According to an audit by the regional government of Valencia, Spain, the Institut Valencià d’Art Modern (IVAM) has been less than virtuous on a number of fronts in recent years, inflating its annual attendance by more than a million people and overpaying for art (among other issues), The Independent reports.
Under the leadership of Consuelo Ciscar (who stepped down last year, citing “personal reasons”), IVAM reported in 2013 that it had 1.2 million visitors, though the audit says it actually had 1.1 million less than that, with just over 85,000 walking through its doors. (It allegedly juiced its numbers in 2011 and 2012 as well.)
The audit also states that Ciscar (who is married to Rafael Blasco, a center-right politician serving time in prison for attempting to misappropriate government money) paid exorbitant prices for artworks, in some cases shelling out 1,500 percent more than market value. In one instance, the museum reportedly paid €32,000 ($35,700) for a painting, Della Bestia Trionfante, by Portuguese artist Julio Caresma, which was valued at a mere €2,000 ($2,230).
Even more surprising—or perhaps predictable, at this point—are IVAM’s ties to the Chinese mafia. The museum apparently paid around half a million dollars for 63 pieces by the photographer Gio Ping, who was incarcerated as the ringleader of a money laundering network tied to Chinese organized crime in Spain.
It is perhaps worth pausing here to note that the pressure on museum directors to boost attendance numbers can be intense, and that IVAM is hardly the first to do so. (Though the scale by which it seems to have done so is particularly impressive.) The New York Times detailed the practice back in 1987 in an article titled “Behind Inflated Attendance Figures,” which chalked up the problem to the difficulty in counting visitors and the temptation to try to impress supporters, namely politicians and donors.
But there’s more! Like a very serious allegation of nepotism. Read the full story over at The Independent.