A new report scheduled to be released June 26 that was leaked on Tuesday says former Stedelijk Museum director Beatrix Ruf was “wrongly accused” of conflicts of interest arising from her operation of an advisory business, Currentmatters, while serving the museum. The report was commissioned from an independent panel of legal researchers by the Municipality of Amsterdam immediately following Ruf’s resignation. The researchers were tasked with looking at the Stedelijk’s oversight mechanisms and whether it was compliant with the Dutch Executives’ Pay Standards Act, which sets an upper limit on senior public officials at €181,000.
Ruf came under fire in October 2017 after the Dutch newspaper NRC published investigations into collector Thomas Borgmann’s donation of 600 works and long term loan of 10 works to the Stedelijk (the paper found that the museum had purchased works from Borgmann costing €1.5 million in order to secure the gift) and revealed that Ruf had earned €437,306 from her advisory business in the same year she joined the Stedelijk. Ruf resigned shortly thereafter, writing in a statement, “I value the interests of this outstanding institution, and place the interests of the Stedelijk first, above my own, individual concerns. In light of that, I feel that this is an appropriate moment for me to step down.”
The report largely clears Ruf of wrongdoing suggesting only that she should have been transparent about her advisory earnings. As Artforum reported:
“The income generated directly and indirectly in the limited company came exclusively from organizations where Mrs. Ruf held an approved ancillary position,” the report said. It also stated that there is no reason to doubt Ruf’s integrity. However, it added, she did not seem to have understood that “her function should not only be exercised in accordance with the wording of the governance regulations, but also in the spirit of the regulations.”