International News Digest

AUGUST 23

Last year, the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation announced plans to move the collection of works by old masters out of Berlin’s Gemäldegalerie to make room for twentieth-century art. The decision caused such an uproar that officials changed course; now, according to Catherine Hickley in Bloomberg, museum authorities have revealed plans to construct a new home near Potsdamer Platz for the modern and contemporary works. The new building will take up over 100,000 square feet, will cost around $170 million, and will open in 2022 if all goes according to schedule. German culture minister Bernd Neumann lauded the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation’s new plans, saying they showed “moderation and awareness of responsibility.”

Der Standard reports that an “invaluable” collection of works by El Greco and Goya have disappeared without a trace from a residence in Barcelona. The building where the works were stored had been donated to the city of Barcelona by its previous owner, the multimillionaire and collector Julio Muñoz Ramonet, who died in 1991. After a seventeen-year legal battle between his four daughters for the property, the keys were finally handed over to municipal authorities last month. However, the most valuable of the five hundred works in Ramonet’s collection are missing. Authorities suspect that one of the daughters may have smuggled the artworks out when an inventory was being done of the masterpieces.

Meanwhile, more than 1,000 artifacts have gone missing in Egypt. The Mallawi Museum in Egypt was ransacked last Friday, and several museum guards were shot and killed, according to the Art Newspaper’s Julia Halperin, who notes that the lootings highlight the “security vacuum outside of the capitol city of Cairo, where protests against the removal of president Mohammed Morsi have been raging since August 14.” According to local reporters, Ahmen Sharaf, the head of museums for the antiquities ministry, has surmised that Muslim Brotherhood members—who have been behind the protests—are responsible for the attack. In a statement issued on Monday, Unesco’s director-general Irina Bokova said “This constitutes irreversible damage to the history and identity of the Egyptian people.”