Oprah Winfrey sold her Gustav Klimt painting to a private buyer in China for a staggering $150 million - earning herself a $63 million profit in a decade. The billionaire bought the Austrian painter's Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II for $87.9 million back in 2006 at Christie's in New York. Oprah was approached last year by art dealer Larry Gagosian who had a Chinese buyer interested in purchasing the 100-year-old painting, Bloomberg reports. The sale was one of the most expensive private art deals in 2016.
“Whenever I speak, I think about the saying, Don’t speak unless you’re improving upon silence,” says Kimberly Drew, the curator and advocate behind social media at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “Every time I make noise, I want it to be really good.” When she’s not posting for the iconic New York City museum, Kimberly broadcasts her own voice as a guest on national panels, to over 100,000 followers on Instagram and Twitter as @museummammy, and via the Tumblr phenomenon Black Contemporary Art. (If you're not obsessed already, do yourself a major favor and add all three to your daily scroll.) “I started the blog in 2011, right after my internship at the Studio Museum in Harlem, as a space to both record the things I learned and continue the process of learning,” she muses. “I started looking for something like it in the world, and when I didn’t find it, I just made my own.”
She might be the definition of #careergoals today, but Kimberly didn’t always have it all figured out. “When I got to college, I wanted to study math, but I realized it wasn’t the right fit,” says the Smith College graduate. “So I moved from hardcore number crunching to civil engineering as a way to try to bridge my interests. And then civil engineering brought me to architecture, and then that brought me to art history, so it was a very wind-y path! I was definitely not one of those people who showed up on the first day and was like, This is what I’m studying! I actually didn’t start my art history major until my junior year.”
If this is a major relief for those struggling to select a major, shy girls will revel in the fact that the seasoned public speaker doesn't consider herself loud. “I’ve always been a very quiet person, which is funny now because I’m so public!” she says. Just this year, Kimberly has spoken at venerable venues like the New Museum of Contemporary Art, Art Basel Miami Beach, and the Brooklyn Museum, but her expertise spans far beyond the art and tech worlds. “Advice I wish I had gotten earlier is to take myself more seriously, and take my interests more seriously,” she says. “My advice to girls is just to be obsessed with things and find value in that obsession. Be able to turn that into something that makes you feel like your life is worth living, not necessarily just in relation to your career, but on a mental health level, too.”
Of course, Kimberly is just getting started. Be on the lookout for her next project, a book with writer Jenna Wortham from their Black Futures project, which will explore creativity as it relates to black cultural identity. After that, who’s to say…world domination, perhaps?
Kimberly Drew, 27, Social Media Expert and Art Curator
Kimberly Drew sprung onto the scene as the brains behind the art blog "Museum Mammy." Now the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Social Media Manager and a New York social fixture, she is a champion for the beautiful, an outspoken critic of the unjust, and an influence on the influencers. “I feel the power of my visibility and I’m trying to make it count,” Kimberly says, “but I know that I still have a lot of learning to do. Icon status is a long sprint.” As a kid, Kimberly “constantly” changed what she wanted to be: astronaut, veterinarian, and lawyer were all answers at one point. But today, the social media phenom wants to be remembered as “a connector.” “I plan to spend the rest of my career connecting with brilliant people, exchanging ideas, and making the world a better place.”
– Melanie Mignucci
In the era of digital activism, fashion is no stranger to the “cultural appropriation” debate. In recent weeks, Chanel came under fire for a $1,325 branded take on the boomerang, a weapon used by Australia’s long-marginalised indigenous peoples for hunting before being widely adopted for sport and entertainment. Then, ’s attracted charges that he was stealing from black creatives for the Dapper Dan-inspired looks that appeared in his 2018 . But from Victoria’s Secret, which sent down the runway in a fringed bikini and feathered Native American headdress, to ’ Spring 2017 show featuring a cast of mostly white models wearing dreadlocks, the phenomenon is hardly new.
On one side of the debate are those who see cultural appropriation — especially in a commercial context, like fashion, which values surface (and sales) over depth — as inherently disrespectful to the cultures that are so often sampled, but rarely credited and almost never compensated for the use of their heritage. On the other side, are those who see the freedom to fluidly sample from other cultures as vital to creative expression and cultural innovation, citing the fact that humans have been borrowing — even stealing — from each other’s cultures for thousands of years, much to the enrichment of human experience. But who’s right? Cultural appropriation: theft or innovation?
No one knows how hard we work - and no one should ever know. Everything should look seam fucking less. Like candy. The arguing I do, the exchanges in time, being taken for granted, the happiness that I share… I challenge people to move forward. The words I choose -- the articulations -- it is all a part of the unseen struggling I’ve done since I was 7 years old. I went to my mother and said “I want to be an artist”.