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Christie’s Hackers Threaten to Auction Stolen Data—and More


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THE HEADLINES

MONET’S POPPIES VANDALIZED. Claude Monet’s famous 1873 bucolic Impressionist painting of a woman and child walking through a field of red poppies that all but engulfs them was vandalized Saturday at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris by a climate activist from the group Riposte Alimentaire [Food Response], reports Francesca Aton for ARTnews. A young woman from the group stuck a poster of a burnt-red landscape onto the center of the painting, and glued her hand to the wall beside it, before stating to the visitors in French: “This nightmarish painting in front of us is what awaits us if no alternative is put into place. At over 4 degrees (Celsius) hell is what awaits us.” The French government predicts a four-degree Celsius increase in global temperatures by 2100. However, contrary to a mistaken report by The Guardian, the Monet painting was protected by glass. As a result, it was unharmed, confirmed the museum to ARTnews. After careful inspection, the painting was placed back on view later the same day.

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Georgina Hilton selling Jean-Michel Basquiat’s El Gran Espectaculo (The Nile) for $67,110,000 at Christie’s New York, May 15, 2023

SHOCK CLOSURE. The University of the Arts in Philadelphia has suddenly announced it will close on June 7, and many, including its 1,149 students and about 700 faculty and staff, only learned of the news from a story in the Philadelphia Inquirer as late as Friday, or on social media, reports The New York Times. Reasons include “a fragile financial state,” as well as declining enrollment, revenue and rising expenses, stated the school on its website. A “space for questions and concerns,” is set to take place today at a town hall meeting and may address what exactly led to such an urgent financial crisis, a question which the Inquirer reported has not been sufficiently explained, though rising major infrastructure repair costs appear to have been the tipping point. The school’s Board of Trustees formally voted on June 1 to close the school after the Middle States Commission on Higher Education revoked the University’s accreditation. “We know that the news of UArts’ closure comes as a shock,” said the school in a Friday statement. “We could not overcome the ultimate challenge we faced: with a cash position that has steadily weakened, we could not cover significant, unanticipated expenses. The situation came to light very suddenly.”

THE DIGEST

RansomHub, the gang behind the Christie’s hack and ransom of client information, has claimed it is auctioning off the stolen data. Christie’s told clients their names and some personal identity information was compromised, but had no evidence financial or transactional records were taken. Apparently unable to extort a ransom, RansomHub posted: “Let us sell the data by auction. We abide by the rules of RansomHub and only sell once… Find something you like in the sample, then contact us.” [Artnet News]

Paris officials have linked three men suspected of planting five coffins at the foot of the Eiffel Tower on Saturday to a group with ties to Moscow, which is also suspected of being behind the vandalism of the Paris Holocaust Memorial museum’s Wall of the Righteous in May. Five coffins filled with plaster, draped with the French flag, and bearing the message, “French soldiers of Ukraine,” were discovered near the Eiffel Tower Saturday morning, and three people were arrested. [Le Monde]

The suicide of French curator Vincent Honoré was ruled a “work accident,” by France’s public health organization, Caisse primaire d’assurances maladie, following a three-month investigation, according to Le Quotidient de l’Art. Honoré served as head of exhibitions at the MO.CO Montpellier museum, which reportedly “vigorously contests this decision and has filed an appeal.” Meanwhile, Honoré’s family has the possibility to seek criminal charges against the museum. [ARTnews]

Pro-Palestinian protestors demonstrated at the Brooklyn Museum Friday, calling for the institution to condemn the deaths in Gaza as a genocide, and to disclose and divest its financial ties to Israel. Towards the end of the protest, a group scrawled the slogans across Deborah KassOY/YO installation: “Fuck Bullshit Museum,” and “NYPD KKK.” Arrests were eventually made. [ARTnews]

The Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (ICA LA) is planning an upgrade, by purchasing the building it occupies on East Seventh Street, incorporating residencies, and adding a café. [The New York Times]

Tate director Maria Balshaw discusses criticism ofenergy company BP’s new £50-million partnership with the British Museum in an interview with the Observer, saying “the issue the BM faces in taking BP’s money is that the public has moved to a position where they think it is inappropriate, and there’s a dissonance between wishing to be seen as extremely sensitive in the way we relate to other cultures and careful about the resources we consume, and then taking money from a company that has not yet demonstrated whether it’s really committed to changing.” [The Guardian/The Observer]

Arts workers in Edinburgh have warned in a petition of a pending cultural crisis ahead of the planned sale of a beloved arts venue called Summerhall. The 130,00-square-foot complex of galleries, theaters, and cinemas is one of the city’s most famous cultural hubs, but it has emerged that its owner, Oesselman Estates, has put it on the market. [The Guardian]

THE KICKER

SOUNDS OF JOSHUA TREES. Artist Scott Kildall talks about making music from Joshua trees and his recent sound installation “Infrared Reflections,” with NPR’s Christopher Intagliata. The piece “transforms near-infrared light bouncing off the iconic scraggly yuccas into a shimmering mosaic of otherworldly music – essentially turning the Joshua tree into an instrument,” writes Intagliata. Using a microcontroller with an infrared sensor about the size of a credit card, Kildall is able to capture light wavelengths invisible to the human eye, and then map that data into sounds that we can hear. “It’s kind of like magic,” says the artist. “And the magic is just revealing something that’s right beyond our levels of perception.”



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