The very long strokes of the Orlando Museum of Art’s Basquiat fiasco

Stella McDaniel
FBI agents at the Orlando Museum of Artwork in June. Image: Willie J. Allen Jr./Orlando Sentinel/Tribune Information Assistance through Getty Photographs

Can a puzzle be artwork?

What’s going on: Former trustees of the scandal-hit Orlando Museum of Art who were dismissed from the governing board last 7 days now say they have been stored in the dark about the FBI’s investigation into the authenticity of purported Jean-Michel Basquiat paintings.

  • And they say they had been “terminated” from the volunteer board when they termed a conference to explore how the board chair was handling the predicament, the Orlando Sentinel stories.

Driving the news: Board chair Cynthia Brumback wrote a column Aug. 18 to tackle the fallout from the June FBI raid when agents seized paintings that have been component of the museum’s “Heroes and Monsters” show, reported to be by no means-prior to-observed Basquiat operates that had been discovered in a storage locker.

  • She wrote that she and the board “continue to come to feel embarrassment” from the “adverse consideration” and asked the local community to “stand by us.”

The intrigue: The column elevated a timing concern. Brumback wrote that the FBI experienced subpoenaed the museum in July 2021, months prior to the exhibit’s February opening. Then:

  • “Our director presented us with various authentication studies, specially 1 from Diego Cortez, the now-deceased gentleman widely credited with ‘discovering’ Basquiat and who served on Basquiat’s estate’s formal authentication committee,” she wrote.
  • “Dependent on this and the other experiences, our director reassured us that every thing was in get.”

Of course, but: Trustees told the Sentinel they ended up in no way educated the museum had been served the subpoena and knew nothing at all was amiss till the raid.

  • When they lifted fears about Brumback’s dealing with of the challenge, they acquired an electronic mail informing them they’d been dismissed from the board.
  • A press launch adopted from a new exhibition-vetting job force’s co-chairs, Mark Elliott and Nancy Wolf, declaring the associates had exceeded their time period limitations.

In the meantime, interim director Luder Whitlock, who changed fired director Aaron De Groft, resigned last week following just 6 months on the position.

  • Brumback stepped down as chair but was changed by Elliott, seen as her shut ally, and continues to be on the board, which is now striving to discover a new museum director.


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