Klimt Portrait Sells for Low Estimate, Residents Protest Venice Entry Fee, Art Institute of Chicago Rebuffs Accusations Schiele Drawing Was Looted, and More: Morning Links for April 25, 2024

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LOW ESTIMATE. The mysterious Gustav Klimt Portrait of Fräulein Lieser (1917) sold for €30 million, €35 million with fees, ($32.15 million, $37.51 million with fees), on the lower side of its presale estimate of €30 to €50 million. The sale was still a record for Austria, where the auction took place in Im Kinsky, Vienna. Previously only known from a black-and-white photo, the painting had been lost until about a year ago, and as a result, its provenance has quite a few gaps, particularly around WWII. For that reason, and the assumption the painting may have been looted during the Nazi era, the auction house arranged for a settlement between the consignor, and the heirs of the Jewish Lieser family who first commissioned the portrait, setting them up to receive a share of the sale. As for the woman Klimt depicted, that too, is up for debate.

VENICE THEME PARK? As a new entrance fee for day visitors to Venice comes into force, locals have taken to canal banks and piazzas to protest. Residents have accused the city of turning Venice into a “theme park,” by charging day trippers €5 ($5.36), as a means of protecting the UNESCO World Heritage site from damage caused by excessive tourism, as well as a flat-out deterrent to visitors. Venice mayor Luigi Brugnaro has said the goal is to make the city “livable” again, but protesting residents disagree. “You can’t impose an entrance fee to a city; all they’re doing is transforming it into a theme park. This is a bad image for Venice … I mean, are we joking?” said Matteo Secchi, a leader of the activist group Venessia.com, speaking to The Guardian.


The Art Institute of Chicago has strongly rebuffed accusations by the Manhattan district attorney’s office that it ignored evidence of fraud to conceal that an Egon Schiele drawing had been looted by Nazis. In a filing in the New York Supreme Court Tuesday, the museum said investigators had produced no evidence the artwork titled Russian War Prisoner, was stolen. [The New York Times]

The blades, or wind-rotating vanes of the Parisian cabaret, Moulin Rouge, collapsed to the ground last night. No injuries were reported, and the owner of the famous French cabaret, known for its Belle Epoque cancan dancers, said he suspected a technical issue was at fault. [Le Figaro]

250-year-old sealed glass bottles full of cherries were found at George Washington’s Mount Vernon home in Alexandria, Virginia. The bottles were discovered under a 1770 brick floor during renovations of the former plantation and residence of the first US president. The cherries suspended in liquid inside “still bore the characteristic scent of cherry blossoms,” stated a press release. [Press release and The Art Newspaper]

Art Brussels opens today, and in time for the event, artist Adel Abdessemed has inaugurated a new art space called PROJECKT with a large exhibition on view until June 19, supported by the Swiss gallery Wilde. Located near other independent art spaces like Cloud Seven, the new, non-commercial space will host residencies, exhibits, and other art-related events. [The Art Newspaper, France]

Construction and restoration of the Zeppelin Nazi Party rally site in Nuremberg will begin in May. The Zeppelin field, where the Nazis paraded annually between 1933 and 1938, will also be repaired and an exhibition about the history of the site will be opened on the premises. [dpa and Monopoly]

Staff at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) delivered an open letter to the museum’s board of trustees yesterday signed by some 13 percent of the museum’s 350 workers, asking the museum to make a public statement about the war in Gaza. SFMOMA has remained silent on the issue to date. [Hyperallergic]


SHIPWRECKERS. A new unit in New York Parks Department is getting to work at a rather unusual task: breaking up abandoned ships. On a grassy marina lot in Manhattan Beach, old boats go to die in what “looks like an exploded shipyard,” per the writers, Clio Chang and Dina Litovsky. The newly created Office of Marine Debris Disposal and Vessel Surrendering breaks apart the unwanted boats that are left on the city’s waterways, when there is no trace of their owners to be found. The abandoned boats are a hazard and can leach contaminants into water. “There’s nothing like the smell of crushing fiberglass in the morning,” jokes Nate Grove, the Parks chief of waterfront and marine operations, speaking to Curbed.

Source: artnews.com

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