Published: July 31, 2001
Trade News from around the World
Antiquities officials in Cairo, Egypt, celebrated the return of a sculpture of a pharaonic queen’s head on July 28, writes Sara El-Deeb of AP. The head was smuggled to Britain as a cheap souvenir almost a decade ago. Egyptian officials believe the gray granite sculpture may be that of queen Nefertari, who lived between 1300 B.C. and 1250 B.C. She was the principal wife of pharaoh Ramses II. Gaballah Ali Gaballah, the director of Egypt’s Supreme Antiquities Council, returned to Cairo International Airport with the boxed sculpture plus six sheets of papyrus, or ancient writing paper. “I think most of the thieves all over the world have got the message … that Egypt doesn’t give up,” Gaballah told reporters. Egyptian antiquities officials have long demanded the return of ancient artifacts smuggled out of the country. Its government had gone to court in Britain in attempts to retrieve the pieces. The sculpture was stolen in 1992 from its storage place in Sakkara, a village 15 miles south of Egypt’s capital, Cairo. In 1995, a joint British-Egyptian investigation cracked the smuggling ring and arrested 15 people, among them British dealer Jonathan Tokeley-Parry and a top Sakkara antiquities official.
Roxana M. Popescu of the Associated Press reports that 15 of 26 pieces of jewelry loaned by private collectors for an Erte exhibition in Rome are missing, curator Francesco Maria Messina told the Italian news agency ANSA and Roxana M. Popescu of the Associated Press on July 24. Workers at the Museo del Corso had opened the box from New York that was supposed to hold designs by the Art Deco master and found lots of wrapping paper – and very few jewels. “The external packaging of the box we received was intact. But when we opened it, we saw that a smaller package inside had been tampered with and almost all the jewelry was missing,” Messina said. According to Messina, investigators believe the theft took place before the package reached Italian customs. Anna Santi, a museum spokeswoman, said it is unclear exactly what happened, but insisted the problem was on the other side of the Atlantic, where the jewelry was packed. The exhibit, which opened to the public on July 25, features 180 pieces, including furniture, gouache and sculpture, by the Russian-born fashion illustrator and costume designer.
A man accused of snatching a rare collection of books from the Centre College library, Kentucky, has pleaded guilty to interstate transportation of stolen goods. Ross Vince Brewer, 34, is facing up to 10 years in prison on the federal charges, which he admitted to in U.S. District Court on July 26, according to the Associated Press. Brewer went into the Centre library in October after making an appointment to see a three-volume collection of lithographs of American Indians that was printed in 1842. He grabbed the $50,000 collection and fled when the librarian turned to help a student. Court documents allege that he took the books from Danville to West Virginia and to Columbus, Ohio. Other libraries, including those at universities in Michigan and North Carolina, suffered thefts last year of Eighteenth Century books about Native Americans and the Old West. A bulletin circulated among university librarians from Princeton, N.J., to Los Angeles, Calif., said that investigators thought the thefts were related. Centre has recovered the prints from a dealer on the Internet. The advent of the Internet is making it easier for book thieves to sell stolen merchandise at auction, according to the FBI.
Carol Vogel of The New York Times writes that after “rounds of secret negotiations since early June between Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips and the heirs of Nathan and Marion Smooke, Los Angeles collectors who had amassed a notable group of artworks, predominantly early Twentieth Century French and German paintings and sculptures,” the collection will be offered by Phillips, de Pury & Luxembourg on November 5. While Phillips declined to comment on the particulars, Vogel says that experts believe “Phillips offered nearly $200 million as a guarantee (the publicly undisclosed sum promised to a seller regardless of a sale’s outcome).”
As part of a deal announced July 24, reports Troy Wolverton of CNET News.com, AuctionWatch has agreed to stop searching eBay’s listings. eBay has also named AuctionWatch as one of its preferred service providers. “Strategically, our search product becomes less important,” Rodrigo Sales, chief executive officer of AuctionWatch, told CNET. “Having a positive relationship with eBay and also the ability to work with eBay collaboratively to bring larger merchants online to sell through this channel becomes much more important.” eBay representatives were unavailable for comment.
Alice Steer Wilson, reports AP, an artist whose watercolor scenes of the New Jersey shore were on thousands of postcards, died July 22 in Merchantville, N.J., from breast cancer. Wilson’s watercolors have appeared in exhibitions at the Chalfonte Hotel in Cape May to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Fellowship. She was known for painting the quaint Victorian cottages of Cape May as well as the community’s landmarks.
After 16 years at the University of New Mexico Art Museum, Peter Walch is now retiring at the age of 60. Associate director Linda Bahm takes over as interim director until a permanent replacement can be found. The museum has received a lot of attention nationwide for the size of its permanent collection and especially its collection of photographs. “We are an anomaly for a medium-sized museum,” Walch told AP. “We have a huge number of objects in the collection – 40,000. That’s almost 20 times the size of the National Gallery in London in sheer number of objects.”
Richard S. Brierley has been appointed vice president, head specialist of Christie’s New York wine department, responsible for the day-to-day management of the entire New York wine department while also focusing on long-term strategies. Brierley will report to Rosemary Neal, international business director of the wine department based in London.
The Mariners’ Museum Research Library & Archives, Newport News, Va., recently added to its collections two rare world maps dating back almost 400 years to a time when most areas of the world could only be determined from information documented by bold explorers on daring expeditions. These Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century world maps were acquired by the museum’s Bronze Door Society and make a significant addition the institution’s current collection of over 5,000 maps and charts. The museum has also received two conservation grants for portions of its rare book and Elwin Martin Eldredge collections. Awarded by the Roller-Bottimore Foundation and the Robins Foundation, the two grants will provide library staff with funding needed to conserve these historic library and archival materials.
Briddge for Collectors and Museums, New York City, an art succession and estate planning firm, has announced the gift of Diebenkorn’s “Woman with Flowers” to the Orlando Museum on behalf of its client J. Hyde Crawford, fashion illustrator, fabric and wallpaper designer. The painting is valued at nearly $2 million. Briddge also disclosed an agreement by Crawford to contribute a large portion of his collection to other appropriate museums.
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