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Fatal bomb blast in Istanbul cultural district

12 January 2016

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Fatal Bomb Attack on Istanbul’s Historic Sultanahmet District | Ten people have been reported dead after an explosion in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet area, the location of landmarks including the Blue Mosque, the Obelisk of Theodosius and the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts. President Erdogan has blamed the attack, which took place in the Hippodrome of Constantinople and wounded a further 15 people (according to reports at the time of writing), on a ‘suicide bomber with Syrian origin’. Other sources have speculated that the bombers may have been linked to ISIS – giving rise to the terrifying thought that cultural institutions may have become priority targets for the terrorist group.

Two Detained in Turkey over Art Theft | In less troubling news from Istanbul, two businessmen have been arrested after attempting to negotiate the covert sale of a painting thought to be the work of Van Dyck. According to Hurriyet, undercover policemen posed as prospective buyers, and agreed to buy the painting for 14 million Turkish liras before springing a trap. The two detainees have claimed they bought the painting in Georgia from gangsters for $200,000. Whatever the details, the question remains: is it really a Van Dyck? Staff at Istanbul’s Museum of Painting and Sculpture seem to think so, but the basis as to why remains unclear.

‘Bronze Age Pompeii’ Uncovered near Peterborough | A team of archaeologists from Cambridge University have unearthed the exceptionally well-preserved remains of Bronze Age houses on the site of Must Farm Quarry near Peterborough. Tantalisingly, the discovery could mark the first stage in piecing together an extraordinary story: the contents of the dwellings contain cooking pots that still hold the remains of food, suggesting the site was abandoned in a hurry. Experts have already posited a number of possible reasons for the hasty departure; enemy attack, domestic accident or deliberate abandonment have all been suggested. As it cannot be preserved in situ, the site will eventually be moved to a local museum.

Peppiatt to sell Bacon’s Two Figures | In Telegraph Luxury today, Colin Gleadell reports that Michael Peppiatt, author of last year’s widely praised Francis Bacon in your Blood, is to sell a painting that the artist gave him 40 years ago. Peppiatt was a close friend of Bacon, and is arguably the leading authority on his life and work. As such, the story of how he came to own the painting, which is estimated to fetch £5—7 million when it comes up for sale at Christie’s, is recommended reading for anyone with an interest in the hell-raising painter.

Nat Tate Revisited | In today’s Guardian, novelist William Boyd remembers how he conspired with David Bowie and the editorial board of Modern Painters (on which both sat) to fool the art world by publishing the ‘biography’ of an entirely fictional artist. Though it’s always worth revisiting, the story of Nat Tate: An American Artist 1928–1960 is wheeled out regularly. More intriguing here is Boyd’s recollection of how Bowie ‘disguised’ himself in order to take public transport. Enjoy.

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