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The week in art news – Glasgow City Council to sell the Kelvingrove

Plus: Museums have realised that the Charities Act of February 2022 has granted them new powers over restitution |  Bard College establishes endowment of $50m for the study of Indigenous art | Phillips teams up with Beijing auction-house Yongle | British art dealer Robert Newland pleads guilty to conspiring with Inigo Philbrick to commit fraud

30 September 2022

Glasgow City Council has agreed plans to sell the Scottish city’s flagship museum, the Kelvingrove Art Gallery, as well as the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), the Hall and the council’s own headquarters, the City Chambers, to a council-operated property company in order to then lease them back to the taxpayer. City Property, an arms-length council-operated body, acquired the venues for around £200m; the council is using these funds to help settle a long-running dispute over historic pay discrimination. The council used a similar scheme to effectively re-mortgage a portfolio of properties in 2019, when the initial settlement of £500m was paid predominantly to women who had received smaller wages from the council than male counterparts. The council has said that the buildings will remain in the city’s ownership and that people would ‘not see any difference in how they access them on a day-to-day basis’.

A change to charity law passed in February this year gives museums and other cultural institutions unprecedented powers over the restitution of objects in their collection for moral reasons, according to a report published last weekend by Alexander Herman, director of the Institute of Art and Law. Trustees of museums will no longer need to seek the approval of the Charity Commission, Attorney General or the courts in order to make decisions to deaccession low-value property in their collections, if they can set out the existence of a moral obligation to do so. Herman stresses in an initial report that ‘returns of this nature will remain relatively exceptional’. In a statement sent to Apollo, the Victoria and Albert Museum said: ‘As an exempt charity, regulated by DCMS rather than the Charity Commission, we await guidance as to how these changes may impact the museum sector,’ echoing a similar statement previously issued by the British Museum.

Bard College in Annandale-in-Hudson, New York State, has established a $50m endowment, courtesy of two $25m donations, in order to improve its resources and facilities for the study of Native American and Indigenous art. The liberal arts college will use to the money to establish a new Center for Indigenous Studies and to appoint an Indigenous Curatorial Fellow at its Center for Curatorial Studies (CCS Bard), as well as for faculty appointments and student scholarships.

Phillips auctioneers is collaborating with the Beijing-based auction house Yongle on a series of joint sales this winter, as part of a strategic partnership to introduce clients to one another. The joint auctions will take place at Phillips Hong Kong on 30 November and 1 December, where the theme is 20th-century design and contemporary art, and at Yongle in Beijing in early December, focusing on modern and contemporary art; previews will take place ion Beijing, Shanghai, Taipei, Taichung, and Singapore.

The British art dealer Robert Newland has pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Newland, who entered his plea in the southern District Court of New York having been extradited to the United States last week, was formerly a business partner of disgraced dealer Inigo Philbrick, who was sentenced in May to seven years in prison for having defrauded collectors, investors and lenders out of $86m. Newland’s sentencing date has not been set; if convicted he faces up to 20 years in jail.

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