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Trial begins for Spanish museum director accused of spending €3.4m on forged works

Consuelo Císcar, the former director of the Institut Valencià d’Art Modern, is said to have bought works attributed to Gerardo Rueda—but that were painted by his son

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Císcar is accused of using public funds to buy at least eight works of art attributed to Gerardo Rueda but which were instead produced by his adopted son  Museum photo: Zarateman; Císcar photo: Javier Gayá

Císcar is accused of using public funds to buy at least eight works of art attributed to Gerardo Rueda but which were instead produced by his adopted son Museum photo: Zarateman; Císcar photo: Javier Gayá

The trial has begun in Spain of Consuelo Císcar, the former director of the Institut Valencià d’Art Modern (Ivam), in the southeast of Spain, who is accused of using €3.4m in public funds to buy 98 works of art by the late artist Gerardo Rueda that she knew were forged. Císcar was in charge of the museum between 2004 and 2014.

According to the UK newspaper, the Times, Císcar is accused of using public funds to buy at least eight works of art attributed to Gerardo Rueda, the 20th-century Spanish artist, but that were instead produced by his adopted son, José Luis Rueda, several years after his death. Císcar has been charged with perverting the course of justice, falsifying documents and embezzlement; José Luis Rueda is also on trial.

Císcar says that all the acquisition decisions were supported by Ivam professionals and the relevant departments in question, who never questioned the purchases. “She has stressed that everyone was aware of the conditions of the purchases [made between 2004 and 2006] and that, in no case, did they violate the law,” reports the Spanish newspaper El País. Císcar’s lawyer could not be reached for comment.

Císcar was already facing an 18-month jail sentence for using the museum to promote the artistic career of her son. In 2016, Spanish authorities were investigating Císcar and five members of her administration for financial irregularities while she was running Ivam. Magistrates said in a statement that the museum had paid inflated prices for works of art and publication contracts. The alleged irregularities came to light in June 2015 after an audit.

Gerardo Rueda, a key figure in the 20th-century Spanish abstract art movement, died in 1996. His work was shown in the 1960 Venice Biennale and in 1991, he participated in a collective exhibition, El Prado visto per doce artistas contemporaneos (The Prado Viewed by Twelve Contemporary Artists) at the eponymous Madrid-based museum.

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