Art Industry News: Saudi Royals Are Selling Off Art, Jewels, and Yachts as the Crown Prince Tightens Purse Strings + Other Stories

Plus, Paris's mayor orders an investigation into alleged misconduct at the city's museums, and UNESCO postpones a meeting in Russia.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Photo: Fayez Nureldine/AFP/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 on this Monday, April 25.


Smashed Guardian Hard Drives Head to British Library – Hard drives that Guardian executives destroyed in order to avoid handing over leaked documents from Edward Snowden, the whistleblower responsible for the biggest intelligence leak in U.S. history, are among the objects featured in the British Library show “Breaking the News,” which runs until August 22. (Guardian)

Paris Mayor Orders Investigation Into City’s Museums – Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, has ordered investigators to look into reports of sexual harassment, racism, and sexism at six of the city’s 14 government-run museums. The allegations were first published in the French newspaper Libération earlier this month. (Apollo)

Saudi Royals Are Selling Off Loads of Art – Saudi princes have reportedly sold off more than $600 million worth of assets—including real estate, art, and yachts—in the U.S. and Europe in order to pay their vast bills as the kingdom’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, tightens the purse strings of thousands of royals. Treasures sold off recently include a $155 million British country estate, two yachts more than 200 feet long, and Mughal jewels gifted as wedding presents by a late king. (Wall Street Journal)

Bolivia’s Venice Biennale Pavilion Is Mired in Controversy – Bolivian artists Maximiliano Siñani and Iván Cáceres and curator Marisabel Villagómez have accused the Indigenous artist Roberto Mamani Mamani, the commissioner of the country’s pavilion, and the multidisciplinary Warmichacha Collective, who are representing Bolivia in Venice, of nepotism and plagiarism. The trio said that shortly after their proposal was approved by the nation’s authorities in January, all communication ceased—and Mamani’s final project bears striking resemblance to their initial idea. (ARTnews)


Seized Pissarro to Be Sold at Christie’s – A Pissarro painting that was subject to a legal battle between the heirs of a Jewish couple whose collection was seized by the Nazis and a Jewish family who bought the work in 1994 will be sold at auction in May after the two parties reached a confidential settlement. The Anse des Pilotes, Le Havre is expected to fetch between $1.2 million and $1.8 million at Christie’s New York on May 14. (New York Times)

UNESCO Indefinitely Postpones World Heritage Meeting In Russia – The annual World Heritage Committee session that was due to take place in Kazan, Russia from June 19 to 30 has been postponed indefinitely following pressure from cultural organizations around the world. Stakeholders have said that such a session could not be held in a country that has damaged or destroyed nearly 100 cultural sites in Ukraine during its ongoing invasion. (The Art Newspaper)

Venice Benefit Auction Raised Over $1.3 Million for Ukraine – A splashy benefit dinner and auction helmed by Simon de Pury in Venice last week raised more than €1.2 million ($1.3 million) for humanitarian efforts in Ukraine. The funds will be distributed to organizations including Museums for Ukraine, the Maria Prymachenko Foundation, the Ukrainian Emergency Pavilion, and Ukrainian Emergency Art Fund. (Press release)


Sterling Ruby Decorates the Façade of Berggruen Arts & Culture – The American artist installed a gigantic relief sculpture on the facade of Palazzo Diedo, the home of collector Nicolas Berggruen’s new cultural organization and think tank in Venice. The installation by Ruby—the organization’s first artist-in-residence—marks the first phase of “A Project in Four Acts,” a four-part, long-term installation. (Monopol)

Sterling Ruby's HEX on the façade of Palazzo Diedo, the home of Berggruen Arts & Culture, and the first phase of “A Project in Four Acts,” during the opening week of the 59th Biennale Arte on April 20, 2022 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Simone Padovani/Awakening/Getty Images for Berggruen Arts & Culture)

Sterling Ruby’s HEX on the façade of Palazzo Diedo, the home of Berggruen Arts & Culture. (Photo by Simone Padovani/Awakening/Getty Images for Berggruen Arts & Culture)

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.