Art world: Ego-seums are coming to Europe
24 June 2010
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
A rift is emerging in the European art scene: as public establishments languish under budget cuts, private museums are booming. But the latter are generally showcases for self-serving oligarchs, warns the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Museums, places where our society portrays and projects itself, may be becoming an endangered species.
This past May will go down as a fateful month in the history of European museums. An unknown culprit broke into the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris one night and, cool as a cucumber, cut five masterpieces by Braque, Léger, Matisse, Modigliani and Picasso out of their frames. The canvasses are worth about a hundred million euros all told. Afterwards people puzzled over why anyone would steal such famous works that can’t be sold legally anywhere. The answer is “artnapping”: art thieves squeeze a museum, or rather its insurers, who would rather hand a lavish sum to a middle-man who guarantees the return of the works than award a much higher indemnity to the owners. Only – and here’s the rub – there’s no insurer for the pictures in Paris, which hung in the museum uncovered – and actually unprotected: the alarm system had apparently been out of order since March.
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