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Possible Oversight by Foundation Results in Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty Being Handed Over to the State of Utah

If you are the foundation in charge of overseeing an iconic piece of art by a celebrated American artist, it’s always best to make sure you jot a note in your calendar to remind you to pay the annual $250 fee for the land it’s sitting on. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, that oversight has apparently occurred with Robert Smithson‘s “earthwork masterpiece,” Spiral Jetty. The paper reports that the New York-based Dia Foundation, which was tasked with overseeing the Utah installation by the artist’s estate, failed to pay the small annual fee for the 10 acres of submerged land it sits in. “Worse,” they report, “Dia had also failed to respond to the state’s automatically generated notice in February that its 20-year lease on the lake bed had run out.” Not having received a check or a response, Smithson’s installation went into the hands of the State of Utah last week. For their part, the Dia Foundation released a statement on their site, with director Philippe Vergne saying that they were “stunned to read” the Tribune article, apparently that being the first they’d heard of any of this. The Foundation reportedly immediately got in touch with the state and are in negotiations to smooth out the issue. “We are in close contact with the State of Utah to resolve the matter,” Vergne writes in his statement. “Maintaining Spiral Jetty in perpetuity is central to Dia’s mission and purpose, and to the history of American art.”

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