Supreme Court Blocks $6 Billion Sackler Settlement—and More Art News –

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The Headlines

HITTING PAUSE. The $6 billion settlement that would shield the arts-supporting, opioid-selling Sackler family from future legal action is not yet a done deal. The Supreme Court said Thursday that it will pause the agreement, which the Biden admin has criticized as “exceptional and unprecedented,” and hear arguments in the case, CNN reports. The arrangement, approved by an appeals court earlier this year, would see Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, proceed with its bankruptcy; its owners, the Sacklers, would contribute up to $6 billion to compensate those affected by the opioid crisis. The Sacklers, who have been accused of helping to fuel that crisis (which they have denied), would be released from future civil claims. In a statement quoted by the New York Times, a Purdue flack said that the firm is “confident in the legality” of the plan. If the bankruptcy goes through, Purdue’s creditors become its owners.

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A wooden gavel rests on a circular wooden block. A gold-colored balance  scale is in the background.

CURATORIAL INTRIGUE. Last week, the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and the Arts (IKSV), which runs the Istanbul Biennial, named former Whitechapel Gallery director Iwona Blazwick to organize the show’s 2024 edition. However, the Art Newspaper reports, the panel advising on the process had first unanimously selected someone else: the Turkish-born, Berlin-based curator Defne Ayas, who co-curated the 2021 Gwangju Biennial in South Korea and curated the 2015 Moscow Biennale. The IKSV has not said why it made the switch, but reporter Cristina Ruiz writes, “Critics believe that Ayas was judged too risky by the foundation,” citing an exhibition she organized that included a catalog mentioning the Armenian genocide, which the Turkish government maintains did not occur. Blazwick, who was on the panel, did not comment to TAN.

The Digest

The National Museums Liverpool in England is no longer working with David Adjaye’s firm to redevelop its International Slavery Museum; the architect was recently accused of sexual assault and harassment, claims he denies. It will tap other architects to oversee his design for the £57 million ($72.5 million) effort. [Financial Times]

Following an F.B.I. investigation, the Chrysler Museum in Virginia agreed to return Peter Stephenson’s 1850 sculpture The Wounded Indian to a Boston charity, which had held it until 1958, when it says it was told it was destroyed in a move. The Chrysler said it bought the work from a New York dealer in 1986. [The New York Times]

A former curator at the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts, Rachel Parikh, alleges in a lawsuit that she was “mocked and ridiculed because she is a brown-skinned South Asian,” Cristela Guerra reports. A museum spox said that WAM followed protocols when Parikh, who resigned last year, reported mistreatment, saying, “We look forward to addressing these claims through the legal process.” [WBUR]

The New Yorker named Jackson Arn, who has written for places like Art in America and the Nation, to be its art critic, a position left vacant when Peter Schjeldahl died last October at the age of 80. [MediaPost]

The Grammy Museum in Los Angeles is currently hosting a show of 11 costumes (and two instruments) from Taylor Swift’s Speak Now era. It runs through September 18. [Los Angeles Times]

The Kicker

A BEAUTIFUL TRADITION CONTINUES. At the Illinois State Fair every year, officials put on display a glorious butter cow—which, for the uninitiated, is a large sculpture of a cow made with (hundreds of pounds of) butter. The Associated Press reports that this one includes a depiction of dairy farmer Lorilee Schultz preparing to milk the cow. Schultz said that the “sculpture celebrates the Illinois dairy families like mine who ‘Harvest the Fun’ of dairy every day on our farms.” (The scare quotes refer to the theme of this year’s fair.) The farmer continued, “What is more fun than ice-cold milk, creamy ice cream and gooey cheese made with milk produced on the over 400 dairy farms across the great state of Illinois?” Hard to argue with that. For more on the butter-sculpture phenomenon, ARTnews has a 2019 story about its history at the Iowa State Fair[AP]

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