Art Industry News: Billionaire Ronald Perelman Has Already Sold Off More Than $100 Million in Art in Pursuit of a ‘Simpler Life’ + Other Stories

Plus, Bay Area galleries launch a collaborative online platform and the Courtauld acquires a rediscovered manuscript by Paul Gauguin.

Ronald Perelman attends The Apollo Theater's 10th Annual Spring Gala at The Apollo Theater on June 8, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/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 21.


Royal Academy Faces Choice to Sell Michelangelo or Slash Jobs – Artist members of London’s Royal Academy are urging the institution to sell its famous Michelangelo sculpture, the Taddei Tondo, before considering extreme redundancies. The institution was facing financial difficulty even before 2020 and is now considering laying off nearly half of its staff to recoup costs. Meanwhile, the marble sculpture of the Virgin and child could be worth as much as £100 million ($129 million). While several artists take the view that it is morally wrong to protect a single artwork over the staff, the RA says it has no intention of selling any works in its collection. The suggestion will be discussed at a virtual meeting of members this week. (Guardian)

The Courtauld Acquires Rare Gauguin Manuscript – London’s Courtauld Gallery has acquired a never-before-shown manuscript illustrated by Paul Gauguin in Polynesia just months before his death. The rare document is being donated to the UK in lieu of £6.5 million in inheritance tax. Described as “part-memoir and part manifesto,” Avant et Après includes revealing anecdotes about Gauguin’s contemporaries Cézanne, Degas, and Van Gogh. The artist also details the nine weeks he spent working with Van Gogh in Arles, which ended when the Dutch painter mutilated his ear. The volume will go on view next spring, when the gallery reopens to the public after renovations. (TelegraphThe Art Newspaper)

More Details on Ronald Perelman’s Great Sell-Off – The billionaire Revlon owner Ronald Perelman is parting with many of his treasures, from multimillion-dollar artworks to a private jet. Once touted as America’s richest man, the tycoon has seen his net worth plummet from $19 billion to $4.2 billion in two years. Perelman has said he wants to “seek new investment opportunities,” to enjoy “a simpler life” with more family time, and to “give others the chance to enjoy some of the beautiful things that I’ve acquired.” Now, we have more details on exactly which beautiful things are hitting the market (mostly via private sale through Sotheby’s): a $70 million Jasper Johns titled 0 Through 9, a $50 million Gerhard Richter, Zwei Kerzen (Two Candles), and a $20 million Cy Twombly. The latter two have already sold, along with a $28.7 million Miró and an $8.3 million Matisse offloaded at a Sotheby’s auction in July. (Bloomberg)

See Inside LACMA’s Proposed New Galleries – After a long wait (and much speculation and controversy), the latest plans for the inside of the new Peter Zumthor-designed Los Angeles County Museum of Art have been revealed. The second floor will house two-dozen galleries, comprising a total of 110,000 square feet of exhibition space, while the ground floor will house the education department, three restaurants, and a 300-seat auditorium. The goal of the new design is to create a non-hierarchical approach to display: “If you only have women in the last 10 minutes of a collection, you need a new way to organize the museum,” said LACMA’s director Michael Govan. (LA Times)


Bay Area Galleries Band Together to Launch Communal Online Platform – Inspired by the collective online effort Gallery Platform LA, Bay Area galleries have created a new joint online viewing room called 8-bridges. The platform will show monthly rotating exhibitions from dealers including Altman Siegel, Fraenkel Gallery, and Silverman Gallery beginning on October 1. (ARTnews)

UK Galleries Begin to Downsize on Space – Facing plummeting footfall even before the appointment-only era, UK galleries have been downsizing their footprints. Many are abandoning expensive street-level locations for upper floors and allowing the deeper-pocketed fashion industry to encroach on valuable Mayfair real estate. New models—like the temporary exhibition spaces for hire offered by Cromwell Place in South Kensington—could be the future of brick-and-mortar for many galleries. (Financial Times)


Christian Liaigre, Minimalist Interior Designer, Dies at 77 – The French interior and furniture designer, whose influential clients included Karl Lagerfeld, Rupert Murdoch, Larry Gagosian, and the Mercer hotel in SoHo, has died at 77. The cause of death is unknown. (New York Times)

Romanian Police Recover Rare Books Stolen From UK – First-edition books dating from the 16th and 17th centuries by the likes of Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton have been retrieved by police in Romania. The books, which were stolen three years ago in the UK, are worth more than £2.5 million ($3.2 million). (FAZ)


A Clock That Told Time Now Tells the Time Remaining – Artists Gan Golan and Andrew Boyd have reprogrammed a clock facing Union Square in Manhattan to count down until the deadline before climate change is irreversible (by keeping warming under the 1.5-degree Celsius or 34.7-degree Fahrenheit threshold) at the current rate of carbon emissions. The public artwork previously sold time in its own unique way, counting the hours, minutes, and seconds to and from midnight. (NYT)

Vienna Succession Hangs Sign to Call Attention to Burning Refugee Camp Moira – The prestigious Austrian institution hung a banner on its facade to call attention to Moria, a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos that houses some 13,000 people. The camp caught fire on September 9 in what is being called a humanitarian disaster, leaving most without shelter. “As artists and citizens, we feel the need to take a clear stand on the issue and express our commitment to treating refugees humanely and with compassion,” the Succession said in a statement. The organization is appealing to Austria’s government and the EU to offer aid. (Instagram)

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