From the Twisting ‘Salvator Mundi’ Saga to the Met’s Balthus Controversy: The Best & Worst of the Art World This Week

Catch up on what you missed—fast.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi, photo: Facebook. Right, Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi.


Who Owns Salvator Mundi? – Speculation over the buyer of the “last Leonardo” ramped up this week, spurred by a tweet by the Louvre Abu Dhabi. The story now involves multiple Saudi princes and the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, with revelations and rumors hitting a fever pitch.

Celebrating “the Silence Breakers” – Former Artforum staffer Amanda Schmitt is included in Time magazine’s people of the year issue. Back in October, artnet News reported on the sexual harassment suit she brought against former co-publisher Knight Landesman, which led to his resignation.

Rising Star Alert – Allison Zuckerman spoke to artnet News about her whirlwind rise in the art world, thanks to a very special studio visit and the support of Miami’s most influential art patrons.

The Turner Prize Gets It Right – Zanzibar-born artist Lubaina Himid proved that maturity is an asset, winning the Turner Prize this year with her colorful tableaux.

One Fish, Two Fish, and a Mylar Balloon Fish – What does it take to be the “fish wrangler”? Julia Halperin found out what goes into maintaining Philip Parreno’s inflatable works at Art Basel in Miami Beach.

With an Obama Endorsement, the Market Heats Up – The Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald is having a banner year: she was selected by Michelle Obama to paint the former First Lady’s likeness for the National Portrait Gallery, and artnet News’s Andrew Goldstein discovered that her stock is sky high.

Hans Ulrich Obrist Says “Do It” – What began as a collaborative project between artists could be coming to a syllabus near you. The star curator’s “do it” initiative will be adopted by New York City schools’ art programs.

Rapper Kendrick Lamar Shows His Artistic Side – The rapper paid tribute to civil rights photographer Gordon Parks in a music video. Now their work will be shown side by side.



Jens Hoffmann Is Not So Busy Anymore – The curator who once had a full calendar has been suspended from his affiliations with the Jewish Museum, following allegations of sexual harassment. Last week, Hoffmann told artnet News that he would be leaving his post as the co-artistic director of the FRONT Triennial, and following the Jewish Museum’s announcement, the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, the Honolulu Biennial, and the Kadist Foundation all placed the curator on suspension.

The Met Won’t Back Down – A New York woman created a petition calling on the Metropolitan Museum to remove a painting of a young girl she deemed too “suggestive.” But the Met says the painting isn’t going anywhere.

The Beatrix Ruf Backlash – Can curators give advice without inciting a conflict of interest? In the wake of Beatrix Ruf’s resignation from the Stedelijk Museum in September, artnet News asked former and current art-world players to weigh in on the relationship between curators and influential collectors.

Artforum Strikes Back – The magazine is moving to dismiss the case brought by former staffer Amanda Schmitt against the publication and its former co-publisher Knight Landesman, artnet News’s Rachel Corbett reports.

LA Wildfires Encroach on Art Institutions – California has been plagued with rampant wildfires in recent months, with more breaking out this week in Los Angeles and Ventura County. Museums in or near the flames’ path are acting with caution.

Farewell to a Pioneering Artist – The postwar artist Enrico Castellani passed away late last week. Castellani was an Italian-born artist who pioneered the ZERO art movement and was described by Donald Judd as “the father of minimalism.”

The Battle Over Bears Ears – Native American petroglyphs dating back as far as 2,000 years are at risk of destruction, due to President Trump’s announced reduction of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. artnet News spoke to archaeological specialists about what we stand to lose.

Miami Art Week’s Bacchanalia – Paris Hilton’s DJ skills and a yoga-mat-painting event have left us wondering if there’s even art at these Miami festivities. Despite those strange attractions, a staggering 23 fairs descended upon Miami Beach this weekend, plus a stellar lineup of museum shows to check out around the area.

JFK’s Painting Trumps Trump – In an auction this week, two presidential artworks vied for the top lot—an oil painting by John F. Kennedy and a sketch by Donald Trump—and the results were surprising.

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