Trade News from around the World
On June 26, masked men crashed through the front door of Russborough House southwest of Dublin, Ireland, and stole two masterpieces – a Gainsborough and a Bellotto – from a rural mansion that already holds an infamous place in Ireland’s criminal folklore. Police told the Associated Press that two men, one carrying a gun, drove a jeep up the front steps and loaded up two of the most valuable paintings in the state-owned collection on display there: “Madame Paccelli” by Thomas Gainsborough and “Scene of Florence” by Bernardo Bellotto. A third man waited outside in a getaway car. “The thieves tried to burn the jeep outside the house and left in the car, which they also later burned,” said police Chief Superintendent Sean Feely. The Eighteenth Century oils together are valued at more than $3.3 million, Feely said. Russborough House has already featured in two of Ireland’s biggest art heists, in 1974 and 1986, which both involved the Gainsborough.
AP reports that a federal appeals court in Leipzig, Germany nearly doubled the fine of a man convicted of attempting to sell a mosaic panel identified as part of the long-sought Amber Room, which disappeared from a Russian czarist palace at the end of World War II. On June 26, the court upheld the 63-year-old notary’s conviction of accessory to attempted fraud, as well as attempted fraud, and ordered him to pay 90,000 marks, or $40,000. The court did not provide the man’s identity. Germany had returned the mosaic to Russia last year. The notary public had been asked to arrange the sale of the treasure by a man from Bremen who had inherited the mosaic from his father. The man from Bremen was also charged in the case, but has since died. The pair had priced the piece at $2.5 million; they were caught trying to sell it to German undercover agents.
Federal investigators say a longtime newspaperman and former volunteer at the Fitchburg Historical Society Museum stole documents and other rdf_Descriptions from the facility’s collection and then sold them for his own profit, writes Heidi B. Perlman of the Associated Press. Former Fitchburg, Mass. resident Malcolm Donahoo, 52, snatched documents signed by Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock, Daniel Webster and Benjamin Franklin, then sold them to a New Hampshire man for more than $15,000, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office. Donahoo, who now lives in Sacramento, Calif., surrendered to authorities on June 25. He was charged with the interstate transportation of stolen property, and the theft and sale of the documents. He was released on a $10,000 unsecured bond and will be back in court in July. A longtime Fitchburg resident, Donahoo is a former news editor at the city’s Sentinel & Enterprise newspaper. He volunteered at the museum for just four months, from April until July 2000, while he was working as an associate night editor at the newspaper.
Two House members asked online auction companies on June 26 about how they fight fraud, specifically, according to AP’s technology writer D. Ian Hopper, shilling, in which a seller’s friends run up the price of an rdf_Description. A recent study by the Internet Fraud and Complaint Center cited that over 64 percent of Internet fraud complaints in the latter half of 2000 were about auctions. The Federal Trade Commission recently singled out online auctions as one of the most common Internet scams. In letters to the three largest Internet auction houses – eBay, Yahoo! and Amazon – House Commerce chairman Billy Tauzin, R-La., and Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., asked the companies to make a legislative wish list to Congress.
The International Art Fair Art 32 Basel, Switzerland, attracted 262 galleries from Europe, North and South America, Asia and Australia, which supplied art from over 1,000 artists. The event brought in a record number of over 55,000 art collectors, museums specialists, artists and the curious from all over the world – 2,000 more visitors than the previous year. The Art Unlimited platform, which was successfully inaugurated last year, was again one of the main attractions for visitors this year. Exhibitions in local museums and many associated events contributed to the growth of the fair as well. The catalogue, which provided an overview of the current offerings on the international art market, was sold out on the last day of the art fair. A survey conducted by the Fair Management reflected that all exhibiting galleries reported good to excellent sales, with a high level of interest in the works they featured at the fair.
For the fifth time in as many years, the Bennington Museum has been named an “Editor’s Pick” by Yankee Magazine. The designation appears in the 2001 edition of Yankee Magazine’s Travel Guide to New England. The museum is a regional history and art museum of national prominence, known for its outstanding collections of early American furniture, decorative arts, paintings and glass.
Dr Arnold Lehman, director of the Brooklyn Museum of Art, after a national search, has announced the appointment of Marc Mayer as deputy director for art. Mayer is presently director of The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery in Toronto, a position that he has held since 1998. Prior to joining The Power Plant, he was curator of contemporary art at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo. Previously, he headed Visual Arts for the Canadian Cultural Centre in Paris and was assistant director of the 49th Parallel Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art in New York.
The Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA), Ohio, has announced two key curatorial appointments: Jeffrey D. Grove of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, has accepted the post of associate curator of contemporary art; and Constantine Petridis of Antwerp, Belgium, has accepted the post of assistant curator of African art. Grove is currently curator of The Malrite Company, a Cleveland-based group building the 80,000-square-foot International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., scheduled to open in 2002. Prior to that, he served for four years as curator of exhibitions at the Akron Art Museum. Petridis’ professional experience combines teaching, curatorial work, and field research. Petridis’ time in the US has included two fellowships at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
BBC Sales Company and WGBH Boston, producers of the PBS series Antiques Roadshow, have agreed to bring the BBC’s version to public television. BBC Sales Company has licensed to WGBH the British series’ 23rd season consisting of twenty, one-hour episodes never before broadcast in the US. Antiques Roadshow UK premieres Thursday, October 4 at 8 pm on PBS.
Some 300 pieces of English and American silver have been added to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts collection, Richmond, Va., along with an African mask, an Eighteenth Century portrait by American artist John Trumbull, seven Tibetan pieces, and an abstract painting by African-American artist Norman Lewis. The works in silver include approximately 175 pieces by Hester Bateman (London, 1708-1794), some 100 additional pieces dating from 1570 to 1800 by a variety of other English makers, and approximately 20 pieces dating from 1710 to 1845 by various American makers.
GoAntiques, Inc., (www.goantiques.com), an Internet network of art, antiques and collectibles sites, and AuctionWatch (www.auctionwatch.com), a provider of services for consumers and businesses to locate goods online, have entered into a marketing agreement. According to a release, GoAntiques “will enjoy the benefits of having their member’s fixed-price rdf_Descriptions as well as auction rdf_Descriptions listed on AuctionWatch’s Universal Search engine.”