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Mafia allegedly providing guns to terrorists in exchange for antiquities

18 October 2016

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Mafia groups allegedly trading weapons for looted artefacts | Reports have surfaced alleging that the ‘ndràngheta and Camorra mafia groups are handing over weapons to Middle Eastern terrorist groups in return for Greek and Roman artefacts plundered from Unesco World Heritage Sites. According to an investigation by La Stampa (Italian language article) for which a journalist posed as an antiquities collector, objects from sites including Leptis Magna, Cyrene and Sabratha are shipped from Sirte in Libya to Calabria in southern Italy. They are then sold to clients based in Russia, China, Japan and the UAE. However, as The Art Newspaper adds, it is thought that a large percentage of artefacts trafficked from the Middle East are fakes.

Painting attributed to Parmigianino sent for technical tests | A painting of Saint Jerome once owned by the controversial collector Giuliano Ruffini and attributed to Parmigianino is being investigated on suspicion that it may be a forgery, reports The Art Newspaper. The painting was sold by Sotheby’s New York in 2008 for $800,000 as a work from Parmigianino’s circle, and experts subsequently declared it to be by the artist himself. But the revelation that a work connected to Ruffini and attributed to Frans Hals could be a modern forgery has called its provenance into question. Ruffini was also connected to works attributed to Cranach and Gentileschi that have come under scrutiny in recent months.

Exhibition dedicated to General Franco provokes outrage in Barcelona | An exhibition in Barcelona exploring the legacy of Francisco Franco’s dictatorship has been accused of ‘trivialising’ the events of the Spanish Civil War and the subsequent decades. Though the municipality insists that it is intended to ‘denounce the crimes of Francoism’, protestors pelted two sculptures outside the exhibition venue (the Born Center for Culture and Memory) with eggs. The exhibition has been compared to similar historical displays in Germany, but opponents insist that 40 years after Spain’s peaceful transfer to democracy, images of Franco are likely to lead to ‘misunderstandings’.

Hitler’s childhood home to be razed | The Austrian government has announced that Adolf Hitler’s birthplace in the town of Braunau is to be demolished in order to prevent it becoming a site of ‘pilgrimage’ for Nazi sympathisers. ‘Thorough architectural remodelling is necessary to permanently prevent the recognition and the symbolism of the building’, said interior minister Wolfgang Sobotka, who reportedly envisages the site being repurposed to house government or social agency offices.

Experts protest exam board’s decision to drop Archaeology A-Level | Experts including popular historian and actor Tony Robinson have backed a petition calling on UK exam board AQA to reverse its decision to stop offering Archaeology as an A-Level subject. According to the Times (£) teachers and experts have criticised the move as ‘evidence that the curriculum was being reduced to core academic or practical subjects’. ‘What we will be most sorry to lose is a subject capable of bringing out talents and potential in students that might have been left undiscovered’, said Dan Boatright, who teaches the subject at Worcester sixth-form college.