Art Industry News: Brad Pitt’s Foundation Sues the Architect Behind His Ramshackle Post-Katrina Homes + Other Stories

Plus, Shell ends its sponsorship of London's National Gallery and Nelson Rockefeller's gifted Pollock comes to Phillips.

Brad Pitt in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images For Paramount Pictures)

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 Monday, October 22. 


Shell Ends National Gallery Sponsorship – The oil company has ended its fraught sponsorship of London’s National Gallery after 12 years. The relationship has attracted heavy criticism and dramatic protests over the years by environmental activists including Greenpeace. The contract with Sell, worth an estimated $26,000 to $46,000 a year, expired in January. The oil company says it intends to shift its philanthropic focus to funding STEM education programs. (Frieze)

Russian Cultural Organization Strengthens Ties With Saudi Arabia – Against the backdrop of the growing international crisis over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Russian Direct Investment Fund has announced it will take an art exhibition from the State Russian Museum to Saudi Arabia. A Russian delegation will also attend the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Future Investment Initiative Conference in Riyadh this week, with an official citing “rapidly developing” relations between the two countries. Russia’s president Vladimir Putin says that he doesn’t have sufficient information about Khashoggi’s death to justify severing ties with the Saudis. (The Art Newspaper)

Brad Pitt Foundation Sues Architect – The actor’s New Orleans relief organization, Make It Right, built 150 environmentally sustainable homes for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Thirteen years later, many of the people who live in those homes have had issues with their pipes, mold, and foundations. After residents filed a class action suit against the foundation over the design flaws, the organization is now in turn suing the architect John C. Williams, who designed more than 100 of the houses. (Monopol)

US Helps Heir Recover Dutch Painting Once Owned by Hitler – American prosecutors are helping the heirs of Jewish Old Master art collector Adolphe Schloss recover A Scholar Sharpening His Quill (1639) by Salomon Koninck. The painting, seized by the Nazis during WWII and ultimately placed in Hitler’s personal collection, resurfaced at a New York auction house last fall. Prosectors are now asking a court to hand it over to Schloss’s heirs. (Bloomberg)


Christie’s Will Sell Two Giacomettis This Fall – The auction house will offer Femme assise (conceived 1949 and cast in 1957), which has never before hit the auction block, as well as the Lambert Collection’s Le Chat (conceived 1951 and cast 1955) in its November 11 evening sale of Impressionist and Modern art. The lots will each carry an estimate of $14 million to $18 million. (Press release)

Art-Market Denizens Reveal Their Main Challenges – The Art Newspaper checks in with seasoned art-world figures at FIAC about their biggest struggles in today’s market. Dealers Guillermo Romero Parra and Anne-Claudie Coric say the biggest challenge is navigating the art-fair system, while secondary market gallerist Franck Prazan says he struggles to continue to source high-quality material. (TAN)

Pollock Painting Bought for $300 Comes to Auction – In 1950, future US Vice President Nelson Rockefeller bought the small drip painting Number 16 for just $306. Now, Rio de Janeiro’s Museu de Arte Moderna is putting it up for sale at Phillips New York on November 15 with an estimate of $18 million. Rockefeller donated the work to the museum, which is now strapped for cash. (Bloomberg)

Brooklyn’s Signal Gallery to Close – After six years, the beloved Bushwick gallery Signal will close after its next exhibition, which opens on November 2. Cofounder Kyle Clairmont Jacques says the gallery, which experienced rapid success, had to “‘scale up’ and professionalize,” which he felt was not in line with their motivations for starting the space. (ARTnews)


France’s Piscine Museum Reopens After becoming an unexpected hit with audiences, the art-deco swimming pool in the unassuming city of Roubaix has completed a two-year, €9 million ($10.3 million) renovation. The reopening of La Piscine Museum of Art and Industry is set for Saturday, expanding into an ex-factory mill adjacent to the art-deco public bath and collection. (Guardian)

Design Miami Announces Visionary Award Winners – Artist Pedro Reyes and fashion designer Carla Fernández, both from Mexico, are this year’s winners of Design Miami’s esteemed Design Visionary Award. Previous winners include Zaha Hadid. (designboom)


Easter Islanders Want to Substitute a Replica for Statue at the British Museum – The Rapa Nui people want to recover one of the famous Easter Island statues from the British Museum’s collection. In exchange, they are offering to create a replica of the four-ton moai, which represents tribal leaders and ancestors, for the museum to use in its place. A delegation will travel to London with the support of the Chilean government on November 23 to negotiate the potential swap. (Press release)

How an Instagram Account Became an Exhibition – A few years ago, Guadalupe Rosales began an Instagram account, “Veteranas and Rucas,” on a lark to document popular culture of ’90s Chicano youth, a part of her history that she did not see reflected in mainstream media. Over time, she accrued a substantial archive—and a substantial art-world following. Her work is now the subject of solo shows at institutions on both coasts: the Vincent Price Museum in LA and the Aperture Foundation in New York. (Los Angeles Times

Welcome the Bangkok Biennial – The first Bangkok Biennial is on view now and will run until February 2019 in the Thai capital. A number of religious sites, including Buddhist temples, are hosting site-specific artworks, with guests traveling along the Chao Phraya River between venues. Highlights include an Elmgreen & Dragset installation Zero (2018), and Korean artist Lee Bul’s silver room Diluvium at the East Asiatic Building. See them below. (South China Morning Post)


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