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December 2019

Titian’s Epic Series. The Wallace Collection has agreed to lend Titian’s Perseus and Andromeda to the National Gallery in London next year, after loan restrictions were lifted following a reinterpretation of Lady Wallace’s 1897 will.

Trove. American philanthropist Jayne Wrightsman left more than 375 works to the Met, along with $80 million for acquisitions. The bequest includes 22 European paintings “of the absolute finest quality,” including Delacroix’s Rebecca and the Wounded Ivanhoe.

$15 Million for Repatriation. The Open Society Foundation, an international grantmaking organization founded by George Soros, has launched a four-year, $15 million initiative to aid in restitution efforts, aiming to support African organizations campaigning for the return of artifacts taken during the colonial era.

Lost Masterpieces. Bendor Grosvenor, broadcaster of the hit detective TV series Britain’s Lost Masterpieces, has discovered that two paintings, one considered a mere copy and the other attributed to an anonymous Flemish artist, are authentic pieces by Botticelli and Pieter Brueghel the Younger, respectively.

Stolen Rembrandts Recovered. Two Rembrandt paintings were recovered by the police and security staff after it was stolen from a London gallery and later abandoned by the thief as he triggered the alarm. Police suspect that the thief targeted works in order to claim a ransom from insurers.

Stolen Banksy’s? Just an hour before Sotheby’s was going to auction Banksy’s The Drinker for £1 million, the sculpture was pulled from the sale, as Andy Link, leader of the art movement Art Kieda, claimed that the sculpture was mysteriously taken from his property. Sotheby’s has so far declined to specify whether Link’s claim influenced the consigner’s decision.

Axe To Grind. In the “largest post-war art theft in history”, diamond jewelry was stolen from the Grünes Gewölbe in Dresden. The perpetrators used axes to break through museum cases and stole three out of ten diamond sets. A German newspaper has valued these diamonds at up to 1 Billion Euros.

National Medal of the Arts (Except Visual Arts). The National Medal of Arts will be presented for the first time since President Donald Trump took office, honor the folk singer Alison Krauss, the actor Jon Voight, the philanthropist Sharon Percy Rockefeller, and the musicians of the US military. No visual artist are in the mix…

The Art of Data. After many years of battling against the German authorities and citing freedom of information laws, artist Cosmo Wenman announced that the Berlin’s Neues Museum has sent him a flash drive containing full-color scans of the bust of Nefertiti. Wenman made these scans freely available online on November 13.

Happy Anniversary. One year after the Sarr-Savoy Report,France returned to Senegal an 18th-century saber that it looted during the colonial period, making a symbolic move in restitution. Similarly, Manchester Museum returned 43 sacred and ceremonial objects to Indigenous Australians, signaling a major move forward for Britain’s colonial museums.

Marcia-NO. Los Angeles labor organizers have filed a complaint against the Marciano Art Foundation following its recent and abrupt closure. According to the complaint, the foundation “has illegally discriminated against its employees” through mass laying-off and the closing of its facility.

Shifting Gears. Christie’s Education has announced its current plan to refocus its business on online and non-degree education courses, and to end traditional higher education graduate degree programs in New York and London.

Storage Wars. Alerted by an unnamed source who found nearly 1,300 prints in a deceased relative’s storage unit, LA police have recovered a stolen trove of signed prints by the late Scottish abstract artist Benjamin Creme. Similarly, hundreds of paintings and rare books missing from the museum of Alexei Ananyev, a Russian banker and billionaire accused of financial crimes, have been found in a storage facility near Moscow.

Royal Art Scandal. British businessman James Stunt lent 17 works––supposedly by Monet, Picasso, and Salvador Dali––to Dumfries House, the historic Scottish property owned by Prince Charles’ charity foundation. But Los Angeles artist and convicted forger Tony Tetro claimed he painted them, putting Prince Charles at the center of a $136 million fake art scandal.

Palmyra Will Rise. Russia and Syria have signed an agreement to “revive” the ancient city of Palmyra through the National Museum of Palmyra. Long-term goals of this agreement include restoring twenty Syrian antiquities, forming an international campaign for the restoration of Palmyra and an international group of experts under UNESCO and DGAM.

Art Disappeared. A collection of 342 works by Markuz Lüpertz, Anselm Kiefer, and Renate Graf worth €300 million has disappeared in China, where the art was on loan from a collector based in Germany.

From Sales to Scholarship. The 80-year-old Galerie St. Etienne is transitioning over the course of next year from a gallery into a nonprofit foundation to pursue scholarship instead of sales because, according to gallery and foundation director Jane Kallir, “we don’t feel that we can combine commerce and scholarship as we once did.”

Making Its Way Back. Dr. Oetker, a German company manufacturing food products, has returned a painting by Carl Spitzweg to the heirs of a Jewish collector murdered by the Nazis. Since 2015, the company had been conducting provenance research for its collection and, after a diligent effort to identify the original owner, the painting was finally restituted.

Cultural Capital Fund. The UK Labour Party election manifesto, launched by Jeremy Corbyn, pledges to establish a £1billion Cultural Capital Fund “to transform libraries, museums and galleries” across UK.