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South Korean culture minister arrested in arts blacklist scandal

Europe-wide art trafficking investigation leads to 75 arrests | Florida’s Captiva Island is at severe risk of flooding | ‘El Sexto’ is released from prison in Havana | and recommended reading

23 January 2017

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

South Korean minister arrested for compiling arts blacklist | South Korean culture minister Cho Yoon-sun was arrested on Saturday over allegations that she sanctioned a ‘blacklist’ of thousands of artists critical of the country’s leadership. AFP/Reuters reports that Cho has been accused of creating a catalogue of up to 10,000 ‘left leaning’ artists thought to be critical of impeached President Park Geun-hye. Park’s presidential chief of staff has also been arrested. It is alleged that those on the list were denied government subsidies and placed under state surveillance. Cho is the first serving minister to have been arrested in South Korea. She resigned her post shortly after her arrest.

75 arrested in connection with art trafficking | The New York Times reports that Spain’s interior ministry revealed that police across Europe have arrested 75 individuals suspected of art trafficking and recovered around 3,500 artefacts. ‘Operation Pandora’, the code name of the Europe-wide investigation, was launched in October 2016.

Severe flood risk to Captiva Island | The Art Newspaper reports that rising sea levels have put Robert Rauschenberg’s compound on Captiva Island, southwest of Florida, at serious risk of flooding. A report by Coastal Risk Consulting says that the property, where Rauschenberg lived from 1970 until his death in 2008, ‘is at high risk of storm surge flooding’, meaning that large chunks of it may sink under water in the coming decades.

Dissident artist El Sexto released from prison in Cuba |  Danilo Maldonado Machado, known as ‘El Sexto’, has been freed from the Havana prison where he has been held for nearly two months. Maldonado, who has been detained by Cuban authorities several times in the past for his politically provocative work, was arrested just hours after state media announced the death of Fidel Castro.

Recommended reading | In the LA Times, Christopher Knight explains why the city ‘lost by winning’ the contest to host George Lucas’s Museum of Narrative Art. Perhaps more happily, the New York Times‘s Adam Nagourney meets LACMA director Michael Govan to discuss the museum’s planned $600 million extension, Agnes Martin, and breaking the rules: ‘I’m a provocateur,’ Govan says. And in the Financial Times, Robin Lane Fox visits Wentworth Woodhouse (Britain’s largest stately home) in South Yorkshire and comes to an unexpected conclusion.

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