The rest of the past month’s news at a glance


Guggenheim Abu Dhabi dealmaker has second thoughts

21 March

Thomas Krens, the former director of the Guggenheim Foundation who brokered a deal in 2006 to set up a Guggenheim museum in Abu Dhabi, now believes the project should be postponed or downsized. In a podcast by the art advisory firm Art Agency Partners, he says: “The world financial crisis and the Arab Spring have changed the equation radically,” adding: “It may not be such a good idea these days to have an American museum… with a Jewish name” in a country that does not recognise Israel. Although the Guggenheim satellite was initially scheduled to open in 2012, construction has yet to begin.

Christie’s cancels June contemporary art auctions in London

27 March

Christie’s cancelled its June Post-war and contemporary art auctions in London, saying that this year is “particularly busy” for collectors. The move comes amid a string of belt-tightening measures by the auction house, including the closure of its South Kensington saleroom in London, which hosted around 60 sales annually, and a reduction in its Amsterdam auctions. Sotheby’s June auctions in London will go ahead.

Big gold coin stolen from Berlin museum

28 March

Thieves broke into Berlin’s Bode Museum and stole a giant Canadian coin made of pure gold and worth an estimated €3.7m. The 100kg coin, which carries a nominal value of C$1m, was produced by the Royal Canadian Mint in 2007. Known as the Big Maple Leaf and made of the purest bullion, only five have so far been produced, according to the mint’s website. One side bears a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. A special art unit of the regional police force is investigating the theft.

Knoedler lawsuit settled out of court

11 April

The US casino billionaire Frank Fertitta settled his claim against the Swiss art historian Oliver Wick in one of ten lawsuits brought against the now defunct Knoedler gallery. Fertitta bought a work purportedly by Mark Rothko for $7.2m, in part, he claimed, because Wick, then a curator at the Beyeler Foundation, confirmed: “All is perfectly fine, otherwise I would not want to be involved with it.” For his role in the sale, Wick was paid $150,000 by Fertitta and $300,000 by Knoedler. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

Cleveland returns Roman bust to Italy

18 April

The Cleveland Museum of Art announced it will return to Italy an ancient Roman bust looted during the Second World War. The return was agreed by the museum and the Italian culture ministry after the museum discovered the true provenance of the sculpture of Drusus, the son of the emperor Tiberius, which it had bought in good faith from Phoenix Ancient Art in 2012. A photograph from a 1926 excavation shows the bust, which disappeared from the Sessa Aurunca museum in 1944. The sculpture surfaced on the market in 2004 at a public auction at the Hotel Drouot in Paris and was sold to an unnamed buyer.

Soviet sell-off records allegedly seized

19 April

A curator at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg claimed that the authorities had seized archives and books relating to sales of art from its collections under the Bolsheviks. The curator, Alexey Larionov, says state officials are investigating claims that the museum has been publishing “secret” documents about Soviet art auctions in the 1920s and 1930s. The museum denies there is a ban on its publications.