Nike Said It Is ‘Deeply Concerned’ By the Allegations Against Tom Sachs + 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 March, 17.


Covid Impact on London Museums – Museums are still trying to get their attendance figures back to what they were in 2019. The British Museum reported 4.1 million visitors in 2022 which, while being more than three times higher than in 2021, is still more than a third down from its 2019 number of 6.2 million. Similarly, Tate Modern reported 3.9 million visitors, down 36 percent from 2019. The Victoria and Albert Museum had 2.4 million visitors, down 40 percent. (The Art Newspaper)

Tribe Weighs Final Home for Restituted Cultural Objects – Members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, of Wounded Knee, are deciding via consensus what to do with 130 objects and human remains that have been restituted from the Founders Museum in Massachusetts. There is consensus that human remains should be buried; when it comes to objects, including funerary items, some think they should be buried or burned according to spiritual practices. Others hope they will go to a tribe-run museum. The institution agreed to the return last fall. (New York Times)

Fallout From Tom Sachs Expose – Nike has responded to allegations made about artist Tom Sachs’s studio workplace environment. The company said it was “deeply concerned by the very serious allegations” and is looking into the matter. An investigation by Curbed cited former employees who alleged that Sachs made comments related to sex and employees’ appearance, called people offensive names, threw objects across the room, and walked around in his underwear. Nike may have already had some hints as to Sachs’s vibe—apparently, the company altered the packaging for a sneaker collaboration with artist Tom Sachs in 2017, which had the phrase “work like a slave” on it. (Complex, ARTnews)


The Gallery Merry-Go-Round Spins On – Gladstone Gallery has announced it’s bringing the late Robert Rauschenberg’s $1 million work Maybe Market (Night Shade) to the upcoming Art Basel in Hong Kong fair to mark its formal representation of the artist’s estate along with Thaddaeus Ropac and Luisa Strina. Lehmann Maupin is showing newly added artist Sung Neung Kyung’s Venue 2 (1980), available for $150,000-$200,000. Meanwhile, Almine Rech now represents the wildly popular Madagascar-born artist Joël Andrianomearisoa. (Financial Times) (Press release)

Culture & Partners With Sotheby’s Institute of Art – The debut Culture& and Sotheby’s Institute of Art Cultural Leaders Program will launch in September 2023 to “empower and nurture the next generation of diverse leaders.” Three full scholarships for the 2023-24 and 2025-26 school years will be available to students from under-represented communities for the schools’ Masters programs in contemporary art; fine and decorative art and design; and art business. (Press release)

Liste Art Fair Names Exhibitors – The Basel-based contemporary art fair is set to return this June 12–18 with 88 galleries hailing from 35 countries around the world. Returning galleries include the likes of Tehran-based Dastan, Brussels-based Super Dakota, Los Angeles/New York-based François Ghebaly, Berlin-based Sweetwater, and Paris-based Parliament. (Press release)


The Artist Who Survived the Holocaust – Actor Emile Hirsch has joined the cast of the forthcoming film Bau: Artist at War, which tells the story of the artist who was imprisoned at Plaszow camp and used his creative skills to save hundreds of prisoners by forging IDs. The wedding of the artist and his wife Rebecca at the camp was dramatized in Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List. (Variety)

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The Art Collective That Nike Sued for Pouring Human Blood on Its Sneakers Has Agreed to Recall the Shoes

The battle between Nike and the art and design collective MSCHF has finally been settled.

Last month, the collective teamed up with rapper Lil Nas X to release “Satan Shoes,” a series of modified Nike Air Max 97s sneakers with drops of human blood mainlined into the soles. Priced at $1,018 per pair and produced in an edition of 666, the shoes sold out in less than a minute.

But not everyone was a fan—especially not Nike, which sued MSCHF for trademark infringement and was subsequently granted a temporary restraining order against the studio by a U.S. District Court judge. 

Now, as part of an out-of-court settlement with the clothing company, MSCHF will offer to purchase back the sneakers from each buyer at the original price, according to a statement Nike provided to Midnight Publishing Group News. The collective will also offer refunds to those who bought “Jesus Shoes,” a 2019 series of altered Nike Air Max sneakers with holy water from the River Jordan injected into the soles.

Whether or not customers will actually return the shoes is another question. The refund will likely provide little incentive, given the robust resale market. Numerous pairs of Satan Shoes are available on eBay now with price tags ranging from to $3,800 to $6,666.

Further details about the deal were not disclosed, but it effectively ends the lawsuit between the company and the art collective. 

“The parties are pleased to put this dispute behind them,” Nike said in a statement. MSCHF’s lawyer, David H. Bernstein, similarly said his clients were “pleased” with the agreement.

“With these Satan Shoes, MSCHF intended to comment on the absurdity of the collaboration culture practiced by some brands, and about the perniciousness of intolerance,” he said. “Having already achieved its artistic purpose, MSCHF recognized that settlement was the best way to allow it to put this lawsuit behind it so that it could dedicate its time to new artistic and expressive projects.”

Calling the shoes “works of art that [that] represent the ideals of equality and inclusion,” Bernstein added that the lawsuit “brought extraordinary publicity” to MSCHF and its artistic message.

Bernstein’s firm similarly declined to share any further details about the settlement.

MSCHF’s Satan Shoes were released on Friday, March 26—the eve of Holy Week—and coincided with the release of Nas X’s music video for his song Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” in which the rapper reimagines biblical scenes through a queer lens.

In one scene, he descends into hell on a stripper pole before giving the devil a lewd lap dance. The video has since been viewed over 100 million times on Youtube, while the song has posted similar numbers on Spotify. 

On MSCHF’s website, a link to the Satan Shoes project now leads to the collective’s statement on the dispute with Nike.

“Satan Shoes started a conversation, while also living natively in its space,” the statement says. “It is art created for people to observe, speculate on, purchase, and own. Heresy only exists in relation to doctrine: who is Nike to censor one but not the other?”

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From a Salvator Mundi NFT to Nike’s Lawsuit Over Satanic Sneakers: The Best and Worst of the Art World This Week

Venice Bans Big Ships – The floating city is finally working on a permanent solution to the cruise ships and large charters that clog its historic waterways.

Salvator Mundi Gets the NFT Treatment – Even Leonardo da Vinci can’t escape the frenzy, as an art historian just minted the famous image clutching a fistful of bills.

John Cleese Has a Bridge to Sell You – Midnight Publishing Group News spoke to the comedic legend about his latest crypto-art lark.

Play Ball! – A visionary designer has blended two perennial New York City classics for the hottest accessory of the season: a baseball hat with a mega-logo celebrating both the Mets baseball team and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Truth Is Funnier Than Fiction – Happy April Fools’! These art stories are so absurd, they sound like jokes—but they are actually real.

Cooper Union Makes Progress on Tuition-Free Education – The art school is back on track to make good on its promise to restore free tuition by 2029 after facing criticism for beginning to charge students back in 2012.

Hauser & Wirth Will Show Klan Paintings – The mega-gallery will display Philip Guston’s Klan works after a controversy surrounding the series resulted in four museums postponing the artist’s retrospective.

Murakami Makes NFTs, Too – After announcing his business was facing bankruptcy, Takashi Murakami is jumping on the NFT train in the hopes of making some quick cash.

An Art Gallery for Ants? – This summer, Pallant House Gallery is hosting a model art gallery filled with miniature works by more than 30 leading UK artists.

Nike Sues Art Collective Over Satanic Sneaks – The collective MSCHF teamed up with Lil Nas X to create Air Max shoes containing a drop of real blood—but the shoe company quickly filed a lawsuit to halt production.

A Fire Blazes in Brazil – A storage unit housing thousands of artworks caught fire in Brazil, damaging scores of pieces by top artists.

DIA Board Members Depart En Masse – Six members of the board at the Detroit Institute of Arts resigned in protest of director Salvador Salort-Pons.

Appeals Court Rules Against Andy Warhol – The judge ruled that the late pop artist violated a photographer’s copyright with his rendering of Prince.

Hong Kong’s M+ Museum Faces Hurdles – The museum’s director originally said that M+ would display divisive political works, including those by Ai Weiwei—but increasing political tensions could thwart that plan.

Billionaire Collector Dies in Crash – Petr Kellner died in a helicopter crash in Alaska, leaving behind a massive art collection.

Spanish Police Bust Old Master Forgery Ring – The authorities nabbed a trove of fake Goya, El Greco, and Modigliani works that a dealer was attempting to sell as authentic.

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