Julie Mehretu Breaks a Major Auction Record, and Other News

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“Untitled” (2001) by Julie Mehretu. Image courtesy of Sotheby’s

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Julie Mehretu Breaks a Major Auction Record

Julie Mehretu’s career has always been about motion, whether describing her frenetic canvases imbued with messages of sociopolitical change to partnerships with American Express and the BMW Art Car. Now the in-demand painter has shattered an auction record for an African-born artist. One of her paintings sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong last week for $9.32 million, far surpassing the previous record set by South African artist Marlene Dumas in 2008. This likely comes as no surprise to connoisseurs of the art market, which has seen demand for African-born artists surge. —Ryan Waddoups

Stella McCartney is partnering with a nonprofit to help rewild North American horses.

Stella McCartney’s latest collaboration is with Rewilding America Now, a New York–based nonprofit focused on the preservation of wild horses in North America. The partnership was announced at an event in McCartney’s SoHo boutique in a Q&A with the nonprofit’s founder, Manda Kalimian, who emphasized the role of wild horses in climate change initiatives. The event is part of a broader effort to engage the fashion industry in sustainability, with proceeds supporting Rewilding America Now’s plans to buy more than 55 miles of land in Birch Creek, Idaho. Michael Nathanson, CEO of Rewilding America Now, highlighted the critical role of fashion partnerships in promoting sustainability, noting that aligning with eco-conscious designers like McCartney can inspire consumers to make more sustainable choices.

In Philadelphia, a swirling mural will be sacrificed to make way for additional housing.

In Philadelphia’s Old City, a 7,000-square-foot mosaic called Skin of the Bride is being slated for demolition to make way for an 85-unit residential tower. Created by Isaiah Zagar, the artwork has been the subject of a six-year legal battle involving multiple stakeholders, including locals, nonprofits, and the Philadelphia Historical Commission. Architect Shimi Zakin initially planned to preserve the mosaic while exceeding the neighborhood’s height limit, but a court ruling overturned this exception. The case underscores the broader national tension between urban development and cultural preservation, forcing cities to choose between easing housing shortages and maintaining public art.

Image courtesy of Birkenstock

Birkenstock’s IPO underperforms, with shares opening well below the initial $46 price. 

Birkenstock’s IPO underperformed, with shares opening at $41—well below the initial $46 price, making it the worst billion-dollar listing debut in New York in more than two years. The company’s market value stood at $7.76 billion, and when accounting for shares reserved for executives and employees, the diluted value is closer to $8.4 billion. The German sandal maker sold 10.8 million shares, while its private equity owner, L Catterton, offloaded 21.5 million, maintaining 83 percent control of the company. The IPO, priced below the marketed range of $44 to $49, was led by Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and Morgan Stanley.

Disinformation is running rampant in social media posts about the Israel-Gaza conflict.

The rampant spread of visual disinformation on social media is muddying the waters of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Notable instances include actor Jamie Lee Curtis posting a mischaracterized photo and various news outlets picking up unverified claims. The issue is being exacerbated by the rise of fake media accounts and the recycling of old or unrelated footage. Yotam Ophir, an expert in communications, notes that humans are especially vulnerable to visual misinformation and suggests using media literacy tools for verification. The problem is further amplified by platforms like Elon Musk’s X, formerly known as Twitter, which have lax approaches to disinformation, allowing false narratives to proliferate quickly.

New research suggests walkable neighborhoods may lower the risk of certain cancers.

Women living in walkable neighborhoods have up to a 26 percent lower risk of developing obesity-related cancers, according to a study led by the Icahn School of Medicine in New York. The research, which followed more than 14,000 women for an average of 24 years, found that walkability was especially beneficial in low-income areas, reducing cancer risk by 19 percent compared to a six percent reduction in wealthier neighborhoods. The study underscores the importance of urban planning in healthy habits and reducing disease risk, emphasizing that walkable environments should also focus on safety and security measures.

The photograph of a horseshoe crab that won the Wildlife Photographer of the Year award. Photography by Laurent Ballesta

Today’s attractive distractions:

Scientists recently detected a rare chemical compound in the Mona Lisa.

A man in Minnesota has set the world record for a 2,749-pound pumpkin.

The bedbug panic currently afflicting Paris has sparked some biting memes.

A mysterious horseshoe crab scores the Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

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