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Three Stedelijk Museum Board Members Resign Following Report Claiming Beatrix Ruf Was Wrongfully Accused of Conflicts of Interest

Beatrix Ruf.

ROBIN DE PUY

Tuesday brought news that the Dutch broadcaster AT5 had obtained part of a report claiming that Beatrix Ruf, the former director of Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum, had been wrongfully accused of alleged conflicts of interest that led to her resignation last October. (The report, which had been scheduled to be released in full later this month, was partially leaked to AT5 and was first reported in the U.S. by Artnet News.)

In a statement today, the Stedelijk responded to news of the report—which had been commissioned in the wake of allegations involving matters of disclosure surrounding the acquisition of artworks as well as work with her art advisory firm, Currentmatters—while also announcing the resignation of three members of its board. The board members stepping down are Rita Kersting, Madeleine de Cock Buning, and Jos van Rooijen.

In response to news of the report and its characterization of “an unfortunate concurrence of events with regard to Beatrix Ruf,” the museum said, “We are grateful to the researchers for their efforts. We endorse the conclusions in general terms and embrace all of the report’s recommendations.” The museum also conceded that “in a number of areas, supervision was inadequate.”

Ruf was curator and director of the Stedelijk from 2014 until October 2017. That month, the Dutch newspaper NRC released a report that called into question Ruf’s practices during her tenure at the museum, accusing her of having failed to make public details surrounding a 600-work donation from Thomas Borgmann, which the report said allowed a group of galleries Ruf had continually worked with to profit unfairly. The report additionally noted that Ruf did not disclose money she made through her art advisory firm, Currentmatters, on the Stedelijk’s annual report.

Following the NRC article, Ruf said in a statement that she “place[d] the interests of the Stedelijk first, above my own, individual concerns,” calling the occasion an “appropriate moment” to resign. A petition advocating for Ruf’s reinstatement was subsequently circulated online and signed by hundreds of art professionals and artists.

In a statement released today, Ruf once again denied the NRC report’s claims. “I am gratified the independent investigators have cleared me completely,” she said. “Contrary to stories in the press, the independent investigators concluded I always acted with integrity; all side activities were approved; and I never ran an art consulting business on the side.”

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