Thursday, January 24, 2008

FBC! is speechless

This morning I woke up to a worsening of my cold, therefore it is true I am literally speechless, but also to some stunning news from the LA Times. Gasp.

Full disclosure: FBC! has worked at LACMA in the past in a curatorial capacity, and to the best of my knowledge provenance issues were always dealt with the utmost care and professionalism by all of my former colleagues. I can't speak about the other museums mentioned, but as far as LACMA is concerned it seems impossible to me the museum would have knowingly bought some artifacts with an iffy provenance. As far as objects being donated with an inflated value, well museum s are rather powerless since the standard practice is to ask galleries and dealers to provide the institution with a value. If there are auctions records available for similar objects, then you can compare, but if not you're pretty much at the mercy of whatever the dealer/donor is going to tell you. I don't know much about the Asian art world myself, but I suppose the practice is the same as with modern and contemporary art. I didn't really know the Asian art curators at LACMA, but they seemed serious scholars to me.

Anyway, I'm sorry for all my former LACMA colleagues as I'm sure having the FBI coming to search the facilities 2 weeks before the opening of BCAM is a major hindrance. I remember curatorial meetings where everyone was careful about provenance, so I'm stunned if it eventually turns out something happened there.

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