Wednesday, June 29

Trial against the corruption of art: purchase of non-existent works and copies as originals | Culture


The three graces they no longer preside over the main access to the City of Justice of Valencia. The six-foot sculpture was disassembled and removed a few weeks ago. Originally, it was a small-format wood and porcelain work made in 1986 by Gerardo Rueda (1926-1996). In its reproduction, 10 years after the death of its creator, its dimensions grew and its materials changed to bronze and steel. The same happened with other pieces attributed to the artist from a controversial purchase, and another subsequent donation, which as of this Tuesday will seat Consuelo Ciscar, director of the Institut Valencià d’Art Modern (IVAM) between 2004 and 2004, on the defendant’s dock. 2014; Juan Carlos Lledó, his right-hand man in the museum, and José Luis Rueda, the adopted son and heir of the one who was one of the founders of the Museum of Spanish Abstract Art in Cuenca.

The Valencia Court judges the first as the author and the other two as necessary cooperators of the alleged continuing crimes of administrative prevarication, falsification of documents and embezzlement of public funds. The IVAM directed by Ciscar bought in 2004 and 2006 for 2.9 million euros eight works by Rueda as if they were originals and, linked to individual acquisitions, received two donations, first of 13 pieces, and then of 77. José Luis Rueda was the seller and the donor of the total set of 98 works.

In addition, the museum disbursed 512,524 euros for the Capa Foundry to materialize 53 of these works from models, mainly because at the time of purchase and donation they did not exist. Ten years after the operation, 31 works had not yet reached the museum, so they were claimed in 2015 by its new director, José M. Cortés. The Valencian center, one of the main museums of modern and contemporary art in Spain, also spent 719,987 euros promoting and organizing seven exhibitions on the refined and constructivist work of Gerardo Rueda. In total, it invested 4.1 million in an entire operation that is in question.

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Consuelo Ciscar, at the IVAM, in 2014, the last year of her mandate.
Consuelo Ciscar, at the IVAM, in 2014, the last year of her mandate. monica towers

The investigating judge concluded that there are rational indications of criminality for the crimes indicated. The accusations consider that it is a fraud in order to enrich the heir and affirm that the works are not originals, but reproductions or copies with a low value, close to 10% of which was paid, according to the estimate of several experts . The defenses imply that the works are original, that their market value is much higher, as testified by their own appraisers, and that José Luis Rueda had the authority and manifest permission to reproduce and change scales and materials, as recorded in the different writings of the parties to which this newspaper has had access.

The Generalitat Prosecutor’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office are asking for six years in prison for Ciscar, five and a half for Lledó (who was the financial manager of the museum) and five for Rueda. In addition, the defendants must compensate, jointly and severally, the IVAM in 3,456,876 euros (the sum of the purchase and the foundry). The popular accusation, represented by Civic Action Against Corruption, raises the penalty to 12 years in prison and civil liability to 4.1 million.

Ciscar, 76, was already sentenced last August to a year and a half in prison – he admitted his responsibility in a sentence of conformity – for prevarication and embezzlement when using the museum’s resources to promote the artistic career of Rablaci, the son of the former director and former councilor of the Valencian Government of the PP, Rafael Blasco, who spent three years and seven months in prison for looting aid for international cooperation.

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The name of Gerardo Rueda also made the headlines of the media when this newspaper unveiled in 2013 a series of emails, such as the one that José María Aznar sent on September 18, 2008 to his friend Miguel Blesa, then in charge of Caja Madrid. In the message he interceded for José Luis Rueda, who offered the financial institution a part of his art collection and another on loan in exchange for 54 million euros to create a large museum dedicated to the president’s favorite artist, as he himself acknowledged. of Government of the PP between 1996 and 2004. The director of the Fundación Caja Madrid, at the time Rafael Spottorno, later head of the Casa del Rey, claimed that the price was absurd. The project never prospered despite the fact that the cost was lowered to six million euros. Aznar and Ciscar coincided in Rome in an exhibition in 2009 dedicated to Gerardo Rueda with part of the Valencian museum’s funds.

Exhibition of the imaginary museum of Gerardo Rueda at the IVAM, in 2007.
Exhibition of the imaginary museum of Gerardo Rueda at the IVAM, in 2007.JESUS ​​CÍSCAR

A long relationship

The relationship between the former director of the IVAM and José Luis Rueda dates back to October 2004. The adopted son then sent a letter to Ciscar offering him the purchase of the work. The great relief for 360,000 euros. There he told her that the artist had created her ex profeso for the 1996 IVAM exhibition, although the original had been donated to the Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid two years earlier, in 2002. In another letter, José Luis Rueda alludes to his intention to donate 13 works to the IVAM: “This donation (. ..) is conditional on the purchase of El large relief (…) “. Two months later, the IVAM bought the piece for the asking price and paid before receiving it.

A report from the Intervention of the Generalitat of 2015 and an anonymous one put in the crosshairs of the Prosecutor’s Office and the UDEF (Economic and Fiscal Crime Unit) of the National Police the convulsed stage of Ciscar in front of the museum. In its brief, the Prosecutor’s Office assures: “Between 2004 and 2011, the defendants Consuelo Cicar Casabán and José Luis Rueda Jiménez devised a plan outside the Presidency and the Governing Council of the Institute, consisting of diverting part of the public funds that received the museum and that they were involved in the fulfillment of its purposes, in the acquisition of different works of art as if they were originals by the artist Gerardo Rueda Salaberry, who died on May 25, 1996, when in fact they were posthumous reproductions with a value much lower than that established by the seller and paid by the IVAM ”. At the time, Ciscar estimated the value of all donations from Rueda’s work at 24.3 million.

Faced with the incriminating thesis, the defenses of the investigated are raised, exposing the exculpatory thesis, “according to which and accepting that the acquisitions were produced with the indicated price and through the indicated files there could be no deception, since it was known in the IVAM the true nature of the works that were acquired, regardless of the literal wording of the contracts; as well as that these were – in his opinion – ‘original’ of the artist Gerardo Rueda, and were acquired from the person who was its true owner ”, the Valencia Court collects in its order rejecting the resources of CIscar and Rueda against the final performance of the investigating judge.

The defense of Ciscar also abounds in that the reproductions of Rueda are as original as the sculptures of Julio González (one of the pillars of the IVAM collection) that were made after his death. The magistrates of the Hearing reply that there are not “sufficient factual data to allow establishing terms that make the two situations comparable” and they point out that the conduct is not being analyzed from the artistic point of view “but the acquisition in an administrative file and with public money of certain works that prevented knowing the true nature and status of the works that were acquired and paid for even before they had been delivered ”.

The trial is held in the City of Justice, which previously presided over The three graces, from November 3 to 23. Numerous experts from the art world are called to testify as witnesses and experts, including the former Minister of Culture, José Guirao.


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