Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Financial Crisis Provokes Deaccessioning in Europe

The New York Times reports on a trend among European museums to sell part of their collections to pay for acquisitions or meet other financial obligations as government cultural subsidies have been cut back. Other museums have sold artworks to offset the costs of failed state banks or other state debts. Whether the sales fund acquisitions or government budget cuts has significant consequences.

In Britain, the Northampton Museum lost its accreditation and eligibility for national grants when it sold an Egyptian statue to fund a museum construction project.  The British Museums Association questioned whether the money would be used for this purpose and disapproved of its use to offset budget cuts by the central government. The national Museums Association and ten other arts organizations, including the Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund, have announced that they will not work with museums who sell works for this purpose because it constitutes “a breach of trust with the public,” the public trust argument previously gutted by Donn Zaretsky.

In Germany, the sale of 400 works from the collection of a government-owned bank which folded in 2012 is currently debated by politicians, art experts, and local authorities. In November, a state-owned casino, WestSpiel, sold two Andy Warhol silk screens to fund another casino in Cologne.

French lawmakers have proposed the sale of artworks in storage at the Louvre. France may limit the works that can be sold to those that are duplicate works, not part of a core collection, the proceeds of which can only be used for future acquisitions. However, often the first consequence of falling subsidies is cuts of acquisitions funds; this model treats a symptom of the same underlying issue.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Unfortunately Not All Things Considered on NPR's Deaccessioning Take


Here's a story NPR ran on deaccessioning yesterday, on their nationwide radio show, "All Things Considered."

I was initially approached for an interview concerning this story, but was not contacted again. This is unfortunate, not because I want my voice heard across all 50 states (or 57 if you're Obama), but because I think a hot and controversial issue such as deaccessioning should be approached in multiple ways, but also with as many diverse viewpoints as possible.

This issue is not one of simply selling or not selling; it's much more complicated than that. Granted, five minutes is not fifty minutes, but it's also ample time to present at least two positions with a third commentary on both.

I hope that next time NPR decides to tackle deaccessioning they tak a more nuanced and objective approach to this timely issue and to other art law matters.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

"Anyone who looks upon DIA as an ATM will be in for a shock."

I know. I haven't been posting here often but probably because, to be completely honest, the deaccessioning battle has pretty much been boiled down to sell and don't sell. There's very little interesting "stuff" being written about the philosophical aspects of relinquishing art and cultural objects for money, so why continue to simply post about institutions that do or do not do it, and those that get chastised for doing it.

Especially when bloggers like Donn Zaretsky have pretty much eviscerated the "public trust" argument to a myopic piece of Deathstar dust. Donn's got great arguments on his blog, and they're not knee-jerk reactions like the ones we tend to get from the deaccessioning police or, as I like to call them, those that shriek a deaccessioning fatwa. Check him out.

Meanwhile, Detroit. Yeah, what's up with Detroit? Here's a nice little argument from Eric Gibson of the WSJ arguing that creditors and pensioners should take what's on the table now given the unpredictable nature of the contemporary art market.

Hmmm, maybe. What do you think?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Deaccessioning in a Nutshell

A nice and brief overview of the current state of deaccessioning...and the pitfalls, via Charles and Thomas Danziger. Nice hypo!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Portugal Ponders the Sale of Their Joan Miró Paintings

Or I should say, the deaccessioning. Portugal is trying to pay off it's $110 billion debt, but if the Miró paintings only brought in $50 million or so, what kind of dent would that even make?

Via the paper of record.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Christopher Knight on LA MoCA's New Director and Deaccessioning

LA Times Art Critic Christopher Knight discusses LA MoCA's new director, Jules Vergne, and deaccessioning.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

To sell or not to sell?

Should the Detroit Institute of Art's collection, or at least 5% of it, be sold?

The Journal Times says "yes."

The Daily Caller says "yes," and add Belle Isle to the mix. On why the art should be sold, "Sure, the DIA is a wonderful feature for the midwestern city. But even more charming is a city with streetlights that work, garbage that is collected, and a police force that can keep a city safe."

We will know the value of 5% of the collection tomorrow.