How Russian Oligarchs Helped Larry Gagosian Build His Gallery Empire + Other Stories

Art Industry News is a daily summary of the most important developments in the art world and the art market. Here’s what you need to know on Monday, March 14.


Ukraine’s architectural treasures caught in the crossfire – As the Russian Federation continues its assault on Ukraine, the country’s wealth of historic buildings, works of art and monuments are decimated. Russian missiles were attacked near the Babyn Yar memorial site, and several landmarks in Kharkiv were directly hit, including the city’s Freedom Square. Ukrainians are coming together to protect heritage from the line of fire, including moving statues to bomb shelters and wrapping others in fireproof insulation. (New York Times)

Dasha Zhukova distances herself from Roman Abramovich – Garage Museum co-founder Dasha Zhukova has distanced herself from her ex-husband Roman Abramovich, a billionaire oligarch with close ties to Putin, after he was officially sanctioned by the British government last Thursday. In a statement, Zhukova said she had “moved on” and denounced the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine as “brutal”, “horrific” and “shameful”. “As someone born in Russia, I unequivocally condemn these acts of war and stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people,” she said. (NYT)

How Russian Oligarchs Helped Larry Gagosian Build His Empire – Is Larry Gagosian, as one art world source put it, “the official art dealer of the Russian oligarchy”? The mega-dealer sold works by Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst to now-sanctioned oligarchs Roman Abramovich and Mikhail Fridman. He also cultivated relationships with others by organizing exhibitions in Moscow as early as 2007, and forged close ties with the Hermitage Museum and its longtime director and Putin ally, Mikhail Piotrovsky. (New York Post)

Belgium cuts artistic crime police budget – Belgium has closed its artistic crime police unit after years of unstable funding. It announced that the theft and trafficking of works of art would “no longer be monitored centrally”, that its database would no longer be updated and that the exchange of information with foreign police “no longer would be more assured”. Belgium’s non-profit Blue Shield National Committee denounced the decision in an open letter. (The arts journal)


UK cultural institutions get £48m for upgrades – The UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has announced £48 million ($62.6 million) in funding for 63 regional galleries, museums, libraries and other cultural venues. The money is part of its ‘leveling up’ mission to improve access to culture and fuel economic growth outside of London. (Standard)

MFA Houston picks up a Major Diego Rivera at auction – The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston was revealed to be the buyer of a $4 million Diego Rivera painting at Christie’s Latin American art sale last Friday. La Bordadora (The Embroiderer) (1928), an interior scene of two women, has never been exhibited publicly. It sold for more than five times its estimate of $700,000. (ART news)

Viennese gallery suspends sale of Mexican artifacts – Following an appeal from the Mexican Ministry of Culture, the Zacke Gallery in Vienna agreed to repatriate a depiction of the Aztec earth god Tlaltecuhtli from Veracruz, which it intended to auction for around $8,700. The gallery said the US-based shipper had agreed to repatriate him “as a gesture of compassion”. (ART news)

Ukraine creates an emergency fund for art – The producers of the Ukrainian pavilion in Venice promote an emergency fund for art created by the Naked Room gallery, the NGO MOCA and the independent media Zaborona. “We can’t silence the artillery, but we can amplify the voice of the Muses by helping those who make art here and now,” he said in a statement. (instagram)


This wild shot won the World Nature Photography Award – The winner of the 2021 World Nature Photography Awards is this absolutely terrifying shot of a leopard seal about to swallow a gentoo penguin. Taken by American photographer Amos Nachoum, it is titled Facing reality and feels, uh, a little prescient. (Colossal)

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