Damien Hirst admits his fans are “a cult” as his first NFT project grossed more than $20 million and other stories


Art Industry News is a daily round-up of the most momentous developments in the art world and art market. Here’s what you need to know this Monday, January 24th.


Museums are trying to figure out how much NFTs are worth – A CryptoPunk acquired by the Institute of Contemporary Art Miami has been in escrow for six months because professional appraisers couldn’t settle the dollar value of the work (which is important both for insurance purposes and for calculating a donor’s tax break). In the face of the hypervolatile NFT market, reviewers have experimented with different methods, considering things like the average price of the blockchain it’s minted on, the value of similar works, and how they might be used — although the method is still imperfect. (new York)

Austria takes steps to return colonial loot – Another European country is taking steps towards restitution, albeit very gradually. Austria has set up a committee to develop official guidelines for national museums to process repatriation requests for objects acquired in the colonial context. Led by Jonathan Fine, director of Vienna’s Weltmuseum, the group plans to publish their framework in 2023. (The art newspaper)

The currency Has Damien Hirst made a lot of money – Many complain that NFTs are all about the money. But the market has always been Damien Hirst’s medium of choice. His NFT experiment The currency, which asks buyers to choose between a digital token and IRL art, raised $18 million from the initial sale and collects an additional five percent of resale proceeds when the NFTs are traded online, according to the artist’s business partner Joe Hage. (Sales had already grown to $25 million in August.) “It’s like being in a cult,” Hirst said of his NFT acolytes, “and I’m the cult leader.”New York Times)

Hermès is suing artists over Birkin NFTs – Trademark infringement questions have officially hit the Metaverse. Hermès is suing an artist over an NFT line he created called MetaBirkins, which is inspired by the brand’s iconic handbags. In its complaint, Hermès said that Mason Rothschild “simply rips off the famous Birkin brand from Hermès by adding the generic prefix ‘meta’ to the famous Birkin brand.” The artist claims the virtual bags are protected by the First Amendment “just as it gave Andy Warhol the right to make and sell art depicting Campbell’s soup cans.” (Guardian)

movers & shakers

Van Ham sells inventory of bankrupt gallery – The Cologne auction house Van Ham is selling the holdings of the Michael Schultz gallery, which was closed last month after the death of the founder. The gallery was declared bankrupt in 2019 after Schultz was arrested on suspicion of cheating clients out of millions of dollars. Around 550 works by artists such as AR Penck and Seo Soo-Kyoung will be offered in June on behalf of the insolvency administrator. (The art newspaper)

TBA21 Academy raises funds for Tonga – TBA21-Academy calls for donations to Tonga after devastating underwater volcano eruption in Polynesian archipelago. The arts organization is also pooling its own research, resources and contacts to “put together an efficient aid package in support of the Tongan people,” according to its chair Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza. (ARTnews)

London platform for queer art and literature launches Kickstarter – A new British magazine for queer art and literature, BitterSweet review, is crowdfunding for its first edition. The first issue of the biannual publication, due out this summer, features contributions from Tarek Lakhrissi and Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore. Artist Gray Wielebinski is offering a limited edition as a fundraising incentive. (kickstarters)

UK is getting a national LGBTQ+ museum – Arts organization Queer Britain will open the UK’s first national LGBTQ+ museum in London. It will debut this spring at 2 Granary Square in Kings Cross, a space owned by the national arts trust, the Art Fund. (press release)


Uffizi Acquires Paintings by Rudolf Levy – Portrait of a Young Woman by the German-Jewish painter Rudolf F. Levy, flame, has a new home: the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. The artist was exiled to the Italian city during World War II before being arrested and deported to Auschwitz. flame will be on display at the Pitti Palace on January 27 to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, before a larger Levy exhibition is planned for 2023. (press release)

Fiamma (Flame) (1942). Courtesy of the Uffizi Gallery.” width=”815″ height=”1024″ srcset=”https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/01/Rudolf-Levy-Fiamma-815×1024.jpg 815w , https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/01/Rudolf-Levy-Fiamma-239×300.jpg 239w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/ 40w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/01/Rudolf-Levy-Fiamma-1528×1920.jpg 1528w” sizes=”(max- width: 815px) 100vw, 815px”/>

Rudolph F Levy, Fiamma (Flame) (1942). Courtesy of the Uffizi Gallery.

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