Art Industry News: Spacewalking Astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s Childhood Home May Become a Museum + Other Stories

Plus, a new program offers free mentorship to struggling art-market professionals and a Christian legal group sues the Reina Sofía's director.

Buzz Aldrin was the Lunar Module pilot on the Apollo 11 mission. (Photo by SSPL/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 on this Wednesday, December 23. Programming note: This will be the last Art Industry News until January 4—see you in 2021.


Christian Group Sues Reina Sofía Director – A Spanish advocacy group made up of lawyers who seek to defend “Christian values” sued the Reina Sofía’s director, Manuel Borja-Villel, over the Madrid museum’s new exhibition of Argentine artist León Ferrari. The group argues that the show—which includes Ferrari’s sculpture of Jesus being crucified on a fighter jet—”mocks the gospel.” The Asociación Española de Abogados Cristianos is calling for the museum to close the exhibition and fire Borja-Villel. (ARTnews)

Laura Poitras Pens a New York Times Op-Ed – The filmmaker, journalist, and artist wrote a gripping op-ed that begins, “I am guilty of violating the Espionage Act, Title 18, US Code Sections 793 and 798. If charged and convicted, I could spend the rest of my life in prison.” She goes on to describe the potential impact that the US government’s prosecution of Julian Assange could have on her and other colleagues behind the original coverage of Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks. (NYT)

Astronaut’s Home May Become Museum – Buzz Aldrin’s first home in Montclair, New Jersey, could become a museum if some locals have their way. The home where the astronaut grew up is on the market with a price tag of $1.05 million, and Montclair resident Ilmar Vanderer is working to raise money and accrue the necessary permissions. Some neighbors, however, are opposed to the idea because they fear a museum would drive up property prices. Vanderer is adamant: “It would be a gift to the community, but most of all, it would be a gift to Buzz Aldrin.” (Montclair Local)

On the Hunt to Recover an Art-History Mystery – Self-proclaimed “history detectives” Elaine Buck and Beverly Mills have spent more than a decade working to recover the lost history of Stoutsburg Cemetery, one of the oldest African American burial grounds. Their latest revelation: that some Black people cast ballots in the decades after the American Revolution, before they were disenfranchised. The New Jersey-based site ultimately prompted the women to create the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum. “It’s mind-boggling,” Mills said. “It seems like there are just stories within stories in this cemetery.” (New York Times)


Looking for a Market Mentor? – Two former Christie’s executives, Catherine Manson and Caroline Sayan, are launching a free, three-month mentorship program for art-market professionals who have either lost their jobs or are experiencing unprecedented professional challenges. Mentees will be matched with one of 75 industry leaders from global auction houses, art fairs, art media, and other sectors. Interested candidates are asked to submit a resume, professional reference, and summary of goals to [email protected] by January 3. (Instagram)

UK “Tourist Tax” Will Hit Art Dealers – The art, luxury goods, and watch industries are joining forces to protest the UK’s plans to scrap tax-free shipping for tourists beginning January 1. Dealers who specialize in portable objects such as silver and small pictures will be particularly hard hit, trade organizations say. They estimate the UK’s luxury sector stands to lose £4.5 billion ($6 billion) annually if the new rules are implemented. (TAN)


Two Museums Team Up to Buy an El Anatsui – Citing the rising prices on the art market, which make it difficult for public art institutions to acquire works by celebrated artists, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and Kunstmuseum Bern have joined forces to buy a work by El Anatsui from the Sigg Collection, a Swiss private art collection best known for Chinese art. The work will be shown alternately in Bern and Amsterdam. (Art Daily)

Baltimore Museum Acquires 33 More Works by Women – The museum acquired a trove of works by female-identifying artists as part of its “2020 Vision” initiative, including examples by Loïs Mailou Jones, Valerie Maynard, Betye Saar, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, and Kay WalkingStick. All told, the BMA has spent $2.57 million, adding 65 works to the collection by 49 female-identifying artists this year. (Press release)


K-Pop Singers Named Patrons of the Year – The mega-popular K-pop singers RM of BTS and Henry of the eponymous YouTube channel “Henry Together” have been named art patrons of the year by the state-run Arts Council Korea. RM donated $91,000 to the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, while BTS launched a global public art project in January. (Korea Herald)

The Art Comes With the House – It’s a (very expensive) package deal: for $33 million, you can own a Silicon Valley manse and the art and design objects inside. The collection assembled by seller Nicole Vidalakis boasts (count ’em) three bronze sculptures by Robert Holmes, a custom chair by Thomas Moser positioned opposite a Richard Schultz wing char, and a set of six paintings by Donald Baechler. Everything must go! (Robb Report)

Courtesy of Golden Gate Sotheby's International Realty.

Courtesy of Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty.

Courtesy of Golden Gate Sotheby's International Realty.

Courtesy of Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty.

Courtesy of Golden Gate Sotheby's International Realty.

Courtesy of Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty.

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