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Art Basel cancels Hong Kong fair due to Coronavirus outbreak – Al Jazeera English



8 February 2020: An earlier version of this story attributed a statement of Marc Spiegler, global director of Art Basel, to Bernd Stadlwieser, chief executive of MCH Group, the Swiss-based company behind the show.

After weeks of speculation, Art Basel, one of the most prestigious international art fairs, has cancelled its Asia edition in Hong Kong over public health concerns around the fast-moving coronavirus outbreak, dealing a blow to the festival that has weathered a tumultuous year in the semi-autonomous region.

With 241 exhibitors lined up, the show had been slated for March 19 and 21 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center.


Art Central, another art fair in Hong Kong which coincides with Art Basel, has also been cancelled.

“The decision to cancel Art Basel Hong Kong was an extremely difficult one for us. We explored every other possible option before doing so, gathering advice and perspectives from many gallerists, collectors, partners and external experts,” said Marc Spiegler, global director of Art Basel.

“Unfortunately, the sudden outbreak and rapid spread of the novel coronavirus radically changed the situation.”

The statement cited several factors informing the decision, including health concerns.

As the worldwide toll surpasses 29,000 cases with 638 deaths, predominantly in mainland China, fears over the new mystery virus are shaking Hong Kong, with the number of cases in the Chinese territory rising to 24 infections and one death, reported on Tuesday.

Hong Kong and the Philippines are the only places outside mainland China to have reported the death of an infected patient.

Long queues are forming outside shops in Hong Kong as the city faces a shortage of masks, schools are closed until at least March and museums are shut indefinitely.

The decision was inevitable after the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency, says Meg Maggio, director of Pekin Fine Arts, a Beijing and Hong Kong-based contemporary art gallery and arts consultancy.

“I was expecting it, we were all expecting it,” says Maggio. “They really didn’t have much choice.”

The cancellation also comes amid mounting travel restrictions to and from mainland China, one of the major players in Art Basel.

While Hong Kong has not gone as far as many airlines and countries in cancelling all mainland China flights, it has imposed a mandatory 14-day quarantine on anyone arriving from the mainland.

With thousands of people arriving from mainland China every day, the city’s embattled leader Carrie Lam has come under fire for not shutting the border entirely, prompting thousands of public health workers to strike, demanding a sealed border.


While many flight restrictions to China exclude Hong Kong, some airlines are beginning to cancel flights to the territory, including United Airlines and American Airlines. Hong Kong’s flagship airline, Cathay Pacific, called on its 27,000 staff to take three weeks of unpaid leave in the coming months as it grapples with the outbreak.

Art Basel had already been under pressure since the eruption of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong in June of last year. In spite of millions taking to the streets and months of demonstrations, there was still an attitude of “the show [must] go,” says Daphne King Yao, director of the Hong Kong-based Alisan Fine Arts.

But in January, galleries started getting cold feet, with three dropping out and 15% of exhibitors taking up an offer to reduce the size of their booths, which would lower their financial commitment, the Financial Times reports.

Two dozen high-profile participating galleries also had penned a scathing letter to Art Basel in January for what they saw as a poor response to the political unrest, ArtNet news reports.

On top of many indications people would not attend the fair, the letter said “many of our artists are unwilling to have their work shown at the fair” because the threat of Chinese control in Hong Kong is not “consistent with their core belief in the freedom of expression.”

Last year’s show drew 88,000 visitors.

The cancellation is not unprecedented. The last time Art Basel cancelled a fair was in Miami, in the US state of Florida, due to the September 11, 2011, attacks.

Art Basel said it remains committed to Hong Kong and will host its next edition there next year from March 25 to March 27, 2021.

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Tehran unveils Western art masterpieces hidden for decades – CityNews Toronto



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Tehran unveils Western art masterpieces hidden for decades  CityNews Toronto

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Fake psychics helped woman steal $180M in art from elderly mom, police say – Global News



A Brazilian woman was arrested Wednesday after police found that she orchestrated an elaborate scheme to defraud her elderly mother out of precious works of art.

Sabine Coll Boghici, 48, is accused of using a ring of fraudulent psychics to swindle her mother, Genevieve Boghici, 82, out of around 724 million reais, or $180 million, in art, jewelry and money, according to a statement by police in Rio de Janeiro.

Police say the racket began in January 2020, when Genevieve, the widow of renowned Brazilian art collector Jean Boghici, was contacted by someone claiming to be a psychic who had seen a vision of her daughter Sabine’s death.

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The phoney psychic then introduced her to other seers, who used personal information provided by Sabine to convince the elderly woman that their claims were real. The ring of psychics used their leverage to get money out of Genevieve for “spiritual treatment,” in order to save her daughter from her prophesied death, according to NBC News and the BBC.

The suspects were later alleged to have physically threatened the elderly woman and Sabine eventually kept her mother confined to the house after she became suspicious of the scheme.

Sabine and a psychic then began to take artwork from Genevieve’s house and told her that the paintings were cursed with negative energy that needed to be “prayed over,” said police officer Gilberto Ribeiro, according to Reuters.

Eventually, Genevieve sought help from the police, who uncovered the scheme.

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At least 16 paintings were stolen from the elderly woman, police said, including works from celebrated Brazilian artists Cicero Dias, Rubens Gerchman and Alberto Guignard.

Three of the stolen paintings were works by famed modernist Tarsila do Amaral. Those three paintings alone were worth a reported 700 million reais, or just under $175 million.

Police say they have recovered 14 of the stolen paintings, having found 11 during a raid of the home of one of the accused psychics and three that were sold to an art gallery in Sao Paulo. At least two paintings have yet to be recovered, though, including pieces that were sold to a museum in Buenos Aires.

A video posted on Twitter by a local media outlet shows the moment one of Amaral’s paintings, Sol Poente (which means setting sun), was found inside a bed frame hidden under a mattress.

At least seven people were involved in the years-long plot, Reuters reported. Police said four were arrested, including Sabine, on Wednesday but the others remain at large.

The accused are facing charges of embezzlement, robbery, extortion, false imprisonment and criminal association.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Community meetings planned for massive Rodman Hall art collection – Niagara Falls Review



A series of community meetings next month will help decide the fate of Rodman Hall’s 1,000-piece art collection.

The massive collection is in the hands of a registered charity called the Rodman Art Institute of Niagara after the historic St. Catharines gallery closed in 2020. Earlier this year, it was revealed the 19th-century building on St. Paul Crescent would be converted to a 13-room boutique hotel.

The community meetings will be held with the aid of international planning firm Lord Cultural Resources.

The meetings are scheduled for:

  • Sept. 13 via Zoom at 6:30 p.m.

  • Sept. 15 at 5:30 p.m. at a location to be announced.
  • Sept. 17 at 11 a.m. at Salem Chapel BME Church, 92 Geneva St., St. Catharines.

The Rodman Art Institute was created with the purpose of protecting and supporting the gallery’s collection, with a goal of creating a new public art gallery.

Opened in 1960 as an art centre, Rodman Hall struggled financially in the ’90s before it was purchased by Brock University in 2003 for $2 — with a commitment to continue running it as an art gallery for 20 years.

Brock ended its ownership in 2015, having opened its Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts in downtown St. Catharines.

The 2.88-hectare property was sold to developer Nino Donatelli in October 2020. Donatelli has previously restored the 19th-century Lybster Mill in Merritton, now called Stone Mill Inn. He also rehabilitated a former rubber plant on Glendale Avenue into a Keg restaurant.

Rodman Hall and its grounds are designated under the Ontario Heritage Act. No major alterations or additions are planned for the building.

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