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Documenta faces deficit of €7 million

Plus: Art dealer jailed for stealing £500,000 of works | UK government ratifies convention for cultural property protection | UK Nazi-era restitution act to be extended | Art Basel Cities Buenos Aires announces artistic director

13 September 2017

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Documenta faces deficit of €7 million following 14th edition | Documenta 14 has run significantly over budget, leaving the parent company that runs the quinquennial art exhibition with a deficit of around €7 million, reports local German newspaper Hessische/Niedersächsische Allgemeine (German language article). Based in the German city of Kassel, this year’s edition of Documenta directed by Adam Szymczyk was held across both Kassel and the Greek capital of Athens – a controversial and expensive decision that is now being blamed for the deficit. In order to prevent bankruptcy and ensure that Documenta 14 remains open until its scheduled conclusion on 17 September, it is reported that the company has accepted loans of €3.5 million from the city of Kassel and the state of Hesse.

Art dealer Jonathan Poole jailed for stealing £500,000 of works | British art dealer Jonathan Poole, who specialised in selling artworks depicting and painted by celebrities, has been sentenced to four years in jail for stealing around £500,000 of art from his clients. Poole admitted 26 charges of theft and fraud committed between the years 1986 and 2013 against a total of nine victims, having stolen works by artists ranging from Auguste Rodin to John Lennon; he also denied a further 32 similar charges. Many of the stolen works are still missing.

UK government ratifies convention for cultural property protection | The UK government yesterday announced the ratification of the 1954 Hague convention for the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict, and its two protocols, which will criminalise dealing in certain exported cultural objects. It has been a several-decade-long process for the UK to accept the 1954 convention, with legislation to ratify it only being passed in February of this year. The convention and its protocols will come into force in the UK, subject to confirmation by UNESCO, on 12 December 2017.

UK Nazi-era restitution act to be extended | In another UK government announcement, it was confirmed yesterday that new legislation will be introduced next year to extend indefinitely the Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) Act, which was introduced in 2009 but remains in effect only until 2019. This act allows national museums with anti-deaccessioning policies to restitute looted objects or those that were subject to forced sale between 1933 and 1945. The announcement was made at a conference on looted art held yesterday at the National Gallery in London.

Cecilia Alemani is director of Art Basel Cities Buenos Aires | The artistic director of the first edition of Art Basel’s new Cities initiative, to take place in Buenos Aires, has been announced. Cecilia Alemani, the director and chief curator of New York’s High Line and curator of the Italian pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale, will oversee a week-long programme of public art in Buenos Aires in September 2018. The Art Basel Cities project will also involve a more long-term partnership with the city involving internship and residency programmes and public programming, beginning this autumn.

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