Art Industry News: Italian Police Just Confiscated Nearly 500 Francis Bacon Works They Suspect Are Fake + Other Stories

Plus, the Pinault Collection poaches the Palais de Tokyo's director, and Karl Lagerfeld's treasures hit the auction block.

Artist Francis Bacon at the Tate Gallery in London. 21/05/1985. Photograph. Photo by Votava/Imagno/Getty Images.
Artist Francis Bacon at the Tate Gallery in London in 1985. Photo by Votava/Imagno/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 Tuesday, September 14.


A Look at Jasper Johns’s Latest Work – There aren’t many artists alive whose every new work is regarded as a newsworthy event—but Jasper Johns is one of them. Ahead of Johns’s two-venue retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the artist’s biographer Deborah Solomon takes a deep dive into his latest painting, Slice, which is inspired by the work of astrophysicist Margaret Geller. (New York Times)

Baltimore Museum Gets Grant to “Dismantle Museum Structures” – The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has given the Baltimore Museum of Art a $150,000 grant to research “what form a museum would take if an institution was reconceived from scratch.” An eight-member committee of local and regional leaders will help advise the museum on how it could better serve its community. Findings from the project will be presented in a public convening in spring 2022. (Artforum)

Nearly 500 Purported Francis Bacon Works Confiscated in Italy – Italian police have confiscated nearly 500 works believed to be fake Francis Bacons. The lead suspect in the case, an art collector in Bologna, was previously the subject of a 2018 investigation into two fake Picassos and a number of questionable Francis Bacons. Italian police said the seizure of the 485 works was done proactively to avoid potentially fraudulent sales. The pieces will now be examined by experts. (ARTnews)

Karl Lagerfeld’s Collection Heads to Sotheby’s – Sotheby’s has nabbed the estate of Karl Lagerfeld and will sell more than 1,000 lots from the late designer’s eight houses across eight auctions. The sales will be held in Monaco from December 3–5, Paris from December 14–15, and Cologne in the spring. The collection includes art by Jeff Koons, a portrait of Lagerfeld by Takashi Murakami (estimate: €80,000–€120,000), and some of the bowls favored by his famous cat, Choupette. (Guardian)


Unicorns, UFOS, and Witches at Deitch – Chloe Wyma reports from the opening of “The Emerald Tablet,” Ariana Papademetropoulos’s painting show at Jeffrey Deitch gallery in L.A. that doubles as a summoning of various strands of occult art, from Agnes Pelton and Leonora Carrington to a performance with doves from the UFO-loving Unarius Institute. There are guest appearances in the report from Beck, “indie-rock whistler” Molly Lewis, and Jordan Wolfson’s fridge. Papademetropoulos’s paintings sound pretty good too. (Artforum)

Pinault Collection Names New Leader – Mega-collector François Pinault has named Emma Lavigne as the next general manager of the Pinault Collection in Paris. Lavigne, who is president of the Palais de Tokyo, will replace the current head and former culture minister Jean-Jacques Aillagon on November 1. (Press release)

Berkshire Museum Director Out – Jeff Rodgers has abruptly left his post as director of the Berkshire Museum after just two and a half years. The decision comes just after the museum reopened its revamped second-floor galleries, which were funded by its controversial deaccessioning in 2018. The museum did not offer an explanation or give details about where Rodgers is headed next. (Berkshire Eagle)

Artist (and Boris Johnson’s Mom) Charlotte Johnson Wahl Has Died – Boris Johnson’s mother Charlotte Johnson Wahl has died at the age of 79. Wahl, who was a painter known for her portraits of sitters including actor Joanna Lumley and writer Jilly Cooper, died “suddenly and peacefully,” according to a notice in the Times. (Evening Standard)


Sung Tieu Wins Frieze Artist Award – The Berlin-based artist is the winner of the 2021 award for emerging artists. The prize comes with the opportunity to debut a major new commission during Frieze London in October. Sung Tieu’s forthcoming film will explore the psychological dimension of warfare, acoustic weaponry, and its relationship to Cold War ideologies. (Instagram)


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