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The Headlines

IT IS OFFICIAL.At theSmithsonian’sNational Museum of African Art(NMAfA) in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, leaders of theNational Gallery of Artand theSmithsonianreturned 30 looted Benin Bronzesto Nigeria’sNational Commission for Museums and Monuments, theWashington Postreports. Earlier this year, the NMAfA took its Benin Bronzesoff viewand said that it was investigating their provenance as part of the process of repatriating them. The Smithsonian latervotedto return 29; the NGA voted in 2020 to return the one it held. (ARTnewshasa primer on the Benin Bronzes, which were taken by British troops from present-day Nigeria in the late 19th century.) The ceremony also included thetransfer of one piecefrom theRhode Island School of Design Museumin Providence, theAssociated Pressreports.

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BURN, BABY, BURN.The big moment finally arrived on Tuesday: At hisNewport Street Galleryin London, artistDamien Hirstburned 1,000 of his works in wood-fueled fires as part of his projectThe Currency. Some background, for the uninitiated: Hirst minted 10,000 NFTs, each tied to a small dot-covered painting on paper, and sold them for $2,000 a pop. He then gave their buyers a choice: Keep the NFT or the physical artwork; the otherwould be destroyed. A slim majority kept the physical piece. “To me there’s no gamble, there’s only ever art,” he said of that decision,perBBC News. Hirstexpanded on his viewson the matter toCNN. “A lot of people think I’m burning millions of dollars of art but I’m not,” he said. “I’m completing the transformation of these physical artworks into NFTs by burning the physical versions.”

The Digest

TheUnboxed Festival(aka the “Festival of Brexit”), which opened in the United Kingdom in March, is being investigated by the country’sNational Audit Office. The cost of the affair came to £120 million ($132 million today) and drew 238,000 people, a fraction of the projected number.[ArtReview]

A Ming Dynasty chair sold atSotheby’sin Hong Kong this past weekend for some $16 million, well more than 10 times its $1.2 million low estimate. The piece was offered from the collection of the late businessmanJoseph Hotungand is now the third-priciest chair ever sold at auction.[Artnet News]

JournalistVictoria Woodcockinterviewed actorBrad Pitt, musicianNick Cave, and artistThomas Houseagoabout their exhibition at theSara Hildén Art Museumin Tampere, Finland. “We’re just three dudes, and we’re just making stuff,” Houseago said.[Financial Times]

PainterMary Rydenhas created a series ofBarbie-themed artworks, as well as limited-edition Barbie dolls, in collaboration with toy giantMattel. The works will go on view next month in a Los Angeles show organized byMatteland Ryden’s dealer,Kasmin.[Ocula]

Kukje Galleryin Seoul has transformed a traditional 1930s hanok home into a bookshop, office, and viewing room.Urban Arkhandled the renovation, and designerTeo Yang(who lives in a hanok) contributed furnishings.[Architectural Digest]

ArtistCindy Shermanposted one of her radically reworked self-portraits to Instagram for the first time in over a year. “I’m back,” she wrote.[@cindysherman/Instagram]

The Kicker

FAMILY MEMORIES.Artist, musician, and activistWolfgang Tillmansseems to be pretty busy, uncorking one project after another, but he also finds time to be a museum leader, serving as chair of theInstitute of Contemporary Artsin London since 2019. He goes way back with the ICA,telling theGuardianthat, in 1994, he brought his parents to aCharles Rayshow there. There “was a sculpture of a father, mother and baby girl all scaled to the same height, making these babies super-scary giants,” Tillmans said. “My mother was so upset by it, I guess because it shook her sense of the order of things. I’ll never forget it.”[The Guardian]