Published: November 13, 2001
Trade News from around the World
AP’s Larry Neumeister writes that former Sotheby’s chairman A. Alfred Taubman was charged with antitrust conspiracy for allegedly joining Christie’s in a conspiracy to set artificially high commission rates that ripped off sellers. Jury selection in the case began November 8. Taubman, an audio headset dangling from his ears, turned and nodded toward prospective jurors as he was introduced by U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels. The indictment accuses Taubman and Christie’s Anthony Tennant of joining in a conspiracy that stole as much as $400 million in commissions from sellers from 1993 to 1999. Taubman, 76, of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., has said he is “absolutely innocent” since charges were made public on May 2 by the antitrust division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Tennant, 71, of Andover, England, remains a fugitive, maintaining that he is innocent and being pursued as a “scapegoat for others.” His lawyers have said he will not go to the United States to contest the charges. If convicted, Taubman faces up to three years in prison and could be fined up to twice the amount lost by customers. According to Ralph Blumenthal and Carol Vogel of The New York Times, “prosecutors are said to have a witness list with everyone from Taubman’s pilot to former assistants of his and of [Diana D.] Brooks. They also plan to call Noel Annesley, deputy chairman of Christie’s worldwide, along with Michael Ainslie, Brooks’s predecessor.”
On November 7, a U.S. federal court in California ruled that Yahoo was not legally bound by the French order to block surfers in France from auctions selling Nazi memorabilia. Yahoo pulled the offensive material from its site, but continued to oppose the decision. According to the Associated Press, U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel ruled that the U.S. Constitution protects content generated in the United States by American companies from being regulated by authorities in countries that have more restrictive laws on freedom of expression. Marc Knobel, president of J’Accuse, a French organization leading a campaign against racism on the Internet and one of seven groups that sued Yahoo last year for allowing swastika flags and other Nazi-related rdf_Descriptions, commented, “I do not see how an American judge can overturn a French ruling which applies to its own territory. It gives the impression that it is up to U.S. Internet providers to decide what is fit for the rest of the world to see. [An Internet site should be] subjected to the laws of the country in which it is being accessed.” The news follows Yahoo’s announcement that it will begin charging commission fees for rdf_Descriptions sold through its online auction service. Beginning November 20, sellers will be charged between 0.5 percent and 2 percent commission on the final value of the rdf_Description sold. To somewhat offset those new fees, Yahoo will lower its listing fees for auction rdf_Descriptions. The listing fees currently range between 20 cents and $2.20, but Yahoo will drop that cost to 5 cents to 75 cents, depending on the starting price of the rdf_Description.
“The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum confirmed [November 9] that it was planning layoffs at its main museum on Fifth Avenue, which had been particularly hard hit by a drop in out-of-town tourism,” reports Celestine Bohlen of The New York Times. Guggenheim deputy director and chief curator Lisa Dennison told Bohlen that a 50 percent decline in attendance will lead to fewer exhibitions in 2002.
A Santa Fe, N.M. Indian art dealer charged with 17 criminal violations has accused undercover federal agents of entrapping him. AP reports – via a government news release – that Joshua Baer, 48, “offered to sell, without permission, numerous rdf_Descriptions protected by the three acts such as rdf_Descriptions with protected bird feathers and rdf_Descriptions considered scared by Native American religion and culture” between August 14, 1999 and January 19, 2000. A search warrant said Baer sold a 1875 Cheyenne headdress to an FBI agent for $140,000, while explaining to the agent that selling it was illegal.
Sir Ernst Gombrich, 92, a historian whose definitive book The Story of Art became a bible for artists and designers, died November 8 in London, according to AP. Sir Ernst, emeritus professor of history, died at his home in Hampstead, said the director of the art institute he once headed. He had spent the last two years virtually housebound because of his ailing health. Nicholas Mann, director of the Warburg Institute, which is the University of London’s art history research center, said the art world had “suffered a huge loss.”
Atlanta, Ga.’s Woodruff Arts Center on November 6 received a $25 million construction grant – its largest ever – and will use the money to expand the High Museum of Art and build new a new dorm for the Atlanta College of Art. The grant came from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, according to the Associated Press. The center and foundation both are named for the late Coca-Cola magnate but are independent. High Museum director Michael Shapiro said the expansion will allow more high-profile exhibits.
The Morgan Library has appointed Margaret Holben Ellis as the first director of The Thaw Conservation Center at the library. The center, a laboratory for the conservation of works on paper – drawings, books, and literary, historical, and music manuscripts – as well as a place for conservation studies, is scheduled to open in early 2002. Ellis is professor of conservation, Conservation Center, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. She recently relinquished the Sherman Fairchild Chairmanship of the Center but will continue her teaching and research responsibilities at the institute. Since 1998 she has worked closely with the Morgan, planning the facilities and programs of the Thaw Center.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm