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The Rake’s progress: last week in gossip

30 May 2016

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

The news that a pair of Bay Area pranksters dropped a pair of glasses onto the floor of a gallery at SFMOMA, fooling visitors into thinking they were a work of art, has caused much amusement. The kind of people given to voicing phrases to the tune of ‘my three-year old could have done that!’ are, of course, delighted. But it’s not just the conceptual art sceptic brigade who are enjoying the story: The Guardian’s Jonathan Jones has described the stunt as a ‘modern masterpiece’. Let’s hope his pronouncement isn’t, so to speak, short sighted.


Rakewell did a double-take while perusing the listings page of last week’s Sunday Times, in which the leading exhibitions of the ‘Art’ and ‘Book it Now’ sections were, respectively, the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery’s ‘Turning to See: From Van Dyck to Lucian Freud’ and ‘Painters’ Paintings: From Freud to Van Dyck’ at the National Gallery. Snap!


Seven people have been arrested over the theft of Francis Bacon paintings worth an estimated £19 million from a private residence in Madrid last year. Though police have described the professionalism of the heist as ‘worthy of a Hollywood movie’, it would appear that the slickness ended there. According to newspaper reports, the authorities were alerted to the identity of the suspects when a man living outside Barcelona sent British private art investigators an email with photos of the stolen works, apparently asking whether the paintings in question were listed as stolen. Spanish police quickly tracked down the identity of the company from which the camera used to take the pictures had been rented, leading to the arrests – and among them the photographer. If it’s Hollywood we’re talking, this all sounds closer to Dumb and Dumber than The Thomas Crown Affair.

Got a story for Rakewell? Get in touch at rakewell@apollomag.com or via @Rakewelltweets.