1) Terracotta Thumb Thief Charged
A man from Delaware has been charged with theft after he was caught with the thumb of a Chinese terracotta warrior statue which was on display at the Franklin Institute of Philadelphia. On December 21st, 2017, security cameras at the Institute recorded the man, Michael Rohana, taking a selfie with the statue at a Christmas party before breaking off its thumb and pocketing the fragment of the priceless artefact. The museum didn’t notice the missing thumb until the 8th of January, at which point police tracked down the culprit, though Rohana has since been released on bail. This month, he was charged with three crimes related to the incident.
2) ...But Chinese Official Calls for Harsher Punishment
Though Rohana may be a free man for now, an unnamed Chinese official has gone public with their ire over the incident. In a response printed in the communist newspaper Beijing Youth Daily, an anonymous official calls for more severe punishment for not only the thief, but also for the institution, for failing to protect this piece of Chinese and world history. The Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Center has loaned out terracotta warriors to a number of institutions around the world, but reports say the Center may reconsider its loan policy based on this incident.
3) X-Rays Reveal Wonder Beneath Picasso's Paintings
Here’s a fascinating article in the New York Times about scientists who have been utilizing scanning and x-ray equipment, more commonly used in medicine, geology, and other scientific fields, to delve deeper into the materiality and historic background of artworks. Analysis of a work by Picasso showed that the artist had not only painted over several layers of different imagery, but had managed to incorporate some of the textures of previous paintings into new imagery. The article is accompanied by some rather beguiling x-ray photographs.
4) A Petition to Reinstate Beatrix Ruf Garners Questionable Signatures
A selection of gallerists, collectors, and artists have started a petition in the effort to reinstate Beatrix Ruf as the director of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Ruf resigned from her post in October following allegations of conflicts of interest between her work at the museum and her private art advisory firm, Currentmatters. In an interesting twist, a few of the people whose names appear as signatures on the petition are now claiming not to have signed the document.