From a $69 Million NFT to the Closing of Metro Pictures: The Best and Worst of the Art World This Week

Catch up on this week's news, fast.

Metro Pictures gallery in Chelsea. Image courtesy Metro Pictures.


What the Beeple? – At Christie’s, an experimental auction of an NFT by the artist Beeple (the house’s first sale of an NFT) has paid off majorly. The work sold for a staggering $69 million this week, making Beeple the third most expensive living artist at auction. The buyer thinks one day it will be worth $1 billion

Modernist Art Gifted to SFMoMA – Collectors and philanthropists Pamela Joyner and Alfred Giuffrida have donated 31 paintings, sculptures, and drawings by pioneering African American artists, including Elizabeth Catlett, Beauford Delaney, Norman Lewis, and Richard Mayhew, to the museum. 

Joe Biden’s Art-Loving Granddaughter – Wet Paint’s Nate Freeman has previously clued us into Ivanka Trump’s art-world banishment and budding artist Hunter Biden’s painting forays. Now he’s here to unveil which of Biden’s tres-stylish granddaughters has an art-filled Instagram.  

Women Master the Rijks – For the first time, the Rijksmuseum plans to hang work by female Dutch Masters in the museum’s most illustrious gallery. The decision couples with a new museum research project that aims to bring to light the stories of forgotten women in the museum’s history.  

Help Is On The Way – At long last, the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill has been passed in Congress, and it’s good news for the arts: $470 million is devoted to supporting America’s arts and culture industries.  

Art Collection Is Heading Home – After pulling hundreds of collection objects from a sale with Sotheby’s London last year, the Museum for Islamic Art in Jerusalem will be able to keep its trove of ancient Islamic masterpieces for good, thanks to an arrangement with the Al Thani Collection Foundation.

A Homerun – Baseball Hall-of-Famer Ted Simmons and his wife, printmaker Maryanne Ellison, have donated some 800 artworks to the St. Louis Art Museum, including works by Robert Gober and David Wojnarowicz.

At Our Fingertips – Alexander Calder’s complete archive can now be experienced online. The digital research archive was unveiled just before MoMA’s ambitious new Calder show opens this weekend.

A New Site in the City of Lights – Influential Chicago gallerist Mariane Ibrahim has just opened a new space in Paris, becoming yet another major player to open a gallery in the French capital lately. 


Artists Exit Show In Protest  The Museum of Chinese in America has canceled an exhibition focusing on the celebrated Asian American art collective Godzilla after artists withdrew in protest of the museum’s acceptance of $35 million in New York City funds, which the artists believe shows complicity in the city’s building of a new jail.

Goodbye Godfrey – Esteemed curator Mark Godfrey announced that he is leaving the Tate Modern. The exit is part of a voluntary lay-off program. The curator was suspended from the museum after speaking out against the cancellation of the Philip Guston exhibition, which he co-curated.

End of an Era – After 40 years, storied gallery Metro Pictures is closing its doors. The gallery pioneered the careers of numerous Pictures Generation artists, including Cindy Sherman. “It’s just time for us to go,” gallery co-Founder Janelle Reiring said of the decision in an interview with Artnet News’s Eileen Kinsella

Presidential Petulance – In a dangerous decision, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has banned arts funding for states that impose crowd controls and other pandemic restrictions. The retaliatory move is not so surprising: Bolsonaro has been vocal in his opposition to masks, social distancing, and lockdowns.

A Strange Tribute – On International Women’s Day, photos began circling of Wall Street’s famous Fearless Girl surrounded by alarming shards of broken glass. The installation was meant to pay homage to women who have broken the metaphorical “glass ceiling,” but the sculpture instead looked like it was under attack. 

Bound to Backfire – UK art dealers are apparently misusing the law in an attempt to skirt new money-laundering regulations. Experts say trouble is ahead.

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