Art Industry News: Damien Hirst Is Blamed for Ruining a Charming Seaside Town + Other Stories

Plus, an art-finance group is up for sale and New York college students can now visit the Guggenheim for free.

A boat passes in front of Damien Hirst's bronze sculpture of a pregnant woman in Ilfracombe, England. The bronze-clad, sword-wielding 65-foot statue, named Verity, has been controversially given to the seaside town by the artist on a 20-year loan. Photo by Matt Cardy/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 Tuesday, September 25.


How Thelma Golden Changed LA Museums – Carolina Miranda profiles Thelma Golden, one of three cultural figures (along with Agnes Gund and Richard Serra) to receive the 2018 J. Paul Getty Medal. As director of the Studio Museum in Harlem for nearly two decades, Golden’s influence on Los Angeles has been formidable. She gave LA artists including Mark Bradford and E.J. Hill early exposure or residencies and trained a slate of curators who now lead West Coast institutions. “There was never a time that I wasn’t here, thinking about artists here, and thinking about this city,” Golden says of LA. (Los Angeles Times)

Muslim Authorities Destroy Maldives Sculptures – A series of sculptures by the British artist Jason deCaires Taylor that were installed at the Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi resort in the Maldives has been destroyed by authorities. Workers used pickaxes and other tools to smash the human-like figures, which officials in the Maldives decided were un-Muslim. (The Art Newspaper)

Damien Hirst Is Criticized for Depressing Seaside Town – Damien Hirst gets a lot of grief—and this time, he’s being blamed for creating eyesores in the harbor town town of Ilfracombe, Devon, in West England. The artist, whose monumental Verity—a hyper-realistic sculpture of a semi-dissected pregnant woman lofting a sword—towers over the town, owns three seafront properties there, but has since left them empty. One of the storefronts housed Hirst’s gallery Other Criteria before he shut it down last September. One local restauranteur says the abandoned buildings “make the place look bad.” A spokeswoman says the properties are under renovation and will be leased in the future. Telegraph.

Was the Gardner Heist an Inside Job? – In a new episode of the Gardner-heist podcast “Last Seen,” the hosts consider whether the $500 million museum heist was an inside job. The podcast gives a play-by-play of what happened on that fateful evening and speculates whether security guard Richard Abath, who let in the thieves disguised as police officers, was actually in on the legendary unsolved robbery. (Boston Globe)


Auctioneer Wants Millennials to Bid With a Click – The Auction Collective, a UK-based pop-up auction house founded by a former postwar and contemporary specialist at Christie’s, has developed new bidding technology to simplify the process of buying affordable art for the millennial collector. At its most recent sale, 37 of 53 lots sold to 30 buyers for an average of $847. (TAN)

Carlyle Looks to Sell Art-Finance Group – That was fast. The private equity firm Carlyle Group LP is looking to sell Athena Art Finance Corporation just three years after launching it with $280 million in capital. Athena, the brainchild of Olivier Sarkozy, loans money to clients who put up art as collateral. (Bloomberg)

Why You Should Buy Art by Women – The author Mary Gabriel pens a New York Times op-ed about the rising market value of work by women. As auction records for Joan Mitchell and Helen Frankenthaler look poised to topple this fall, experts note that forgotten works are finally resurfacing. “From the market perspective, when you have 15 mediocre [Willem] de Koonings come to market in a season and one amazing Joan Mitchell painting come to market in a season, the market is going to gravitate toward quality,” says Sara Friedlander of Christie’s. (New York Times)


The Whitney Announces 400-Plus Acquisitions – The American art museum has acquired 417 works by 62 artists over the past year. Newcomers to the collection include Yuji Agematsu, Mary Beth Edelson, Gran Fury, Marlon Mullen, Ming Smith, Sable Elyse Smith, and Mierle Laderman Ukeles. Dread Scott’s flag, A Man Was Lynched by Police Yesterday (2015), was purchased through the director’s discretionary fund. (ARTnews)

Rapper T.I. Announces a Pop-Up Museum – Atlanta rapper T.I. announced via Instagram that he plans to launch a pop-up “trap music museum,” including an escape room, on September 30 to mark the 15th anniversary of his album Trap Musik. It will also feature a hall fame of other trap artists, including 21 Savage, Future, and the late Shawty Lo. The museum’s venue is still under wraps. (Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Guggenheim Grants Student Free Admission – More than 100,000 students and staff from New York’s city colleges will be able to visit the Guggenheim Museum for free thanks to a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. Students from Brooklyn College, Hunter College, Lehman College, Queens College, and the College of Staten Island (and a guest!) can benefit from the Guggenheim’s University Membership pilot program through summer 2020. (Press release)

Toronto MoCA Moves Into an Aluminum Factory – The Canadian city’s contemporary art museum has transformed its new home, a former aluminum factory built in 1919. It has installed large-scale works by Andreas Angelidakis, Jeneen Frei NJootli, and Barbara Kruger, among others, across five floors of the industrial space. (The Spaces)


Guernica Show Is Box-Office Gold for the Reina Sofia – The Madrid museum had a bumper year at the box office thanks to its show about Picasso’s Guernica. The Reina Sofia finished its 80th anniversary year with a budget surplus, having earned more than €4.7 million ($5.5 million) from the more than 680,000 visitors who paid to see the show about its most famous painting. (El Pais)

Bogotá’s Street Art Threatened by Restoration – Graffiti art in the Colombian city is under threat thanks to an initiative to restore and repaint 2,500 houses in a historic neighborhood. Diego Parra, the coordinator of the facade restoration program, says that if a building has a mural, the property’s owner can decide whether to paint over it or not. “But historical homes cannot be painted with new murals,” he says. (Hyperallergic)

Portraits of Refugees Sail Past the UN Building – Just in time for the UN General Assembly this week, the artist Shimon Attie has released a floating installation along the East River featuring digital portraits of 12 people who gained asylum in New York. Called Night Watch and commissioned by More Art, the barge transporting the giant screen will sail down the city’s waterways until September 27. (NYT)

Do Ho Suh’s Childhood Home Hangs Over London Street – The Korean-born, London-based artist has brought a replica of his childhood home to the city’s business district. Called Bridging Home, the traditional structure and garden appears to have fallen from the sky and landed on a pedestrian bridge. The project, organized and co-commissioned by Art Night and Sculpture in the City and curated by Fatoş Üstek, is due to stay in place for at least six months. (Evening Standard)

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.