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A TEN-FIGURE AFFAIR. On Wednesday evening in New York, at the Rockefeller Center headquarters of Christie’s, 60 works from the collection of the late Microsoft cofounder Paul G. Allen hauled in $1.5 billion, an all-time record for a single auction—by a wide margin. Angelica Villa has a report in ARTnews. (The previous high mark was set earlier this year, when the Macklowe collection brought in $922 million at Sotheby’s.) Every single one of the Allen lots sold—a white-glove sale, in industry parlance. Five met or exceeded $100 million, including an 1888–90 Georges Seurat studio scene, which went for $149 million, and an 1888–90 Paul Cezanne landscape, which brought $138 million . Those sums were new top auction prices for the artists, and illustrated just how fierce demand is for art at the upper-most reaches of the market.
PUBLIC AND POLITICAL. Along a street in Brooklyn, artist Phil Buehler has installed a text piece that collects the thousands of lies told by President Donald J. Trump and his allies about the 2020 election, the Guardian reports. “It’s really corrosive on our democratic system, that people stop believing in free and fair elections,” he said. Meanwhile, in Chicago, a piece that celebrates Ukrainian heritage, by the Kyiv studio Photinus, is being projected onto the MART Building twice a night for the next week, as part of a public-art program there, the Art Newspaper reports. Ukraine’s vice-consul in the city framed it as part of an effort to draw attention to the country’s culture amid “the invasive imperialism planted by Russian propaganda.”
The Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati has tapped Christina Vassallo to be its director. The leader of the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia since 2020, Vassallo takes the place of Raphaela Platow, who left last year to run the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky. [Cincinnati Business Courier]
Dealer Courtney Willis Blair has been hired by the British heavyweight gallery White Cube to helm its hotly anticipated New York branch, which is slated to open next fall. Willis Blair was previously a partner at New York’s Mitchell-Innes & Nash gallery, where she brought on artists Gideon Appah and Jacolby Satterwhite. [ARTnews]
Artist Adam Pendleton tapped architect Frederick Tang, who collaborated on his recent show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, to design a studio for him in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, and Architectural Digest took a look inside. Pendleton will have a solo show with Pace in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood in the spring. [AD]
The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh said that it has discovered in its vast archives rare master tapes for the Velvet Underground’s debut 1967 album, The Velvet Underground & Nico, with alternate versions of songs. The recording will be featured in a show at the museum next year. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
The International Council of Museums issued a statement—signed by 92 museum leaders—about the recent attacks on artworks by protesters trying to draw attention to climate change. “The activists responsible for them severely underestimate the fragility of these irreplaceable objects,” it reads in part. [Artnet News]
High-end perfume bottles designed by prominent artists or architects (or their estates) are hot right now. James Turrell has made two limited-edition bottles with Lalique (prices start at about $25,000), and the Yves Klein Archives did one with Guerlain (about €15,000). Certainly more affordable than actual art by those artists! [Financial Times]
A GOOD HAIR DAY. Five years after an ivory comb dating to around 1,700 B.C.E. was found in Israel by archaeologists, a tiny inscription was identified on it, and now it has been translated, the New York Times reports. Written in a Canaanite language, and believed to be the oldest sentence in an alphabet that evolved into the one being used right here, right now, it is a charmer: “May this tusk root out the lice of the hair and the beard.” One can only hope. [NYT]