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RENOVATION ROUNDUP. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is fundraising for a $40 million overhaul of its galleries for Ancient Near East and Cypriot art, Zachary Small reports in the New York Times, and is about halfway there, according to director Max Hollein. Architect Nader Tehrani, founder of the firm NADAAA , is helming the project, which is slated for a 2025 unveiling. The Met is also planning a $500 million renovation of its modern and contemporary art wing, which was boosted late last year by a $125 million gift from trustee Oscar Tang and his wife, Agnes Hsu-Tang. Meanwhile, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston will double the size of its galleries for Islamic art via a $3.5 million renovation, Gabriella Angeleti reports in the Art Newspaper .
AN AUCTION ARRAY. An auction of 200 Nike x Louis Vuitton “Air Force 1” sneakers created by the late Virgil Abloh netted $25.3 million at Sotheby’s, Bloomberg reports. The proceeds will go to a scholarship fund for students of color pursuing fashion. Meanwhile, a new NFT by the artist Pak went for some $52.8 million in cryptocurrency, Reuters reports; those proceeds will go to support the legal defense of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is fighting extradition from the U.K. to the U.S., where he faces espionage charges. On the more traditional auction front, a 1986–87 Francis Bacon triptych will hit the block at Christie’s London on March 1 with a £55 million (about $74 million) high estimate, Melanie Gerlis reports in the Financial Times.
Unionized staffers at the California College of the Arts, which has campuses in the Bay Area, began a strike on Tuesday that will continue through Friday, amid lengthy contract negotiations. [The Art Newspaper]
Claire Spencer, the CEO of Arts Centre Melbourne in Australia, has been hired as the first CEO of London’s Barbican Centre. The arts venue has faced allegations of racism from staff members, which led to changes in leadership last year. [Press Release/City of London and Artforum]
The national tour of the portraits of former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, respectively, has been extended to include San Francisco’s de Young Museum and Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. They are now on view at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.
[The Washington Post]
Speaking of Kehinde Wiley, Prince Charles paid a visit to the artist’s current show at the National Gallery in London, as well as the museum’s Albrecht Dürer exhibition. [@NationalGallery/Twitter]
And speaking of the Prince of Wales, today in Winchester, England, he will unveil a statue of Licoricia, a revered 13th-century Jewish woman who ran a successful moneylending business. Artist Ian Rank-Broadley created the depiction of Licoricia, who was murdered in 1277, 13 years before Jews were expelled from England. [The Guardian]
The Arizona home of Phoenix Suns basketball star Devin Booker includes a Cy Twombly lithograph and a Franz West chandelier. [Architectural Digest]
THE PACE NEWS JUST KEEPS COMING! Last week, the blue-chip gallery announced a new Los Angeles venture, earlier this week it hired author Kimberly Drew, and now it is adding to its roster the Austrian avant-gardist Hermann Nitsch, the aforementioned Melanie Gerlis reports in the Financial Times. Pace will work alongside Galerie Kandlhofer, the blood-wielding Actionist’s rep in Vienna. The gallery’s president, Marc Glimcher, told the FT that he paid a visit to Nitsch’s museum in Austria, and explained, “There’s some radical shit. And no one in America knows about it.” A 2023 Pace show will aim to change that. [FT]