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The greatest art heist in history set to backfire?

By johnboy - 15 January 2009 25

[First filed: January 13, 2009 @ 11:45]

The Canberra Museum and Gallery’s long been known to covet the Nolan collection from Lanyon.

The fine political arts of neglect and concocted emergency have in recent years allowed them to conduct possibly the biggest art theft in history, ever, anywhere in the world.

Bear in mind that when Sir Sidney Nolan gave the foundation collection to the Lanyon Homestead there was no ACT Government and no CMAG. The gift was not to them. They were given the responsiblity of looking after Lanyon and its collection as part of the haphazard process of self Government.

The Southside Chronicle is now reporting that Sir Sidney’s widow, Lady Nolan, has tired of the games. 220 of the works CMAG has scarpered with are on loan from her and she wants them back if they’re not returned to their intended location at Lanyon.

With the Chronicle sadly not online here’s a scan of the story for the Northside readers, click on the image for a larger version.

UPDATED: Days late the Liberals’ Vicki Dunne is getting in the game:

    “I can’t help thinking there is a hidden agenda here, with both governments trying to find reasons to shut the Nolan Gallery and obliterate all memory of it, instead of making it the success it deserves to be.

    “We simply cannot let that happened [sic],” concluded Mrs Dunne.

What’s Your opinion?


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25 Responses to
The greatest art heist in history set to backfire?
Thumper 3:01 pm 13 Jan 09

And the overflow for the gaol…

p1 2:46 pm 13 Jan 09

I thought Lanyon was going to be the site of the new data centre/power station/cemetery/crematorium………oops!

You forgot the dragstrip…

tortfeaser 2:17 pm 13 Jan 09

That gallery was one of the few things that made living in Banks bearable. Go you good thing, Lady Nolan.

Mr Evil 1:28 pm 13 Jan 09

I thought Lanyon was going to be the site of the new data centre/power station/cemetery/crematorium………oops!

emd 1:20 pm 13 Jan 09

I think Chalker makes some good points in the article, that the government should continue to honour the artist’s intentions (of having the works displayed in the Nolan gallery), and that if those intentions are not honoured then other art owners might question the worth of bequesting important cultural artwork to government collections in future. It’s not necessarily about what’s legal, it’s what Nolan intended when he made the bequest.

I also wonder if this is some kind of land development deal in the making? If Nolan Gallery is no longer going to function, could the ACT Government try to develop more land around Banks/Gordon towards Tharwa on the grounds that the land is not paying its way anymore? Or would heritage rules mean that’s not possible anyway?

Granny 1:19 pm 13 Jan 09

If the ACT government can no longer honour the terms of an agreement made in good faith they really should give them back.

From Lady Nolan’s perspective I am sure it would seem that she has had to foot the bill for what must be an exceedingly valuable collection, while we are now wanting to dictate the terms.

Thumper 1:10 pm 13 Jan 09

You’re not suggesting that someone deliberately downgraded the maintenance schedule at Lanyon so as to ensure that the artworks would have to be moved in the future?

Surely not…

johnboy 1:08 pm 13 Jan 09

Except Caf, the problems with the original gallery give every indication of having been engineered.

Thumper 12:58 pm 13 Jan 09

Well put caf 😉

caf 12:55 pm 13 Jan 09

So… it’s a set of works, some owned by the Commonwealth and some owned by Lady Nolan, formerly exhibited in a gallery owned by the ACT Government that needs expensive repairs to continue to operate.

No wonder it’s a SNAFU. Lady Nolan and Bob Debus get to call the shots on where the artworks go, but we have to foot the bill.

Mr Evil 12:32 pm 13 Jan 09

Maybe Jon forgot to consult with anyone?

p1 12:32 pm 13 Jan 09

Seems pretty straight forward to me. She has them over a barrel, and the ACT gubmint needs to decide if they like publicly owned art or not (giant pears on pedestals beside the GDE not withstanding).

poptop 12:23 pm 13 Jan 09

Good brinksmanship, Lady Nolan.

How will Chiefly Funding Public Art feel about going down in history as the Chief Minister who lost the Nolan Foundation Collection and Lady Nolan’s loaners?

Thumper 12:08 pm 13 Jan 09

I agree with them. The reasoning behind the decision to move them was flimsy to say the least.

Skidbladnir 11:51 am 13 Jan 09

I wish I got my Southside Chronicle copy as quickly as that…

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