Orlando Museum of Art director fired after FBI raid of Basquiat show

The director of the Orlando Museum of Art was fired Tuesday, five days after the FBI seized 25 purportedly fake paintings on display there with contested attribution to the late artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Aaron De Groft lost his job after agents raided the Florida museum Friday and presented employees a 41-page affidavit for the search warrant based on an investigation which found “false information relating to the alleged prior ownership of the paintings,” The New York Times reported.

Citing anonymous museum employees, the Times reported the museum’s board of trustees met Tuesday morning to discuss the controversy around the director and the show, and subsequently fired De Groft.

The museum did not immediately respond to USA TODAY for comment.

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This 1982 untitled painting by artist Jean-Michel Basquiat is seen on display at the Orlando Museum of Art, Wednesday, June 1, 2022.

“(The Board) is extremely concerned about several issues with regard to the ‘Heroes and Monsters’ exhibition, including the recent revelation of an inappropriate e-mail correspondence sent to academia concerning the authentication of some of the artwork in the exhibition,” the board released in a statement to Orlando Weekly. “We have launched an official process to address these matters, as they are inconsistent with the values of this institution, our business standards, and our standards of conduct.”

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