Art Industry News: Rembrandt’s Fingerprints Are Found on the Surface of a Painting for Sale + Other Stories

Plus, London gets a new addition to its skyline and a Chinese building company is selling shares of a $75 million Michelangelo.

Rembrandt's Study of the Head and Clasped Hands of a Young Man as Christ in Prayer (1606-69). Photo: 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 this Wednesday, November 21.


Heir Sues to Retrieve His Family’s Nazi-Looted Art – An American heir of the Dutch art dealer Benjamin Katz has filed a lawsuit in the US to compel the Dutch government and various museums to return 143 works he claims are rightfully his. He argues that Katz and his brother were forced to sell the works under duress. The Dutch Restitutions Committee rejected the heir’s earlier claim, alleging there was not enough proof the sales were forced. But the family maintains Hermann Göring himself turned up at the gallery with a handgun to pick out the Dutch Old Masters he wanted. (New York Times)

London’s Skyline Blossoms—Sort Of – The architecture firm behind the London skyscraper dubbed the Gherkin, Foster + Partners, has submitted a planning application for a more than 1,000-foot-tall observation tower called the Tulip. The Guardian’s architecture critic describes it as “a parody of architectural hubris, a cloned miniature of his original icon, poking up above the skyline like the leggy tendril of a plant starved of light, desperately waving for attention.” The building will be owned by Brazilian billionaire Joseph Safra’s Safra Group, which also owns the Gherkin next door. (Guardian)

Caught Red-Handed? – A painting of Jesus by Rembrandt that experts believe contains two of the Dutch Master’s fingerprints is due to hit the auction block at Sotheby’s on December 5. Study of the Head and Clasped Hands of a Young Man as Christ in Prayer (1606-69), which has not been on the market for 60 years, is estimated to sell for £6 million to £8 million ($7.7 million to $10.2 million). Although there are no other extant fingerprints of the artist that could be used to confirm the marks’ authenticity conclusively, experts are confident they were made because Rembrandt picked up the painting when it was still wet. The discovery of the tell-tale traces was first made in 2011, before the painting went on view in an exhibition at the Louvre. (Guardian)

The Golden Nugget Museum Burns in Camp Fire – The volunteer-run museum in Paradise, California, that was founded in 1973 and dedicated to the history of the region is one of the many victims of the devastating Camp Fire. The deadly wildfire has so far claimed the lives of at least 77 people and some 10,000 homes. (Smithsonian)


Native American Objects Withdrawn From Auction – The Boston auction house Skinner has withdrawn seven Native American artifacts from a forthcoming sale in response to growing protests. The items, which included shaman figures, a mask, and a totem pole, were being sold by the Medford Public Library in Massachusetts. The institution has come under fire for failing to consult tribal representatives about its plans. (The Art Newspaper)

Neïl Beloufa Moves to kamel mennour – The Paris- and London-based gallery kamel mennour now represents the French artist Neïl Beloufa, who works in Paris, New York, and Los Angeles. Ghebaly Gallery will continue to represent the artist in LA. The Paris gallery plans to present Beloufa’s new digital works at Art Basel in Miami Beach next month. (ARTnews)

Chinese Building Company Sells Shares in a $75 Million Michelangelo – Yulong Eco-Materials is planning to sell 7.5 million shares valued at $10 per share in order to buy a $75 million painting of a Crucifixion by the Italian artist. Yulong, which started out making building materials and managing construction industry waste in Henan, China, seems to be taking an unlikely—and very highbrow—new business tack. Last month, it bought the “Millennium Sapphire,” a $50 million gem that it now plans to send on a world tour. (Bloomberg)


Biography of Influential MoMA Director Published – Michelle Elligott’s René d’Harnoncourt and the Art of Installation chronicles the life and work of d’Harnoncourt, the director of New York’s Museum of Modern Art between 1949 and 1968. The director’s penchant for installation design and display, evinced by copious preparatory drawings, changed the way exhibitions are conceived. (Art Daily)

Matt Stokes Wins £60,000 Paul Hamlyn Award – The UK artist has won the artists’ award from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, one of the largest independent grant-making foundations in the country. The respected award is one of 10 grants it distributes worth $77,000. (Press release)

Opening Date Set for New Town’s New Gallery – The expanded MK Gallery in Milton Keynes, a new town 45 miles northwest of London, is due to open in March 2019. Designed by 6a architects in collaboration with the artists Gareth Jones and Nils Norman, the expanded gallery will debut with an exhibition called “The Lie of the Land,” featuring work by 85 artists including Thomas Gainsborough and J.M.W. Turner. (Press release)


Why the Washington Principles Have Failed Jewish Heirs – The Washington Principles have been “ineffectual,” says Marc Masurovsky, one of three co-founders of the Holocaust Art Research Project. Heirs trying to reclaim art looted by the Nazis still face a “Sisyphean task” because of resistance from European nations and major institutions. The fact that current owners can claim they bought works in “good faith” is another major stumbling block for heirs who have no option but the courts, writes Noah Charney. (Observer)

Banksy Gets a Museum Show in Italy – Yet another unauthorized Banksy museum show has popped up—this time, it’s at Milan’s MUDEC museum until April 14. The show includes 80 works and the curator Gianni Mercurio says that the museum has benefitted from the attention generated by Banksy’s viral auction stunt. (Infobae)

Andrea Zittel Has Room for Snowbirds – The Southern Californian artist is riding to the rescue of wannabe snowbirds dreading the cold holiday season. With only five weeks until Christmas, Zittel has posted on Instagram that her Experimental Living Cabins in Joshua Tree—designed by the artist with no electricity or running water—are still available for all of December. A week’s stay is recommended. Palm Springs is nearby, should the high desert prove too spartan. (Instagram)

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