Tuesday, June 11, 2013

false idols

Oh dear. What a mess. It seems that the National Gallery of Australia might have been caught up in an art scandal.

There are allegations that the NGA has purchased several indian antiquities from a dodgy dealer based in the US. These items, it is alleged, were looted and smuggled out of the sub continent.

If proven to be true, the NGA will have to repatriate these items, which will represent a huge financial loss – not to mention a loss of reputation.

I do find it amazing that investigative journalists have the capacity to hunt down info that has somehow alluded public collecting institutions despite the importance of making sure that the provenance or history of the pieces check out...especially if you are going to fork out millions of dollars on an item.

It did occur to me the last few times I had been visiting the NGA, just how rapidly it had expanded its collection of indian art since the current director took up his position. Oh well, I guess it might soon contract again when everything has to be sent back to India.  

4 comments:

Andrew said...

Rather like journalists who track down criminals who can't be found by law enforcement officers. Slightly related, the courts have widened the range of art that can be bought with the Felton Bequest, along with the terms.

Adaptive Radiation said...

I wonder in the NGV would make a similar mistake?

Victor said...

Journalists are not bound by the rules and protocols that formal investigators have to observe in order that any evidence they uncover is legally acceptable in court proceedings.

Adaptive Radiation said...

Good point Victor. I do wonder what implications the news story will have for both the Director and the NGA.