Art Industry News: Experts Fear the Masterminds of Dresden’s Historic Museum Heist Plan to Destroy Their Treasures + Other Stories

Plus, Italy's culture ministry explains why it almost gave Steve Bannon a monastery and Hong Kong's art museum prepares to reopen.

Sword with sheath (diamond rose set). Owned by Christian August Globig (before 1747-1798). Manufactured in 1782-1789, Dresden. © SKD.

Art Industry News is a daily digest of the most consequential developments coming out of the art world and art market. Here’s what you need to know on this Wednesday, November 27.


Ministry Admits Steve Bannon Monastery Snafu – There was an uproar when it emerged that a right-wing religious group linked to the US political strategist Steve Bannon was setting up a training school in a 13th-century monastery west of Rome. As the battle over the monastery’s future heads to court, Italy’s ministry of culture has spoken for the first time about why it entrusted the building to Bannon, who it is now trying to evict. They blame “extreme” staff shortages, suggesting the government failed to fully review the application submitted on behalf of the Dignitatis Humanae Institute. Benjamin Harnwell, the institute’s founder, dismisses the ministry’s explanation and says the ministry had plenty of time to assess the application. Harnwell remains determined to set up a “school for gladiators” who will spread Bannon’s political and religious views. (TAN)

Hong Kong Art Museum Reopens Amid Unrest – The Hong Kong Museum of Art is due to reopen on November 30 after a four-year, $114 million revamp amid the ongoing pro-democracy protests. The government-run institution is close to the Polytechnic University, the site of a week-long standoff between protesting students and the police. Other violent clashes between pro-democracy activists and the authorities have taken place nearby. The museum’s reopening show includes a major loan exhibition from the Tate in London. (The Art Newspaper)

Berlin Museum Chief Fears Stolen Objects Could Be Destroyed – The head of the Berlin State Museums has called for the creation of a security task force in Germany following the audacious diamond heist at Dresden’s Green Vault. Hermann Parzinger says that thieves targeting jewels and precious objects is “a very specific new threat” to museums. Parzinger fears that the missing pieces from the Green Vault could be broken up, with the criminals destroying the historic treasures to sell the gems piecemeal. (Monopol)

Dulwich Picture Gallery Reopens After Thwarted Rembrandt Theft – The Dulwich Picture Gallery in London has reopened after an attempted theft of two Rembrandts was foiled by police on November 13. The exhibition, “Rembrandt’s Light,” is still up, but the works that the thief attempted to rob have been returned to their lenders. (BBC)


Mary Mary Gallery Founder Joins Alison Jacques – Hannah Robinson, who shuttered her Glasgow gallery Mary Mary this summer, has joined Alison Jacques Gallery of London as a director. (Baer Faxt

Victoria Miro Now Represents María Berrío – The New York-based, Bogota-born artist has joined Victoria Miro gallery. She will have a solo show in the gallery’s London space in June 2020. The artist will continue working with Kohn Gallery in Los Angeles. (ARTnews)


Jewish Museum Berlin Names New Director – Hetty Berg, the museum manager and chief curator of the Jewish Cultural District in Amsterdam, will take over Berlin’s Jewish Museum on April 1. She succeeds Peter Schäfer, who resigned after making controversial remarks about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Monopol)

Dallas Museum Creates Works on Paper Department – Following a gift of 58 works from the estate of DMA trustee and former curator William B. Jordan and his husband Robert Dean Brownlee, the Dallas Museum of Art is set to open a new department dedicated to works on paper. The institution will also create a new curatorial role for the department. (Artforum)


An Art Museum in Estonia Is Forced to Close – The Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia (EKKM) will cease public-facing activities on November 30 after a building audit determined the venue was unsafe for visitors. The 13-year-old institution in a former factory building hopes it can reopen in the new year after repairs and negotiations, and that the closure will not become permanent. (Press release)

German Museum Acquires Restituted Painting – Public and private sponsors banded together to buy a painting by German-Dutch painter Heinrich Campendonk for the Leopold-Hoesch-Museum in Düren, Germany. The work was restituted to the heirs of Jewish collector Alfred Hess, whose family was forced to hand over objects from their collection before they fled Nazi Germany. (TAN)

Vik Muniz Visits Brazil’s Gutted Museum – The Brazilian artist and photographer has shared a picture of himself on social media standing inside the fire-ravaged National Museum of Brazil in Rio with his camera in hand. Muniz is well-known for documenting waste and turning it into art. Suffice to say that we’re intrigued to see what this turns into. (Instagram)

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