Christie's Breaks Into Mainland China, Chagall Saved After Yacht Heist, and More

Christie's Breaks Into Mainland China, Chagall Saved After Yacht Heist, and More
Shanghai, China
(Courtesy Sarmu via Flickr)

– Christie's to Operate in ChinaChristie's is set to become the first international auction house to operate independently in China. The house earned a license that will allow it to do business throughout the mainland, though it will be based in Shanghai. The first sale is scheduled for the fall. (Last year, Sotheby's formed a joint venture in Beijing with state-owned Chinese company Gehua Cultural Development Group to hold auctions in China.) "In recent years we have seen phenomenal developments take place in the global art market, particularly in China, where the market has grown at an unprecedented rate," said Christie's CEO Steven P. Murphy. "Today’s announcement further solidifies Christie’s position and commitment in a market which possesses a strong heritage and deep appreciation of art." [NYT]

– Chagall Recovered After High Seas Heist: The Marc Chagall painting "Nude With a Bouquet," which was stolen from an American collector's yacht while it was anchored in Italy in 2002, has been recovered by an art detective task force after being tracked to the home of a Turin-based collector who had bought it the following year not knowing its dubious provenance. A Bologna-based gallerist and two Romanians who were working on the yacht at the time of the theft are the prime suspects in the case. [AFP]


– Film Museum Gets Geffen Gift: Music exec David Geffen has donated $25 million to the forthcoming Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences's new museum devoted to movie history. Its building, located on the LACMA campus, will include a theater named after him in honor of the massive contribution. "David's support of this project is transformative," said Disney CEO Bob Iger, who is chairing the $300-million capital campaign for the Academy Museum's building, co-designed by Renzo Piano and Zoltan Pali. "It takes a large and diverse group of supporters to built a project on the scale of the Academy Museum." [LAT]

– Baltimore Museum Lays Off 14: The Baltimore Museum of Art has laid off 14 employees, or nine percent of its 154-member staff. The cuts were necessary, according to director Doreen Bolger, to accommodate a budget that is shrinking by $1 million from its current level of $12.9 million for the 2013-2013 fiscal year. The museum will continue to offer free admission and proceed with its planned $24.5-million face-lift, which will be finished in time for its 100th anniversary in 2014. [Baltimore Sun]

– Leonardo DiCaprio Planning Christie's Auction: Rumor has it that Leonardo DiCaprio is planning a major philanthropic auction with Christie's to benefit his environmentally-focused Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation this spring. The sale, expected to raise between $15 and $20 million, reportedly features work by Mark GrotjahnCarol BoveJohn Currin, and Elizabeth Peyton, among others. [Gallerist]

– Le Corbusier Building Sprouts Rooftop Gallery: The iconic rooftop terrace of La Cité Radieuse, Le Corbusier's famous apartment tower in Marseille, has been lovingly restored under the guidance of French designer Ito Morabito. The designer bought the former rooftop gym and will turn the space into a venue for contemporary art. Sculptor Xavier Veilhan is lined up for the inaugural exhibition. "I grew up knowing this building, so I couldn't resist that chance to own such an important piece of it," Morabito said. "I want it to be like a boxing match between Le Corbusier and the artist." [Guardian]

– Mental Hospital Celebrates Camille Claudel: The psychiatric hospital where the artist Camille Claudel spent the last 30 years of her life is marking the 70th anniversary of her death — and the centennial of her institutionalization — with an exhibition of her sculptures alongside those produced by other patients at the institution, who work in its seven art studios as part of its broad art therapy program. "It's the first time Camille Claudel's work has been shown at the place where she died," said Montfavet Hospital director Jean-Pierre Staebler. [AFP]

– Maggie Smith Portrait Premieres: Dame Maggie Smith looks nothing like her aristocratic character on "Downton Abbey" in her new portrait by James Lloyd, which debuts today at London's National Portrait Gallery. The large painting depicts the actress sitting in a bare studio on a draped chair dressed in a simple jacket and trousers. "Everyone to whom I mentioned the commission was extremely envious," Lloyd said. "I lost count of the number of people who offered to make tea during the sittings!" [Independent]

– National Romanian Museum in a Sad State: Sibiu's National Brukenthal Museum, a six-institution complex that is Romania's fourth most visited museum, has had to close part of its space after budget cuts left it without gas and heating. "We are forced to take some measures in order to avoid being corrupt or spoiling Romania’s budget balances," said museum director Sabin Luca. "And honestly it’s no joke that this is life. One light bulb per office will be in use at the Brukenthal National Museum. The gas is out. The heating has stopped four days ago even though the law has some regulations, a certain temperature should be registered for three consecutive days before shutting them down. We can’t help it because we are already in the hole." [Bucharest Herald]

– Gemaldegalerie Shakes Things Up: Dresden's Gemaldegalerie is experimenting with its Old Masters collection. Abandoning traditional categories of country, date, and school, the collection will be organized by genre, style, and theme. For now, the arrangement is temporary — the installation will last only as long as the Old Master galleries are under construction. But the display — which Gemaldegalerie director Bernard Maaz described as an "enchanted forest" of European art — may become a model for future exhibitions. [Artforum]


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For more art news throughout the day, check ARTINFO's In the Air blog.