Art Industry News: A Sculptor Is Suing Jeff Koons for Using His Work Without Permission in the Infamous ‘Made in Heaven’ Series + Other Stories

Plus, new details emerge in the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum heist, and a critic slams the Whitney's new show for undermining women.

Jeff Koons, Made in Heaven (1989).
Photo: Courtesy of YouTube.

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 Friday, December 3.


New Clue in Isabella Stewart Gardner Heist – The largest unresolved art theft in U.S. history may have a new lead as 70-year-old jeweler and fine arts appraiser Paul Calantropo has finally come forward to recount his 1990 meeting with career criminal Bobby Donati, who once showed him an eagle finial from Napoleon’s Imperial Guard, which was among the 13 artworks stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Donati, who is believed to be a suspect, was murdered a year after meeting with Calantropo. Calantropo’s account has shed a new light into the ongoing investigation of the case. (Boston Globe)

Whitney Show Slammed for Undermining Women Artists – Ariella Budick argued in the Financial Times that the Whitney Museum’s show “Labyrinth of Forms: Women and Abstraction, 1930-1950” should have been called “Pantry of Forms,” as it is a “grudging, tiny, misleading exhibition.” She criticized the show for being unambitious and far too small, especially when compared to the amount of space given to the museum’s current Jasper Johns retrospective: It is “stuffed into a leftover wedge of real estate between the auditorium and the education center.” (Financial Times)

Jeff Koons Sued for Unauthorized Use of Artist’s Work – Artist Michael Hayden said in a New York court filing that Jeff Koons has never asked his permission, or paid for a license, to use a sculpture he made for Koons’s former wife Ilona Staller (a.k.a. Cicciolina), an Italian adult-film star and politician, in the artist’s series of photographs “Made in Heaven.” Hayden said he created the sculpture of a serpent encircling a rock in 1988 and Koons traveled to Italy in 1989 to be photographed with Staller posing atop the work for the images. (Reuters)

How Warhol’s Faith and Sexuality Intertwined – Andy Warhol’s faith in Catholicism and its complex intersections with his sexuality are explored in the exhibition “Andy Warhol: Revelation” at the Brooklyn Museum. The show is said to have brought new insights into not only the reading of the artist’s work, but also the artist as a person (and not just the persona he portrayed). (New York Times)


Posthumous Peter Lindbergh-Curated Show Opens in Spain – “Peter Lindbergh: Untold Stories,” a show curated by the late artist shortly before he died in 2019 is opening in A Coruña, Galicia. The show features 161 images that Lindbergh handpicked from his four-decade career, and is taking place at a converted industrial building. It runs until February 28.

Dia Art Foundation Hires Humberto Moro – Humberto Moro will join the Dia Art Foundation as its deputy director of program in early 2022. Formerly the deputy director and senior curator at the Museo Tamayo in Mexico City and the curator at the SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah, Georgia,Moro will be tasked with steering the development of the foundation as it approaches its 50th anniversary in 2024. (Press release)

Former Pompidou and M+ Curator Yung Ma Joins Hayward Gallery – Yung Ma has joined the Hayward Gallery at the Southbank Centre as curator after working in Seoul, Paris, and Hong Kong. Formerly a curator of the contemporary art and prospective creation department at the Center Pompidou in Paris and an associate curator of Moving Image at Hong Kong’s M+, Ma also served as the artistic director of the 11th edition of the Seoul Mediacity Biennale, which just opened in September. He will be working alongside senior curator Cliff Lauson and reporting to director Ralph Rugoff. (Press release)

New Dates for Beijing Art Week – The 2022 edition of Gallery Weekend Beijing will take place from May 26 to June 5, with May 26 being the media day followed by two V.I.P. days before opening to the public on May 31. The new dates will be roughly a month later than its 2021 edition, which closed on May 2 with more than 199,000 visitors, up 72 percent from the previous edition, despite pandemic travel restrictions. (Press release)


A New Show in Belgium Considers Controversies of the Nipple – The Leuven-based Nomadic Art Gallery opens a new group show titled “Twist” today, featuring artists from New Zealand and Belgium who have created works that take a good look at the many various controversies surrounding the nipple. (Press release)

Left. Merijn Verhelst, <i>Untitled 1</i>, 2021. Courtesy of The Nomadic Art Gallery and the artist. Right. Oliver Cain, <i>Yellow Pink</i>, 2021. Courtesy of The Nomadic Art Gallery and the artist.

Left. Merijn Verhelst, Untitled 1, 2021. Courtesy of The Nomadic Art Gallery and the artist. Right. Oliver Cain, Yellow Pink, 2021. Courtesy of The Nomadic Art Gallery and the artist.

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