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A LEGAL BATTLE CONTINUES. A British man found guilty of attempting to smuggle antiquities out of Iraq was sentenced to 15 years in prison, a ruling that stunned his supporters, the Guardian reports. Jim Fitton, a 66-year-old former geologist, was arrested at Baghdad International Airport in March after officials found a dozen pottery shards and stones in his bag. He has maintained that he found the items while on a tour with a guide who encouraged him to take the items and that he had no criminal intent. “My client does not deserve this punishment,” his lawyer, Thair Soud, said. “The antiques that were found with him were stones and pieces of broken pottery that had no material, or archaeological, value.” Soud said that he would appeal.
MIGHTY OAKS FROM LITTLE ACORNS GROW. The billionaire Brazilian mining mogul Bernardo Paz, a veteran of the ARTnews Top 200 Collectors list, is giving some 330 works from his collection to his storied Inhotim Institute, which sprawls across more than 5,000 verdant acres in Minas Gerais, Brazil, the Art Newspaper reports. Artists represented in the transfer include Arthur Jafa, Pipilotti Rist, and Matthew Barney. Paz was cleared of money laundering charges in 2020, and has been working to insure the long-term stability of Inhotim, which is renowned for its ambitious permanent installations by superstars like Chris Burden and Yayoi Kusama. The organization also said that it has founded a new advisory board with 30 members.
A violin that was made by Antonio Stradivari around 1679 will hit the block at Christie’s in London in a month with a top estimate of £9 million (about $11.2 million). Stradivari held the instrument for 55 years before eventually parting with it in 1734 for a crisp £40. [The Strad]
Artist Ibrahim Mahama has been tapped to direct the next Ljubljana Biennale of Graphic Arts, which is on deck for 2023 in the Slovenian capital. Mahama rose to fame with his sprawling installations of jute sacks and recently opened an arts center, Nkrumah Volini, in Tamale, Ghana. [ArtReview]
The U.S is attempting to seize two planes from billionaire Russian art collector Roman Abramovich as part of sanctions tied to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The jets, valued at $400 million, are currently in Russia and Dubai. [CNBC]
Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger paid a visit to the Reina Sofía in Madrid; Ángeles González-Sinde, the president of museum’s Royal Board of Trustees, provided a thorough account of the action. [El País]
Zaha Hadid Architects, which recently grabbed some headlines for its plans to design a metaverse city, has created a fully electric yacht in collaboration with the Italian shipbuilder Rossinavi. Named Oneiric, it measures 144 feet long and has onboard AI that can advise on the environmental impact of sailing trips. [Architectural Digest]
INTERVIEWS WITH ARTISTS: Adrian Ghenie is in the Financial Times, talking about paintings he made for a church in Palermo, Italy. Aung Myint is in the South China Morning Post, explaining how he altered his work to avoid censors in his native Myanmar. And Tanoa Sasraku is in the Guardian, describing how she soaks her work “in a river, sea or bog: a transformative ordeal that leaves them stronger and denser,” Skye Sherwin writes.
HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT. A painting by the 15th-century Italian painter Filippino Lippi sold for £255,000 (about $317,500) at Dawsons Auctioneers in the United Kingdom, the Independent reports. That would not exactly be big news, except for this: the family selling it had no idea it was a valuable painting. It belonged to an unnamed 90-year-old woman who is now in a care home, and the painting had been hanging in her uninhabited house. “There was nothing exceptional in the house until I walked into the bedroom and saw the painting hanging, off-kilter, above a bed,” the house’s Siobhan Tyrrell said. Good eye! Let this be your regular reminder to go look in your attic—and even on your walls. You never know what you might find. [The Independent]