Art Industry News: Conman Who Tried to Sell a Fake Missing Masterpiece on eBay Gets Sentenced + Other Stories

Plus, Venezuela's Venice Biennale pavilion opens after a delay and a controversial felled confederate monument sells for $1.4 million.

An ebay logo displayed on a mobile phone. (Photo Illustration by Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket 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 this Thursday, June 6.


What Does a Libertarian Art Show Look Like? – The Cato Institute, a leading libertarian think tank in Washington DC, is showing art that is at odds with its politics—and drawing crowds to its lobby—with an exhibition titled “Freedom: Art as the Messenger.” The show’s artist-curators Harriet Lesser and June Linowitz were given the green light by the institute’s chief executive Peter Goettler, who did not stop them from including work with which he completely disagrees, such as one advocating universal healthcare. Goettler, who seems relaxed about subsidizing the exhibition, even bought two works from the show. (Washington Post)

Elton John’s Songwriter Is a Visual Artist Now – Bernie Taupin, who co-wrote many of Elton John’s biggest hits, including Rocketman and Candle in the Wind, has channeled his creativity into a new medium: visual art. His assemblages made from barbed wire, shattered guitars, and various American flags go on view at the Galerie Michael in Beverly Hills tomorrow, perhaps not coincidentally coinciding with the recent release of John’s biopic Rocketman. The British-born, California-based songwriter, poet, and now visual artist has used flags donated by veterans and the family of men and women killed in action. “Music and art are an inevitable collision,” Taupin said in a statement. “Visceral visual art exerts an almost narcotic drive in me.” (AP)

Man Sentenced for Trying to Sell Fake Painting on eBay – The 66-year-old conman who tried to offload a fake version of a famously stolen Lucian Freud work—Portrait of Francis Bacon, which was lifted from Berlin’s National Gallery in 1988—on eBay has avoided jail time. Vincent Dyer (seemingly no relation to Bacon’s lover and frequent subject George Dyer) was convicted of three counts of fraud by false representation and handed down a suspended jail sentence, a £600 ($763) fine, and 120 hours of community service. (Daily Mail)

After a Delay, Venezuela’s Venice Pavilion Opens – The South American nation finally opened its pavilion at the Venice Biennale on Monday, around a month after the official opening of the international event. The inauguration was delayed due to the country’s troubling political situation and economic blockade from the European Union. The Venice exhibition, “Metaphor of the three windows,” opened with a performance of traditional Venezuelan plains songs and a message of peace. (TeleSur)


Dallas’s Confederate Sculpture Sells for $1.4 Million – A bidder inexplicably identified only as “LawDude” paid $1.4 million for Alexander Phimister Proctor’s sculpture Robert E. Lee and the Confederate Soldier (1936). The City of Dallas removed the monument from the former Lee Park in 2017 and agreed to sell it for no less than $450,000 in order to recoup the costs of removal and storage. (CBS Dallas)

The Flemish Government Is Offering Interest-Free Art Loans – Collectors will soon be able to borrow up to €7,000 ($7,800) as a two-year, interest-free loan to buy contemporary art by Flemish and Brussels-based artists. The Flemish government will officially launch the scheme this fall with 20 participating galleries in an effort to promote the work of local artists. “Buying a work of art should be possible for everyone, even if you’re not an expert and don’t have a big budget,” says Sven Gatz, the Flemish Culture Minister. (Flanders Art Institute)

Almine Rech Will Represent Allen Jones – The veteran British artist, who is best known for his erotic sculpture and paintings, will now be represented by Almine Rech Gallery in France, Belgium, and China. (Baer Faxt)


Getty Trust Elects New Board President – Private equity magnate David L. Lee has been appointed the new president of the board of the J. Paul Getty Trust. Lee, who has served on the board for a decade, will succeed Maria Hummer-Tuttle for a four-year term that begins July 1. (ARTnews)

Collector and Chef Leah Chase Has Died – The New Orleans-based chef, who collected work by African American artists for decades, died on June 1 at age 96. The civil rights activist and restaurateur behind Dooky Chase’s—she was known as the “Queen of Creole Cuisine”—was an active board member of the New Orleans Museum of Art, which launched an acquisition fund for African American art in her name in 2013. Her collection comprises work by Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence, and John T. Biggers, among others. (The Art Newspaper)

Marc-Olivier Wahler Swaps Michigan for Geneva – The veteran curator and museum director, who recently left his post at the Broad Museum at Michigan State University, will become the next director of the Geneva Museum of Art and History. The Swiss curator, who also previously served as director of Paris’s Palais de Tokyo, will take up the position on November 1, succeeding Jean-Yves Marin. (Artforum)


Why Trump Should Welcome Baby Blimp’s Return – The US President and his fans should not complain about the return of the artist-designed blimp flown by protestors during his recent state visit to Britain, writes the Guardian’s art critic Jonathan Jones. It advertises the Trump brand at no cost to him other than “a snigger of recognition” by his critics. If the late 18th-century caricaturist James Gillray were alive today, Jones contends, “he’d have shown Trump’s rump unpresidentially bespattered.” But while the inflatable Trump baby may get an easy laugh, “sadly, it is not great satirical art.” (Guardian)

Meet the Artists Blowing Up Our Financial System – Husband-and-wife duo Hilary Powell, an artist, and Dan Edelstyn, a filmmaker, have made a career out of turning debt and money into art. For the culmination of their latest project, they blew up a van packed with $1.5 million in bad debt in East London, not too far from where many big banks have offices. They project began when they printed and sold their own banknotes, and took part of the profits to buy $1.5 million in debt—mostly taken out by poor people as short-term payday loans—for $25,000. (Debt can often be purchased on the secondary market for a fraction of the original cost.) The idea for the project came after Edelstyn met members of Strike Debt, an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement. (New York Times)

Banksy Crashes the RA’s Summer Show – A Brexit-themed installation by the street artist is a part of the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition, which opens on June 10. Near the entrance of the show, the piece, titled Keep Ou, features a repurposed customs arch from Heathrow Airport stenciled with a rat poised to break open a padlock with a hammer. (The Art Newspaper)

Get a Sneak Peak of DC’s Monumental Eisenhower Sculpture – The Eisenhower Memorial won’t be unveiled in the US capital until May 8 next year, but to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day, here is a sneak peak of the monumental sculptural installation as it is being manufactured in Pietrasanta, Italy. Russian artist Sergey Eylanbekov’s 12 bronze statues depicting General Eisenhower meeting paratroopers bound for the famous Allied landing in Normandy are nearly 10 feet tall. (Toscana Today)

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