Committee of Experts for the investigation of the ‘Toporovski Collection’ shelved

Maandag 19 februari 2018 — Earlier this month, the Flemish Minister for Culture Sven Gatz and alderman for culture Annelies Storms mandated a committee of experts to provide clarity in the discussions surrounding the Russian avant-garde collection that were displayed in the Museum of Fine Arts (MSK) in Ghent and are owned by the Dieleghem Foundation. Considering the foundation and the city of Ghent both refrain from granting full cooperation during the investigation, Minister Gatz is forced to shelve the committee.  

Some twenty works by Russian avant-garde artists at the MSK in Ghent have caused a stir over the last month. The authenticity of the collection owned by the Igor and Olga Toporovski and part of the Dieleghem Foundation was questioned.

Minister for Culture Sven Gatz, together with the City of Ghent consequently took the initiative to mandate a committee of experts to provide clarity in these discussions.

The committee was tasked with providing advice on the question as to whether the authenticity and origins of the art works should lead the museum to deem it necessary to no longer display them. Additionally, the committee would provide advice on the scrutiny with which the MSK determined the authenticity and origins of the works prior to exhibiting them. Finally, recommendations were asked on possible modifications to the loan practices in Flanders.
On January 17, the City of Ghent and the Dieleghem Foundation agreed to cooperate with the committee.

On February 14, the counsel acting for the Dieleghem foundation stipulated strict conditions upon which it would cooperate. These conditions made it impossible for the committee to conduct its work at the level required for the subject matter.

Given this context, the City of Ghent announced they can no longer collaborate within the proposed framework.

Minister Gatz: “As Minister for Culture, I have attempted to take up a constructive role as a referee by establishing a Committee of Experts. Considering this role is no longer desired by both parties, the continuation of the Committee becomes void.” The minister would like to thank all members of the committee for their willingness to cooperate.  

Eva Vanhengel

Woordvoerder Sven Gatz

Vld Mandataris