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$5 Million Offered for Information on ISIS Looting

1 October 2015

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

$5 Million Offered for Information on ISIS Antiquities Trafficking | The US State Department is offering up to $5 million to anyone who can supply information on ISIS’s illegal traffic in ancient Mesopotamian artefacts, reports Le Journal des Arts. The black market in antiquities is believed to provide a major source of revenue to the self-styled ‘Islamic State’, and satellite photographs published last month appeared to confirm fears that the terrorist group were carrying out illegal excavations in the ancient city of Palmyra. The announcement coincides with the opening of the trial of Ahmad Al-Faqi Al-Mahdi, an Islamic militant charged with ‘intentionally directing attacks’ on world heritage sites in Mali.

Finaldi Insists National Gallery will Remain Free | Gabriele Finaldi, the new director of London’s National Gallery, has announced that the museum is not planning to introduce entry charges in spite of continued cuts to its budget. Coming in the wake of news that visitor numbers had fallen by 35% since August, when the National Gallery’s staff began an ongoing strike, Finaldi’s announcement complicates an already precarious situation for the museum.

Art Thief Found Dead in London Canal | A body found tied to a shopping trolley in a North London canal has been identified as notorious art thief Sebastiano Magnanini, reports the Daily Telegraph. Mr Magnanini, who was identified by the tattoos on his body, was found guilty in 1998 of stealing Tiepolo’s Education of the Virgin from a Venice church and sentenced to 18 months in jail. Police are treating his death as suspicious.

Doris Salcedo Wins Nasher Sculpture Prize | An international jury has named Colombian artist Doris Salcedo as the winner of the inaugural Nasher Prize. The prize, worth $100,000, will henceforth be awarded annually to living artists who have made ‘an extraordinary impact on the field of sculpture’. Whatever Salcedo’s wider influence on art practice, she has certainly made an extraordinary impact on the floor of London’s Tate Modern, which still bears the trace of her 2007 work Shibboleth.

Franco-Dutch Rembrandt Purchase Confirmed | Dutch Culture Minister Jet Bussemaker has confirmed that France and the Netherlands will jointly acquire two Rembrandt paintings from businessman Eric de Rothschild. When the purchase is complete, the paintings will be exhibited together, travelling back and forth between the Louvre and the Rijksmuseum. It’s a triumph for diplomacy – but a nightmare for the museums’ insurance teams.

Eli Broad Donates Personal Archive to UCLA Library | Billionaire philanthropist and collector Eli Broad has announced that he is to hand over five decades’ worth of personal papers and private photographs to UCLA Library, reports the Los Angeles Times. Whether or not the said donation is of public interest remains to be seen – as does the gesture’s relative PR value to Broad’s recently-opened contemporary art museum in downtown Los Angeles.