Art Industry News: Judy Garland’s Stolen Ruby Slippers Recovered After a Sting Operation + Other Stories

Plus, the Van Gogh Museum heads to America's shopping malls and novelist Paulo Coelho asks why Brazil's National Museum was so neglected.

"The Wizard of Oz" Ruby Red Slippers worn by Judy Garland in 1939. Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/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 Wednesday, September 5.


Israeli Museum Director Speaks Out Against Nation-State Law – The first Palestinian-Arab director of an Israeli museum has spoken out against a controversial law that specifies Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. Nadim Sheiban, the director of the Museum for Islamic Art in Jerusalem, claims that many people in the field agree with him but have remained quiet for fear of losing their jobs. (The Art Newspaper)

Wolfgang Tillmans Gets Psychological – The politically-engaged German artist has taken a new direction: book editing. His new tome, What Is Different?, focuses on “the backfire effect,” a psychological phenomenon in which people become more committed to erroneous assumptions when presented with factual evidence to the contrary. The book juxtaposes Tillmans’s photographs with interviews with neuroscientists, a woman who helps people escape political extremist organizations, and ministers in Angela Merkel’s cabinet, among others. (New Yorker)

Judy Garland’s Stolen Ruby Slippers Head Home – A pair of ruby slippers worn by the actress in The Wizard of Oz have been recovered 13 years after they were stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. An FBI sting operation led to the retrieval of the famous footwear in Minneapolis. They were then sent to the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, for analysis to confirm their authenticity. The thieves remain at large. (Courthouse News)

Why Was Brazil’s National Museum Neglected? – The Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho asks why the country’s national museum, which tragically burned on Sunday, attracted only 154,000 visitors a year. While many blame the government for neglecting the institution, the writer says that the Brazilian people neglected it, too. “Poor people in Brazil do not go to school, let alone to museums,” he writes. “Rich people go to museums—but in London, New York or Paris, not in Rio or São Paulo.” (Guardian)


Mnuchin Stages Ed Clark Survey – Amid growing curatorial and market interest, the 92-year-old abstract painter is getting a solo show at Mnuchin Gallery. “Ed Clark: A Survey,” which opens in New York on September 14, features 40 paintings and works on paper from 1962 to 2013. The artist David Hammons, who also works with the gallery and is an avid Clark collector, was the “catalyst” for the survey, says Mnuchin’s Sukanya Rajaratnam. (ARTnews)

Matthew Marks Hires New Directors – Curator and writer Beau Rutland has joined the gallery as its new director of exhibitions, while Lindsay Charlwood, who was previously director at Regen Projects, will lead Matthew Marks’s Los Angeles space. (ARTnews)

UK Minister Tells Online Auctioneers to Tackle Forgeries – The British politician Michael Ellis believes that online fraud and forgery risk damaging the art market’s reputation. Speaking at the Art Business Conference in London, the Minister for the Arts called on companies to protect buyers, sellers, and artists. He added that he is watching how the art trade engages with the new Court of Arbitration for Art in the Hague over provenance and attribution disputes. (Antiques Trade Gazette)


Haus der Kunst Appoints New Senior Curator –  German curator Jana Baumann will move from her current post as a research assistant at Städel Museum in Frankfurt to Munich’s Haus der Kunst, where she will serve as senior curator. A successor to the museum’s outgoing director Okwui Enwezor has yet to be appointed. (Monopol)

Tate Americas Foundation Chairman Steps Down – Richard Hamilton will leave his post as director of the Tate Americas Foundation at the end of this year. Hamilton has been with the organization since 1987 and has served as director since 2013. In his next chapter, he plans to set up a consultancy to advise individuals and organizations about philanthropic strategies. (ARTnews)

Art Dealer Lawrence Rubin Dies – The dealer died at his home in Zurich at age 85. A veteran dealer who had galleries in Paris and New York and was a longtime supporter of Frank Stella, Rubin gave the artist his first solo show in Europe. (New York Times)

Protocinema Names Development Director – Fikriye Selen-Okatan has been named executive director of development and communications for Protocinema, the nomadic art organization founded by Mari Spirito in 2011. In her new role, Selen-Okatan will focus on business development, fundraising, marketing, and communications. (Press release)


Van Gogh Museum Will Tour Reproductions in Malls – A pop-up show displaying replicas of Van Gogh’s paintings is going on a tour of American shopping malls. A partnership between the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and the company Retail is Detail, the project aims to make the artist’s work as widely accessible as possible—and, of course, sell a lot of reproductions. (Forbes)

Moderna Museet Returns Work to Dealer’s Heirs – The Swedish museum has returned a portrait by Oskar Kokoschka to the heirs of the Jewish German art dealer Alfred Flechtheim, who fled Nazi Germany in 1933. The painting was sold by Flechtheim’s former employee, who was also a member of the Nazi party. “We are happy and relieved the Kokoschka painting now returns to its true owner,” the museum’s director Daniel Birnbaum said. (TAN)

Was the Mona Lisa Sick? – Another day, another Mona Lisa theory. Lisa Gherardini, the Italian noblewoman who is widely believed to be the sitter in Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous portrait, could have had hyperthyroidism, experts now claim. Her slightly swollen hands, yellow skin, and thinning hair are all symptoms of the disease. (Daily Mail)

Mike Kelley Stars in Supreme’s New Collaboration – The late artist is the newest—and somewhat unlikely—subject of a Supreme collaboration. Now, fans of both the skate-wear company and Kelley’s brand of Midwestern anxiety can own work jackets, hoodies, crewnecks, and skateboard decks in “muted tonal colorways” printed with Mike Kelley’s work. The patterns include an image of an orange knit toy from Kelley’s collaboration with Sonic Youth. (i-D)

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