Art Industry News: A Top-Notch Van Gogh Haystack Watercolor Once Seized by the Nazis Could Fetch $30 Million at Auction + Other Stories

Plus, legendary Los Angeles gallerist Margo Leavin has died and a New York dealer pleads guilty to hawking fake antiquities.

Vincent van Gogh, Meules de Blé (1888). Photo: Christie’s Images Limited 2021
Vincent van Gogh, Meules de Blé (1888). Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2021

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 Friday, October 15.


British Museums Face Long-Term Pandemic Effects – The New York Times zeroes in on the Victoria & Albert Museum as a case study to examine the long-term impact of lockdown on art institutions. Some halls remain closed because of layoffs and belt-tightening. Despite government aid, the V&A lost nearly $73 million, and has failed to fill gaps in income from the gift shop, cafe, and exhibitions. Attendance is still far off 2019 levels and several British museums, including Tate, plan to present fewer temporary shows to keep costs down. (New York Times)

Art Dealer Margo Leavin Has Died – The veteran art dealer, whose eponymous gallery was a fixture in West Hollywood, has died at 85. The gallery represented a slew of L.A. artists, including John Baldessari and Allen Ruppersberg, and also mounted solo exhibitions of work by New York artists like Jasper Johns, Ad Reinhardt, and Sol LeWitt until Leavin’s retirement in 2013. The straight-talking and beloved dealer’s legacy is imprinted all over California: the Getty Research Institute acquired her gallery’s extensive archive in 2015 and in 2019, her alma mater, UCLA, opened the Margo Leavin Graduate Art Studios in Culver City thanks to a $20 million donation. (LA Times)

Van Gogh to Hit the Block as Part of Restitution Settlement – A painting of haystacks by the Dutch artist will be auctioned at Christie’s New York on November 11 following complicated three-way negotiations among two Jewish families who owned the piece during the Nazi era and the painting’s current owners, the heirs of recently deceased oil tycoon Edwin Cox. The painting has not been exhibited publicly since 1905, has never before been reproduced in color, and carries an estimate of $20 million to $30 million. The auction house says it could set a new record for a work on paper by Van Gogh; the sale’s proceeds, per the NYT, will be divided among the three claimants. (The Art NewspaperNew York Times)

Antiquities Dealer Admits to Selling Fakes – New York art dealer Mehrdad Sadigh admitted to hawking thousands of fake antiquities from his Fifth Avenue gallery, saying in a statement that “I can only say that I was driven by financial greed.” Speaking at the State Supreme Court in Manhattan, Sadigh acknowledged selling mass-produced objects made to look old to unsuspecting customers for decades, adding that he paid a company to watch for Google search results and other red flags pointing to suspicions of his fraud. Undercover investigators posing as buyers caught Sadigh and arrested him in August; he pleaded guilty to seven felony counts including charges of grand larceny and forgery. (New York Times)


Javier Calleja Stars at Sotheby’s Hong Kong – Sotheby’s $22.5 million contemporary art day sale in Hong Kong saw notable demand for the Spanish artist Javier Calleja, whose work made up three of the top 10 lots. Each hammered for between six and eight times its low estimate. (For more on Calleja’s red-hot market, check out Artnet News Pro.) (Art Market Monitor

RIBA Stirling Prize Awarded – A university town house has won the Riba Sterling Prize, which honors the U.K.’s best new building. The “warm, dynamic” building at Kingston University London, which contains a dance studio and library, was designed by Grafton Architects. (BBC)

A Palestinian Refugee Camp Seeks UNESCO Status – For the past seven years, Alessandro Petti and Sandi Hilal have been compiling a dossier to submit the Dheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem to UNESCO for consideration for world heritage protected status. The refugee camp has existed since 1949 and a new exhibition at London’s Mosaic Rooms considers how the site of mass displacement could be worthy of the same protections as Machu Picchu, Venice, or the Taj Mahal. (Guardian)

Newly Discovered Sir Joshua Reynolds Painting Goes to Auction – An artwork recently attributed to Sir Joshua Reynolds, the renowned painter and first president of the Royal Academy of Art, is on sale at Cotswold Art & Antiques Dealers’ Association Fair, which runs until Sunday. The work, Two Young Girls With Bonnets in a Woodland Setting (c. 1780–85) was recently restored—and it earned a new attribution in the process. (BBC)


Sotheby’s Had a Very Clever Marketing Campaign for Its Banksy Sale – Sotheby’s London, which sold Banksy’s infamous Love Is in the Bin last night for a staggering $25.4 million (three years after the original fetched $1.4 million), created an Instagram-ready tableau outside its Bond Street HQ to generate buzz ahead of the auction. Its typical flag was—you guessed it—half shredded. Give someone in the marketing department a raise! (Instagram)


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