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The week in art news – Nadine Dorries appointed UK culture secretary

Plus: Christophe Leribault appointed director of Musée d’Orsay | Hito Steyerl turns down Germany’s highest honour | and Dimitry Rybolovev’s case against Yves Bouvier dismissed

18 September 2021

A cabinet reshuffle in UK this week saw Nadine Dorries appointed Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. The MP for Mid-Bedfordshire, formerly a junior health minister, replaces Oliver Dowden, who is now co-chairman of the Conservative Party. Dorries boosted her public profile in 2012 – and was briefly suspended from the Conservative party – when she appeared as a contestant on the reality TV series I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here. She is also a prolific published novelist. She is the third holder of the post since the election of the current government in 2019.

The current director of the Petit Palais in Paris, Christophe Leribault, has been appointed to lead the city’s two museums of Impressionist and post-Impressionist art, the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée de l’Orangerie. Taking up the position next month, he will succeed Laurence des Cars, who was recently appointed the first-ever woman director of the Louvre.

The artist Hito Steyerl has turned down the Federal Cross of Merit, the highest honour that can be conferred by the German state upon an individual. In a letter published in Die Zeit on Wednesday, Steyerl ascribed her decision to Germany’s handling of culture and education during the Covid-19 pandemic. ‘I am not a lockdown opponent,’ she wrote, before going on to criticise ‘a half-baked but endless lockdown [which] made it possible for part of the population to get through the pandemic with almost no restrictions, while others were permanently deprived of their livelihoods’.

The head prosecutor of the district of Geneva has dismissed the final criminal complaints made by the Russian collector Dmitry Rybolovlev against Yves Bouvier, the Swiss dealer who sold him a number of artworks – including, most famously, Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi. Rybolovlev alleges that Bouvier cheated him out of €1.1bn through the sales of 38 works over nine years. When dismissing the complaints, the Genevan prosecutor stated that they ‘relate to the same set of circumstances’ investigated in Monaco in 2015. That investigation was annulled in 2020, due to evidence of corruption. Rybolovlev has declared that he will appeal against a ‘one-sided’ ruling.

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