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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Picasso loan to West Bank a study in complications

In this image made available Thursday, March 31, 2011, by the Van Abbe Museum in Eindhoven, Holland, Pablo Picasso's painting Buste de Femme, 1943 is seen. Palestinian and Dutch curators are scrambling to bring the 7 million dollar painting by Picasso to the West Bank, a volatile region where it will travel through Israeli checkpoints before landing at an art academy without the proper facilities to house it. Organizers hope it will be on display in Ramallah by early summer, but aren't making any grand announcements until all details are ironed out. In this image made available Thursday, March 31, 2011, by the Van Abbe Museum in Eindhoven, Holland, Pablo Picasso's painting Buste de Femme, 1943 is seen. Palestinian and Dutch curators are scrambling to bring the 7 million dollar painting by Picasso to the West Bank, a volatile region where it will travel through Israeli checkpoints before landing at an art academy without the proper facilities to house it. Organizers hope it will be on display in Ramallah by early summer, but aren't making any grand announcements until all details are ironed out. AP Photo/Peter Cox, Van Abbe Museum, HO

A Palestinian art academy is preparing to spruce itself up for a famous guest: a $7 million Pablo Picasso masterpiece that would be the first displayed in the West Bank. But simply arranging the painting's journey remains a far more difficult work in progress over complications such as finding reliable transport and clearing Israeli checkpoints.

The more than yearlong negotiations and planning — drawing in the Israeli military, Palestinian curators and Dutch museum officials — highlight the obstacles for even ordinary commerce or movement within the West Bank or through the few openings in the separation barrier with Israel.

"Of course, at the beginning, we saw these complications but didn't know to what extent this would reach," said Remco de Blaaij, the curator at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, who is overseeing the proposed loan of Picasso's 1943 "Buste de Femme."

If the painting makes it to the International Academy of Art, Palestine, by the summer — and that remains an open question — it will become the most valuable and prestigious artwork ever shown in the West Bank.

The small art school in Ramallah put in the loan request in early 2010. Normally, such inter-museum exchanges are routine and take about six months to coordinate. But de Blaaij said the logistics are still being addressed for the 52-mile (88-kilometer) trip from Israel's international airport near Tel Aviv to Ramallah.

"The main concern is with getting into the West Bank and even more with getting out of there," de Blaaij said. "You never know what's going to happen at checkpoints."

Beyond that, Israelis aren't allowed to drive to certain parts of the West Bank because of safety concerns. Palestinians' freedom of movement is limited within the West Bank. Those seeking to enter Israel require a permit and often wait for hours in line at security checkpoints.

So curators are still hunting for a reliable transport company that can drive in both Israel and the West Bank. De Blaaij said they have found an insurer but didn't want to go into details.

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