Dozens More Works in the Met’s Collection Have Been Linked to Disgraced Dealer Subhash Kapoor + Other Stories

Art Industry News is a daily digest of the most consequential developments coming out of the art world and art market. Here’s what you need to know on this Monday, March 20.


NEA Report on State of the Arts – New data on the art and cultural sector shows that it had a larger impact on the U.S. GDP in 2021 than in previous years. It also grew more rapidly than the wider economy. The report was organized by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. None of the 35 cultural industries evaluated have yet bounced back to pre-pandemic levels. (The Art Newspaper)

Painters Swindled by Fake Collectors – The growing trend of fake check scams is affecting artists. In each case reported by the New York Times, artists were offered a good price for artworks by fake collectors who sent checks to cover the price of the work, plus shipping costs. The checks bounced after the artists forwarded the shipping fee by money order to a person who was arranging the delivery. (New York Times)

Antiquities Linked to Subhash Kapoor at the Met – The Indian Express has listed works of art that are still in the collection, which are linked to the disgraced dealer who is serving jail time in Tamil Nadu, India, on charges of burglary and theft of antiquities. The list includes 18 sculptures and 59 paintings. Manhattan’s district attorney has already handed back hundreds of artifacts connected to Kapoor. (Indian Express)

U.K. Museum Visitor Numbers – At U.K. museums, visitor numbers are up post-pandemic and many museums in the nation saw numbers increased by more than 200 percent in 2022, according to the annual figures from the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions. Museums and galleries in the U.K. reported an overall increase of 158 percent in footfall; heritage and cathedral sites followed with a 55 percent increase. (Museums Association)


Belgium’s AfricaMuseum Gets a New Director – Diplomat Bart Ouvry has been named head of the AfricaMuseum, whose contentious collection displays have often caused controversy due to Belgium’s egregious colonial history. He will leave his role as European Union ambassador to Mali to take up the role. (Le Journal des Arts)

Bracelet Donned by Dietrich Could Fetch $4.5M – A “Jarretière” diamond-and-ruby studded bracelet by Van Cleef & Arpels worn by Marlene Dietrich in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1950 film Stage Fright is hitting the auction block at Christie’s this June. Estimated to fetch up to $4.5 million, the bauble comes from the collection of Anne Eisenhower, granddaughter of the late president. (Robb Report)

Rachel Rossin Joins Magenta Plains – The mixed media artist, who has become a force in the realm of virtual reality has joined the gallery stable. Rossin’s work is currently on view in the Whitney Museum’s lobby as part of the exhibition Refigured. (Press release)


You Can Bring Ai Weiwei’s Middle Finger Anywhere – The Chinese  activist and artist’s famous digit is now available to superimpose anywhere on-the-go, thanks to the power of Avant Arte. The work riffs on Ai’s famous work Study of Perspective, and is on view as part of thea artist’s show at the Design Museum in London; screenprints of thea Ai Weiwei’s Middle Finger in Red (2023) are being sold for 24 hours on Avant Art’s platform starting March 30. (Press release)

Public submission. Courtesy

Public submission. Courtesy

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Artists Decry an Idaho College’s ‘Alarming’ Removal of Artworks Centered on Reproductive Rights From a Group Show on Healthcare

School officials removed half a dozen artworks from a show at Lewis-Clark State College Center for Arts and History, a public college in Idaho, because of references to abortion and related reproductive health issues. The show, titled “Unconditional Care,” opened just days ago, on March 3, and is intended as an exploration of “today’s biggest health issues and… stories and concerns of those directly impacted by those issues,” according to an earlier show statement on the school’s website.

It examines topics such as chronic illness, disability, pregnancy, sexual assault, and gun violence including related deaths. A mix of local and international artists are featured in the exhibition, many of whom share their personal experiences through film, audio, mixed media, paintings, and photography.

The works that have been removed from the show include a series of four documentary videos from artist Lydia Nobles, in which individual women share diverse experiences around reproductive rights and pregnancy; a 2023 piece by Michelle Hartney, which is a handwritten copy of one of the 250,000 letters addressed to Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, and received in the 1920s mostly from mothers who were begging for information about birth control; and a 2015 embroidery work from artist Katrina Majkut titled Medical Abortion that depicts Mifepristone and Misoprostol, two prescriptions taken together in sequence to end an early pregnancy.

The college did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but in a statement released to other publications, a spokesperson said of the censorship of the show: “After obtaining legal advice, per Idaho Code Section 18-8705, some of the proposed exhibits could not be included in the exhibition.”

Section 18-8705 is part of the No Public Funds for Abortion Act (NPFAA) that was passed by Idaho’s Republican legislature in 2021, months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the right to an abortion.

Majkut is not only a participating artist, but also a guest curator of the show. She told Midnight Publishing Group News that in her 10 years of extensive work with colleges, in particular, she always strives to be bipartisan and objective, while encouraging dialogue and educating viewers. “It’s always been a positive experience. I’ve never heard one peep about discontent. And I’ve never been censored,” she said in a phone interview.

As she and a gallery staffer were developing ideas around the show last fall she was invited to be a curator. “I decided I would do it about the most topical health issues in the United States, as it’s on everyones mind. My goal was to approach these hot topic issues in a very level-headed, factual way,” she said.I was avoiding protest art. I wanted art that got to the heart of the issue either medically or through personal stories, especially by people directly affected by those health issues.”

Medical Abortion (2015), an embroidery by Katrina Majkut was removed from the show titled "Unconditional Care" at the Lewis-Clark State College Center for Arts & History, in Idago. Image courtesy Katrina Majkut.

Medical Abortion (2015), an embroidery by Katrina Majkut was removed from the show titled “Unconditional Care” at the Lewis-Clark State College Center for Arts & History, in Idago. Image courtesy Katrina Majkut.

Majkut said her work was removed on March 2, a day before the exhibition opened and after giving administrators a tour of the entire show. When informed of their decision to remove the work, Majkut suggested several alternatives including “some sort of presence, even if it just [a statement that reads] ‘this artwork was removed in accordance with the law.’ I said that I wanted the wall text up even if I can’t have the artwork because it literally reiterates Idaho’s own law to the students. That was a no-go. It’s an educational setting, but I was told directly in person that the wall text wasn’t okay.” Majkut said she has dozens of other artworks that remain in the show.

Meanwhile, representatives from the ACLU penned a detailed letter to college president Cynthia Pemberton objecting to the removal of Nobles’s works and asking that they be reinstated.

The letter is signed by Elizabeth Larison, director of the arts and culture advocacy program of the National Coalition Against Censorship; by Scarlet Kim, senior staff attorney for speech, privacy and technology project of the ACLU, and Leo Morales, executive director of the ACLU of Idaho.

Stills from Lydia Noble's documentary series “As I Sit Waiting,” that were removed from the show 'Unconditional Care' at Lewis-Clark State College Center for Arts & History in Idaho. Image courtesy Lydia Noble.

Stills from Lydia Nobles’s documentary series “As I Sit Waiting,” which was removed from the show “Unconditional Care” at Lewis-Clark State College Center for Arts & History in Idaho. Image courtesy Lydia Nobles.

They expressed “alarm” at the removal of Nobles’s videos.

“The College’s interpretation of the NPFAA—that it applies to works of art depicting the discussion of abortion—demonstrates the potential abuses of the Act,” the letter read. “As the Supreme Court recognized 80 years ago, ‘[i]f there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion…’ The College’s decision threatens this bedrock First Amendment principle by censoring Nobles’s important work and denying visitors of the center the opportunity to view, consider, and discuss it.”

“Institutions of higher education are responsible for presenting students with an array of viewpoints and fostering among them a sense of academic curiosity and intellectual engagement,” it continued. “We urge the College to reconsider this censorship and permit these works to be shown as part of ‘Unconditional Care.’”

Additionally, Kirsten Shahverdian, senior manager of free expression and education at PEN America, has likewise condemned the decision as “a slap in the face to academic and artistic freedom.” In a statement, she added: “Banning these artworks signals to people—especially women—that they must silence themselves and their experiences when it comes to any aspect of reproductive or sexual health, stripping them of their fundamental rights to free expression.”

Nobles said after Majkut invited her to exhibit work from her series, “As I Sit Waiting,” they worked together between mid December 2022 and January 2023 to select four accounts that share diverse experiences around reproductive rights and pregnancy.

“The selected documentaries are that of DeZ’ah, Blair, Cat, and Claudia,” said Nobles. “The gallerist and I were working together to figure out installation, and they even painted the wall a light purple to coincide with my ideal installation. All seemed to being going well—that is, until I received an email from the school.”

According to Nobles, the email stated: “Upon review of submitted work for the upcoming Center for Arts and History exhibit ‘Unconditional Care,’ after consulting with legal counsel and based on current Idaho Law (Idaho Code 18-8705), your proposed exhibit cannot be included.”

Nobles said she asked for further clarification about what exactly in her documentaries violated the law, but she did not receive a response.

“It was also alarming that the language in the email shifted, suggesting that these were just proposed works, when in fact they were installed already; besides slight remaining details,” she said. “The email from the school was particularly odd because I went to great efforts to frame these films as unbiased as I could. I didn’t want to know too much about the participant’s story beforehand. I also wanted the interviews to be memory-based and without an agenda. So to hear that the school thinks that these stories are violating this law, I was pretty confused.”

Artwork by Michelle Hartney that was removed from "Unconditional Care" at Lewis-Clark State College Center for Arts & History, in Idaho. Image courtesy Michelle Hartney.

Artwork by Michelle Hartney that was removed from “Unconditional Care” at Lewis-Clark State College Center for Arts & History, in Idaho. Image courtesy Michelle Hartney.

“The censorship of my piece is extra alarming because it comes from a letter that was written 100 years ago by a desperate mom,” Hartney told Midnight Publishing Group News of the removal her letter-based work.

“I feel compelled, through this project, to make sure the stories and pleas from these mothers from the past are not forgotten, so folks can see where we were 100 years ago when there was no access to birth control, and so they can read firsthand accounts from over 250,000 people, what happens to a person when their right to control their own destiny is taken away.”


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6 of the Best Artworks at Frieze Los Angeles 2023, From a Jennifer Bartlett Masterwork to a Powerful Debut by a 24-Year-Old Rising Star

Ah, Frieze Los Angeles—it’s a pretty great art fair. There’s plenty to see, excitement in the (unseasonably chilly) air, the occasional frisson of a celebrity sighting, and excellent discoveries to be made from artists both young and old. Here are a few of the standout artworks in the fair this year.


Jennifer Bartlett
The Comedian as the Letter C for Max Gordon (1990)
Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York
Price: $675,000

Photo: Object Studies Copyright: © Jennifer Bartlett Courtesy Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York and Aspen, Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, and The Jennifer Bartlett 2013 Trust.

Photo: Object Studies. Copyright: © Jennifer Bartlett Courtesy Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York and Aspen; Paula Cooper Gallery, New York; and the Jennifer Bartlett 2013 Trust.

Those familiar with the artistically and intellectually potent work of Jennifer Bartlett, the painter who died last year at age 81, may be surprised by her work at the fair. Whereas she is best known for her rigorously structured, mathematics-derived canvases—the kind of work that led Roberta Smith, her great critical champion, to call her a “conceptual painter on vast scale”—the central painting on view at Boesky’s booth is explosive, frightening, almost cinematic. Stemming from a shift in which Bartlett transitioned away from her acclaimed aluminum-plate sequences of the 1970s toward a freer, looser hand, the artwork depicts a human skeleton standing in an abstracted domestic setting engulfed in flames, surrounded by sequences of playing cards, dominoes, wooden chests, game boards, and squares of tartan plaid.

Never before displayed in California, where Bartlett was born, this painting has doomy local resonance in a time when one year of massive wildfires has been replaced by one of cataclysmic rains. It wasn’t so different during the artist’s youth. As her friend Joan Didion wrote, “Children [in California] grow up aware that any extraordinary morning their house could slip its foundation in an earthquake…. Jennifer Bartlett’s most persistent imagery, her apprehension of the potential for disaster in the everyday, derives from her California childhood.” Of course, the artist’s interest in systems and pattern-making is present amid the chaos: the games and plaid strewn around the painting are instances of math made quotidian, things you can find around your home.

Today, Bartlett occupies a funny place in the art conversation. She’s not a household name, but she’s not exactly under-recognized. Her market has been evolving steadily. The January opening of her posthumous show of drawings at Boesky’s New York gallery was jam-packed with her artist and critic fans. But has she gotten her due? One almost hopes that someone from the tech community will see her paintings at the fair, recognize a kindred spirit in the pursuit of that quasi-mystical intersection of data and everyday life, buy some work, tell their friends, and make her into a real phenomenon.

Lee Bae
Issu du feu (1998)
Johyun Gallery
Price: $207,000

Photo: Andrew Goldstein.

With unaccountably luscious surfaces that darkly shimmer in the light, the artist Lee Bae’s charcoal paintings draw you in for closer inspection to discern how they do what they do—it’s no wonder that the dealers at Johyun Gallery have come to call them “people magnets.” The mystery somehow only deepens when you learn that these paintings are not made with charcoal, laying it down on paper or canvas, but rather from charcoal, with the artist slicing thick slabs of burnt pine and then inlaying it like black mother of pearl to create the surface.

Bae began working with charcoal as a signature material three decades ago when, living in Paris, he found lumps of it for sale in a store and realized that it not only reminded him of his native South Korea, where it is a staple of daily life, but that it was a cheap and plentiful material he could count on. Furthermore, its status as a tree that had become fire and then a carbonized relic ready to become fire again appealed to him as having a certain circle-of-life poetry to it. 

Now 67, Bae is a superstar in South Korea with long waiting lists for his work, but his gallery is intent on expanding his market into new territories. Last year, they brought his paintings to the Armory Show in New York, where one was bought by a “famous collector” right away. Here in Los Angeles, another one—and they range from $100,000 to $250,000—sold to a prominent U.S. collector in the opening hours of the fair. 


Veronica Fernandez
I Don’t Want to Die (2023)
Sow & Tailor Gallery, Los Angeles
Price: ranging from $14,500 to $26,000

Courtesy of Sow & Tailor Gallery, Los Angeles.

As an artist, Veronica Fernandez is something of a miracle: she is only 24 years old (she was born in 1998), has only been painting for about three years, and is clearly a supercharged talent, using the brush both gesturally and with precision to create riveting, dreamlike scenes. And, in an art world filled with nepo babies (and grandbabies), Fernandez experienced an impoverished upbringing, spending much of her youth changing homes and facing eviction in New Jersey with her family—and still, through her talent, was able to earn a BFA from the School of Visual Arts last year and now has come to a place where her work is for sale at the Frieze art fair.

The paintings on view here meld her talent and story. Based on poems she wrote about her family’s ordeal and photographs from her and her sister’s childhood, the scenes show her conjuring an imaginative space of comfort and home amid instability: making a play fort in one painting, riding a barren mattress like a gondola through a sea of colorful disco balls in another, or here, in this one, cheerfully riding her bike amid barking dogs and unsavory characters as her family members watch with concern. (Its title, I Don’t Want to Die, is chilling.)

Fernandez paints quickly and with urgency, laying down her memories and imaginings in a way that creates a definite mood. In her largest canvas at the fair, figures of adults and children trudge through a wasteland, tied together by ropes looped around their waists. They are on a long trek, the ones in the front carrying forward the ones behind. Maybe Fernandez’s art can lighten the load.


Joana Choumali
Silence, Too, Is an Answer (2022)
Sperone Westwater, New York
Price: $45,000

Photo: Andrew Goldstein.

Based in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, Joana Choumali used to go to the beach resort of Grand-Bassam with her family as a child. After a 2016 attack at the resort left 19 people dead, unsettling the shaky peace following the country’s civil wars, she returned there to make art in an attempt to make sense of the atrocity, memorialize the victims, and heal wounds. The resulting series consists of photographs that she took of lonely figures in desolated settings and then printed on canvas, allowing her to embroider the figures and their surroundings with lustrous threads, imbuing the scenes with a colorful feeling of hope. Called “Ça va aller,” or “It’s Going to Be Okay,” the body of work won her France’s prestigious Prix Pictet in 2019. 

This caught the attention of Angela Westwater, the fabled dealer and cofounder of Sperone Westwater Gallery, which is best known for its work with Bruce Nauman and postwar Italian artists like Carla Accardi, but which in recent years has been bringing on a younger generation of talents. On a trip to London, Westwater saw a magnificent triptych by Choumali in a 2021 group show at the Royal Academy. That piece, plus the fact that the Victoria & Albert Museum had acquired a work, led to a series of Zoom calls with the artist and now gallery representation—despite the fact that Westwater and Choumali have not yet met in person, a lingering product of the pandemic.

At the fair, the artwork on display by Choumali has wow factor to spare. Stemming from iPhone snapshots the artist takes on early-morning walks in Abidjan and then prints onto canvas, this surface is then enlivened by a solitary portrait she cuts out of a separate shoot and then stitches on top, painstakingly overlaying the lines of her imagery with thread before finally covering the whole composition with a diaphanous piece of tulle. The gauzy effect comes across well in a photo, but in person it’s hypnotizing. Next up? Another Zoom call between Westwater and Choumali, and then, if all goes well, a show at the New York gallery by the end of the year.


Carroll Dunham
Untitled, 3/29/22, 3/30/22 (2022)
Gladstone Gallery, New York
Price: $50,000

Photo: Andrew Goldstein.

That the painter and printmaker Carroll Dunham is one of the greatest artists of his generation still seems to be something of a secret, which is funny because he has all the hallmarks: an instantly recognizable hand, distinctive subject matter that provides timeless pools of mysterious reflection, and a career’s worth of work that shows continual evolution. In recent years, he has been working with an enigmatic male figure dubbed “the Wrestler” (the successor to the female “Bather” of his earlier work), who has a habit of engaging in primeval combat with doppelgängers of himself but also getting lost in what appears to be deep, philosophical thought. 

In Los Angeles, Gladstone Gallery has transformed its office space into a showroom for a series of monoprints in the latter, contemplative vein, while the the base canvas for the series is on display at the fair. It shows the Wrestler from a rear three-quarter view, colored green like some ancient chthonic entity, long hair and beard falling from a body that is limned with thick, decisive lines. His brow is furrowed and his gaze trained on the center of a red vortex in the background. Around him is a Bacon-esque cage—are those red lines below him are flames?—the lines and squiggles give the setting a pulsating feel, like he’s traveling between dimensions.

Who is this green Wrestler, and what is he up to? A clue, apparently, is that Dunham has a longstanding interest in science fiction. What’s certain is that he furnishes a perfect opportunity for the artist’s formal explorations, and the series of prints that arose from this base canvas—produced at Two Palms press in SoHo—are wonderfully weird, with blottings of diluted ink creating a hallucinatory effect. Right now, Dunham’s prints are also the subject of a major survey at the National Gallery in Oslo (where the Queen is an avid printmaker herself), and this May, Gladstone will unveil a new series of drawings in New York that will introduce a never-before-seen formal element to his work. What adventures will our friend the Wrestler embark on next? Stay tuned.


Ernie Barnes
Protect the Rim (1976)
Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York
Price: $1.25 million

Photo: Andrew Goldstein.

It was in the early, scary, lonely days of the pandemic when the art dealer Andrew Kreps was googling some artists he was interested in and fell down a rabbit hole of overlooked American painters that led him, search query by search query, to Ernie Barnes. A fascinating figure whose life story strikes as movie-ready today but which didn’t quite make sense to the art establishment of his time, Barnes had wanted to be an artist ever since he was a kid, but as a Black child in segregated Durham, North Carolina, that path was not really open to him—whereas football was a path that, as a gifted athlete, he could run down at full speed. So he got a full athletic scholarship to attend the all-Black North Carolina College, where he majored in art while dazzling scouts on the football field, leading him to a pro career first with the Baltimore Colts, then the New York Titans, then the San Diego Chargers, then the Denver Broncos. Throughout his football career, Barnes made art, sketching even during team meetings—something his Denver coach would fine him $100 for when caught—and earning the nickname “Big Rembrandt” among his teammates. (He and the Dutch master share a birthday.)

After playing for five years, Barnes became eligible for a pension and quit to do art full time, painting in a style inspired by Thomas Hart Benton, Andrew Wyeth, and other midcentury American regionalists that he dubbed “Neo-Mannerism.” That expressive, elongated style is on full display in this painting of two basketball players leaping into a sky reminiscent of a brighter El Greco, framed by raw wooden planks that somehow manage to simultaneously evoke a southern shack and a Renaissance icon. He quickly found success—his first post-retirement show in New York sold out, he became the “official artist” of the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, he won celebrity collectors in the Black entertainment world like Richard Roundtree and Berry Gordy, and his art was featured in seminal pop-culture contexts from a Marvin Gaye album cover to (most famously) the set of the TV show Good Times. But, during his lifetime—he died in 2009—the fine art world kept its distance.

Suffice to say, all that has changed. In 2020, the UTA Artists Space in L.A. gave Barnes a solo show, Kreps mounted a show in 2021, and momentum began to grow behind his market until, bang, his 1976 painting The Sugar Shack woke everyone up when it sold for $15.3 million at Christie’s in May 2022. Since then it’s been off to the races, and Kreps’s booth at Frieze was the equivalent of a touchdown dance in the end zone, with the artist’s family hanging around in “Team Barnes” sweatshirts and stars like Lionel Richie and Tyler the Creator coming by to pay respects among artworks ranging from $2.2 million (for a painting titled Street Song) to works on paper in the $60,000-to-$125,000 range. And just think: UTA, the eminent talent agency that brought Barnes into the present-day spotlight—and which is currently displaying Sugar Shack at its West Hollywood art space—is mainly interested in his life rights for film and TV projects. Expect Barnes’s fame to only grow from here.

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A Spanish Collector Is on Trial for Forging Artworks by Chillida, Lichtenstein, and Munch—Then Consigning Them to Auction Houses

A Spanish collector is facing years of prison time for allegedly forging and consigning artworks by Roy Lichtenstein, Edvard Munch, and others. 

Guillermo Chamorro, aged 67, is being charged with intellectual property theft and fraud related to the falsification of 15 works of art, according to Spanish newspaper El País. The prosecutor’s office in Madrid, where the trial is taking place, is seeking a six-and-a-half-year prison sentence. 

A once respected collector and occasional artist, Chamorro has now been connected to dozens of suspected forgeries going back several years. 

An Austrian collector named Tomas Weber told El Pais that an Eduardo Chillida lithograph he purchased in the spring of 2019, from Hampel Fine Art Auctions in Munich for €3,900, was fake. The artwork had been consigned by Chamorro, to whom Weber reached out, demanding a refund.

Soon after, Weber told Spanish police that he had spotted two additional Chillida forgeries at the Setdart auction house in Madrid. Subsequent searches of Setdart’s facilities yielded more artworks believed to have been fabricated by Chamorro, including seven attributed to Chillida, two to Lichtenstein, and one to Munch. 

Of the 15 pieces Chamorro has been accused of faking, Spanish police have recovered 10. The remaining five artworks—four attributed to the Spanish painter José Guerrero and one credited to Saul Steinberg—were sold to collectors by Setdart in December 2018. 

It’s unclear if their owners have been notified about the artworks’ suspected authenticity. Chamorro, for his part, claims he only moved these pieces to Setdart for study, not sale.

Representatives from the auction house did not immediately respond to Midnight Publishing Group News’s request for comment.  

Hampel Fine Art is heavily implicated in Chamorro’s trial, too. El País reported that a Spanish-based representative for the company approached the accused forger in 2017 with the idea of selling some of his collection. Chamorro subsequently sent 29 artworks to Munich. Among the group were several iterations of Munch’s famous Scream scene, which the collector valued to be worth €250,000 to €300,000 in total.

After not being paid for the artworks, Chamorro reached out to the auction house and found out that they were being held at a local police station due to questions over their legitimacy. The whereabouts of those artworks are currently unknown.

An expert from the Reina Sofía Museum, José Manuel Lara, helped confirm the dubious status of many of the artworks connected to Chamorro. He spotted irregularities in the artworks’ signatures and pointed out that many of the pictures were made using inkjet printing processes. 

Lara concluded in court that if the pieces were not fake, they were at least “manipulations of authentic pieces.”  

Meanwhile, Francisco Baena, director of the José Guerrero Center in Granada, weighed in on the Guerrero artworks.

“Guerrero was always firm and sure, but in the ones that the police showed me, the painter hesitates, as if he knew he was forging,” Baena said at the trial.


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Did Snoop Dogg Really Buy Crypto Artworks Worth $17 Million Under the Moniker ‘Cozomo de’ Medici’?

About a month ago, a new Twitter profile was created under the name Cozomo de’ Medici, an apparent reference to Cosimo de’ Medici, the Renaissance-era patriarch of the dynastic Italian banking family. Like his namesake, the Twitter user billed themselves as a patron of the arts, but rather than trafficking in Donatellos, their passion was NFTs.

Almost overnight, Cozomo established themselves as a real player in the market, amassing a collection of CryptoPunks, Art Blocks, and other NFTs worth an estimated total value of more than $17 million. The Twitter admirers came too: thousands followed the account, where they found updates about new acquisitions peppered with nuggets of investment advice, such as: “For there is a strange, cultural ‘ponzi-nomics’ to NFTs, [where] much like contemporary art, no one wants to sell for less than the previous high price.” 

The myth grew, and quickly, as others online came to wonder about Cozomo’s real identity. Surely this was somebody of note, right?

Speculators soon got their answer. On September 20, Cozomo announced a contest to reveal who was behind the account. A celebrity, the anonymous figure explained, would publicly claim the Cozomo name on Twitter, and the first person to spot the tweet would be gifted 1 ETH, worth roughly $3,000. 

“I am @CozomoMedici,” rapper Snoop Dogg tweeted later that day, ending the mystery and sending the crypto-community into a tizzy.

In a way, it made sense: the seemingly bottomless supply of cash, the Medici bit, the bizarre courtly air of the tweets. Snoop—given name Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr.—is predictably unpredictable, and belovedly so. He’s also proven to be a hungry investor, backing tech businesses, plant-based food companies, and ​​cannabis startups through his venture capital firm Casa Verde.

But then again, maybe it makes too much sense—an elaborate troll job neatly packaged in a little Twitter flimflam?

At least that’s the theory some online are now pursuing. VICE recently broke down all the holes in the Snoop story, comparing the geo-tags of the rapper’s social media photos to those of Cozomo, who appears to spend a lot of time in Italy. The NFT influencer also once tweeted out a photo of himself with fellow collector Jason Derulo on the shores of Lake Como. Both of their faces were covered with avatars, but it’s clear which one was Derulo and which one was not, and the one who was not was…well, it wasn’t Snoop.

D-O-Double G or not, this modern-day Medici is sitting on an impressive hoard of crypto artworks. In addition to Punks and Art Blocks, they own a Cai Guo-Qiang NFT and recently acquired a character piece by artist XCOPY for 1,300 ETH, or about $3.9 million—which should ensure the fickle art world’s continued attention.

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