Wrapping Up The Art World: New York’s Epic Auction Week, Ben Moore Faces Allegations of NFT Theft, And More

Tour Triangle. Image courtesy of Herzog & de Meuron.
The Biennale of Sydney participants including (from left) Cave Urban (Mercurio Alvarado, Sophie Lanigan, Juan Pablo Pinto and Jed Long), David Haines and Joyce Hinterding and Clare Milledge, pictured with Lleah Smith (centre), Curator of Programs and Learning at The Cutaway, Barangaroo. Photo: Daniel Boud. Image courtesy of the Biennale of Sydney.
Image courtesy of Diriyah Gate Development Authority.
Christine Y. Kim. Photo by Ye Rin Mok. Image courtesy of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Image courtesy of Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, Seoul, and London.
Image courtesy of Sotheby’s.
Image courtesy of Phillips.
Asia Society

In case you missed the news, here’s a roundup of headlines from the art world in the last two weeks.

TEXT: CoBo News
IMAGES: Courtesy of various


Art World And All Its Drama

In case you’ve been living under a rock in the past twelve months….the fact that the phrase NFT (non-fungible token) has been named word of the year by Collins Dictionary shouldn’t come as a surprise to you.

Italy is piloting its own streaming platform, dubbed “Netflix for culture”, to stream content ranging from live operas and documentaries to virtual tours and museum exhibitions in hopes of helping struggling institutions stay afloat.



In other news, London-based curator Ben Moore is facing allegations of minting NFTs from works by various artists, including Anish Kapoor, David Bailey, Jake and Dinos Chapman, and Mr. Brainwash, without their permission. Yet, he sold pictures of the works as NFTs for more than US$6 million last week. In 2013, Moore founded a long-running charity project called Art Wars, which includes an exhibition of custom-painted Stormtrooper helmets by major artists.

Meanwhile, Paris’ skyline is about to be changed forever, and Parisians are not happy about it.

After more than a decade of lobbying, financial obstacles, legal scuffles, and a lot of backlash—the construction of Herzog & de Meuron-designed Tour Triangle is set to commence by the end of this year in the 15th arrondissement, with a completion year of 2026 in sight. The rare high-rise addition to the French capital—which has variously been called out as “a big piece of brie” and “a section of Toblerone”—has sparked a firestorm of debate, with politicians calling it a “climatic aberration”, while some denounced the 42-storey glass structure as un pur scandale (a pure scandal).


Tour Triangle. Image courtesy of Herzog & de Meuron.


In the final episode of comic crime thriller The Outlaws, Frank, played by Christopher Walken, painted over a graffiti by Banksy, which was created specifically for the series by the elusive artist. “We can confirm that the artwork at the end of The Outlaws was an original Banksy, and that Christopher Walken painted over that artwork during the filming of this scene, ultimately destroying it,” a spokesperson of the show told BBC news.

Having previously toured Japan, Seoul, Doha, Taipei, the UK, and Hong Kong, KAWS’ iconic inflatable work, KAWS:HOLIDAY, visited Singapore’s Marina Bay from 13 to 21 November. The showcase had been suspended due to the interim injunction served by its organiser AllRightsReserved, a Hong Kong-based creative studio, which was eventually lifted on 15 November.



Speaking of the devil, KAWS has recently filed a US$10 million lawsuit for trademark and copyright infringement against Homeless Penthouse—a website that sells luxury goods and artworks—and its affiliated online marketplaces. “These obfuscating, tongue-in-cheek statements are feeble attempts to escape the obvious: the purported KAWS items for sale on the Homeless Penthouse websites are deliberate fakes,” the suit alleges. The site had been selling several works under KAWS’ name, which priced from under US$100 to nearly US$3,500 for a sculpture made for Dior—according to the listing.


Mark Your Art Calendars

On 17 November, the Biennale of Sydney announced the exhibition sites for its 23rd edition, titled rīvus, which is scheduled from 12 March to 13 June 2022. The first part of the biennale, a three-month long exhibition, will be hosted across the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Barangaroo including The Cutaway, Circular Quay, Information + Cultural Exchange, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, National Art School in partnership with Artspace, The Rocks, and Walsh Bay Arts Precinct including Pier 2/3. An expansive series of city-wide public programmes, called The Waterhouse, will happen concurrently.


The Biennale of Sydney participants including (from left) Cave Urban (Mercurio Alvarado, Sophie Lanigan, Juan Pablo Pinto and Jed Long), David Haines and Joyce Hinterding and Clare Milledge, pictured with Lleah Smith (centre), Curator of Programs and Learning at The Cutaway, Barangaroo. Photo: Daniel Boud. Image courtesy of the Biennale of Sydney.


Bangkok Art Biennale, which will be held from 22 October 2022 to 23 February 2023 has named 20 participating artists, together they will respond to the title CHAOS : CALM through exploring how various communities have been impacted by the pandemic.

The inaugural Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale will open in two weeks as the first contemporary art biennale of Saudi Arabia. Presented by Ad-Diriyah Biennale Foundation, the event will run from 7 December 2021 to 7 March 2022 in the historic JAX district; full programme line-up will be revealed in December.


Image courtesy of Diriyah Gate Development Authority.


A less encouraging news: Singapore-based contemporary art fair, ART SG, has been postponed for the fourth time to January 2023. Its debut was originally slated for November 2019, but was pushed to October 2020 as its participants rallied for more preparation time. The pandemic prompted a further postponement to November 2021, before the art fair was pushed again to January 2022.


Art World Movers and Shakers

The executives of the art world have had some major shuffling in the past couple of weeks. Curator and writer Christopher Y. Lew is leaving New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, where he has served for nearly seven years as Nancy and Fred Poses Associate Curator. Lew has yet to reveal his next stop, but he is “moving on to positions at a new non-profit and start up”, as told in an email to his colleagues.

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago has announced two senior curatorial appointments—René Morales as chief curator and Jamillah James as senior curator; both will commence their roles in January 2022.

Speaking of major hires, Brooklyn Museum, which has just received its largest capital investment of US$50 million in the institution’s history, has made two major hires. Stephanie Sparling Williams will begin her role as the institution’s curator of American art in December, while Kimberli Gant will fill the position of modern and contemporary art in January 2022.


Christine Y. Kim. Photo by Ye Rin Mok. Image courtesy of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.


Christine Y. Kim, previously the contemporary art curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, has been appointed the new position of Britton Family Curator-at-Large (North American Art) at Tate Modern. Stepping into her new role in January, she will be dividing her time between Los Angeles and New York, where she will focus on developing Tate’s collection of North American art through new research and acquisitions.

The latest move in a series of staff changes at Frieze—veteran art dealer Christine Messineo has been appointed Director of two upcoming fairs: Frieze Los Angeles and Frieze New York, scheduled for 17 to 20 February and 18 to 22 May next year respectively.

Over in Asia, auction house veteran Lihua Tung has been named the new director at David Zwirner’s Hong Kong outpost. Meanwhile, Megan Leckie is departing her role as regional head of Art Basel’s VIP team in Asia to head back to the UK.


Institutional Happenings

Mega gallery Lehmann Maupin has announced plans to expand its presence in Seoul with its new gallery location in Hannam-dong area in early spring 2022. The area is also home to the recently expanded Pace, the newly opened Thaddaeus Ropac, and Leeum museum.


Image courtesy of Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, Seoul, and London.


At the preview of Abu Dhabi Art 2021, Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of the captial’s Department of Culture and Tourism, announced grand plans for its growing cultural scene, including two new museums in addition to the currently planned Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and Norman Foster-designer Zayed National Museum, both of which are slated for completion by 2025. Though little details have been revealed, Al Mubarak confirmed that construction of the museums are already under way.

After preluding its very own NFT platform in July, Pace has finally launched Pace Verso, along with a new NFT charity project with artist Glenn Kaino which will debut by the end of this month.


Auction Headliners

The end-of-year auction frenzy is upon us, here is a quick recap of the sales from New York.

A new record was set for photographer Tseng Kwong Chi during Christie’s Postwar and Contemporary Art Day Sale on 12 November. His 1987 photograph ofJean-Michel Basquiat posing in front of Andy Warhol’s oxidised silkscreen portrait of him, sold for $125,000, more than eight times the estimate.

The Macklowe Collection, a highly anticipated blue-chip collection from American tycoon Harry Macklowe and his ex-wife Linda, fetched a staggering US$676.1 million at Sotheby’s evening auction on 15 November, becoming the most valuable single-owner auction and the most valuable auction ever held at the auction house. Thirty one-year-old Chinese tech billionaire Justin Sun announced himself as the buyer of Alberto Giacometti’s Le Nez sculpture, which was sold for US$78.4 million.


Image courtesy of Sotheby’s.
Image courtesy of Phillips.


On the following evening, Frida Kahlo’s Diego y yo (1949), a self-portrait of the artist with a tearful gaze and a superimposed image of her husband Diego Rivera on her forehead, was sold for US$34.9 million, quadrupling the artist’s previous auction record of US$8 million in 2016.

Sotheby’s continued the record-breaking streak with sale of the U.S. Constitution. Sold at US$43.2 million, the item became the most expensive book, manuscript, historical document, or printed text ever to hit the auction block. The highly contested winning bid was revealed to be placed by billionaire art collector and financier Kenneth Griffin, who had outbid ConstitutionDAO, a group of cryptocurrency enthusiasts who crowdfunded on the blockchain to purchase the document.

In the same week, Phillips’ 20th Century and Contemporary Art Evening Sale achieved a total of US$139.1 Million, clinching the accolade of the highest total sales in the company’s history.


A Lowdown on the Impending Venice Biennale

The anticipation for the 59th Venice Biennale, which will take place from 23 April to 27 November 2022, is slowly gathering momentum.

Sculptor Anish Kapoor revealed that he will be debuting a work made via nanotechnology in a two-part solo exhibition across Gallerie dell’Accademia and Palazzo Manfrin in Venice.

Grenada artist and filmmaker Billy Gerard Frank is looking to crowdfund US$250,000 to realise his Biennale project, Palimpsest: Tales Spun From Sea And Memories, which consists of a body of work based on West African abolitionist Ottobah Cugoano. “Smaller islands…don’t have that kind of funding to commit to a nine-month pavilion, and pay the artists to go to the biennale,” Frank told Hyperallergic.

The Netherlands has formally handed over its coveted exhibition space in the Rietveld Pavilion to Estonia, bidding farewell to its long-held location since 1954.

Over in Asia, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, the organiser of the Taiwan Pavilion at the biennale, announced last week that veteran indigenous artist Sakuliu will be representing Taiwan next year.




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