In a 47-page ruling, Britain’s supreme court deems the Tate Modern’s viewing platform a “nuisance” to the residents of a luxury high-rise building with floor-to-ceiling windows 100 feet away. This ruling overturns two hearings in smaller British courts where the judges ruled with the Tate Modern, a largely free museum, over the private condo owners.
The charges brought against former Louvre director Jean-Luc Martinez in May 2022 have been upheld by a French appeals court. In November 2022, Martinez’s lawyers requested the charges against the trained archeologist be dismissed as they believed the defendant may have been wrongfully implicated in the case. However, after re-examining the evidence brought against Martinez regarding his involvement with looters and fake provenance certificates of Egyptian artifacts, the court decided to uphold the charges of complicity in fraud and money laundering.
If you want to read more about when museum directors go rogue, visit collecteurs.com to read our “strange case of a museum director” series.
In an effort to crack down on Russian oligarchs avoiding sanctions or laundering money during the Russian war with Ukraine, federal prosecutors in New York have reportedly requested that several major auction houses in the U.S. turn over any communications and contracts with sanctioned individuals. The documents could help prosecutors determine if artworks were smuggled offshore or if the profits from art sold were transferred illegally.
Artists and academics worldwide have penned an open letter in e-flux supporting former Reina Sofia director Manuel Borja-Villel, voicing their concerns surrounding the defamatory attacks he received from right-wing news sources that some believe led to his departure. The 1700 signatories also outlined their concerns over the museum’s future, stating that they hope to see Borja-Villel’s commitment to progressive, challenging contemporary art embodied in future leadership.
Labor disputes at museums were spotlighted this week: the Whitney Museum Union in New York staged a protest outside the institution’s Luxe Museum Party, handing out flyers about the institution’s ongoing disputes with the union, which began in 2021. In the U.K., cultural workers in the Public and Commercial Services Union staged a “Walkout Wednesday,” leaving their posts to protest a decade of low wages amid rising inflation and cost of living. As a result, the British Museum was one of several institutions that had to close temporarily. Though the institution re-opened the next day, staff members plan a week-long strike beginning February 13.
Finally, France is leading restitution news this week, returning a “Talking Drum” to the Côte d’Ivoire and a painting looted by the Nazis to the original owner’s heirs. The 940-pound drum was housed in the Quai Branly Museum in Paris and was the first on a 148-item list of objects the Côte d’Ivoire officially requested back from France in 2018. The Adriaen Van Der Werff painting, looted from a Parisian banker’s collection in 1945, will be on its way back to the owner’s heirs after a French court ordered Christie’s auction house to return the painting outright.