Art Industry News: Owner of a Detroit Erotica Shop Becomes Latest to Accuse Richard Prince of Theft + Other Stories

Plus, a new opera will tell the dramatic story of King Tut’s murder and Patrick Drahi alerts Sotheby’s staff to expect major budget cuts.

Installation view of Richard Prince's exhibition "Portraits" at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. Photo courtesy of MOCAD.

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, November 4.


What We Know About Drahi’s Plans for Sotheby’s – The new owner of Sotheby’s has told staff that significant budget cuts are on the way, but maintains that there will be no downsizing of staff. The French billionaire Patrick Drahi, who last week appointed a new CEO at Sotheby’s, plans to cut $66 million from the auction house’s budget, half of which will come from the end of share-based compensation at the newly private company. But Bloomberg notes that when Drahi bought a French telecommunications company, he also pledged to preserve jobs—and then cut a third of the workforce. Comparing Sotheby’s to a circus, art advisor Todd Levin says: “I don’t know what act will appear next under the big tent.” (Bloomberg)

A New Opera Tells the Dramatic Story of King Tut – Egypt’s former minister of antiquities, Zahi Hawass, has written an opera based on the life of King Tutankhamun. The production, which is co-written by Francesco Santocono with music by the Italian composer Lino Zimbone, will be performed at the opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo in late 2020. The opera focuses on Queen Nefertiti’s attempt to murder Tutankhamun after she was denied the throne. (The Art Newspaper)

A New Dispute Over Richard Prince’s Instagram Portraits – Richard Prince’s latest exhibition of Intsagram portraits is ruffling feathers in Detroit. Zöe Ligon, a Detroit-based sex-toy store owner and sex educator, was dismayed to see her selfie among those appropriated and displayed at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit without her consent. She called the show “a reckless, embarrassing, and uninformed critique of social media and public domain.” The museum’s director, Elysia Borowy-Reeder, met with Ligon before the show opened and offered to remove her likeness from the exhibition, but demurred when Ligon countered that she wanted them to take down the entire show instead. (ARTnews)

Steve McQueen on His Epic School-Photo Project – London’s Tate Britain is about to be transformed into a giant gallery of class photos. The Turner Prize- and Oscar-winning artist Steve McQueen has organized a giant photo shoot featuring 76,000 primary school children from across the city. Called Year 3, the 3,000 group portraits celebrate the cultural diversity of the British capital. He says he chose to focus on seven- and eight-year-olds because they are learning about race, class, and gender for the first time. McQueen hopes that “the people and the powers that be” see the children’s potential, although with knife attacks in the capital rising, some might not live to reach 21. (Guardian)


Richard Telles Gallery to Close – Los Angeles’s Richard Telles Fine Art, which has worked with artists including B. Wurtz and John McAllister, has become the latest midsize gallery to close its doors. Telles, who has been in business for 26 years, blamed increasing operating costs and diminished sales for the decision. Moving forward, he will continue to represent a small group of artists and organize pop-up exhibitions. (Artforum)

Phillips Taps Architect for New HQ – The practice StudioMDA will design the auction house’s new headquarters on Park Avenue in Manhattan, which will feature a giant “shopfront” space for exhibitions. StudioMDA has also designed galleries for Kasmin, Anton Kern Gallery, and Nahmad Contemporary. (Artforum)

Grease Outfit Sells for $407,700 at Auction – The iconic black leather outfit worn by Olivia Newton-John in the final scene of Grease sold for $405,700 at Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills, double its presale estimate. Some of the proceeds will go toward Newton-John’s cancer treatment center in Australia. (BBC)


Marciano Foundation Employees Seek to Form a Union Docents and visitor services associates at the Los Angeles art museum established by Guess Jeans founders Maurice and Paul Marciano want to create a union to address pay conditions. Their starting wage is currently set at the Los Angeles minimum of $14.25 an hour. Many of the employees looking to join the union also do freelance work or have second jobs to make ends meet. (New York Times)

Rex Tillerson Honored by Art Organization – The inaugural founder’s dinner for Ucross, an arts residency in Wyoming, raised over $1 million. The honoree of the event, former US Secretary of State and former chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson, received the first-ever Raymond Plank Award for Visionary Leadership. Tillerson is currently helping defend his former company against charges in New York that Exxon intentionally misled investors about the financial risk of climate change. (Press release)


Isabella Stewart Gardner Borrows the Pope’s Raphael To mark the 500th anniversary of the 15th-century painter Raphael’s death, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston is bringing together Raphael’s portrait of papal librarian Tommaso Inghirami from its collection with a painting featuring Inghirami from the Musei Vaticani in Vatican City. The show will be on view through January 26, 2020. (Art Daily)

Iran Unveils Murals Critical of US – To mark the 40th anniversary of the US hostage crisis in Tehran, which began on November 4, 1979, when Iranian students stormed the US embassy, several anti-US murals have appeared on the former embassy. One depicts a crumbling Statue of Liberty; another part of the mural shows the Iran Air passenger plane that was shot down by an American warship over the Gulf on July 3, 1988, killing 290 people. (AFP)

LACMA Gala Raises $4.6 Million – The Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s star-studded and Gucci-sponsored gala this weekend welcomed the likes of Billie Eillish, Sienna Miller, and Childish Gambino. The event, which raised $4.6 million for the museum, fêted 93-year-old artist Betye Saar and Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuarón. (Los Angeles Times)


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LACMA hosted its ninth annual Art+Film Gala on Saturday, November 2, 2019, honoring artist Betye Saar and filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón. Co-chaired by LACMA trustee Eva Chow and actor Leonardo DiCaprio, the event brought together more than 800 prominent guests and raised more than $4.6 million, with proceeds supporting LACMA’s film initiatives and future exhibitions, acquisitions, and programming. The 2019 Art+Film Gala was made possible through the generous support of @gucci. Swipe through for just a few highlights from the evening. ✨ __ In order of appearance: __ Gala honorees Betye Saar and Alfonso Cuarón. Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for LACMA __ Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele, Gala honoree Betye Saar, LACMA CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director Michael Govan, LACMA trustee and Art+Film Gala co-chair Eva Chow, and Gala honoree Alfonso Cuarón. Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for LACMA __ Artist Mark Bradford and model, actor, and businesswoman Naomi Campbell. Photo by Billy Farrell/ __ Donald Glover honors filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón. Photo by Billy Farrell/ __ John Legend honors artist Betye Saar. Photo by Billy Farrell/ __ Billie Eilish introduces 2019 Art+Film Gala performer Anderson .Paak. Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for LACMA __ Artist and past honoree Catherine Opie and artist Julie Burleigh. Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for LACMA __ Actor-producer Salma Hayek and François-Henri Pinault. Photo by Billy Farrell/ __ Monique McWilliams and artist Lauren Halsey. Photo by Billy Farrell/ __ Anderson .Paak performs at the 2019 LACMA Art+Film Gala. Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for LACMA

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