Art Industry News: If This Botticelli Sells for $80 Million, It Will Save Its Billionaire Owner a Whopping $33 Million in Taxes Too + Other News

Plus, artist Charles Gaines establishes a fellowship for Black MFA students and the Cleveland Museum of Art plans layoffs to avoid a $6 million shortfall.

Sandro Botticelli, Young Man Holding a Roundel. Image courtesy Sotheby'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 8.


Charles Gaines Creates a New Fellowship for Black Art Students – The artist has established a fellowship to support Black students in the California Institute of the Arts’s MFA program, where he has long served as a faculty member. The eponymous fellowship will cover at least two-thirds of the fellows’ tuition. Gaines’s donation was matched by trustee Jill Kraus and gallerist David Kordansky. The goal, Gaines said, is “to help make possible access to opportunities that have been historically denied to people of color and that most Americans take for granted.” (New York Times)

Perelman Isn’t Just Selling Off His Art – The billionaire Ron Perelman is Marie Kondo-ing his life. In addition to selling several companies he owns and hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of art, he has now put two adjacent Upper East Side townhouses on the market for a combined $75 million. It’s the latest chapter in a large-scale divestment by Perelman as his business empire roils from the current economic situation. This week, Perelman also sold paintings by Cy Twombly and Gerhard Richter at auction for more than $60 million combined. (Bloomberg)

The $80 Million Botticelli Comes With Big Tax Savings – Under normal circumstances, the real-estate billionaire Sheldon Solow’s sale of his exquisite Botticelli painting, Young Man Holding a Roundel, would come with at least $33 million in capital gains tax. (The work is expected to sell for more than $80 million at Sotheby’s in January.) But Solow has routed the work through his private foundation, which now owns 99 percent of the painting, meaning the billionaire will owe only a fraction of that sum. It is a strategy often used, perfectly legally, buy tax-averse elites—though Solow’s son declined to specify how the foundation will use the sale proceeds. Solow bought the work for $1.3 million in 1982 and “donated” fractions of it to his foundation over the years, gaining tax deductions for charitable donations along the way. (Bloomberg)

The Cleveland Museum Plans Layoffs to Avoid $6 Million Shortfall – The institution plans to counterbalance a projected $6.2 million loss this year by laying off or furloughing 10 percent of its staff. A total of 24 employees will have their jobs cut, while some 40 full- and part-time staff have voluntarily resigned in exchange for continued benefits and enhanced severance. Trustees have also donated a total of around $4 million to help close the gap. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)


Hauser and Wirth Sells $15 Million on Day One of Frieze – The cancelled Frieze fairs launched their online viewing rooms to VIPs yesterday, and sales came fast for mega-galleries like David Zwirner and Hauser and Wirth. The latter sold some $15 million worth of art on day one by artists including Jack Whitten and Mark Bradford. Meanwhile, Zwirner parted ways with works by artists including Oscar Murillo and Harold Ancart for prices between $150,000 and $350,000. (ARTnews)

Experts Speculate Who Bought the T-Rex… – The unusual top lot at Christie’s evening sale on Tuesday—a $31.8 million T-Rex named Stan—sold through its London desk, generating speculation that it was purchased by a Middle Eastern client. Museum experts had petitioned Christie’s to limit the sale to public institutions that would retain the skeleton for academic and public use, but the auction went ahead as planned. (New York Times)

…While Yet Another Dino Comes to Auction – A large Allosaur, a species much older than the T-Rex, will go up for sale at Drouot auction house in Paris on October 13. The 32-foot skeleton is estimated to sell for between €1 million and €1.2 million ($1.2 and $1.4 million). The auction house is marketing the specimen as the “grandfather of the T-Rex.” (Press release)

700-Year-Old Scroll Depicting Drunk Princes Sells in Hong Kong – A Yuan dynasty scroll called Five Drunken Princes Returning on Horseback made by renowned Chinese artist Ren Renfa sold to an unknown buyer at Sotheby’s for £32 million ($41.4 million), more than doubling its $15.5 million high estimate. (Guardian)


TEFAF Pushed Back From March to May 2021 – Citing the current “uncertainty and challenges” worldwide, TEFAF Maastricht has postponed next year’s edition, moving it back from its usual mid-March slot to May. The fair will also take place over fewer days, from May 31 to June 6. (Press release)

Bourse de Commerce Will Open in January – François Pinault’s much-anticipated Paris museum, the Bourse de Commerce, will finally open to the public on January 23, 2021. The mega-collector says in a statement that he hopes the institution will add to “the renaissance of the Parisian cultural sphere” after this difficult year. (Press release)

The Cummer Museum Names a New Director – The Cummer Museum of Art in Jacksonville, Florida has tapped Andrea Barnwell Brownlee as its new director and chief executive. She has been the director of the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art in Atlanta, Georgia for nearly 20 years. She will take up her new role in December. (Press release)


P.A.I.N. Condemns Sackler Settlement Proposal – Artist Nan Goldin’s activist group P.A.I.N. has condemned a proposed government settlement with the OxyContin-producing pharmaceutical company owned by the Sacklers, Purdue Pharma. The group called the proposal, which would see the company pay $3 billion to the victims of the opioid crisis but grant the Sacklers protection from future liability, “justice for sale.” (Hyperallergic)

Marina Abramović Defends Herself Against Allegations of Satanism (Again) – The world-famous performance artist, who is being featured in a new documentary for BBC One’s “Imagine” series, has stated again, for the record, that she is not a satanist, as some corners of the internet have proposed. “This is something I have been deeply bothered by,” she says. “I’m an artist, I’m not a satanist. They Googled me, and I am perfection to fit a conspiracy theory.” (Guardian)

The Getty Mounts an Interactive Ed Ruscha Tribute – The Getty Research Institute has pulled together an interactive online project called “12 Sunsets” that looks at the LA photographer’s documentation of Sunset Boulevard over the decades. Users can “travel” along the road and through the years to explore Ruscha’s 65,000 photographs of the strip. (Press release)

From Cesar Chavez Avenue, 2007, Ed Ruscha. From the Streets of Los Angeles Archive. The Getty Research Institute, 2012.M.1. © Ed Ruscha.

From Cesar Chavez Avenue, 2007, Ed Ruscha. From the Streets of Los Angeles Archive. The Getty Research Institute, 2012.M.1. © Ed Ruscha.

From Sunset Blvd, 1966, Ed Ruscha. Streets of Los Angeles Archive. The Getty Research Institute, 2012.M.1. © Ed Ruscha

From Sunset Blvd, 1966, Ed Ruscha. Streets of Los Angeles Archive. The Getty Research Institute, 2012.M.1. © Ed Ruscha

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