robert rauschenberg

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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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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What Does Libra Season Have in Store? We Got an Astrologist to Give Uncannily Specific Advice for Artists Born Under the Seventh Sign

Libra season is upon us! The seventh house in the zodiac, Libra (September 23–October 23) is an air sign represented by a celestial set of scales. Libras are the zodiac’s great deliberators, seeking harmony and balance among their friends and in their lives. Intensely self-aware and often self-critical, Libras seek perfection in all they do. Intelligent and charming, Libras are great at bringing people together and thrive on partnership and collaboration. 

But what does being a Libra means when it comes to the art world? Do Libras make better performance artists or curators? With all these burning astrological questions in mind, we reached out to astrologer Alice Sparkly Kat, author of Postcolonial Astrology, whose insights into art have been presented at the Brooklyn Museum, MoMA, Philadelphia Museum of Art. Alice Sparkly Kat looked to the heavens to divine everything from the perfect art-world job for Libras to the person they should never ever date.


Astrologist Alice Sparkly Kat has presented their celestial insights at the Brooklyn Museum, MoMA, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Astrologist Alice Sparkly Kat has presented their insights at the Brooklyn Museum, MoMA, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

What would you say are Libras’ strongest qualities as an artist?
Libra is ruled by Venus. The planet that exalts in Venus is Saturn. The planet that finds its detriment in Venus is Mars.  The sun, meanwhile, falls in Venus. Artists who have their sun in Libra are looking at themselves in relation to other people. They’re not going to be like that self-centered, one-genius-per-room type of person. They kind of work collaboratively.

Who do you think of as the quintessential Libra artists?

Meret Oppenheim, maybe. So much of her work is expressed in relationships. She’s making art about people she knows and she’s very much part of the Surrealist scene—she kind of works from that context. 

Robert Rauschenberg, too. Libras work in the context of others, right? Think about Rauschenberg’s Erased DeKooning; that’s him saying my art is the context by which I relate to another artist. That’s so sun in fall

For a contemporary artist, I think of someone like the Brooklyn-based artist Angelina Dreem, who founded a small space called Powrplnt that provides free computer access and technology to people in the community as a right, as well as teaches people hard and soft skills, even things like legal basics for artists.  She’s created a social space as a project that bridges across identity and class lines. 

What are Libras’ pitfalls as artists?
Libras are really good at satire, but they are not so good at authenticity, and the reason is that they question everything. They’re really good at referencing what already exists in the world, and those are the scenes that they’re creating from. But they can do a little bit of work to assert themselves. 

Do you think that there is a role in the art world best suited to a Libra? Curator, artist, gallerist, etc…
A curator, I think, because they tend to know a lot of people and see things in relation to one another. 

There is a misconception that Libras aren’t that artsy. Do you have any thoughts on that?
I haven’t found that to be the case. Libras are ruled by Venus, so they love beauty and love to create beautiful environments. They’re interested in aesthetics. Venus is about social expectations and social codes. 

What is the best way for a Libra artist to get out of a rut?
Pretending to do it or just faking it is a good way for a Libra to get started again. The sun falls in Libra, remember, so Libra sun is not like a Leo sun, who are very ‘I believe in myself. I’m going to do this.’ Libra is engaging with the self as an act of performance. If a Libra is feeling like hey, I don’t know if I’m an artist—well, just fake it, cosplay as an artist, pretend to be one.

If a Libra’s art career isn’t taking off right now, what kind of day job should they get?
Well, it’s hard to say, because I don’t think Libras really like to work.

Retirement? A life of leisure? If Libras don’t like to work, what do they like to do?
Libras experience a lot of ennui. They’re a little bit moody, and romanticize it a little. They don’t want to work, but they do want to lay around and look beautiful. 

Now the fun stuff, romantic advice: If a Libra were going to date someone in the art world, what type of person would they be compatible with? And who should they never date?

Libras will want to date artists because they enjoy a creative exchange. I don’t think a Libra should date a critic. Libras are hard on themselves already. Instead, they should date a really shameless type of artist, someone who is just doing, without putting a ton of thought into it. The Libra will kind of temper them a little bit.

What art-related gift should we give the Libras in our lives?
I’d say the book Glitch Feminism, by Legacy Russell. The reason I say this is because that book is very curatorial in some ways; it brings in a lot of work by other people, a lot of quotations. 

What should Libras expect for this coming Libra season?
Well, their birthdays—happy birthday, Libras! Aside from that, the chart for the new moon is really interesting this month, because Venus and Mercury are both hidden under the sun. If you have a birthday during this season, the planets that are transiting now show up in your solar return and affect you for the entire year. So it might be a quieter year for Libras, at least until Jupiter in Pisces, which happens December 28.


Wondering which artists are Libras? Here are 10 of art history’s best. 


Mark Rothko: September 25, 1903

Mark Rothko, 1961. Courtesy of Kate Rothko/Apic/Getty Images.

Mark Rothko, 1961. Courtesy of Kate Rothko/Apic/Getty Images.

Théodore Géricault:  September 26, 1791

Horace Vernet, Portrait of Théodore Géricault (circa 1822–1823).

Horace Vernet, Portrait of Théodore Géricault (circa 1822–23).

Caravaggio: September 29, 1571

Caravaggio’s Young Sick Bacchus (1593), which is believed to be a self-portrait.

Caravaggio’s Young Sick Bacchus (1593), which is believed to be a self-portrait.


François Boucher:  September 29, 1703

Gustaf Lundberg, Portrait of François Boucher (1741).

Gustaf Lundberg, Portrait of François Boucher (1741).

Johannes Vermeer: October 1632

Detail of the painting The Procuress (circa 1656), believed to be a self portrait by Vermeer.

Detail of the painting The Procuress (circa 1656), believed to be a self-portrait by Vermeer.

Meret Oppenheim: October 6, 1913

Meret Oppenheim, 1982. Photo by Harry Croner. Courtesy of Getty Images)

Meret Oppenheim, 1982. Photo: Harry Croner. Courtesy of Getty Images.

Maya Lin: October 5, 1959

Maya Lin at the Vietnam Memorial Dedication dedication on November 13, 1982, in Washington D.C. Photography by Harry Naltchayan/The Washington Post via Getty Images.

Maya Lin at the Vietnam Memorial dedication in Washington, D.C., on November 13, 1982. Photo: Harry Naltchayan/The Washington Post via Getty Images.

Alberto Giacometti: October 10, 1901

Alberto Giacometti presents three of his bust sculptures at the 31st Art Biennale Exposition in Venice, 1962. Photograph by Archivio Cameraphoto Epoche/Getty Images.

Alberto Giacometti presents three of his bust sculptures at the 31st Art Biennale Exposition in Venice, 1962. Photo: Archivio Cameraphoto Epoche/Getty Images.

Chris Ofili: October 10, 1968

Chris Ofili at "TIME 100 Gala, TIME's 100 Most Influential People In The World" at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. Photograph by Lars Niki. Courtesy of Getty Images.

Chris Ofili at the TIME 100 Gala at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. Photo: Lars Niki. Courtesy of Getty Images.

Robert Rauschenberg: October 22, 1925

Robert Rauschenberg photographed in August 1966. Photo: Jack Mitchell/Getty Images.


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