National Gallery of Australia (NGA) director Ron Radford will retire in six months after nearly 10 years at the helm.
Dr Radford, who turns 65 this year, has been in charge of the prestigious art institution since January 2005 and his departure on September 30 coincides with the expiration of his third term in the role. During his tenure the gallery enjoyed a $93 million revamp that included a new entrance, as well as the expansion of its indigenous wing and collection. It also hosted a series of record-breaking “blockbuster” exhibitions.
But lately, the has been mired in controversy of the acquisition of several Indian artefacts, most notably a bronze dancing Shiva sculpture purchased in 2008 for $5 million from disgraced New York art dealer Subhash Kapoor.
The NGA bought several works from Kapoor over a decade-long period beginning in 2002, but last year Kapoor’s office manager pleaded guilty to possessing stolen property, smuggled from India, and the Shiva statue was listed among those items.
While the NGA has dismissed claims the work was stolen, it has nonetheless launched legal action against Kapoor in New York to recover the money it paid. The art dealer is also facing charges in India over the alleged smuggling ring.
In a statement released late yesterday, NGA Council chairman Allan Myers paid tribute to Dr Radford as a “gregarious and warm man, who is much admired and held in great affection by staff and benefactors”.
The search for the 41-year-old gallery’s 5th director is now underway.