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Antiquities discovered in diplomatic car en route to Jerusalem

8 June 2016

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Norwegian embassy driver arrested for alleged antiquities smuggling | The Israel Tax Authority has announced that Issa Najam, a driver for the Norwegian Royal Embassy to Israel, has been detained for allegedly smuggling antiquities in an official car at the Jordanian border. According to The Art Newspaper, a cache of artefacts including statuettes, beads and coins from the reign of King Herod and the preceding Hasmonean dynasty were discovered inside the vehicle. Although diplomatic cars are not subject to routine searches at border crossing points, a spokesman for the ITA has stated that the authority had ‘concrete information’ as to the nature of Najam’s cargo. The Norwegian diplomat travelling in the car at the time has not been accused of any involvement, according to an embassy spokesperson.

US Senators voice ‘moral duty’ to recover Nazi-looted art | A cross-party group of senators have stated that it is America’s ‘moral duty’ to aid the relatives of Holocaust victims in recovering works of art looted during the Second World War. The senators in question are trying to pass a bill that would make it easier for relatives of Holocaust victims to repatriate works of art stolen by the Nazis, which according to the New York Times has been drafted in response to previous cases in which legal technicalities have trumped moral considerations.

Bronx Museum of the Arts forced to postpone exhibition after Cuba halts loans | The Bronx Museum has had to postpone an exhibition of contemporary art from Cuba after the country delayed arrangements to allow loans to the US. The museum had staged a major publicity campaign for the show, entitled ‘Wild Noise’, and insists that it will still take place at a later date. In a statement, the institution said that the show has been rescheduled for January 2017.

Ghulam Mohammad awarded Jameel Prize | Pakistani artist Ghulam Mohammad has been awarded the Jameel Prize for contemporary art and design inspired by Islamic tradition. Mohammad has been recognised for his intricate paper collages created from second-hand books. ‘I am pleased to see that Jameel Prize 4 has been won by such a promising young artist at the beginning of his career,’ said V&A director Martin Roth. Read more about the prize and what it hopes to achieve here.

Malaysian artist investigated for sedition | Malaysian artist Fahmi Reza has been charged with violating the country’s laws after depicting Prime Minister Najib Razak as a clown in a protest against alleged political corruption. If found guilty, the artist faces up to a year in jail and a 50,000 ringgit ($12,200) fine.

Tunga (1952–2016) | Antônio José de Barros de Carvalho e Melo Mourão, known as Tunga, has died from cancer in Rio de Janeiro. One of the leading Brazilian artists of his generation, Tunga worked in many media, including sculpture, installation, performance and film. Notably, in 2005, he became the first contemporary artist to present a monumental installation at the Louvre.