Met Gala Gets Co-Hosts, the Fate of Bill Gates’s Art, and More: Morning Links from May 4, 2021

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The Headlines

PHILANTHROPISTS BILL AND MELINDA GATES ARE DIVORCING. They told a court in Seattle that they have worked out how to divide their assetsReuters reports. Details of that plan are not public. Bill’s Microsoft-fueled net worth has been pegged at north of $120 billion by Forbes, and he’s known to have made some big-ticket art purchases over the years, as ArtfixDaily notes. He reportedly paid a princely $36 million for a Winslow Homer in 1998 (the most ever for an American artwork at the time) and $27.5 million for a George Bellows in 1999. Other acquisitions included major pieces by American Impressionists like Childe Hassam. (In an interesting contrast, the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen tended to collect more widely, snapping up works by Canaletto Turner, and Richter over the years.) The market for American art has cooled considerably since Gates was buying, but trophies in any field can draw big numbers. If works from his collection hit the market, those lots will be closely watched.

THE STORIED NEW ORLEANS RESTAURANT Dooky Chase’s, a favorite of civil-rights activists in the 1960s, has been named the first stop on the Louisiana Civil Rights Trail, which is being developed by Louisiana Office of Tourism, USA Today reports. The resto is filled with artwork (many by artists who dined there) that were collected by Leah Chase, who ran it with with her husband Edgar (aka Dooky) Chase for decades. A key art supporter in the area, she served on the boards of the New Orleans Museum of Art and the Prospect triennial. After she died in 2019, at the age of 96, the painter Ron Bechet told ARTnews, “Ms. Chase has always been someone dear to us as artists. You can think about a history of African-American art in Dooky Chase’s. It’s phenomenal. It’s a place where the Black community could go and actually see themselves on the walls.”

The Digest

The New Yorker has published an essay by the late artist Winfred Rembert about his time working on a chain gang while imprisoned in Georgia in the 1970s. [The New Yorker]

Berlin-based artist Adrian Piper is planning a May 15 protest outside the Bundestag to draw attention to what she believes is overcrowding in German classrooms. [The Art Newspaper]

The Met Gala returns in September, and its co-chairs have been announced: actor Timothée Chalamet, singer Billie Eilish, poet Amanda Gorman, and tennis giant Naomi Osaka. [Associated Press]

The artist Jean Shin has transformed a 140-year-old tree that recently died at Olana, the onetime estate of painter Frederic Edwin Church in Hudson, New York, into an artwork. [The New York Times]

Singer Ellie Goulding has given birth to her first child with former Sotheby’s staffer Caspar Jopling (nephew of White Cube founder Jay Jopling). [Page Six]

Rapper Drake appears to have paid a visit to artist Jonas Wood’s studio. [Instagram]

The Kicker

THE SEEMINGLY INDEFATIGABLE ARTIST MR. DOODLE, who covers canvases with jam-packed line drawings, is only 27 years old, but his work has already gone for almost $1 million on the auction block, the Financial Times reports. Mr. Doodle, aka Sam Cox, estimates that he has made some 400,000 doodles—a lot of doodles, by any measure. Fresh on the heels of joining the roster of Pearl Lam Galleries, of Shanghai and Hong Kong, he told the FT that one dream he has is “to be sent out to the Moon and just be allowed to doodle over the whole thing.” Let’s hope someone can make that happen. [Financial Times]

Thank you for reading. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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