• The oft-stolen Ghent altarpiece is being restored at a cost of $1.3 million, only a piece or two will be removed from display at a time. But if you can’t make it to Ghent you can view the whole altarpiece in 100 billion pixels here.
  • The now-closed Knoedler art gallery has settled a suit involving an allegedly forged Jackson Pollock. 
  • In case you missed it, Arnold Peter Weiss, a prominent physician and coin collector wrote an essay on buying ancient coins as part of a plea agreement. Chasing Aphrodite has published the essay on scribd.
  • Public lands officials in Idaho are urging people not to disturb the increasing number of antiquities and other sites which are being revealed by the plague of forest fires.
  • Apparently some use their art to secure loans.
  • The four thieves in the theft of Chinese art from the Fitzwilliam in Cambridgeshire have been convicted, but where’s the art?
  • Art forger Ken Perenyi continues to claim he’s doing everyone a favor by forgin’ art. I’ve got his book sitting on my desk but haven’t had a chance to read it just yet. In an interview with Janice Harper he claims:

“My lawyers said at the time, ‘Ken, when your own victims circle the wagons to prevent you from being indicted, that’s got to be the definition of the perfect crime.'” Why would they protect him? Perhaps a better question is why would they turn him in? To do so would reveal not only the fact that they were duped. It would also mean they could not continue profiting from his work. “I would say from the art world establishment… the money is immaterial. They’re not interested in trying to recover money at all. What they are worried about is their reputation. … At the time of [the FBI] investigation, they had several important paintings that had gone through the auction houses that they knew were authored by me. And by looking at those paintings they would say, ‘Oh my God, if he was good enough to do this, this certainly wasn’t the first. So if he’s indicted, what is this going to open up?'” What it would open up, Perenyi suggests, is that there are well over a thousand of his paintings out there right now, masquerading as “authentic.” How does that impact the buyers of these works?

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The Campbell Soup Company celebrates the 50th anniversary of Andy Warhol's soup can series with special edition labels.
Art and Soup

Mike Madison wonders what the new agreement between the Warhol foundation and Campbell’s is really about:

It’s unclear to me what, exactly, is being licensed. . . . “The starting point, said [Michael Hermann, Director of Licensing for the Foundation], was to review all of Warhol’s Colored Soup Can paintings to find four images that worked well as a group and translated well as packaging. Then Campbell’s created labels derived from the original works.” That makes a little more sense. But the cans themselves (pictured above, from the LA Times) seem “Warholian” to me, rather than “Warhol.” 

Deep cuts to funding heritage in Greece in USA Today

The Ministry of Culture’s budget has been cut by 50% over the past two years, and deputy minister of culture Kostas Tzavaras says another 50% cut looms. But many here say that even if the cuts are a long time coming, they do not have to result in a reduction in care for Greece’s architectural treasures. The Ministry of Culture has been renowned more for its spending sprees and ineptitude than its protection of monuments, analysts say. Former Culture minister Pavlos Geroulanos said he would resign after robbers stole dozens of priceless artifacts in February from a museum. Some of the bronze and pottery pieces dated from the ninth century B.C. and were protected by a single guard at the Archaeological Museum of the history of the Ancient Olympic Games. Still, the Culture Ministry says it has no choice but to pare back on things like paid security guards. “I didn’t come like Santa Claus,” Tzavaras said. “I don’t have money to give away, like other ministers did.”

ART LAW SCHOOL « Clancco Yes, something called the art law school exists. Terrific idea:

 The focus of the ART LAW SCHOOL is to introduce the artist to the “must-know” legal and business issues that arise when making art.

The Art Law Blog wonders about the big sale of Warhol’s by the Warhol foundation: If it’s not the tax exemptions, what is it?

No one would suggest that what the Warhol Foundation is doing is “unethical” or “repulsive” or “Stalinist.” Nobody questions the right of artist-endowed foundations to sell work. Nobody claims those works are held in the public trust, to be accessible to present and future generations. But why? Why are works owned by, say, the Warhol Museum held in the public trust, while works owned by, say, the Warhol Foundation are not?

The Daily Pennsylvanian : Turkish ‘Troy gold’ at Penn Museum stirs up controversy

The 24 pieces of “Troy gold” jewelry that the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology lent to the Turkish government in a landmark agreement announced Sept. 4 may have a more complicated history than meets the eye. Archaeology professor Brian Rose, a curator in the museum’s Mediterranean section, believes the artifacts arrived at Penn after they had been previously stolen. “I’m virtually certain they were looted,” said Rose, who has spent time studying the jewelry. “The question is from which region were they looted.” Penn had originally purchased the jewelry legally in 1966 from an antiquities dealer in Philadelphia without knowing all the details surrounding the artifacts’ history. “We bought it because it looked very like the gold that was excavated at Troy,” Penn Museum Director Julian Siggers said.

Victims of forgery are “left in limbo” – The Art Newspaper

Art forgeries are once again in the news and getting more attention from law-enforcement agencies worldwide. But recent cases, including those of the German forger Wolfgang Beltracchi, the FBI investigation into art sold through the defunct New York-based Knoedler gallery, and the forgery of Indian Progressive pieces by the UK faker William Mumford, are leaving victims unsure of the legal position of works not examined in a court of law. The problem is that few of the fakes identified in forgery cases are ever recovered, and if they are, may not be considered by a judge as part of a trial. In the case of Mumford, just 40 of the 900 forgeries thought to have been made were brought before the court. Only 12 of the 58 fakes that police believe were made by Beltracchi were examined in his trial in Cologne in 2011. So what about the rest? And what can you do if you think you have a forged painting? At the moment, it seems it is up to the victims to try to extract reparations.

Growth in Online Art Market Brings More Fraud – 

Over the last few years the Internet has broadened the art market far beyond the exclusivity and opaque jargon of its moneyed enclaves and has helped turn the slogan “art for everyone” into reality. But it has also become a sort of bazaar, where shoppers of varying sophistication routinely encounter all degrees of flimflammery, from the schemes of experienced grifters to the innocent mistakes of the unwitting and naïve. A recent study by statisticians at George Washington University and the University of California, Irvine, estimated that as many as 91 percent of the drawings and small sculptures sold online through eBay as the work of the artist Henry Moore were fake. 

Abu Dhabi Police foils illegal sale of Dh2.5 million antique coins – The National

Abu Dhabi Police have thwarted the illegal Dh2.5m sale of four antique gold coins and a fake.And while four of the five coins were genuine, the fifth – also made of gold – appeared to be from the time of the 7th-century Umayyad caliph Abdul Malik ibn Marouan, but was a fake, Maj Gen Mohammed Al Menhali, the head of police operations at Abu Dhabi Police, told the Arabic-language daily Al Ittihad. A real coin from that period would have been worth around US$3m (Dh11m), he noted.

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The Curious Case of SpongeBob SquarePants Illustrator Todd White, Three Ninjas, and an Art Caper | Culture | Vanity Fair

A truly bizarre tale:

Artist Todd White seemingly had it all. With a multi-million-dollar art brand, collectors and clients ranging from Sylvester Stallone to Coca-Cola, and a burgeoning reputation in art-mad Britain, his days as lead character designer of SpongeBob SquarePants were but a distant memory. But, as David Kushner reports, when his confidante and gallerist Peggy Howell reported a burglary of his paintings at the hand of ninjas, things took a turn for the even stranger.

Theft of Dalí Drawing Was Incongruous in its Simplicity –

altThe man who stole a drawing by the Surrealist painter Salvador Dalí on Tuesday wore only the most basic of disguises: that of an everyday gallery visitor, walking past the Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst works on display. And he brought only the most basic of tools for his heist: a black shopping bag. When he left the new Venus Over Manhattan gallery on Madison Avenue and escaped into a sunny afternoon, no one — not the security guard standing watch in the gallery, not the guard in the building’s lobby — realized that a thief was making his getaway. The loss of the drawing, “Cartel de Don Juan Tenorio,” valued at $150,000, was a blow to the gallery, near East 77th Street, which has been open for only a month. Its high-society origins and high-concept exhibition have attracted much attention. Its owner is Adam Lindemann, a wealthy art collector and writer whose wife runs another gallery.

 And of course the painting was recovered after it was mailed back to the US from Greece.

To keep the looters away from De Soto site and Spanish mission, Ashley White came up with an elaborate ruse |

“The artifacts, individually, are not very valuable monetarily, but historically they have tremendous value,” White said. But treasure hunters aren’t easy to deter. To keep the looters away from the real treasures, White had to come up with an elaborate ruse. White created a phony archaeological dig on a distant part of his property near Orange Lake, complete with orange markers, wooden grids and strings methodically placed to give the illusion that important work was taking place there.

An account of ARCA’s annual conference by Rebecca Junkemeier with SPI:

Here at SPI, we want to provide local communities with the entrepreneurial opportunities to create sustainable income from their cultural heritage; income that is dependent on the preservation of the site. SPI left Amelia with the conviction that focus on the local is imperative to success, and that, now more than ever, the development of local economies is instrumental in saving the world’s cultural heritage for future generations to study and enjoy.

Master forger comes clean about tricks that fooled art world for four decades | Art and design | The Observer

An extraordinary memoir is to reveal how a gifted artist managed to forge his way to riches by conning high-profile auctioneers, dealers and collectors over four decades. The book, Caveat Emptor: The Secret Life of an American Art Forger, will be published next month and tells the story of Ken Perenyi, an American who lived in London for 30 years. The revelations within it are likely to spark embarrassment on both sides of the Atlantic.

U.S. returns stolen art worth millions to Italy | Reuters

The United States on Wednesday returned stolen art works worth millions of dollars to Italy, including two 2,300-year-old ceramic vases, a Roman sculpture and a Renaissance painting. The seven works, which Italian police said were illegally smuggled into the United States by organized crime groups specializing in stolen art, will now be returned to their owners and museums. “The recovery of these works of art was thanks to professional cooperation between law enforcement in Italy and the United States,” said Italian Culture Minister Lorenzo Ornaghi. “The recovery of art is an important chapter in our history of cooperation,” he told a news conference at the U.S. embassy.

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Krak des Chevaliers, a crusader castle in Syria is at risk

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“Le Marché” 

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Will Rome’s trash follow Hadrian outside the city centuries later?

  • There are concerns over the proposed siting of a landfill near Hadrian’s villa.
  • In New Orleans a man was sentenced to two years in prison and $327,000 in restitution for selling forgeries of works by Clementine Hunter.
  • Rick St. Hilaire summarizes the expected forfeiture of a painting,Cristo Portacroce Trascinato Da Un Manigoldo after the loaned work from Italy was seized, the work will be returned to the family who was dispossessed of the painting by the Nazis. 
  • Yuck: A drunk Denver woman punched, damaged and urinated near the vicinity of a $30 million Clyfford Still painting.
  • The 1866 wreck of the USS Narcissus in the mouth of Tampa Bay will become a Florida state archaeological preserve.
  • Martin Kemp found the trial of five men in connection with Leonardo da Vinci’s Madonna of the Yarnwinder “deeply unsatisfying”. Me too. 
  • Creativity makes people feel uneasy.
  • A Manhattan art gallery has offered a reward for stolen art.Roman spintria from London
  • The Portable Antiquities Scheme, the voluntary program for reporting objects legally found in parts of the United Kingdom, has received attention for a racy brothel coin, called a spintria, or was it a game token?
  • Finally, Tom King points out an interesting article (but no link) by Raimund Karl which describes an Austrian model of heritage management. I thought about posting a longer response and discussion, but sadly I’ve given up hope that the heritage advocacy sites on the interwebs can offer any useful forum for discussion. I’ve made a peer-reviewed case for what I think is best after looking at the law, policy and results. 

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