'Cash-for-art' row erupts over Getty's link with Courtauld
By James Morrison, Arts and Media Correspondent 09 February 2003
The Getty Museum, the world's wealthiest gallery, is being accused of putting pressure on a leading British institution to "tear up" the will of its greatest benefactor. Eminent art historians claim the Courtauld Institute is accepting "cash for paintings" by allowing the Getty Museum to ship Old Masters to California for up to a year in exchange for a multi- million-pound donation. The proposed deal is in direct contravention of the bequest of Count Antoine Seilern, an Austrian aristocrat who fled the Nazis to settle in England. The count left the Courtauld some 350 drawings and 32 Old Master paintings when he died in 1978. The bequest, one of the greatest ever made, includes several classically inspired works by Rubens, among them Cain Slaying Abel and The Conversion of Saint Paul. It also comprises further Flemish masterpieces, including three Van Dycks, a drawing by Michelangelo, Manet's Au bal and paintings by Degas, Renoir, Cézanne and Kokoschka. His will dictates that no panels dating from before 1600 should ever be shown outside the Courtauld, and those from 1600 onwards should only be loaned within London. But the Courtauld is discussing the loan of the Seilern – or Princes Gate – Collection to the Los Angeles-based Getty Museum. To make this possible, the Samuel Courtauld Trust, which manages the institute's collections, has applied to the Charity Commission for leave to alter the bequest. Britain's leadingart experts have condemned the "deal", which comes only months after the Getty gave the Courtauld an estimated £8m. Sir Dennis Mahon, the distinguished art historian and a trustee of the National Gallery, said last night that the Courtauld was accepting "cash for paintings". He said: "There has to be a connection between the two things." Sir Dennis is one of 20 figures who have written to the commission objecting to any attempt to alter the bequest.
"I knew the count, and he had very strong views about the wisdom of transporting pictures," he said. "To request to change his will in order to get hold of some cash is quite wrong, and I believe that's what has happened." His view was echoed by Michael Hirst, a former professor of art history at the Courtauld and a personal friend of the late count. Professor Hirst, now retired, who was based at the institute for 36 years, said: "I feel that the changes violate the wishes of Count Seilern only 25 years after his death." "The proposed amendments on loans would be unacceptable to most conservators," he added, "given that many of his paintings and works on paper are well over 400 years old." The author of another letter sent to the commission, who wishes to remain anonymous, accused the trust of embarking on a "trashing of wills". And last night, relatives of the count warned that any alteration of the terms of the bequest might be met with a demand from the family for the pictures to be returned. Alexander Seilern, a great nephew of the count, said: "I'm totally against this. I also think there is a clause somewhere saying that, if they do something like that, the deal is off." Sir Adam Butler, the chairman of the Courtauld Trust, denied the request to change the count's will was in any way linked to the Getty's recent donation. The trust, which was recently granted independence from London University, had already embarked on its application,in order to give it greater flexibility to show its collections elsewhere, as a means of raising its profile. "One thing you do achieve by this kind of thing is that the work acts as a kind of ambassador, and helps attract people to Britain and to your institution, which in our case charges for entry," he said. "We have to generate income to keep our gallery and to support the work of the institute."
However, of negotiations between the Courtauld and the Getty over the latter's donation, he said: "The Getty said, 'Obviously, we would like to be able to exhibit some of your paintings.'" Included in that was talk of "wonderful" work from Count Seilern's bequest. The Getty's director, Deborah Gribbon, said last night: "This is an issue for the Courtauld Institute, not the Getty. I can say categorically that the Getty's relationship with the Courtauld is in no way contingent on having loans from the Princes Gate Collection."
INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION FOR CULTURAL PROPERTY PROTECTION 2003 Annual Conference, Seminar & Exhibits
art market timeline covering the years 1987, the beginning of the art boom, to the present
Dear Artnose visitors, http://www.artknows.com/AK2ArtMarketTimeline.htm
As you may be aware, in recent weeks Artnose added a serious side - Artknows - to the left of the Artnose website. Please find attached (above) an art market timeline covering the years 1987, the beginning of the art boom, to the present, compiled by Artknows. Feel free to place this in your favourites or bookmarks and to consult, plagiarise and link to this feature wherever possible. Artnose editor would also appreciate being sent brief emails about any serious omissions - email@example.com - in order to continue refining this resource as a permanent feature for anyone interested in the art market.
Being live on the web, this is now public property. Please circulate. Regards, Percy Flarge Editor Artnose
email: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.artknows.com the nose knows...
Following a tour of Turkey's Archeological Sites (TAY) project, in which archeological sites of Central Anatolia were examined, Turkey's 2002 Archeological Damage Report was declared. Oguz Tanindi, the coordinator of the TAY project, stated that it was the tenth year of the presentation of Turkey's archeological inventory. For two years they have been carrying out activities with universities and independent institutions under the name of the Protecting History Archeology Art and Culture Heritage Foundation (TASK).
Tanindi said that they examined 459 ancient sites in the Marmara, Aegen, Mediterrean and Southeast regions, finding that 317 of them were damaged. The damage was recorded through photographs and film. Tanindi said that the results of the research will be presented on the www.tayproject.org website shortly. It is also stated that after completing research on the Bronze Age studies will continue on other ages, but they are in need of financial aid. The damage is defined as "terrible" by Tanindi, who said that there is an intense, continuing and widespread tendency to damage the ancient sites. He said that every minute at least 10-15 tumuli are damaged by excavators and treasurers. The report, which shows that TAY staff travelled 20,027 kilometers of road in Central Anatolia and searched 515 ancient sites between July and October, 2002, was presented through slides by Tanindi. According to the report, 439 damaged sites were found. It is reported that instances of damage resulted from agriculture, construction, treasure-hunters and illegal excavation, motorway construction, quarries, a dam, and natural causes.
Ankara - Turkish Daily News
Dealer tore pages from ancient texts
Feb 8 2003
The Western Mail - The National Newspaper Of Wales
AN art dealer who stole and dismembered priceless books has been jailed after being caught by police searching for maps stolen from the National Library of Wales at Aberystwyth. Neil Winstanley, 45, was sentenced to a total of nine months for the theft of valuable books, including the first Bible printed in Spanish, while working at a law library. Once he had got them home he ripped out irreplaceable pages, some of which depicted detailed maps of the ancient world, and a number were then auctioned off to collectors, Inner London Crown Court heard. The damage he caused has been estimated by experts at £40,000 and it was agreed in court that he had earned £6,000 from the sale of the pages. Passing sentence, Recorder Charles Atkins told Winstanley, "You abused a position of trust placed in you. The items were valuable and rare. There was no clear evidence of the condition of the items. Nevertheless, the amount you were paid is an indication that the items were valuable and the offences are so serious I sentence you to nine months' imprisonment." Winstanley, of Main Street, Leith, Edinburgh, who was convicted of six counts of theft between January 1, 1997, and March 2, 2000, was then led from the dock. The court was told that he committed the offences while working as a casual paper conservator at the Middle Temple Law Library, a post he also used to carry out private art restoration research. Senior staff became concerned about his behaviour: browsing through valuable works collected over many centuries and then taking special editions into an office for no reason. Finally, in March 2000, he was sacked. His dishonesty came to light when police were searching for rare maps stolen from the National Library of Wales. The library investigation is still going on. Police raided a collector's home and traced some of the items found there back to Win-stanley. Officers then swooped on his home and found the front page of the 1569 La Biblia, the first Bible to be printed in Spanish. Also recovered was an 1897 book containing maps and three maps taken from a 1634 book.
Timothy Cray, for the prosecution, said, "It is a familiar story, an employee who takes advantage of his position to steal." Winstanley said he had bought the books at an antiques fair. Francis Lloyd, for the defence, told the court that Winstanley, who previously lived at Camberwell Grove, Camberwell, south-east London, had committed a similar offence in June 2001 and served a community punishment. Mr Lloyd also told the court that in the past Winstanley had spent £60 a day on his heroin habit but was now on a course of methadone and attending a rehabilitation clinic.
MEDICAL MUSEUM: Foetuses disappear
Published on Feb 10, 2003
Visitors make off with anatomical rarities displayed in country's oldest teaching hospital
Store-owners take precautions against shoplifters, keeping a careful watch over expensive perfumes and other stylish and costly merchandise, but who would expect a hospital museum to worry that thieves would pilfer preserved foetuses and a human skull from its displays of rare anatomical exhibits?
Numerous preserved foetuses including Siamese twins - encased in transparent resin - and a human skull were among objects recently stolen from Siriraj Medical School's Congdon Anatomical Museum. The objects had been displayed on shelves rather than behind glass. "It's very weird," said the dean of Siriraj Medical School, "and quite, quite unforeseen by me". The museum lacked tight security even though many of the objects on display were valuable, Dr Piyasakol Sakolsatayathorn added. His hospital will have to beef up security, Piyasakol told a recent annual meeting of staff recently. Electrical appliances and high-priced equipment had gone missing from the hospital before, but no one thought foetuses and a skull would catch the eyes of thieves, he said. Entry to the museum is free from Monday to Friday, and it has only one security officer on duty, at the front gate. His duty is just to remind visitors - mostly Japanese and Western tourists - to sign a guest book, said a Siriraj hospital official who asked not to be named. "Though we have never priced the missing objects, they were very precious because some of them were quite rare and probably the only ones in the country or in the world, such as the preserved unborn Siamese twins," the official said. Anatomy was the first subject taught at Siriraj Medical School, the oldest medical school in Thailand. King Chulalongkorn opened it in 1890. With the number of anatomical educational materials increasing every semester, the museum was established to both store them and give visitors a glimpse of the past, the official said. The hospital had considered charging an entrance fee and using the money to upgrade security, but because of bureaucratic regulations it was prevented from doing so, the official said.
"Now we'll have to," she added.
Arthit Khwankhom, Usa Shevajumroen
American Says Painting in Spain Is Holocaust Loot
By EMMA DALY
MADRID — The Spanish government is refusing to discuss an American citizen's claim to be the rightful owner of an Impressionist masterpiece stolen by the Nazis and now hanging in the Thyssen- Bornemisza Museum here. The museum is obviously proud of the work, "Rue St.-Honoré, Après-Midi, Effet de Pluie," a Parisian street scene painted by Camille Pissarro in 1897.
"Masterworks," a book dedicated to the best pieces in the Thyssen collection, highlights the Pissarro work and says, "The relationship between the modernization of Paris completed under Napoleon III and the new Impressionist painting achieves its finest representation in this painting." But the museum has little to say about the picture's previous owners. Its catalog entry reads: "Galerie Joseph Hahn, 1976, Thyssen collection," omitting nearly 80 years of history. Claude Cassirer, an 81-year-old retired photographer in San Diego, can fill in at least the first 40 years: as a child he played in his grandmother's apartment in Germany, where this painting held pride of place until it was seized by Nazi agents. But despite a persistent claim to the Pissarro painting, the Spanish authorities say that the museum is the legal owner and that any claim should be made in the courts, a response that has drawn criticism from American lawyers familiar with the claim. "The reaction of the Spanish government is quite astonishing," said Charles Goldstein, special counsel to Ronald S. Lauder, who heads the Commission for Art Recovery, based in New York. "Why should a government that already has a law relating to the return of Holocaust property refuse to have a discussion on the issue?" Lawyers assisting in the Cassirer claim note that Spain, which aggressively pursues stolen Spanish art, is party to at least four international agreements aimed at restoring looted artworks to their rightful owners. Three are aimed at Holocaust victims. Principles adopted at Washington in December 1998 require states to act "expeditiously to achieve a just and fair solution," and the follow-up forum in Vilnius, Lithuania, in October 2000 asked governments "to undertake every reasonable effort to achieve the restitution of cultural assets looted during the Holocaust era to the original owners or their heirs." The Council of Europe's Resolution 1205 of 1999 says, "Bodies in receipt of government funds which find themselves holding looted Jewish cultural property should return it" or pay compensation at the full market value. Full market value for "Rue St.-Honoré" might be as much as $6 million, a leading auction house said, although family members said it could be worth more. "It is also of great emotional value," Mr. Cassirer said in a telephone interview. "Everything was lost in Europe, my family, my life." As a child, he said, he often played in the apartment. "It was part of my life," he said, "and I want the painting back for no other reason than that." Mr. Cassirer's great-grandfather, Julius Cassirer, bought the work from Durand-Ruel, Pissarro's Paris dealer, only a few months after it was painted. The Cassirers, a family of publishers and gallery owners, imported many major Impressionist works into Germany. This particular Pissarro painting was inherited by Julius's son Friedrich, and when he died in 1927 passed to his widow, Lilly, a distant cousin and herself a Cassirer. Claude, still a baby when his mother died in the influenza epidemic that ravaged postwar Europe, spent much of his childhood with his grandmother, Lilly, and remembers the picture well.
Although Claude Cassirer and his father left Germany for Britain shortly after Hitler's rise to power, Lilly and her second husband, Otto Neubauer, remained in Munich. In 1939 they were forced to surrender the painting to the Nazis before fleeing to England. The painting was auctioned by the Gestapo in 1943, Mr. Cassirer said. After the war Lilly Cassirer took legal action to reclaim the work, and in 1958 the West German government acknowledged her to be the legal owner of the painting, paying her 120,000 German marks to compensate her suffering. Under the agreement, she retained full rights to the painting, but she died in 1962 without having found the work, leaving Claude as her sole heir. Almost four decades later a friend of Mr. Cassirer bought a book about Pissarro with a photo of "Rue St.-Honoré." "We were very excited when we found out about this," Mr. Cassirer recalled. But that was in 2000, and "we've been fighting them ever since." Lawyers in the Madrid office of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, who represent the Commission for Art Recovery, said they had passed the claim and all the supporting documentation on to the Spanish Culture Ministry and to the Thyssen Foundation, a body set up in 1993 by the Spanish government, which paid $338 million to buy Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen's collection. The Thyssen Foundation replied with a fax saying that the baron had bought the painting legally. A ministry official wrote that the painting was the sole responsibility of the foundation. Eight of the foundation's 12 trustees are appointed by the government, and the chairman is the minister of culture. The Thyssen Museum refused requests for an interview, though the curator, Tomas Llorens, issued this statement, "Advisers to the museum have examined the request and assured us there is no legal basis to the claim, a response we have passed on to the family." The Culture Ministry refused requests for interviews with the minister and three other officials who sit on the Thyssen board. A spokesman for the ministry said there was no legal basis for the Cassirer claim, saying that it was beyond the statute of limitations, and that the foundation held good title to the painting. He suggested that Mr. Cassirer file a lawsuit. But the commission's Madrid lawyers said there was no statute of limitations, since the case fell under Spain's extensive genocide laws, and that Spain's criminal and civil code required the restitution of stolen property, even if held by a third party in good faith. "We are trying not to take the government to court but to encourage it to comply with the various international treaties Spain has signed," said Juan Picon of Squire, Sanders in Madrid. "But we think their arguments would be very easily dismissed."
The Spanish diplomat who led his delegation to the Washington and Vilnius conferences has been assigned abroad, and Foreign Ministry officials would not comment. But Mr. Cassirer is a determined man. After completing his education in Britain, he was visiting France when war broke out. Traveling with a German passport marked with a J for Jew, he was interned as an enemy alien but managed to get to Morocco, where he survived typhoid fever before sailing for America. "Fortunately I was always a little step ahead of Hitler," he said, "but it wasn't easy." Now his two children are preparing to continue his struggle: "So don't think this will die with me."