US authorities in New York have issued subpoenas to the three leading auction houses, Christie’s, Sotheby’s and the Russian-owned Phillips Auctioneers. They hope to gain possession of records linked to sanctioned Russian Oligarchs. In addition, the Auction houses will now need to turn over internal documents shedding light on art-related transactions and suspicious movements of cash offshore.
Sanctioned individuals are of particular interest to the US Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York, with the federal KleptoCapture task force leading the investigation. In a statement regarding news of the recent subpoenas, a Sotheby’s spokesperson stated, “We are constantly tailoring and updating our policies to take account of the significant responsibility to conduct business worldwide in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations and responsibly and ethically.”
Phillips added “we work closely with those involved in sanctions enforcement” and have “measures” in place to keep sanctioned individuals and anyone related to them from doing business. A representative for Christie’s has yet to comment. Bloomberg has reported, ” Art collectors Andrey Melnichenko, Viktor Vekselberg, and Roman Abramovich were among the high-profile Russian moguls named in the investigation.
In December, the UK’s leading National Crime Agency said they had been “successful” in combating attempts by oligarchs to purchase “high-value asset sales” with auction houses.
Damien Hirst Quietly Donates £8m To The NHS
The Turner Prize winning artist, Damien Hirst has sold artworks valued at more than £8m to benefit the NHS. At the height of the pandemic in 2020/2021 records show he upped his charitable giving.
Statements at Companies House show Hirst’s company, Science (UK), turned over £10m in 2021—£8.2m less than the £18.2m declared in 2020. According to the new report, “turnover was significantly higher” in 2020 because the company “produced and sold specially designed art work in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the proceeds from this were donated to the NHS”.
Anish Kapoor Unveils New York ‘Bean Style’ Public Monument
The highly anticipated new public sculpture by the Turner Prize-winning artist Anish Kapoor has been unveiled at 56 Leonard Street in the Tribecca area of Manhatten. Unfortunately, the project was delayed several times due to the financial crash in 2008, followed by fabrication delays, logistical problems, and COVID-19.
The plywood walls covering the sculpture were taken down yesterday, and technicians were busy polishing the stainless steel artwork.
The monumental sculpture is 48 feet long, 19 feet tall and weighs 40 tons. It has been under construction at the Jenga, a complex of luxury apartments in a building reminiscent of the children’s game. Kapoor’s team installed the first of 45 sections of the sculpture in November 2019. other sections were stored locally and installed piece by piece. It remained half-finished until September 2021, when the team was able to travel from the UK. It took four years and between $8 million and $10 million to complete.