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Berkshire Museum and attorney general take dispute to Supreme Court

Plus: Ivory trade investigator found murdered in Nairobi | Mark Grotjahn declines MOCA honour | Halifax removes statue of colonial founder | Brett Littman named director of Noguchi Museum | and recommended reading

6 February 2018

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Berkshire Museum and Massachusetts AGO agree to take deaccessioning case to Supreme Court | The Berkshire Museum and the Massachusetts attorney general’s office (AGO) have agreed to take their dispute over the former’s proposed sale of 40 paintings from its collection to the state’s Supreme Judicial Court. The petition is due to be filed on 9 January. ‘The AGO believes that the 40 works at issue are subject to restrictions, which the Museum does not believe exist,’ the two parties announced in a joint status report issued on Monday, the same day that the Appeals Court’s temporary injunctions against the proposed sale expired. The museum and attorney general have confirmed that no work will be sold until either the Supreme Judicial Court acts or the Berkshire Superior Court, which is currently assessing the case, reaches a final judgement.

Ivory trade investigator found murdered in Nairobi | Esmond Bradley Martin, a conservationist and leading investigator into the illegal trade in ivory and rhino horns, has been found dead at his Nairobi home at the age of 75 (Times, £). Bradley Martin, who emigrated from the US to Kenya in the 1970s, died as a result of a stab wound in the neck, which police reportedly suspect to be the result of a botched burglary – although they are also investigating the possibility that his death was linked to his work. For a fuller survey of Bradley Martin’s life and work, see the BBC’s report here.

Mark Grotjahn declines MOCA honour | Artist Mark Grotjahn has retracted his acceptance of an award from the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. According to the LA Times, Grotjahn had initially agreed to be honoured at the museum’s 2018 gala, but has since declined the accolade. Grotjahn, himself a MOCA artist board member, was reportedly motivated by a perceived lack of diversity amongst recent gala honourees, including Jeff Koons, Ed Ruscha and John Baldessari.

Halifax removes statue of colonial founder | The Canadian city of Halifax has removed a bronze statue commemorating Edward Cornwallis, an 18th-century soldier who established the British settlement in Nova Scotia. According to the Guardian, the monument had become the focus of vandalism and protest due to Cornwallis’s role in the ethnic cleansing of the local Mi’kmaq people, and was removed on Friday following a city council vote which took place two days earlier – although its final destination remains undecided.

Brett Littman to direct of Noguchi Museum | Brett Littman, executive director of Manhattan’s Drawing Center, has been appointed director of the Noguchi Museum in Long Island City, Queens. Littman will take up his new position in May after more than a decade at the Drawing Center, where he was responsible for a major programme of renovations and expansion completed in 2012. He will replace Jenny Dixon, who announced her retirement last June after 14 years at the Noguchi.

Recommended reading | Following recent media attention on the removal from (and subsequent return to) public display of John William Waterhouse’s painting Hylas and the Nymphs at Manchester Art Gallery, artist Sonia Boyce has written an article for the Guardian defending the idea. Boyce explains that the takedown was co-ordinated as part of an artwork she is making for a retrospective of her career opening at the gallery next month, and was intended as an ‘attempt to involve a much wider group of people than usual in the curatorial process’ of selecting the art that goes on public display.

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