Ace Gallery Founder Convicted, Court Settles Restitution Confusion with MFA Houston, El Museo del Barrio Reveals Details for Trienal, and More: Morning Links for June 4, 2024

To receive Morning Links in your inbox every weekday, sign up for our Breakfast with ARTnews newsletter.


EMBEZZLEMENT CONVICTION. Douglas Chrismas, the 80-year-old, notorious founder of Los Angeles’s defunct blue-chip Ace Gallery, has been convicted of embezzlement by a jury. The May 31 ruling in a Los Angeles court means the once powerful dealer, who has been the defendant in over 55 lawsuits, some of which were for stealing artworks and not paying artists, faces up to 15 years in federal prison. In less than an hour, according to the Los Angeles Times, the jury found Chrismas guilty of three separate counts of embezzling a total of over $260,000 from Ace Gallery’s bankruptcy estate while acting as trustee and custodian of the bankruptcy estate. Chrismas had “champagne wishes and caviar dreams,” when he illegally deposited those funds towards an entity called Ace Museum in 2016, Asst. U.S. Atty. Vallerie Makarewicz told the jury. Meanwhile, the defense argued Chrismas “was desperate to save his business,” and had understood his Ace Museum legacy project to be part of the bankruptcy estate property. The jury, however, wasn’t buying it, and a sentencing is scheduled for September 9.

Related Articles

Ace Gallery Founder Douglas Chrismas Found Guilty of Embezzlement

El Museo del Barrio Names Artist List for Its 2024 Triennial, with an Expanded, Global Focus

RESTITUTION ERROR. In a complicated case, judges for the US Fifth Circuit court ruled the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) Houston can keep an 18th century painting by Bernardo Bellotto that was looted by Nazis and accidentally restituted to the wrong person right after WWII, reports The Art Newspaper. Their decision upholds a lower court’s dismissal of the lawsuit brought by the Jewish heirs of its original owner Max J. Emden. Emden sold the work under duress, but it was confused with another Nazi-looted painting that was painted after the original Bellotto, by an anonymous artist. Allied forces recovered both paintings, but the Dutch Art Property Foundation for restitution claims erroneously gave the original painting to a claimant who had only requested the copy. The mistaken restitution could not be challenged by US courts, which are forbidden to judge another state’s acts of government done in its territory.


El Museo del Barrio in New York has named the 33 artists that will participate in the second edition of its recently relaunched La Trienal. Taking the title of “Flow States,” the show feature Carmen Argote, Christina Fernandez, Roberto Gil de Montes, Caroline Kent, Karyn Olivier, and Ruben Ulises Rodriguez Montoya. [ARTnews]

Students and faculty demonstrated against the sudden closing of Philadelphia’s University of the Arts (UArts) yesterday. On Friday, the school belated announced to its student body and staff that it would shutter this week. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) also revoked the school’s accreditation on June 1, telling reporters the UArts “failed to inform the Commission of closure in a timely manner or to properly plan for closure.” [Hyperallergic]

The Ansel Adams Estate has hit back at Adobe for selling AI-generated images using the photographer’s name, allegedly on repeated occasions. Ironically, Adobe Stock’s own official policy terms don’t allow this, stipulating users are forbidden to upload AI-generated pictures “created using prompts containing other artist names or created using prompts otherwise intended to copy another artist.” [ARTnews]

A week out from Art Basel, one highlight to look out for at the fair’s Unlimited section is Christo’s Wrapped 1961 Volkswagen Beetle Saloon (1963-2014). Typically, the artist’s preparatory drawings of his monumental installations are made available for sale, making this large sculpture of an actual, wrapped VW Beetle, a rarity, for which Gagosian gallery is asking $4 million. [Bloomberg]

Two Bronze and Iron Age sets of treasure found in Dorset can stay in the county, thanks to a public fundraiser allowing the Dorset Museum to acquire them. The treasure includes a group of 40 coins from the second century BCE, made by a Gaulish tribe, and another stash including a Bronze Age axe head, bangle, and sword. [BBC]

The stories of how the Nazi’s looted and hid thousands of artworks is currently being told in three, simultaneous exhibitions in Austria. For the exhibit “The Journey of the Paintings”, the Lentos art museum in Linz is showing 80 works, including pieces by Goya and Titian, which were plundered and hidden in salt mines to build Hitler’s mega museum, the Führer Museum in Linz. The Altausse mine where they were hidden, and almost blown to bits, can still be visited. [El Pais]

The Kunstmuseum Bonn has named Friederike Fast as its new deputy director and curator. [Monopol Mag]


WALK THE LINE. Walk south to north along the Thames and the small waterways on east London’s Greenwich Meridian line, and for some 8 km (about 4 miles), you can soak in the constantly evolving public art trail called The Line. From Antony Gormley’s cloud, to Tracey Emin birds, writer Andrew Jones for The Financial Times says “now is the time to visit or revisit,” the sculpture walkway. Doing so, “is to experience contemporary art, but also to explore areas of the city that had, until recently, been largely abandoned and closed. Here you will witness new neighborhoods springing up in historic settings, observe wildlife you may not have expected to see in the capital and spot Londoners slow down and connect with each other,” writes Jones. The path is divided into three sections Jones describes in detail, and the whole features around 25 works by established and emerging artists, including Gary Hume, Yinka Ilori, Eva Rothschild, Madge Gill, plus a new installation by Helen Cammock. Happy trails!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *