Ancient Shipwreck Looted in Mediterranean, Canadian Dealer Faces Fraud Investigation, and More: Morning Links for April 29, 2022

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The Headlines

POLICE BLOTTER. An art dealer in Oak Bay, British Columbia, has been arrested for allegedly taking artworks on consignment or for appraisal, selling some, and not notifying the owners, CBC News reports. The dealer may face fraud charges. (Authorities are not disclosing the person’s identity while charges are being considered.) Police have reportedly taken hold of more than 1,000 artworks in possession of the dealer, including at least three paintings by Emily Carr. Across the Atlantic, over in Hamburg, Germany, police are on the hunt for three glass works by Ai Weiwei that were stolen from Lumas Galerie during the day, the Daily Mail reports. Said to be worth almost €30,000 (about $31,700) in total, they each depict a hand giving the middle finger.

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ARCHAEOLOGICAL ACTION. One more legal item: French officials say that a 2,000-year-old shipwreck in the Mediterranean off the coast of Cannes has been looted since it was discovered in 2017, CBS News reports. “The losses of scientific and historical information are probably significant,” the nation’s culture ministry and police said in a statement. It is believed that the ship sunk in the 2nd century B.C.E. while carrying wine. Some of its clay containers are missing; an investigation is underway. On a related note, experts have determined that 19 cannons discovered in Georgia’s Savannah River came from ships that the British scuttled during the Revolutionary War.

The Digest

ARCHIVE FEVER. Fun fact: The Library of Congress in the United States owns some 15 million photographic images. To illustrate the breadth of those holdings, it is presenting 400 of them in a new show, the Washington Post reports. It has an intriguing title: “Not an Ostrich: And Other Images From America’s Library.” Meanwhile, artist and art historian David Clarke is making  42,000 pictures of Hong Kong that he shot over 25 years available for free online, the South China Morning Post reports.

Museums in Venice are sending supplies to the Lviv National Art Gallery in Ukraine. It is part of an effort by a network of business and nonprofits called Save Ukraine Art 22 that was established to provide institutions in the war-torn country with materials to safeguard art. [The Art Newspaper]

The recently opened Wairau Māori Art Gallery, which is the first Indigenous public art museum in New Zealand, has named its inaugural director: Larissa McMillan. She was formerly marketing manager of the Hātea Art Precinct in the city of Whangārei, which includes the WMAG. [Ocula]

The fabled Met Gala arrives in New York on Monday, and the AP has a handy guide to the festivities, which “started in 1948 as a society midnight supper.” Its theme this year is “gilded glamour, white-tie.” [The Associated Press/Bloomberg]

Rockwell’s 1984 hit “Somebody’s Watching Me” serves as the soundtrack—and, perhaps, the inspiration!—for one of the more inventive art museum Instagram posts in recent memory. Let’s not spoil it here. [Museum of Fine Arts, Houston/Instagram]

The Kicker

BUCKLE UP. In Town & CountryMary Childs has a blow-by-blow account of a vigorous legal war that began after the storied investor Bill Gross bought a sizable Dale Chihuly sculpture for his wife and installed it at their home in Laguna Beach, California. This is too baroque a tale to summarize here, but even those not interested in the saga may the other high-profile art disputes involving the wealthy and powerful that the article includes. At one point, the lawyer and law professor Leila Amineddoleh says, “It is surprising that some collectors have sophisticated and refined taste in art, but then use their art in vindictive or childish ways.” [T&C]


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