Art Industry News: A Second Man Is Arrested in Connection With the Heist of Maurizio Cattelan’s Golden Toilet + Other Stories

Plus, a documentary filmmaker tracks down an art swindler on the lam and New York City opts not to penalize museums for a lack of diversity.

Installation view of Maurizio Cattelan's America (2016) in "Victory is Not an Option" at Blenheim Palace, 2019. Photo by Tom Lin.

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 Wednesday, September 18.


New York City Won’t Penalize Museums for Diversifying Slowly (Yet) – New York museums can breathe a sigh of relief. New York’s Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl has confirmed that the city has not cut funding to arts institutions that have yet to fundamentally change the makeup of their staffs, despite the mayor’s earlier threat to the contrary. A report published in July found that the boards and executive leadership at 65 cultural and arts institutions in the city remain 66 percent white. Museums have made improvements in some areas, however, including better representation of people with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ community as well as a higher proportion of women in leadership roles. “Our goal is not to cut these groups,” Finkelpearl says. Museums will not be penalized if they can demonstrate a “good-faith effort” of outreach and expanding their hiring pool. (Wall Street Journal)

A Munich Museum Recovers Antiquity Lost in WWII – An English widow has returned a long-lost marble relief, received as a wedding present from an English diplomat in Munich in the 1950s, to Munich’s Royal Antiquarium museum. The relief was originally discovered between 1852 and 1857, and was acquired by the museum in 1866 before it went missing. It was gifted to the couple after it turned up in a house formerly occupied by a Nazi officer during the war. (Antiques Trade Gazette)

Police Arrest a Second Man for the Gold Toilet Heist – Police in England have arrested a second man in connection with the theft of Maurizio Cattelan’s solid-gold toilet from Blenheim Palace. The $6 million work of art, however, remains missing. David Hare, the chief executive of the stately home near Oxford, fears the worst: “It is not out of the question that [America] would be melted down.” Both men arrested in connection with the crime on suspicion of burglary or conspiracy to burgle—a 36-year-old and a 66-year-old—have since been released, but remain under investigation. Cattelan has said he hopes the gang was inspired by Robin Hood, and that the toilet is happily being used somewhere. (BBC)

A Filmmaker Tracks Down a $50 Million Art Swindler – An art dealer wanted by Interpol has been tracked down by a filmmaker—who also managed to get an exclusive interview with him on camera. Born in France, Michael Cohen made his fortune in New York but fled to Brazil in 2001 when it emerged that he had embezzled millions of dollars. He is still on the run for the $50 million theft, which involved works by Picasso, Monet, and Chagall. The British documentarian Vanessa Engle’s 17-year search for Cohen paid off when his wife got in contact. Engle and Cohen met in an undisclosed country that does not have an extradition agreement with the United States. She tells his story, with his cooperation, in The $50 Million Art Swindle, which will be broadcast on BBC 2 on September 23. (Guardian)


Mexico Tries to Halt Sale of Pre-Columbian Art – The Mexican government has joined Guatemala in protesting the Paris auction house Drouot’s planned sale of pre-Colombian art, which will be held in Paris today. Ambassador Juan Manuel Gómez-Robledo questioned the provenance of some 95 pieces, warning they “could turn out to be imitations.” Last week, the house agreed to withdraw an artifact from Guatemala from the sale. (Art Daily)

Elizabeth Taylor’s Family Holds Charity Auction – The late star’s family is backing an online auction on Paddle8 that will benefit the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. The sale offers works by Robert Mapplethorpe, Shepard Fairey, Kiki Smith, Herb Ritts, as well as pieces by Taylor’s artistic children, the sculptors Michael Wilding and Liz Todd-Tivey. (People)

Hostler Burrows Gallery Expands to LA  The New York design gallery, which works with artists and designers including Pamela Sunday, John Shea, and Heini Riitahuhta, will open a space near Paramount Studios in Los Angeles next month. The gallery will be located at 6819 Melrose Avenue. (Press release)

Marianne Boesky Adds Ghada Amer to Roster – The Egyptian painter and sculptor Ghada Amer has joined Marianne Boesky Gallery, which will organize a solo show of her work in New York in 2021. Amer is the latest artist from Cheim & Read to find a new home after the gallery transitioned into private practice. Boesky will also present Amer’s ceramics at the Independent art fair in 2020. (Instagram)


Art Fund Head Will Step Down – Stephen Deuchar, the director of Art Fund, the UK’s fundraising charity for art, will step down from his post in March 2020. During his nine-year tenure, he doubled membership and introduced the National Art Pass. His successor has not yet been named. (Apollo)

Praemium Imperiale Laureates Announced – The Japan Art Association has announced the five winners of the Praemium Imperiale, one of the world’s largest art prizes. The winners are: artists William Kentridge and Mona Hatoum; architects Tod Williams & Billie Tsien; violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter; and Kabuki actor Bando Tamasaburo. The six figures will be awarded $139,000 each and honored for their lifetime achievement at a ceremony in Tokyo on October 16. (Artforum)

Walker Names New Sculpture Commission Post-Scaffold – The Walker Art Center has selected Angela Two Stars to create a new work for its sculpture garden. The artist from the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate tribe will make a site-specific public and interactive sculpture out of medical plants and text exploring the Dakota language, culture, and traditional teachings. The commission follows the controversy surrounding Scaffold, a sculpture by Sam Durant that angered local Native groups in 2017. (Artforum)


Tribeca Is Hot Again – A new batch of galleries have opened in New York’s Tribeca neighborhood, many seeking to escape the high rent of the overdeveloped Chelsea district. The shift offers new hope for a walkable gallery haunt in New York. “While it’s true that artists were priced out of this area years ago, there’s still a funkiness to the neighborhood,” Jerry Saltz writes. (Vulture)

Harper’s Bazaar Will Get a Big Paris Show – The magazine Harper’s Bazaar will be the subject of a major exhibition to mark the reopening of the fashion galleries at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in 2020. The show dedicated to the magazine, which is celebrated for its artistic photography, is scheduled to open February 28 to coincide with Paris Fashion Week. (WWD)

A Sneak Peek at Frieze London’s First AR Work – Acute Art is making an exciting addition to the Frieze Sculpture Park, which is open in Regent’s Park in London through the end of the Frieze art fair next month. Visitors are now invited to track down an augmented reality work by Koo Jeong A, which comprises a series of ethereal floating ice cubes only visible through your mobile phone. (Guardian)


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Koo Jeong A’s new experiments in augmented reality — soon in London and Berlin @acuteart_

A post shared by Daniel Birnbaum (@daniel.birnbaum) on Aug 22, 2019 at 6:59am PDT

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