IVAM Director Resigns, Says Spanish Ministry of Culture Is Leading a ‘Smear Campaign’

The foundation she donated the two plots of land to was founded by a member of the committee that hired her.

Julio Gonzalez Center - IVAM (Valencia) Modern Art Valencian Institute (IVAM) Museum. Photo by Ismael Alonso/Cover/Getty Images.

Nuria Enguita has resigned as director of the Valencian Institute of Modern Art (IVAM) following allegations of conflict of interest over a donation of land to a nonprofit founded by Vicente Todolí, who served on the international jury that awarded her the position. 

The donations went to the Todolí Citrus Foundation, a non-profit that Todolí established in 2014 in Palmera, Spain, for the study and dissemination of citrus fruits. She began the process of donating the lands three months after starting the IVAM director job in September 2020. The Valencian Generalitat Ministry of Culture filed documents on February 20 with the prosecutor’s office, saying the donations may constitute a criminal offense. 

For her part, Enguita is calling this a “smear campaign.” Additionally, she claims that she was just one of many art-world figures who made donations, including artists Maurizio Cattelan, Tacita Dean, Nan Goldin, Roni Horn, and Cristina Iglesias. She also points out that the donation was to the organization, not to Todolí personally, according to a report in El País.

“Given the complaint made by the Valencian Generalitat and the continued attacks against me based on falsified information, it is evident that I do not have the support of the Valencian Government,” Enguita said in a statement released today. “To avoid further damage to the museum, I have made this decision.”

The gifted plots of land are in La Vall de la Gallinera, which is near tourist destinations on the coast of Alicante. They are cumulatively worth €10,231 (about $11,056), according to El Español, which originally reported the Ministry of Culture filings. 

Neither Todolí’s organization nor IVAM’s press office responded to a request for comment. 

Both figures have lengthy art world resumes. Todolí has been the artistic director of Milan’s Pirelli HangarBicocca since 2012, and is a former director of London’s Tate Modern. He also led of IVAM itself, where he was Enguita’s boss from 1991 to 1998, when she served as a curator there. Thereafter, she was artistic director of the Antoni Tàpies Foundation in Barcelona. According to El Español, she is among those being considered for the directorship of the Reina Sofía in Madrid. 

Enguita’s appointment as director of IVAM was itself the subject of some controversy, with her predecessor, José Miguel García Cortés, taking to social media to blast the decision not to renew his contract, saying it was a political move. The museum’s advisory board resigned in protest. Artnet News’s Lorena Muñonz-Alonso had said in 2014 that his appointment heralded a “new era” for the institution.

Also serving on the committee that chose Enguita were Iwona Blazwick, director of the Whitechapel Gallery in London; Bernard Blistène, then director of the Museum of Modern Art at the Pompidou Center in Paris; and Manuel Borja-Villel, former director of the Reina Sofía, along with two members of the regional administration, artists Virginia Paniuagua and Ricard Silvestre.

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