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The week in art news – White House sets terms for sales of Hunter Biden’s paintings

9 July 2021

The White House has agreed with the New York gallerist Georges Bergès, who represents President Biden’s son, Hunter, that he is to keep secret – from both Hunter Biden and from the administration – the identity of the buyers of Biden’s paintings and how much they have sold for. The New York Times reports that Bergès has also agreed to reject any offers that seem suspicious. Hunter Biden’s business dealings have been the subject of much scrutiny in recent years and the White House is keen to avoid ethical issues regarding the purchase of political influence. Hunter Biden’s paintings are being priced by Georges Bergès Gallery at $75,000–$500,000.

In South Korea, a new museum will be built to display the art collection of the late chairman of Samsung Group, Lee Kun-hee. In April, his heirs donated more than 23,000 works of art to public museums in the country to meet some of the $11 billion inheritance tax bill owed by the billionaire businessman’s estate. However, at a press conference called this week, the South Korean culture minister, Hwang Hee, announced a change of plan: ‘There is a need to build a new art hall to better manage the donated art collection and study [it].’ A database of the works is to be completed in 2023. In the meantime, two exhibitions of works from the collection are to open at the MMCA Seoul and the National Museum of Korea later this month and a travelling exhibition is also being planned.

James Lingwood and Michael Morris, co-directors of Artangel, have announced that they stepping down after 30 years in the role. Among more than 125 projects that the pair have commissioned and produced are a number of landmarks in contemporary British art, including Michael Landy’s Breakdown and Rachel Whiteread’s House, which won the Turner Prize in 1993.

And in New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has appointed Stephan Wolohojian to the prestigious post of John Pope-Hennessy Curator in Charge of the Department of European Paintings; Wolohojian has held a curatorial post in the department since 2015, before which he was head of European and American Art at Harvard Art Museums.

The director of Art Basel’s operations in the Americas, Noah Horowitz, is stepping down from his role at the end of August. During his six years in the role, Horowitz has overseen Art Basel’s fairs in Miami Beach, as well as the launch in 2017 of its annual Art Market report. The next edition of Art Basel Miami Beach is scheduled for December, ahead of which the fair is working to ‘ensure a smooth transition’.