“Shady money” photography prize

By Lucy Komisar
March 2, 2007

A UK photographer just sent The Scoop this email about The Photographers Gallery in London. He says:

“The Deutsche Borse photography prize, Deutsche Börseformerly the Citibank photography prize, is perhaps the most prestigious and important photography prize and one of the most important art prizes. Those who win become “name” photographers/artists, and their work becomes literally over night very valuable, exchanging hands for many thousands of dollars.

Given the money laundering scandal of Citibank and Clearstream (owned by Deutsche Borse) I’m wondering why the prestigious The Photographers Gallery in London continue to be associated with this very shady banking world that you report on. Any idea’s?”

The answer, of course, is easy (dirty) money. Multinationals soiled by scandal routinely try to launder their reputations by giving to good causes. The recipients take the bucks (or euros) and don’t ask questions.

I remember when I was on the board of American PEN (I served from 1976 to 1996) and we had a long argument about whether to accept sponsorship of a cigarette company for the annual fundraising dinner. The determination, as I recall, was that we wouldn’t take money from the Mafia, but that cigarette companies were okay!

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