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 this Thursday, January 27.
NEED TO READ
What Does the Metaverse Mean for the Future of Culture? – While artists and creators have embraced VR and AR as new modes of expression, there is a dark side to immersive art, argues Adam Stoneman: it kills the space needed for reflection and contemplation. “Culture is … a way of knowing and understanding the world,” he writes. “The immersive precludes the discursive by collapsing the distance needed for critique.” (Jacobin)
Spain Investigates Paloma Botín Over Looted Artifact – The daughter of Spanish Santander bank chairman Emilio Botín and her husband, Ricardo Gómez-Acebo, are under investigation for the purchase of an Iberian lioness sculpture dating to the 6th century BC that is believed to have been stolen from an archaeological site and traded illegally. The artifact was acquired from an anonymous Spanish antiquities dealer; Evidence of the work’s illegal origins was discovered during a police raid in 2018. (ARTnews)
The Rise and Rise of FEWOCiOUS – Fortune sat down with the 19-year-old NFT phenom to find out how his career as evolved since he started selling his work for a few dollars over Twitter and later sold his art at Christie’s in a sale so popular it crashed the auction house’s website. Work by the artist, whose real name is Victor Langlois, is now valued at more than $26 million between primary and secondary sales. So what’s next? He says this year will be dedicated to exploration. “For the first time, artists around me are getting paid for their digital artworks, and I’m excited to see what they make with extra resources,” he said. “New Renaissance.” For more on FEWOCiOUS, check out his interview on the Art Angle. (Fortune)
Johnny Depp Is Selling His Art as NFTs – The Hollywood star who told a judge that he lost $650 million movie two years ago is making a comeback—with NFTs. Depp is selling more than 10,000 unique digital assets in a collection titled “Never Fear Truth” derived from his paintings of friends and personal heroes like Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor, and, erm, himself (one is a self-portrait). Twenty-five percent of the proceeds will go to charity. Owners of the NFTs will also gain access to an exclusive Discord community. (Page Six)
MOVERS & SHAKERS
NFT Platform TRLab Raises $4.2 Million – The Hong Kong-based platform co-founded by Christie’s rainmaker Xin Li-Cohen and curator Audrey Ou is targeting the art market’s high end, listing works by blue-chip names including Cai Guo-Qiang, whose debut NFT sold for $2.5 million. New investors include WhaleShark, the Digital Renaissance Foundation, Pace Gallery, and collectors Adam Lindemann, Pablo Rodriguez-Fraile, and Svetlana Kuzmicheva-Uspenskaya. (CoinDesk)
Uovo Names New CEO – Former Sotheby’s e-commerce leader John Auerbach has joined the fine-art storage and services company as CEO, succeeding Daniel Schmerin. The company has been experiencing a growth spurt of late, having acquired the Bay Area shipping company Ship/Art and Florida’s Museo Vault. Next up, the company is eyeing an expansion to Texas. (ARTnews)
Gallery Settles Lawsuit Against Artist Derek Fordjour – Robert Blumenthal Gallery has settled its lawsuit against the in-demand artist on undisclosed terms. The dealer filed suit against Fordjour in 2020 after the artist allegedly failed to deliver seven of 20 artworks the gallery had commissioned in 2014. The artist, who was an MFA student at Hunter College at the time, was pre-paid $20,000 for the works. (Page Six)
Banksy Owner Says His Mural Is ‘Trapped’ – The owner of a Chirstmas-themed Banksy mural created in Port Talbot in 2018 is in a bit of a pickle. After art dealer John Brandler bought the work for a six-figure sum the year it was made, the Welsh government paid to move it to an empty shop so that it could still be viewed by the public. But its popularity—it draws 20,000 visitors a month—is posing safety concerns. Brandler now wants to relocate the mural 270 miles away, to Ipswitch. But he has been informed that he can’t remove the windows of the building to get the mural out. “It means the Banksy is trapped, imprisoned in the building,” he said. (BBC News)
FOR ART’S SAKE
New Portraits of Holocaust Survivors, Revealed – Portraits of Holocaust survivors by seven artists commissioned by Prince Charles were unveiled in exhibition “Seven Portraits: Surviving the Holocaust” at the Queen’s Gallery in Buckingham Palace on Monday. “These portraits represent something far greater than seven remarkable individuals,” Prince Charles said. “They stand as a living memorial to the six million innocent men, women, and children whose stories will never be told, whose portraits will never be painted.” (Evening Standard)
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