Published: July 24, 2001
Trade News from around the World
Katherine Roth of the Associated Press writes that on July 19, as he dubbed the saga a “tale of intrigue worthy of Hitchcock,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill handed 12 works worth $15 million, once hidden in a castle in Nazi Germany and stolen by Soviet troops – including a Rembrandt and an Albrecht Durer drawing worth about $10 million – over to Wolfgang Ischinger, Germany’s new ambassador to the United States, and George Abegg, president of the Bremen Museum governing board. Soviet troops had given the stash to the KGB, which apparently gave them to the Baku Museum in Azerbaijan, from which they were stolen. Later, they were offered for sale by a Japanese businessman trying to raise $12 million, purportedly for a kidney transplant. The businessman and a leading Azerbaijani prosecutor were arrested following a high speed chase through the streets of Manhattan. U.S. authorities finally recovered the works – and 180 others – from an Azerbaijani wrestler’s Brooklyn apartment, where some were hidden under a bed and others in a closet. The works will be back in Germany’s Bremen Museum, where they had hung for a century before their disappearance at the end of World War II.
A Manhattan dealer has been accused of peddling antiquities pillaged from Egypt, including a pharaoh bust with an asking price of $2.5 million. A federal indictment unsealed July 16 charges Frederick Schultz, 47, of Frederick Schultz Ancient Art, East 57th Street, with conspiring to receive and possess stolen property. If convicted, he would face up to five years in prison. According to AP, court papers allege that Schultz plotted with an unidentified co-conspirator to import and sell rdf_Descriptions removed from Egypt between 1990 and 1996, violating a 1983 Egyptian law declaring all antiquities public property. The co-conspirator smuggled the antiquities – obtained from farmers and builders – to New York, where Schultz courted potential buyers, legal papers said. The dealer allegedly told collectors and museums that the works came from the Thomas Alcock Collection, an English family that had owned them since the 1920s. Among the rdf_Descriptions was the head of a statue of the Pharaoh Amenhotep III, who ruled Egypt 2,400 years ago. Schultz priced the piece at $2.5 million, before dealing it to an unnamed London buyer for $1.2 million in 1992, court papers said.
The FBI is helping search for a picture by Gerard Dou, a student of Rembrandt and himself a leading Dutch painter of the 1600s, that was stolen in May from a museum in Innsbruck, Austria. It’s an oval portrait of a boy playing a flute, just less than six inches high, painted on wood, with the signature “G. Dou.” Dou is known for paintings of everyday life, some so small and detailed that they were done with a magnifying glass. Angela Bell, an FBI press officer, told the Associated Press July 16 that more information is being asked from Austria about the painting and details of the theft, which occurred between May 17 and 19. She said there was no special reason to think that the painting is in the United States but a public notice asked anyone with information to notify the local FBI office.
A multicolored wooden crucifix dating from 1493 that has been the subject of debate in art circles for decades is the work of Michelangelo, Italian researchers announced on July 17. Umberto Baldini, director of the cultural division of Italy’s National Research Council, said the sculpture of Jesus’ body on the cross matches the master Renaissance artist’s signature style, as reported by Italian news and the Associated Press. Baldini and two experts on human anatomy performed a forensic inspection of sorts on the statue, examining the proportions, curves and circumferences of the body’s bones and muscles. Baldini presented the evidence at a conference on science and technology in Madrid. The results of his research will be published in the University of Florence’s art history journal, Critica d’arte.
Iraqi archeologists have discovered an Assyrian temple and two winged lions that date back nearly 3,000 years. The monuments were found during excavations two weeks ago at Nimrud, an ancient city that lies southeast of Mosul, 280 miles north of Baghdad, the chief archaeologist for the site, Mizahm Mahmoud Hassan, told AP. “These two big, winged lions are important because their faces contain cuneiform texts which tell us they belonged to the era of Ashurnasirpal II,” a famous Assyrian conqueror who ruled from 884 to 860 B.C., Hassan said.
An Ocala, Fla. art museum operated by two state universities will display major works by some of the world’s greatest artists of the Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries this fall and early next year, thanks to loans from the Art Gallery of Ontario, reports the Associated Press. Artists whose works are being loaned to the Appleton Museum of Art include Impressionists Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas and Vincent Van Gogh, and Twentieth Century masters Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse. Florida State University President Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte announced the loans July 18. The collection has some works rarely seen outside a few leading museums in the United States and Canada.
A Franklin, Ind. man has been sentenced to more than eight years in prison on federal charges of transporting stolen art and jewelry from California to Indiana for sale. Brad Fagan, 33, occasionally impersonated legitimate art buyers and used fraudulent checks to obtain the works of art from art dealers in 1998 and 1999, federal prosecutors told AP. Fagan pleaded guilty to charges of interstate transportation of stolen goods.
Roberta Smith of The New York Times writes that Grace Borgenicht Brandt, longtime New York art dealer, died July 19 in Manhattan. “She saw herself as both a friend and protector of artists…She began her gallery in the early 1950’s as one of a handful of New York art dealers to represent living American artists when most American collectors were buying European art.”
Ted Berman, 81, who spent 45 years as a Disney animator and screenwriter, working on such classics as Bambi and Fantasia, died July 15 in Los Angeles, Calif., his daughter Cathy Nourafshan told AP. He was hired by Disney’s animation department in 1940 and helped create characters for Alice in Wonderland, Lady and the Tramp and Peter Pan.
Jeanette Hanisee Gabriel, private curator to Sir Arthur Gilbert since 1994, has been appointed honorary curator of the Gilbert Collection, London. Gabriel played a key role in the transfer of the Gilbert Collection from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to London. Prior to working for Sir Arthur in Los Angeles, she was assistant curator of European decorative arts at LACMA from 1988 to 1992 in charge of the Mosaics and Hardstones in the Gilbert Collection.
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, has acquired the 66 photographs from the exhibition “Myths, Dreams and Realities: Contemporary Argentine Photography,” giving the MFAH the largest holding of Argentine photographs in the United States. The collection is a gift of Pan American Cultural Exchange with funds provided by The Brown Foundation, Inc, and the Wortham Foundation.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C., has purchased two major works by postwar artists – “Sollie 17” (1979-1980), a mixed media construction by Edward and Nancy Reddin Kienholz, and a monumental painting by Alfred Jensen, titled “Honor Pythagoras, Per I -Per VI” (1964).
Zita Waters Bell, promoter of the Boca Fine Arts and Antiques Show, Boca Raton, Fla., has announced that a problem with the venue has caused the show’s dates to be moved a week earlier than previously announced. The new dates will be January 25 to 27 and the preview party will held the evening of January 24. There will also be changes in the location of the event, the size and the show policy.
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, Mass., has selected Machado and Silvetti Associates of Boston to design a master plan that will assess the museum’s physical needs for the future. The focus of the master planning assignment is a study of the capacity of the museum’s campus to accommodate enhanced programs and services for a broad range of audiences while preserving the qualities of the Gardner and its art collection.
Merri Ferrell, curator of the carriage collection at The Long Island Museum of American Art, History & Carriages, Stony Brook, N.Y., has been awarded a research grant from the Charles S. Parsons Fellowship through the Museum of New Hampshire History. Using their extensive archives and collections, Ferrell will study the life and work of John Burgum, ornamental painter for the famous Abbot-Downing Company of Concord, N.H. Studies are for an exhibition on the artistry of carriage painting. Burgum is the painter of the famous omnibus, Grace Darling, which is the centerpiece of the Long Island Museum’s Carriage Museum.
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