April 2023: News roundup

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New York’s Iconic Flatiron Building Sold for $190 Million in a Bitter Auction on the Steps of a Manhattan Courthouse

On March 22, Manhattan’s legendary Flatiron building sold at auction for a whopping $190 million. The sale was the culmination of protracted disagreements between the property’s five co-owners, which caused disruptions in operations and left the building completely unutilized since 2019. Four owners hoped to boot out majority interest holder Nathan Silverstein, who was reportedly opposing renovations, leading to significant profit losses. After a tooth-and-nail battle that lasted 40 minutes, the property was adjudicated to third-party bidder Jacob Garlick of the investment firm Abraham Trust.

Flatiron building
A view of the Flatiron Building and the Flatiron Plaza in July 2017. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)
Jackson Pollock
Jackson Pollock painting in 1950

Mysterious Jackson Pollock painting—with a hidden message to Lauren Bacall—found in Bulgaria

A previously unknown painting by abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock was discovered in Bulgaria during a smuggling raid. The painting is said to contain a dedication to American actress Lauren Bacall personally handwritten by the artist, dated September 16, 1949. Based on estimates, the work could be worth up to €50, as announced by the Bulgarian National Radio. The painting was entrusted to specialists in the National Art Gallery in Sofia and no description or photographs have been released to the public. 

Johannes Vermeer
Johannes Vermeer, Girl with a Red Hat (c. 1666-67) from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C

Did Vermeer Have a Daughter Who Painted Some of His Most Famous Portraits? This Art Historian Thinks So

American art historian Benjamin Binstock developed a new theory that completely revisited the study of Dutch Golden Age master Johannes Vermeer. According to the expert, some of the artist’s most famous works could be attributed to his daughter Maria, whom he identified as the likely model of Girl With a Pearl Earring. Binstock believes her to be the author of Girl With a Red Hat as well as works held in New York at the Frick’s Collection, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Leiden Collection. Although Binstock’s arguments were initially given the cold shoulder by the art establishment, recent discoveries may lead scholars to reconsider the facts.

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Ai Weiwei Uses 650,000 Lego Bricks for Recreation of Monet’s Monumental ‘Water Lilies’

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei built a colossal reproduction of Monet’s Water Lilies using 650,000 Lego pieces. The unusual choice of material suggests “contemporary digital technologies which are central to modern life, and in reference to how art is often disseminated in the contemporary world.” Amid the idyllic depiction of Monet’s garden, Weiwei included a dark area symbolizing the labor camp where he and his father lived in the Xinjiang province for part of his childhood. The work will be on view for the first time at the Design Museum’s exhibition Ai Weiwei: Making Sense, which will open on April 7 in London. 

Ai Weiwei
Ai Weiwei’s Water Lilies #1 made out of 650,000 Lego bricks. PHOTO © ELA BIALKOWSKA/OKNO STUDIO
17th-Century Frescoes Paint
Photo courtesy of Luke Budworth.

A Young Couple in York Renovated Their Kitchen Cabinets and Found 17th-Century Frescoes Painted Underneath

While installing new kitchen cabinets in their apartment, a young couple in York, UK, stumbled upon a 300-year-old painting. During the renovations, the contractors discovered the mural and notified the owner, Luke Budworth, a 29-year-old medical student. Upon uncovering another fresco behind the living room paneling, Budowrth contacted Historic England, which quickly declared the work to be of “national significance.” The paintings contain scenes from poet Francis Quarles’s 1635 book Emblems, and are believed to date between the year of its publication and around 1700 when the style of artwork would have fallen out of fashion.


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