International News Digest

SEPTEMBER 11

Dozens of politicians and supporters of the arts turned out in downtown São Paulo recently to file their demand for a review of a decision issued by the state’s heritage protection agency (Condephaat) that authorized the construction of two office towers on the ground near the property of the Teatro Oficina, according to R7. Dramaturge José Celso Martinez Corrêa, who convened the meeting, reminded everyone that the theater’s architect, Lina Bo Bardi, originally envisioned a building that occupied the whole street. Meeting attendees also pointed out that construction cannot go forward without the further approval of municipal and the federal heritage agencies, Conpresp and Iphan.

The New York Times reports that the Van Gogh Museum has deemed a painting in its collection, Sunset at Montmajour, a genuine painting by the master himself. For years, the work was considered a fake, stored in an attic and then held in a private collection. According to the museum’s senior researcher, Louis van Tilborgh, the museum has developed a handful of new forensic techniques that allowed the work to be reevaluated. Van Tliborgh pointed out that the work was painted on the same canvas, and with the same underpainting, as Van Gogh’s The Rocks, and has a number—180—painted on its back side that corresponds to the number in the collection inventory.

The New York Times has also uncovered a new twist in the case of the artworks stolen from a Rotterdam museum by a Romanian gang: The Netherlands-based Triton Foundation, which owned the works, has apparently surrendered ownership rights of the pieces, and in return received a payment of $24 million from its insurance company into a Swiss bank account—an indication that the foundation does not expect to be able to recover the works. Those following the story will remember that, earlier, the mother of the ringleader of thieves intensified the mystery over whether the works still existed, first confessing that she had burned the artifacts, and then later claiming that they had in fact been passed on to mysterious contacts. Judges have grown frustrated over the claims and counterclaims—and, it appears, the lawyers themselves. Writes the Times’ Andrew Higgins, “Tuesday’s session quickly descended into low farce when the judge exploded in anger over the casual shoes worn by one of the defense lawyers, Radu Catalin Dancu, who showed up late wearing blue suede sneakers with florescent green stripes.” The lawyer responded by saying that his footwear was high fashion and had cost him $265. He promptly demanded a new judge.

Despite calls for Manifesta to cancel its tenth iteration, which had been planned to open in Saint Petersburg next year, festival organizers have determined that they will go forward as planned. Those agitating for Manifesta to boycott the Russian city were prompted by the nation’s disturbing crackdown on the rights of members of the LGBT community. Manifesta’s chair, Viktor Misiano, issued a statement in defense of sticking to the plan: “Within Russia,” he wrote, “Manifesta 10 has been welcomed by many individuals who recognize that canceling or postponing it will be a loss, not only for communities seeking change, but also for developing a progressive contemporary culture as a whole.” Added Misiano, “We are conscious of the political climate and the significant conservative shift taking place in Russia, of which this issue is but one example. It is also helpful to know that the leading LGBT organizations in Russia do not support a boycott of the Olympics or other events. They know engagement is important.”