There's an article in Vanity Fair about the heist of The Mona Lisa which took place in the early 1900s, which is a book...here's the link:
September 22, 2005
Tate pays its own trustee £600,000 for ape paintings
Hard-up gallery denies any conflict of interest over payment to Chris Ofili for paintings of monkeys
THE Tate paid more than £600,000 for an artwork by Chris Ofili " the artist famous for working with elephant dung " even though he is one of the gallery’s trustees, it has emerged.
The gallery refused at first to reveal how much it paid for Ofili’s installation of 13 paintings of monkeys but it has now been forced to disclose the figures under the Freedom of Information Act.
It has confirmed that £295,000 " £120,000 from its own funds, £100,000 from Tate members and £75,000 from the National Art Collections Fund, the art charity " amounted to less than half the price.
The rest came from private benefactors reportedly brought together by the artist’s dealer, Victoria Miro, although the precise amount is exempt from enforced disclosure.
The artist Charles Thomson said: “Sir Nicholas Serota [the Tate director] mentions Victoria Miro’s generosity in constructing this deal. Victoria Miro’s ‘generosity’ would seem to be in attracting benefactors who will give money to the Tate " so that the Tate can then give it back to her.”
Each canvas in The Upper Room depicts a monkey clad in hat and waistcoat, displayed to suggest a simian Last Supper.
That such a large amount of money was found for the installation is surprising. Only a year ago the Tate claimed that it could no longer afford to buy works by the artists that it helped to make famous.
It appealed last October to Damien Hirst, David Hockney and other leading names to donate works.
Sir Nicholas Serota said last year that the level of government funding for the gallery had steadily been reduced over the past 20 years, while market prices had risen by as much as 1,000 per cent. The Tate’s annual budget for acquisitions is £1.5 million.
Ofili’s previous record price is $1 million (£555,000) for a 1996 paper collage with oil paint, glitter and dung, which sold in New York in May.
Ofili was born in Manchester to a Nigerian family and studied at Chelsea School of Art and the Royal College of Art. He stumbled across the idea of using dung in Zimbabwe and has since attached lumps of it to canvases dealing with his experience of being black in a mainly white community.
His works divide audiences. Tate curators have likened his work to the visionary imagery of William Blake, but David Lee, editor of The Jackdaw, an art newsletter, has dismissed the use of dung as a gimmick, saying: “If he was just a painter, you wouldn’t look twice.”
The Tate said that it did not acquire work by serving trustees “except under special circumstances”. A spokeswoman said: “The trustees felt this was an exceptional work.”
The Tate also purchased works by Michael Craig-Martin and Bill Woodrow while they were serving trustees. In Woodrow’s case, negotiations had started before he took up the post.
The gallery dismisses any suggestion of a conflict of interest and says that Ofili left the trustees’ meetings when his work was discussed.
But Charles Thomson, co-founder of the Stuckists, an international group promoting traditional artistry, said that there was a clear conflict of interest. He said: “Under the Nolan rules, which they are bound by, they shouldn’t benefit from their office.”
He called on Ofili to refuse the money and for the chairman and director to resign.
Both Victoria Miro and Chris Ofili declined to comment.
The Ofili purchase was made shortly before the Tate rejected a gift of 160 paintings by the Stuckists, even though they attracted thousands to the Walker Gallery in Liverpool.
Steve Martin Swindled
German Art Forgery Scandal Reaches Hollywood
The scope of what is believed to be Germany's biggest art forgery scandal since World War II has reached as far as Hollywood. American actor Steve Martin bought one of the fake paintings in 2004 and later sold it at a loss of some 200,000 euros
Their files indicate that total losses to the art community from the sale and resale of just 14 of the forgeries reached nearly €34.1 million ($48.6 million).
– Rodin and Calder Sculptures Lost in 9/11: A recent AP report details the mystery surrounding lost records and art on 9/11, which, though they pale in comparison to the loss of life, include letters written by Helen Keller, a cast of Rodin's "The Thinker," and 40,000 photographic negatives of John F. Kennedy. Eerily, a group of librarians had scheduled to meet at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 to discuss the fate of some of the archives stored in the building, but the meeting was rescheduled at the last minute. [AP]