Spain Probes Guggenheim's 'Troubled' Finances

Fraud, mismanagement, profligacy call Bilbao museum into question
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2008 6:48 AM CST
The Basque regional parliament is opening an investigation into mismanagement at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.   (©maxmborge)
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(Newser) – A decade ago the Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum put the sleepy Basque city of Bilbao on the international art map. But in recent months the institution has been tarnished by an embezzlement scam, overspending on middling artworks, and a $9.4 million loss in a botched currency deal. Now, reports the Guardian, the Basque regional parliament is convening a special hearing to investigate the troubled museum.

Last year news broke that the museum inked a futures contract to buy dollars, only to see the value of the currency plummet. That came as the Guggenheim's finance director admitted to siphoning off more than $670,000 over 10 years, forging signatures, and keeping double books. The MP who called for the investigation said that, in addition to "troubling management errors," the museum has also suffered from the "erratic" behavior of Thomas Krens, the high-flying Guggenheim director.