International News Digest

APRIL 18

According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, an employee at the Munich auction house Neumeister has found forty-four Nazi-era annotated catalogues. Spanning from 1936 to 1945, these documents provide the provenance for many works of art looted from Jewish collectors during the Third Reich and then resold by the auction house. Many of the buyers listed consist not only of individuals but also of museums. Neumeister CEO Katrin Soll has openly called for an investigation of the works on file, handing over the auction catalogues to Meike Hopp, an art historian and employee of the Central Institute for Art History in Munich. This is the first time that an auction house has provided research protocols on works from the Nazi regime; most German auction houses remain silent on the issue.

Der Standard reports that ninety-one-year-old Irina Antonova has been appointed chief curator for all state museums by Russia’s minister of culture Vladimir Medinski. Antonova has served as curator for the Pushkin Museum since 1961. It is not her first appearance in the headlines: In 1945, the young art historian played a vital role in having artworks from Germany transferred to the Pushkin Museum as spoils of war. She was also one of the strongest voices to speak against the return of German artwork after the fall of the Soviet Union and in 1996 was found to be hoarding Priam’s Treasure, a collection of gold and other prized artifacts found by German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann in 1873.

Skyrocketing attendance numbers may be the holy grail for many museums nowadays, but the Louvre’s employees are fed up after seeing too many visitors of a certain stripe: The museum shut down on the morning of April 10 after two hundred employees walked out in protest against the abundance of pickpockets plaguing the museum, according to Le Monde. “We are overwhelmed and stressed out,” says Gary Guillaud, supervisor of surveillance at the museum and union representative of personnel. Another spokesperson, Christelle Guyader, noted, “Some colleagues, notably women, come to work in fear.” Museum employees who have intervened on behalf of tourists being robbed are then exposed to spiting, shoving, scratching, insults, or intimidation. Though the Louvre experienced a decline in robberies at the end of last year, the number of thefts reported has increased in February and March with thirty to fifty cases logged daily before the museum’s closure. “This is a bottomless pit,” sighs Alexandra Kardianou, secretary of the Louvre’s union. “Guards are disillusioned.”

It looks like the United Arab Emirates might soon have another museum. Gareth Harris reports in the Art Newspaper that Ramin Salsali, an Iranian-born entrepreneur and collector, has announced plans to build a contemporary art museum in the Burj Khalifa district of Dubai. Rather than seeking government funding, Salsali will invite individuals to invest in his venture, which will include exhibitions halls totaling thirty thousand square feet. Salsali will donate a portion of his collection to the new institution. He was responsible for opening the Salsali Private Museum in 2011, in the Al Quoz district of Dubai.