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PAPER WORKS. As stories run on the so-called Pandora Papers—11.9 million-odd files about the ultra-wealthy’s financial arrangements, leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists—artworks are (unsurprisingly) making some guest appearances. The Washington Post, which was involved in the investigation, said that documents show that the late dealer Douglas Latchford and his family set up “trusts in tax havens shortly after U.S. investigators began linking him to looted Cambodian artifacts.” Latchford died last year, and his daughter gave his collection to the country. Elsewhere, the ICIJ reports that the Sri Lankan “power couple” Thirukumar Nadesan and Nirupama Rajapaksa used foreign shell companies to acquire artworks and real estate. They said that all of their “private matters” have been handled “properly with their advisers.” As the Guardian writes, “Setting up or benefiting from offshore entities is not itself illegal, and in some cases people may have legitimate reasons, such as security, for doing so.” Here are links to reporting from the ICIJ, the Post, and the Guardian.
MONEY MATTERS. Aiming to buoy U.S. cultural institutions amid the pandemic, the National Endowment for the Humanities announced it has distributed $87.8 million to more than 300 organizations, the New York Times reports. Among the recipients is the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which got about $469,000 to expand “access to materials by historically underrepresented artists” in its library holdings, and to keep nine jobs. (The NEH website has details on all the projects and grantees, which include the New Orleans Museum of Art and the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio.) Meanwhile, legislation for a $300 million grant program for jobs for arts workers has been introduced in Congress, per Artforum. The Creative Economy Revitalization Act has been informed by the Works Projects Administration of the Great Depression and would fund programs to create art that can be readily viewed by the public.
Officials in Venice are using cellphone data to track crowds, and planning to install gates at certain entry locations next summer. Short-term visitors (including friends of Venetians) will be required to prebook and pay to enter—and may be barred on especially busy days. [The New York Times]
Slovenia’s national museum of modern art, the Moderna Galerija, was damaged in flooding in the capital city of Ljubljana last week. A show of Picasso graphic works was moved to safety by the museum, which estimated that the damage will run into the hundreds of thousands of euros. [The Art Newspaper]
ARTnews Top 200 Collector J. Tomilson Hill has been named chairman of the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and writer Claudia Rankine has become a trustee; she is the second Black woman to ever hold that position at the museum. Hill, profiled by ARTnews in 2018, succeeds William L. Mack. [The New York Times]
A 1982 Andy Warhol portrait of Jean-Michel Basquiat will hit the block at Christie’s in New York in November with an estimate in excess of $20 million. The piece features Warhol’s “oxidation” technique: urine splashed on copper paint to make abstractions. The seller is ARTnews Top 200 Collector Peter Brant. [ARTnews]
After 1,300 hours of conservation work over four years, a tapestry from the late 1400s has gone back on view at Montacute House in Somerset, England. The piece was commissioned by a nobleman friend of King Louis XI of France, and its whereabouts between 1482 and 1910 remain unknown. [The Guardian]
An item for furniture heads: artist-couple Chris Johanson and Johanna Jackson spoke to T about their collaborative design work, and Marc Newson spoke with the FT about his new Quobus storage system, explaining, “Each cubicle becomes a sort of dedicated environment. Each one is almost a little shrine.” [T: The New York Times Style Magazine and Financial Times]
THE GOSPEL TRUTH. The Bible-thumping craft store Hobby Lobby has been in the news a fair amount in recent years, returning thousands of objects that it purchased for its Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., because they may have been stolen. In Slate, Erin L. Thompson, a professor of art crime at John Jay College in New York, offers a rundown of the developments, and argues that the company and the Green family that owns it were not victims of “unscrupulous dealers,” as they have argued. Writes Green: “Surrendering 99 percent of your antiquities purchases because they were most probably looted makes it seem more like you went on a crime spree instead of just a shopping spree, no?” [Slate]
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