RISD Strike Ends with Contract, T. Rex Skeleton Makes $6.1 M. at Auction, and More: Morning Links for April 19, 2023

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The Headlines

LEGAL AFFAIRS. On Tuesday, the United States charged the Lebanese art collector and dealer Nazem Ahmad with violating sanctions and laundering money in art and diamond deals, the New York Times reports. Ahmad, whose collection has included works by Pablo Picasso and Jean-Michel Basquiat, was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury in 2019 for allegedly providing financing for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which the U.S. regards as a terrorist organization. The dealer’s accountant was just arrested in the United Kingdom, which has also hit Ahmad with sanctions, the Guardian reports. He has not been arrested, and is believed to be outside the U.S. (The last post on his well-followed Instagram was about two weeks ago.) His daughter, Hind Ahmad, who is an art dealer, vigorously denied in an interview with the Times that her father is a Hezbollah financier, and he has rejected the claim in the past.

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—and More Art News

THE ANTIQUITIES FIELD. After being restored by specialists in the Czech Republic, 20 artifacts damaged by Islamic State militants will be returned to Syria next month, the AFP reports. The items include limestone funerary portraits from Palmyra and a gold-coated pin from around 1600–1200 B.C.E. The freshly repaired objects are currently on view at the National Museum in the capital city of Prague. More than 1,000 miles to the south, Greek police cuffed five people they accuse of operating a smuggling ring on the island of Crete. The officials said that the material recovered during the bust is worth more than €500,000 (about $547,000) and includes ancient coffins.

The Digest

Unionized custodians, groundskeepers, and movers at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence voted to end their two-week strike and approved a new contract that will see the majority of them receive raises of 15 to 20 percent. [The Boston Globe]

Customs officials in Switzerland appear to have withdrawn their claim that museums must pay duties on art that they have imported tax-free but not displayed. Earlier this year, institutions in the German-speaking part of the country received letters with that demand. The museums have maintained that they are shielded from such taxes. [Artnet News]

A Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton measuring almost 13 feet tall sold for $6.1 million at auction at Koller in Zurich. The piece, which was actually composed of the bones of three different dinosaurs, was purchased by a private collector, but the sale’s auctioneer said he is certain that it will be shown publicly in the future. [AFP/The Guardian]

The next Lahore Biennale in Pakistan, which is scheduled for February, will be organized by John Tain, who is head of research at Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong. The previous edition occurred in 2020 with Hoor Al Qasimi, the director of the Sharjah Art Foundation, curating. [ArtReview]

Four finalists have been named for the 2023 Korea Artist Prize, which, for the first time, has been opened to artists of Korean descent working abroad. The quartet—Byungjun KwonGala Porras-KimKang Seung Lee, and Sojung Jun—will present work at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in South Korea. [Press Release/ArtDependence]

Using high-tech gradiometry tools, archaeologists have discovered the remains of an ancient Roman fortlet near Clydebank, Scotland[BBC News]

The Kicker

A LIFE’S WORK. The legendary painter Frank Auerbach is still going strong at 91, working in his studio every single day, the New York Times reports. However, even after all those years, his lucid artworks never come easily. Making them involves “a lot of swearing, a lot of anger, a lot of moaning,” the artist told journalist Elizabeth Fullerton. “I start always in the hope of picking up my brushes, putting an amazing momentous image on the canvas, and finishing the painting—and it’s never happened yet.” Eventually, of course, he gets it done. Twenty of his portraits are now on view at Frankie Rossi Art Projects in London. [NYT]

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