Most Expensive Female Artists & Ace Gallery Woes

Just the 5 art world updates you should know this week.

1. Most Expensive Female Artists At Auction

Artnet News has compiled their annual list of the most expensive female artists at auction, based on data from the last decade.

Kahlo’s “Dos Desnudos en el Bosque” (1939), the sale of which earned the artist a place on this years list (left) and O’Keeffe’s record-setting “Jimson Weed / White FLower No. 1” (1932).

Georgia O’Keeffe maintains her place at the top this year, thanks to the sale of her Jimson Weed/ White Flower No. 1 (1932) in 2014, which, at a price-tag of $44.4 million, is the most expensive painting by a female artist ever sold. Louise Bourgeois, Joan Mitchell, Berthe Morisot, and Natalia Sergeevna Goncharova follow Kahlo on the list. Notably, coming in at number 6, Agnes Martin debuts on the list due to the $10.7 million sale of her painting Orange Grove (1965) earlier this month, which broke the artist’s personal price record at auction. Cady Noland, Tamara de Lempicka and Camille Claudel fill out the list along with Frida Kahlo, who did not appear on the list last year but is included after the $8 million sale of her Dos Desnudos en el Bosque (1939) earlier this spring. Not on the list? Fan favorite Yayoi Kusama whose $7 million sale of her White No. 28 was bumped from the list by higher auctions this year.

2. Impressive Contemporary Art Collection to be Shown Outside Iran for First Time

The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art (TMoCA) is known to have an impressive, extensive collection of Western artworks, yet the works have never traveled out of Iran. Until now.

Jackson Pollock’s “Mural on Indian Red Ground” (1950) on display at the Tehran MoCA. The piece is thought to be one of the artist’s greatest works (artnet News)

The Berlin National Gallery has reached an agreement with TMoCA and will display some of the cornerstone works from the collection from December 2016 until February 2017. The collection — acquired by Farah Diba Pahlavi, the wife of the last Iranian shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi — includes works from such artists as Claude Monet, Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol, René Magritte and Chuck Close. Only two years after the museum to house the collection was completed, the Iranian Revolution of 1979 brought an end to the shah’s rule and the Westernization of the country. Since then TMoCA has carefully displayed some individual works while the bulk of the astounding collection remains in storage. While some Germans have criticized the exhibition as an expensive, political move to open up trade between the countries, it will definitely offer an opportunity to glimpse an incredible collection of largely unseen artwork.

3. Ace Gallery Removes Founder Amid Bankruptcy Investigation

Ace Gallery, one of Los Angeles’ oldest and largest galleries, has officially severed ties with its founder Douglas Chrismas, after he was found to have diverted almost $17 million of the gallery’s funds into mysterious accounts.

The Los Angeles building that houses Ace Gallery (left) and Chrismas inside the gallery (Creative Commons, New York Times)

The move comes after the gallery declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy and, in a resulting investigation, a court-appointed accountant discovered that Chrismas had directed $16,910,139 toward such entities as Ace Gallery New York Corporation and Ace Museum. The forensic accountant, Sam Leslie, knew that something was amiss given that Chrismas closed the gallery’s New York branch over a decade ago and that the Ace Museum has had a unreliable and spotty exhibition history. Furthermore, the day before Leslie took over the gallery operations, Chrismas instructed assistants to move more than 60 works of art from the gallery into private storage. Although Chrismas told Leslie that he personally owned the works, he did not declare the works when he filed for bankruptcy in 2004. It is unclear at this time if the apparent misconduct will result in criminal charges; but in the meantime, Leslie will continue to run the gallery during regular hours and with existing staff.

4. Artistic Partnership Between Paris, Cairo Museums

Paris’ Louvre and the Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo have entered into a cooperative partnership, intertwining their collections, resources and staff members.

The Museum of Islamic Art (left) and the Louvre (Creative Commons)

Louvre director, Jean-Luc Martinez, signed the deal with the Egyptian minister of antiquities, Khaled El-Enany. It will allow for the institutions to put on joint exhibitions, collaborate on conservation and aid in staff training; for example, several members of the Cairo staff are to visit the Louvre to work with the museum’s Islamic department curators, sharing information on archiving works and collection care. The collaboration gives both more prominence to the Islamic pieces already in the Louvre’s collection as well as a chance for foreign display of the Cairo museum’s collection, as the museum has remained closed since early 2014, when a car bomb damaged the building.

5. Seven Suspects Arrested for Stealing Francis Bacon Pieces

Spanish authorities have arrested seven individuals in connection to the burglary of five Francis Bacon paintings from a home in Madrid last July.

Police released an image of one of the pieces that was taken (Guardian)

The taken works, with a combined value of €25 million ($28 million), belonged to José Capelo Blanco, who was a close friend of Bacon’s. The authorities tracked down the suspects thanks to a tip from an unnamed British company that specializes in tracking stolen artworks; the company had been contacted by an individual to check if one of the stolen pieces was, in fact, on any list of stolen pieces, and the company grew suspicious. The authorities were then able to link the robbers to a Madrid-based art dealer as well. While the artworks themselves have not yet been located, with suspects in custody the police may be able to find the works soon.

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