Art Industry News: The British Museum Is Minting NFTs of Its Art—Because of a Cold LinkedIn Message From a Start-Up + Other Stories

Plus, Design Miami is expanding to Qatar and more oversight is coming to the antiquities trade in the U.S.

British Museum. Photo by Jean-Francois Cardella/Construction Photography/Avalon/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 27.


Are Joint Acquisitions the Future? – Dia Beacon’s joint acquisition of Sam Gilliam’s vibrant 1968 abstract work, Merge, with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, may serve as an example for other cash-strapped institutions to follow as they seek to diversify their collections. There’s power in numbers: “It is becoming somewhat unfeasible for a lot of institutions to acquire major works, as prices are reaching levels that only certain private collectors are able to respond to,” Dia’s director Jessica Morgan said. (ARTnews)

The British Museum Is Minting Its Own NFTs – The British Museum is teaming up with a French start-up, LaCollection, to produce and sell NFTs of 200 works by the Japanese printmaker Katsushika Hokusai. (Get this: The start-up’s CEO reached out to the museum cold on LinkedIn.) The sale coincides with the museum’s Hokusai exhibition and will include around 100 works from the show—including his famous Great Wave—and 100 others from the museum’s own collection. Prices start at around $500. “It is so important that as a museum we continually adapt to new markets and find new ways of reaching people that we may not reach through traditional channels,” said the British Museum’s licensing manager Craig Bendle. (Guardian, The Art Newspaper)

More Oversight Is Coming for the Antiquities Trade – The U.S. Treasury is preparing new regulations to crack down on money laundering in the antiquities trade. Expected to be drafted over the next few months, the new guidelines will force dealers to be more transparent about objects’ ownership histories—and could have wider implications for the art trade. (TAN)


Design Miami Is Expanding to Qatar – Design Miami is launching a new partnership in Doha, Qatar. The fair will stage a pop-up exhibition in the Doha Design District next spring as part of a three-year deal with Msheireb Properties, a real estate subsidiary of the state-backed Qatar Foundation. (TAN)

Artists Named for Inaugural Saudi Biennial – Saudi Arabia’s first art biennial, the Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale, has named a selection of participating artists. They include Saudi installation artist Manal Al Dowayan, Kuwaiti intermedia artist Monira Al-Qadiri, and Chinese printmaker and installation artist Xu Bing. Curated by Philip Tinari, the exhibition will run December 11–March 11, 2022. (Artforum)

Gilgamesh Tablet Is Returned to Iraq – The looted Gilgamesh tablet has finally been returned to Iraq following a longstanding dispute over its ownership among Christie’s, federal authorities, and the owners of Hobby Lobby, which bought it from the auction house for its Museum of the Bible in 2018. The craft chain forfeited the tablet to authorities earlier this summer. (TAN)

Turner Contemporary Names New Director – Clarrie Wallis is the new director of Turner Contemporary in Margate, U.K. Wallis, who has been senior curator of British contemporary art at Tate since 2016, will replace the museum’s founding director Victoria Pomery, who left in September to head up the Box in Plymouth. (Press release)


Michael Craig-Martin Unveils Sculpture in Oxford – The Irish artist has unveiled a five-meter-tall sculpture of a fountain pen for the University of Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government. The school commissioned the retro public work—a magenta pen balancing on its nib—to celebrate the research carried out across the city. “I hope the expression ‘I’ll meet you by the Pen’ will become a regular Oxford refrain,” the artist said. (Press release)

Michael Craig-Martin at the unveiling of ‘Fountain Pen 2019.' Photo by Matt Alexander/PA Wire

Michael Craig-Martin at the unveiling of ‘Fountain Pen 2019.’ Photo by Matt Alexander/PA Wire

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