ARTnews has won the Society of the Silurians 2011 Excellence in Journalism Arts/Culture Award for a series of articles on the controversy surrounding 74 “recently discovered” plaster sculpture casts said to have been made by Edgar Degas. The articles, by William D. Cohan, appeared in the April, May, October, and November 2010 issues. Additional reporting was done by Sylvia Hochfield, Eileen Kinsella, and Milton Esterow.
The plasters were said to have been discovered in a Paris foundry. Bronzes cast from them are claimed to have been sold for up to $2 million each and $20 million for the set. They have been exhibited in museums in Greece, Israel, Bulgaria, and Spain. The New Orleans Museum of Art, however, decided last year to postpone an exhibition of the works that had been scheduled to open in November.
A group of Degas scholars who met in New York last year voiced concern about the scuptures. One person, who declined to be identified, told ARTnews that “there was absolutely universal agreement that those things are not what they’re being advertised as.”
The articles dealt with themes of urgent concern in the art world: the proliferation of fake art and the difficulty and danger of speaking the truth about forgeries.
Cohan, author of Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World, is a columnist for the New York Times and writes for many publications. Other award winners this year include the New York Times, the New York Daily News, the New York Post, Vanity Fair, and Bloomberg.
The Silurians, founded in 1924, is an organization of more than 500 editors and reporters from the New York metropolitan area, who have worked for every major newspaper, wire service, and radio and television station in the region. For more than five decades the Silurians have awarded journalists whose reporting and writing embody the highest standards of the profession.
This is the eleventh time the Silurians have honored ARTnews. Since 1975, ARTnews has won 42 awards for excellence in reporting, criticism, and design, including the George Polk Award, the National Magazine Award, the Overseas Press Club of America Citation for Excellence, the Investigative Reporters and Editors Award, the National Headliner Award, the Clarion Award of the Association for Women in Communications, and the Page One Award.