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November 2019

Machiavelli by Da Vinci? An unsigned portrait, after lying largely unnoticed in the collection of a historic chateau in central France for decades, has piqued the interest of historians who believe its subject may be Niccolò Machiavelli and the artist who painted it may have been Leonardo da Vinci.

Project Reset. A new Brooklyn program Project Reset allows lawbreakers of minor nonviolent offenses to waive court appearance by taking art classes. The purpose of this project is “to promote human dignity” by transforming “low-level arrests into meaningful opportunities for justice-involved individuals to improve their lives and avoid future arrests and entanglement with our justice system.”

Dealer Arrested. The prominent German dealer Michael Schultz was arrested on suspicion that he may have been selling counterfeit artworks for high prices. Forensic Photography. The British photographer Jack Latham created Sugar Paper Theories, an exhibition of “forensic photography” that revisits Iceland’s most notorious murders dating to 1974. As a criminal investigation reopened during the exhibition, Latham will publish an expanded second edition incorporating new developments of the case.

One Step Closer. The U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 2514, a/k/a the Coordinating Oversight, Upgrading and Innovating Technology, and Examiner Reform Act, a/k/a the Counter Act, which intends to reform anti-money laundering laws to include art market transactions. Dealers would be required to report transactions exceeding $15,000, which many fear is an “unnecessary burden.”

Fire Bystander. Wildfires may be raging in Sonoma, California, but the Getty Museum is not worried about the art collection, as the building being fire-proof. A lesson for art collectors out there…
Banksy’s GDP. Banksy took action against the unauthorized copying of his work. Not a legal action this time, though: Banksy recently opened “Gross Domestic Product,” an online store where people can buy items inspired by his work. This new venture is the result of a greeting card company pointing to Banksy’s unused trademark but this shop now shows that he uses his trademark in connection with the sale of goods.

Monuments Men. The Pentagon announced a new initiative, in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution, to support US military personnel working to protect cultural property during armed conflicts. The next generation of Monuments Men will focus on the Middle East.

We’ll Take ’em. With more than 1.7 million funerary objects and more than 67,000 human remains being returned since a 1990 law took effect, Richard M. Begay, director of the Navajo Nation Historic Preservation Department, urges that people to continue to return artifacts to tribes whenever there is uncertainty regarding their origins. 5Pointz Towers. While the 5Pointz case is currently on appeal before the Second Circuit, a Queens community board reversed its opposition to a new proposal for “5Pointz Towers,” a luxury complex planned at the site of the famous former Long Island City graffiti art mecca, partly because the developer proposed to set aside 5,000 square feet for a library.

Crack is Back. After being hidden for four years due to adjacent construction, Keith Haring’s East Harlem mural “Crack is Wack” was refurbished and repainted by two commissioned artists and is now back on view.

Help Desk. With the imminent opening of the Humboldt Forum, which includes over 50,000 artifacts removed from Africa during the colonial era, German states will establish a help desk to handle artifacts acquired during the colonial era.

Kitchen Art. A medieval painting hung in an elderly Frenchwoman’s kitchen for years before being recognized as a work by the Italian artist Cimabue. It was recently auctioned in France for $26.8 million.

Golden Age in the Gulf. With the plethora of expensively-designed museums that have been opened in recent years in the Gulf, Saudi Arabia is to build a modern art museum, joining the Gulf’s culture race on the international stage.

Dali Stolen. A brazen thief stole a Salvador Dali etching valued at $20,000 from a San Francisco gallery. The surveillance video from another business showed the man strolling down the street with the artwork in his hand. Another Rembrandt Painting. A newly discovered biblical painting by Rembrandt is to be shown in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford in the UK for the first time, as part of the largest ever exhibition exploring the artist’s early years.

More on Climate Change. The World Monuments Fund’s list of cultural heritage sites threatened by climate change was released at the end of November and includes Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, the Machu Pichu, and Bears Ears––the latter of which is also at the heart of a legal battle in the U.S. Read our case review.

Remove the Trustee. Protesters call for the removal of MOMA trustee Steven Tananbaum, who benefited from the Puerto Rican debt crisis, although he is not the only trustee with financial interests in the island.