National Gallery sent a picture to an exhibition and could not find it 2 years after the event, but filled criminal complaints 13 years later

PRESS RELEASE on Audit No. 14/29 – July 20, 2015

The Supreme Audit Office (SAO) scrutinized the National Gallery in Prague, the National Library, and the National Library of Technology and aimed at the financial managements of these allowance organizations from 2012 to 2014. Auditors scrutinized funds in the amount of CZK 500 million and aimed at outsourced services, tenders, and management with the State property. Most serious errors were revealed at the National Gallery, which could not find several collectors' pieces and works of art.

In 2012, the National Gallery made an inventory of its collection and could not find 31 drawings including for example works by Josef Lada, František Kupka, and Jan Zrzavý. Zrzavy’s drawing Zeyerova zahrada was sent together with other 16 drawings to the exhibition Prague 1990, which took place in 1999 and 2000 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. According to the documents, the National Gallery did receive the drawing from a transport company, but could not find it during an inventory after two years. The criminal complaint had not been filled until the SAO’s auditing operation, which was 13 years after the drawing had been lost.

After the floods in 2002, the National Gallery failed to make an inventory of the collection that had been located in the depository of the former Zbraslav abbey. As a result, it was not possible to determine the actual extent of damages to the collection items. In relation to the floods, the Gallery could not find some 35 works of art, mostly by Czech sculptor Karel Dvořák until the end of the auditing operation and also failed to inform the Police of the Czech Republic about the lost items.

Errors were also found with tenders. For example, the National Library of Technology awarded a public service contract worth CZK 29 million related to services and inspections of the library building facilities through negotiations without publication. The Library explained that due to technical reasons, only one particular company could perform the tasks. Auditors insisted on a counter-opinion that a competition should have taken place. In 2011, the National Gallery awarded a contract after negotiation procedures without publication to a guarding agency, which had previously been providing the Gallery with the same services. According to the Gallery, the situation was critical as there was a serious risk that the Gallery would not be guarded at all. The SAO does not consider such a reasoning as relevant, as the Gallery lost the previous guarding contract because it had owed the guarding agency CZK 26 million and should have assumed such an evolution of the situation.

It was also revealed that employees of the National Library used two company cars for private trips. In 2013, the National Library hired a replacement vehicle, which was only used for personal purposes and cost CZK 27,000. In both cases, the National Library paid for all fuels. The SAO assessed the situation as a breach of the budgetary discipline in the total amount overreaching CZK 42,000 and informed the competent financial authority.

Communication Department
Supreme Audit Office

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