16 December 2019

Europe

Spanish police investigate nuns over religious sculpture that surfaced at Tefaf last month: Spain’s national police are investigating whether a 17th century wooden sculpture of a saint, which was shown at the Tefaf fair in New York in November, was illegally sold by a convent of nuns in Grenada, according to the newspaper El Pais. A local resident alerted the authorities after recognising the statue, which stood above the altar in the church Our Lady of the Angels before it closed in 2018, pictured in a catalogue for the fair.

15.12.2019, The Art Newspaper: Spanish police investigate nuns over religious sculpture that surfaced at Tefaf last month 

Two Van Goghs sold from the recovered hoard of an Italian fraudster: Two Van Gogh pictures owned by a convicted criminal have just been sold in Milan, both going for considerably more than their estimates. When the sale took place on 29 October, the Pandolfini auction house coyly entitled it Rediscovered Treasures: Impressionist and Modern Masterpieces from a Private Collection. On offer were 55 works, ranging from Monet to Picasso.

13.12.2019, The Art Newspaper: Two Van Goghs sold from the recovered hoard of an Italian fraudster 

Stolen Gustav Klimt Painting May Have Been Discovered in an Italian Gallery’s Wall: Earlier this week, a gardener clearing ivy at the Ricci Oddi Modern Art gallery in Italy made an astonishing discovery: behind a metal panel set in the gallery’s exterior wall was a painting half-hidden by a black trash bag. Immediately, staff at the gallery began to wonder if the vivid picture they found was Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of a Lady (1916–17), a painting valued at $66 million and stolen from the space almost 23 years ago.

12.12.2019, Art News: Stolen Gustav Klimt Painting May Have Been Discovered in an Italian Gallery’s Wall 

11.12.2019, The Guardian: Painting found hidden in Italian gallery wall may be stolen Klimt 

12.12.2019, CNN Style: Painting found behind hidden door in Italian gallery may be stolen Klimt 

11.12.2019, Smithsonian Magazine: Painting Found Inside Walls of Italian Gallery May Be a Stolen Klimt 

11.12.2019, Le Journal des Arts: Un tableau de Klimt volé il y a 22 ans en Italie aurait été retrouvé 

Monaco court dismisses Russian oligarch’s case against art dealer: A court in Monaco has dismissed a long-running criminal case against Swiss businessman Yves Bouvier which opened a window into the secretive world of private art sales and sparked a corruption scandal in the Mediterranean principality.

12.12.2019, The Financial Times: Monaco court dismisses Russian oligarch’s case against art dealer 

12.12.2019, Art News: Criminal Charges Against Swiss Dealer Accused of Fraud Dropped in Monaco, as Bouvier Affair Continues to Churn  

12.12.2019, The New York Times: Charges Against Dealer Dropped in Art Dispute With Russian Oligarch 

Sotheby’s wins court case over a disputed €10m ‘Frans Hals’ painting: Sotheby’s first filed its claim in London’s High Court against Weiss and his business partner Fairlight Art Ventures in February 2017. Weiss settled out of court in April but last Wednesday a High Court judgment handed down by Justice Robin Knowles determined Fairlight was liable to Sotheby’s.

11.12.2019, The Antiques Trade Gazette: Sotheby’s wins court case over a disputed €10m ‘Frans Hals’ painting 

11.12.2019, The New York Times: Investors Must Pay Back Sotheby’s Over Forged Frans Hals, Court Finds 

Polish Lawmaker Sues Curator Following Dispute Over Holocaust Memorial: The Polish curator and art historian Tomasz Kitliński is being sued by Przemysław Czarnek—the right-wing governor of Poland’s Lublin region and an incoming member of parliament—over public remarks he made about the lawmaker. The dispute is centered on an artwork honoring victims of the Holocaust, which Czarnek labeled “anti-Polish.” Kitliński commissioned the piece from artist Dorota Nieznalska for the eleventh edition of the Open City Festival, which closed on October 11.

10.12.2019, Artforum: Polish Lawmaker Sues Curator Following Dispute Over Holocaust Memorial09.12.2019, The Art Newspaper: Lublin governor files defamation suit against art historian sparking free speech fears in Poland

United States

U.S. Places Sanctions on Art Collector Said to Finance Hezbollah: The Treasury Department announced sanctions on Friday against a diamond dealer who the government said has used an art gallery in Beirut, Lebanon, and an extensive personal collection, sprinkled with names like Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol, to shelter and launder money.

13.12.2019, The New York Times: U.S. Places Sanctions on Art Collector Said to Finance Hezbollah 

US Restitution Suit Allowed to Proceed Against the Netherlands and Dutch Museums: Towards the end of Second World War, Adolph Hitler received a birthday gift that likely made his heart swell with pride – a famous Rembrandt. The impact this gift had on a certain elderly woman interned in one of Hitler’s Dutch concentration camps is far more difficult to describe; the Old Master painting was her ransom. It ensured her freedom from certain death through a negotiation that her son, Nathan Katz, arranged with the Nazis. The Katz family’s efforts to recover a collection of over 140 paintings similarly “sold” have been rebuffed for years by Dutch authorities. Now, one of the Katz heirs has turned to a US court for restitution of that collection.

12.12.2019, The Institute of Art and Law: US Restitution Suit Allowed to Proceed Against the Netherlands and Dutch Museums 

A Belgian Collector Is at War With the City of Gary, Indiana, Over a Picasso Model He Found in Their School Gym: A fabrication model for a giant Picasso sculpture is at the centre of a lawsuit brought by a Brussels art collector against an auctioneer in Gary, Indiana. Kraft Auction Services put up the sixteen-foot-high plywood model for sale in January, as part of its annual anniversary auction. (Kraft Auction Services—You name it, we sell it!”—also handles farm equipment and real estate, among other specialties.) The wood model, with Picasso’s approval, served as the basis for the sculpture, an abstracted, sphinx-like female figure, that was installed in Chicago’s Daley Plaza in 1967.11.12.2019, Artnet: A Belgian Collector Is at War With the City of Gary, Indiana, Over a Picasso Model He Found in Their School Gym

World

Russian museums follow Putin’s call for satellites in the regions: Russia’s biggest museums are embracing an idea first advanced by Vladimir Putin in 2013 to open satellite venues in the regions, in step with local governments angling to improve living standards.

12.12.2019, The Art Newspaper: Russian museums follow Putin’s call for satellites in the regions 

Looted in Germany by Stalin’s brigades, a restored goddess goes on view at the Hermitage: To say that the goddess of victory deserted Germany at the end of the Second World War is more than a metaphor–she really did leave. The gilded bronze, almost life-size Roman sculpture known as Victoria of Calvatone was among the most important statues in Berlin’s antiquities collection before the war. In 1946, it went missing, one of 2.5 million German museum pieces looted by Joseph Stalin’s trophy brigades and shipped to the Soviet Union. It didn’t reappear until 2015.10.12.2019, The Art Newspaper: Looted in Germany by Stalin’s brigades, a restored goddess goes on view at the Hermitage

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