Art market ripe for abuse, say campaigners: The art world has become increasingly secretive and opaque in the past two years, according to the main authority on the industry, and it is now difficult to know even the size of the market. “There were huge steps towards greater transparency in the past 20 years,” said Clare McAndrew, author of the TEFAF Art Market report. “But in the past couple of years it has been going backwards.” She blamed a trend at auction houses to sell art privately, rather than openly, because buyers prefer certainty over prices and sellers do not wish to be seen selling.
17.04.2016, Financial Times: Art market ripe for abuse, say campaigners
Art Demystified: Why Don’t Galleries Display Prices?: Why are galleries so reluctant to reveal prices? The lack of price transparency is often one of the most baffling and frustrating things for art world outsiders to understand.
18.04.2016, Artnet News: Art Demystified: Why Don’t Galleries Display Prices?
11 Picasso Works Stolen from German Bank’s Collection: Several artworks, including 11 lithographs by Pablo Picasso, were stolen from the corporate collection of Portigon AG, a financial services company from North Rhine-Westphalia. Portigon was formed in 2012 as the legal successor WestLB, the Western German state Bank. A spokesperson for the company confirmed the theft this past Friday in Düsseldorf. According to the Spiegel, the total insurance value of works stolen is estimated at €1.1 million ($1.2 million), but their market value could be much higher. In addition to the 11 lithographs from Picasso’s famous bull series, a painting by the expressionist Gabriele Münter is also missing from the vault.
18.04.2016, Artnet News: 11 Picasso Works Stolen from German Bank’s Collection
Old Master Painting Pulled from Auction After French Government Inquiry: Vienna’s im Kinsky auction house has removed Portrait of a Man, a painting by Dutch Old Master Bartholomeus van der Helst, from its April 12 and 13 sales. The lot was pulled at the request of the French government, which believes the painting was looted by Nazis, according to Agence France-Presse. The painting was once part of the collection of Adolphe Schloss, a Jewish art collector who lived in Paris. The Nazis seized the collection in April 1943 after invading France, and earmarked Portrait of a Man for the planned the Führermuseum in Linz. The canvas was recovered by Allied forces following the war, but was reportedly “stolen from an Allied art collecting point” afterward, the Art Newspaper notes.
13.04.2016, Artnet News: Old Master Painting Pulled from Auction After French Government Inquiry
13.04.2016, The Art Newspaper: Nazi-looted Old Master painting withdrawn from Austrian auction at France’s request
Experts Says Painting Found in French Attic is Long-Lost Caravaggio Masterpiece: On Tuesday, two French experts confirmed that the painting found in the attic of a private house near the French city of Toulouse is the long-lost second version of Caravaggio’s Judith Beheading Holofernes. AFP reports that the expert Eric Turquin valued the painting at about €120 million ($137 million) and said the work possessed “the light, the energy typical of Caravaggio, without mistakes, done with a sure hand and a pictorial style that makes it authentic.” Meanwhile, the Old Master expert Nicola Spinosa, former director of the Capodimonte Museum in Naples, wrote in an assessment: “One has to recognise the canvas in question as a true original of the Lombard master, almost certainly identifiable, even if we do not have any tangible or irrefutable proof.”
13.04.2016, Artnet News: Experts Says Painting Found in French Attic is Long-Lost Caravaggio Masterpiece
13.04.2016, artdaily.com: Painting found in French attic is $178 million Caravaggio, art experts say
Storm clouds gather over German art market: Some German art dealers are questioning whether the local art market offers them a future as a new law on protecting cultural assets adds to hurdles, including an increase in value-added taxes, social welfare payments for artists and global economic risks. The Kulturgutschutzgesetz (Cultural Assets Protection Law) had its first hearing in the lower house of parliament on 18 February and is expected to pass into law in the coming months. Its primary aims are to stop the illegal trade in looted antiquities and to ensure that works deemed significant to the national heritage do not leave the country.
14.04.2016, The Art Newspaper: Storm clouds gather over German art market
Italian police recover Nazi-looted paintings in Milan: Three late 15th century paintings missing since they were looted by Nazi troops from a Tuscan villa over 70 years ago have been recovered and two people have been accused of receiving stolen goods, police announced on Monday. The works, of religious themes, seized in two private homes in Milan last July, were described by art historian Paola Strada as “of immense interest because of their unique character, and because they are from artists considered rare on the market”.
18.04.2016, Thomson Reuters Foundation News: Italian police recover Nazi-looted paintings in Milan
Ukraine Recovers Four Old Masters Stolen from Dutch Museum: Four of 24 paintings stolen from the Netherlands’ Westfries Museum ten years ago have finally been recovered. The Golden Age-era works were found “in the possession of criminal groups,” according to a statement from Ukraine’s foreign minister, as reported by the BBC. In December, representatives from the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists had discovered the paintings during fighting with pro-Russian separatists, were were asking for €50 million ($55 million) for the return of the artworks. This amount was later reduced to €5 million (over $5 million).
15.04.2016, Institute of Art and Law: Ukraine Recovers Four Old Masters Stolen from Dutch Museum
Belgium eliminates federal taskforce to fight trafficking in cultural property: As reported by the public broadcaster of Belgium’s French community rtbf, the Belgian government has quietly decided to eliminate the federal police unit dedicated to fighting illegal trafficking of cultural property, part of the central directorate against serious and organised crime. This has been seen as an alarming move by many in the preservation world, given the current international attention to Syrian antiquities trafficking and questions over security in the country.
15.04.2016, The Art Newspaper: Belgium eliminates federal taskforce to fight trafficking in cultural property
Deletion of Search Entries on Lostart.de – Kahmann in Defence of the Federal Administrative Court: In earlier posts, we reported on the decisions of the lower courts, and finally of the Federal Administrative Court (Bundesverwaltungsgericht), on the legality of the continued publication of a search notice on lostart.de concerning Man in an Oriental Costume, a painting attributed to Jouderville, a pupil of Rembrandt, even after the painting had been located. I had written that the judgment did not convince me legally, nor did I think it did the parties a service. The last post on the subject reported a case note of Boas Kümper who reached the same conclusion. In doing so, Kümper reviewed the decision in the light of the jurisdiction of the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) dealing with information provided and disseminated by state institutions (staatliches Informationshandeln).
13.04.2016, Dispute Resolution in Germany: Deletion of Search Entries on Lostart.de – Kahmann in Defence of the Federal Administrative Court
Former director of scandal-beset Knoedler Gallery breaks her silence: In 2009, two years before news of the Knoedler Gallery’s $70m sale of fake Abstract Expressionist paintings began to emerge, Ann Freedman resigned as director. Two years later, the venerable gallery closed down and the lawsuits against Knoedler and Freedman began to flood in. Five settled. The first to reach trial, brought by the collectors Domenico and Eleanore De Sole, also settled its claims against Freedman on 7 February (and against Knoedler shortly afterwards), just before she was set to take the stand in the New York courtroom. Her testimony had been eagerly anticipated, not least because she has never given her view of the unfolding scandal and her involvement in it. Until now. Speaking to The Art Newspaper in an exclusive interview, her first in several years, she summed up the situation thus: “There has been a lot of misunderstanding.”
18.04.2016, The Art Newspaper: Former director of scandal-beset Knoedler Gallery breaks her silence
18.04.2016, Artnet News: Former Knoedler Director Ann Freedman Says She Was the ‘Perfect Mark’
US Senate blocks the import of art and artefacts from Syria: The US Senate unanimously passed a bill intended to stem the perceived flow of illicitly removed artefacts from Syria on Wednesday, 13 April. The Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act had already passed Congress’s lower chamber, the House of Representatives, and is headed to President Obama to be signed into law. The law would effectively ban the import of “any archaeological or ethnological material of Syria”, granting the President and Congress other review powers over such imports, though it may have broader scope as well. A minor section also stipulates that “the President shall report annually to Congress on executive branch efforts to protect and preserve international cultural property”.
14.04.2016, The Art Newspaper: US Senate blocks the import of art and artefacts from Syria
13.04.2016, International New York Times: Senate Votes to Ban Imports of Syrian Art and Antiquities
HEAR Act Introduced by Sen. Ted Cruz to Create Federal Standard for Holocaust Art Claims: Among the many challenges that litigants over Nazi-looted art face in the United States is a lack of uniformity. Statutes of limitations vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and interpretations of jurisdictional laws like the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act differ from one Court of Appeals to another. This is particularly challenging in the context of the Washington Conference on Nazi Looted Art of 1998 because private disputes are where the issue has meaning in the United States. A new bill would address that, though its chances of passage into law in a contentious election season are hard to be optimistic about.
09.04.2016, Art Law Report: HEAR Act Introduced by Sen. Ted Cruz to Create Federal Standard for Holocaust Art Claims
15.04.2016, The Forum: Holocaust Art Act Would Help Facilitate Return of Stolen Works
Rare American ‘Inverted Jenny’ stamp recovered: A rare American stamp stolen in 1955 in one of the most famous thefts in philatelic history has been recovered after turning up at Spink. The long-lost 1918 24c air mail stamp featuring the image of an inverted ‘Jenny’ biplane was given to Spink New York by a prospective consignor who had inherited the stamp. Spink say that once legal matters are settled they will be returning it to its rightful owner, the American Philatelic Research Library.
07.04.2016, Antique Trade Gazette: Rare American ‘Inverted Jenny’ stamp recovered
Seven Soup Can Prints by Andy Warhol Worth $500,000 Stolen from Springfield Art Museum: The FBI has issued a $25,000 reward after seven of Campbell’s Soup Cans prints by Andy Warhol—worth an estimated $500,000—were stolen from the Springfield Art Museum in Missouri. The print series in question, Campbell’s Soup 1, was made in 1968, after the success of Warhol’s groundbreaking first series of paintings featuring the now iconic cans, which he made in 1962. The print series has been part of the Springfield Art Museum’s collection since 1985.
13.04.2016, Artnet News: Seven Soup Can Prints by Andy Warhol Worth $500,000 Stolen from Springfield Art Museum
18.04.2016, Artnet News: The Truth About the Stolen ‘Pop Icons’ by Andy Warhol
California Resale Royalty Act Claims Dismissed as Preempted by Copyright Law, Despite 1980 Ninth Circuit Holding to the Contrary: Just three months after the Supreme Court denied certiorari review of last year’s Ninth Circuit decision finding California’s Resale Royalty Act unconstitutional under the Dormant Commerce Clause in part—but also valid in part—the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles has ruled the entire law invalid as preempted by copyright law. Critically, the opinion relies on last year’s Ninth Circuit ruling on the Commerce Clause issue to overrule a 1980 Ninth Circuit case that expressly rejected the idea that the law was preempted. This core holding of yesterday’s opinion is hard to square with Ninth Circuit precedent, but that will be tested on appeal, for sure. As before, expect proponents of Congressional efforts to enact national legislation to use this decision as support for the idea that a federal solution is necessary, but those efforts have born little fruit to date.
Panama Papers Provide Rare Glimpse Inside Famously Opaque Art Market: The so-called Panama Papers have shined a light on the hundreds of thousands of shell companies used to circulate assets around the world. One of those assets is fine art, and the leaked papers show how collectors and companies have secretly bought and sold famous works by artists like Amedeo Modigliani and Pablo Picasso, among others.
12.04.2016, npr.org: Panama Papers Provide Rare Glimpse Inside Famously Opaque Art Market
Billionaire Collector Liu Yiqian Set to Acquire Stake in Beijing Auction House: Chinese mega-collector and investment billionaire Liu Yiqian is set to expand his equity portfolio to include Beijing Council International Auction Company, according to Forbes. Liu’s holding company Sunline Group was an early investor in the auction house, which his business partner Dong Guoqiang founded in 2005. Now Liu is set to acquire a personal stake in the auction house, which specializes in ancient and modern Chinese paintings and ceramics.
13.04.2016, Artnet News: Billionaire Collector Liu Yiqian Set to Acquire Stake in Beijing Auction House
11.04.2016, Forbes: Flamboyant Shanghai Billionaire Art Collector Is Building Up An Auction House
How do you buy Indigenous Australian art ethically?: The bad old days weren’t so long ago. Cowboys, conmen, chancers and fly-by-night gallerists would swoop into the most remote parts of Australia and return with a haul of dot paintings, obtained by methods fair and foul. Indigenous artists were paid with alcohol or food, or paid under a hundred dollars for work that they would later see on sale for thousands. These practices were “rampant” in Alice Springs some years ago, says Philip Watkins, who is head of Desart, an association of central Australian Aboriginal art and craft centres. A Senate inquiry into the matter was held in 2007 and from that a Indigenous art code was established, although its implementation is voluntary. It includes clauses such as ensuring that the artist (who may not, necessarily, speak English) understands the terms and conditions of the sale, that the dealers respect Indigenous cultural practices and that artists are not to be paid with drugs or alcohol.
18.04.2016, The Guardian: How do you buy Indigenous Australian art ethically?
Aboriginal bark etching returned to Australia… for now: There have been some (potentially positive) developments on the issue of the Australian Aboriginal bark etchings in the collection of the British Museum being claimed by descendants of the Dja Dja Wurrung people who had initially made them in the mid 19th century. An article by Paul Daley in the Guardian from February reports on the discussions between leaders of the Aboriginal group and the British Museum, which could very well result in the three contested barks being loaned in 2017 to the Bendigo Regional Art Gallery, located on the Dja Dja Wurrung’s traditional lands in Australia. And possibly more…
15.04.2016, Institute of Art and Law: Aboriginal bark etching returned to Australia… for now
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