Ex-Husband of Murdered Dealer Arrested—And More

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UNDER CONSIDERATION. Citing a reported spike in antisemitism, legislators introduced a bill in Congress on March 20 aimed at establishing a Smithsonian Museum of American Jewish history. The legislation would set up a commission to examine whether the existing Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, which faced bankruptcy four years ago, could become part of the Smithsonian Institution, providing it with greater financial security. If the Weitzman Museum becomes a full part of the government trust, it would be given a “figurative place” on the museum-lined National Mall in Washington, D.C., reports the JTA. Yet the proposal has already drawn scrutiny, and Hyperallergic notes the bill is sponsored by “vocally pro-Israel Democratic legislators.”

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View of an interior space of three paned windows looking out to a dreary sky at night.

ARREST IN SIKKEMA MURDER. The ex-husband of Brent Sikkema, an esteemed art dealer who was murdered in Brazil in January, was arrested in New York on Wednesday, reports ARTnews’ Senior Editor Alex Greenberger. Daniel Sikkema has been the subject of much speculation in Brazil, where authorities have claimed that he may be connected to his former spouse’s killing, and investigators have been vocal about wanting to arrest him. Alejandro Triana Prevez, a 30-year-old Cuban man, confessed to Sikkema’s murder, but his lawyer said he was groomed and eventually manipulated to do so by Daniel Sikkema.


Another Damien Hirst formaldehyde sculpture of a preserved shark, dated to the 1990’s and sold for $8 million, was in fact made in 2017. That makes a total of four known backdated sculptures by Hirst’s workshop, according to The Guardian. The piece titled “The Unknown (Explored, Explained, Exploded),” dated to 1999, features a 13-foot-long tiger shark dissected into three parts, and is the centerpiece of a luxury bar in a Las Vegas resort. [The Guardian]

Hauser & Wirth will inaugurate their 18th exhibition space in Basel on June 1, with a first show featuring 18 paintings by Danish artist Vilhelm Hammershøi, made between 1883 and 1914. Titled “Silence” and curated by Felix Krämer, the Vermeer-influenced artist is known for his interiors that capture a poetic stillness. [ARTnews]

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego is selling its downtown exhibition space two years after opening a $110-million expansion project. The closure of the space raises questions about several artworks commissioned for the site, as well as its binational mandate aimed at audiences in the San Diego-Tijuana border area. [The Los Angeles Times]

A London judge has ruled that a disputed painting by Anthony Van Dyck, belongs to the bankrupt British socialite, James Stunt. Stunt had tried to claim ownership belonged to his father, Geoffrey Stunt, which would have prevented the piece from being included in the son’s bankruptcy estate. [The Guardian]

French culture minister Rachida Dati wants to reform France’s recently initiated “Culture Pass” program, an app that gives youth credits to spend on cultural activities. Dati argues the pass fails at its intented mission of diversifying audiences and attracting socio-economic groups to certain performances and exhibitions considered high-art. [Le Monde]

The École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris is under fire after reports that it pulped early editions of a book about women artists at the school, because of a controversial chapter addressing the #MeToo movement, and the school’s handling of past sexual harassment claims. [ARTnews]

Large outdoor artworks are going on view around Hong Kong in time for the Art Basel fair this month. They include giant neon ovoids scattered into the sea, by teamLAB, at Victoria Harbor. [The New York Times]


STING OF SATIRE. Europe’s outdoor festivals with their parades of giant, moving sculptures offer a fascinating look at how small communities have historically used art and satire to speak up against powerful authorities. Euronews writer Roberto Ferrer takes readers on a tour of such festivals, categorized as UNESCO Intangible Heritage of Humanity, beginning with this week’s Fallas festival, and the Nit de la Cremà celebration in the València region of Spain. There is also the medieval Battle of the Oranges in Ivrea, Italy, which is part of the town’s carnival, in which participants do what one might expect: throw oranges at each other. The story behind it is about a local revolt against an unjust ruler, sparked by a heroine named Violetta, who refused to sleep with him. The list, and the stories, goes on…

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