Art Industry News: Melania Trump’s NFT Sale Came in 30 Percent Under Its Starting Bid Amid a Massive Crypto Crash + Other Stories

Plus, the MFA Boston will return a stolen Dutch painting, and Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe pays tribute to Virgil Abloh on the cover of Teen Vogue.

U.S. first lady Melania Trump attends the joint press conference between U.S. President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron at the White House on April 24, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Melania Trump visiting Emmanuel Macron in 2018, which is now the source material for her NFT portrait.

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, January 26.

NEED TO READ

MFA Boston Returns Stolen 17th Century Painting – Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts will return a Dutch painting titled View of Beverwijk (1646) by Salomon van Ruysdael to the heirs of Jewish collector Ferenc Chorin. The painting was among a trove that Chorin, a Hungarian industrialist who helped Jews escape from the Nazi-controlled territory, hid in bank vault before fleeing the country during World War II. Chorin’s heirs plan to sell the work at Christie’s Old Masters sale in New York in April, where it is expected to fetch between $500,000 and $700,000. (Boston Globe)

German Museums May Have Looted Palace Museum Relics – Seven museums in Germany have launched an initiative to research Chinese works of art in their collections that may have been stolen during the Boxer Rebellion, an anti-foreign uprising in 1900 that led to foreign powers’ invasion of Qing dynasty China. The project, conducted in partnership with Shanghai University, began in November 2021 and will run until 2023. (The Art Newspaper)

Melania Trump’s NFT Auction Isn’t Going According to Plan – The former U.S. first lady has sought to reinvent herself as a crypto entrepreneur, most recently offering up a hat she wore during a state visit with the French president, a watercolor of her wearing the hat, and an accompanying NFT as a “head of state package” on her new platform. There’s just one problem: cryptocurrency has crashed. Originally offered with a starting bid of $250,000, the bundle appears to have sold for around $170,000, with the exact dollar value fluctuating in line with the volatility of Solana, Mrs. Trump’s cryptocurrency of choice. (New York Times)

How China Cultivates Museum Patrons – Private art museums in China are working hard to recruit wealthy, art-loving patrons in an effort to strengthen their governance and boost their bottom lines as the country’s economy remains clouded by the pandemic. Today Art Museum in Beijing, for example, is experimenting with a two-tier patronage system, in which second-tier patrons are asked to donate 50,000 yuan ($7,907) each year. China is home to an estimated 1,860 private museums. (South China Morning Post)

COMINGS AND GOINGS

Jacob Safra Sells His Gentilleschis – Two paintings by Artemisia Gentileschi from the collection of banking heir Jacob (Jacqui) Safra—Susanna and the Elders (ca. 1638) and Portrait of a Seated Lady (1620)—will be hitting the auction block during Thursday’s Old Masters sale at Sotheby’s New York. Both lots are backed by financial guarantees; together, they’re estimated to fetch $3.8 million to $5.5 million. (ARTnews)

Pace Verso Reveals Winter NFT Lineup – Artists Zhang Huan and Lucas Samaras will release NFT projects with Pace Verso, the gallery’s Web3 arm that launched in November. Pace Verso also launched a collaboration with Leo Villareal and the NFT platform Art Blocks. The 1,024 unique digital works sold out within three hours. (Press release)

Ghana Reveals Venice Biennale Pavilion – After its acclaimed debut at the 2019 Venice Biennale, Ghana will return for its sophomore outing with a presentation of work by Na Chainkua Reindorf, Afroscope, and Diego Araúja. Nana Oforiatta Ayim, director of ANO Institute of Arts & Knowledge in Accra, is back to organize the presentation, which is designed by architect DK Osseo-Asare. For more Venice updates, check out our up-to-date round-up of pavilions. (Press release)

Phillips Mounts Private Selling Exhibition of Ghanaian Artists – Amid an explosion of demand for work by young African artists, Phillips London is mounting a selling show titled “Birds of a Feather” featuring work by six young artists from Ghana: Awanle Ayiboro Hawa Ali, Courage Hunke, James Mishio, Araba Opoku, Abdur Rahman Muhammed, and Kwaku Yaro. The show, produced in collaboration with Ghanaian-based agency Artemartis, runs from February 1 to 10. (Press release)

FOR ART’S SAKE

Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe Designs Teen Vogue Cover – Another Ghana-born painter, Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe, paid tribute to the late designer Virgil Abloh in a special issue of Teen Vogue with a new portrait on the cover. Quaicoe was chosen for the project in part because Abloh was “the son of Ghanaian parents,” per Teen Vogue. (ARTnews)

Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe's cover for 'Teen Vogue.' Courtesy of 'Teen Vogue.'

Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe’s cover for ‘Teen Vogue.’ Courtesy of ‘Teen Vogue.’


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