World Bulletin / News Desk
The State Art and Sculpture Museum had reported at least 202 historical paintings and works of art missing to the Ministry of Culture, which had hidden the theft from the public, the Milliyet daily reported on Tuesday.
The State Art and Sculpture Museum, which holds around 5,000 works of art by Turkish artists with some dating back to the 19th century, has reported a number of historical art pieces missing in the past few years, according to a 2011 Ministry of Culture report. However, the Ministry of Culture reportedly never announced the theft or the findings from the ensuing investigation in an attempt to hide it from the public.
The ministry set up a commission to investigate the theft after curators realized in 2009 that 13 charcoal sketches by Hacı Ali Rıza had been replaced by fake ones. The commission, organized on the orders of Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay, had completed its investigation in January of 2011; however, Milliyet reported, the ministry had hesitated to share the report, fearing negative reactions from the public.
According to the report, apart from the pieces that the museum reported missing, there are also a number of others which appear to be fake. The 2011 report revealed that at least 202 pictures and historical pieces of art were stolen from the museum, none of which had been made public. A total of 46 pieces were reported to be fake, while the authenticity of another 27 was called into question, says the report.
This is not the first the museum has been the target of theft. In 2007, thieves stole two bronze statues in full view of museum staff, using a truck to carry off the statues. It was later reported that the statues in questions had no have historical value; however, the chairman of the museum was still dismissed from his post. Furthermore, a security guard at the museum was reported to have stolen stole two paintings by famous Turkish artists in 2009.
Milliyet added that recently revealed concerns regarding security at the museum, described as the repository of “the nation's memory of paintings and statues,” indicates that the 2011 report on the 202 missing pieces may only be the beginning of a host of issues at the State Art and Sculpture Museum.