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Detail of Judith F. Baca’s Great

Alleged Putin Architect Talks, KAWS Show Opens at Brooklyn Museum, and More: Morning Links from February 25, 2021

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The Headlines

POKÉMON CARDS, HANDBAGS, FINE WINE: People are buying them all amid the pandemic, and prices are rising, according to Knight Frank, who runs indices on the markets for luxury goods. Frank described them to Reuters as “relatively affordable luxury pick-me-ups”—a nice turn of phrase. Entrepreneurs are working to fulfill strong demand by doing things like selling shares in a single Banksy piece. Offered at $20 last year, they’re now trading for $34. (That pegs the work’s value at $722,000.) “Banksy is pure momentum, it’s like a hot tech stock,” a former Deutsche Bank equity strategist told the wire service. “The psychology is similar in any market.” (This is going to end well.) In related news, 3,900 bottles of whisky from a single collection were just sold for about £6.67 million (or $9.45 million) by Whisky Auctioneer, according to Insider—a record for a single owner’s whisky library.

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Detail of Judith F. Baca’s Great

A QUARTER OF ALL RUSSIANS HAVE REPORTEDLY WATCHED the video that opposition activist Alexei Navalny on YouTube about the sprawling Black Sea mansion that some believe belongs to President Vladimir Putin. Now Der Spiegel has spoken with the architect behind the project, a somewhat obscure Italian named Lanfranco Cirillo. He said by Zoom from Dubai, “I am not Putin’s architect. It would be nice, but it’s not true.” (Putin also denies the house is his, for the record.) However, Cirillo does have plenty to say about the building, which is protected by a no-fly zone and the presidential security service. One tidbit: “Architecturally speaking, it’s not the biggest or best project I made. It’s nice neoclassicism—that’s what was asked for.” His client, he said, was a company called Stroygazconsulting, linked to Ziad Al Manaseer, a Jordanian businessman.

The Digest

“Employment in New York City’s arts, entertainment, and recreation sector plummeted by 66 percent from December 2019 to December 2020,” Colin Moynihan writes, citing a study from the New York State Comptroller. It’s one stark indicator of just how severe the pandemic has been for the region’s arts industry. [The New York Times]

The artist Gerard Hemsworth, a pioneer of text-based conceptualism in the United Kingdom, has died at the age of 75. He turned to painting in the 1980s, as writer Charles Darwent tells it, after realizing “that there were perhaps half-a-dozen people in the world who would understand what he was doing.” [The Guardian]

Works by Francis Bacon, Mark Rothko, Lee Krasner, and others that were collected by Jane Lang Davis and Richard E. Lang are being donated to the Seattle Art Museum. It’s “a game-changer in the status of the museum,” its former director, Mimi Gates, said. And additional works they owned by Rothko and Franz Kline are going to the Yale University Art Gallery. [The Art Newspaper]

British entrepreneur Peter Klimt has filed paperwork saying that he put $1 million into a 50 percent share of a Rudolf Stingel painting involved in the Inigo Philbrick affair. [Bloomberg]

Italians seem to be enjoying their art museums without pesky tourists crowding them. The Guardian has assembled photos of the tranquil atmosphere at the Uffizi, the Vatican, and elsewhere. [The Guardian]

Artist Judith F. Baca’s The History of California, aka the Great Wall of Los Angeles, will get a major expansion thanks to a $5 million grant from the Mellon Foundation, Maximilíano Durón reports. [ARTnews]

Hong Kong–based artist Tiffany Sia just opened a new show at Artists Space in New York, “Too Salty Too Wet 更咸更濕.” Here’s a deep-dive interview about her work. [Ocula]

Rashid Johnson has installed a gargantuan work at Brookfield Place in New York. [Interior Design]

The artist Werner Härtl makes sumptuous paintings of the Bavarian countryside using cow dung. “I was working as a farm helper and I realized that cow dung had properties that would make it suitable for painting,” he said. “Cleaning cow dung off of steel, tiles, and metal rods with a steam jet, I found that it’s a thick paste and really sticks.” [Atlas Obscura]

London-based powerhouse White Cube is starting a secondary market initiative, Salon, that will present one work each month. First up is a Carmen Herrera. [Financial Times]

The Fifth Biennale Internationale de Casablanca has pushed its opening date from May to September. [International Biennial Association]

The Kicker

THE FIRST REVIEW OF THE BROOKLYN MUSEUM’S SHOW FOR KAWS, aka Brian Donnelly, is in. “What Party,” as it’s titled, is a “fast and tight survey,” Max Lakin writes in the New York Times, arguing that it “positions Donnelly as a bridge between art, popular culture, and commerce, as if those places were isolationist states and not symbiotic parts of a totalizing machine of flattened taste.”

Thank you for reading. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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