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Art Basel cancels Hong Kong fair due to coronavirus outbreak

Plus: Uffizi wins court battle against unofficial ticketing websites | New York dealer sues artist Derek Fordjour for $1.45m | and recommended reading

8 February 2020

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Art Basel cancels Hong Kong fair due to coronavirus outbreak | Art Basel has cancelled the upcoming edition of its 2020 Hong Kong fair, which was due to run from 19 to 21 March, with organisers citing the health risks posed by the spread of coronavirus among ‘numerous factors’ influencing the decision. MCH Group, which owns the fair, also acknowledged ‘escalating difficulties complicating international travel’ and ‘severe logistical challenges’ arising as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. The news arrives one week after Art Basel issued a letter of reassurance that was sent to exhibitors anxious to show their work in Hong Kong amidst wide-scale protests and public health risks. More than 600 people have died in China since the start of the coronavirus outbreak at the end of December, with over 31,000 recorded infections. Next year’s edition of Art Basel in Hong Kong has been confirmed, and is due to take place between 25 and 27 March 2021.

Uffizi wins court battle against unofficial ticketing websites | The Gallerie degli Uffizi in Florence has won a US court battle against BoxNic Anstalt, a web agency which registered domain names for websites that sold tickets and queue-jumps to the museum at inflated prices. Third-party outlets Uffizi.com and Uffizi.net ‘exploited… the sale of tickets to the museum at grossly inflated prices through improper use of the name Uffizi in a deliberate attempt to trick visitors’, the museum said in a statement. A federal court in Arizona has found BoxNic Anstalt guilty of cybersquatting, trademark infringement and dilution, and unfair competition, and has banned the company from using the museum’s name or logo, in addition to forcing it to transfer all misappropriated domains to the Uffizi within 15 days.

New York dealer sues artist Derek Fordjour for $1.45m | Robert Blumenthal, a real estate investor, art dealer, and owner of an eponymous gallery on New York’s Lower East Side, is suing interdisciplinary artist Derek Fordjour for $1.45 million. Blumenthal claims that he paid Fordjour $20,000 for a collection of 20 works in 2014 while the artist was studying at Hunter College in New York, but has only received 13 of the works. According to court papers filed by the Robert Blumenthal Gallery on 4 February, Fordjour ‘has failed and refused to deliver the balance of the artwork despite repeated requests that he do’. Blumenthal is suing Fordjour for $1.45 million on grounds of unjust enrichment, in addition to bringing to court actions of injunctive relief and breach of contract.

Recommended reading | Venice has endured its worst floods since 1966; The Art Newspaper reviews the significant financial impact of the disaster on the city’s cultural heritage sites. Antony Gormley speaks to The Guardian about the appeal of teaming up with K-pop sensations BTS to realise his ambitious new sculpture in New York. The New York Times questions whether British street-artist Banksy can control his legacy.

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