Art Industry News: Donald Trump Brought Back Some Questionable Art From a Presidential Trip to France + Other Stories

Plus, a new books says that a British heiress was involved in one of the biggest art heists and Liu Ye is Asia's new market force.

US President Donald Trump makes his way to board Air Force One. Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via 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 7.


A British Heiress Was Involved in One of the Biggest Art Heists – A new book by the Gardner Museum’s director of security Anthony Amore tells the story of how the heiress-turned-IRA-revolutionary Rose Dugdale pulled off the biggest art theft of her time, stealing millions in prized works from Ireland’s Russborough House, including paintings by Goya, Gainsborough, and Rubens, as well as Vermeer’s Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid. But the book, titled The Woman Who Stole Vermeer, also suggests that this was not Dugdale’s only foray into art theft, and implicates her in another Vermeer heist: a similar incident a month earlier in 1974 when The Guitar Player was stolen from Kenwood House in London and held for ransom in exchange for the release of imprisoned IRA members. (Times

Fewer Than Half of UK Museums Apply for Bailout – Just 42 percent of museums in England applied for the government’s £1.57 billion ($2.07 billion) emergency rescue package for the arts. England’s national museums —the UK’s 17 biggest museums including Tate and the British Museum—will share a £98 million ($129.3 million) pot from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, but they are not allowed to apply for Arts Council England’s £500 million in grants and £270 million ($356 million) in loans. Instead they are focusing on lobbying for more funding at the government’s next spending review. (The Art Newspaper)

Trump Brought Art Back From a Presidential Trip to France – The US president Donald Trump spent time choosing artworks from the US ambassador’s residence in Paris the day after canceling his trip to a French cemetery for fallen Marines. The French trip has been under new scrutiny after an explosive report in the Atlantic alleged that Trump canceled the cemetery visit because he felt America’s war dead were “losers.” Trump borrowed a replica bust and a copied portrait of Benjamin Franklin from the residence, as well as a set of silver figurines of Ancient Greek gods that have been described as “20th century fakes of wannabe 17th century sculptures.” The White House has since borrowed the original 1785 Franklin portrait by Joseph Siffred Duplessis from the National Gallery. (Bloomberg)

Think Tank Urges UK to Decentralize Arts Funding – The left-leaning think tank, the Fabian Society, has urged Arts Council England to devolve its funding to councils and local mayors, arguing that centralized public funding is contributing to a pro-London bias. The society found that between 2009 and 2019, Arts Council England National Lottery funding provided London-based organizations with more than double the funding allocated to the rest of England, making the arts and culture sector across England vulnerable even before the impact of the pandemic. The new report, Cultured Communities, argues that a reset focused on grassroots organizations, freelancers, and small creative businesses will ultimately boost sales on the high street, the hospitality sector, and “improve everyone’s quality of life.” (Guardian)


Liu Ye Is Asia’s New Market Force – The Beijing-based painter Liu Ye has led the pack of contemporary artists in Hong Kong’s summer auction series. With a strong following among Asian and European collectors, eight paintings sold for a total of $18 million, accounting for 5.27 percent of the total market share across Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Phillips in the Hong Kong summer contemporary auctions. (Art Market Monitor)

A New Online Platform Promotes the Work of Women – A new online art platform called Her Clique is launching on September 15 with a sale of limited edition artworks by Zoë Buckman. The platform aims to promote women artists, make art available at accessible prices, and support nonprofit organizations. (Artfix Daily)


Hawaii Triennial Announces Curatorial Team – Melissa Chiu, director of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, will curate the 2022 edition of the Hawaii Triennial, which will be on view February 8 through May 18, 2022. Miwako Tezuka and Drew Kahu’āina Broderick will be assistant curators. (Artforum)

SculptureCenter Director Steps Down After Just Under a Year – Christian Rattemeyer will leave his post at the Queens-based museum where he was appointed director in June 2019 (he took up the post in November 2019). No reason for his departure was given. (Artforum)


An Art Heist Film Is the Toast of the Venice Film Fest – The Duke stars Jim Broadbent as a former bus driver who became an art “thief,” in an epic true story of Kempton Bunton and his wife (played by Helen Mirren). It premiered at the Venice film festival on Friday, September 4. The news of the heist had overtaken British media in 1961 when Bunton was charged with stealing a painting by Francisco Goya from the National Gallery in London. (Guardian)

Tennis Pro’s Stolen Painting Recovered After 25 Years – Richard Spencer’s 1928 painting Boating Party has been found thanks to Art Recovery International and the Los Angeles Police Department’s art-theft database. The piece was stolen from pro tennis player Gene Mako in 1995. (Courthouse News)

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