Monday, August 20, 2018

Brazilian Police Recover Stolen Picasso

After losing to Argentina 3-0 in Olympic soccer, the Brazilian soccer team has something else to celebrate. “The Estacao Pinacoteca museum’s stolen print “Minotaur, Drinker and Women,” by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso, was recovered Monday, Brazilian police announced. The piece, which was stolen from the Sao Paulo museum on June 12, was the last one of four stolen artworks to be recovered.” More here.


Mass. Lawyer Guilty of Possessing Stolen Art

“A retired Massachusetts lawyer has been found guilty of possessing six valuable paintings that had been stolen from a home in 1978. Robert Mardirosian of Falmouth was found guilty by a federal jury in Boston on Monday. The 74-year-old faces a maximum of 10 years in prison at sentencing, scheduled for Nov. 18.” Officers of the court at their best. Does this mean he’ll be disbarred, or offered a book deal? More here.


If You Bought a Fake Rolex at Actual Price, So Would You

“The Brooklyn Museum, which recently announced its prized collection of stone sculptures from ancient Egypt was cluttered with fakes, is planning an exhibit with these pieces to raise awareness of forgeries in the world’s art collections. …A three-year inquiry found that of the 31 Coptic sculptures, most were either retouched in some way or entirely fake. Some were repainted or reworked, and about a third were modern forgeries made of Egyptian stone.”

More at The China Post.


Guggenheim Bilbao CFO Confesses to Wrongdoing

The director of the Guggenheim Bilbao, Juan Ignacio Vidarte, has admitted that the museum lost €4.2 million of public money when it purchased Richard Serra’s The Matter of Time (2005) using US dollars rather than euros to buy the work. An investigation and audit also uncovered the embezzlement of over €480,000 by former Guggenheim chief financial officer Roberto Cearsolo.

From the Art Newspaper:

Although museum officials declined to comment on the ongoing internal investigation and lawsuit filed against Mr Cearsolo by the Guggenheim, a press release issued by the ­institution states that on 11 April the museum received a letter delivered by Mr Cearsolo’s attorney with the former CFO’s signed confession. Included with the written admission of guilt was a cheque for over e250,000 and Mr Cearsolo’s promise to repay the balance of misappropriated funds. The scandal has led Basque officials to contemplate a series of reforms over how public funds at the institution are spent.

The Independent has their version here, and has their version here.


Vandals Shatter Chagall Masterpiece

According to the CBC, an unknown number of vandals shattered part of a stained glass window by Marc Chagall as they broke into the 13th century Saint-Étienne de Metz cathedral in the French city of Metz. “The vandal or vandals smashed a 40 by 60 centimentre hole in Chagall’s 1963 biblical scene depicting Adam and Eve[.]“

To make matters worse (for the vandals that is), France passed a new law last month “that makes anyone who damages a historic building or cultural treasure subject to as much as seven years in prison and a $150,000 fine[.]“

“A statement from the Culture Ministry in Paris said experts would fix the window by fitting together pieces of broken glass that were collected from the site.” Clancco advice: buy stock in Super Glue!


Was Mexican Artist Legally Insane?

An interesting case bridging art and law, specifically asking what defines a person (in this case a Mexican artist) as legally incompetent to make a gift.

From the LA Times:

A bicoastal legal battle has erupted over who owns 17 drawings by Martín Ramírez, whose artworks, created while he lived in California state mental institutions until his death in 1963, now fetch six-figure sums.

The main question is whether Maureen Hammond, a widowed, retired schoolteacher living in Needles, Calif., was the legitimate recipient of a gift of Ramírez’s drawings from a psychologist who befriended the artist and was the first person to arrange for their display during the 1950s?

Hammond’s attorneys, Rick Richmond and Brent Caslin, said that California court rulings suggest that terms such as “insanity” and “incompetence” in committal forms were general terms during the early 1900s, not clinical ones. The involuntary commitment Ramírez underwent “has no bearing on his ability or mental capacity to make gifts,” Richmond said.

Eric Lieberman, an attorney for the Ramírez estate, said Tuesday that it was clear that the artist was ruled insane when he was committed to a state hospital, “and his diagnosis never changed.”


“Does Venice Care About Art or Parking?”

Two Los Angeles artists, Laddie John Dill and Ed Ruscha, find themselves in a potential legal dispute over a wooden fence (or as is known in property law: easements, adverse possession, equitable conversion, etc.). Specifically, Dill and Ruscha allege that they fenced in a railorad easement (check out a cool two-minute definition on Youtube) in Venice, CA twenty-five years ago and have worked in it ever since. Now the City of Lost Angels wants to tear down this fence and put up a parking lot.

“City bulldozers are expected to begin work on the 100-space parking project soon after a ground-breaking ceremony on Thursday. That has led the owner of the warehouse leased by the two artists to begin preparing a lawsuit seeking to stop the project.”

More from the NY Times here.


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