Beatrix Ruf

Former Stedelijk Museum Director Beatrix Ruf Claims She Resigned over a “Misunderstanding”

Beatrix Ruf, the former director of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, who resigned from the position after a Dutch newspaper reported that she was running a private art consultancy that brought in considerable sums of money, claims she stepped down from her post over a “misunderstanding,” writes Nina Siegal of the New York Times. Ruf says that the museum’s board approved all of her activities at the Stedelijk, and that reports of a conflict of interest are untrue. She began her directorship there in 2014.

Currentmatters, Ruf’s art advisory business, which she also started in 2014, earned about $1 million, which she claims was a parting bonus from a previous employer, Michael Ringier, the Swiss art collector and publisher, for work that had been completed prior to her time at the Stedelijk. Ringier paid off the bonus in installments during 2015 and 2016. This, of course, raised concerns as to whether her job at a public art institution—for which she was paid about $130,000 annually—would be negatively affected by the interests of her private clientele (people at the helm of prestigious institutions such as the Stedelijk can dramatically alter the market value of artists they choose to work with).

When the Times tried getting a statement from the museum about the situation, Madeleine de Cock Buning, the acting chairwoman of the Stedelijk’s supervisory board, said that two independent investigations have already been launched regarding the matter. She added, “We have decided not to answer questions of the media while the investigations are going on.” 

But Jo Houben, the director of the nonprofit Culture+Entrepreneurship, which set up a code of ethics for arts professionals who work in the Netherlands, said any additional projects that benefit an individual instead of the institution they’re employed by go against the code. “But,” he said, “there’s a big difference if the board allowed her to do that and they knew what was happening. If the supervisory board allowed the director to do something, and it turns out to be not a good choice, then the board may have to resign.”