Mets Fans! Wear Your Hats Tomorrow and Get Free Admission to the Metropolitan Museum of Art

With Opening Day just around the corner for Major League Baseball, it’s time for New York Mets fans to dust off their hats and show some team pride—and get free museum admission.

The team has officially declared Saturday, March 25, to be the first annual Amazin’ Day, a citywide celebration of the team fondly known as the Amazin’ Mets since their unlikely first World Series victory in 1969. The day includes a number of events and activities, but lovers of both art and baseball will be happy to know that donning their favorite Mets gear will get them free entrance to the Metropolitan Museum of Art—both the Fifth Avenue and Cloisters locations—all day.

The first 500 people clad in Mets orange and blue can also get the same perk at the Brooklyn Museum (sans entrance to the special Thierry Mugler exhibition).

Normally, general admission to the Brooklyn Museum is $16. The Met raised its adult ticket price from $25 to $30 in July, but allows New York State residents and students from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to pay what they wish.

The Mets Hat. Photo courtesy of Gabi Manga.

The Mets Hat. Photo courtesy of Gabi Manga.

No word on whether fans have to be wearing official MLB merchandise, or if the beloved “The Mets Hat”—a delightful mashup of the logos of the team and the similarly named museum—will be enough to score you complimentary entrance to either institution. (The hat’s creator, Gabi Manga, has been rumored to be in touch with the Mets about making the cap—which he sells to benefit charity—available at Citi Field, the team’s stadium in Flushing, Queens.)

The Mets are coming off their second-best regular season in franchise history, with 101 wins—shy only of the 1986 World Series-winning team. The 2022 squad failed to clinch the division in the final days of the season, however, and lost in the first round of the playoffs, leaving fans hungry for another chance at postseason glory.

Mets owner Steve Cohen, a major art collector, had a busy offseason, picking up pricey player contracts—acquiring Justin Verlander, new deals for Brandon Nimmo, Jeff McNeil, and Edwin Díaz—as if they were blue-chip trophy artworks. The team’s payroll leads the league at $336 million, leaving crosstown rivals the New York Yankees in a distant second at just $268 million.

With star closer Díaz already suffering a season-ending injury during the recent World Baseball Classic, it remains to be seen if this year’s Mets will have what it takes to end a 37-year championship drought. But for true Mets fans, hope springs eternal—especially now that there’s Amazin’ Day to celebrate.

UPDATE: Met senior vice president of external affairs informed Midnight Publishing Group News that any and all team merchandise, official and unofficial, will count toward free entry. “It’ll be a super generous interpretation,” he wrote in an email. “Any gear, and strong left hand relievers are welcome too! LGM!”

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The Centre Pompidou Has Sealed the Deal on Its New Museum in Saudi Arabia + 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 Wednesday, March 15.


Judge Dismisses Suit Brought by Peter Max’s Daughter – A U.S. district judge has ruled against Libra Max, daughter of the Pop artist Peter Max, who has been fighting her father’s court-appointed steward Barbara Lissner in a long-running court battle. Max claimed Lissner was isolating her father and taking advantage of his Alzheimer’s for financial gain after Lissner racked up over $2 million in fees at around $550 per hour for her services. The judge granted Lissner’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit on technical grounds relating to jurisdiction. (ARTnews)

Museum Watch Group Raises Alarm on Russian Museum – CIMAM’s Museum Watch Committee has expressed concern over the ousting of Zelfira Tregulova, director of the Tretyakov Gallery. Earlier this year, she was replaced by Yelena Pronicheva, who has closer ties to Putin. “Art can never be an instrument for politicians and regimes to steer societies,” wrote the committee members in a group statement. The committee sees it as part of a much broader phenomenon of governments’ desiring more control over museums. (Press release)

Centre Pompidou to Officially Open in AlUla – The French museum has officially signed a long-planned deal with AlUla, the new cultural cradle of Saudi Arabia, agreeing to open an institution there in 2028 or 2029. News of the deal leaked to press in February, but Laurent Le Bon, president of the Centre Pompidou, has now signed the agreement with the Royal Commission for AlUla to create a contemporary art museum. (Press release)

Sotheby’s to Sell Jordan’s NBA Finals Sneakers – The basketball star’s 1998 NBA Finals Game 2 black-and-red Nike kicks are hitting the block at Sotheby’s memorabilia sale April 3–11. Estimated at $2 million to $4 million, the Jordan 13s worn from the player’s “Last Dance” season, could become the most expensive sneakers ever to sell at auction. (WWD)


Frieze New York Announces Line Up – The 2023 fair, set to take place from May 17 to 21, will feature 60 galleries from 27 countries, maintaining a strong core contingent of New York-based exhibitors. Returnees include 303 Gallery, Alexander Gray Associates, Andrew and Matthew Marks Gallery. First-time participants include Arcadia Missa, Neue Alte Brücke, Silverlens, and Emalin. (Press release)

Mariane Ibrahim Announces Director of Mexico City Outpost – Paulina Torres has been named to lead the Mexico City gallery location and “further evolve the gallery’s presence in North and South America.” Torres previously served as head of the art and travel department at the company Liaisons and has been based in Mexico City since 2016. (Press release)

Fine Arts Paris & La Biennale Becomes FAB PARIS – A year after its debut in the French capital, the flagship fair created from the merger of the Biennale des Antiquaires and Fine Arts Paris has been reborn as FAB Paris. The second edition will take place at the Grand Palais Ephémère November 21–26.  (Press release)

Bill Traylor Painting Gifted to American Folk Art Museum – The famed outsider artist’s painting Untitled (Blue Construction, Figures, and Bottles; or Two Men Reaching for Bottles), (1939-42) has joined the collection of the New York-based museum. Previously in the collection of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lanford Wilson, the work was given by the actress Tanya Berezin, who co-founded the Circle Repertory Company with Wilson. (The Art Newspaper)


Artist Accuses Academy of Ripping Off Photography – The official pictures of Oscar winners have caused a stir on Instagram, as the images, according to some, are a little too similar to the artist duo Stefano Colombini and Alberto Albanese, known as Scandebergs. The pair made a picture of artist Marina Abramović last year, published by Italian magazine D al Repubblica, that uses the same backdrop, framing, and lighting. (Instagram)

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A Wall Street Billionaire Shot Himself in His Family Office. His Death Is Reverberating in the Museum World, and the Art Market

In happier times, prominent friends would gather at the chic Sutton Place home of the billionaire museum trustees Thomas H. Lee and Ann Tenenbaum to celebrate their favorite causes amid paintings by 20th-century giants and electrifying works by living artists. A curved staircase, meanwhile, beckoned to ever higher realms above the bustle of Manhattan.

This week, New York society assembled there one more time for a far more somber occasion: the Jewish mourning ritual of shiva, following Lee’s tragic suicide by gunshot on February 23. The private-equity buyout pioneer was 78, and left behind his wife of 27 years, five children, two grandchildren, and many unanswered questions.

As the family grieves and Wall Street ruminates on Lee’s legacy, some of the implications of his passing have already started to radiate into the museum world and art market. A longtime museum trustee, Lee assembled an art trove replete with paintings by Mark Rothko, Roy Lichtenstein, Jackson Pollock, and Francis Bacon. A monumental 1964 blue-and-red painting by Ellsworth Kelly that hangs in the salon is a promised gift to the Whitney Museum of American Art, on whose board Lee served for 29 years. Some photographs decorating the home are part of a promised gift to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which paid tribute to the couple’s eye for the medium with a public exhibition in 2020, “Photography’s Last Century: The Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee Collection.”

Thomas H. Lee and Ann Tennenbaum's Sutton Place apartment photographed during an event in 2019. Works by Ellsworth Kelly, Donald Judd, Mark Rothko, and Andy Warhol are on view. Photo: Matteo Prandoni/ © BFA 2023.

Thomas H. Lee and Ann Tenenbaum’s Sutton Place apartment photographed during an event in 2019. Works by Ellsworth Kelly, Donald Judd, Mark Rothko, and Andy Warhol are on view. Photo: Matteo Prandoni/ © BFA 2023.

Lee began buying postwar and contemporary art in the 1990s, a significant decade in his professional and personal life. In 1992 his Boston-based firm Thomas H. Lee Partners famously acquired Snapple for about $135 million, took it public, and then resold to Quaker Oats two years later for $1.7 billion. (Lee’s brilliant flip turned out to be a giant flop for Quaker Oats, which resold the beverage company for just $300 million less than three years later, inspiring headlines like “Quaker-Snapple: $1.4 Billion Is Down the Drain”).

Armed with about $927 million from that sale, Lee jumped into the art world as a collector and philanthropist. In 1994, he joined the board of the Whitney, where he would go on to play an important role, serving on the executive committee as well as the committees overseeing the modern painting and sculpture department and nominations for the board. At the Breuer building, the Whitney’s old home, Lee commemorated galleries on the second floor in honor of his parents Mildred and Herbert Lee.

“He brought the attitude of a businessman and an entrepreneur to a sector that, as you well know, is much less focused on that than on the present moment,” said Maxwell Anderson, the Whitney director from 1998 to 2003, noting that, as the chair of the nominating committee, Lee was “critical to charting the future of the institution in recruiting new talent, support, and ideas.”

Lee’s fellow board members said in an obit: “His unmatched business acumen, pragmatism, and wit elevated board conversations and made him a natural leader. But it was his passion for the arts—which he shared with his late mother, the esteemed collector Micki Lee—as well as his steadfast commitment to making art accessible to all, that has made an indelible mark on the museum and numerous arts and cultural institutions.”

Thomas H. Lee in 2015 in New York City.  (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for NYU Langone Medical Center)

Thomas H. Lee in 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for NYU Langone Medical Center)

At the same time, Lee was becoming a frequent presence at Christie’s and Sotheby’s salerooms, paying record prices for works by Arshile Gorky and Sigmar Polke, as Carol Vogel would attest again and again in reporting for the New York Times

He was passionate about Abstract Expressionism. In May 1994, he bought Pollock’s Number 22, a small, dense drip painting from 1949, for $1.7 million. The work, which has remained in his collection, could be worth $40 million or more now, according to auction experts.

He picked up the pace in 1995, the year he divorced Barbara Fish, his wife of 27 years. That November, he set an auction record for Arshile Gorky with the $3.96 million purchase of Scent of Apricots on the Fields (1944). (It’s unclear if the work remains in the family collection, but it hasn’t returned to auction, according to Midnight Publishing Group Price Database.)

Privately, Lee bought Rothko’s nearly 8-foot-tall Olive Over Red (1956), according to David Anfam’s catalogue raisonné, Mark Rothko: The Works on Canvas. The Rothko still hangs in his living room. It could be worth about $40 million, according to auction specialists.

Tenenbaum, whom Lee married in 1996, became his collecting partner. She is a trustee of the Met and serves on several other prominent cultural boards in New York.

“She was very much by his side thinking through these choices,” Anderson said, “what they collected and the ways in which they supported individual artists. And I think that hybrid was important for him.”

Three years ago, Tenenbaum spoke with me about the origin of the couple’s photography collection and Lee’s support of her interests.

“He was getting divorced from his wife,” she told me in March 2020. “They had a big art collection, mostly Old Masters. I didn’t care for that stuff. I was only 32. He said, ‘Let’s start over. Go buy some stuff.’”

Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #48,(1979), from the exhibition "Photography's Last Century: The Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee Collection" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Promised gift of Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York.

Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #48,(1979), from the exhibition “Photography’s Last Century: The Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee Collection” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Promised gift of Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York.

Her first acquisition was Cindy Sherman’s photo of a hitchhiker, Untitled Film Still #48, which she bought at auction for $40,000. Today, the work is among Sherman’s most expensive; in 2015, another example from the edition of three fetched $2.9 million at Christie’s.

Lee’s own collecting roots went back to his parents, and especially his mother Micki Lee, who “had an eye and taste ahead of her time,” Vogel wrote in 1998. The elder Lees were early supporters of Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, often buying freshly made works from Leo Castelli Gallery. One such work was Weeping Women, a painting by Johns, that in 2006 made its way to billionaire David Geffen via Si Newhouse, according to Vogel. Geffen said this week that he still owns the piece.

“They were very good early collectors of contemporary art,” said a person who knew them. “They were buying on the primary market. [Lee] learned from his parents to buy primary-market when he could.”

Micki Lee’s Calendar (1962) by Rauschenberg recently entered the Met’s collection as a gift from the Lee family, according to the museum. Apparently, the work had been offered for sale privately over the past 10 years but was unable to find a buyer, a person familiar with the work said.

While Lee’s parents were noted collectors, his personal art trove was largely of his own making and taste, a mix of blue-chip postwar art and emerging works. As recently as 2019, guests to the Lee and Tenenbaum residence would encounter a small portrait by Francis Bacon, a wall piece by Donald Judd, a map by Alighiero Boetti, a Bruce Nauman neon, the iconic twins by Diane Arbus that inspired The Shining, a sleek glass sculpture by Fred Eversley, an exuberant ceramic pot by Brian Rochefort, and a Jeff Koons painting from his Hulk Elvis series.

Andy Warhol, 5 Deaths twice 1 (Red car crash) (1963). Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Andy Warhol, 5 Deaths twice 1 (Red car crash) (1963). Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

A key work was Warhol’s 1963 5 Deaths twice 1 (Red car crash), which sold for $6.5 million at Sotheby’s in 2004. It may be worth $15 million to $20 million in today’s market, according to auction experts.

The exact value of the collection is tricky to assess because it’s unclear what remains in it and what may have been sold in recent years privately. Complicating things further is the fact that Lee was, in auction parlance, “a value buyer,” according to a person familiar with his collecting.

“It’s all the right names: Rothko, Pollock, Lichtenstein,” the person said. “The works are good, but they are not great.”

Still, Lee expected top prices when negotiating with the auction houses. When a group of Lee’s works ended up coming for sale at Christie’s in November 2016, a Warhol self-portrait fetched $6.5 million but a Lichtenstein work on paper, Reverie, failed to sell, according to Midnight Publishing Group Price Database. It was last seen this week in the Sutton Place apartment, according to people familiar with the setting. 

It’s unclear whether any of these works have been promised to institutions. Michael Sitrick, a representative for the family, said the family was not doing the interviews.

It’s also unclear whether any of the art might head to auction. After Newhouse died in 2017, leaving the art trove to his wife, several key works from his collection came to market, with Warhol’s Orange Marilyn and Koons’s bunny selling for eye-watering numbers to billionaire hedge fund managers. Still more works are coming to Christie’s in May.

What is certain is that the Wall Street icon’s sudden death is now reverberating on many levels, including in the art world.

“Tom Lee was a remarkable philanthropist and a dear friend to many,” said Max Hollein, the Met’s director. “His unwavering commitment to the Met for more than 25 years, together with his wife Ann Tenenbaum, has left an indelible mark on our institution. He and Ann provided transformational gifts to the Department of Photographs and beyond that will continue to enrich the lives of our visitors for generations to come. We are deeply saddened by his loss and extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones.”

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The U.K.’s Asian-Focused Esea Contemporary Museum Reopens With a More Diversified Staff and Program—But Skepticism Lingers

The light was back on and jovial chatter was heard again at the corner of Thomas Street in the U.K.’s Manchester this month. After a long hiatus, one of the most prominent centers dedicated to Chinese contemporary art in the west has reopened its doors with a new identity that embraces much wider East and Southeast Asian roots.

Esea Contemporary opened with a group exhibition called “Practise Till We Meet,” which was a demonstration of the center’s determination to start all over again. Featuring an ensemble of ethnically East and Southeast Asian artists presenting bodies of work that explore the diasporic experience, as well as trauma, this modest exhibition is a deliberate move to bid farewell to its past life as the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art.

The venue went through a major overhaul following the art community’s allegations of institutional racism (the center’s former management team and its board of trustees was dominated by white names) that nearly got the non-profit defunded. But some are not sure the institution has gone far enough.

"Practise Till We Meet" (2023) installation view, at Esea Contemporary. Photo courtesy Jules Lister.

“Practise Till We Meet” (2023) installation view, at Esea Contemporary. Photo courtesy Jules Lister.

The launch event also coincidentally coincided with the re-opening of the Manchester Museum after a £15 million ($18 million) facelift, which now includes the U.K.’s first permanent gallery dedicated to South Asian art. Although London remains the largest home to Asians, according to a 2021 census, the region that encompasses Manchester also has one of the highest presence of Asian populations in the U.K. Asians, including Chinese and other Asian ethnicities, are among the second biggest ethnic groups in Manchester.

The selection of works and artists in Esea’s debut show “Practise Till We Meet,” curated by the Guangzhou-based independent curator Hanlu Zhang, can be interpreted as a statement for the center’s direction. Although most of the works on show are not new, they address current, unresolved issues facing many in the Asian diaspora.

Koki Tanaka, <i>Vulnerable Histories (A Road Movie)</i> (2018), commissioned by Migros Museum of Contemporary Art. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Jules Lister.

Koki Tanaka, Vulnerable Histories (A Road Movie) (2018), commissioned by Migros Museum of Contemporary Art. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Jules Lister.

Memorable works include Koki Tanaka’s Vulnerable Histories (A Road Movie) (2018), a multi-channel video installation that charts the discrimination, violence, and trauma experienced by the Korean diaspora in Japan, descendants of Korean migrants who came to the country during various wars. The honest discussion about their psychological struggle with their hybrid identities is particularly moving.

A colorful series of photos—Matter Out of Place (2017-2018), Souvenir (2018), Unhide Diego Garcia (2018)—by the Manchester-based Audrey Albert, a native of the island of Mauritius, in the Indian Ocean, who has Chagossian origins. With these poignant works, she introduces the audience to the lesser known history about her displaced roots.

Isaac Chong Wai, <i>Two-Legged Stool</i> (2023), commissioned by Esea Contemporary. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Jules Lister.

Isaac Chong Wai, Two-Legged Stool (2023), commissioned by Esea Contemporary. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Jules Lister.

Liu Weiwei’s mixed media project Australia (2017) tells the story about the artist’s younger brother Liu Chao, who is adamant about emigrating to Australia. Although the project was created nearly six years ago, Liu Chao’s determination to leave his native China echoes today amid the recent “run movement” in the country, which is seeing Chinese people fleeing their home country.

Berlin-based Hong Kong artist Issac Chong Wai presents Two-Legged Stool (2023), the only new work commissioned by Arts Council-backed Esea Contemporary. The work, which creates an optical illusion of a stool that appears to be two-legged from one angle, and three-legged from another, references the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping’s 1980s remarks about the complicated relationship between China, the U.K., and Hong Kong. “There have been talks of the so-called three-legged stool. [There are] not three legs, only two legs,” he had noted. The work is shown alongside Chong’s acclaimed video series Rehearsal of the Futures: Is the World Your Friend? (2018), which depicts the slow body movements seen in protests and the police’s tackle of demonstrators.

While the show attempts to serve as a platform for diverse narratives, and while efforts have been made to be inclusive (the curator’s statement in Chinese is printed in traditional Chinese characters, which are used in Hong Kong and Taiwan, rather than simplified characters adopted in mainland China), some members of the East and Southeast Asian communities in the U.K. that Midnight Publishing Group News spoke with remain skeptical about the center’s re-launch.

A viewer admiring Audrey Albert's work <i>Matter Out of Place</i> on show at exhibition "Practise Till We Meet" at Esea Contemporary. Photo: Jules Lister.

A viewer admiring Audrey Albert’s work Matter Out of Place on show at exhibition “Practise Till We Meet” at Esea Contemporary. Photo: Jules Lister.

The new Asian presence in the institution’s leadership appears to include members who are predominantly of Chinese heritage. “What about the representation of other cultures from East and Southeast Asia on the management level? I would prefer to wait and see what they are going to do next,” said one Manchester-based East Asian culture practitioner who declined to be named.

In response to such concerns, an Esea Contemporary spokesperson said they “welcome the community’s engagement and reflection to help us achieve what we are setting out to construct: a platform for the ESEA art community at large.”

“We plan to work with a diverse range of guest curators across future projects, as well as continuing efforts to grow our board of trustees, staff team and artistic advisory panel,” the Esea spokesperson told Midnight Publishing Group News.

There is reason for optimsim; the center’s director Xiaowen Zhu is busy cooking up big plans for the coming year. Two more shows have been planned, and she is looking into diversifying the center’s programming to include more live, in-person events.

“No terminology is perfect in terms of representation. We hope we are doing the right thing. We are also figuring things out along the way,” said Zhu. “People’s excitement and curiosity are definitely very encouraging for us.”

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