$100 Million Lawsuit against Met over Picasso Masterpiece—and the 9 Other Biggest News Stories This Week
01 The Metropolitan Museum of Art has been sued over a Picasso masterpiece in its collection, allegedly sold under duress by Jewish owners before World War II.
The complaint, filed Friday, centers around
02 Two missing paintings by Vincent van Gogh, swiped from Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum in 2002, have been recovered by Italian police during a raid on a farmhouse connected to the Mafia.
The two paintings, Seascape at Scheveningen (1882) and Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen (1884/85), are examples of
03 Photographer Jock Sturges’s exhibition in Moscow was forced to close after attracting protests amid claims by nationalist Russian activists that his work contained child pornography.
(via The Moscow Times)
The exhibition of work by
04 The Armory Show has appointed Nicole Berry as deputy director, looking to channel her expertise into further cultivating a VIP collector base for the New York fair.
(via The Armory Show)
Berry, who will begin in mid-October, joins The Armory Show from EXPO CHICAGO, where she served as deputy director for the last five years. During that time, EXPO became an increasingly important event on the art-world calendar. In New York, Berry’s remit will involve a targeted cultivation of collectors across the globe, as well as assisting with new curatorial initiatives announced by the fair in April. Since joining the fair in January, executive director Benjamin Genocchio has cited developing a more robust VIP experience for collectors—including private viewing rooms and other perks—as a primary part of expanding and cementing The Armory Show’s role and reach. To this end, he noted that Berry “brings a wealth of talent and experience that will further develop The Armory Show as a powerful platform for leading international galleries and collectors alike, further cementing our place as America’s preeminent art fair.” The Armory Show’s next edition will kick off in Manhattan this coming March.
05 New York’s Neue Galerie announced Tuesday that it had resolved the restitution issues surrounding a Nazi-looted painting in its collection by first returning—and then repurchasing—the work.
The case centered around
06 Following several contentious attempts to auction off a cache of 85 paintings by Joan Miró, the Portuguese government has announced that the collection will not leave the country after all.
(via artnet News)
Previously owned by the Banco Português de Negócios, these works were seized by the government in 2008 when the bank collapsed. Together, the collection is estimated to be worth $39 million. The government originally planned to auction the paintings through Christie’s London in February 2014, a sale that was postponed until June 2014 due to legal objections over the export of cultural heritage items. Further public outcry led the government to withdraw the works from auction completely; the paintings remained in limbo until Monday, when Prime Minister Antonio Costa announced that the government had “finally decided to keep the famous collection of
07 On Wednesday, the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced it had laid off 34 employees (1.5% of its total staff) in an aim to rein in a growing deficit.
The layoffs, part of a broader strategy to reduce the museum’s deficit by $30 million, continue a current 24-month financial restructuring announced in April. The effort includes buyouts and plans to raise retail revenue. The current layoffs spared curators and conservators, jobs originally anticipated to be cut by 5%, but did affect a number of administrative and managerial roles. “These are difficult decisions—we’re disappointed to be losing good colleagues—but we’re making very good progress on the process we put in motion,” Daniel H. Weiss, the museum’s president and COO, told the New York Times. While the museum has taken pains to emphasize that the quality of exhibitions will not be impacted, the institution is likely to scale back the number of upcoming shows, possibly from 55 to 40. The Met’s deficit comes after it has undertaken several ambitious and costly ventures, including opening the Met Breuer (which operates at an annual cost of $17 million) and a new $600 million modern and contemporary wing.
08 After eight years of planning and fundraising, a new Iraqi antiquities museum, housed in a former palace of Saddam Hussein, has partially opened.
(via The Art Newspaper)
The new Basrah Museum, located in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, currently lacks the funds to open at its full scale. Director Qahtan Alabeed plans to roll out the project little by little, starting with a gallery devoted to the history of Basra and the surrounding area from the third century B.C. to the 1800s. The remaining three spaces, which will display Sumerian, Babylonian, and Assyrian artifacts, will open over the next several years, due to funding and logistical obstacles. A $3 million contribution promised by the Basra Provincial Council was never provided, and despite the nearly £500,000 raised by a British charity, the museum still needs an estimated £450,000 to be fully operational. Due to the violence Iraq has faced in recent decades, many of the ancient artifacts now on view at the Basrah Museum—including much of the city’s former museum’s collection—had previously been evacuated to the National Museum in Baghdad for safekeeping. The objects required a military escort to travel the 500 kilometers back to Basra. These 550 loaned items will join an additional 160 objects, many from the Ottoman era, that had never left the city.
09 In a ruling aimed at deterring attacks on cultural heritage, the ICC has sentenced an Islamic militant to nine years in prison after he pleaded guilty in August to orchestrating the destruction of shrines in Timbuktu.
The landmark trial was the first at the International Criminal Court (ICC) to prosecute attacks on culturally significant monuments as a war crime. It was also the first time an Islamic militant was brought to justice by the ICC. Presiding judge Raul Cano Pangalangan said that the sentence passed down upon Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi corresponded to the gravity of his crimes. He added that the sentence would serve to deter others, in Mali or elsewhere, from perpetrating similar acts, though it will be difficult to assess if this does actually prevent future destruction. Mahdi, a member of a group affiliated with Al-Qaeda, participated in the organization of attacks on the holy sites—a mosque and nine mausoleums—four years ago, when much of northern Mali was held by Islamic extremists. After having been arrested in Niger and transferred to the ICC at the Hague last September, Mahdi expressed remorse for his actions and urged others against following in his footsteps. These actions contributed to the relatively lighter sentence of nine years for a crime punishable by up to 30.
10 A drawing by Adolph Menzel that art dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt bought from a woman fleeing the persecution of Nazi Germany in 1939 will be returned to descendants of its former owner.
(via The Art Newspaper)
Gurlitt purchased the
Cover image: Photo by Marine B, via Flickr.