Whoops! A Crypto Collective Paid $3 Million for a ‘Dune’ Book Because of a Basic Misunderstanding + Other Stories

Art Industry News is a daily summary of the most important developments in the art world and the art market. Here’s what you need to know on Tuesday, January 18.


The dispute rages over the villa with Caravaggio’s fresco – Villa Aurora, a Roman villa with a ceiling fresco by Caravaggio, goes under the hammer today in an inheritance battle between Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi and the sons of her late husband, Prince Nicolò Boncompagni Ludovisi. A judge ruled the villa should be auctioned off after they couldn’t reach an agreement over ownership. The princess hopes the Italian government will buy her, but with a starting bid of 471 million euros ($536 million), the state is unlikely to be able to raise the money. (Guardian)

Smithsonian museums suffer from staff shortages – As museums across the United States suffer from pandemic-related staffing shortages, the Smithsonian Institution has moved to a new schedule. Starting today, many of its most popular museums, including the National Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), will be open five days a week indefinitely. Some employees say even that is not enough to counter the risks, citing an intruder entering the NMAAHC when no guard was posted at the gate. (OMCP, Washington Post)

A DAO bought a Dunes Book at auction – but haven’t thought about it – A crypto group called Spice DAO has purchased a rare copy of a book detailing director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s efforts to produce an ambitious adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi novel Dunes in the 1970s. After spending $3 million at Christie’s Paris, the group planned to splice and sell the book as NFTs before burning the physical copy. (The high estimate for the book was just under $40,000.) There’s just one problem: They didn’t realize that buying the book didn’t grant them ownership of the copyright, which would actually allow them to produce the NFTs. (The arts journal)

Public Banksy mural sold to private buyer – A mural of a child with a bucket hat that Banksy painted as part of his summer ‘spray’ last year has sold privately after being withdrawn from public sale at Julien’s Auctions. The owners of the electrical shop it was painted on in Lowestoft removed the mural in November, disappointing locals who were taking advantage of the tourism boom. (TANNING)


Tate Liverpool plans renovation – The Tate Liverpool is looking for an architect to oversee an ambitious $34 million restoration project. He accepts proposals until February 4; the overhaul is expected to take three years. (art forum)

Desert X AlUla Names Participating Artists – The list of artists for the second edition of the sculpture exhibition in the Saudi desert city of AlUla has been revealed. Serge Attukwei Clottey, Claudia Comte, Dana Awartani, Alicja Kwade and others will present works inspired by the themes of oasis and mirage. (Press release)

Phillips launches fiduciary service – Phillips launched a new business arm, Phillips Fiduciary Services, to provide legal, financial and art market advice. The list of services includes structuring financial arrangements, resolving authenticity, restitution and copyright issues, and offering valuation advice. (Press release)

UAE announces artist from Venice – The UAE will present an installation by Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim in its national pavilion in Venice. Organized by Maya Allison, the project, called Between sunrise and sunset, features human-sized, abstract and organic sculptural forms referencing the artist’s mountain hometown, Khor Fakkan. (Press release)


See Xu Bing’s NFT project for trees – Chinese artist Xu Bing has combined 100 children’s drawings with his own calligraphy in a new work titled metaverse forest. The piece builds on his 2008 Forest project, in which he taught children around the world to draw trees in his Square World Calligraphy style. metaverse forest will be minted as a limited edition NFT on the eco-focused Polygon blockchain at a price of 0.15 ETH each for 150 unique editions. Profits are donated to NGOs that plant trees around the world. (Press release)

Metaverse Forest. Courtesy of Xu Bing.

Metaverse Project.  Courtesy of Xu Bing.

Metaverse Forest. Courtesy of Xu Bing.

Metaverse Project.  Courtesy of Xu Bing.

Metaverse Forest. Courtesy of Xu Bing.

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