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IN ROME, THE UNDERGROUND CHAMBERS OF THE COLOSSEUM have opened to the public after extensive renovation work, part of a €25 million ($29.8 million) overhaul of the historical site paid for by the luxury firm Tod’s. The New York Times reports that the Italian government has been calling on companies to help care for the nation’s monuments, but that there have been “few takers, save for other fashion brands, like Bulgari, which revamped the Spanish Steps, and Fendi, which cleaned up the Trevi Fountain.” Italy is planning to install a new stage at the ancient ruin, which will be used to host events—but presumably not violent clashes sometimes resulting in death. For that, there is always 2000’s Gladiator . . . which is currently streaming on Netflix.
IT HAS BEEN A BUSY FEW DAYS ON THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL-LAW BEAT. Egypt’s interior ministry said that it had arrested a “criminal gang,” including a former lawmaker, for allegedly excavating and smuggling more than 200 artifacts, according to the Agence France-Presse. The agency reports that the onetime politician is a “flamboyant” figure who has said he has “dabbled in black magic and exorcisms.” Speaking of the occult, the Associated Press reports that two men in Thessaloniki, Greece, have been nabbed on charges of illegally attempting to sell an ancient Roman statue depicting the Greek goddess Hectate (who specialized in such paranormal matters). Meanwhile, officials at the Petroglyph National Monument in New Mexico are seeking information on people who moved rocks to build cairn, which is illegal, the AP reports.
The Bidens have not yet requested loans from the Smithsonian and the National Gallery of Art, as they are entitled to do, but they have installed quite a bit of art throughout the White House. Works by Jamie Wyeth and Mary Page Evans (a family friend) are on view, and the First Lady has pieces by their son, Hunter, in her office. [The Washington Post]
The artist and activist Jane Kaufman, a pioneer of the Pattern and Decoration movement, and a member of the famed Guerrilla Girls, has died. She was 83. [ARTnews]
The art historian Moira Roth has died at the age of 87. Her long list of work included writing the essay collection Difference/Indifference: Musings on Postmodernism, Marcel Duchamp, and John Cage (1998) and editing the memoirs of artist Faith Ringgold, We Flew Over the Bridge (1995). [Artforum]
A drawing purchased in France for a figure in the “low thousands” has been identified as a page from Peter Paul Rubens’s destroyed “Theoretical Notebook.” It will hit the block at Sotheby’s with a low estimate of £400,000 (about $557,000) [The Guardian]
Another drawing discovery! A slim piece of paper (apparently intended as a bookmark), with three sketches by Vincent van Gogh, was found inside a tome that the artist sent to a friend. The piece is now on view at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. [The Art Newspaper]
The acting careering of the former teen idol Christian Slater is on the rebound—and he has been pursuing visual art. The Times checked in with him at the Art Students League in New York. [The New York Times]
THE TOWN OF HILLSBOROUGH, CALIFORNIA, AND THE OWNER of a house themed after the classic cartoon The Flintstones have settled their legal battle, the Guardian reports. Officials argued that Florence Fang had violated various codes by installing sculptures of characters from the show (among other colorful tributes), creating “a highly visible eyesore.” Because she ignored stop-work orders, the town sued her in 2019, and Fang countersued. Under the terms of the settlement, the town will pay Fang $125,000 and she will apply for the necessary permits. “I just wanted my peaceful life,” she once said. “I’m a very, very regular, retired old lady. But of course, a little different. I have all kinds of dreams.” [The Guardian]