Art Industry News: The Internet’s Boyfriend Keanu Reeves Is Now Dating a Conceptual Artist + Other Stories

Plus, the blockbuster King Tut show is heading to Boston and a Spanish banker faces four years in jail for sneaking his Picasso out of Spain.

Keanu Reeves and Alexandra Grant at the 2019 LACMA Art + Film Gala on November 2, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic)

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 Tuesday, November 5.


Lawyer Slams the British Museum as a Repository of Stolen Goods – A leading human rights lawyer has spoken out against the British Museum for continuing to display what he calls “pilfered cultural property,” including the Parthenon sculptures and Benin bronzes. In a new book titled Who Owns History? Elgin’s Loot and the Case for Returning Plundered Treasure, Geoffrey Robertson says the museum should “wash its hands of blood” and return all the treasures that were acquired by colonizers without consent. Robertson, who worked on a report on the reunification of the Parthenon sculptures for the Greek government with Amal Clooney and the late Norman Palmer, accuses both the UK government and trustees at the British Museum, as well as other encyclopedic institutions around the world, of not engaging properly with restitution requests. (Guardian)

The King Tut Show Is Heading to Boston – The blockbuster exhibition of burial items from King Tut’s tomb has added another stop on its 10-city international tour: Boston. The show, which is currently on view at London’s Saatchi Gallery, has already stopped in Los Angeles and Paris and will go on to hit cities in Australia, Japan, Canada, and South Korea. The priceless artifacts are traveling the world to raise money for Egypt’s $1 billion Grand Egyptian Museum, where they will go on permanent display following the tour. The precise location for the Boston showing has yet to be confirmed after Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts passed up the chance to host the blockbuster, which comes with a hefty fee reported to be north of $6 million. (The Art Newspaper)

Keanu Reeves Is Dating an Age-Appropriate Artist – Yes, it appears to be official: art figures really are the most desirable partners. After a number of Hollywood leading ladies paired off with art dealers and artists, Keanu Reeves—who, as everyone knows, always makes the best decisions—has followed suit. Rumors that the actor was linked to artist Alexandra Grant appeared to be confirmed when they stepped out holding hands on the red carpet at the LACMA Art + Film Gala over the weekend. The duo co-founded the publishing house X Artists’ Books in 2017, having previously collaborated on two books of poetry. The American artist often draws on exchanges with writers for her text-based work and also founded the project grantLOVE, which sells original art to raise funds for arts non-profits. Reeves is better known as a collector of motorcycles than contemporary art, but he has been spotted at art fairs in the past. (Vulture)

Banker Faces $111 Million Fine for Picasso on a Yacht – In an ongoing case, the millionaire Spanish banker Jaime Botín admitted in court that he took his Picasso out of Spain, but denies the painting was headed to Geneva for sale, which would have evaded an export ban. If found guilty, the 83-year-old faces a fine of $111 million and four years in jail. Picasso’s Head of a Young Woman (1906), which the banker kept on his yacht, has been at Madrid’s Reina Sofía museum since it was seized off Corsica by police in 2015. (El Pais)


A Norman Rockwell Painting Could Fetch $2.5 Million at Phillips – Phillips’s November evening sale in New York will include Norman Rockwell’s 1958 painting Before the Shot. The painting of a boy in the doctor’s office, which has never been sold publicly before, carries an estimate of $2.5 million to $4.5 million. (Art Market Monitor)

Art World Caught Up in UK Dirty Money Report – The UK art market continues to enable money launderers, claims a new report by the anti-corruption organization Transparency International. The report, which is based on 400 criminal cases, states that “criminals [are] frequently using the UK to invest in corrupt wealth into luxury property, yachts, jets, and art.” The organization suggests the government ought to have greater outreach to the art world to offer advice about how to avoid doing business with bad actors. (TAN)

Marilyn Monroe’s Menorah Heads to Auction A piece of Judaica with Hollywood sheen is heading to auction. Monroe’s silver menorah was a gift from the parents of playwright Arthur Miller, whom she married in 1956. It is being sold by a private collector at New York’s Kestenbaum & Company on November 7 with an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. (Art Daily)


Rubell Museum Expansion Opens Next Month – The omnipresent Miami-based collectors Mera and Don Rubell are preparing to cut the ribbon on the highly anticipated expansion of their Rubell Family Collection in Wynwood. The new 100,000-square-foot, Annabelle Selldorf-designed museum is opening in Miami’s Allapattah neighborhood next month, just in time for Art Basel Miami Beach. (WSJ)

BAM Is Getting an Art Gallery – The Brooklyn Academy of Music, a longtime presenter of dance, theater, and film in the New York borough, is taking on the art world. It will open the Rudin Family Gallery, a space dedicated to contemporary art and named in honor of BAM supporter and art collector Beth Rudin DeWoody, on November 6. The inaugural exhibition, “When a Pot Finds Its Purpose,” features work by LA-based artist Glenn Kaino. (Wall Street Journal)

Marco Fusinato Will Represent Australia at the Venice Biennale – You may still be digesting the last Venice Biennale, but Australia is already planning for the next one. The Melbourne-based artist and musician Marco Fusinato has been tapped to represent the country at the 2021 Biennale. Fusinato is best known for his mixed-media recordings, performances, and installations. The exhibition will be curated by Artspace Sydney’s executive director Alexie Glass-Kantor. (Artforum)


Jessica Chastain to Star as Troubled Artist in Upcoming Film – A film adaptation of the tragicomic novel Losing Clementine will star Jessica Chastain as the lead character, Clementine Pritchard. In Ashley Ream’s 2012 novel, Pritchard, a world-famous artist, gives herself 30 days to tie up loose ends and plan her suicide. (Deadline)

Staff at Montreal’s Contemporary Art Museum Go on Strike – Around 30 curators, registrars, educators, and information workers demonstrated outside the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal on October 30 for a one-day strike. According to the strikers, 54 percent of the museum’s professional staff are on temporary contracts without benefits, insurance coverage, or paid vacation. (Canadian Art)

Plans to Mark 30 Years Since the Fall of the Berlin Wall Are Underway – The road to Brandenburg Gate in Berlin is lined with tens of thousands of jotted-down hopes and dreams in a massive installation by American artist Patrick Shearn. The participatory piece, which Shearn describes as a kinetic poetic installation, commemorates the fall of the Berlin Wall, which took place on November 9, 1989. (Mauerfall 30)

Patrick Shearn’s artwork at Brandenburg Gate features 30,000 messages. Photo: Kulturprojecte Berlin/David von Becker.

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