Art Industry News: Shakespeare’s First Folio Just Sold for $10 Million, Making It the Priciest Piece of Literature Ever Auctioned + Other Stories

Plus, a Brazilian court rules collector Bernardo Paz can't use his museum's art to pay off debt and Tate goes shopping at Goodman Gallery.

William Shakespeare, Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies. London: Printed by Isaac Jaggard and Ed. Blount, 1623. Photo: Christie'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 Thursday, October 15.


Inhotim Can’t Use Art to Pay Debt – The Brazilian mining magnate and collector Bernardo Paz, founder of the private museum Inhotim, will not be permitted to use his art to subsidize the more than $110 million that his former iron company owes the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. A judge determined that the agreement to forfeit 20 works by artists including Chris Burden and Cildo Meireles is “illegal and null in void” and does not prioritize the public interest. (The Art Newspaper)

The Nicaraguan Government Clamps Down on Free Expression – Human rights advocates are sounding the alarm as the Nicaraguan government prepares to pass three draconian laws that will curb freedom of expression in the country. The very broadly termed “hate speech,” “cybercrimes,” and “foreign agent” laws would, activists say, give the government unprecedented powers to monitor its citizens and crack down hard on those speaking up against President Daniel Ortega’s repressive policies in the run-up to the next year’s election. “These bills appear designed to provide legal cover for the Ortega government to harass and prosecute journalists, rights groups, and virtually anyone who criticizes his government,” Human Rights Watch’s Americas director José Miguel Vivanco said. (The Art Newspaper)

MOCA Launches Environmental Council – The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles has become the first major art museum in the United States to form an environmental council. In development since Klaus Biesenbach became MOCA’s director in 2018, the group will work on climate, conservation, and environmental justice through exhibition and educational programming. The council’s founding members are Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Aileen Getty, Agnes Gund, Sheikha Al Mayassa Bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, David Johnson, Haley Mellin, and Brian Sheth. (Press release)

UK Government Instructs Grant Recipients to Give Props – The culture secretary Oliver Dowden has defended the government’s asking arts organizations who received grants as part of the UK’s culture bailout package to share their success on their social media, websites, and newsletters. After a few raised eyebrows about the request, Dowden subsequently clarified that while organizations were “encouraged to publicize” their awards, they were not required to “praise the government.” “This is taxpayers’ money that is being spent,” Dowden said. “It is perfectly reasonable to alert people to the fact that it is there.” (TAN)


Shakespeare’s First Folio Sets a Record – The Bard’s Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies, often referred to as the “First Folio,” sold at Christie’s for just under $10 million, establishing a new world auction record for any work of literature. It was purchased by rare book collector and dealer Stephan Loewentheil. Only six copies are known in private hands. This one exceeded its presale estimate of $4 million to $6 million after six minutes of bidding. (Press release)

Contemporary Istanbul Will Go Ahead in December – The art fair in Turkey is forging ahead, with plans to take place December 16 through 20 at the Istanbul Convention and Exhibition Center. For those unable to travel, it will launch an online platform at the same time. (Press release)

Deaccessioned Matisse Leads Mediocre Christie’s Impressionist Sale – Christie’s Impressionist and Modern art sale last week brought in a lackluster $9.7 million across 72 lots, with a sell-through rate of just 66 percent. The hammer total, $7.8 million, came in 30 percent below the sale’s presale low estimate of $11.2 million. The top lot, Henri Matisse’s Jeune fille assise, robe jaune (1921–22), which was deaccessioned from the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, fetched $1.1 million with fees, just eking over its presale high estimate of $1 million. (Art Market Monitor)


Yale Center for British Art Names Chief Curator – Martina Droth has been named the deputy director and chief curator of the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut. She previously served as deputy director of research, exhibitions, and publications, and curator of sculpture at the center. She has worked there since 2009. (Press release)

The Pernod Ricard Foundation Will Open a New Space in Paris – Paris’s Fondation Pernod Ricard is opening a new space for exhibitions and conferences on February 6 adjacent to the city’s Gare Saint-Lazare train station. The foundation is dedicated to supporting young artists on the French scene. (Le Journal des Arts)


TV Illusionist Derren Brown Takes Up Painting – The British “mind-reader” and illusionist says lockdown gave him a welcome break from “TV and things I’d generally rather not be doing.” The magician has buried himself in creative work, including painting celebrity caricatures of figures like David Attenborough and Willem Dafoe. He sells his prints for up to £200 and originals for £15,000, and says he wants to make his art more than just a hobby. (Guardian)

Tate Goes Shopping at Goodman Gallery – Tate acquired two works by the Portuguese artist Grada Kilomba from Goodman Gallery last week thanks to the Frieze Tate Fund supported by Endeavor. The two works were from Kilomba’s “Illusions” series, which rework ancient Greek myths and draw inspiration from African oral traditions. (Press release)

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