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In A Decade Of Huge Art Sales, The Biggest Of All Was ‘Salvator Mundi,” At $450 Million – Forbes

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The overflow crowd at Christie’s auction house broke into applause when the gavel fell on the blockbuster art sale of the decade. On the evening of November 15, 2017, a little-known Saudi prince, bidding over the phone, agreed to pay $450.3 million for “Salvator Mundi,” a 500-year-old portrait of a solemn Jesus Christ hyped by Christie’s as the “The Last da Vinci.” No matter that many art scholars believed the work was a product of Leonardo’s studio rather than the master himself.

Few artworks have aroused as much curiosity. Since the sale, the painting seems to have gone missing. The Louvre Abu Dhabi abruptly canceled a scheduled unveiling in September 2018. The latest speculation is that Saudi Arabia’s ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whisked away the painting in the middle of the night on his private plane and stowed it on his $500 million yacht, Serene, currently sailing who knows where.

Is “Salvator Mundi” the most expensive artwork ever sold? It’s not clear. Although auction houses trade their treasures in public, most transactions take place privately. Still, record-breaking sales have a way of coming to light.

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After combing through news reports and legal documents, we’ve put together the highest-priced known art deals in each year of the last decade. See the slide show for pictures and prices. Tap to move from one slide to the next.

In second place: “Interchange,” a 1955 abstract expressionist oil in cream, orange, yellow and sea green by Willem de Kooning, which fetched $300 million in September 2015. Chicago hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin reportedly paid entertainment billionaire David Geffen’s foundation a total of $500 million for two works. The second was “Number 17A,” a 1948 drip painting by Jackson Pollock. Griffin loaned both works to the Art Institute of Chicago, where he is a trustee.

Paul Cézanne’s “The Card Players” brought the third-highest price of the decade. In 2011 the nation of Qatar paid the estate of the late Greek shipping magnate George Embiricos $250 million, according to a report in Vanity Fair. In the 1890s Cézanne painted a series of four versions of Provençal farmhands relaxing over a game of cards. The other three are in museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

See our slide show for the rest of the top ten. If there’s a lesson from the decade’s sky-high prices, it’s that the art market’s ceiling keeps ascending.

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'One of the greatest logos of all time' gets a fresh coat of paint – CBC.ca

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The Fearless Freedom of Henry Taylor

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Henry Taylor, Untitled, 2006. Art: © Henry Taylor. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photograph by Robert Bean

Henry Taylor once said, “I want to be all over the place.” He is! The Whitney’s new retrospective of the artist, Henry Taylor: B Side, is the best show of 2023. Every gallery has pictures that will take your breath away with their omnivorous ambition. His subjects range from his friends to strangers in his L.A. neighborhood to famous Black historical figures like Miles Davis and Cicely Tyson, who he famously depicted in front of the White House like a revisionist update on the dour couple in American Gothic. He’s done Barack and Michelle Obama, too, though you barely recognize them at home on a couch. He’s done self-portraits, murals, depictions of extreme violence committed against Black people. His inspirations include Jay-Z, Noah Davis, and the late great Bob Thompson, who appears repeatedly in a bird shape that watches over his paintings. “I want to feel free when I’m on that fucking canvas,” he has said. Taylor is about the freest artist now working.

The story of how he arrived at this position of supreme autonomy is an unlikely one. Born in Ventura, California, he was the youngest of eight children. His mother cleaned other people’s homes. His father was a painter for the U.S. government. One of his older brothers was shot at 22 and died seven years later. “I think about that a lot,” he has said. One brother became a minister, another started a Black Panther chapter in Ventura County. As a kid he’d “just watch and listen.”

Taylor graduated from CalArts in his late-thirties and didn’t have gallery representation until his mid-forties. “A lot of galleries who say they were looking at me for 20 years—that’s a motherfucking lie,” he told The Guardian in 2021. Half a lifetime of being an outsider has left its mark on his work, which describes a universe in which the line between vertiginous success and abject failure is perilously thin. “Every successful Black person has 18 members of his family living in the projects,” he has said, “and we all know someone who’s in the system.”

Henry Taylor, Before Gerhard Richter there was Cassi, 2017. Art: Henry Taylor. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photograph by Sam Kahn

“There are certain things I endured that I didn’t think my son would have to endure,” he told LAXART executive director Hamza Walker in an interview for Cultured. “But we’re still having to go through these things.” B Side features many testaments to the immutability of the Black experience, most prominently an enormous untitled graphite mural that unfurls across four walls of a large gallery and retells the story of slavery and its long dreadful tail, from West Africa to the Great Migration and beyond. It culminates with a giant image of Whitney Houston with wings. There is also THE TIMES THAY AINT A CHANGING, FAST ENOUGH! from 2017, a world-upending painting that depicts the police killing of Philando Castile the year before. He is alone in the car, bleeding out, a corpse lying in what has become his tomb. A blue, twisting seatbelt divides the painting in two, one half defined by Castille’s lifeless, lidless eye, the other by a white hand holding a gun.

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Yet even here, life blazes across the canvas: the sizzling colors, the big cut-out shapes, the fast but studied paint strokes, the rivulets of blood turned orange and blue. Throughout his work, bravura and heroism are mingled with the humiliation of death and defeat. In his self-portrait, based on a late-16th century painting of Henry V, Taylor is shown in profile in a plush robe and a bejeweled chain. He raises a tiny delicate hand in a blessing, a gesture of kingly greatness.

So many pictures here echo other pictures, as if Taylor were a kind of shaman of art history filling its ghostly spirits with fresh life. Before Gerhard Richter there was Cassi, from 2017, is a replica of Richter’s picture of his 11-year old daughter, Betty, but instead of a blond, white girl the subject is a Black girl with an Afro, his fellow artist Cassi Namoda. It is a point-blank shot at the era of Great White Males. His recreation of Whistler’s Mother is titled Eldridge Cleaver, featuring the Black Panther casually smoking a cigarette as he lounges in a Modernist chair.

My favorite of Taylor’s paintings are his images of everyday life. The 4thfrom 2012, is a monumental painting, 13 feet tall and more than six feet wide. It could dominate a cathedral. We see a Black woman at a grill, a superb abstract composition of chicken, hot dogs, and other meats. In the background is a walled-in courtyard: a penitentiary. Perhaps she is offering a sacrifice to those incarcerated within. Perhaps this is this what the Fourth of July means to Taylor: independence served with a dose of the carceral state, yet another B Side of American history—the Black Side. He has presented this perspective with love and wit and wisdom, showing that freedom isn’t gained by transcendence but by understanding that the only way out is through.

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Two Art Publications’ Editors-in-Chief Step Down Within a Week of Each Other

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Within one week of each other, Alison Cole of the Art Newspaper and Andrew M. Goldstein of Artnet News announced that they were resigning as their publications’ editors-in-chief.

Last week, Goldstein announced the end of his seven-year tenure at Artnet News in an email addressing his colleagues. “It has been the pride and privilege of my career to work with the extraordinary team of journalists at Artnet News,” Goldstein wrote, “and I owe them my deepest gratitude. In a time of constant, destabilizing change in the art world and the world at large, Artnet’s rigorous reporting has exposed the inner workings of the art market, helped guide the industry through the Covid pandemic, and chronicled the earth-shaking reckonings that the art establishment has faced when it comes to issues of racism, sexism, and colonialism.”

Goldstein was previously chief digital content officer at Phaidon until 2017, when he joined Artnet News. There, he hosted and oversaw the creation of the Art Angle podcast as well as the publication’s subscription news service Artnet Pro and its reported data analysis in the Artnet Intelligence Report. Goldstein also served as editor-in-chief at Artspace’s magazine and as executive editor of Artinfo.

“We also charted a path forward, shining the Klieg light of our audience on the artists, dealers, collectors, museum directors, and other innovators who are changing things for the better, and bringing the best art into the world,” Goldstein added. It isn’t clear where he is headed next.

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Meanwhile, on Monday, the Art Newspaper announced Cole’s departure after five and a half years at the helm. She will, however, retain a position as editor-at-large.

Cole is leaving the publication to oversee a newly-created policy unit that will inform cultural policies in the arts and creative industries in the UK.

While at the Art Newspaper, the publication has continued to expand across print and online in the UK and the US. In its announcement of her departure, the publication said it has seen a peak in advertising revenues and circulation since Cole joined.

“Alison took on the challenging task of leading the newspaper’s cultural strategy and its success as the medium of record for the art world,” said the Art Newspaper‘s publisher Inna Bazhenova in a statement. “I look forward to our continued association with Alison as Editor at Large and wish her every success in her new endeavour.”

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