German research fund to uncover stolen art in private collections

The German government has announced a €3.4 million (£2.95 million) national fund to subsidise provenance research into privately-owned artworks, which may have been looted during World War II. The decision marks a departure from previous arrangements, which were used to fund research into works held by German museums and libraries. It was prompted by the 2013 discovery of the Gurlitt art trove of which five works have been identified as looted or sold under duress. A further 153 works in the hoard are suspected of being stolen.   Continue reading

Historic art recovery law gets day in court

A new US art restitution law is being put to the test by the heirs of a Holocaust victim to recover two watercolours by Egon Schiele.

‘Woman in a Black Pinafore’ (1911) and ‘Woman Hiding Her Face’ (1912), which have a combined estimated value of US$5 million (£4.04 million) are said to have been among 449 artworks confiscated by the Nazis from the collection of Fritz Grünbaum during World War II. An Austrian Jewish entertainer, Grünbaum was murdered at Dachau concentration camp in 1941.    Continue reading

Convicted criminal’s art collection recovered by police

A painting by Salavador Dalì is one of 14 artworks to have been recovered by Italian police from the collection of a Calabrian businessman tied to one of the country’s most powerful criminal organisations.

Italy’s Carabinieri Art Squad discovered a painting of Christ healing a blind man in an apartment in Reggio Calabria after a search warrant was issued. When cross-checked with its stolen cultural property database the Carabinieri matched the work to a canvas stolen in Randozzo in 2001. A search of another apartment in Messina turned up 13 further works by artists including Salvador Dalì, Giuliana Cappello and Mario Pinizzotto. Continue reading

Sotheby’s take Weiss to court over fake Frans Hals

Sotheby’s have launched legal proceedings against London art dealer Mark Weiss and business partner Fairlight Art Ventures over the sale of a fake portrait by Frans Hals. The auction house stated that it had ‘been left with no other option’ after the sellers ‘refused to make good on their contractual obligations’ and repay the sale proceeds.

‘Portrait of a Gentleman’ is one of several disputed works at the centre of an art forgery scandal, which broke in October 2016. Weiss bought the portrait from collector Giuliano Ruffini for a reported US$3 million (£2.5 million) in 2010. He subsequently sold it to a US collector for approximately US$10 million (£8.4 million) in a private sale brokered by Sotheby’s in 2011.

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The Creative Foundation brings Banksy back to Folkestone

Following popular demand and a lengthy legal battle, the Creative Foundation has successfully managed to secure the return of the Banksy for Folkestone.

The Banksy, ‘Art Buff’, appeared overnight on a wall in the heart of Folkestone’s Creative Quarter during the 2014 Folkestone Triennial, and was stated by the artist to have been given as ‘Part of the Folkestone Triennial. Kind of’. The Folkestone Triennial is a major art event run by the Creative Foundation, a charity which promotes creativity and the arts as part of the regeneration of Folkestone. ‘Art Buff’ quickly became a popular local attraction but, sadly, that was not to last. The tenants of the building, Dreamland Leisure Limited, a company linked to the Godden family, arranged for ‘Art Buff’ to be cut out of the property before the Triennial had ended. The mural was shipped to the US and offered for sale. Continue reading