Monday, January 14, 2008
Conflicts of interests are not a purely U.S. phenomenon. The Sunday Telegraph reports that the Tate Gallery purchased art from many of the artists who serve as trustees of the London art museum. Documents obtained by the newspaper under the U.K.'s Freedom of Information Act revealed that the Tate acquired 73 works from 20 serving trustees over the 50-year period from 1955 to 2005. According to the article, these revelations follow the disclosure in 2006 during an investigation by the U.K. Charity Commission that the museum had bought seven works over eight years from five different artist trustees. According to a Times article, these purchases included The Upper Room for 600,000 pounds from then trustee Chris Ofili. At that time, critics condemned the charity not only for the purchases but also for its failure to seek independent valuations and the failure of some of the artist trustees to recuse themselves from the decision to purchase their own artwork.