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National Portrait Gallery will not receive £1m Sackler grant

19 March 2019

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

National Portrait Gallery will not receive £1m Sackler grant | The National Portrait Gallery in London has announced that it will no longer be receiving a £1m grant from the Sackler Trust, which was pledged in 2016 as a contribution to the museum’s £35.5m transformation project. The decision follows a review of the grant conducted by an ethics committee at the museum, as well as protests from campaigners including the artist Nan Goldin, who said she would not participate in a proposed exhibition there if the grant was accepted. Goldin has been a prominent critic of the Sackler family due to its links with Purdue Pharma, the company which produces the controversial painkiller OxyContin. In a statement regarding the withdrawn gift, the Sackler Trust said that ‘allegations against family members are vigorously denied, but to avoid being a distraction for the NPG, we have decided not to proceed at this time with the donation’.

$2.8m of Met admissions revenues to go to 175 New York arts organisations | The City of New York announced yesterday that $2.8m of revenue from admissions fees for the Metropolitan Museum of Art would be reallocated to 175 arts organisations across the city. The revenue was generated as a result of the city’s decision in 2018 to allow the Met to abolish its ‘pay as you wish’ policy for out-of-state visitors, after the museum agreed to hand over 30 per cent of the increase in profits. The organisations set to receive additional funding include El Museo del Barrio, the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Bronx Museum of the Arts, with each receiving $175,000.

Trump budget proposes to eliminate NEA for third time | The Trump administration released its full 2020 budget proposal yesterday, including plans to terminate federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts on the basis that a rise in private philanthropy and fundraising indicated that NEA activities should not be considered ‘core Federal responsibilities’. This is the third year in a row that Trump has suggested eliminating the NEA, and the proposal allocates $38m of the $4.75 trillion budget to the ‘orderly termination of all operations over two years’.

Lawsuit seeks return of Chagall sold to three London dealers by Ezra Chowaiki | Rick Silver, a collector who claims he was the victim of the fraud scheme for which art dealer Ezra Chowaiki was convicted last September, has filed a new suit in the New York Supreme Court against the London dealers Hugh Gibson, Alon Zakaim and David Breuer–Weil. In court papers Silver claims that Chowaiki sold 25 per cent shares of Chagall’s Bouquet de giroflées (1971) to each of the dealers ‘under false pretenses’ and without the permission of Silver, who is now seeking to have the painting returned. The defendants have released a joint statement to the effect that Silver consigned the painting for sale at Chowaiki & Co and that they bought it ‘in good faith’.