A Taipei Museum’s Valuable Hi-Res Art Scans Have Been Leaked Online + 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 Thursday, March 16.


Zurich Museum to Scrutinize Its Own Collection – The Kunsthaus Zurich is stepping up its efforts in provenance research to root out works held unlawfully as a result of Nazi persecution. Its new approach includes “improved transparency” and the appointment of an independent commission of experts on provenance, who will help investigate the origin of some 203 works on show at the museum. Research results are expected to be published in spring 2024. (Swiss Info)

Miami Art Dealer Sentenced for Ivory Smuggling – Eduardo Ulises Martinez was found guilty on nine counts of smuggling ivory sculptures without declaring them to the U.S. authorities, and one count of obstruction of justice. A federal judge sentenced Martinez to 51 months in prison, and ordered him to pay a $20,000 fine. The U.S. implemented a ban on elephant ivory trade in 2016, and Martinez was caught with ivory in his luggage at the Miami International Airport in 2021. (ARTnews)

Leaked Hi-Res Art Scans From Taiwan Museum Show Up for Sale – The National Palace Museum in Taipei confirmed that up to 100,000 high-resolution images of paintings and calligraphy from its collection of historic Chinese artworks have been leaked online. Some of them, which the museum had been licensing for between $98 and $850, were available for sale on mainland Chinese online shopping platform Taobao for less than $1.50. (CNN)

FBI Returns Cache of Stolen Guns to Museums – Authorities recovered at least 50 firearms and other historical artifacts that went missing for half a century hidden in an attic in Delaware. They have been repatriated to 16 museums. (Delaware Online)


Masterworks Acquires Arthena – The art investment platform specialized in fractionalization has acquired Arthena, a data collection, analysis, and pricing platform with expertise  in data engineering and machine learning infrastructure for the art market. (Press release

Columbus Museum of Art Names Director – The Ohio-based institution has named Brooke A. Minto as its next executive director and CEO. Minto served as the inaugural director of the Black Trustee Alliance for Art Museums, which was founded in 2020 to encourage dialogue between Black museum trustees. She begins her role on May 15, succeeding Nannette Maciejunes who retired in 2022 after two decades. (Press release)

Lio Malca Expands – The veteran art-world dealer and collector is moving his gallery space from Chelsea to the newly-minted gallery hub of Tribeca at 60 White Street. The multistory exhibition space, a 19th century building undergoing a facelift by design firm studioMDA, will launch this May with a show of Spanish painter Rafa Macarrón. (Press release)


Venus Williams and Adam Pendleton Organize Benefit – The tennis star and artist are teaming up to raise funds to restore Nina Simone’s North Carolina-based clapboard home, a project led by the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. Artists including Julie Mehretu, Stanley Whitney, Cecily Brown, and Rashid Johnson are donating work for the sale, which will be held at Sotheby’s online from May 12-22, with a corresponding IRL gala hosted by Pace. (The Art Newspaper)

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Robert Colescott’s Caustic Satire of ‘Washington Crossing the Delaware’ Is Poised to Reset the Artist’s Market at Sotheby’s Next Month

The late American painter Robert Colescott’s charged satire of Washington Crossing the Delaware will hit the auction block next month—and it is poised to smash the late artist’s current auction record. 

George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware: Page from an American History Textbook, as the artist’s landmark 1975 canvas is called, is set to highlight Sotheby’s contemporary art evening auction in New York on May 12. It’s estimated to go for $9 million to $12 million—that’s roughly 10 times Colescott’s current auction record of $912,500, set in 2018.

The Washington painting carries a financial guarantee, according to the auction house, making it certain to sell. Colescott’s profile has been on a steady incline in recent years, spurred in part by support from artist Kerry James Marshall, who has been vocal about Colescott’s influence on his work. Blum & Poe also began representing the artist’s estate in 2017. His public auction prices, however, do not currently reflect his stature. 

Emanuel Leutze’s 1851 painting Washington Crossing the Delaware, a staple of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection since 1897 (not to mention scores of American history texts) is the overt reference behind Colescott’s 20th-century masterwork. But where the former artist lionizes the general in a macho wartime scene, Colescott’s take is much more caustic: Washington and his men are replaced by inventor agricultural scientist Washington Carver and a boat full of cartoonish Black caricatures—a banjo player, a barefoot fisherman, and a mammy figure performing fellatio on the flag bearer. 

“With its social and political resonance and sheer pictorial force, today Colescott’s painting greatly rivals the iconic quality of its source image, offering a critical reckoning with the history of American art,” David Galperin, head of Sotheby’s New York contemporary evening auctions, said in a statement.

According to the auction house, the painting has remained in the same Midwestern collection since 1976, when it was purchased from John Berggruen Gallery in San Francisco. Sotheby’s declined to share additional information about the identity of the consignor, but the Art Newspaper reports that it belonged to the late Robert and Lois Orchard of St. Louis, Missouri.

George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware was included in the critically acclaimed retrospective of Colescott’s work that opened at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati in 2019 before traveling to the Portland Art Museum. The exhibition, curated by Lowery Stokes Sims and Raphaela Platow, will wrap up its tour this summer at the Sarasota Art Museum. 

Meanwhile, Colescott’s painting is on public view now through April 21 at the auction house’s Hong Kong branch. After that run, it will head to Sotheby’s New York for a May 1 through 12 exhibition leading up to the sale.

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