The Art Market Shrank 22 Percent Last Year, and Other News

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According to a new report by Art Basel and UBS, the art market shrank 22 percent in 2020.

The latest annual Art Basel and UBS Art Market report, which compiles publicly available data from auction houses and survey responses from more than 1,700 art and antiques dealers, is shedding light on how severely the coronavirus pandemic has impacted the art market. Global sales of art and antiques were estimated to have declined a staggering 22 percent in 2020 compared to the previous year, reaching a total of $50.1 billion—their lowest level since the Great Recession. With art fairs canceled and galleries shuttered, dealer sales declined approximately 20 percent, though online sales reached an all-time high of $12.4 billion (25 percent of the market’s total value). “It could have been a lot worse than it was,” the economist Clare McAndrew, who authored the report, told the New York Times. “The second half of the year was better for a lot of people. There was a huge shift to online sales and some galleries in Asia came back really strongly.” 

Aileen Fuchs is named president and executive director of the National Building Museum.

Last week, the National Building Museum announced Aileen Fuchs as the institution’s fifth director. She replaces Brent D. Glass, who has served as interim executive director since July. Slated to reopen this spring, the museum has an exciting lineup of exhibitions from MASS Design Group, the D.C. debut of the Gun Violence Memorial Project, and architectural photographer Alan Karchmer.

Deep Space Sofa by Andrés Reisinger

Multiple people are reporting thefts of crypto artwork on the NFT marketplace Nifty Gateway.

Perhaps blockchain transactions aren’t as secure as we once thought. Multiple people on Twitter have reported that their accounts on Nifty Gateway—a popular NFT marketplace—have been compromised, leading to the loss of their crypto art and thousands of dollars worth of unauthorized purchases using their credit cards. One Twitter user who’s been keeping tabs on the situation has so far claimed that more than $150,000 worth of NFTs have been stolen. A representative from Nifty Gateway reports that a small number of users have been affected by the account takeovers, which may have resulted from reusing passwords or not enabling two-factor authentication.

The SOM Foundation announces winners of its first scholarship for BIPOC design students. 

Named for the firm’s first black partner, The Robert L. Wesley Award honors the academic success of emerging BIPOC designers. Taking home the $10,000 award were fellows Viridiana Hernandez Sevilla, Temi Osanyintolu, and Daniella Slowik, while Corey Norman and Kenya Steward each received $5,000.

MCM Haus, the future home of König Galerie Seoul

After closing his Tokyo gallery, the Berlin gallerist Johann König is expanding to Korea. 

After expanding his Berlin gallery to Tokyo in 2019, and subsequently closing it at the end of last year, art dealer Johann König is preparing to debut a new outpost in Seoul’s Gangnam district next month. The new space, a partnership with upscale clothing brand MCM who also collaborated with König on the Tokyo gallery, is outfitted with a sculpture garden on the building’s rooftop terrace. König Seoul will open April 3 with an exhibition of more than 40 works from its roster of artists, including Erwin Wurm, Jeppe Hein, Katharina Grosse, and Alicja Kwade.

Molteni Group unveils its first foray into the realm of e-commerce in the United States.

With a presence in over 90 countries, the luxury furnishing purveyor with more than 700 stores is moving into the digital landscape with a virtual e-commerce showroom. Think of Andrés Reisinger’s NFT furniture, only it’s real, physical items that could actually be in your home. The new website helps buyers visualize furnishings in situ, blurring the lines between digital and physical retail.

After one year of closures, museums in Los Angeles have reopened at 25 percent capacity.  

Cultural institutions in Los Angeles have finally been granted the right to reopen at 25 percent capacity after a year of closures cost museums, zoos, and aquariums more than $5 billion. The decision reflects a newfound sense of optimism within California, where coronavirus cases have been steadily declining amid increased vaccinations. While LACMA plans to reopen on April 1, others are taking it slower to make sure appropriate safety protocols are being followed. 

Gucci’s virtual sneakers

Today’s attractive distractions:

This virtual exhibition traces how electronic music has helped shape culture…

…while ambient pioneer Aphex Twin is selling NFT artwork for a good cause.

Even Gucci is branching into NFTs by selling pairs of $12 virtual sneakers.

Since LACMA sold his house, Michael Govan has been living in a trailer park.

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