$4.5 M. Romanian Public Art Fraud, English Ikea Could Turn Art Space, and More: Morning Links from February 16, 2021

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The Headlines

ROMANIAN SCULPTOR IOAN BOLBOREA HAS BEEN ACCUSED of defrauding the city of Bucharest by selling it 11 statues, including one of a naked Roman Emperor Trajan, that were made of brass, and not bronze, as he claimed, the Agence France-Presse reports. The police have pegged the alleged fraud at €3.7 million (about $4.49 million); Bolborea has not responded to the allegations. If the Trajan sculpture sounds familiar, that’s because it generated quite a bit of commentary after its unveiling about a decade ago outside the capital’s National History Museum. Some felt it was, to put it lightly, a bit awkwardly designed. “I am not a prude or a conservative, but the statue should never have been erected here because of its doubtful artistic quality,” the museum’s curator told BBC News at the time. The alleged deception was identified by experts who were brought in to repair the work after it was vandalized.

FRIEZE HAS REVEALED PLANS TO OPEN SPACES in London’s tony Mayfair neighborhood in October that galleries will be able to rent for exhibitions, the Art Newspaper reports. It’s the latest new business offering from the art magazine and fair company, which earlier this month announced a membership program providing access to editorial content and events. Frieze is not alone in trying to facilitate pop-up shows in the British capital as a business, as Artnet News notes. Cromwell Place, for one, opened last fall, hawking rooms in South Kensington townhouses to dealers.

The Digest

A French court ruled that a right-wing mayor in Perpignan must close the four museums that he allowed to reopen as a protest against lockdown restrictions aimed at limiting the spread of the coronavirus. [AFP/Times of Malta]

A onetime Ikea in Coventry, England, could become an arts center under a plan being considered by the city council. As it happens, the municipality is currently serving as the United Kingdom’s 2021 City of Culture. [BBC News]

Museum officials in Ukraine and Poland are calling for the release of art scholar Olena Pekh, who has been imprisoned in a Russian-occupied part of the country for more than two years for treason and espionage. In an open letter, they say that the accusations are “absurd”; she’s been sentenced to 13 years. [The Art Newspaper]

The Tel Aviv Museum of Art in Israel has named Mira Lapidot as its new chief curator. The Israel Museum’s chief curator until early last year, she takes the place of Doron Rabina, who resigned abruptly in December. [Haaretz]

The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and the Royal Society of Tasmania formally apologized to the Aboriginal community for stealing and misusing human remains and artwork. [The Canberra Times]

“In my artworks I approach beauty as a way to escape the mundane,” artist Shirin Neshat writes in a new essay. “Beauty isn’t just the physicality of my characters, but their raw emotions, dignity and humanity.” [CNN]

Have a look at the skyscrapers that architect Frank Gehry has proposed for Toronto, which will include space for the Ontario College of Art & Design University. [The Daily Mail]

Guadalajara, Mexico has long been a hotbed of vanguard residential architecture. Writer Michael Snyder surveyed the scene. [T: The New York Times Style Magazine]

The University of Chicago’s Richard and Mary L. Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry will stage programming related to the 2020 edition of South Korea’s Busan Biennale over the next year. [The Korea Times]

A serious winning streak: For the 18th time in a row, the grounds at the Adachi Museum of Art in Yasugi, Japan, were named the best garden in the country by the Journal of Japanese Gardening’s annual ranking. [The Asahi Shimbun]

The Kicker

FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF UNUSUAL AUCTION LOTS: A job application that Apple cofounder Steve Jobs filled out in 1973, when he was 18 years old, is coming up for sale at Charterfields next month, Cult of Mac reports. The form, which notes that Jobs had the ability to use a computer and a calculator, last sold in 2018 for $175,000. If you like your collectibles with intriguing provenances, the U.S. Marshals Service is currently selling a 1964 Andy Warhol depicting Jackie Kennedy that it acquired in a civil forfeiture connected to the 1MDB embezzlement scheme that was allegedly perpetrated by fugitive businessman Jho Low1st State Update writes. Last but not least, a new record was set for a children’s car at auction by RM-Sotheby’s in Paris, New Atlas notes. The house sold a replica Ferrari 330 P2 Junior, created by French firm De La Chapelle , for €110,000, or about $133,000. Not to state the obvious here, but you can buy a pretty nice car—a full-size one—for that price.

Thank you for reading. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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