Art Industry News: Did Banksy Fake the Shredding of ‘Girl With a Balloon’? + Other Stories

Plus, Robin Williams's collection brings in $6.1 million at Sotheby's and a Titian painting is damaged after it falls off the wall in Madrid.

Twitter user Steve Bowler speculates that the street artist may have faked the shredding of his work. Image by @gamism via Twitter.

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 8.


Andy Warhol’s Ancestral Home Cashes In – The village in Slovakia where the Warhola family lived before moving to the United States has embraced its native son Andy Warhol, who put what he once called “nowhere” on the map. There is now a Warhol cottage industry for tourists. But the artist’s cousin Julia Varcholova, who owns the old family well, is not a fan of her relative’s art. In America, “you don’t need to be very good at something,” she says—you just need to be different. (New York Times)

Why Selling Kerry James Marshall’s Mural Is a Bad Idea – The Chicago-based artist is not the only one unhappy with the Chicago public libraries’ plans to sell his mural Knowledge and Wonder. “This is the behavior of a country cousin squandering an unforeseen inheritance, not the steward of a city’s patrimony,” writes critic Jason Fargo. Our own Tim Schneider has a few thoughts on the plan, too. (NYTartnet News)

Did Banksy Fake the Shredding of Girl With a Balloon? – Speculation is running rampant after Banksy’s viral stunt at Sotheby’s over the weekend in which his work self-destructed in the auction room as soon as it sold for $1.4 million. One savvy Twitter user has a conspiracy theory, however: He points out that the shredded work is not in line with the painting supposedly being swallowed, suggesting that the street artist actually shredded a copy of the work and not the original. “If you look closely, the shredded print is at an angle to the original print—the head is out of sync with the body,” writes Steve Bowler. “It’s possible the original was rolled up at the end of the frame while the copy was sent through the shredder or pre-shredded.” (College Times)

Haroon Mirza Says Louis Vuitton Copied Him – The British artist was shocked to see that the luxury brand had unveiled window displays that he describes as “blatant appropriations” of his solar-powered sculptures: both use solar panels to power rotating turntables with objects displayed on top. Instead of taking legal action, however, Mirza decided to give the brand a taste of its own medicine. He appropriated its famous logo for his new series on view at Frieze last week. (The Art Newspaper)


Robin Williams’s Collection Raises $6.1 Million – More than 2,000 collectors registered to bid for some 300 works owned by the late actor and his second wife, film producer and philanthropist Marsha Garces Williams. The sale of art and memorabilia raised $6.1 million. Proceeds will go to charities including the Juilliard School in New York, where a permanent scholarship will be established in Williams’s name. (AFP)

China Guardian Auctions Total $141.8 Million – The company’s Hong Kong autumn auctions totaled HK $690 million ($87.9 million). The 12 sales racked up the Chinese auction house’s highest total for the series to date. Its annual sales are now up 17 percent on 2017. (Press release)

Antiques Trade Accused of Rhino Horn “Laundering” – The charity Save the Rhino has criticized the UK antiques trade, claiming it “launders” rhino horn. It is legal in Britain to sell carved rhino horn that dates from before 1947—but sellers do not need to provide proof of age or provenance, which means it’s possible to bend the rules. Around 89 percent of items sold lack proper documentation, researchers found. (Times, Press release)


Siegen’s Museum Names a New Director – The current director of the Bielefelder Kunstverein, Thomas Thiel, will take up the role at Siegen in April 2019. Thiel succeeds Eva Schmidt, who is leaving the museum to work as a freelance critic and curator. (Artforum)

Collector William Helfand Has Died – The collector of prints and posters documenting the products pushed by snake oil salesmen died in Connecticut on Tuesday at age 92. His collection, the bulk of which he gave to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the New York Academy of Medicine, and other institutions, documented the trade of sham medical treatments and other quackery, from “bile beans” to “hygienic undergarments.” (New York Times)

Pasadena Museum of California Art Shutters – After the board voted to pull the plug in June, the museum finally closed its doors on Sunday after 16 years of operation. The building is up for sale by owners Arlene and Bob Oltman. The museum’s collection will most likely be given to other local museums, while the local school district will receive its art books. (Pasadena Star-News)


Tate’s Most Popular Exhibition Was in China – “Landscapes of the Mind: Masterpieces from Tate Britain (1700–1980)” brought in 615,000 visitors over its 14-week run at the Shanghai Museum. The stats for the show, which is now on view at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing, beat Tate’s previous most successful exhibition, Henri Matisse’s cut-outs at Tate Modern in 2014, which attracted 467,000 visitors over 21 weeks. (TAN)

Titian Christ Is Damaged After Falling Off the Wall – A masterpiece by the Venetian painter depicting a crucified Christ fell off the wall in the El Escorial monastery in Madrid, causing a 35.5-inch tear in the canvas. Its upper fastenings gave way due to crumbling plaster on the wall behind it and it fell onto a dresser below. Conservators say it can be restored. The figure of Christ was undamaged. (Le Journal des Arts)

Paris Museum Reveals 62 Hidden Masterpieces – The Musée Marmottan is exhibiting 62 works from private collections that have rarely been shown in public in “Private Collections,” which features works by Monet, Renoir, Camille Claudel, and Rodin, among others. The works have been lent by 30 collectors. (France Info)

Meet Mildred, Tate Modern’s Stylish Cat – Artist Tania Bruguera’s Instagrams of the cat who likes to hang out in Tate Modern’s staff parking lot first alerted artnet News to this cultured feline. We can now reveal her name: Mildred. She likes to hang out on a parked moped and take lots of naps. The staff has made a stylish structure for her daily sleepovers. Her home away from home (she lives nearby) recalls Grant Wood’s American Gothic with a nod to Charles Schulz. Ahead of Bruguera’s Turbine Hall commission, Mildred kept an eye on logistics, checking materials as they arrived. (Instagram)


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