian in memory of Freya the walrus unveiled in Oslo, Norway. - Freya gained global attention in the summer of the year 2022 after playfully basking in the Oslo fjord until officials euthanised her. Photo: Annika Byrde/NTB/AFP via Getty Images.

A bronze sculpture created by artist Astri Tonoian in memory of Freya the walrus, has been unveiled in Oslo, Norway. Freya gained global attention in the summer of the year 2022 after playfully basking in the Oslo fjord until officials euthanised her. Photo: Annika Byrde/NTB/AFP via Getty Images.

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