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Poland acquires Czartoryski collection for well below market price

Plus: Experts act to secure Florence’s treasures against earthquake damage | Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium director accuses politicians of harassment | George Eastman Museum makes more than 250,000 images available online | Jean Paul Barbier-Mueller (1930–2016)

3 January 2017

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Poland acquires Czartoryski collection | The Polish government has acquired the world-renowned Czartoryski family collection after coming to an agreement with the foundation that has administered it, reports the New York Times. The government says that it has purchased the collection, which includes Leonardo’s Lady with an Ermine, in order to ensure that it receives appropriate care and remains within Poland’s borders. The acquisition was made for $105 million, a sum that the deputy prime minister and culture minister Piotr Glinski acknowledges is well below its estimated value of $2 billion, adding that it should be viewed as a ‘donation’. The works will remain on public view in Krakow.

Experts act to secure Florence’s treasures against earthquake damage | Following a series of earthquakes that caused widespread damage in central Italy last year, experts are beginning to assess the seismic resistance of monuments in the region, reports The Art Newspaper. A particular cause for concern is Michelangelo’s David, housed in Florence’s Galleria dell’Accademia. In 2014, the statue was found to have micro-fractures in its legs, and it is feared it could topple under strain. Elsewhere in Florence, surveys will be undertaken to assess damage to the Duomo and its surrounding monuments.

Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium director accuses politicians of harassment | Michel Draguet, director of Belgium’s Royal Museums of Fine Arts, has accused secretary of state Elke Sleurs and her colleague of ‘harassment and conspiracy’, reports L’Echo (French language article). Mr Draguet has filed a criminal complaint claiming that Sleurs and René Delcourt (chair of the board of directors of the Federal Science Policy Office) have been interfering with the operations of the RMFA’s six constituent museums. According to Draguet, Sleurs made an unprecedented audit of his management, interfered with the appointment of new directors and prevented the acquisition of new works.

George Eastman Museum makes more than 250,000 images available online | Rochester’s George Eastman Museum has released in excess of 250,000 photographs from its collection into an online archive, including images by Daguerre and Steichen. The pictures released include some of the earliest images in the museum’s vast archive, alongside Kodak advertisements, images of photographic equipment and material related to the museum’s eponymous founder.

Jean Paul Barbier-Mueller (1930–2016) | Swiss collector Jean Paul Barbier-Mueller has died in Geneva at the age of 86. Renowned for his extensive collections of Pre-Columbian, African and Oceanic art, Barbier-Mueller began collecting with his wife in the mid 1950s, and in 1977 they opened the Barbier-Mueller Museum in Geneva in order to house the items they amassed. The couple also provided Paris’s fledgling Musée du quai Branly, which opened in 2006, with some 1,200 works, many of which were directly donated to the institution.

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