• Hedge fund manager Alexander Klabin. Photo: Sotheby’s.

    Hedge Fund Manager Alexander Klabin Bets Big on Sotheby’s

    US hedge fund manager Alexander Klabin has acquired a minority stake in storied auction house Sotheby’s and will serve as executive chairman of the company’s financial arm, Sotheby’s Financial Services (SFS). In his new role, the terms of which have not been disclosed, he will oversee the modernization of SFS’s underwriting services and improve its access to capital markets.

    Klabin, a cofounder of the Blackstone Group–backed Senator Investment Group, was approached in 2019 by a coalition of four former Sotheby’s shareholders hoping to secure his aid in blocking a $3.7 billion buyout of the auction

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  • After Raising $20 Million, Artist Relief Fund Extended to End of 2020

    The Artist Relief fund announced today that it will continue to distribute unrestricted $5,000 grants to artists in straitened financial situations through the end of 2020. The fund, which has raised $20 million since its inception in April, will accept applications through December 10, three months past its initial expected September deadline; it will also continue fundraising efforts during this time.

    To date, more than 130,000 artists across all states and territories have applied for the grants, with those demonstrating the greatest financial need in four categories—food, rent, medical, and

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  • One of Robert Indiana’s famed LOVE sculptures, in Philadelphia.

    Battle Over Robert Indiana Assets Draws to a Close

    The end of the protracted legal fight over the assets of Robert Indiana is in sight, as the Morgan Foundation, Indiana’s longtime representative, reached an out-of-court agreement with the Star of Hope Foundation, the sole beneficiary of his estate, stipulating that the two parties will work together to protect and promote Indiana’s legacy.

    One day prior to the death of the legendary artist at the age of 89 in May 2018, the Morgan Foundation filed a federal lawsuit against the artist for defamation, copyright infringement, violation of the Visual Artists Rights Act, and breach of contract; upon

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  • Marx Halle, where Vienna Contemporary takes place. Photo:  Vienna Contemporary.

    Vienna Contemporary Presses On with IRL Event Despite Covid Surge, Tightening Restrictions

    Though the country has recently experienced a spike in coronavirus cases and increased restrictions surrounding travel, Vienna Contemporary, Austria’s largest art fair, is scheduled to take place on September 24–27 as planned at the Marx-Halle, Artnet News reports. Organizers and dealers have gone to great lengths to make this happen, with the former providing a “dedicated Covid-19 representative,” reducing booth fees by 50 percent, and assigning visitors timed slots, and the latter finding unique ways to collaborate.

    Vienna currently accounts for 50 percent of all Covid-19 cases in Austria, and

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  • Art Dubai 2016.

    Art Dubai 2021 Confirms In-Person Event for March

    Organizers of Art Dubai recently declared that its fourteenth edition will take place in person next year from March 17–20 and that the fair will involve a revised format and expansion, stretching beyond its headquarters at the beachside gallery complex at the beachside Madinat Jumeirah resort to venues across Dubai, Sharjah, and, for the first time, Abu Dhabi. While gallery participants have not been named, the fair will thematically revolve around the “vibrant and dynamic local art ecology” of the United Arab Emirates, which celebrates its fiftieth anniversary next year. Also announced was

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  • Michelangelo’s Taddeo Tondo.

    Royal Academy Weighs Selling Michelangelo Tondo Against Loss of 150 Employees

    London’s cash-strapped Royal Academy is contemplating the sale of a Michelangelo masterpiece, the 515-year-old Taddeo Tondo, as a means of raising funds and staving off the otherwise inevitable layoffs of 150 staff members, the Guardian has reported. It is estimated that the sale of the marble work—the only sculpture by Michelangelo held by a British institution—would net over $127 million, enough to get the tottering institution back on its feet.

    The Royal Academy was in dire straits prior to the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, having overextended by borrowing to build a $74 million expansion

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  • Couvent des Prêcheurs, the planned location of the Picasso museum.

    Plans for World’s Largest Picasso Museum Scrapped

    Plans for an enormous museum in Aix-en-Provence, France, that would have housed the world’s largest collection of works by Pablo Picasso have been dropped, The Art Newspaper reports. The institution, whose establishment was announced in February 2018, was the brainchild of Picasso’s stepdaughter Catherine Hutin-Blay, whose mother was Jacqueline Roque, Picasso’s second wife.

    Slated to open in 2021 in Couvent des Prêcheurs, a former convent, the museum was to have shown across more than 16,000 square feet of exhibition space 1,000 paintings culled from the roughly 2,000 Picasso works inherited by

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  • Peter Williams. Photo: Kathy F. Atkinson.

    Peter Williams Wins Artists’ Legacy Foundation’s $25,000 Artist Award

    Delaware-based artist Peter Williams has won the Artists’ Legacy Foundation’s 2020 Artist Award, a $25,000 prize granted annually to a painter or sculptor who has made significant contributions to their field and whose work “shows evidence of the hand.” The foundation, which is headquartered in Oakland, California, named Howardena Pindell as last year’s winner. Represented by Luis De Jesus Los Angeles, Williams has for the past four decades created vibrant works that explore racism, slavery, police brutality, incarceration, environmentalism, voyeurism, and contemporary culture while referencing

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  • Nathalie Bondil. Photo: Miguel Legault/Flickr.

    Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Ex-Director Sues Board of Trustees

    Alleging an “orchestrated” attempt to destroy her reputation, ousted director and chief curator Nathalie Bondil is suing the board of directors of the Montreal Museum of Fine Art (MMFA) for $1.5 million. Bondil’s suit filed in Superior Court this past Friday, claims $750,000 for moral damages and $750,000 for punitive damages.

    The board controversially fired Bondil in July, with board chair Michel de la Chenelière citing Bondil’s failure to address a “toxic” work environment. Bondil, who had worked at the museum for more than two decades and who is widely credited with having raised the institution’s

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  • The Unisphere outside the Queens Museum in New York.

    Mellon Foundation Distributes $24 Million Across Twelve Midsize Museums

    A dozen midsize US institutions are in line to receive a financial boost from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Art Museum Futures Fund. The new fund is meant to help arts organizations survive the continuing Covid-19 pandemic. Twenty-four million dollars will be awarded to midsize museums in the first round of funding, in amounts ranging from $500,000 to $5.5 million. A second round will take place in early fall, focusing on small institutions, each of which will receive up to $3 million.

    The twelve institutions receiving first-round Art Museum Futures Fund grants are the Asian Art Museum, San

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  • Max Levai. Photo: Marlborough Gallery.

    Marlborough Flip-Flops on Gallery Closure, Countersues Ex-Prez Max Levai

    New York’s Marlborough Gallery swapped lawsuits with former president Max Levai in the New York State Supreme Court earlier this week, with the gallery seeking $8 million and accusing Levai of fraud and defamation, and Levai suing for $10 million on allegations that the gallery board conspired against him and his father, Pierre Levai, to push them out of the family business.

    Max Levai assumed control of his father’s gallery in 2012, consolidating its several branches into one and announcing a large-scale expansion; he took on the role of president in 2019. During this time, however, the fortunes

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  • The Grand Palais in Paris.

    FIAC Cancellation Sparks Outrage, Divides Participants

    The organizers of the Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain (FIAC) are facing a storm of dissent over their late-breaking decision to cancel this year’s edition of the fair owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, The Art Newspaper reports. FIAC 2020 was to have taken place at Paris’s Grand Palais October 22–25.

    Reed Expositions, which runs the fair, cited a recent surge in Covid-19 cases in France, as well as travel restrictions that would make it hard for exhibitors and fairgoers alike to attend the event. After news outlets piled on with articles critical of the cancellation, many of which specifically

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