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SOME STORIES JUST KEEP ON GIVING. Earlier this week, Greek police recovered paintings by Picasso and Mondrian that were stolen in 2012 from the National Gallery in Athens. Now details are emerging about the saga, behind the scenes. The main takeaways, as compiled by Smithsonian Magazine: The man arrested for the heist is a construction worker, George Sarmantzopoulos , 49, who has also been identified as a painter. He confessed, and led officials to the works. His lawyer said that Sarmantzopoulos had not intended to sell them, and that he was just an “art lover” who became obsessed with the pieces, according to the Art Newspaper, citing Greek press. (The thief’s Twitter name was “ArtFreak” at one point.) He apparently spent more than six months planning the job, and told police, “I confessed to a girl I had a relationship with in England that I had the paintings, but she didn’t believe what I said.” (Rough!) Also, the Picasso—which the artist donated to the country to honor its resistance to the Nazis—fell to the ground while being shown by the police. Reuters has video.
COULD A ‘GADGET LEVY’ HELP THE ARTS RECOVER IN THE UNITED KINGDOM? Artists Frank Bowling and Rachel Whiteread are among those lobbying the government to pass a 1 to 3 percent tax on some electronic devices in the U.K., with the aim of creating a “Smart Fund” that will go toward creatives, from painters to musicians, the Financial Times reports. Supporters say the levy could generate £300 million ($413.5 million) each year. Artist Yinka Shonibare told BBC News it is “a no-brainer,” and Bowling has penned an op-ed for the Times of London. Some electronics firms are less enthused about the proposal.
Documenta in Kassel, Germany, said that it will announce on Friday whether it will go ahead with its plan to stage the next edition of its exhibition, Documenta 15, in 2022. Putting together the show, which is being curated by the collective ruangrupa, “has been affected by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” it said. The decision will be revealed at a press conference, and streamed online. [Documenta]
The Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, Texas, will create a dedicated outdoor space for sound pieces. Austin philanthropists Ernest and Sarah Butler have given $5 million for the project, and artist Bill Fontana will be the first artist to create work for the venue. [Austin American-Statesman and The Art Newspaper]
The augmented-reality art just keeps coming! A.R. works by 13 artists, like El Anatsui and Isaac Julien, will appear at 12 botanical gardens in September, in a project from the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens and the Outset Contemporary Art Fund. [The New York Times]
Meanwhile, the High Line and the Shed are collaborating on an A.R. show in New York with pieces by Precious Okoyomon, Darren Bader, and more. It opens Saturday. [The New York Times]
The Minneapolis Institute of Art has acquired more than 700 drawings, as well as prints and photographs, by the Polish-American artist Theodore Roszak. The trove was a gift from the artist’s daughter, Sara Roszak, facilitated by New York’s Michael Rosenfeld Gallery. [ArtDaily]
Department stores in South Korea are displaying art to draw customers. [Korea JoonAng Daily]
IN A BID TO DRAW LOCAL CHILDREN to the V&A East art and design museum, which is due to open in East London in 2025, its director, Gus Casely-Hayford, has an ambitious publicity campaign in the works: Barnstorming schools in the four boroughs around the venue. “I’m going to begin next year by getting out there on my bicycle and I will visit every single one of the more than 250 schools—every single one of them,” he said in a Guardian story. “I want to be telling them that this is your national collection. It belongs to you.” [The Guardian]
Thank you for reading. We’ll see you tomorrow.