Art Theft and Legal Issues Summer 2015


1. OTTAWA (AFP).- Canada's public broadcaster has fired its top politics reporter Evan Solomon after discovering he earned hefty commissions on art sales to wealthy Canadians he interviewed. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in a statement late Tuesday cited a conflict of interest and ethics policy, as well as a breach of journalistic standards and practises for the dismissal. It comes after the daily Toronto Star reported that Solomon had brokered the sale of paintings belonging to art collector Bruce Bailey to BlackBerry founder Jim Balsillie and former Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney. More Information: http://artdaily.com/news/79217/Canada-star-politics-journalist-Evan-Solomon-fired-over-alleged-secret-art-deals#.VXtQsLN0zIU


2. KATHMANDU (AFP).- Surrounded by ochre rubble, Pannakaji beds down on a mattress wedged between Buddha statues at Kathmandu's "Monkey Temple", hoping to deter looters from the quake-ravaged site where his ancestors have served as priests for 1,600 years. The hilltop Swayambunath Temple complex, one of Nepal's oldest and most sacred religious monuments, was partly reduced to debris by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck on April 25. More Information: http://artdaily.com/news/78332/Nepal-quake-ravaged-Swayambunath-Temple-complex-faces-threat-from-looters-#.VXtjIbN0zIU


3. DAMASCUS (AFP).- Islamic State group fighters overran most of the historic Syrian city of Palmyra on Wednesday, in a blow to efforts to repel the advancing jihadists after the fall of Iraq's Ramadi.The jihadists, notorious for demolishing archaeological treasures since declaring a "caliphate" last year straddling Iraq and Syria, appeared to have fought their way into Palmyra on foot after breaking through in the city's north. It was unclear if they had reached Palmyra's UNESCO-listed heritage site, including ancient temples and colonnaded streets, and its adjacent museum housing priceless artefacts, located in the city's southwest. More Information: http://artdaily.com/news/78713/IS-overruns-most-of-Syria-s-ancient-Palmyra--Unclear-if-they-reached-UNESCO-listed-heritage-site#.VYR2tLN0zIU

4. PARIS (AFP).- A French art dealer has been taken into custody after Picasso's step-daughter accused him of stealing some of the artist's works, a judicial source said Wednesday. Catherine Hutin-Blay, the daughter of Pablo Picasso's second wife Jacqueline Roque, filed a complaint against art dealer Olivier Thomas in March after noticing some of her paintings were on the market, the source said, confirming a report in British daily The Telegraph. More Information: http://artdaily.com/news/78545/Paris-probes-French-art-dealer-for-theft-of-painting-from-Pablo-

5. ISTANBUL (AFP).- A prominent Turkish sculptor risks over four years in prison on charges of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after being locked in a dispute with the Turkish strongman over one of his works. In March, a court found Erdogan guilty of insulting Mehmet Aksoy for calling the artist's "Monument of Humanity" -- created to promote reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia -- a "monstrosity". The Ankara court ordered Erdogan to pay Aksoy 10,000 Turkish Liras ($ 3,750) in damages for insulting the renowned sculptor. More Information: http://artdaily.com/news/79535/Turkish-sculptor-Mehmet-Aksoy-faces-jail-for--insulting--President-Recep-Tayyip-Erdogan#.VZGfALN0zIU

6. VALENCIA.- A report by the Generalitat, made known yesterday, points out dozens of irregularities, incidents and weaknesses during a five year period (2009-2013) of Consuelo Ciscar’s 10 year leadership of Institut Valencià d’Art Modern. Her husband, Rafael Blasco, from the ruling Popular Party (PP), last year was sentenced to eight years in prison for appropriating government funds. Sculptures that were paid but not received, artworks paid 15 times their market value; travel expenses without previous authorization by the presidency and with personnel whom don’t work formally in IVAM; contracts executed without bidding, and a lower average of museum visits than the ones Ciscar would represent verbally. More Information: http://artdaily.com/news/79270/Report-points-out-irregularities-during-Valencian-Institute-of-Modern-Art-Director-Consuelo-Ciscar-s-tenure#.VZWeubN0zIU

7. DETROIT - Detroit police have issued a criminal arrest warrant to Shepard Fairey, the street artist of “OBEY” and “HOPE” fame, for two counts of malicious destruction of property — that is, for gracing a few unsolicited walls with his work. The week prior, Fairey had been invited to the city on commission by businessman Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock Real Estate Services to paint 18 stories of an office building in his largest-scale mural yet. But in his spare time during this nine-day mini-residency, he seems to have engaged in some extracurricular projects, reportedly causing around $9,000 in damages. And thus, as ABC on-air reporter Ronnie Dahl put it, “The next time he comes to Motor City, the Detroit police will be waiting… with handcuffs.” More Information: http://blogs.artinfo.com/artintheair/2015/06/25/detroit-police-issue-arrest-warrant-for-shepard-fairey/

8. BEIRUT (AFP).- Islamic State group jihadists have destroyed a famous statue of a lion outside the museum in the Syrian city of Palmyra, the country's antiquities director said Thursday. Maamoun Abdelkarim said the statue, known as the Lion of Al-Lat, was an irreplacable piece and was apparently destroyed last week. "IS members on Saturday destroyed the Lion of al-Lat, which is a unique piece that is three metres (10 feet) tall and weight 15 tonnes," Abdelkarim told AFP. "It's the most serious crime they have committed against Palmyra's heritage," he said. More Information: http://artdaily.com/news/79736/Islamic-State-destroys-famous-statue-of-a-lion-outside-Syria-s-Palmyra-museum#.VZbU3RNViko

9. HAVANA The irony of the 12th Habana Biennial lies in the fact that although it drew locals closer to art, it did so in a rather literal way. I am saying this because some people ends up 'vandalising' the artworks during the time of the exhibition using them as sources for building materials such as plastic and wooden panels. This raises a series of questions whether conceptual art can be exhibited on the streets in societies where most of the people do not have their basic needs satisfied. More Information: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rodrigo-canete/locals-vandalise-conceptu_b_7702712.html?utm_hp_ref=arts&ir=Arts

10. LONDON.- A version of Auguste Rodin’s ‘Young Girl with Serpent’ stolen 24 years ago has been recovered in New York. In 1991, thieves stole artwork valued at over $1 million USD in a series of raids on a private residence in Beverly Hills whilst the owners were out of town. Among a number of high-value works of fine art stolen during the robberies was an edition of ‘Young Girl with Serpent’ by esteemed French sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840-1917). More Information: http://artdaily.com/news/79883/Rodin-sculpture-stolen-in--1-million-Beverly-Hills-home-invasion-recovered-after-24-years#.VagCvRNViko

11. BERLIN (AFP).- Grave robbers have stolen from a crypt the head of German expressionist cinema great Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, director of the silent-film vampire classic "Nosferatu", reports said Wednesday. Police did not rule out an occultist motive after finding candle wax in the family crypt in Stahnsdorf southwest of Berlin and were investigating the case on charges of theft and disturbing the peace of the dead. More Information: http://artdaily.com/news/80043/Grave-robbers-steal-head-of-German--Nosferatu--director#.Vafv8BNViko

12.ANTANANARIVO  MADAGASCAR (AFP).- The producer leading a television documentary team that says it has found 17th-century pirate William Kidd's sunken ship fought back on Wednesday against a UNESCO report dismissing their claims. Sam Brown, who is making a film with marine archaeologist Barry Clifford, called UNESCO's report a "disgrace" and said the UN body was motivated by its opposition to privately-funded research. "UNESCO will attempt to discredit Barry Clifford by whatever means they can," Brown said in an email to AFP. "They have exhibited a frankly shocking lack of transparency and impartiality throughout. More Information: http://artdaily.com/news/80044/UNESCO-throws-cold-water-over-pirate-William-Kidd-sunken-treasure-discovery#.Vafu4BNViko