Weekly Roundup: Art Forgery Ring Busted, King Tut’s Mask Damaged, and More


In case you missed it, here’s what made headlines in the art world this week:

Picasso, Miró, and Matisse forgery ring busted
Operación Mirones (Operation Voyeurs), a Spanish Civil Guard investigation that began in July of last year, has resulted in the arrest of three people in Zaragoza and Tarragona accused for trying to sell forged drawings by Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, and Henri Matisse. During the operation, nine artworks were seized: six attributed to Miró, two to Matisse, and one to Picasso. The operation has also prevented the sale of two lithographs attributed to Miró. [artnet news]

Most famous Middle Eastern painting to be sold at Christie’s
Jamal Al Mahamel II by Suleiman Mansour will hit the auction block at Christie’s Dubai on March 18. The work is one of the most famous Palestinian paintings, if not one of the most famous from the Middle East at large. It carries a presale estimate of $200,000-$300,000. A portion of the proceeds from its sale will be given to initiatives that support artists from the region. [artnet news]

Suspects formally charged in theft of Dale Chihuly glass art
Prosecutors in Denver have formally charged four people in connection with the theft of Dale Chihuly artwork from a display last August at the Denver Botanic Gardens.Charges allege that the suspects took several glass cattails and left them in a cornfield. According to court documents, the four stolen glass pieces were worth a total of $100,000. Three of the four suspects have been released on $5,000 bail; the fourth is being held in lieu of $5,000 bond. [The Denver Post]

Italian police recover 5,000 artifacts
A record haul of 5,361 rare antiquities has been recovered after a lengthy inquiry into a Swiss-based trafficking ring. The works, dating from the 8th century B.C. to the 3rd century A.D., included vases, statues, and frescoes, and were valued at up to $58 million. The fate of the 5,000 antiquities is unclear. Initially there are plans to put them on display to the public at the Baths of Diocletian National Museum in Rome, before returning them to the Italian regions where they were looted. [BBC]

LACMA’s 50th anniversary party starts early with major donations
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art announced major gifts of art from two of its trustees–the first wave of donations timed to the museum’s 50th anniversary in April. A gift from Jane and Marc Nathanson consists of eight works of modern and contemporary art created over four decades, including pieces by Damien Hirst, and Roy Lichtenstein. The gift from Lynda and Stewart Resnick consists of four works spanning 400 years, including a Renaissance painting by Hans Memling and a bronze sculpture by Mannerist artist Giambologna.[LA Times]

King Tut’s mask damaged
The beard on the iconic burial mask of Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun, also known as ‘King Tut,’ broke off and was glued back on using epoxy, which has irreparably damaged the priceless historical artifact. The mask, which is housed in Cairo’s Egyptian Museum, had its beard knocked off either when its case was being cleaned, or it was removed because it was loose, according to differing accounts from museum officials. As a result of the botched repair, a layer of the bonding material can now be seen between the beard and the main mask and scratches are visible on the mask’s face. [International Business Times]

Image: Dale Chihuly, “Summer Sun,” 2010