Hot in the headlines this week, Sotheby’s closes $3.7b deal and sells Banksy’s chimpanzee parliament painting for record $12.2 million in London; Paris is set to be a new hot spot for galleries with Brexit looming over us; and China is set to have yet another private museum. All this and more in this week’s news round-up.
In the Market
The stock market has suffered a few shakeups from the art world this week. Just as Endeavor Group Holdings Inc—the majority owner of Frieze art fair which is taking place this week—was set to go public last Friday on 27 September, it made a last minute pull out on Thursday as reported by the Wall Street Journal on 26 September. It is the second time the entertainment and media conglomerate has hit the pause button this year.
While on 3 October, Sotheby’s announced that the mega auction house is now wholly owned by French-Israeli telecom and media entrepreneur and art collector, Patrick Drahi, closing a USD 3.7 billion deal. As The Art Newspaper reported, the deal, which was first announced in June earlier this year, brings the 275-year-old firm back to private ownership after 31 years of public trading on the New York Stock Exchange. On this same day, Sotheby’s continued to make headlines with its record-breaking sale of a Banksy painting of chimpanzees in the British parliament which sold for £9.9 million (USD 12.2 million) in the auction house’s Contemporary Art sale in London yesterday. The sale achieved almost five times its high estimate and sets a significantly higher new record for the artist whose previous top-selling lot was for Keep It Spotless which was sold through Sotheby’s New York in 2008 record for USD 1.87 million.
It’s been a big week of gallery news, as London-based White Cube announced the opening a new space in Paris on the Avenue Matignon while heavyweight Pace Gallery has also confirmed the French capital as the location of its next outpost. Both galleries will be joining mega-dealer David Zwirner whose new Paris gallery, his sixth outpost internationally, will open in a fortnight during FIAC. Meanwhile turning to the East, König Galerie will be opening a Tokyo location. The Berlin gallery was founded by Johann König in 2002 and has reportedly been seeking an Asian outpost for some time but has decided Hong Kong—where White Cube, Pace Gallery and David Zwirner all have outposts—may already be too full.
In China this week, Michael Xufu Huang, collector and co-founder of M Woods, a private contemporary art museum in Beijing, has resigned from his position at the museum—to open up one of his own with works from his personal collection. Reported by several news outlets including Artforum, Huang’s new institution, X Museum, is slated to open in March 2020 and will “be very multidisciplinary, showing not only artists, but also architects, scientists, engineers, and musicians.”
Meanwhile with Shanghai Art Week coming next month, the Centre Pompidou has at last announced the opening of its long-awaited satellite space in Shanghai, which follows the institution’s plans to expand internationally. The Centre Pompidou currently already has an offshoot branch in Spain with another in the works set to open in Brussels in 2023. As The Art Newspaper reported, the pop-up branch in Shanghai, Centre Pompidou x West Bund Art Museum, will open on November 8 and occupy a space inside a wing of the 25,000 sq. meter West Bund Art Museum.
Never the Art World Without Some Gossip
American artist and rising star in the art world, KAWS, has received backlash for a 2002 artwork that was slated for auction at Sotheby’s in this weekend’s auctions in Hong Kong. As several news outlets including Highsnobriety reported, the painting, which has since been pulled from the auction house website, depicts Mao Zedong sporting the typical features given to KAWS companions with ears, hair and crossed out eyes and stirred the outrage just as the Chinese Communist Party held its celebrations marking 70 years of its rule. At the preview, Sotheby’s has confirmed to CoBo Social that the painting has been pulled from this weekend’s auction while other pieces by the artist remains.
More controversy looms as Indian artist Subodh Gupta files a lawsuit against the user of anonymous Instagram account @herdsceneand for defamation. The account, which started in 2018 and has some 5,600 followers, claims on its profile to be “cutting through BS in the Indian Art World, one predator and power play, at a time” and has already publicly accused a number of leading art figures of India’s art community of sexual harassment and misconduct. As reported by Artnet and several other news outlets reported on October 1, a judge has now ordered Facebook to reveal the user of the account and asked Google to remove search results related to the allegations made against Gupta. While the artist has continued to vehemently deny the allegations, a former employee of Nature Morte, the artist’s New Delhi gallery, came forward last December corroborating the accusations made by the Instagram account.
The Japan Times reported on Monday 30 September that the Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art in Nagoya and the organizers of the Aichi Triennale have reached an agreement to reopen the controversial exhibition “After Freedom of Exhibition” for three days, sometime between 6 October and 8 October. The exhibition was censored and shuttered in early August after Aichi Triennale organizers received threats over the inclusion of a statue portraying a “comfort woman,” a sensitive and taboo topic which has long caused tensions between Japan and South Korea.
On 30 September, Beirut Art Center announced the appointments of Lebanese artists and curators Haig Aivazian and Ahmad Ghossein as the new co-artistic directors. In an official statement released by BAC, Aivazian said of their new role: “As practicing artists, we come to the BAC as we come to our own practices: with playful desire, but also many urgent questions. To this, Ghossein adds, ““Given its central position in the art scene, our goal is to have the Beirut Art Center be the chain-link tying contemporary art to the wider cultural scene, and to echo the social and political preoccupations of the city.”