Orlando Museum of Art CEO out of job after FBI raid

Orlando Museum of Art CEO out of job after FBI raid



STEWART: TODAY, THE DIRECTOR OF THE ORLANDO MUSEUM OF ART IS OUT OF THE JOB. THIS LATEST DEVELOPMENT COMES AFTER MONTHS OF SPECULATION ABOUT WHETHER A CONTROVERSIAL EXHIBIT AT THE MUSEUM IS REAL. MICHELLE: LAST WEEK, WE SHOWED YOU THAT THE FBI RAIDED THE MUSEUM SEIZING DOZENS OF BASQUIAT PAINTINGS. NOW, THE MUSEUM’S BOARD CHAIR SAYS THEY’RE EXTREMELY CONCERNED. WESH 2’S MARLEI MARTINEZ HAS THE NEWEST DETAILS ABOUT WHAT THE BOARD CALLS AN INAPPROPRIATE EMAIL. MARLEI. >> I SPENT THE DAY REACHING OUT THE FBI AND US ATTORNEY’S OFFICE. THE U.S. ATTORNEY’S OFFICE SENT ME A COPY OF THE 41 PAGE SEARCH WARRANT THAT ALLOWED THE FBI TO RAID THE MUSEUM. UNDER THE MICROSCOPE, THESE 25 PAINTINGS THAT THE ORLANDO MUSEUM OF ART UNVEILED IN THE SPRING AS THE FIRST PUBLIC SHOWING FOR THIS JEAN MICHEL BASQUIAT EXHIBIT. LAST FRIDAY, THE FBI RAIDED THE MUSEUM, SEIZING THE ARTWORK AFTER CONCERNS ABOUT THE AUTHENTICITY. A WEEK AFTER THE EXHIBIT’S OPENING, MUSEUM DIRECTOR AARON DE GROFT SPOKE WITH US, QUICKLY DEFENDING THE PIECES. >> WE HAVE NO DOUBT. WE STAND BY IT. THEY’RE ORIGINAL. >> HE SPOKE OUT AFTER THE NEW YORK TIMES PUBLISHED AN ARTICLE ABOUT CONCERNS WHETHER THE ARTWORK WAS REAL. >> IT’S NOT THE OMA’S JOB TO AUTHENTICATE ART. THEY CAME TO US AUTHENTICATED BY THE TOP SPECIALISTS ON BASQUIAT. IN A FBI SEARCH WARRANT OBTAINED BY WESH 2 NEWS, A SPECIAL AGENT INVESTIGATING SAYS AN ART PROFESSOR WAS PAID $60,000 TO WRITE A REPORT ON THE COLLECTION, BUT THE PROFESSOR LATER FOUND OUT HER REPORT WAS BEING USED PUBLICLY WITH THE EXHIBIT. SO SHE SENT AN EMAIL TO THE MUSEUM DIRECTOR SAYING SHE IS IN NO WAY AUTHORIZED TO AUTHENTICATE UNKNOWN WORKS BY BASQUIAT AND WANT NO INVOLVEMENT WITH THIS SHOW. THE NEXT DAY, DE GROFT REPLIED SAYING, YOU WANT US TO PUT OUT THERE YOU GOT $60,000 TO WRITE THIS? OK THEN. SHUT UP. YOU TOOK THE MONEY. STOP BEING HOLIER THAN THOU. BE QUIET NOW IS MY BEST ADVICE. THESE ARE REAL AND LEGIT. YOU KNOW THIS. YOU ARE THREATENING THE WRONG PEOPLE. >> I THINK IT’S A SHAME. >> I SPOKE WITH ROBERT WITTMAN, THE FOUNDER OF THE FBI’S ART CRIME TEAM. NOW THAT THE FBI HAS THE PAINTINGS IN HAND, WITTMAN SAYS EXPERTS WILL FORENSICALLY EXAMINE THEM. >> YOU’RE LOOKING FOR THINGS LIKE PAINTS THAT MAY NOT HAVE EXISTED IN 1982, THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN USED AT A LATER DATE, LOOKING FOR BACKGROUND CARDBOARD, BACKGROUND CANVASES THAT DON’T FIT THE AGE APPROPRIATE TIME. >> WITTMAN SAYS FAKES ARE DETRIMENTAL TO THE ART WORLD. >> I’D SAY THAT 75% OF THE ART CRIME INDUSTRY IN THE WORLD, WHICH IS A $6 BILLION INDUSTRY, DEALS IN FRAUDS, FORGERIES, AND FAKES. NOT THEFT. IT’S FRAUDS, FORGERIES AND >> — AND FAKES.

Orlando Museum of Art CEO out of job after FBI raid

The Orlando Museum of Art’s CEO and director is out of a job following the FBI’s raid of the museum last week. Aaron De Groft was let go and Joann Walfish, who has previously served as CFO, has been appointed interim COO. “The Orlando Museum of Art’s Board of Trustees is extremely concerned about several issues with regard to the Heroes and Monsters exhibition, including the recent revelation of an inappropriate email correspondence sent to academia concerning the authentication of some of the artwork in the exhibition,” the museum wrote in a statement. “We have launched an official process to address these matters, as they are inconsistent with the values of this institution, our business standards, and our standards of conduct.”During the raid last week, the FBI seized more than two dozen paintings attributed to artist Jean-Michel Basquiat amid questions about their authenticity.Aaron De Groft defended the artwork amid questions the New York Times first published in February.He also added that it is not the museum’s job to authenticate art.“They came to us authenticated by the top specialists on Basquiat,” De Groft told WESH in February.

The Orlando Museum of Art’s CEO and director is out of a job following the FBI’s raid of the museum last week.

Aaron De Groft was let go and Joann Walfish, who has previously served as CFO, has been appointed interim COO.

“The Orlando Museum of Art’s Board of Trustees is extremely concerned about several issues with regard to the Heroes and Monsters exhibition, including the recent revelation of an inappropriate email correspondence sent to academia concerning the authentication of some of the artwork in the exhibition,” the museum wrote in a statement. “We have launched an official process to address these matters, as they are inconsistent with the values of this institution, our business standards, and our standards of conduct.”

During the raid last week, the FBI seized more than two dozen paintings attributed to artist Jean-Michel Basquiat amid questions about their authenticity.

Aaron De Groft defended the artwork amid questions the New York Times first published in February.

He also added that it is not the museum’s job to authenticate art.

“They came to us authenticated by the top specialists on Basquiat,” De Groft told WESH in February.

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