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Former Spanish museum director accused of overpaying for art

Spanish authorities are investigating Consuelo Císcar, the former director of the Institut Valencià d’Art Modern (Ivam), Valencia, and five members of her administration for financial irregularities while she was in charge of the museum between 2004 and 2014.

The magistrate Nuria Soler said in a statement in January 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. The newspaper El Pais reports that the museum paid €32,400 for a work by the Portuguese artist Julio Cuaresma that had a market value of around €2,000. The museum also reportedly paid €442,280 to buy 63 photographs from the Chinese dealer Gao Ping, who is under investigation for money laundering and has been accused of involvement with the Chinese mafia in Spain.

The audit suggests that the museum exaggerated its attendance figures during Císcar’s tenure. It reported 1.3 million visitors in 2012, but only received 98,000, according to the audit. Now under new management, the museum says it is calculating its attendance accurately. It received 107,624 visitors in 2015, according to our annual survey. A spokesman for Ivam declined to comment further on the investigation. Císcar could not be reached for comment.