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NINE FIGURES UP NORTH. The Vancouver Art Gallery has received a cool CA$100 million donation (about US$80.2 million) toward the construction of a new building, Global News reports. It is believed to be the largest cash gift ever made to a Canadian art museum, and it comes from the Audain Foundation. CBC News reports that art collector, gallery owner, and home-building titan Michael Audain said, “Of all the art galleries that I have visited, this is the one that has taught me the most about art and provided me with many wonderful and inspiring experiences in doing so.” The new building is slated to cost CA$400 million; the museum now has CA$160 million left to raise. Museum leaders had hoped Canada’s federal government would kick in CA$100 million, but it has so far committed to exactly zero Canadian dollars. “Ladies and gentlemen, our federal government needs to come to the party very quickly,” Audain said.
AUCTION ACTION. The big November art auctions arrive in New York next week, and ARTnews will have in-depth coverage. Today, though, let’s take a look at somewhat more unusual items that are hitting the block in various places next week. Diamond bracelets once owned by Marie Antoinette could sell for as much as $4 million at Christie’s in Geneva, CNN reports, and Nike sneakers worn by Kobe Bryant could sell for about $38,000 at Sotheby’s in that Swiss city, per the Associated Press. A 1980s Cartier watch painted with an obscene phrase by artist Travis W. Simon will be offered with a roughly $13,600 high estimate by London’s Watches of Knightsbridge, Robb Report says. And Boston’s RR Auction will bring the hammer down on a Marine Corps Rifle Score Book that records shots taken by alleged JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in 1956. It apparently shows he had good aim. Estimated at $100,000, it seems like the kind of dark artifact that might one day land in a Danh Vo show.
Pope Francis will officially open a new contemporary art space in the Vatican’s papal library today. First up is a site-specific installation by Italian artist Pietro Ruffo. “Our challenge is to strengthen the cultural role of the Vatican in the contemporary world,” the Vatican’s librarian, Cardinal José Tolentino de Mendonça, said. [ArtReview and Catholic News Agency]
Ivy Nicholson, a leading fashion model who sabotaged her film career by biting a fellow actor, and became an early “superstar” in Andy Warhol’s world, died late last month at the age of 85. [The New York Times]
Maximilíano Durón picked the best booths at the Art Dealers Association of America’s 2021 Art Show at the Park Avenue Armory in New York, from a Melissa Cody display at Garth Greenan Gallery to Myrlande Constant‘s at Luhring Augustine. [ARTnews]
The Central Archaeological Council in Greece has placed a limit on the height of buildings on the south side of the Acropolis, responding to complaints that a ten-story hotel was allowed to go up via a legal loophole. Buildings will now top out at about 79 feet. [Ekathimerini.com]
Some four years after the Remai Modern public art museum opened to the public in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, its architect and main contractor are involved in lawsuits, seeking additional money for their work. The city has declined to release a total cost for the project saying that “to protect our legal position, we have to allow that process to unfold.” [Saskatoon StarPhoenix]
Speaking of thorny museum administration issues: Hundreds of objects in the collection of the Aberdeen Art Gallery in Scotland are currently listed as “missing.” The city’s council believes that many of those pieces are likely still held by the museum but have been listed as “missing” as a result of clerical errors. [BBC News]
ARTISTIC STRUGGLES. After the release of Radiohead’s hit album OK Computer (1997), frontman Thom Yorke went through a period of creative block, he says in a conversation with artist Stanley Donwood that was published in the Guardian. One pivotal experience for the pair, who collaborated on art for many of the band’s records, was visiting a 1999 David Hockney show at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, which inspired them to work on landscapes. They ventured out to Cornwall, England, at one point, and Donwood decided it “would be really funny if we painted just in shades of blue and purple.” “We sat down in this stone circle, and we were painting for ages,” Yorke said. “And this old couple came and talked to us: ‘Oh, what are you doing?’ They were looking forward to looking at our paintings. And they were all fucking … blue and purple. And they walked off without saying anything.” [The Guardian]