Art Industry News: Pussy Riot Member Believed to Be Poisoned Is Airlifted to a Berlin Hospital + Other Stories

Plus, the Reina Sofia has a high-tech plan to protect its art from fire and Leonardo DiCaprio's charity auction raises $11 million.

Pyotr Verzilov, a member of the Russian protest-art group Pussy Riot, is escorted by stewards during the Russia 2018 World Cup final football match between France and Croatia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on July 15, 2018. Photo by Mladen Antonov/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 this Monday, September 17.


Will New US Tax Laws Make Collectors Reluctant to Sell? – This fall’s packed slate of art fairs and auctions will serve as an indication of how Trump’s tax overhaul will affect the art market. Many suspect that the elimination of the so-called “1031 exchange” provision for art, which allowed collector-traders to defer certain taxes, will have a negative impact. Collectors may opt to pass art to family members rather than face a 28 percent tax bill, while younger investors may begin to look for an alternative place to park their money. (New York Times)

Critics Upset by Portugal’s Planned “Museum of Discoveries” – Opponents of a new Lisbon museum dedicated to the history of Portuguese colonial expansion fear it will play down slavery and other abuses. Few details about the project have been made public, but even the proposed name, the Museum of the Discoveries, is proving contentious. In an open letter, academics wrote that is is an “obsolete, incorrect expression, filled with wrong-headed meanings.” (Guardian)

Pussy Riot Member Flown to Berlin Hospital – A German foundation paid for Pyotr Verzilov, the Pussy Riot member who fell ill last Tuesday in a suspected poisoning, to be flown to a Berlin hospital late on Saturday for treatment. His estranged wife, Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, told German media that she believes it was attempted murder. Verzilov was one of the four activists who appeared at the World Cup final in Moscow dressed in police uniforms. (Guardian)

How the Reina Sofia Is Protecting Guernica From Fire – Following the devastating fire at Brazil’s national museum, Madrid’s Reina Sofia has revealed a cutting-edge strategy for protecting its art. It is developing a Google Maps-inspired software loaded with blueprints of the museum that will monitor the galleries in real time. In an emergency, the program will alert staff to the most efficient evacuation route. The new plan has already shaved 10 minutes off the time it takes to rescue Picasso’s enormous Guernica. (El País)


Promised Gift Heads to Auction Instead – The Seattle Art Museum is swallowing its disappointment as Edward Hopper’s Chop Suey (1929), which collector Barney Ebsworth promised as a gift in 2007, heads to auction at Christie’s New York. Kimerly Rorschach, the museum’s director, said in a statement, “We are forever grateful for the generous support he bestowed upon SAM.” She did not comment on the painting that got away, which now could sell for $70 million. (The Art Newspaper)

Leonardo DiCaprio’s Auction Raises $11 Million – The star-studded sale in Sonoma County, California, raised $11 million for the actor’s Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, which focuses on fighting climate change and preserving biodiversity. The art auction included paintings by Jack Goldstein, Matthew Wong, and Jonas Burgert; sculptures by Ai Weiwei, Fred Wilson, and the Haas Brothers; a Richard Prince C-print, a David Hockney iPad drawing on paper, and a mixed-media work by Cory Arcangel. (Artfix Daily)

Assyrian Relief Heads to Auction – An Assyrian relief from the royal palace of Nimrud is expected to fetch as much as $10 million to $15 million when it goes under the hammer at Christie’s New York in October. It is being sold by the Virginia Theological Society, where it has been since a US missionary acquired it in Iraq in 1859. Henri Byron Haskell bought it on the college’s behalf from the British archaeologist Austen Henry Layard. (Antiques Trade Gazette)

Sotheby’s Withdraws $3 Million Chinese Antiquity – An ancient Chinese Buddha expected to sell for $2 million to $3 million was withdrawn by Sotheby’s and the seller after a Chinese expert spotted its resemblance to a sculpture missing from the Longmen Grottoes in Henan province, China. Photographs taken by a Japanese scholar in the 1920s and ’30s show what the expert believes is the same sculpture in situ at the World Heritage Site. (ECNS)


K11 Foundation Teams Up With the Royal Academy – The two institutions are partnering on a three-year artist-in-residence exchange program. The first artist to participate is Chinese painter Zhang Enli, who has been in London since August. Next up, German painter and RA Schools alumnus Paul Schneider will head to Shenyang, China, in November. (Press release)

Philadelphia Museum of Art Names Drawings Curator – The Getty Research Institute’s prints and drawings curator Louis Marchesano has been appointed to succeed Innis Shoemaker as the Pennsylvania museum’s senior curator of prints, drawings, and photographs. He will begin his new role in January. Shoemaker retired earlier this year after 30 years at the museum. (Artforum)

Bonhams Names South Asia Head – The auction house’s head of modern and contemporary Middle Eastern art, Nima Sagharchi, has been promoted to director of Middle Eastern, Islamic and South Asian art. Sagharchi says he is “delighted to have been entrusted with the leadership of the new department.” (Press release)


National Portrait Gallery Closes for Fashion Show – The museum will be partially closed today for an unspecified London Fashion Week event. The entire gallery controversially closed in February for a full day to host an Erdem runway show. A spokesperson defends the decision to rent out the space, noting, “the gallery is a charity and has to self-generate over 70 percent of the funds needed to keep open and accessible to all.” (TAN)

French Heritage Lottery Gives Out Its First Check – More than two million French people played France’s new heritage lottery, raising €14 million, €3.5 million of which will be used to fund heritage protection. The Villa Viardot, the dilapidated former home of the singer Pauline Viardot and her husband Louis, received a €500,000 check from the French organization on Saturday. It is one of the 18 priority projects earmarked for the new scheme. (Le Monde)

Pankhurst Statue to Stay Next to Parliament – The controversial proposal to move the statue of the suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst from its prominent location near Parliament has been withdrawn amid criticism from women’s groups, who called it “an act of vandalism against women’s history.” More than 800 people voiced their disapproval of the proposal on the Westminster Council’s website. (Telegraph)

See the Beached Whale Art Installation in Madrid – Following appearances in London and Paris, a hyperrealistic sculpture of a beached whale—which comes with a team of actors dressed as a rescue team  hosing it down—has taken pride of place near the Segovia Bridge in the Spanish capital. The Belgian art collective behind it, Captain Boomer, is trying to raise awareness about environmental preservation. (Guardian)



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