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THE WAR IN UKRAINE. More than 6,000 Russian architects and designers have decried the nation’s invasion of Ukraine in an open letter, Dezeen reports. Russian billionaire Vladimir Potanin is the latest oligarch to quit a cultural board, stepping down as a Guggenheim Museum trustee after 20 years, the New York Times reports. Potanin has not faced sanctions; a Guggenheim statement that provided no reason for the move condemned the “unprovoked war.” Collector Andy Hall told the New York Post that doing business with Phillips auction house, which is owned by a Russian luxury-goods company, is “outrageous.” Phillips has said it condemns the invasion. And an NFT of the Ukrainian flag, auctioned by a group cofounded by Nadya Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot sold to a group of donors for $6.75 million in Ethereum, the Art Newspaper reports. Funds will go toward a charity providing supplies to the military and civilians in Ukraine.
FROM THE SALESROOM. In London on Wednesday night, Sotheby’s hauled in $297 million across two back-to-back auctions of modern and contemporary art, setting new records for René Magritte, Shara Hughes, Robert Nava, and others. The affair’s priciest sale was the record-setting Magritte, 1961’s L’empire des lumières, which went for £59.4 million (about $79.8 million), more than three times the Surrealist’s previous top mark. Among the standout performances was a 1965 painting of a cake by Domenico Gnoli, which went for more than twice its estimate, at £2.5 million ($3.3 million). In entirely different auction news, a helmet worn in 1928 by aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart as the first woman passenger aboard a plane crossing the Atlantic Ocean went for $825,000 at Heritage Auctions, the Associated Press reports.
Barry Bauman, a veteran restoration artist and conservator who donated his services to nonprofits that could not afford them, died last month at 73. “Each artwork in need of restoration carries within it, like a Chinese box, layer upon layer of meaning, sometimes obscured, puzzling or distorted,” he once said. [The New York Times]
Shirley Hughes, the veteran illustrator and author behind more than 200 children’s books, including the 1977 classic Dogger, died on Wednesday at 94. [Associated Press]
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is reportedly investigating whether some assets traded on NFT and crypto exchanges violate rules that govern securities. Some crypto boosters maintain that their offerings should not fall under that regime. The SEC has not commented. [Bloomberg]
The U.S. returned five gold ingots to France that were illegally pulled up in 1974 from a 1746 shipwreck of a French vessel, the Prince de Conty, in the Atlantic Ocean. The feds took hold of the material, valued at more than $200,000, after they were consigned for auction in California in 2017. [The New York Times]
Daphne Seybold, who led communications and marketing for Comme des Garçons U.S. and Dover Street Market, has become co-CEO and chief marketing officer of artist Dan Colen’s Sky High Farm. Based in upstate New York, the nonprofit donates food it produces to marginalized communities. [WWD]
James Doyle, formerly assistant curator of the art of the ancient Americas at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, has been named director of the Matson Museum of Anthropology at Penn State University. [Press Release/PennState]
ACTIVATING ART. For years, Deborah Kass’s bright yellow sculpture OY/YO (2015) has been a popular landmark, perched in front of the Brooklyn Museum. Now it is a kind of protest monument. Kass has wrapped the letter O with blue fabric, making the piece the colors of the Ukrainian flag. The alteration aims “to show solidarity with Ukraine and its diasporic communities worldwide fighting for sovereignty and democratic freedom,” the Brooklyn Museum said on Twitter . Intriguingly, it added, “We thank the community member who reached out to the artist with this suggestion to activate our sculpture.” [@BrooklynMuseum/Twitter]