Art Industry News: In a decision that will come as no surprise, “NFT” was named Word of the Year + Other Stories

Art Industry News is a daily digest of the most important developments in the art world and the art market. Here is what you need to know on Thursday, November 25.


Looted Palmyra sculptures return to Syria – The Geneva Museum of Art and History is restoring three archaeological objects allegedly looted in Syria. The objects, which come from the ancient city of Palmyra, had entered Switzerland illegally between 2009 and 2010. They were confiscated in 2016 with six other objects which were stored at the Free Ports of Geneva by individuals. They were exhibited at the museum in 2017 to raise awareness of the illicit trade in art and antiques, and were also stored there for safekeeping during an investigation into their provenance. (Press release)

Chinese museums move into commercial galleries – MThe conservation goals of museums and the commercial interests of the art market overlap a lot in China, where museums have mushroomed across the country. While these new projects are often extremely expensive and feature great architecture, they can lack vision or conservation staff. The trend is linked to the recent arrival of many international galleries in China, which is correlated with the sudden rise in exhibitions by Western artists. “They all have their own sales managers in mainland China, who are responsible for talking to private museums to organize shows,” a curator said. (BRONZER)

NFT is Collins’ Word of the Year – In case you’ve been living under a rock, non-fungible tokens, more commonly known as NFT in crypto parlance, are the buzz in the art industry and pretty much everywhere else. Use of the word NFT increased by 11,000% in 2021 alone (and Artnet News was responsible for only half of that). The Collins Dictionary crowned it the word of the year. The other newcomers on the list are “crypto” and “metaverse”. (BBC)

LA Law Firm Offers Artist Residency – Law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has handed over its LA offices to artists as part of a new artist residency program. The project was boosted by the pandemic, when most of its staff switched to remote work. The residency lasts four months and the firm has given its two current artists, Molly Segal and Edgar Ramirez, $ 1,500 for artist materials as well as a monthly stipend of $ 5,000. The firm plans to continue the residency and will announce the next artist couple in January 2022. (New York Times)


Einstein’s manuscript raises $ 13.2 million in Paris – A 54-page manuscript co-authored by Albert Einstein was auctioned at Christie’s Tuesday in Paris for 11.7 million euros ($ 13.2 million). The documents include a rare view of how the physicist reflected on complex questions from the perspective of his general theory of relativity. (Reuters)

Warhol Play Heads to the Young Vic – The story of a famous flop exhibition in 1985 by Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat is now the subject of a play at the Young Vic Theater in London. Called The collaboration, the play, written by Anthony McCarten and directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah, delves into their fame and friendship in and around this story-rich but critically hated spectacle. (Guardian)

Lihua Tung joins David Zwirner Hong Kong – Global auction veteran Lihua Tung has been chosen as the new manager of Zwirner’s Hong Kong outpost. She was previously a Senior Manager at Phillips in Hong Kong, where she focused on 20th century and contemporary art. She will work closely with Leo Xu, who runs the Hong Kong gallery as senior director. (Press release)

Megan Leckie leaves Art Basel Hong Kong – The regional manager of Art Basel’s VIP team in Asia, Megan Leckie, has announced her return to the UK. Art Basel thanked Leckie for his contribution to the team over the past six years. (Press release)


Maya Lin’s New York Forest will become boats – The 49 trees of the artist’s work Ghost forest will be carved into boats that a group of teenage students plan to sail in 2022. The installation, which moved dead white cedars from a dying grove to Madison Square Park in New York City, was a powerful commentary on the environmental apocalypse. The wood will now be used by the nonprofit Rocking the Boat, which seeks to connect the local Bronx community to water. (New York Times)

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