Art Industry News: Even Grateful Dead Frontman Jerry Garcia Is Now (Posthumously) Getting Into the NFT Market + Other Stories

Plus, the Istanbul Biennial moves to 2022 and Napoleon Bonaparte's personal belongings are going up for auction.

Grateful Dead member Jerry Garcia with artwork in San Rafael in 1992. (Photo by Vince Maggiora/San Francisco Chronicle 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 6.


National Gallery Lays Off Retail Workforce – The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., has laid off its entire retail division, amounting to nearly 30 staff members, as it plans to restructure its approach to commerce. Going forward, it plans to fill those positions through a contractor; some former employees will have the option to return to work through the company, but expect to be offered lower pay and reduced hours. (Hyperallergic)

Istanbul Biennial Pushed to 2022 – The Istanbul Biennial has rescheduled its 17th edition, initially due to open in September, for 2022 “in consideration of the gravity of the ongoing health crisis in many regions around the world and the uncertainty of the coming months.” The show, organized by Ute Meta Bauer, Amar Kanwar, and David Teh, will now be held from September 17 to November 20, 2022. (Press release)

Jerry Garcia Is Getting Into NFTs Now – You know NFTs are really hitting the mainstream when your dad’s favorite band gets in on the game. The Jerry Garcia Foundation is selling a digital artwork by the late Grateful Dead guitarist as an NFT on SuperRare. The 1990 piece depicts a psychedelic figure with a mohawk called Gift and is listed for 309 ETH, or just over $1 million. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Archaeologists Unearth Bust of Augustus – Construction workers in Italy accidentally unearthed a marble bust of Augustus, the first Emperor of Rome, last week. Archaeologists identified the sculpture based on the ancient leader’s distinctive hairstyle and facial features. (Smithsonian)


Auction Veteran Launches Online Marketplace – Ex-Sotheby’s rainmaker Adam Chinn has teamed up with other auction veterans to launch a new peer-to-peer digital marketplace for collectors to sell their art directly (and anonymously) to each other. Called LiveArt Market, the initiative joins a number of new digital platforms pioneered by former auction execs, including Loïc Gouzer’s Fair Warning app. (Wall Street Journal)

Napoleon’s Belongings to Go on Sale – More than 300 objects that once belonged to the French military and political leader Napoleon Bonaparte will be sold at French auction house Orsenat to mark the 200th anniversary of Napoleon’s death. Objects for sale include a sledge that belonged to Napoleon’s beleaguered wife Josephine, a pearl-encrusted pocket watch, and a weird necklace made from Napoleon’s hair and gold thread. (Guardian)


Chicago Collector Jetta Jones Dies – The art collector, lawyer, and civic leader Jetta Jones has died at age 95. Jones was the first Black woman to become a trustee at the Art Institute of Chicago. She later recruited Denise Gardner, the chair-elect of the Art Institute’s board. (Chicago Sun-Times)

Visual AIDS Founder Patrick O’Connell Dies – The founding director of the widely influential advocacy group Visual AIDS, who helped shatter the stigma surrounding the disease with art and awareness campaigns, has died at age 67 from AIDS-related causes. He was behind the Ribbon Project, which produced red ribbons that became an international symbol of AIDS advocacy. (New York Times)


Sobey Art Award Grows Prize Pot – Walter Scott, Maureen Gruben, and duo Anne Riley and T’uy’tanat-Cease Wyss are among the 25 artists shortlisted for Canada’s prestigious Sobey Art Award. In order to give meaningful financial support to all the longlisted artists, this year boasts a larger-than-ever purse. Twenty artists will receive CAD$10,000 ($8,000), four shortlisted artists will get CAD$25,000 ($20,000), and the winner will still receive CAD$100,000 ($80,000). (Press release)

A Look at the Art of the Oval Office – The art in Joe Biden’s Oval Office includes a slew of symbolic and newly installed pieces, including a bust of Robert F. Kennedy and portraits of former presidents George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and F.D.R. Roosevelt, another president who took office at a moment of crisis and whose New Deal spirit Biden has echoed in his own policies, takes pride of place. (NYT)

President Joe Biden meets in the Oval Office. (Photo by Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden meets in the Oval Office. (Photo by Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)

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