Houses

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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Simon de Pury on How the World’s Top Fashion Houses Have Worked With Artists to Create a Red-Hot Market for Collaborations


Every month in The Hammer, art-industry veteran Simon de Pury lifts the curtain on his life as the ultimate art-world insider, his brushes with celebrity, and his invaluable insight into the inner workings of the art market.

In 2019 I conducted an auction in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, to raise funds toward protecting the dwindling population of snow leopards. Included in it was a clutch bag by Olympia Le-Tan. There was spirited bidding, and to my own surprise the price had climbed up to $90,000 by the time I sold it to a very elegant lady in the room.

A few days after the auction, OLT’s cofounder Grégory Bernard asked me to curate a collection of clutch bags for them. I accepted, as at a number of galas and special events I had been struck by the originality of these accessories, which reimagine classic book covers and art, and were invariably worn by the most interesting women. Olympia Le-Tan managed to create an exquisitely crafted fashion accessory that looks as good when in use or when simply lying on a coffee table.

I was a great admirer of Olympia’s father, Pierre Le-Tan, whose illustrations graced the pages of numerous publications, including the New Yorker, Vogue, and the New York Times Magazine. He was also a connoisseur and eclectic collector. I had the privilege of being the auctioneer for the sale of part of his collection at Sotheby’s in London in 1995.

Tête de femme avec un chapeau à pompons, OLT X Picasso.

Tête de femme avec un chapeau à pompons, OLT X Picasso.

Before giving thought as to which favorite album or book covers to select, I felt the dream would be to choose works by the greatest artist of the 20th century, Pablo Picasso. I called Almine Rech Picasso to discuss the idea. She put me in touch with the Picasso Administration, for whom OLT prepared a detailed proposal. The embroiderers and stitchers started the search for the finest silk threads that would faithfully render the color range of the original works. Little did I realize that, after it was agreed, it would take months for each clutch bag to be produced. OLT will therefore come out every few months with another Picasso clutch in limited editions of 77.

This fun project made me reflect on the cross-fertilization between the worlds of art and fashion. The greatest fashion designers were at all times naturally drawn to art. It is therefore hardly surprising that some of them figure among the greatest collectors. Picasso’s seminal 1906 masterwork Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, which is one of the quintessential works hanging at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), used to belong to the French couturier Jacques Doucet, who bought it in 1924. Karl Lagerfeld, Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino Garavani, Giancarlo Giammetti, and Hubert de Givenchy are not only part of the pantheon of fashion but are also some of the most significant collectors and tastemakers in the world of art.

Despite that, there were clear borders between art and fashion. For an artist to do work for a fashion brand would have been seen as a perilous exercise.

The actual game changer was Bernard Arnault, the chief executive and owner of LVMH. Under his leadership, the designers of his main brands—above all Louis Vuitton and Dior—have instigated some of the most successful collaborations between artists and fashion houses to ever take place.

When a big retrospective of Takashi Murakami took place at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, not only did a number of paintings include the LV logo, but one room was devoted to the bags the artist had created for Vuitton, and they could be purchased then and there in the museum. Those manning the cash register must have been thrilled, but it made the soi-disant defenders of high art cringe.

Models hold Louis Vuitton bags designed by Richard Prince at the Louis Vuitton cocktail reception celebrating the Richard Prince exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum on January 8, 2007 in New York City. Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images.

Models hold Louis Vuitton bags designed by Richard Prince at the Louis Vuitton cocktail reception celebrating the Richard Prince exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum on January 8, 2007, in New York City. Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images.

I am an unconditional admirer of Richard Prince, so when Marc Jacobs chose him to design a series of Vuitton bags covered with his jokes and nurses, I was ecstatic. The bags were released gradually, and the chief salesman at the LV store on the Champs-Élysées had the power to decide who was worthy of acquiring them. I would show up after each new release. He would ask me, “Did your wife like it?” I was not married at the time, but did not dare to admit that I was buying them for myself. The prices for Prince’s paintings were rising steeply, so while the bags are not exactly cheap, they were clearly more affordable than his canvases. I still have them wrapped up, and have actually never opened them.

The collaboration between Yayoi Kusama and Louis Vuitton helped towards establishing her in the art-world firmament. While the bags she created for the brand were being sold, her original paintings were being presented on the VIP floor of the Vuitton store on Bond Street in London. I was particularly fascinated by little plastic figurines of the artist herself. I was desperate to get my hands on one and used all my contacts, to no avail. I was told that they would all be destroyed once the display was over. I don’t know whether this really happened, but I have not come across any such figurine since. KAWS managed to do collaborations to satisfy both his “high” and “low” fan bases more or less simultaneously, when he collaborated with Dior and Uniqlo. I tried my luck at Uniqlo to get a T-shirt for my youngest daughter, but they were all sold out.

A general view during the Louis Vuitton And Yayoi Kusama Collaboration Unveiling at Louis Vuitton Maison on July 10, 2012 in New York City. Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage.

A general view during the unveiling of the Louis Vuitton and Yayoi Kusama collaboration at Louis Vuitton Maison on July 10, 2012, in New York City. Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage.

I always felt that the work of Kenny Scharf was undervalued. His current collaboration with Dior has changed this. There has been heated competition for his works in recent auctions. There again are wonderful plastic sculptures created by Scharf for the Dior shop windows around the world. Here as well, I was unable to acquire any of them. Urs Fischer has also decorated the Vuitton window displays around the world. There would be a red-hot collector’s market for the temporary display objects the main fashion brands use for their collaborations with artists.

For his collaboration with the Vuitton brand, Jeff Koons used some of the biggest brands of art history: Da Vinci, Titian, Rubens, Fragonard, Boucher, Turner, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Manet, and Monet. Not only did he employ some of their best-known works, as he did in his gazing ball series, he also plastered their names in metallic capital letters across the accessories. The LV logo had a JK logo symmetrically placed across it, and a Koons rabbit in leather was attached to each bag. It was a brand splashing brands on a brand. In 2014, I auctioned a Koons sculpture inspired by Picasso’s Blue Period work La Soupe, which had several Hermès Kelly bags hanging on its arms. The proceeds went to a United Nations campaign for vaccination—we could use such a campaign now!—that was supported by Svetlana Kuzmicheva-Uspenskaya.

In the nearly 20 years since the initial cooperation between Takashi Murakami and Vuitton took place, such collaborations no longer ruffle the feathers of “serious” art lovers. On the contrary, the wider reach and recognition the fashion world is a must for any artist wishing for mainstream notoriety. With at least 40 percent Asian buyers in the main international contemporary art auctions, this is not surprising. After all, many of Asia’s mega-malls, notably in Japan, have been cultural dynamos, staging art exhibitions since the 1960s. As a believer in contemporary culture overall, I applaud the blurring of lines between the worlds of art, music, fashion, architecture, design, photography, and cinema.

Simon de Pury is the former chairman and chief auctioneer of Phillips de Pury & Company and is a private dealer, art advisor, photographer, and DJ. Instagram: @simondepury

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Christie’s Top Brass Just Broke Down the Auction House’s Earnings. Here’s How Lucrative the First Half of 2021 Was


Christie’s pulled out all the stops today, July 13, with a high-profile line-up of far-flung executives for a virtual call to announce the results of its wide-ranging business activities in the first half of 2021.

The total sales for the first six months of the year amounted to $3.5 billion, making it the auction house’s second-best half-year total in the past six years, and exceeding the 2019 equivalent by 13 percent.

Executives noted the significance of an influx of buyers and intense demand from Asia (which accounted for 39 percent of the value of auction sales worldwide), as well as the auction house’s plunge into sales of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) this year. They also highlighted how a recent spate of marathon hybrid sales have helped provide solutions for challenges ranging from Brexit to international coronavirus restrictions.

“After a year of COVID-related disruption and change, Christie’s strong results in the first half of 2021 show the resilience of the art market and Christie’s ability to adapt and to innovate in a challenging context,” CEO Guillaume Cerutti said on the call. 

Auctioneer Adrien Meyer fields bids during Christie's 20th Century evening sale in New York in May 2021. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd. 2021.

Auctioneer Adrien Meyer fields bids during Christie’s 20th Century evening sale in New York in May 2021. Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd. 2021.

The house said private sales for the first half were just north of $850 million, an increase of 41 percent as compared with 2020, with a 30 percent increase in private sales of works above $5 million as compared with first half of 2020.

Global head of private sales Adrien Meyer said the strength was somewhat surprising given that the strong uptick last year—238 percent over first half of 2019—was clearly connected with the lack of physical auctions.

“It’s quite reassuring that the trend has continued as auctions have picked up,” he noted.

Asia has played a major role in the robust performance, as reflected by the reported $1.04 billion “in live and online purchases” made in the first half, which Christie’s said is the highest spending from the region in at least five years. And Hong Kong auctions at Christie’s Asia for the first six months achieved $495 million, up 40 percent over the first half of 2019.

Christie’s also reported a total of about $93 million in NFT sales, while conceding that the lion’s share, $69 million, was paid for the offering of Beeple’s The First 5,000 Days in March.

Beeple, Everydays – The First 5000 Days NFT, 21,069 pixels x 21,069 pixels (316,939,910 bytes). Image courtesy the artist and Christie's.

Beeple, Everydays – The First 5000 Days NFT, 21,069 pixels x 21,069 pixels (316,939,910 bytes). Image courtesy the artist and Christie’s.

Asked about where NFT buyers are emerging from, Marcus Fox, global managing director of postwar and contemporary art, said the Beeple auction “brought over 400 new clients to Christie’s from a wide cross-section of the globe,” he said, citing bidders from Asia, Europe, and the U.S.

While subsequent NFT sales have varied as far as participation rates, Fox said, they have tended to draw more new than existing clients, but with a similar geographic breakdown: a third each from Asia, the Americas, and Europe.

Christie’s COO Ben Gore added that roughly 85 percent of the payments for the NFT totals had come in the form of cryptocurrency. Christie’s initially began by accepting Ethereum at the time it offered the Beeple work, but is now accepting Bitcoin for some lots.

“We are, to a degree, directed by our clients,” he said. “Whether they wish to accept crypto will influence how [we] think about bringing this form of payment into the rest of our business.” 

Even as executives talk about a return to IRL auction salerooms, they praised the flexibility of the hybrid auction model. Christie’s vice chairman Giovanna Bertazzoni noted that it allowed the auction house to place a major Ernst Ludwig Kirchner painting in the Paris leg of a marathon sale that would otherwise have never made it to London because of Brexit restrictions.

Further, specialists from countries such as Italy who could not go to London because of COVID restrictions could still get to Paris and bid on behalf of their clients there.

“This collaboration with Paris and all the fluidity with the other selling sites in Europe has been vital for us gathering and selling the sales throughout the first six months,” Bertazzoni added.

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How Lockdown Has Accelerated the Blurred Lines Between Galleries and Auction Houses


In February last year, a group of art-dealing titans went public with an unusual proposition—they would team up and sell the storied collection of the late philanthropist Donald Marron. The move was a shock to the art-world system because it saw three galleries, Gagosian, Pace, and Acquavella, snaffling up a $450 million estate that historically would have been the territory of auction houses.

The Marron deal was a strong sign that the traditional lines separating galleries and auction houses had become increasingly blurry. This slow-brewing convergence only accelerated after the pandemic struck and both sectors were initially confined to the web.

Now, as auction houses pursue pop-up spaces and invest in private sales while galleries launch new secondary market ventures, the market’s Venn diagram threatens more than ever to become a circle.

Welcome to the era of the blobified art market. 

Sotheby's new space in Palm Beach. Image courtesy Sotheby's.

Sotheby’s new space in Palm Beach. Image courtesy Sotheby’s.

What Is at Stake?

The business model of auction houses has historically hinged on splashy and expensive public sales of work by dead artists and from collectors’ estates. Meanwhile, traditional dealers would more quietly sell work on both the primary and secondary markets.

But these divisions have been eroding for years. Sotheby’s began experimenting with the private-sales model as far back as the early ’90s. Meanwhile, Christie’s acquired a primary market gallery, Haunch of Venison, in 2007, which dissolved six years later to become its private-sales arm.

Amid a dip in confidence in public sales during the pandemic, auction houses reported record highs in private transactions. The Big Three houses—Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Phillips—all saw the category grow around 50 percent in 2020.

Auction houses have also taken on a greater interest in exhibition-making, buying up or renting out more space to mount exhibitions, conduct private sales, and organize selling shows. Last year, Sotheby’s opened pop-up gallery spaces in Palm Beach and East Hampton, and the house is now moving its Paris headquarters into the former premises of the legendary Bernheim Jeune gallery.

David Nash, cofounder of Mitchell-Innes & Nash gallery who previously led Sotheby’s contemporary and Impressionist and Modern art divisions, regrets his role in encouraging the house to take up private sales, as he now sees the development as an existential threat to galleries.

“I don’t know how dealers can respond to it,” he tells Midnight Publishing Group News. “Certainly the auction galleries have taken away huge amounts of business… and the number of dealers who were really involved in the resale market have shrunk.”

Art advisor Sibylle Rochat thinks auction houses’ posture threatens to cut into galleries’ business with living artists as well. “Galleries are losing control of the secondary markets of their artists and unfortunately this is where they could make the money to grow, meaning there is a glass ceiling for galleries working with living artists,” Rochat says.

Glimcher. Photo © Axel Depuex.

From left to right: Arne Glimcher, Bill Acquavella, Larry Gagosian, and Marc Glimcher. Photo © Axel Depuex.

Galleries Muscle In

Yet blobification is not a story of one sector engulfing another—both sides are encroaching on the other’s turf. In the process of handling the Marron estate, the three mega-galleries launched a new business called AGP to handle future sales of major collections.

The move has received nods of approval from other respected dealers—including Emmanuel Perrotin and Johann König, who are among a cohort testing out secondary market endeavors of their own. While their projects are distinct, they share a common desire to dip into auction-house portfolios—and to do business with margins higher than the typical primary market 50-50 split between artist and dealer. 

Perrotin, who recently opened Perrotin Second Marché with two business partners, says that his gallery’s presence in a five-story building down the road from Christie’s and Sotheby’s on Avenue Matignon is “sending a powerful message that our presence is wished for and founded on expertise.”

Galleries’ push into the secondary market is in part a response to the fact that artworks are cycling through collections much faster than they used to, he says: “Works now can appear twice within five years without affecting its value—to the contrary. Collectors have come to realize that it could be in their interest to work with [artists’] galleries on both the buying side and the selling side.”

Back in 2011, when White Cube became one of the first galleries to venture into secondary-market dealings with a dedicated gallery (run by the now-disgraced dealer Inigo Philbrick), the prospect was taboo enough that White Cube gave it a different name, Modern Collections.

Last month, White Cube launched a new venture under its own brand, Salon, to offer month-long presentations of individual secondary market works. The initiative began with a work by Carmen Herrera, who is not represented by the gallery.

The aim, according to Mathieu Paris, White Cube’s director of private sales, is to distinguish themselves by foregrounding scholarship and expertise. “Auction houses are playing the clock and the quantity of sales whilst galleries are proposing more elaborate curatorial visions,” he says.

A scene inside KÖNIG GALERIE in the virtual world of Decentraland. Courtesy of KÖNIG GALERIE.

A scene inside König Galerie’s virtual show on Decentraland, which was accompanied by the gallery’s first-ever auction. Courtesy of KÖNIG GALERIE.

Other dealers are less interested in making any distinction at all. “If you are client-centric, there is no separation between [auction and gallery] models,” Johann König told Midnight Publishing Group News. He has been trying out both an in-house art fair and, more recently, an auction with digital works attached to artist-minted non-fungible tokens (NFTs).  

Indeed, the vogue for NFTs has likely accelerated blobification even further. Crypto-artists, König notes, seem to place less value on galleries’ vetting clients and placing work, forcing dealers who are eager to get in on the action to adopt a new approach. “They find it the most normal thing in the world to auction off their work,” he says. “How crazy is that?”

The new Perrotin gallery in a five-storey townhouse at 8 Avenue Matignon in Paris.

The new Perrotin gallery in a five-story townhouse at 8 Avenue Matignon in Paris. L’ATELIER SENZU

What Is the Future of Blobification?

The convergence between auctions and galleries is already having an impact on transparency. While online art fairs and viewing rooms have encouraged galleries to share prices publicly, the increased volume of and new formats for online auction sales have resulted in increasingly obscure public results. 

Some question whether auction houses might end up undermining their own business model by delving into private sales and other strategies borrowed from galleries. Several experts commented that even live auctions, with the omnipresence of in-house and third-party guarantees, have become little more than private sales conducted theatrically in public. “I’m not quite sure whether they are swallowing their own tail,” dealer David Nash says.

Some houses have been reluctant to embrace guarantees for this very reason. “In principle, you put something in an auction and it either sells or it doesn’t—so if one starts using mechanisms like guarantees, it would contradict what one is trying to do in an auction,” says Diandra Donecker, a director and partner at Grisebach auction house in Berlin.

Denzil Forrester in conversation with Victor Wang, LIVE, Frieze Week 2020
Photo by Deniz Guzel. Courtesy of Deniz Guzel/Frieze

One aspect of the gallery business that auction houses have not subsumed is the representation of artists and estates, which is generally a longer-term commitment than these businesses—which have seen significant turnover in recent years—are suited for.

Sotheby’s quietly shuttered its artists’ estates division in 2018 after less than two years, and its plan to co-represent the estate of Vito Acconci with never got off the ground. But David Schrader, the house’s global head of private sales, noted that some artists may become increasingly open to selling directly through auction houses and bypassing the gallery system entirely. “I think ultimately that’s sort of where we’re going with NFTs, that’s essentially a direct-to-market strategy,” he says.

Schrader predicts that the era of blobification has only just begun, and that the market’s future lies in multi-faceted art businesses rather than strictly defined auction houses or galleries. The stress of the pandemic encouraged sectors to collaborate, with some galleries even offering inventory (gasp!) on auction-house websites“I do think that there is a softening of old boundaries-slash-adversarial type thinking,” he says.

According to Schrader, Sotheby’s data shows there is only a five percent overlap between private-sales clients and those who are active in auctions, but those who cross over from auctions to private sales don’t reduce their activity in the former category. “There’s an historical myth of cannibalization of one versus, the other,” Schrader says. “And in fact, I think they’re quite synergistic.”

Nora Turato, "let’s never be like that”, organized by LambdaLambdaLambda, LA MAISON DE RENDEZ-VOUS, Brussels, 2020. photo credit: Isabelle Arthuis.

Nora Turato, “let’s never be like that”, organized by LambdaLambdaLambda, LA MAISON DE RENDEZ-VOUS, Brussels, 2020. Photo: Isabelle Arthuis.

The result may be art businesses that not only look more and more alike, but also converge on the same moments and locations. Asked whether he could imagine an auction at Art Basel in the future, Schrader didn’t rule it out: “I think if you asked that question two years ago, the answer would have been, zero chance. And I think if you ask the question today, it might be 25 percent.” He points out that for years Sotheby’s mounted exhibitions in the same building and during the same week as Art Basel in Hong Kong. 

Despite the possibilities, not everyone is likely to emerge from this blobified art market a winner. In an industry of vertically integrated conglomerates, what happens to the mom-and-pop shops?

“Galleries can learn from auction house strategies,” says Jo Stella-Sawicka, the London director of Goodman Gallery, which teamed up with several other dealers on an experimental auction to help uplift artists and galleries in the Global South, “but not everyone has the medium or the means to do that.”

Jeffrey Rosen, who cofounded the Brussels gallery-share Maison de Rendezvous in Brussels, is skeptical that centralization is good for culture. “What we put on the walls must be dictated by the belief that it has cultural significance in the immediate present while betting on it in the long-term,” he says, and “not determined by what will generate the most money as quickly as possible.”

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New York Mayoral Candidate Andrew Yang Has a Plan to Boost the City’s Art Community: Subsidize TikTok Hype Houses


This week, Andrew Yang formally announced his candidacy for New York City mayor. And he did so with a splash, tapping Darren Aronofsky—a Hollywood director whose films are almost as notable as his vast collection of all-seasons scarfs—to direct his campaign announcement video. 

The internet immediately went to town on the video, dunking on the candidate like….well, like Andrew Yang on a comically-low rim

But Yang’s candidacy also brought more scrutiny to what, exactly, he was promising for New York. For the arts community, the unveiling of Yang’s campaign website offered an important look at his plans to support culture at a crucial juncture in the city’s history.

Ideas on the “Culture, Society, and Nightlife” section of the Yang site include promising “the biggest Post-Covid Celebration in the world,” making cocktails-to-go a permanent feature of the city’s culture, legalizing marijuana, and bringing full Broadway shows into public parks.

But Yang also offers some policy ideas of more narrow interest to visual artists. “Our administration will partner with larger institutions to help subsidize rent for resident artists in buildings,” the site states. “These up-and-coming creators deserve a place to cultivate their craft and the city has a role to play in supporting their dreams.”

Rent subsidies might be important to sustain artists living in one of the country’s most expensive cities. The city-sponsored CreateNYC study revaled that unaffordable rent was one of the biggest concerns facing New York’s creative community. In a time of economic insecurity and extreme precariousness for the arts, this focus seems worthy.

But, in terms of specifics, Yang seems to have a very particular type of priority. The next sentence of the Yang cultural policy reads, “Similarly, our administration would also work to attract content creator collectives, such as TikTok Hype Houses, where young artists collaborate. We need to help create similar artist collectives that utilize new technologies.”

For those who don’t know, the reference to Hype Houses is shorthand for a phenomenon symbolized by a particular mansion, Hype House, formed in December 2019 in Los Angeles. The dedicated influencer palace serves as a space where internet stars live together, make content, and hold court.

Other such “collab houses” featuring social media stars have proliferated across LA in recent years. (They have also been known to be COVID-19 hotspots, with the talent refusing to stop in-person partying as a threat to their livelihood.)

Yes, it seems Yang’s vision for rejuvenating the arts in New York is to create more communal living spaces where aspiring influencers can film coordinated dances

Is there something inherently wrong with this? Not really. But it’s striking that this policy in particular was the hook on which Yang chose to hang his art policy hat, in a city known for its concentration of museums and art galleries. 

To be fair, the Yang site does include one further concrete idea for the visual arts. The would-be mayor proposes that the city invest in a large-scale program of projection-mapping light shows on city landmarks. “Imagine the arch in Washington Square Park, the New York Public Library, or the Flatiron Building come alive with a projection mapping display.”

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