From Jesus Christ’s Arrival at Christie’s to Trump’s UNESCO Snub: The Best & Worst of the Art World This Week

Catch up on the week's art news—fast.

Christie's Loïc Gouzer and Rebecca Wei, the president of Christie’s Asia, pose with Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi in Hong Kong on October 13, part of its presale world tour. (Photo credit should read ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images)

What happened in the art world this week? A lot! Here, artnet News’s editor-in-chief Andrew Goldstein walks through the highlights and lowlights of the past seven days.




Jesus Christ, Christie’s! – In a spectacular art-market coup that, yes, might be just one more harbinger of end times (call it the Secondary-Market Coming), Christie’s specialist Loïc Gouzer announced the auction house will be selling the final remaining Leonardo da Vinci in private hands, the very eschatological Salvator Mundi, with the expectation of bringing in around $100 million. Eileen Kinsella was first to break the news, and here Rachel Corbett provides eight things to know about the spooky painting. (A teaser: it’s basically the male Mona Lisa.)

Is the Bilbao Effect Effective? – Twenty years after the Guggenheim opened its now-legendary rainmaker of a museum in the Basque city, former Art Newspaper editor-in-chief Jane Morris visited the landmark to investigate the complex legacy of the project. What she found is not great news for the other cities that tried to follow suit.

Gerhard Rich-ter – It turns out that three of the wealthiest people in Germany are contemporary artists, and you’ll never guess who they are. (Or maybe you will.)

Hidden Histories – Rachel Corbett spoke to the artist Fred Wilson about how curators in Istanbul didn’t think there were too many black figures in their artworks—until he totally blew their minds.

Googling Her Way to Greatness – In some ways, the success of the rising-star painter Jordan Casteel owes much to a single question she typed into a certain search engine, Terence Trouillot found out.

Welcome Back, Tate St Ives! – In his first article for us, former Art Newspaper editor-in-chief (yes, a different one) Javier Pes, our new UK editor, inspected why the Tate museum satellite on England’s southern coast is so much better after a $27 million renovation and expansion.

Good Fences Make… Good Artworks? – Brian Boucher toured New York to check out Ai Weiwei’s gargantuan new installation of fences and other barricades spread out around the city for the Public Art Fund, both evoking the borders encountered by refugees worldwide and playfully suggesting that the Big Apple has become a totalitarian police state.

What a Bunch of Brainiacs – To Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Trevor Paglen, and Dawoud Bey, the three artists who won MacArthur “Genius” grants this week, we have this to say: Smooth move, Einstein(s)!

John Oliver Takes on the Confederacy – Amid the whole controversy over what to do with the Confederate monuments still rattling their sabers for the despicable cause of slavery in public spaces around America, HBO’s great funny-uh-oh newsman made a comprehensive, convincing, and hilarious case for why we should tear those suckers down. (And here’s what smart people say should happen next.)




Trump Drops Out of UNESCO – In the latest of the American president and his administration’s efforts to kick sand in the face of the international community, the United States has withdrawn from the United Nation’s covenant on the protection of world heritage sites and cultural artifacts, saying that it’s unfair to Israel, which has bailed on the convention too.

The Artist Pension Trust Has a Trust Issue – As unhappiness mounts over the unorthodox investment vehicle that MutualArt founded in 2004 to help artists plan for retirement, former directors have voiced their “deep disappointment” with the organization, which is trying to charge its members new fees.

Fearless Girl, Feckless Company – State Street Corporation, the financial conglomerate that funded the Fearless Girl statue on Wall Street, was forced to pay $5 million to settle a lawsuit alleging that 300 women and 15 black employees received lower compensation than their white, male colleagues—making the symbol of gender equality simultaneously a symbol of its exact opposite.

California Wildfires Put Museums in Crisis Mode – As the conflagrations sweeping the state wreak horrific damage in terms of a mounting death toll, traumatic incidents, and billions of dollars in property damage, the museums entrusted with precious works of art and other objects in Sonoma County and the surrounding region are scrambling to deal with the threat.

Another Bad Curatorial Decision Inflames the Social-Media Mob – China’s Hubei Provincial Museum was forced to remove photographs from a show of the artist Yu Huiping after a social-media-driven outcry erupted over the images, which clearly seem to compare Africans to animals.

The Italian Art Market Loses Altitude – Reporting from the annual sales of Italian art at Sotheby’s and Christie’s in London, Colin Gleadell finds that the onetime boom for Arte Povera, ZERO Group works, and other finds from Italy’s postwar art scene has deflated, returning to that state that speculators glumly refer to as “normal.”

Harvey Weinstein Is Just the Worst – In a real mess, right-wing news outlets have been trying to make a big deal out of the fact the disgraced alleged sex offender bought a $100,000 Cecily Brown painting at a Planned Parenthood auction—but the fact is, the jerk never even paid for it.

Officer, Arrest That Museum! – A month before the Berkshire Museum sends 40 of its artworks to auction at Sotheby’s, the Massachusetts attorney general is investigating whether the polarizing decision to liquidate the holdings is against the law, while the group Save the Art-Save the Museum is raising money for a possible lawsuit of its own.

Julian Schnabel Got Mad at Kenny Schachter – In his dispatch from Frieze Week and the London auctions, our ever-controversial columnist recounts how the famous artist and filmmaker reacted less that positively when the dealer-to-dealer posted a “Free Vito” t-shirt online, a little bit of commentary on a certain unfortunate incident.

A Collector Got Spooked by Catalonia – France’s Philippe Méaille has insisted that Barcelona’s MACBA museum return artworks he had sent there on long-term loan, citing security concerns “due to the political instability in Catalonia” since the referendum.

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