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Mayor of Budapest halts construction of €250m New National Gallery

Plus: UNESCO-listed town in Austria damaged by major fire | Danish court prevents Tal R painting from being chopped up to make watches | and burglars steal medals and jewellery from Stasi Museum

2 December 2019

Our daily round-up of news from the art world 

Mayor of Budapest halts construction of €250m New National Gallery | Gergely Karácsony, the mayor of Budapest, has moved to block the construction of Hungary’s New National Gallery. Karácsony, who was appointed mayor in October on a green platform, said he was not against the museum itself but opposed plans for building it on ‘one of Budapest’s few and very precious green areas’. His proposal to halt construction, which was due to start early next year, gained the support of the General Assembly of Budapest in a vote on 5 November; in a subsequent meeting, the prime minister Viktor Orbán and other officials from the Hungarian government said they were willing to listen to Karácsony’s requests. Designed by the Japanese firm SANAA at a projected cost of €250 million, the New National Gallery is a central part of the €1bn Liget project, funded by the Hungarian government, which will transform the City Park in central Budapest into a museums quarter.

UNESCO-listed town in Austria damaged by major fire | The UNESCO World Heritage-listed lakeside town of Hallstatt in Austria was hit by a major fire on Saturday morning (30 November), which damaged at least four buildings. The blaze broke out at around 3.30am (local time), starting in a wooden hut before spreading to a shed and two residential buildings. One fire-fighter was injured during the emergency response, but no residents from the town, which has fewer than 800 inhabitants but attracts more than a million tourists every year, were harmed. Investigations to determine the cause of the fire are on-going.

Danish court prevents Tal R painting from being chopped up to make watches | The Danish artist Tal R has won an injunction against the founders of watch company Kankse, who planned to cut up one of the artist’s canvases for a new line of watches. Dann Thorleifsson and Arne Leivsgard, who founded Kankse five years ago, bought Tal R’s Paris Chic for £70,000 at the Victoria Miro Gallery in London in August, later revealing plans to manufacture between 200 and 300 watches using the canvas, which they then intended to sell for at at least 10,000 Danish kroner (£1,500) each. The court in Copenhagen ruled in favour of Tal R, ruling that the designs altered, rather than destroyed, the artist’s work; the duo have been prevented from going ahead with the project, and have been ordered to pay 31,550 Danish kroner (£3,600) in legal costs.

Burglars steal medals and jewellery from Stasi Museum | The Stasi Museum in Berlin was targeted by thieves last night, who stole a number of Communist-era items from its collection, which is housed in the former secret police headquarters. Jörg Drieselmann, the director of the museum, told the BBC that objects worth ‘a few thousand euros’, which included a number of facsimiles of medals and a collection of jewellery, were taken during the heist. The break-in occurred just six days after around 100 pieces of jewellery were stolen from the Green Vault in Dresden.

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