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Stedelijk Museum director Beatrix Ruf resigns due to reported conflicts of interest

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The Stedelijk Museum’s Beatrix Ruf has resigned as director of the arts institution due to reported conflicts of interest. The news follows an investigation by Dutch daily newspaper NRC into the director’s work outside the museum, for her own art advisory company Currentmatters.

Her extra work was public knowledge, as former chairman Alexander Ribbink and Beatrix announced in 2014 that “her secondary activities should continue if in her spare time and would not dismiss her job as director”. However according to a report filed with the Chamber of Commerce, the newspaper states that Beatrix made a profit of €437,306 from Currentmatters during her “first full year as director of the Stedelijk, in 2015”, challenging the legality and balance of her two roles. Amsterdam councillor Marvel van den Heuvel described the situation to NRC as “irregular”, putting into question her capacity to dedicate her time fully to her directorship.

The supervisory board of the Stedelijk has commissioned a professor at the University of Amsterdam to “evaluate whether in recent years in accordance with the Law Standardization Top Income WNT has been dealt with,” it says in a statement. The Dutch Executive Pay Standards Act caps the pay of senior level executives who work in a public and semi-public sphere at €181,000 a year.

The NRC also published a second report questioning a donation of artwork from collector, Thomas Borgmann. Despite being described as a gift, the Stedelijk agreed to pay for the works and NRC reports that the amount paid was largely above previous auction prices. NRC states that this is “evidenced by the three contracts drawn up by law firm CMS Hasche Sigle, signed by Borgmann and Beatrix Raf on April 30, 2016, and not by Karin van Gilst, the then business director of the Stedelijk”.

In a statement on the Stedelijk Museum website Beatrix Ruf says: “In the last three years, I have come to know the Stedelijk Museum as a fantastic museum. We have collected beautiful collections to Amsterdam and strongly accentuated our involvement with society. To me, the importance of the museum is above all that of myself as an individual.”

The institution also explains that “the manner in which the direction of the Stedelijk Museum has functioned will be evaluated in the coming months”.