The Lessons of Leonardo da Vinci's Sex Life, Chuck Close Names Ebay in Artist Royalties Lawsuit, and More Must-Read Art News

The Lessons of Leonardo da Vinci's Sex Life, Chuck Close Names Ebay in Artist Royalties Lawsuit, and More Must-Read Art News
Leonardo da Vinci's "The Lady with the Ermine" of 1496 is one of the artist's more erotic paintings — scope the phallic animal.
(Courtesy of Wikipaintings)

– Under the Covers With Leonardo: In the run-up to the National Gallery's big Leonardo show, Jonathan Jones has decided to take a dishy look at the artist's sexuality, serving up the old gossip for a whole new generation of art lovers. The old master, as everyone knows, was gay: hit twice with sodomy charges (but never prosecuted, perhaps on account of his and his conquests's connections), Leonardo lived with a coterie of young hunks, including the incorrigible thief Salai, whom, like Francis Bacon's George Dyer, may have been the love of his life. But, Jones posits, the Renaissance artist's passion also held room for women, as illustrated by his deeply sexy portraits, including the Virgin Mary that, famously, had to be returned to Leonardo because it kept giving its new owner an erection. [Guardian]



Chuck Close Also Suing eBay: More news has emerged about the federal class action lawsuit filed by a group of artists including Chuck Close, Laddie John Dill, and the estate of Robert Graham. In addition to suing major auction houses Christie's and Sotheby's, the group is going after online auctioneer eBayfor systematically failing to comply with the California ResaleRoyalties Act of 1977. They argue that the Web site, like the other auctioneers, concealed the residencies of sellers fromCalifornia in order to avoid paying royalties to living artists andthe heirs of artists recently deceased. [Courthouse News



Philadelphia Seeks Its Own High Line: Inspired by thesuccessful revival of the elevated railway line in New York, residentsof Philadelphia have begun preparing designs and raising money to lenda similar treatment to the Reading Viaduct railway. The surrounding neighborhood was at one time sufficiently remote and unkempt to serve as a spooky backdrop for David Lynch's 1977 film "Eraserhead." [AP

Bling Bling: At Christie's high-end jewelry saleTuesday, a rare 32.77-carat yellow diamond sold for $6.6 million to ananonymous buyer against an estimate of $6-8 million. The auctiongarnered over $46 million for the house, and had a sell-through rate of83 percent by lot and 93 percent by value. [Press Release]

Degas Gets His Own Committee: A Comité Edgar Degas has been created in France by his heirs to protect the artist's work and legacy. The committee will address any abusive use of the ballerina-painter's pictures and endorse the work of select scholars. Degas's oeuvre has been in the public domain since 1987, 70 years after the artist's death. [AMA]

Armenian Museum Sues to Keep Blood Painting: As if it wasn't weird enough that the artwork of assisted-suicide activist Dr. Jack Kevorkian was headed to auction on October 28, the Armenian Library and Museum of America is now suing Kevorkian's niece and sole heir, Ava Janus, to keep them from selling. The museum currently holds 17 Kevorkian paintings with an estimated worth of $2.5-3.5 million, including one done with a pint of his own blood, and claims that Kevorkian, who was of Armenian descent, donated the works in question to the museum over a decade ago. [Courthouse News]

– Danish Culture Minister Steers Risky Course: The new Danish minister of culture Uffe Elbaek plans to make drastic changes to the country's culture policy. His idea of replacing older, more established elements with newer movements and younger artists has prompted backlash from the conservative Danish press. [Eurotopics]

– National Academy Museum & School's Subtle Makeover: The Wall Street Journal's Lance Esplund considers the National Academy Museum & School's new 15-month, $3.5 million renovation, calling it "seamless, almost handless." Under the auspices of architecture firm Bade Stageberg Cox, "the schoolrooms feel refreshed," "the gift shop has been removed," and "galleries have been modernized." [WSJ]

– Giant Sculpture Park for Oslo Gets Green Light: A park featuring over 80 sculptures by international artists including James Turrell, Dan Graham, and Jenny Holzer will be unveiled in Oslo in 2014. The initiative has been funded by property investor and collector Christian Ringnes, who donated €39 million ($54 million) to the cause. Ringnes had originally planned to give the park a "feminine" theme, but thankfully, abandoned that idea following criticism and derision. [TAN]

Architect Pedro Ramirez Vazquez Awarded Fine Arts Medal: Ramirez Vazquez has designed Mexico's Basilica Guadalupe, the Museum of Anthropology and History, and the Museum of Modern Art. "Our discipline can be original if it relies on its roots because they do not change over time," he said upon receiving the award from Mexico's National Institute of Fine Arts. [Art Daily]

A New Director for Paris's Nuit Blanche: Next year, director of the Centre Pompidou-Metz Laurent Le Bon will take the helm of Nuit Blanche, the city-wide contemporary art event that takes place in Paris every October for one night. Le Bon was behind Versailles's controversial shows of Jeff Koons, Xavier Veilhan, and Takashi Murakami, among many other high-profile exhibitions. [ParisArt]

Rare Portrait of Nell Gwyn Unearthed: Experts have confirmed the authenticity of a provocative portrait brought forward for a new exhibition at London's National Portrait Gallery. Curator Gill Perry says he is "absolutely thrilled" to feature a portrait of Nell Gwyn, one of the first women to be allowed to work on the Western stage. [Guardian]

– Occupy Wall Street Declares War on Museums: Occupy Museums!, taking place today, is a protest planned outside three New York City museums — the New Museum, the Frick, and MoMA aimed at fighting the "intense commercialization and co-optation of art" that has occurred in recent years. [ITA]