Read the 15 Most Popular Artnet News Stories of 2021, From the Discovery of Ancient Footprints to the Man Who Sold an Invisible Sculpture

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As in years past, readers have come to our stories in search of ideas and analysis, but also for fun. Whether it’s looking for news, information, or hoping for a happy surprise, readers have flocked to our coverage this year.

Here are the 15 most popular stories of the year.

Launch of a Corona satellite at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Photo courtesy of the National Recognition Office.

15. Archaeologists Use Incredible Photographs Of This Cold War-Era Spy Satellite To Uncover The Secrets Of World History

“Satellite imagery from Project Corona, a Cold War spy program that acquired military intelligence about the Soviet Union for the United States, is proving useful in ways its creators never could. imagine, including for archaeologists. “

Camille Pissarro, La Bergère Rentrant des Moutons (Shepherdess Bringing in Sheep), 1886. Courtesy of the Musée d'Orsay.

Camille Pissarro, Shepherdess Bringing in Sheep, 1886. Courtesy of the Musée d’Orsay.

14. “I have no other choice”: a Holocaust survivor renounces her claim on a looted painting by Camille Pissarro

“Eighty years after the Nazis stole The Shepherdess Returning from the Sheep from the parents of Léone Meyer, the Holocaust survivor has given up her quest to restore the work.

A prehistoric footprint at White Sands National Park in New Mexico.  The dating of these traces disrupts archaeologists' understanding of prehistoric migration to North America.  Photo by Dan Odess, courtesy of the National Park Service.

A prehistoric footprint at White Sands National Park in New Mexico. The dating of these traces disrupts archaeologists’ understanding of prehistoric migration to North America. Photo by Dan Odess, courtesy of the National Park Service.

13. North America’s Oldest Human Footprints Could Redefine Prehistory As We Know It, And All Thanks To These Tiny Seeds

“New data on prehistoric footprints suggests they are the oldest ever discovered in North America, dating to 23,000 years ago, thousands of years before humans were believed to have surrendered. on the continent.”

The date on this stone vessel is convincing evidence that the tomb is Emperor Han Liu Zhi's final resting place.  It refers to his successor, Ling, who is said to have built a mausoleum for the deceased ruler.  Photo courtesy of Luoyang City Cultural Relics and Archeology Research Institute.

The date on this stone vessel is convincing evidence that the tomb is Emperor Han Liu Zhi’s final resting place. It refers to his successor, Ling, who is said to have built a mausoleum for the deceased ruler. Photo courtesy of Luoyang City Cultural Relics and Archeology Research Institute.

12. A modest stone relic led archaeologists to the tomb of a depraved ancient Chinese emperor, famous for his cruelty and huge harem

“In power from 146 to 168, Liu Zhi was known to have allied with a group of politically influential eunuchs to execute officials.

Gainesville artist Tom Miller in front of his 2016 work, Nothing.

Gainesville artist Tom Miller in front of his 2016 work, Nothing.

11. Florida man threatens to sue artist whose invisible sculpture sold for $ 18,000, claiming he came up with the idea first

“The Florida artist says that in 2016, he installed his own invisible sculpture at Bo Diddley Community Square in Gainesville. Dozens of people were present to see the opus unveiled in June.

An antique globe that sold for $ 154,000 at Hansons Auctioneers.  Courtesy of the auction house.

An antique globe that sold for $ 154,000 at Hansons Auctioneers. Courtesy of the auction house.

10. A Welsh woman bought a globe for $ 199 at an antique fair last year. She just sold it almost 800 times more than at auction

“A Welsh woman bought a globe for £ 150 ($ 199) at an antique fair. Then it sold 770 times more than at auction.

Italian conceptualist Salvatore Garau, via Instagram.

Italian conceptualist Salvatore Garau, via Instagram.

9. An Italian artist auctioned off an “invisible sculpture” for $ 18,300. It’s literally made from nothing

“The 67-year-old artist Salvatore Garau sold an ‘immaterial sculpture’, which means that it does not exist.

Ai-Da the robot artist with his self-portraits.  Photo courtesy of the Design Museum.

Ai-Da the robot artist with his self-portraits. Photo by Lucy Seal, courtesy of the Design Museum and Aidan Meller.

8. An art-making robot was arrested on his way to the pyramids because Egyptian customs officials believed she was a spy

“Ai-Da was detained by customs officials for 10 days before her release. His work was to appear in the first contemporary art exhibition ever held at the Great Pyramid of Giza, which will open tomorrow.

Archaeologists Hagay Hamer and Oriah Amichai sift through the findings of the Cave of Horrors.  Photo by Eitan Klein, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Archaeologists Hagay Hamer and Oriah Amichai sift through the findings of the Cave of Horrors. Photo by Eitan Klein, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

7. In Remarkable Find, Archaeologists Exploring Israel’s “Cave of Horror” Uncover New Dead Sea Scroll

“For the first time in 60 years, archaeologists have discovered a new fragment of the Dead Sea Scrolls, a cache of ancient Jewish and Hebrew religious manuscripts found in the Qumran Caves on the northern shore of the Dead Sea.

Spencer Elden recreates her pose from the cover of Nirvana's Nevermind album, shot as a baby 25 years later.  Courtesy of John Chapple.

Spencer Elden recreates her pose from Nirvana album cover art It does not matter, shot when he was a baby, 25 years later. Courtesy of John Chapple.

6. Former Baby of Nirvana’s Famous Album Cover Motivated to Sue After Band Blows Up Their Art Exhibition

“Spencer Elden, who appeared naked on the cover of Nirvana Nevermind’s flagship album when he was just four months old, is now suing the group for commercial sexual exploitation of children.”

The golden treasure. Courtesy of Norfolk Castle Museum

5. A metal detector has found what is now declared the greatest treasure of Anglo-Saxon gold coins in his backyard

“The man based in East Norfolk first found a coin around 1990, but most of the treasure was found between 2014 and 2020.”

Survey of mustatils by helicopter reconnaissance.  Photo © Aerial Archeology in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Royal Commission for AlUla.

Survey mustatils by helicopter reconnaissance. Photo © Aerial Archeology in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Royal Commission for AlUla.

4. Archaeologists Say Mysterious Group of Ancient Monuments in Saudi Arabia Suggest Existence of Prehistoric Cattle Cult

“Scattered over 77,000 square miles of desert in northwest Arabia, the mustatils were built between 8,500 and 4,800 years ago.

The Virgin and Child with a Flower on a Grass Bank (c. 1503), which is said to have been created by Albrecht Dürer.  Courtesy of Agnews, London.

The Virgin and Child with a flower on a grassy riverbank (circa 1503), which is said to have been created by Albrecht Dürer.
Courtesy of Agnews, London.

3. A Massachusetts man bought a drawing for $ 30 at a real estate sale. It may be an authentic Dürer worth $ 50 million

“Four years ago, a Massachusetts man attended a routine real estate sale, where a small drawing of a woman and child caught his eye.

Stonehenge at sunrise in 2015. Photo by Freesally, public domain.

Stonehenge at sunrise in 2015. Photo by Freesally, public domain.

2. Scientists have conducted tests which reveal that Stonehenge is made from an ancient material that is almost indestructible.

“Analysis of a core taken from one of the massive slabs at the site suggests that the geochemical makeup of the stone may have made it particularly well equipped to withstand the test of time.”

Yale University's Vineland map, considered the first depiction of North America, has now turned out to be a modern fake.  Collection of the Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscripts Library at Yale, New Haven, Connecticut, public domain.

Yale University’s Vineland map, considered the first depiction of North America, has now turned out to be a modern fake. Collection of the Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscripts Library at Yale, New Haven, Connecticut, public domain.

1. “There’s No Reasonable Doubt Here”: Research Team at Yale Proves 15th Century Vinland Map to be a 20th Century Fake

“The Vinland Map, once considered the first cartographic representation of the New World, has turned out to be a modern forgery.”

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