A Look at the Art Market’s Troubles, NFT Mayhem Mounts, and More: Morning Links from March 16, 2021

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The Headlines

THIS WHOLE NFT ART THING IS CERTAINLY GOING SMOOTHLY. Some users of the NFT marketplace Nifty Gateway reported that artworks had been stolen from their accountsBusiness Insider reports. Also, the tokens are perhaps not so great for the environmentThe Verge notes. And artworks are being commodified as NFTs without the knowledge of their creators, according to Vice. “I don’t give any permission (ESPECIALLY to random jerks) to make tokens from my content and I feel so angry,” one artist tweeted (per ABC). There’s more:  labyrinthine financial mechanisms that underpin some of these NFTs may make the eye-popping auction numbers they have generated misleading, Marion Maneker says in ARTnews, writing that “we can already see that NFTs are creating effects that are hilariously and tragically the opposite of the utopian fantasies so many have placed upon them.”

ART BASEL’S ANNUAL GLOBAL ART MARKET REPORT is out, and—no surprise here—the pandemic delivered a blow to art sales. Its author, economist Clare McAndrew, reported a 22 percent drop in the total value of art and antiques traded in 2020 versus 2019. The sum: $50.1 billion. (Roughly Alibaba cofounder Jack Ma’s net worth, according to Forbes .) Online sales doubled, as collectors shopped from home, accounting for a quarter of transactions by value. The United States remained the dominant market for art, with a 44 percent share of the business; the United Kingdom and China were well behind at 20 percent apiece. But China beat the U.S. in auction sales, 36 percent to 29 percent. Angelica Villa has a full summary of the findings for ARTnews.

The Digest

König Galerie, of Berlin and London, is adding a Seoul space. The location in South Korea’s capital is a venture with MCM, and will occupy the fifth floor and rooftop garden of the fashion brand’s store in the Gangnam area. König, whose roster includes Camille Henrot, Helen Marten, and Erwin Wurm, also collaborated with MCM on a Tokyo space that closed last year in a building that is set to be torn down. The Seoul spot opens April 3 with a group show. [The Art Newspaper]

Artist Anish Kapoor has criticized the United Kingdom’s decision to strip the British citizenship of Shamima Begum, who left London to join ISIS when she was 15, as a “disgraceful indictment of our national conscience.” Begum is currently in a refugee camp in Syria, and lost a court ruling in February to return to the U.K. to appeal the revocation of her citizenship. [Arab News]

The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore has compiled a new history of its founders that focuses on their ties to the Confederacy. The research is part of a broader plan to “embed diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion in the organization,” the museum said in a statement. [ARTnews]

After being closed for than a year, museums in Los Angeles got the OK to reopen at reduced capacity. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art said it will be back in action April 1. [The New York Times]

Speaking of LACMA, its director, Michael Govan, is currently living in a trailer park in Malibu after the museum sold its official director’s residence to raise cash amid the pandemic. “It’s cool,” Govan said. “I’m very happy about it.” [Los Angeles Magazine]

The M. Woods museum in Beijing has temporarily closed after a worker died by falling off its roof. The opening of an exhibition by Ryuichi Sakamoto has been postponed. [ArtAsiaPacific]

Oasis frontman Noel Gallagher has collaborated with the artists the Connor Brothers on a print to benefit the Teenage Cancer Trust in the United Kingdom. [Ocula]

Around 50,000 years ago, homo sapiens may not have been the only humans making art, according to a new study. Neanderthals and Denisovans may also have been involved, with the species sharing ideas. Just more proof that teamwork makes the dream work. [The Guardian]

The Kicker

THAT 26-FOOT-TALL SCULPTURE OF MARILYN MONROE, which seems to divide opinion wherever it lands (ChicagoConnecticut, etc.) will be installed near the Palm Springs Art Museum in California next month, the Los Angeles Times reports. The tourism group PS Resorts bought the piece, Forever Marilyn, by the late J. Seward Johnson, for a cool $1 million. It’s a kind of homecoming for the piece, which poses the film icon in a billowing dress, since it was on view in the city from 2012 to 2014. PS’s chairman, Aftab Dada, said, “She will be the key catalyst, she will put us back again on the map.” The museum’s director, Louis Grachos , took a different view. “What message does that send to our young people, our visitors and community to present a statue that objectifies women, is sexually charged and disrespectful?” he asked. [Los Angeles Times]

Thank you for reading. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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