Art Industry News: Stephen Hawking’s Wheelchair Will Be Auctioned Off at Christie’s + Other Stories

Plus, the Louvre Abu Dhabi acquires new treasures and New York City announces its largest cultural budget ever.

Stephen Hawking, the late professor of mathematics at the University of Cambridge, delivering a speech entitled "Why we should go into space" during a lecture series marking NASA's 50th anniversary April 21, 2008, at George Washington University's Morton Auditorium in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul. E. Alers/NASA via Getty Images)

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 Tuesday, October 23. 


Architects Pull Out of Saudi Megacity – As part of the ongoing fallout from the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the cultural sphere, a number of board members for a $500 billion planned megacity in Saudi Arabia have withdrawn their names from the project, including architect Norman Foster and Apple chief design officer Jonathan Ive. The project, NEOM, is a 10,000-square-mile megacity on the coast of the Red Sea. (HyperallergicAsia Art Pacific)

Lil Wayne (Indirectly) Pays for London Art Student’s Tuition – Joy Bonfield-Colombara, an art student who specializes in jewelry and metalwork, got a lucky break when a friend of the rapper Lil Wayne reached out to commission a gold pendant in the shape of his friend’s face as a birthday present. Bonfield-Colombara, who had been struggling to pay her tuition at the Royal College of Art, accepted the gig—and managed to make enough to pay her bills. We will admit, however, that this does seem like a not-so-replicable strategy for other art students with hefty tuition. (BBC)

You Can Own Stephen Hawking’s Thesis – Christie’s has announced that the late physicist’s thesis, wheelchair, and, a script he kept for an episode of The Simpsons (he was a fan and appeared on the show several times) will go on sale in an online auction. The 22-lot sale from Hawking’s estate runs from October 31 through November 8. (Daily Mail)

Louvre Abu Dhabi Acquires New Treasures – A monumental ancient Chinese sculpture, a 17th-century French tapestry, and a collection of Moorish carpets are among the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s eclectic new acquisitions. The objects will go on view this month alongside new loans from French national museums, including works by Van Gogh, Monet, and Man Ray. Nevertheless, the museum’s announcement was as notable for what was left out as what was included: No word yet on when its most high-profile acquisition, Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, will go on public view. (Press release)


Christie’s Sends $25 Million Picasso to Asia – A 1931 portrait of Picasso’s young mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter is heading to auction in New York on November 11. But first, it will take a trip to Asia, where interest in Western art has been heating up. Picasso painted La Lampe, which has an estimate of $25 million to $35 million, at the start of he and Walter’s famous affair. (Art Market Monitor)

Frieze Teams Up With the Drawing Center – The new director of New York’s The Drawing Center, Laura Hoptman, will serve as the curatorial advisor for the Spotlight sections at Frieze Masters in London and Frieze New York in 2019. In exchange, Frieze will support the center’s exhibitions and programs. Hoptman succeeds Toby Kamps, who recently left Houston’s Blaffer Art Museum for White Cube. (Press release)

Virgil Abloh and Takashi Murakami Can’t Stop Collaborating – For their latest joint project, the fashion designer and artist have mashed up their signature images for a show at Gagosian Beverly Hills. The 35 works they co-created include paintings featuring Murakami’s alter ego, Mr. DOB, and Abloh’s Off-White sign. Their next collaboration is a show of prints opening at Tokyo’s Oz Zingaro gallery this weekend. (ARTnews)

Sotheby’s Prints Sale Totals $11.9 Million – More than 300 prints and multiples by artists including Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol generated a total of $11.9 million at Sotheby’s latest sale. The top lot was a complete set of Jasper Johns’s print series Cicada (1981) from the former MoMA trustee David Teiger’s collection, which more than doubled its high estimate to sell for $1.2 million. (Press release)


Painter Harold Gregor Has Died – The painter known for his landscape paintings of the American Midwest was 89. The Illinois-based artist, who eventually earned the nickname “Dean of the Midwest Landscape,” rose to prominence in the 1970s with the photorealism movement. (ARTnews)

Studio Museum Raises $3.9 Million for Its 50th Anniversary – The Harlem institution raised a record $3.9 million during its annual gala last week. As part of its 50th anniversary celebrations, the museum awarded the 13th annual Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize to LA-based artist Diedrick Brackens, who has enjoyed a “meteoric rise,” in the museum’s words, over the past seven years. (Press release)

Jac Leirner Wins the Wolfgang Hahn Prize – The Ludwig Museum in Cologne has awarded the prominent prize to the São Paulo-based sculptor and conceptual artist. As part of the award, Leirner will receive a solo exhibition at the German museum, her work will be acquired for the collection, and she will pocket prize money of up to €100,000 ($115,000). (ARTnews)

Audemars Piguet to Present Tomás Saraceno Work – The company has commissioned the Berlin-based artist to create a new installation that will be unveiled on the oceanfront during this year’s Art Basel in Miami Beach (December 5–9). The large-scale pavilion comprises around 40 reflective, upturned umbrellas that together function as a sundial. (Press release)


New York City Announces Largest Cultural Budget Ever – The city’s department of cultural affairs has secured the largest ever allocation for culture: $198.4 million will support more than 1,000 organizations citywide next year. There is an additional $43.9 million available in funding for cultural programming. (Press release)

Pre-Columbian Statues Discovered – Archaeologists have unearthed some 20 wooden statues at the Chan Chan site in Peru, the largest pre-Columbian site in the Americas. Dating back 800 years, these black busts with white chalk faces are likely to have decorated a corridor of a thousand-year-old building. (Art Daily)

Getty Teams Up With Abu Dhabi – As part of the first collaboration between the Getty Conservation Institute and Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism, 20 conservators will study the preservation of earthen architecture in Al Ain, the oasis city and World Heritage Site in Abu Dhabi. (Press release)

Ugo Rondinone Brings Nevada Mountain to Liverpool – The New York-based Swiss artist has unveiled his most recent technicolored stack of Nevada rock in Liverpool, England. Rondinone hopes Liverpool Mountain will become a colorful icon in the otherwise gray city. It will be the lasting legacy of this year’s largely downbeat Liverpool Biennial. (Guardian)

Ugo Rondinone with Liverpool Mountain. Photo Rob Battersby.

Artist Ugo Rondinone with Liverpool Mountain. Photo Mark McNulty.

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