Weekly Roundup: Global Art Sales Hit Record $54 Billion, Met Names New President and More

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In case you missed it, here’s what made headlines in the art world this week:

Global art sales hit record $54 billion
Global art sales hit a record in 2014 as collectors drove up prices for trophy works by modern, postwar, and contemporary artists. Sales of art and antiques totatled 51.2 billion euros ($54.1 billion), up 7 percent from 47.4 billion euros in 2014, according to an annual report published Wednesday by the European Fine Art Foundation. The U.S. kept its leading position as an international art center, representing 38.8 percent of the market by value, according to the report. Online art sales increased by 32 percent to 3.3 billion euros in 2014 from 2.5 billion euros in the prior year. The middle market was the focus, with the majority of sales in the $1,000 to $50,000 range. [Bloomberg News]

Vincent Van Gogh may have hidden ‘The Last Supper’ within one of his most famous paintings
The latest conspiracy theory to hit the art world suggests that Vincent Van Gogh might have hidden a homage to Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper (1495-98) within his masterpiece Café Terrace at Night (1888). Independent researcher Jared Baxter, who recently gave a lecture on the topic at the Dutch Association of Aesthetics, believes that the composition echoes the portraits of Jesus, the Apostles, and Judas in a number of historical depictions of The Last Supper, particularly in Da Vinci’s version. Furthermore, Baxter–whose theory is backed by a number of experts including the art historian Bill Kloss–adds that a number of crosses are featured inthe painting, most crucially one formed by the muntin of a window above the central, longhaired figure, who is wearing what appears to be a white tunic. [artnet news]

New president appointed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has appointed Daniel H. Weiss, the president of Haverford College in Pennsylvania, to succeed its outgoing president, Emily Rafferty, who is stepping down later this month after a decade in the post and nearly 40 years at the museum. The Met’s board approved the selection on Tuesday afternoon. Mr. Weiss is expected to assume the role of president this summer. An art historian who has spent the past few decades in academia, Weiss served as president and professor of art history at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, from 2005 to 2013, when he became president of Haverford. He earned a master’s degree and Ph.D in art history at Johns Hopkins University and an M.B.A. at the Yale School of Management. This will be his first job in museum leadership. [Wall Street Journal]

Manhattan court throws out Haring authentication suit
Manhattan’s federal court has dismissed a lawsuit brought by 20 private collectors against the Keith Haring Foundation over its refusal to authenticate 111 works. A group of private collectors claimed that the foundation improperly ruled that their works were fakes in 2007 without reviewing provenance information, destroying their $40-million collective evaluation. In their complaint, the collectors alleged that the foundation’s actions violated antitrust laws. The foundation, they said, conspired with mostly unnamed “allies” to monopolize the Haring market and increase the value of the foundation’s own holdings of Haring’s work, which it sells to earn income. The court did not accept the argument and dismissed the lawsuit. [The Art Newspaper]

The UK accepts Winston Churchill paintings in lieu of inheritance tax
The family of Winston Churchill has received permission to donate 37 of his paintings to the UK instead of paying their inheritance taxes. The former prime minister’s youngest daughter and last surviving child, Mary Soames. In October, Soames’ heirs offered to donate the paintings in lieu of the tax, in fulfillment of Soames’ wish that her father’s paintings remain on display at Churchill’s Chartwell family home, in Kent, England. The UK’s Acceptance in Lieu panel approved the arrangement on Tuesday. The National Trust property Chartwell will keep 35 canvases, with the other two remaining on view at the Houses of Parliament and the Churchill War Rooms. [artnet news]

Sotheby’s to auction the old Yankees Stadium sign
Sotheby’s New York Sale on April 1st will offer an icon not only sports memorabilia, but of New York City history and one of the world’s most renowned sports franchises: the monumental sign that welcomed visitors to the old Yankee Stadium from 1976 to 2008. Comprising 13 letters that each stand 10-feet tall, the sign could fetch as much as $300,000-$600,000. It is on offer from the collector of Reggie “Mr. October” Jackson, who cemented his legend as a New York Yankee and sports icon while the sign was installed at the famed Bronx arena. The New York Sale will be on public view in Sotheby’s New York City headquarters beginning March 26th. [Artdaily]

Image: Detail of Vincent van Gogh, Café Terrace at Night, 1888