From the Suspected Spy at Christie’s to Banksy’s Bummed-Out Fans: The Best and Worst of the Art World This Week

Catch up on what you missed—fast.

A mysterious figure holds Rene Magritte's 1957 Le Baiser at Christie's. (Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images)

BEST👍

Global Auction Sales Soar in 2017 – A new report from Art Tactic finds that despite lackluster sales between 2014 and 2016, things are looking up. That $450 million painting is indicative of a larger trend.

More Van Gogh to Love – Researchers at Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum discovered a previously unknown drawing by the Dutch master thanks to rigorous research and an eagle-eyed advisor, who helped lead to the authentication of another drawing.

Google Found Our Art Doppelgängers – The search engine’s Arts and Culture face-matching app took social media by storm, with everybody from CNN’s Jake Tapper to actress Kristen Bell snapping selfies to find their art-historical twins.

Could the “Ellis Rule” Make Museums Richer? – Adrian Ellis of AEA Consulting told artnet News about his bold eponymous solution for museums contemplating deaccession—a timely notion as institutions like the Berkshire Museum and La Salle University face backlash to proposals for selling artworks.

Deciphering Cryptocurrencies: A Primer – As if the art world weren’t confounding enough, the burgeoning realm of digital currency is certainly complicating matters. For your edification, Tim Schneider breaks down the what, why, and how of blockchain-based currency, and the ways it could impact the art world.

San Francisco’s FOG Was Not to Be Mist – Eileen Kinsella reports that the notoriously chilly art market in Silicon Valley could be thawing, thanks to a surge in visitors and top-shelf offerings at the recent Untitled and FOG Art + Design fairs.

WORST👎

The Spy in the House of Christie’s?  –  A former CIA agent who was arrested as part of “the worst intelligence failures in recent years” worked at Christie’s Hong Kong for almost two years. His most recent gig at the international auction house? A stint guarding the $450 million Salvator Mundi painting by Leonardo da Vinci.

Artforum’s Legal Battle Continues – Former Artforum employee Amanda Schmitt is aggressively pursing her lawsuit against the magazine’s former co-publisher Knight Landesman, according to new court records. Schmitt was named one of TIME magazine’s people of the year in December for voicing her experience of sexual harassment in the workplace, leading to an onslaught of similar allegations.

Tate Severs Ties With Anthony d’Offay – Philanthropist and art-world heavyweight Anthony d’Offay faces allegations of sexual harassment by multiple women, according to the Observer, leading to London’s Tate museum and the National Galleries of Scotland to immediately suspend contact with their longtime patron.

Farewell to the TEFAF Art Market Report – TEFAF has discontinued its widely regarded annual report—a resource that sought to quantify the notoriously opaque art market for almost 20 years.

Banksy Versus Bristol – What led to Banksy prints—unauthorized ones, to be precise—being sold for a mere £5? A Bristol city representative told artnet News: “This was a mistake on our part.”

Damien Hirst, Man of the Masses – The former enfant terrible of the art world is baring his soul on Instagram. The new, softer side of Hirst comes right on the heels of the widespread release of his fake documentary, “Treasures From the Wreck of the Unbelievable,” on Netflix.


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