Manhattan D.A. Seizes Allegedly Looted Schieles, Freddie Mercury Sales Total $50 M., and More: Morning Links for September 14, 2023

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The Headlines

WARRANTS EXECUTED. In the New York TimesTom Mashberg has the scoop that the Manhattan district attorney’s office seized Egon Schiele works that it has determined were stolen during the Holocaust from three art museums—the Art Institute of Chicago, the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, and the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College in Ohio. The pieces were once held by the Jewish art collector Fritz Grünbaum, who was forced into signing away his power of attorney while held at the Dachau concentration camp. Grünbaum’s heirs have been attempting to reclaim a number of works from his collection in civil proceedings in U.S. courts. The Allen did not comment, the Carnegie said it would “cooperate fully with inquiries from the relevant authorities,” and the Art Institute said, “We are confident in our legal acquisition and lawful possession of this work,” noting that it was “defending our legal ownership” in civil litigation.

THE GRAND TOTAL. Over the past week, across six auctions (live and online), Sotheby’s has sold north of 30,000 items that once belonged to Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, hauling in £39.9 million (about $49.8 million), Bloomberg reports. That is more than three times the high estimate—£11.3 million, or $14.1 million—that the auction house had placed on the material. Sotheby’s staffer David Macdonald, who helmed the affair, said that the house had estimated Mercury’s clothes, art, and other belongings at market value “because you can’t anticipate someone’s love for it—you can’t value love.” Truer words have never been spoken. The seller, a friend of Mercury, is giving a portion of the proceeds to the Mercury Phoenix Trust and the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

The Digest

The $100 million Destination Crenshaw public art project in South Los Angeles received city approval to rework and upgrade the storied Crenshaw Wall. That will see the RTN Crew—which created a faded spray-paint mural there in 2001—making a new work on it. [Los Angeles Times]

London dealer Stuart Shave will open a Paris branch for his gallery Modern Art next month. It will have 2,000 square feet on the Place de l’Alma and be open only by appointment. First up: a group show. [Financial Times]

On Tuesday, Venice’s city council approved a measure that will charge day trippers to the floating city €5 (about $5.40) on the (as-yet-unannounced) 30 days next year that are expected to draw the largest crowds. Online payment will generate a QR code; enforcement will be by random inspection. (It sounds complicated.) [The New York Times]

David Duggleby auctioneers in Scarborough, England, will offer an 1803 John Constable sketch once found in a suitcase during a house clearance with a low estimate of £2,000 (about $2,500). The work went for that sum (before fees) at the same auction house two years ago. [The Art Newspaper]

The latest edition of the “Time 100,” which lists the year’s most influential people, includes artists WangShui and Lauren Halsey, architect Vinu Daniel, fashion designer Grace Wales Bonner, producer Metro Boomin, and many more. [Time]

On Saturday, the V&A Museum in London will open a show devoted to designer Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, with almost 200 outfits, including one of her earliest surviving pieces, a 1916 silk-jersey blouse. [The Associated Press]

The Kicker

ARTISTIC SECRETS. Chicago legend Jim Nutt currently has a show of drawings up at the David Nolan Gallery in Manhattan, and granted a rare interview to the New York Times at his studio in Wilmette, Illinois. Just how private is Nutt about his art? His wife of more than 60 years, artists Gladys Nilsson, does not always know what he is up to. “I had no idea he was working on a whole suite of drawings,” she told journalist Max Lakin. “I would ask him, ‘What are you doing?’ And he would mumble, ‘Nothing.’ So it was a shock to me. The little snot was sitting over there drawing all this time.” [NYT]