Art Industry News: Neverland May Become a New Michael Jackson Museum + More Must-Read Stories

Plus, Trump gets a new oil painting (of himself) for Thanksgiving and Alternative Biennial organizers detained in Cuba (again).

Michael Jackson performs during the Halftime show as the Dallas Cowboys take on the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVII at Rose Bowl on January 31, 1993.(Photo by George Rose/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, November 23. Happy Thanksgiving!


Hermitage Director Says 1917 Is a Warning – As Vladimir Putin opens a controversial cultural forum in St. Petersburg and cracks down on cultural figures, Hermitage director Mikhail Piotrovsky says his museum’s current exhibition on the fall of the Romanovs is relevant today, telling The Art Newspaper: “What was the ruin of Russia in 1917? Spymania, xenophobia and nationalism… attributing everything to a foreign influence.” (The Art Newspaper)

Trump Gets a Painting (of Himself) for Thanksgiving – President Trump accepted a large-scale oil painting of himself by Bea Doone-Merena, a 90-year-old Boca Raton artist who surprised him with the art when he touched down at Palm Beach airport ahead of his Thanksgiving break. Of the two portraits she offered, he chose a stern-faced likeness and autographed the other one, of him in a “Make America Great Again” cap, for her to keep. (My Palm Beach)

Neverland Ranch Could Become the Michael Jackson Museum – Triumph International, which manages intellectual property for the Jackson estate, has registered the Neverland title for entertainment uses, including a museum devoted to the King of Pop. The Jackson childhood home in Encino, Los Angeles, is an alternative potential site. (Daily Times)

Cuba’s Alternative Biennial Organizers Detained (Again) The Cuban artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara was detained again in Cuba along with his partner, the curator Yanelys Nuñez Leyva. Diario de Cuba reports that the authorities detained the organizers of the unofficial Havana Biennial after they filed a complaint over the search of the artist’s home and studio. (Hyperallergic)


Michel Rein Gallery Now Represents A.K. Burns – The Brooklyn-based artist is a co-founder of the advocacy group W.A.G.E. (Working Artists in the Great Economy), which pushes for financial equity between artists and institutions. Burns was also co-editor of the now-defunct trans-feminist magazine Randy. She teaches at Hunter College and NYU Steinhardt. (Press release)

Art Agency Partners Opines on the Auctions – The Sotheby’s-owned mega-consultancy helpfully released its own sale-by-sale analysis of November’s non-SalvatorMundi-related auction results, noting that several artists, such as Vija Celmins and Lee Krasner, attained new records, and Ed Rucha’s spotty auction market appears to be picking up. (AAP) (Meanwhile, you can read artnet News’s analysis here.)

Warsaw’s Kasia Michalski Gallery to Close – The gallery will shut down its location in February, citing the well-known challenges facing mid-sized galleries. The announcement mentions a rethinking of the gallery model with a possible future rechristening in Switzerland. The Polish dealer participated in fairs such as Frieze New York and Art Dubai last year, and represents a roster of young artists including Caroline Mesquita and Stefan Bondell. (Press release)

Churchill’s Last Painting Soars at Auction – The Goldfish Pool at Chartwell, painted around 1962, the British leader’s last artwork, fetched £357,000 at Sotheby’s London this week. Churchill’s paintings from his time in Chartwell are in high demand, with the current record set at £1.8 million. (Press release)


Anne Frank Foundation Buys Her Family Home – The foundation in Amsterdam that runs the house where Frank and her family hid during World War II has just acquired the property that was her family home in Southern Amsterdam in the 1930s until 1942, when they went into hiding in the secret annex. (Art Daily)

Blanton Hires New Assistant Curator – The Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas in Austin has announced the addition of Holly Borham to their curatorial staff, who will take on the role of assistant curator of prints and drawings and manage the museum’s collection of over 15,700 works on paper. (Press release)

Zanele Muholi Wins France’s Top Art Prize – The South African photographer and activist has received the prestigious French Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Muholi’s work focuses on capturing South Africa’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, and she is the co-founder of the Forum of Empowerment of Women. The artist also established Inkanyiso, a platform for queer and visual activism. (TAN)

Berlin’s Museum of Modern Art Delayed – The expected finish date of 2021 has now been pushed back to 2023 or 2024, according to Culture Senator Klaus Lederer. Herzog & de Meuron are at the revision stage of their contested designs for the new €200 million museum in Berlin, which will be situated in a prime location between the Neue Nationalgalerie and the Philharmonic. (Monopol)


What’s Ahead for the Art World This Winter – No need to hibernate through the usual lull of the winter art scene. Beginning with the reopening of the ICA Miami and stretching through to the chance to discover emerging artists at the New Museum Triennial in New York in February, check out ARTnews’s handy guide to the art world from December. (ARTnews)

Grave of Schiele’s Muse Discovered – The site where Walburga “Wally” Neuzil, the Austrian artist’s most famous model, was buried has been uncovered by researchers in Croatia, in the town where she spent time as a wartime nurse and in which she died of scarlet fever in 1917. A campaign to restore the site as a monument to Neuzil has been launched by Viennese provenance researcher Robert Holzbauer, who hopes to raise €2,000. (TAN)

Rose Wylie on Her Newfound Fame – The 83-year-old painter didn’t get her break until her 70s, but she’s no old fogey. The artist immerses herself in contemporary culture, from soccer (she favors Arsenal and the Spurs) to Quentin Tarantino films. Ahead of her solo exhibition at the Serpentine in London, she tells the Guardian, “I want to be known for my paintings—not because I’m old.” (The Guardian)

Museums Around the Country Celebrate ‘Catsgiving’ –  Forget Thanksgiving, museums around the US are celebrating #catsgiving on social media instead this Turkey Day, sharing some of their favorite artworks featuring felines. See some of the viral catsgiving highlights from Instagram.​

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