Art Industry News: Justin Sun First Learned About Giacometti Only Hours Before Bidding $78 Million for His Work + Other Stories

Plus, Rome's Maxxi museum is launching a $42 million green expansion project, and Jaime Botín’s confiscated Picasso goes on view.

Justin Sun. Courtesy Tron

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 Monday, February 14. Happy Valentine’s Day!


Doodling Russian Guard Speaks Out – The museum guard who drew eyes on a $1 million painting in Russia has spoken out, calling his action “not at all funny” and admitting he feels like “a fool.” He is an accoladed, injured veteran who fought in the Afghan and Chechen wars, where he sustained severe head injuries. He doodled eyes on Anna Leporskaya’s painting with a ballpoint pen in Ekaterinburg last December. (The Art Newspaper)

Why Celebs Are So Obsessed With NFTs – Some have attributed celebrities’ newfound NFT obsession to sheer business savvy, as top Hollywood agencies now represent the creators of the Bored Ape Yacht Club and Crypto Punks. But Canice Prendergast, an economics professor in Chicago, offers a psychological explanation: celebrities simply cannot resist joining elite clubs. “It’s not that different from taking a private jet to Art Basel and attending VIP parties,” he said. (South China Morning Post)

Will NFT Collectors Actually Cross Over Into Art? – Art dealers are rushing to convert crypto-rich NFT enthusiasts to the joys of collecting physical art. Some are buying in. Pete D., the anonymous crypto collector, visited Miami during Art Basel Miami Beach and picked up a 1950 tapestry by Le Corbusier from Boccara Gallery. Many of these new clients are quick studies. Justin Sun’s art advisor, Sydney Xiong, said her client didn’t know anything about Giacometti until a few hours before he bought the artist’s Le Nez for $78.4 million at Sotheby’s. (New York Times)

What If Donors Invested in People Instead of Buildings? – In August 2020, philanthropist Adrienne Arsht pledged $5 million to fund paid internships for 120 graduate and undergraduate students at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The gift shows a possible model for other wealthy donors who wish to make long-term contributions to museums. Instead of funding new wings or renovations, invest in diversity, equity, and inclusion. (Fast Company)


Jaime Botín’s Picasso Is on View at the Reina Sofía – The Picasso painting that got collector Jaime Botín into serious legal trouble is now on view at the Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid. The $27 million work Head of a Young Woman (1906) was seized by authorities in 2015 after Botín was accused of trying to smuggle the work out of Spain to Switzerland. (ARTnews)

Maxxi Launches a Green Expansion – The Maxxi museum in Rome is launching an ambitious expansion called Grande Maxxi, which includes the construction Maxxi Hub, a new sustainable, multi-purpose building for art and science. The project is supported by €37.5 million ($42.4 million) from Italy’s ministry of culture. (TAN)

Ai Weiwei Pushes Back on Vaccine Mandates The outspoken Chinese artist says that while he is vaccinated, he is against making the vaccine compulsory. “If individuals are forced to be vaccinated through social pressure and public opinion, it will be a very dangerous social tendency,” he said. (TAN)


India Recovers Stolen Buddha – Indian officials recovered a Buddha statue that had gone missing more than 20 years ago from one of the country’s most important pilgrimage sites, Devisthan Kundalpur Temple in Bihar, India. The 1,200-year-old relic was surrendered by an Italian collector. (New York Times)

This nearly 1,200-year-old statue was looted from the Devisthan Kundalpur Temple. Photo: Christopher A. Marinello

This nearly 1,200-year-old statue was looted from the Devisthan Kundalpur Temple. Photo: Christopher A. Marinello

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