18 November 2019

Europe

Recovered: Ring once owned by Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde: Engraved with Greek lettering, a gold ring donated by the Irish poet and playwright Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde has been recovered. Wilde read Classics as an undergraduate at Oxford from 1874 to 1878. His ring was once displayed in a butterfly case alongside the “Magdalen” papyrus, three pieces of a manuscript donated by Reverend Charles B. Huleatt.  The ring disappeared from Magdalen College on May 2, 2002 in the early morning hours when Eamonn Andrews A.K.A. Anderson, a former Magdalen cleaner and handyman broke into the college, stole whiskey from the college bar and then impulsively made off with the 18-carat gold friendship ring and two rowing medals: the 1910 Henley Royal Regatta Grand Challenge Cup medal and a 1932 silver and bronze medal presented to RFG Sarell in 1932.

17.11.2019, ARCA: Recovered: Ring once owned by Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde

An Artist Has Won a Three-Year Legal Battle to Force a German Museum to Publicly Release Its 3D Scan of a Bust of Nefertiti: A tech-savvy artist has emerged victorious in a three-year battle to liberate a magnificent 3D scan of an ancient bust of Nefertiti from a German museum. Now the artist, Cosmo Wenman, is triumphantly making the hard-won data freely available online, and has embarked on a campaign to release 3D scans and other data stockpiled by museums around the world.

17.11.2019, Artnet: An Artist Has Won a Three-Year Legal Battle to Force a German Museum to Publicly Release Its 3D Scan of a Bust of Nefertiti 

Culprits Identified in the theft at the Museo Civico Archeologico in Castiglion Fiorentino: Carabinieri and local municipal police force have identified two culprits, aged 20 and 23 responsible for breaking in the Museo Civico Archeologico in Castiglion Fiorentino with a crow bar during the early morning hours of November 9th. 

17.11.2019, ARCA: Culprits Identified in the theft at the Museo Civico Archeologico in Castiglion Fiorentino 

One year after the Sarr-Savoy report, France has lost its momentum in the restitution debate: A year ago this month, authors Felwine Sarr and Bénédicte Savoy submitted their controversial report to French President Emanuel Macron. The report recommended the return of a vast number of Sub-Saharan African artefacts currently in French public museums, while suggesting a procedure for securing that return. Upon receiving the report, President Macron quickly promised the return of 26 ceremonial items to the small West African country of Benin, items taken by the French army in the nineteenth century that are now in France’s largest ethnographic museum, the Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac in Paris.

15.11.2019, The Institute of Art and Law: One year after the Sarr-Savoy report, France has lost its momentum in the restitution debate

New software tracks gender gap in museum collections: The organization Mujeres en las Artes Visuales (Women in the Visual Arts) has created a digital tool that will allow museums to understand the gender breakdown of their collections and programming.

15.11.2019, Artforum: New software tracks gender gap in museum collections

13.11.2019, El País: Las artistas crean un “autocorrector” para que los museos acaben con la desigualdad 

Police foil attempt to steal Rembrandt works from exhibition: Police are investigating a foiled attempt to steal two Rembrandt paintings from England’s oldest public art gallery. One or more intruders broke in to Dulwich Picture Gallery in south London late last Wednesday and removed two paintings from the Rembrandt’s Light exhibition.

14.11.2019, The Guardian: Police foil attempt to steal Rembrandt works from exhibition 

14.11.2019, Apollo: Police investigate attempted theft of Rembrandts from Dulwich Picture Gallery 

14.11.2019, The Financial Times: Rembrandt art heist foiled by police 

What Does A Tenfold Increase in Berlin’s Real Estate Prices Mean for the City’s Art?: Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. Who would have thought that Berlin’s Hamburger Bahnhof Museum for Contemporary Art would one day lose 10,000 m² of exhibition space to the real estate business? The planned demolition of the Rieckhallen, a building displaying the museum’s Flick Collection since 2003, is effectively a done deal: the lease ends in September 2021 and has not been extended by the current owner, CA Immo (a Vienna-based development company). The reason is obvious: in recent years, speculation and demand have driven up real estate prices in the German capital, with land prices in some districts increasing tenfold between 2008 and 2018. A not-for-profit art institution is not attractive to property developers. Under the pressure of capital, even things previously considered inalienable – from historical monuments to an internationally renowned museum – are melting away.

14.11.2019, Frieze: What Does A Tenfold Increase in Berlin’s Real Estate Prices Mean for the City’s Art? 

Works of art in Venice museums and the Biennale undamaged by floods, but major attrition to buildings with great loss of private property: The storm surge that brought flooding of 187cm above mean water level to Venice on the night of 12-13 November, with more flooding expected every day until 16 November inclusive, has not damaged works of art in the city’s museums and in the Biennale’s main sites. The cost to house owners, hoteliers and shop keepers will, however, be huge because, with 80% of the city under water, nearly all ground floors have been flooded. The various seats of the Università Ca’ Foscari are all closed because of damage to their services, while the retaining wall of the island, San Servolo, which houses Venice International University, has partly collapsed.

14.11.2019, The Art Newspaper: Works of art in Venice museums and the Biennale undamaged by floods, but major attrition to buildings with great loss of private property 

Botticelli ‘copy’ in Welsh museum is genuine, experts say: A doodle of a man’s head unseen for more than 500 years has helped to persuade experts that a painting in the national museum of Wales is almost certainly a genuine Botticelli.

13.11.2019, The Guardian: Botticelli ‘copy’ in Welsh museum is genuine, experts say 

13.11.2019, The Financial Times: Botticelli discovery — Madonna and Child revealed as a work by the Renaissance master 

15.11.2019, The Art Newspaper: Thanks to a doodle, experts now say unattributed painting is by Botticelli 

National Galleries Scotland Ends BP Sponsorship; Recognizes Responsibility To ‘Address the Climate Emergency’: On Monday 11 November 2019, National Galleries Scotland announced their decision to cut ties with BP. Ahead of the ‘BP Portrait Award 2019’ exhibition opening at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery on 7 December 2019, the trustees of the National Galleries of Scotland have released a statement which acknowledges their responsibility ‘to address the climate emergency’. The statement also says that ‘for many people, the association of this competition with BP is seen as being at odds with that aim.’

11.11.2019, Frieze: National Galleries Scotland Ends BP Sponsorship; Recognizes Responsibility To ‘Address the Climate Emergency’ 

11.11.2019, The Guardian: National Galleries Scotland to end BP ties over climate concerns 11.11.2019, Apollo: National Galleries Scotland will no longer host BP Portrait Award

United States

Suspect in Famed Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Heist Released from Prison: In 1990, two thieves, dressed as police officers, entered Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and slipped away with $500 million of work, including paintings by Rembrandt, Degas, and Manet. No suspects were ever prosecuted, and the works remain missing. 

15.11.2019, Art News: Suspect in Famed Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Heist Released from Prison 

Open society pledges $15 million in support of restituting african artifacts: The Open Society Foundations, the grantmaking organization founded by financier-philanthropist George Soros, has pledged $15 million over four years toward grassroots, institutional, and governmental efforts to return looted cultural artifacts to African nations.

15.11.2019, Artforum: Open society pledges $15 million in support of restituting african artifacts

13.11.2019, Art News: Inspired by Landmark Report on Restitution, Foundation Puts $15 M. Toward Initiative Bringing Cultural Objects Back to Africa

New York Gallery Files Suit to Block Return of Ancient Artifact to Italy: Last Wednesday, Manhattan’s Safani Gallery filed a suit against the Republic of Italy in the city’s Southern District Court with the hope of stopping an ancient bust of Alexander the Great—an artifact dating back to the first century—from heading back to its home country. Dubbed the Head of Alexander, the sculpture was seized last February from the gallery by the Manhattan district attorney amid allegations that it had been excavated and illegally exported from Italy in violation of the country’s cultural heritage law.

15.11.2019, Art News: New York Gallery Files Suit to Block Return of Ancient Artifact to Italy 

Carved from a youth centre’s walls, Keith Haring mural sells at Bonhams New York for $3.86m: A Keith Haring mural carved from the walls of a former Catholic youth centre in Manhattan sold at Bonhams for $3.86m. Known as the Grace House Mural, it was painted all in one evening in the early 1980s, and it snaked up the home’s stairwell for three stories, stretching 85-feet long and adorning the building with iconic Haring figures including his radiant baby and barking dog. The Grace House has since closed, and the Ascension Church next door, who owns the building and had leased it out to the Grace House, had decided to sell—both the building and the Haring therein—to fund the church’s maintenance and operation costs.

14.11.2019, The Art Newspaper: Carved from a youth centre’s walls, Keith Haring mural sells at Bonhams New York for $3.86m

The Met receives historic bequest of $80 million and 375 artworks: The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has received a major bequest of $80 million and more than 375 artworks from the late Jayne Wrightsman (1919–2019), a trustee emerita whom the institution described as “one of the most generous benefactors in the museum’s history.” Over the course of six decades, Jayne and her husband, Charles, have given more than 1,275 works to the Met.

13.11.2019, Artofrum: The met receives historic bequest of $80 million and 375 artworks

13.11.2019, The Art Newspaper: Jayne Wrightsman leaves over 375 works of art and $80m to the Met 

US charges added to dealer Kapoor’s rap sheet: In the 1891 story A Case of Identity, Sherlock Holmes cracked another mystery in his careful examination of evidence emanating from a typewriter. Now, over 120 years later, investigators in New York have relied on similar skills to expose one of the largest art looting conspiracies of all time.  It was at the office of Art of The Past (AOP) on Madison Avenue in New York, with the execution of search warrants between 2012 and 2018, that the case against Subhash Kapoor was built up. Tipped off by an informant, officers discovered a log book with lists of artefacts, computer files with photographic evidence of looted artefacts and an old typewriter with blank letterheads. Perhaps the strangest item of all, the typewriter was allegedly used to forge invoices from galleries around the world to falsify provenance for looted artefacts.  It was the discovery of these items which led the Criminal Court of the City of New York to issue felony arrest warrants against Subhash Kapoor and seven others on 11 July this year.  12.11.2019, The Institute of Art and Law: US charges added to dealer Kapoor’s rap sheet

World

Antiquities stolen from Afghanistan returned with help of British Museum and Met police’s Art and Antiques Unit: Sculptures of Buddha dating from the 4th-6th centuries smuggled out of Afghanistan nearly 20 years ago have finally been returned to the country’s national museum.

12.11.2019, The Antiques Trade Gazette: Antiquities stolen from Afghanistan returned with help of British Museum and Met police’s Art and Antiques Unit 

12.11.2019, The Times: War loot is sent back to Kabul 17 years on 

Should the Art World Boycott Turkey?: A group of 280 leading scholars, writers and artists – including Angela Davis and Noam Chomsky – have signed a petition calling for a boycott on Turkish government-backed cultural institutions, funding and sponsorships following Turkey’s invasion of northeastern Syria, after US troops were abruptly withdrawn from the region on 21 October. 

12.11.2019, Frieze: Should the Art World Boycott Turkey? 

Art trove belonging to Russian billionaire fugitive found hidden in village near Moscow: Hundreds of paintings and rare books missing from the museum of Alexei Ananyev, a billionaire wanted by Russian authorities, have been found in a storage facility next to a church in a village near Moscow. 

11.11.2019, The Art Newspaper: Art trove belonging to Russian billionaire fugitive found hidden in village near Moscow 

‘The scene has exploded’: China gets set to be leading global centre for art: Sitting at one of her exhibits in the West Bund Art & Design booth of Shanghai art week – a sake bar that has just been placed on hold for a collector – Pilar Corrias reflects on the huge change she has seen since she started exhibiting here in 2013. “Energy has been building in China for well over a decade, but the way the scene has exploded over the past five years has been extraordinary – and it is driven by the fairs,” says the London-based art dealer.10.11.2019, The Guardian: ‘The scene has exploded’: China gets set to be leading global centre for art

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