Days before the newest addition to the art fair calendar, Paris+ par Art Basel, is set to open, the fair’s chief executive, Noah Horowitz, informed VIPs and journalists that it would be ramping up security protocols. “As fair organizers, the safety of our exhibitors, visitors and staff is of the utmost importance,” Horowitz said in a statement.
The announcement comes after France‘s prime minister, Élisabeth Borne, raised the country’s counter-terrorism alert to its highest state on Saturday following the tragic stabbing death of a teacher in Arras, France. The attacker, a Chechen-born man that police said is known to be involved with Islamic extremism, has been captured and is currently in custody. The killing comes almost exactly three years after another teacher, Samuel Paty, was killed and beheaded by a radicalized 18-year-old Chechen refugee who was unknown to intelligence services prior to the attack and claimed responsibility for the murder on social media.
The fair’s increased safety measures include the installation of metal detectors and enhanced bag checks, the installation of anti-ram vehicle barriers around the Grand Palais Éphémère, and additional security personnel to patrol the perimeter of the fair.
Horowitz called the attacks by Hamas in Israel “horrific” and said that the “the mounting civilian death toll in Gaza, Israel, and the West Bank is deeply distressing, as is the prospect of a prolonged humanitarian tragedy in the region.”
“This latest escalation in violence grieves us not only as individuals but as members of a global cultural community whose essential values of humanity, mutual respect, and dialogue are at its core,” he added, praising the French government for acting “swiftly and decisively, implementing robust safety measures throughout the country.”
France has been the site of increased violence and terror attacks in recent years: the last time the country’s security level was at the current level was following the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo offices and the massacre at the Bataclan theater in 2015.
The Louvre and the chateau at Versailles were swiftly evacuated and ultimately closed over the weekend “for safety reasons” after the museum said it had “received a written message stating that there was a risk to the museum and its visitors,” according to Agence France-Presse. The Associated Press reported that the evacuations were prompted by bomb threats.