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Ambassador proposes to ‘share’ ancient statue between UK and Egypt

Plus: Octogenarian arrested over works stolen from churches | London council allegedly ‘threatened’ over Garden Bridge | Institute for Artists’ Estates to launch this week | Ros Kerslake OBE appointed chief executive at Heritage Lottery Fund

8 March 2016

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Ambassador proposes plan to share Sekhemka | Egypt’s ambassador to Britain has proposed a novel compromise over a 4,500-year-old sculpture of Sekhemka that was deaccessioned by Northampton Museum in 2014 and sold to an unnamed buyer at Christie’s for £15.8 million. According to The Art Newspaper, ambassador Nasser Kamel has now proposed that if funds could be raised in Egypt to match the asking price, the Egyptian embassy in London could take ownership and loan it to both the British Museum and the Egyptian Museum in Cairo for six-month periods. The statue has been subject to an extended export bar ever since the sale, though this is due to expire at the end of this month. The proposal is a hopeful one, but if the asking price cannot be matched before 29 March, the statue will almost certainly enter private ownership outside the UK.

Octogenarian arrested over works stolen from churches | An 80-year-old man has been arrested in the western suburbs of Paris in connection with the theft of more than 3,000 objects from local churches. According to Le Figaro, the accused may have worked with his neighbour to steal objects including statues, icons and candles from religious buildings in the Hauts-de-Seine department, in a series of raids stretching back several months. The missing objects were discovered at the suspect’s house in the suburb of Bagneux. According to a priest whose church was targeted in the raids, ‘at [the suspect’s house] the toilets were completely covered in crucifixes…there wasn’t a square centimetre of free space left.’

London council allegedly ‘threatened’ over Garden Bridge | Another day, another controversy emerges over Thomas Heatherwick’s proposed ‘Garden Bridge’ in central London. According to the Guardian, two councillors from Labour-controlled Lambeth council, which represents the land around the south end of the planned bridge, have complained that officials rushed through the planning process for the project. More significantly, they also claimed that the council was warned of ‘bad’ consequences if it refused to back the scheme. Lambeth council is investigating the claims, which it has dismissed as ‘hearsay and unsubstantiated rumour.’

Institute for Artists’ Estates to launch this week | A new organisation devoted to the development and proper preservation of artists’ estates has been established. The Institute for Artists’ Estates is a response to the need for a centralised source of guidance on how best to manage the legacy of posthumous artists. The Institute will offer peer-to-peer advice on matters including legal and tax frameworks, academic research and the development of a catalogue raisonné. Founders Loretta Würtenberger and Daniel Tümpel are well versed in their area of choice, having managed the estates of several leading artists.

Ros Kerslake OBE appointed chief executive at Heritage Lottery Fund | The Heritage Lottery Fund has announced that Ros Kerslake will replace outgoing chief executive Carole Souter this summer. Kerslake, currently chief executive at the Prince’s Regeneration Trust, was awarded an OBE in this year’s New Year’s Honours.

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