Art Industry News: Maurizio Cattelan Hopes the Thieves Who Stole His Gold Toilet Are Planning a ‘Robin Hood-Inspired Action’ + Other Stories

Plus, renowned designer and MIT Media Lab professor Neri Oxman is in hot water and Banksy's painting of Parliament heads to Sotheby's.

Maurizio Cattelan, poses near one of his sculptures before the opening of his exhibition "Not afraid of love." Photo by Alain Jocard/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, September 16.


Neri Oxman Caught Up in Epstein Controversy – The controversy over the MIT Media Lab’s ties to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein has now ensnared Neri Oxman, the celebrated designer whose work has been collected by museums including the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum and the Centre Georges Pompidou and who will be the subject of an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York this February. The Boston Globe reports that MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito, who has since resigned, asked Oxman to court Epstein. She and her students made him a “grapefruit-sized, 3-D printed marble” as a thank-you gift for a $125,000 donation to her design lab. “I regret having received funds from Epstein, and deeply apologize to my students for their inadvertent involvement in this mess,” Oxman said in a statement. (Boston Globe)

New York Attorney General Claims the Sacklers Hid $1 Billion Abroad – As Purdue Pharma files for bankruptcy, and the Sacklers attempt to head off hundreds of legal cases, the philanthropic family faces new allegations that they used Swiss and other hidden accounts to transfer $1 billion from the company into their own pockets. New York attorney general Letitia James said in a statement that the Sacklers were attempting to “lowball victims and skirt a responsible settlement.” On Sunday, the maker of OxyContin filed for bankruptcy, and Purdue announced a $10 billion deal to settle outstanding legal claims, which the activist-artist Nan Goldin has condemned as a “fake settlement.” (Courthouse NewsGuardian)

Maurizio Cattelan Says Toilet Theft Is No Joke – The artist, who has been known to pull pranks on the public, has made it clear that he had nothing to do with the theft of his solid gold toiletAmerica, from an exhibition at Blenheim Palace. “I wish it was a prank,” he said, adding that the crime “is deadly serious if even a little bit surreal since the subject of the robbery was a toilet.” He said he, too, thought it was a joke at first (“Who’s so stupid to steal a toilet?”)—but then remembered it is made out of solid gold, and worth at least $4 million melted down. Cattelan hopes the work, which went viral when a Guggenheim curator offered to loan it to the White House, will continue to serve its intended purpose even after its disappearance: “America was the one percent for the 99 percent,” he said, “and I hope it still is. I want to be positive and think the robbery is a kind of Robin Hood-inspired action.” (New York Times)

US Judge Strikes Down French Court’s Picasso Ruling – A US judge has ruled that an art publisher’s use of images of Picasso paintings in two scholarly catalogues was, in fact, fair use. The ruling goes against a French court’s €2 million ($2.25 million) judgement from 2012 against Alan Wofsy, who reproduced the images in his two-volume Picasso Project. The legal saga stretches back more than 20 years, when Yves Sicre de Fontbrune—who had acquired the intellectual property rights to the photographs—first sued Wofsy. The US judge said the French decision was “repugnant” to America’s policy of promoting free speech, “criticism, teaching, scholarship, and research.” (Courthouse News)


Sterling Ruby Will Curate Gagosian’s Next Online Viewing Room – To create added intrigue around its online viewing room, Gagosian has invited the American artist (and now fashion designer) Sterling Ruby to curate its next iteration. The Los Angeles-based talent has selected seven of his own works that have not been seen on the market before as well as a number of examples by his influences, like a Hokusai Great Wave woodcut and a photograph by Brassaï. The viewing room will coincide with Ruby’s Frieze Week solo show with Gagosian in London, opening October 2. (Financial Times)

Banksy’s Satirical Parliament Painting Heads to Auction – The collector who lent Banksy’s Devolved Parliament to the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery in March now hopes to cash in on the Brexit crisis. The owner has consigned the 2009 work, which shows members of parliament as chimpanzees, to Sotheby’s. The painting could set a new auction record for Banksy if it meets its high estimate of £2 million ($2.5 million) on October 3. (Guardian)


Danish Collector Will Open a Space in Greenpoint – Copenhagen-based collector Jens Faurschou is opening a branch of his Faurschou Foundation in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood. The Danish collector and art dealer, who already has spaces in Copenhagen and Beijing, will take over a new 12,000-square-foot industrial warehouse on November 3 with a group show that includes work by artists Ai Weiwei, Louise Bourgeois, and Tracey Emin. (Financial Times)

Collector Will Restitute More Than a Dozen African Works – Congolese collector Sindika Dokolo is on a mission to recover, purchase, and return African artwork to the continent. So far, he has found and acquired 15 pieces, including a pair of sculptures he is currently lending to an exhibition at the Bozar art center in Brussels. He will return the works to the Dundo Regional Museum in Angola after the show’s run. (Wall Street Journal)

Philippe Pirotte to Depart Städelschule – Belgian art historian and curator Philippe Pirotte will step down at the end of his current term as rector of Städelschule, one of Germany’s most prestigious art schools, in March 2020. (Press release)

Istanbul Gets a New Private Museum  Arter has opened in the Turkish capital in a new, multi-story building designed by Grimshaw Architects of London. The private museum is a subsidiary of the Vehbi Koç Foundation and will host a multidisciplinary program of exhibitions, events, film, and publications. (Art Daily)


The Church of Scotland Sues Metal Detectorist Over £2 Million Trove – The Church of Scotland has filed a lawsuit at the Court of Session in Edinburgh against a metal detectorist who found a precious hoard of Viking treasure on the church’s property in 2014. The National Museum of Scotland paid almost £2 million ($2.5 million) for the items, which include vessels, a cross, and lapel pins—but now, the church wants a share of the proceeds. The trove is due to tour Scotland over the next two years. (BBC)

Daniel Buren Painting Damaged in Pompidou Attack – An attacker with a weapon sliced into a painting by Daniel Buren that was hanging at the Pompidou Centre in Paris last week. The French conceptual artist’s Peinture (Manifestation 3), a cotton canvas with white and red vertical stripes, was attacked Thursday afternoon. The suspect is currently undergoing a psychiatric evaluation. (BBC)

Elmgreen & Dragset Return to Texas – The artist duo’s first American museum exhibition, “Elmgreen & Dragset: Sculptures,” opened this weekend at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, Texas. While in the US for the opening, the duo also made a trip out to Marfa to see their famous storefront. They had not returned since they first installed Prada Marfa on the dusty road in 2005. (Instagram)

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