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LEGAL AFFAIRS. In a headline-grabbing story last week, ProPublica reported that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas did not disclose vacations he took on a private jet and a yacht owned by billionaire Harlan Crow. (Thomas said that he had been advised he did not need to report “personal hospitality from close personal friends,” but that he will comply with the relevant guidelines going forward.) Crow also made art-related gifts, Hyperallergic notes. He gave a portrait of the justice and his wife by Sharif Tarabay to the couple, and donated a statue of a nun who taught the future justice to a Catholic cemetery. Crow is also an art collector himself, and in a story on his Texas home, the Dallas Morning News reported, “Paintings on the walls bear the surnames of some of art history’s masters, including Peale, Renoir and Monet, as well as the likes of Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler and Dwight Eisenhower.” The Washingtonian reported that Crow also collects Nazi material and has statues of 20th-century dictators in his garden. “Most of the statues are Communists,” he told the Morning News.
ARTIST UPDATES. The incisive filmmaker Arthur Jafa is developing a permanent installation for the Glenstone museum in Potomac, Maryland, cofounder Emily Wei Rales says in an interview picked up by the Art Newspaper. It’s “something very special, and I can’t say any more about it because it’s very early stages,” she told Charlotte Burns on the The Art World: What If…?! podcast. ● The unflinching painter Marilyn Minter is about to open a show at Manhattan’s LGDR gallery, and was profiled by Robin Pogrebin in the New York Times. “If you’re lucky as an artist, you’re still alive when you’re starting to communicate,” she said. “And I feel like, OK, people are starting to see me now.” ● And the eagle-eyed photographer Mikiko Hara has a new book out of previously unpublished images, and was interviewed by Josh Lustig in the Financial Times. “A lot of my work relies on coincidence,” she said, “and I feel like if I tried to look for something, it may become difficult for me to meet the encounters.”
Swiss museums have received letters from customs offices in the country saying that they must display art that they imported tax free in recent decades or pay duties on the material (which could be enormous in some cases). The museums say that they are exempt from those tax rules by a 1953 UNESCO agreement. [NZZ am Sonntag via Swissinfo]
An art dealer in Port Douglas, Australia, alleges that the now-shuttered Marji Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, failed to return 36 paintings that he consigned to it. The FBI has been investigating the Marji’s owners, and half the works have been recovered. The value of all the work is said to be $300,000 to $400,000. [Santa Fe New Mexican]
Artist Hunter Biden, the besieged son of President Biden, has three works in a group show at the Georges Bergès Gallery in New York, priced at $85,000 apiece. In Washington, Republicans have been investigating the business dealings of Biden fils, and have alleged his art sales could influence White House policy. [CNN]
The M+ museum in Hong Kong is giving away 10,000 tickets for its blockbuster show “Yayoi Kusama: 1945 to Now” to local students as part of a workshop aimed at helping them discuss mental health issues. The program look at how Kusama responded to her own struggles through her art. [South China Morning Post]
A new documentary highlights comic artists whose work painter Roy Lichtenstein sampled to make his famed Pop paintings. “I worked like a dog on this stupid page and this guy has $20 million to show for it,” one aggrieved artist said. Art and law experts defend Lichtenstein as a pioneer who transformed his sources. [The Guardian]
To mark the 50th anniversary of Pablo Picasso’s death, artist Dario Gambarin used a tractor, a plow, and a rotary harrow to carve a gargantuan portrait of the master in a field in Castagnaro, Italy. The work spans around 270,000 square feet! [AFP/Barron’s]
THE GREAT BOOKS. In the new film Paint, actor Owen Wilson plays a Bob Ross-style artist with a public-access TV show, which Shanti Escalante-De Mattei just reviewed for ARTnews. Wilson is no stranger to the art world (he’s spotted regularly at art fairs and galleries), and his passion for art started early, it turns out. For Vanity Fair, Nate Freeman visited the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles with Wilson, who uncorked stories about how his mother, Laura Cunningham Wilson, assisted photog Richard Avedon when he was a kid, and brought him along. “I was a pretty big reader as a kid, and I read those Louis L’Amour Westerns, and he liked those also,” Wilson said. “And then one time he even sent War and Peace. I still haven’t read it. But I remember his note, saying, ‘This is a little different from Louis L’Amour, but I love it, and maybe you’ll enjoy it.’ ” [Vanity Fair]