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Eike Schmidt © Zuma Press/Alamy

The German art historian Eike Schmidt, the director of the Uffizi museum in Florence, has cancelled his planned move to Vienna just one month before he was due to succeed Sabine Haag as the director of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, the Austrian government said.

Schmidt was named as Haags successor in 2017. The Austrian newspaper Die Presse speculated that the Italian government made him an offer to stay at the Uffizi, where he has introduced wide-ranging improvements. Alexander Schallenberg, the Austrian foreign minister, said in a statement that Schmidts last-minute cancellation “is highly unprofessional and unprecedented.”

“The Eike Schmidt chapter at the Kunsthistorisches Museum is closed,” he said, adding that he aims to find a replacement as soon as possible. According to Die Presse, Schallenberg has asked Haag to stay on to lead the Kunsthistorisches Museum as interim director.

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