Green Vault Burglars Sentenced, Stolen Painting Returned to Polish Museum, and More: Morning Links for May 16, 2023

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The Headlines

AUCTION ACTION. On Monday night at its Rockefeller Center headquarters in New York, Christie’s hauled in $98.9 million at a sale of 21st-century art, Angelica Villa reports in ARTnews. It was a fairly low-key affair that “finished without the room buzzing,” Villa writes, but there was one huge result: A 1983 Jean-Michel Basquiat painting, El Gran Espectaculo (The Nile), sold for a cool $67 million, making up about two-thirds of the night’s total. It had carried an on-request estimate of around $45 million. A number of women artists had strong performances: A Robin F. Williams painting went for $428,400, a Simone Leigh sculpture for $2.7 million, an Etel Adnan abstraction for $352,800 (more than five times its high estimate!), and a Danielle Mckinney (making her auction debut) for $201,600, ten times its top estimate. For the full report, head to ARTnews.

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A dramatic palace is seen from afar. A gray construction wall covers part of it.

LEGAL AFFAIRS. Five men involved in the jaw-dropping €113 million ($123.1 millioin) heist of jewels from the Green Vault in Dresden, Germany, in 2019, were sentenced to between about four and six years in prison, DW reports. All five, who have been linked to the Remmo crime family, had confessed to playing a role in the daring burglary as part of a plea deal. Officials have said that they recovered a portion of the material following negotiations with the suspects, but some of it was damaged. The AFP reports that law-enforcement authorities believe that around 40 more people who took part in operation remain at large. A sixth defendant in the case was acquitted after being able to prove that he was getting emergency surgery in Berlin at the time of the heist.

The Digest

An inquiry has been launched by Australian officials into claims that white employees at the APY Art Centre Collective altered the work of Indigenous artists. Last month, the National Gallery of Australia said that it is examining such claims about paintings slated for an upcoming show. [The Sydney Morning Herald]

The Russian fashion designer Slava Zaitsev, whose exuberant clothes drew on his nation’s traditional garb, died on April 30 at 85. In the Soviet era, he was the first designer permitted to operate a label under his own name, Penelope Green reports. [The New York Times]

A 1958 Rolex Milgauss—a model designed for scientists!—sold for $2.5 million at Phillips in Geneva on Saturday. That set a new record for the design, and more than doubled its high estimate. The deep-pocketed winner? It was reportedly someone buying on behalf of Rolex itself. [Bloomberg]

An 1863 Wilhelm Volkhart portrait that was stolen in 1994 from the National Museum in Wrocław, Poland, is now back at the institution. Authorities spotted it on offer at a German auction house, which pulled the lot. [The First News]

Hole singer Courtney Love‘s home features work by Jon Savage and Sam Taylor-Johnson, as well as a 17th-century Flemish verdure tapestry. [Financial Times]

IN THE STUDIO. The sharp-witted, tech-engaged artist Sarah Meyohas opens a show at Marianne Boesky in New York today, and chatted with W magazine. The inventive sculptor Liao Wen has elegant wooden sculptures at Capsule Shanghai’s Frieze New York booth this week, and spoke with the New York Times.

The Kicker

THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF. The indefatigable Kehinde Wiley just unveiled a new exhibition at the Sean Kelly gallery in New York, and gave an interview to the Associated Press about some of his many projects, past and present, including his famed 2018 portrait of President Barack Obama. As he was taking preparatory photos of the former president, Obama apparently took over. “I’m trying to box him into this set of formulaic poses,” Wiley told the AP, “and he’s like, ‘You know what? Stop. Let me take care of this.’ And the pose that you see him in, is when he starts to take over.” [AP]

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