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THE GAME IS AFOOT. Ever since Jean Siméon Chardin’s dazzling Basket of Wild Strawberries (1761) sold at Artcurial in Paris in March for about $26.9 million, many have been speculating about the identity of the buyer. Now the secret is out : It is the treasure-filled Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, the Art Newspaper France reports. However, the work may not go on view in the Lone Star State anytime soon—or ever. The Louvre has called for the work to be declared a national treasure, and under French law it has two-and-a-half years to preempt the sale by raising the money needed to buy it. It is working to make that happen. “I agree that the painting is a national treasure of France,” the Kimbell’s director, Eric Lee, told the New York Times. “But I also believe that it is a world treasure and could serve as an ambassador of French culture.”
NFT-Y NEWS. The NFT market may not be looking so hot, by some measures, but it continues to generate headlines. Vienna’s Leopold Museum is readying a fundraising sale of NFTs based on 24 pieces by Egon Schiele, the Financial Times reports, including a little-seen early painting. Luxury giant Hermès is dueling in court with artist Mason Rothschild over his “MetaBirkins” NFTs, which depict those much-loved accessories covered in fur, Bloomberg reports. The firm says Mason is violating their trademark. Mason maintains that his project is First Amendment–protected art. And Ukrainian dealer Lika Spivakovska has been working with Puerto Rico’s Lighthouse gallery to sell NFTs of art damaged in the war in Ukraine, or made during it, the New York Times reports. The funds are going to artists and relief efforts.
Most art museums have been quiet in the wake of the leak of the U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, Jori Finkel writes, but the new Institute of Contemporary Art San Francisco said that it will make its space available to abortion-rights activists seeking “a space to convene, fundraise, etc.” [The Art Newspaper]
Meanwhile, organizers of the 2020 exhibition “Abortion Is Normal” are at work on a second edition, Tessa Solomon reports. Artists are also speaking out, Angelica Villa writes. “The striking down of Roe should come as a surprise to no one. And if it does, they haven’t been paying attention,” Barbara Kruger said. [ARTnews and ARTnews]
Archaeologist Abdulamir Al-Hamdani, who was Iraq’s culture minister from 2018 to 2020, has died at the age of 55 of brain cancer. “One of his remarkable achievements was creating a digital database and atlas of about 15,000 archaeological sites in Iraq, which took about 15 years of his career,” a colleague, Bijan Rouhani, said. [The Art Newspaper]
The Studio Drift artistic team nixed a performance in Hamburg, Germany, involving illuminated drones after drones from an unknown source interrupted and crashed into their own. Officials are investigating. [ArtReview]
In her Brooklyn home, interior decorator Courtney O’Sullivan displays a replica of Picasso’s Guernica (1937) that she commissioned from a group of art students. “When I look at it, [I] see the fun of their collaboration,” O’Sullivan said. [Architectural Digest]
THE CITY OF LIGHT LIGHTS UP. Paris has long been seen as “a place with excellent museums but sleepy galleries run by conservative, change-averse dealers,” Noora Brara writes in T: The New York Times Style Magazine. But that has been changing, Brara reports. Many new institutions and galleries have been opening, and collectors are coming through town, dealer Kamel Mennour said. “All of that has reinstated the lumière of the city. It was unimaginable a few years ago, even to me, that it would grow to be what it is today. But Paris is moving, it’s booming, it’s the place to be.” [T]