Monday, July 25, 2016

Bits and Pieces Spring/Summer 2016

1. ROME— Italy Pumps €1B Into Cultural Heritage: The Italian government is funneling €1 billion into restoration and building projects at 33 museums, monuments, and archeological sites across the country, from Pompeii to the Uffizi galleries in Florence. Culture minister Dario Franceschini called the funding boost the “biggest investment in cultural heritage” in Italy’s history. [TAN]

2. NEW YORK— Aby Rosen Shells Out $7M in Unpaid Taxes: New York’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, announced two tax settlements yesterday, likely just the first in a string of investigations into exploited art resale certificates. (Such certificates are a way for dealers to step around taxes when he or she intends to resell a work and not use it for personal enjoyment.) Aby Rosen, a New York real estate developer and art collector, paid a $7 million settlement for “failing to pay millions in sales and use taxes” on work he bought between 2002 and 2015. Meanwhile, Gagosian Gallery’s director, Victoria Gelfand, will pay $210,000 in unpaid taxes on work that she had purchased through her companies. Both parties, however, deny misconduct. A spokesperson for Rosen said: “The recent settlement with the AG’s office relates to an uncertainty as to whether some of Mr. Rosen’s transactions were done as a private collector or as a dealer based on how artwork can be displayed for sale.” [Bloomberg, NYT, TAN]

3.Google’s Art Project Now Has a Faster Camera
May 17, 2016 by Marion Maneker
If you’ve been following the Google Art Project at all, you know the company has been scanning pictures in museums to make it easier for a broader public to have access to the works. This project is much like Google’s long-delayed plan to scan books from the world’s major libraries so all of the world’s knowledge is accessible.
Now Google announces they’ve built a new camera that gets the scanning done much faster, according to TechCruch. (Click on the image above or here to see a video explaining the camera.)
Google has already shared around 200 gigapixel images online during the Google Cultural Institute’s first five years, but the process before was slower, and involved highly specialized and expensive equipment, as well as highly trained individuals capable of doing the job. Now it has a smart robotic camera that can do the job instead, and much more quickly. Instead of a day, it could take just 30 minutes to scan a painting.
That means Google will be able to greatly increase the number of these images made available to web surfers. In fact, it has already scanned another 1,000 images over the past few months with its new cameras. A small fleet of the cameras are also being loaned out to art museums for free. Not only will it help to bring more art online in detail, it can also help museums share those works that are fragile, sensitive to light and humidity, and can’t always be on display.

4. NEW YORK - Art Market Monitor - Jho Low's Art Collecting Adventure Ends in International Anti-Corruption Drama
 Jho Low came into the art market like a comet three years ago. He bought aggressively at the very top of the market from auction houses and private dealers. He quickly leveraged his art portfolio to gain maximum social value—private boxes at auction, inclusion on lists of top global art collectors, and access to celebrities—while limiting his cash exposure.
This week, the need to husband capital was revealed. Despite an aggressive campaign over the last 18 months to beat back growing links between Low and the misuse of Malaysia's 1MDB development fund, the story has now come out through a series of investigations involving authorities in Singapore, Switzerland and Washington.
You will find summaries and links to three of the central stories in this unfolding drama below. The Wall Street Journal had the news of the Justice department's civil suit first. Justice then released its complaint, which makes interesting reading if you have a free night and nothing better to do.
In a clearly coordinated action, Swiss authorities then seized works from the Geneva Freeport which, combined with their seizure of a disputed Modigliani earlier this year, makes it clear the Swiss will no longer allow the freeport to be used as a place to hide assets.
We will surely hear more about the art and real estate properties Low purchased with diverted funds as this story moves forward. But what becomes of the seized works which were bought at very high prices—will they become notorious?—and the overall effect on the top end of the market remains the most interesting questions going forward.
Swiss Seized Jho Low’s Monet & Van Gogh
Bloomberg’s Karin Matussek is reporting that the Swiss government has seized some of the paintings that the US department of Justice is seeking in a civil suit: Swiss authorities seized paintings by Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh as part of a U.S. probe into money- laundering and misappropriation involving the Malaysian development fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd. The U.S. sent […] Read More →

What Was End Goal of Jho Low’s Cascade of Loans Used to Buy Art?
1MDB Deck by artmarketmonitor on Scribd The unanswered question surrounding Jho Low’s adventure in the art market is what he was hoping to accomplish with his art and real estate purposes. The assumption is that he was hoping to make quick gains by investing in art and real estate using borrowed money from 1MDB and […] Read More →

How Did Jho Low Get Into the Art World? Through Leo DiCaprio’s Charity Sale, Of Course
1MDB Civil Forfeiture Complaint by artmarketmonitor on Scribd The Wall Street Journal adds a few details to the Jho Low story from the government’s civil complaint. Jho Low’s first introduction to Christie’s was through Leonardo DiCaprio’s charity sale at Christie’s in May of 2013. Apparently, Low’s interest in art ramped up very, very quickly: Between […] Read More →

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