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Amsterdam museum to return disputed Crimean treasures to Ukraine

Plus: Iranian architects protest planned demolition of Gio Ponti villa | Harry Hyams collection bequeathed to the UK | Experts advocate putting Stormont’s art collection on public display | and Smithsonian acquires 93 works by self-taught artists

14 December 2016

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Amsterdam museum to return disputed Crimean artefacts to Ukraine | A Dutch court has ruled that the University of Amsterdam’s Allard Pierson Museum should return several objects loaned from Crimean institutions to Ukraine, rather than the museums that originally loaned them. The exhibits had been sent to Amsterdam for the exhibition ‘Crimea: Gold and secrets of the Black Sea’ in early 2014. But in March that year, when Russia annexed Crimea, a dispute began as to which state was the rightful owner. The court has ruled that the objects should be returned to the sovereign state at the time of the loan, adding that it was for Ukrainian courts to ultimately decide the rightful owner. Additionally, it ordered that the government in Kiev pay the Allard Pierson Museum €110,000 for looking after the disputed objects.

Iranian architects protest planned demolition of Gio Ponti villa | A proposal to demolish a landmark villa designed by Italian architect Gio Ponti in Tehran has provoked outrage among the Iranian architectural community, reports the Guardian. The Villa Namazee, located in Tehran’s Niavaran district, was built in the early 1960s and has until recently been classed as a national treasure. However, it has now been struck off the list, and is likely to be demolished and replaced by a five-star hotel. Anonymous activists have circulated an online leaflet protesting the plans, while architects and cultural experts have complained that bulldozing the property is unnecessary and damaging.

Harry Hyams collection bequeathed to the nation | The art collection of the late property developer Harry Hyams has been left to the UK, reports the Times (£). In his will, Hyams, who died last December, left £387 million to his Capricorn Foundation charity in order to convert his home into a public gallery. In the meantime, the art will be exhibited in museum venues around the country. The reclusive Hyams, who is probably best remembered as the developer behind London’s divisive Centre Point tower, began collecting in the 1950s, when he acquired a Rembrandt painting for £22,000. Little is known about his collection, though it is known to include Turner’s Dutch Boats in a Gale, which has been on loan to the National Gallery since 1998.

Experts advocate putting Stormont’s art collection on public display | A panel of experts assembled by Northern Ireland’s finance minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir has recommended that more works from Stormont’s art collection should be placed on public display, reports the BBC. The collection, which is valued at around £2 million, is composed of around 1,400 works collected since the early 1960s, few of which are available for public viewing. The panel recommended that the works should be exhibited around Northern Ireland, with a designated curator appointed to manage the collection. Additionally, it advocated setting aside some £40,000 per annum for new acquisitions.

Smithsonian acquires 93 works by self taught artists | Washington DC’s Smithsonian American Art Museum has acquired 93 works created by self-taught artists, all of which come from the collection of the late Margaret Robson, reports The Art Newspaper. Robson began collecting the work of so called ‘folk’ artists in the 1980s, some time before the importance of their efforts was appreciated. The gift, which was presented by Robson’s son, is the museum’s largest acquisition of folk art in 20 years.

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