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Consuelo Ciscar, former director of IVAM, posing with alleged Chinese mafia ringleader Gao Ping in 2008.

The former director of the IVAM, Valencia’s premier contemporary art museum, Consuelo Ciscar, has come out in defence of her leadership of the museum, between 2004 and 2014, by responding to the interim report of the General Comptroller of the Generalitat , which has has identified numerous irregularities and administrative failures.

The museum is said to have overpaid for its purchases of works of art by as much as 1,500 percent over the market value.

It also awarded numerous large contracts without putting them out to public tender, as is required by law; paid hefty amounts to individuals whose relationship to the museum was unclear; and grossly inflated its own attendance figures.

Details of the alleged mismanagement that took place under former director Consuelo Ciscar have emerged in a preliminary report analyzing the period between 2009 and 2013. The audit was commissioned by the Valencia regional government, which funds the IVAM.

In her statement, Ciscar, said that the gallery underwent several audits by the external auditor Audit Iberica SA, during her tenure, every one of which received a clean bill of health. These audits were subsequently endorsed by the Ministry of Finance with the assertion that there were no relevant breaches.

Ciscar says that as soon as she became aware of the content of the report she immediately requested a copy, without success, so that she could see the accusations herself and respond more accurately to all the allegations made.

Under Ciscar, the IVAM organized a number of controversial shows such as one featuring works by her own son, who goes by the artistic name Rablaci and in 2008, the gallery also purchased 63 photographs for €442,280 from Gao Ping, who was later arrested as the alleged head of a criminal ring that is thought to have laundered between €800 million and €1.2 billion over four years.

Earlier in the year the Valencian Goverment hired an expert, Jaime Brihuega, who teaches art history at Madrid’s Complutense University. He was asked to estimate the market value of five randomly selected artworks.

His findings ruled that the difference between what was paid and what should have been paid ranged by between 45 and 1,520 percent more.
Just last year the deputy Valencia regional premier José Ciscar announced the departure of Ciscar praising her for attracting 1,163,419 visitors to the museum in 2013.

The figures lifted IVAM into sixth place in The Economist’s annual list of most-visited world museums. But the real number was closer to 85,000 with the attendance inflated by over a million people.

It appears that the figures were inflated by everyone who received free tickets, those attending gallery shows, including fashion and cookery shows, and all of those also attending exhibitions across the country that featured gallery works.

And it was the same story in 2012: the museum claimed 1,147,637 visitors, when it was really 98,176. In 2011, the 1.1 million reported by Ciscar were actually 109,938.

The IVAM’s new management team said in a statement that the irregularities highlighted in the report “represent yet another serious setback for the public purse, and most particularly for IVAM’s depleted budget.”

Ciscar, who served for 10 years, stepped down in April of last year in what appeared to be a personal decision, but was really an undercover dismissal.

Her husband, Rafael Blasco, a regional deputy for the ruling Popular Party (PP), was standing trial at the time on charges of siphoning off millions of euros from a fund meant for development aid in poor countries. He was ultimately convicted to eight years in prison.

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