Minister says he ordered investigation into missing works of art from Ankara museum

August 08, 2012, Wednesday/ 15:50:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Minister of Culture and Tourism Ertuğrul Günay announced on Tuesday that he is the one who ordered an investigation be launched into allegations of the theft of historical paintings and works of art from the State Art and Sculpture Museum in Ankara in response to a daily's claim that the ministry had hesitated to release a report on the theft issue.

The Milliyet daily ran a story on Tuesday saying that the Ministry of Culture and Tourism was allegedly unwilling to release a report on the theft of 202 historical paintings and works of art from the State Art and Sculpture Museum in Ankara over the past few decades.

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, had 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, according to the daily.

Responding to questions on the issue, Günay said: “This is an investigation initiated completely by me. This is an investigation I ordered in the sixth month of my ministry in 2008. I extended the scope of the investigation in 2009.”

The minister noted that the museum, which was established in April 1980, had unfortunately sustained damage during the Sept. 12, 1980 military coup and the museum's administrators had not only acted negligently in failing to take proper care of the artworks at the museum, but they also presented some items from the museum to influential people of the era as gifts.

Günay also added that no work of art had gone missing during his term as minister

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