Dealer Barbara Gladstone Dies, New York’s Merces Gallery Indicted for Ivory Trade, FBI Charges Three with NFT Fraud Scheme, and More: Morning Links for June 18, 2024

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IN MEMORIAM. The art world is mourning the loss of Barbara Gladstone, a dealer who built one of the top galleries in New York, who died on Sunday in Paris following a brief illness at 89, reports Alex Greenberger for ARTnews. The gallery, with additional locations in Seoul, Brussels, and Rome, represents Matthew Barney, Alex Katz, Joan Jonas, Wangechi Mutu, Keith Haring, Robert Rauschenberg, Carrie Mae Weems, and many more. After opening her gallery in 1980, Gladstone eventually began seeking out artists who were not commercially represented or established, and cultivated those relationships. She held cutting-edge exhibitions, like Matthew Barney’s 1991 iconic performance in which he ascended the gallery walls, wearing a harness and an ice screw inserted in his anus. “It takes some wisdom to steer a path through what everyone else wants you to do and what serves you best,” Gladstone told art critic Linda Yablonsky in 2011. “Each situation is different. There’s no formula. I trust my instincts.”

ILLICIT IVORY TRADE. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has indicted the Merces Gallery auction house based in Great Neck, New York, as well as its owners, Grace Hu and Yincheng Wu, for selling objects made from elephant ivory and rhino horn, reports the Art Newspaper. Charges filed in the New York State Supreme Court include three counts of illegal commercialization of wildlife to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars in sales. “Those who partake in the illegal ivory trade will be held accountable,” said District Attorney Alvin Bragg in a statement. The gallery’s online auctions listed items in a category titled “Rare Material,” but did not disclose the nature of the ivory objects. An undercover lieutenant from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation’s Environmental Conservation Police purchased nearly $40,000 worth of the objects, in a sting operation that helped crack the case.


The FBI has charged three UK nationals with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering for an NFT scheme that falsely promised the purchase of “Evolved Apes” NFTs for the development of a video game that never materialized. The suspects, Mohamed-Amin Atch, Mohamed Rilaz Waleedh, and Daood Hassan, took $2.7 million investor funds from thousands of people in 2021 and pocketed the proceeds, according to an announcement from the United States Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York. [ARTnews]

The Kunsthaus Zurich will remove five artworks from its public display on June 20 in order to research whether they were looted by Nazis. The works are owned by the Foundation E. G. Bührle, which requested their removal to investigate provenance. They include Jardin de Monet a Giverny by Claude Monet, The Old Tower by Vincent van Gogh, La route montante by Paul Gauguin, Portrait of the Aculptor Louis-Joseph by Gustave Courbet, and Georges-Henri Manuel by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. [NPR]

Indian authorities are prosecuting Booker Prize-winning author Arundhati Roy for suggesting Kashmir was not an ‘integral’ part of India in a panel discussion in 2010. She will be prosecuted under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for sedition and making “provocative” speeches, along with former professor at the Central University of Kashmir, Showkat Hossain. [ArtReview]

Jordan Bardella, the president of France’s increasingly popular far-right group, Rassemblement National, gave televised speeches ahead of upcoming legislative elections, in which he’s seen sitting beside a lithograph by the American artist Shepard Fairey, aka Obey, who made the emblematic Hope campaign poster for Barack Obama. The lithograph, titled with the French motto Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité: la Marianne d’Obey, was initially an homage to victims of a 2015 Paris terror attack, and was also used as a mascot by French president Emmanuel Macron in his electoral campaign. Obey told Le Monde the far-right had misappropriated his image for the purposes of “nationalist reactionism.” [Le Monde]

Artists Tiffany Sia and Ahmed Umar were awarded the $34,000 Baloise Art Prize last week, presented by Art Basel and the Swiss insurance company Baloise. [ArtAsiaPacific]


CHEESE MUSEUM. In time for the summer Olympics, France will open its first cheese museum in Paris, complete with demonstrations and of course, tastings. The Musée du Fromage will open on Friday on the French capital’s Ile Saint-Louis. Fromage-lover Pierre Brisson tells Kim Willsher at The Guardian, that he founded the museum to preserve the art of cheese-making, which he says fewer younger generations are interested in pursuing as a career. “It’s not an easy job, but a marvelous one and there is a real risk that it could disappear,” he said. Visitors will be taught the history of cheese and its regional varieties via interactive displays, and admission is free for farmers and agriculture students. Cheesemakers at this so-called “living museum,” will also teach how to “read” the milk, and the roles of bacteria, the animals, and land they graze. “My dream is that in 20 years’ time, someone will say they decided to become a cheesemaker after visiting the museum,” said Brisson.


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