The rest of last month’s news at a glance, April 2017


Syrian troops recapture Palmyra

3 March

With air support from Russia, the Syrian army recaptured the ancient city of Palmyra from Isil forces. Syria’s directorate-general of antiquities and museums then released early images of the damage at the site, including the destruction of the central arch and façade of the Roman theatre and the Tetrapylon, a cubic monument with a gate on each of its four sides that marked a crossroads in the city. Isil first took Palmyra in May 2015 and destroyed many important monuments, including the Triumphal Arch. The site was captured by Syrian government forces in March 2016, only to be seized again by Isil last December.

Billionaire Bernard Arnault plans second Paris museum

8 March

It was announced that the French luxury goods billionaire Bernard Arnault is due to open a new museum in Paris, turning the former Musée des Arts et Traditions Populaires into La Maison LVMH. The 15,100 sq. m museum is near the Fondation Louis Vuitton, Arnault’s museum for Modern and contemporary art, which opened in 2014. The architect Frank Gehry, who designed the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s building, will refurbish the former folk art museum, which closed in 2005 when its collections went south to form the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations (Mucem) in Marseilles.

Jeff Koons and Centre Pompidou found liable for copyright infringement 

9 March

The High Court of Paris ruled that Naked, a 1988 sculpture by Jeff Koons of a boy and a girl, plagiarised Enfants (children), a 1975 photograph by the French photographer Jean-François Bauret, who died in 2014. The court has ordered Koons’s company, Jeff Koons LLC, and Paris’s Centre Pompidou to each pay €20,000 to the heirs of the photographer for copyright infringement. Jeff Koons LLC has also been ordered to pay €4,000 for reproducing the sculpture on its website. As The Art Newspaper went to press, no appeals against the decision had been announced.

Trump plans to axe NEA and other culture agencies

16 March

President Donald Trump proposed eliminating 19 independent agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts, in his federal budget plan. The agencies’ combined funding, an estimated $3.1bn, would be redirected towards a $52.3bn increase in defence spending and a $2.8bn boost for homeland security, which includes funding a border wall between the US and Mexico. The Association of Art Museum Directors, among others, denounced the plan.

Gainsborough’s painting attacked

18 March

A homeless man attacked a large painting by Thomas Gainsborough in the National Gallery, creating two deep scratches with a drill bit. He has since been charged with criminal damage. The gallery is reviewing security after the incident and conservators were assessing the damage to the painted surface of the lower part of Mr and Mrs William Hallett (The Morning Walk) (1785).