Headlines: Record Sale and Art World Controversy
1) Da Vinci Sale Sets New Art World Record
The art world is rife with excited chatter today following a record-breaking auction sale of a Leonardo Da Vinci painting from Christie’s in New York. The painting, an oil portrait of Jesus Christ dating back to the 16th century, is the last Da Vinci work in private ownership and sold for a bid of $400 million USD, plus around $50 million in additional fees. After a tense 19-minute bidding war, of which ArtNews offers a play-by-play, the work was sold to an undisclosed buyer over the phone. Some speculation suggests that the purchase was made by or for a museum in the middle east.
2) Critics Express Concern Over Painting
Meanwhile, critics are voicing concerns over the authenticity of the painting -- a concern that isn’t new. As recently as 2005, the painting was widely believed to be a copy, and was purchased from an estate sale for just $10,000. Jason Farago of the New York Times makes the argument that this previous assumption was correct, drawing on certain aesthetic choices within the painting as evidence. The painting’s someone tumultuous contemporary provenance is also of interest -- it was sold through Christie’s by the family trust of Dmitry E. Rybolovlev, a Russian billionaire who has been tied to U.S. politics, and the Panama Papers (a series of documents revealing the use of offshore accounts by wealthy art collectors to avoid taxation). Rybolovlev himself is still embroiled in a legal dispute over the price that he initially paid for Salvator Mundi from a French dealer.
3) Abramovich Scraps Performance Institute Project
Marina Abramovich will no longer be building her much-hyped Institute for the Preservation of Performance Art -- but the money that was raised for the project has still disappeared. Abramovich raised just over 2 million dollars in a four-year campaign which included an initiative on Kickstarter. Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas was slated to design the space, which would have taken over an abandoned theater space in Hudson, New York. Abramovich had high hopes for the Institute, claiming it would revitalize the area economy and provide performance artist with a space for free experimentation. According to representatives, the money that was raised went toward schematics and feasibility studies -- Abramovich made the decision to abandon the project upon realizing that it would turn out to be much more costly than expected.