Tom Freudenheim, the former deputy director and chief operating officer of the Jewish
Museum in Berlin, sends this message — a tongue-lashing for the Museum of Modern Art over its
negligence in the Egon Schiele case and for NPR ombudsman Jeffrey Dworkin over his and NPR’s
foul treatment of reporter David D’Arcy:
Re the MoMA/NPR/D’ArcyMeanwhile, Mickey
issue: No recent mention has been made of the fact that this entire problem
would never have come into being had MoMA requested a Certificate of Immunity from Seizure,
which is a guarantee routinely issued by the State Department. That is just plain negligence on the
museum’s part, and is the reason that the NYState authorities were able to intervene on behalf of
the Bondi Family. Had the museum done its job properly, then the issue would have gone back to
the Austrian courts, just as MoMA now claims is appropriate. This may well be one reason that
MoMA’s PR machine is working so hard to cover its bare ass.
It should also be noted that the sole inaccuracy in the D’Arcy story was not on D’Arcy’s part,
but rather in Melissa Block’s (i.e., NPR/ATC) erroneous introduction of the story, suggesting that
the Schiele painting was part of MoMA’s collection (which obviously D’Arcy never even
This is an outrageous situation which should not be permitted to go away easily.
Herewith a copy of my letter to the Ombudsman….
You seem intent on compounding errors in your comment about the MoMA situation. I’m
sure you’re a very busy man, but it might have helped if you had read through the transcripts of
your own broadcast. I am the ‘critic’ you mention, and what I said was “But I guess the sense of
responsibility to museum ownership and the kind of — oh, I hate — I guess I can use the word —
greed that museums have about just not letting go of what they have in their little fists trumps any
other kind of loyalties or feelings that people have.” I was talking about ‘museums’ and feel quite
justified in doing so, having directed various ones for a number of years. Your own Melissa Block
suggested in her lead that the painting might belong to the museum, but you have presumably not
sanctioned her for the error. The Robert Siegel’s follow-up [sort of] clarifies that the painting was
actually on loan to the museum. I note that you haven’t discarded these two ATC stalwarts (yes, I
know they are employees, and D’Arcy was not, and therefore presumably more disposable).
More reprehensible, from my point of view, is your failure to take note of the fact that, as a
responsible journalist, D’Arcy contacted MoMA while assembling his story, but the museum
would not comment for him. You now state that “MoMA’s position is that the Austrian courts
must decide the painting’s legal owners, since the painting was in the United States only as part of
a loan arrangement.” And yet the correction that NPR/ATC issued on 27 January stated that “the
museum’s statement, made to NPR, that it had never taken a position on the question of the
painting’s ownership.” These are opposing statements on the part of NPR, and you ought to
address this important contradition responsibly, instead of carping about NPR being accused of
caving in under pressure. As a long-time supporter of NPR, I’m waiting to see evidence to the
Kaus picked up on yesterday’s item in this morning’s Kausfiles at Slate and
delivers another tongue-lashing that really stings:
Shouldn’t NPR President and CEO Kevin Klose (FY 2003 compensation:
$377,999**) convene a staff meeting at which he brandishes a stuffed moose? … Sorry, I mean
shouldn’t NPR President Kevin Klose defend his organization’s position in public in his own
words? … P.P.S.: They pay Dvorkin $181,409**, as of FY 2003. Your pledge dollars at work!
I actively dislike Kaus’s political agenda, but this time he’s right.