Art Industry News: Sotheby’s Will Accept Bitcoin for a Banksy in Crypto’s Latest Art-Market Inroad + Other Stories

Plus, the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation is helping to build a hospital in Senegal, and Japan is erecting a giant squid sculpture.

Banksy, Love is in the Air (2005). Image courtesy of Sotheby's.

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 Wednesday, May 5.


Mayan Children’s Handprints Found in a Mexican Cave – Archeologists believe that the 137 handprints discovered in a Mexican cave were likely made by adolescent children some 1,200 years ago as part of a coming-of-age ritual. According to experts, the black handprints may represent death and the red handprints, life or war, as the boys were of hunting age and the girls were of childbearing age. (Daily Mail)

Mr. Doodle’s Quest for World Domination – Sam Cox, the British artist better known as Mr. Doodle who scribbles over just about everything with his graffiti-like cartoon characters and shapes, was not exactly an art-world fixture until his auction prices started to skyrocket. Now, Pearl Lam Galleries has announced that it will represent the doodler globally, starting with a presentation at Art Basel Hong Kong. Lam says his popularity in Asia could be due to the continent’s “strong figurine culture and obsession with cuteness.” (Financial Times)

Uproar Over Arts Education Cuts in the U.K. – Artists and curators are campaigning the U.K. government to reconsider a proposal that would halve funding for art and design courses across higher education institutions in the next academic year. A petition calling for proper funding of arts education has garnered more than 23,000 signatures. The budget consultation process enters its next stage today. (The Art Newspaper)

Man Charged for Setting Fire to a Historic Church – A 57-year-old man in Los Angeles has been charged with lighting a fire in 2020 that damaged a historic church. The prosecution says that the man broke into Mission San Gabriel, a 250-year-old church in Southern California, and started a blaze that damaged its art-covered walls. (Courthouse News)


Sotheby’s Will Accept Crypto for Banksy Work – The auction house is partnering with Coinbase to accept payment in Bitcoin or Ether for Banksy’s painting Love Is In The Air, which will hit the block on May 12 for an estimated $3 million to $5 million. While the house has not yet integrated crypto payment into its infrastructure more broadly, it is touting the offering as the first time a major auction house has accepted crypto for a physical artwork. (Monopol)

Restituted Egon Schiele Work Heads to Sotheby’s – Meanwhile, a 1917 watercolor by Egon Schiele will also be sold at Sotheby’s on May 12. It carries an estimate of $2.5 million to $3.5 million. The work, Kauernder weiblicher Akt (Crouching Female Nude), was recently restituted by the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, where it had been held since 1976, to the heirs of Heinrich Rieger. (ARTnews)


Albers Foundation Launches Senegal Hospital Development — The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation’s philanthropic sister organization Le Korsa is unveiling a vital new maternity and pediatric hospital development in rural Senegal. Designed for free by the architect Manuel Herz, the ward is inspired by Josef and Anni’s belief in less-is-more design. (Press release)

Skirball Cultural Center Announces New Leaders – L.A.’s Skirball Cultural Center has appointed Sheri Bernstein as museum director and Reuben J. Sanchez as chief financial officer. Pamela Kohanchi has been named senior vice president, general counsel, and secretary. (Press release)


Digital Leaders in Art Award Winners Named – The projects selected for the 2020 Digital Leaders in Art Awards by Arte Generali are now available online. Among the three winners is Office Impart’s project “Come Closer!” an interface that transforms digital space into an exhibition space featuring work by post-internet artist Constant Dullaart. (Arte Generali)

Japan Builds Giant Squid With Relief Funds – The port of Noto, known for its delicious squid, has installed a 43-foot-long squid sculpture with emergency funding. The work reportedly cost 25 million yen ($228,500) and has prompted some questions as to whether it was worthy of pandemic-related funds. The town maintains the statue will attract tourists. (BBC)

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.