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Artists withdraw from ‘Great Exhibition of the North’

5 March 2018

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Artists withdraw from ‘Great Exhibition of the North’ in protest at BAE Systems sponsorship | A number of artists who were due to take part in the Great Exhibition of the North have criticised the event after the arms manufacturer BAE Systems was revealed as one of its three main corporate partners. According to Arts Professional, a petition has been launched calling on NewcastleGateshead Initiative, which led the regional bid, to refuse sponsorship from the company. Meanwhile, the Art Newspaper reports that a number of artists have withdrawn from the event, which is scheduled to take place in Newcastle and Gateshead this autumn.

Ten charged in $50million fraud involving a painting by Picasso  | Reuters reports that the U.S. Department of Justice has brought criminal charges against 10 defendants (six individuals and four corporate defendants) over their alleged roles in a stock-manipulation and money-laundering scheme. The Department of Justice says that a London-based brokerage firm and an offshore management company and their conspirators engaged in a long-term scheme to manipulate the prices of publicly traded companies in the U.S. and then launder the proceeds through off-shore bank accounts and the purchase of art. The indictment alleges that as part of the scheme, it was suggested that an undercover agent buy Personnages, a painting by Picasso, from the London dealer Matthew Green, who is one of the individuals charged.

Max Beckmann painting to remain at Städel Museum | Frankfurt’s Städel Museum has reached an agreement with the heirs of the Jewish former owners of Max Beckmann’s painting Eisgang, which will allow it to remain on display at the institution. In the course of provenance research, it was discovered that the original owner was a textile manufacturer called Fritz Neuberger, who together with his wife was deported to and died in Poland. After years of negotiations, the museum has now reached a ‘goodwill agreement’ with the heirs of the Neuberger family. A plaque next to the painting will commemorate the fate of Fritz Neuberger and his wife.

French court annuls sentence for electrician in possession of missing Picasso works | France’s high court has quashed the conviction of Pierre Le Guennec, an electrician who once worked for Pablo Picasso and was found guilty of being in possession 271 works from the artist’s estate. Le Guennec and his wife Danielle received a two-year suspended prison sentence in 2016, but the high court has overturned the decision on the grounds that a conviction for handling stolen goods can only be enforced ‘if the theft itself can be demonstrated’. According to the Art Newspaper, the Le Guennecs will face a new trial in Lyon at an as-yet-unspecified date.

National Portrait Gallery announces new painting prize | Australia’s National Portrait Gallery has announced the creation for a new portrait painting prize, which it says will aspire to the status of ‘the most prestigious portrait painting prize in the country’. Named for founding patron Gordon Darling, the competition will be open to all Australian citizens and residents over the age of 18, and will award its winner a $75,000 cash prize. Artists will be invited to portray any individual with ‘a strong association with Australia or who has made a significant contribution to Australian life’.

Andrew Schoelkopf appointed president of Art Dealers Association of America | Menconi + Schoelkopf co-founder Andrew Schoelkopf has been confirmed as the next president of the Art Dealers Association of America, succeeding Adam Sheffer. Schoelkopf has served in leadership positions at ADAA since 2011, and will now oversee the organisation’s 180 members across the USA.

Recommended reading | In Le Monde (French language article) writer Thomas Clerc reflects on the controversy surrounding Jeff Koons’ proposed ‘gift’ of a monumental sculpture to the city of Paris, and advocates that it should be installed not in front of the Palais de Tokyo, as is planned, but in one of the French capital’s poorest districts. On ArtNet, dealer Jose Freire tells Andrew Goldstein why he will no longer exhibit at art fairs, citing unsustainable costs. Meanwhile in London, Tate Britain’s exhibition ‘All too Human: Bacon, Freud and a Century of Painting Life’ has attracted mixed reviews. In the Observer, Tim Adams hails it as a ‘thrilling and thoughtful exhibition’, a view emphatically not shared by Sunday Times (£) art critic Waldemar Januszczak