Nazi-looted art returned to Poland

Artworks looted by the wife of a Nazi governor during World War II were returned to the Polish government by her son at a ceremony in Krakόw on Sunday (26 February).

A painting of Potocki Palace, an engraving of Renaissance-era Krakόw and a map of 17th century Poland were returned by Horst Wächter, the son of SS Gruppenführer Otto Wächter, the Nazi governor of Krakόw. The pieces were handpicked by Wächter’s mother, Charlotte, who plundered the departments of the National Museum in Krakόw to decorate the new headquarters established by her husband at Potocki Palace and the Wächter family’s wartime home in Austria. Continue reading

Victory for artists as Peter Doig authentication trial comes to an end

In what has been deemed a victory for artists’ and their “unfettered right” to authenticate their own work, the Federal District Court for Northern Illinois yesterday (23 August) ruled in favour of Scottish figurative painter Peter Doig.

As we reported on 11 August, Doig was being sued for US$5 million (£3.8 million) by the owner of a painting for failing to authenticate it as his own work. Former corrections officer Robert Fletcher claimed Doig created the work as a teenager while incarcerated at the Thunder Bay Correction Center in Canada and sold it to him for US$100 (£76.70). When Fletcher attempted to sell the disputed painting with Chicago art dealer Peter Bartlow, Doig denied authorship of the painting and consequently the US$10 million (£7.6 million) price tag it would have carried at auction. Doig insisted that the work’s true creator was another artist, Peter Edward Doige, and in a statement, he criticised Fletcher and Bartlow for having “shamelessly tried to deny another artist his legacy for money”. Continue reading

Banksy mural mystery: An update

The owner of the Cheltenham home featuring Banksy’s ‘Spy Booth’ mural  told the BBC yesterday (23 August) that the £1 million work had been accidentally destroyed during repair works undertaken on the property. “I just want people to know that I wasn’t trying to sell it and it wasn’t taken off deliberately,” David Possee said.

Cheltenham Borough Council plans to investigate.

Read our original blog post on the mural’s disappearance here.

Gurlitt hoard to go on display

The Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn and the Kunstmuseum in Bern have announced plans to host simultaneous exhibitions of a selection of works from Cornelius Gurlitt’s collection at the end of the year.

Gurlitt’s hoard of 1500 artworks were discovered two years ago, and were bequeathed to the Bern museum in his will. The son of a Nazi-era art dealer, many of the works found in his Munich apartment are thought to have been looted from their owners or sold under duress. Research on the artworks and their provenances is still ongoing. Continue reading

‘Monkey Selfies’ bring IP law into question in San Francisco

Photographer Donald Graham might be having a tough time enforcing his copyright as we reported on Tuesday (5 January), but a 6 year old macaque monkey is having an even tougher time protecting his work in a US court.

Yesterday (6 January), a federal judge in San Francisco declined to recognise Naruto the monkey’s intellectual property rights over a series of ‘selfie’ photographs he snapped in 2011. US district Judge William Orrick had been asked by lawyers from People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to award Naruto monetary damages for copyright infringement by British wildlife photographer David Slater.  Continue reading

Replicas of the Palmyra arch to be made for London and New York

It has been a terrible year for the destruction of cultural heritage in the Middle East. By September, the United Nations confirmed that militant group Islamic State (Isis) had razed two ancient temples, the Temple of Bel and the Baal Shamin temple, in the Syrian city of Palmyra.

As 2015 draws to a close, the Institute for Digital Archaeology (IDA) has announced exciting plans which offer a glimmer of hope in the wake of the devastation. The IDA is to erect a replica of the entrance to the Temple of Bel, one of the few surviving parts of the 2,000 year old structure, in New York and London in April 2016. Continue reading