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US court rules that Germany can be sued for return of Guelph Treasure

Plus: UK museums face ‘uncertain future’ | Archaeologists search for Caligula’s boat | UK arts councils and BBC announce new partnership

4 April 2017

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

US court rules that Germany can be sued for return of Guelph Treasure | A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has denied a motion by the German state to dismiss a lawsuit seeking the return of the Guelph Treasure. The plaintiffs are heirs of the German-Jewish dealers who sold the collection of medieval artefacts to the Prussian state in 1935. They allege that their ancestors were coerced into doing so for just 35 per cent of its market value. Germany, where the relics remain on display, has contested this, citing the economic climate at the time for the low price paid. The case is among the first to be affected by the Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act, which passed in December and removes some of the barriers to those seeking to file relevant restitution claims in the US.

UK museums face ‘uncertain future’ | A survey by the Museums Association has found that 24 per cent of museums in the United Kingdom have experienced a decrease in public funding since 2015, with institutions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland suffering the biggest cuts. The report found that 64 per cent of Welsh museums had experienced a decrease in public income, with the figure falling to 50 per cent and 43 per cent in Scotland and Northern Ireland respectively. In London and the North East, 30 per cent of institutions reported a drop in funding, with local authorities across England cutting spending by an average of 31 per cent in real terms since 2010.

Archaeologists search for Caligula’s boat | Researchers in Italy are embarking on a high-tech search for the wreck of a ‘party boat’ once owned by the Emperor Caligula, which is believed to lie at the bottom of Lake Nemi, reports the Times (£). Caligula, who reigned from AD 37–41, was recorded as having built floating palaces on the lake, on which he hosted lavish celebrations. Two vessels were recovered from the water in the 1920s (they were subsequently destroyed during the Second World War), but it is believed a third, larger wreck may remain in the water. A full-scale scan of the bottom of the lake is due to take 10 days.

UK arts councils and BBC announce new partnership | BBC director-general Tony Hall has announced a new creative partnership with the Arts Councils of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and Creative Scotland. Culture UK, as it is called, will open up funding to a host of arts organisations in order to create programming for the BBC. ‘There are real challenges that make working together more necessary and more urgent than ever’, Hall said. ‘Culture is one of the things that unites us all and expresses our identity. We ignore that at our peril.’ £4m in funding will be made available in Culture UK’s first year, via a new Artists First BBC commissioning fund.

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