Art News Daily

‘120 Days of Sodom’ is declared a French national treasure

Plus: Manhattan’s DA is forming an antiquities trafficking unit | Jewish Museum cuts ties with Jens Hoffmann | Stoke-on-Trent museum raises funds to buy Iron Age torcs | and Berlin’s Ethnological Museum will return stolen Alaskan objects

19 December 2017

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

France declares Marquis de Sade and Breton manuscripts ‘national treasures’ | The French government has decided to class original manuscripts for the Marquis de Sade’s 120 Days of Sodom and André Breton’s Surrealist manifestos as national treasures, thus preventing them from being sold abroad. The manuscripts, which were owned by scandal-ridden investment firm Aristophil, have been withdrawn from an auction sale, scheduled for tomorrow, of historic documents from the company’s collection, which is now being liquidated. According to sources approached by Le Figaro (French-language article), France’s culture ministry may agree to pay up to €8m for the de Sade scroll and around €5m for Breton’s four manuscripts.

Manhattan’s DA is forming an antiquities trafficking unit | Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance is forming a dedicated department to combat the trafficking of stolen antiquities, it was announced at a news conference on Friday. Under the leadership of assistant DA Matthew Bogdanos, the unit will work closely with government bodies in the US and abroad in order to recover illicitly traded artefacts passing through New York City. According to Vance, his office has aided with the recovery of thousands of objects, worth over $150 million, since 2012.

Jewish Museum cuts ties with Jens Hoffmann following investigation | New York’s Jewish Museum yesterday announced the formal termination of its relationship with curator Jens Hoffmann, director of special exhibitions and public programmes at the museum, following a review into sexual harassment allegations made against him. The institution had previously suspended Hoffmann pending the findings of the two-week investigation into the claims, brought by an unspecified number its employees. The museum says that its decision is ‘an internal and confidential matter’ and will not be sharing further details.

Stoke-on-Trent museum raises funds to buy Iron Age torcs | Stoke-on-Trent’s Potteries Museum & Art Gallery has acquired four Iron Age torcs that were discovered by amateur detectorists in Leekfrith, north Staffordshire last year. The acquisition was made possible after a successful fundraising campaign hit its target of £325,000, aided by grants of £165,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and £80,000 from the Art Fund. The torcs are thought to be the earliest examples of Iron Age gold ever discovered in Britain.

Berlin’s Ethnological Museum to return objects ‘taken without consent’ to Alaska | The Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation has announced that it will return a number of objects in the collection of Berlin’s Ethnological Museum to the indigenous people of Alaska’s Chugash region. According to the Associated Press, the foundation says that the items were collected from graves on Chenega Island in the 1880s, without the consent of local people.