Art Industry News: The Biden Administration Says That the Art Market Is ‘Especially Vulnerable to Financial Crimes’ + Other Stories

Plus, culture critic Greg Tate has died at 64 and the International Court of Justice orders Azerbaijan to stop destroying Armenian heritage.

U.S. President Joe Biden. Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP via Getty Images.
U.S. President Joe Biden. Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP via 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 8.


Culture Critic Greg Tate Has Died – The cultural critic who influenced a generation with his writing, especially on hip-hop and Black American culture, died on December 7 at the age of 64. Tate was a staff writer at the Village Voice and the author of several books including the acclaimed Flyboy in the Buttermilk: Essays on Contemporary America (1992). “I decided that what Black culture needs is a popular poststructuralism—accessible writing bent on deconstructing the whole of black culture,” Tate wrote in 1986. He was visiting professor of Africana studies at Brown University and the Louis Armstrong Visiting Professor at Columbia University’s Center for Jazz Studies. A skilled guitarist, Tate was also the founder of Burnt Sugar and a co-founder of the Black Rock Coalition. (Artforum)

Artists Work to Preserve Black Art History in the Hamptons – “I didn’t know there were any historical Black and Indigenous communities in the Hamptons—we always think of that area as very white, very wealthy,” said Audrey Lyall, a Brooklyn-based artist who is among a group now rallying to preserve the region’s Black history through a pop-up exhibition in Sag Harbor. Twelve historically important buildings have been taken down there since 2017. (New York Times)

Biden Administration Flags the Art Market as a Site of Corruption – The art market is name-checked alongside digital assets, real estate, and other industries in a report released this month by the Biden Administration on its official strategy for countering corruption. The report’s authors cite the “built-in opacity, lack of stable and predictable pricing, and inherent cross-border transportability of goods sold” as elements that make the art market “especially vulnerable to a range of financial crimes.” The Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Unit is in the process of updating the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 to include those in engaged in the antiquities trade. (White House)

Court Rules Azerbaijan Must Stop Destroying Armenian Heritage – The International Court of Justice has ordered Azerbaijan to “prevent and punish” acts of destruction of Armenian cultural heritage, including damage to churches, monuments, and artifacts. After decades attempting to secure aid from UNESCO, Armenia brought the case against Azerbaijan under the United Nations’ Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), to which both countries are party. The outcome may offer a model for other groups seeking prevent the destruction of cultural heritage without the aid of UNESCO. (Hyperallergic)


MoCA Cleveland Awards Toby’s Prize – The Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland presented the second annual Toby’s Prize to the conceptual and activist artist Puppies Puppies (also known as Jade Kuriki Olivo). The biannual award named after philanthropist Toby Devan Lewis comes with the commissioning of new work, a publication, and a solo show a the museum. (Press release)

Sotheby’s Archives World Record for Marble Sculpture – The Hamilton Aphrodite sold to an Asian private collector for $24.6 million at Sotheby’s London, setting a new world auction record for any ancient marble sculpture. The Roman sculpture dating back to the 1st or 2nd century A.D. was last seen in a New York auction in 1949. (ARTnews)

Hindu Goddess Sculpture Returned to India – An ancient sculpture of a Hindu goddess that was looted from a temple will be returned from London to India. The piece disappeared from public view after it was pulled from a planned London auction in 1988, but was recently rediscovered in the garden of an English home by the London-based lawyer and art restitution expert Christopher Marinello, who facilitated its return. (Guardian)

Much-Hated Confederate Statue Comes Down in Nashville – A notorious statue of the Confederate general and Ku Klux Klan grand wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest was removed from its perch in Nashville on December 7 following the death of the site’s property owner. The work had been subject to repeated calls for removal. The executor of the property owner’s estate said they were taking down the statue because it has no historical significance and is ugly. (News Channel 5)


Arthur Jafa Remembers Virgil Abloh – The Golden Lion-winning artist penned a heart-wrenching poem dedicated to his late friend, designer Virgil Abloh. Jafa also dedicated the writing to Greg Tate, whom he called the “absolute love of my life.” (Instagram)


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