Are the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s missing masterpieces in Ireland?

A Dutch private investigator dubbed the ‘Indiana Jones of the art world’ believes he holds the key to solving the most lucrative art heist in US history.

A European art advisor and part-time sleuth, Arthur Brand claims to have two good leads, which suggest 13 masterpieces worth US$500 million (£395 million) stolen from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990 are in Ireland. One lead is from a notorious Dutch criminal who showed new photos of the artworks in the 1990s in an attempt to sell them, and the other lead cannot be divulged. Continue reading

DiCaprio offers up artworks embroiled in money laundering investigation

Paintings by Picasso and Basquiat could soon be handed over to the FBI as part of an investigation into a US$4.5 billion (£3.5 billion) Malaysian embezzlement scheme.

Given to the actor Leonardo DiCaprio as gifts, the artworks were purchased by individuals caught up in the US Justice Department’s investigation into the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fund. Continue reading

Parmigianino LA-bound after failed search for UK buyer

A multimillion pound oil painting by Parmigianino will be shipped to the United States after no buyers were found in the United Kingdom to step and rescue it from export.

‘Virgin and Child with Saint Mary Magdalen and the Infant Saint John the Baptist’ (c. 1535-40) was purchased from the private collection of the Dent-Brocklehurst family by Los Angeles’ J. Paul Getty Museum in 2016. UK Culture Minister, Matt Hancock, placed a temporary export bar on the painting by Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola (called Parmigianino) to enable a UK buyer to match the £24.5 million asking price by June 2017. Continue reading

Painting by polar explorer uncovered in Antarctic hut

A conservator “got such a fright” that she jumped upon discovering a 118-year-old painting hidden inside a hut in Antarctica.

The watercolour of a small bird labelled ‘1899 Tree Creeper’ was uncovered by Josefin Bergmark-Jimenez from the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust in September 2016. It was tightly packed among papers in a portfolio found inside the hut, one of two dwellings built at Cape Adare in East Antarctica by the 1899 expedition of Carsten Borchgrevink. Until now the surprise find has been kept secret to enable the Trust to focus on restoring 1,500 artefacts discovered in the huts. Continue reading

Wearable Picasso inspired by lovers’ tiff up for sale

A ring crafted by Picasso to smooth over a lover’s spat is expected to fetch up to £500,000 at auction.

Containing a miniature cubist portrait of photographer, painter and poet, Dora Maar, the ring was presented to her by Picasso after they quarreled. His lover and muse, Maar had persuaded Picasso to exchange one of his artworks for a ruby ring. After Picasso grew irritated with her over the deal Maar tossed the cabochon gem into the Seine. Continue reading

Banksy “print-for-vote” offer taken off the table

Graffiti artist Banksy has revoked his “UK Election Souvenir Special” print offer after it prompted a police investigation and triggered a public warning against electoral fraud.

In an update to our recent coverage of the “complimentary gift”, which the street artist offered to mail to voters in six Bristol constituencies if they voted against the Conservative party in the UK general election, a “Product Recall” message has appeared on the Banksy website. The message states that the artist has “been warned by the Electoral Commission that the free print offer will invalidate the election result”. Continue reading

Election artwork could leave Banksy on the wrong side of the law

Street artist and provocateur Banksy has landed in hot water over his latest project, which has been timed to coincide with the UK general election.

Posting on his website, the artist is offering to send a “complimentary gift” in the form of an “exclusive new Banksy print” to voters in six Bristol constituencies who send in a photograph of their ballot papers from the 8 June election showing they voted against the Conservative candidate. Continue reading

Adidas steps on the toes of Art Basel in sneaker lawsuit

Footwear company Adidas is alleged to have tread all over Art Basel’s good name by creating an unauthorised Art Basel-themed sneaker according to a lawsuit filed by the international art fair on May 30 in Florida.

MCH Swiss Exhibition (Basel) Ltd, which owns the modern and contemporary art fair has accused Adidas of breaching copyright by producing a line of sneakers emblazoned with an “Art Basel” label without its permission. It is suing the footwear brand for injunctive relief and damages for copyright infringement, false association, deceptive and unfair trade practice, unjust enrichment and dilution of its trademark. MCH also wants all remaining Art Basel sneakers to be destroyed. Continue reading

Lasers burn away 1600 years of grime to reveal richly-coloured Roman frescoes

Two hundred feet below the streets of Rome, a team of archaeologists has discovered 1,600 year old frescoes using laser beam technology.

The brightly coloured paintings, which date to around 360 AD were uncovered on the ceilings of two ancient Christian tombs in the labyrinthine Catacombs of St Domitilla. Hidden for centuries under layers of algae, smoke residue and calcium they were brought to the surface using 2mm laser beams. Continue reading