Published: June 5, 2001
Trade News from around the World
Two New York City art dealers and a Connecticut art broker were arrested May 31 after completing a secret sale of two paintings, and were charged with conspiring to launder $4.1 million in drug funds, federal officials told the Associated Press. The complaint charges Shirley Sack, 73, and Arnold Katzen, 62, both of New York, and Alan Stewart, 75, of Stamford, Conn., with conspiring to conduct and attempting to conduct a financial transaction with funds represented to be drug proceeds. Federal agents arrested Sack and Katzen at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Boston as they attempted to complete the art sale, according to Samantha Martin of U.S. Attorney Donald Stern’s office. She said Stewart was arrested later that day in Connecticut. Sack and Katzen were arraigned in U.S. District Court, and bail was set at $500,000 in unsecured bonds each. Stewart hasn’t been arraigned. Sack and Katzen’s attorney Robert Keefe said that he had not had an opportunity to review the government’s claims against his clients. According to Martin, Sack, who is a principal in Shirley D. Sack, Ltd., and works as a wholesaler of art and jewelry, and Katzen, a principal in American European Art Associates, attempted to sell two works of art in Boston for $4.1 million in cash to a federal agent who posed as a drug dealer. The artworks, which were seized by the government from Katzen, were said to be an original oil painting entitled “Jeune Femme aux Yeux Bleus” by Amedeo Modigliani, valued at approximately $2.5 million, and an original pastel entitled “La Coiffure” by Edgar Degas, valued at approximately $1.6 million.
Elaine Sciolino of The New York Times reports that President Bush will replace William R. Ferris as head of the National Endowment for the Humanities with Bruce Cole, an expert on Italian Renaissance art. Cole is a professor of fine arts and comparative literature at the Hope School of Fine Arts, Indiana University. “The unusual gesture of support for a Democratic appointee” writes Sciolino, “was also prompted by Mr. Ferris’s efforts to liberate the endowment from the ideological wars that engulfed it in the past…Retaining Mr. Ferris, Senator Cochran said in February, ‘would reflect credit on the Bush administration,’ adding that he would support his reappointment to another four-year term.”
A previously secret legal agreement that claims to give ownership of a celebrated glass mosaic designed by Maxfield Parrish and Louis Tiffany to four colleges and universities has been challenged by the estate of the widow of the mural’s former owner, writes Jennifer Brown of the Associated Press. An attorney for Elizabeth Merriam’s estate, which owns 41 percent of her late husband’s estate, said May 30 that the 1996 agreement over the fate of the wall-size “Dream Garden” mural is not valid. It was signed by Mrs. Merriam and the four schools settling a will dispute after art patron John Merriam died in 1994. “We do not believe it was valid or enforceable or will pass legal muster,” said George O’Connell, attorney for Mrs. Merriam’s estate, which filed a motion challenging the agreement in Montgomery County Orphans Court, Pennsylvania. The schools cited the agreement in court filings the same day as justification for removing the mural from the estate of John Merriam, which is controlled by Mrs. Merriam’s estate. If that happens, the schools – as majority shareholders – will be able to prevent the mural from being sold and keep it in the lobby of the Curtis Center, a private museum and music school in the city’s historic Society Hill section. “We hope that we’ll be able to come to a solution that will keep the mosaic in Philadelphia,” said Sam Magdovitz, counsel for Bryn Mawr College, one of the institutions with partial ownership of the mural. “We have tried to be creative in trying to keep the mosaic where it is.”
Bill and Dorothy Harmsen, the husband and wife team who founded the Jolly Rancher Candy Co., will donate their 3,000-piece collection of Western and American Indian art to the Denver Art Museum, according to AP. The Harmsens’ gift will make the museum’s Western art collection among the best in the nation, the museum said when it announced the deal May 30. The Harmsens have been collecting art for 40 years, and now have about 800 Western paintings. Artists in their collection include Frederic Remington, Charles M. Russell, George Catlin, N.C. Wyeth and Robert Henri. The collection also contains Western drawings, lithographs, sculptures and photographs as well as American Indian rugs, textiles, baskets, pottery, clothing and artifacts. The museum would not say how much the collection is worth, but some estimates put its value in the tens of millions of dollars.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art is acquiring an important collection of Twentieth Century photographs, including works by Man Ray and Henri Cartier-Bresson, which traces the evolution of the art form from realism and portraiture to Surrealism. The museum will be home to the works collected by Julien Levy, the renowned New York art dealer who died in 1991. Museum trustee Harvey S. Shipley Miller told the Associated Press that the Levy collection is “one of the greatest acquisitions we have ever made. It transforms the photography collection in a profound way.” The collection includes works by more than 120 photographers, 90 of whom have not previously been shown at the Philadelphia museum. Joan Farley Levy of Connecticut, Levy’s widow, is making a partial gift of the collection to mark the museum’s 125th anniversary, while benefactors Lynn and Harold Honickman of Philadelphia are subsidizing its partial purchase by the museum.
New Bedford, Mass., reports AP, once the whaling capital of the world, may soon be home to the largest whaling museum in the world. The Old Dartmouth Historical Society’s Whaling Museum in New Bedford and the Kendall Whaling Museum in Sharon are discussing a possible merger that would consolidate the two collections in New Bedford. “I think this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for both these institutions to come together and have a focus and go forward together,” Anne B. Brengle, executive director of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society, told The Standard-Times of New Bedford. Her counterpart at the Sharon museum, Stuart Frank, toured the New Bedford museum June 1 before the society’s 98th annual meeting. Brengle announced the negotiations to members of the society’s board of trustees, saying the museums are hammering out an “agreement in principle” for their respective boards to review by the end of the month.
To celebrate the first anniversary of the opening of the Gilbert Collection at Somerset House, Strand, London, Sir Arthur Gilbert has presented a gold torah crown to the museum. Set with jewels, the crown, bought by Sir Arthur in New York in 1999 for $1.2 million, will now join the gold, silver, gold boxes and mosaics that comprise the gift that he made to the UK in 1996. The Gilbert collection was formally accepted on behalf of the nation by HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother on May 25, 2000. Since then it has attracted over 190,000 visitors. The torah crown will be the focal point of a special exhibition open to the public till August 17.
Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, who bought Jack Kerouac’s original On the Road manuscript last month for a record $2.43 million, says it will be restored at Indiana University. Irsay told the Associated Press June 1 the frayed, 50-year-old scroll will soon be sent to IU’s Lilly Library so preservationists can stabilize and restore it. The scroll has been locked up for most of the time since Kerouac wrote it during a marathon three-week period in 1951 on sheets of paper filled with single-spaced type and taped together to form a 120-foot-long roll. Irsay, 41, says he first read On the Road as a teen-ager and was mesmerized by it.
According to AP, federal investigators have revealed that an Oakland County, Mich. couple lost more than $250,000 in payments for forged artwork in a case that’s part of an FBI sting to nab suspects in about $117 million in online fraud. Documents related to the case state that the couple, in their 40s, sent $12,000 in cash and hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of original paintings to William S. Yager of Fairport, N.Y. The trades involving the Farmington Hills couple began after they bid on a Milton Avery painting listed on eBay. In turn, Yager sent the couple, whose name was not released, other paintings and drawings, inlcuding a work allegedly done by Edgar Degas and prominent American artists from the turn of the century including Avery, Robert Henri and Reginald Marsh. Sotheby’s declared the Degas works fakes. An expert at the Detroit Institute of Arts told the couple the paintings were possibly done by art students educated in the painter’s style, according to an affidavit. The DIA expert also declared the Avery paintings fake.
People across the country who sell things on eBay, writes AP’s Brian Bergstein, are furious with the auction site because of its recent move to charge subscription fees for a popular piece of software that makes it easier to list rdf_Descriptions. In irate notes on message boards and e-mails to the company, sellers accuse eBay of getting greedy and belying its warm and fuzzy community-focused image. Some are threatening a class-action suit because older versions of the software, which cost as much as $200, stopped working. An increasing number of companies, including giant Microsoft Corp., are expected to embrace subscription models and move away from selling software for a one-time fee. The companies say they simply can’t afford to keep giving away free upgrades.
Margaret Loke of The New York Times reports the May 26 death of Tennyson Schad, 70, a First Amendment lawyer who began Light Gallery, due to cancer. In the 1970s, Light Gallery exhibited contemporary photographers and spearheaded the market for, and appreciation of, their work. “While it lasted,” writes Loke, “what went on at Light Gallery was a heady experience for its staff and visitors. ‘Everybody was there,’ said Peter McGill, who was the gallery’s first intern, in the summer of 1973. For the first time, he said, ‘artists had a first-rate art gallery to show their work.’ He was director in 1979-80 before opening his own gallery, Pace/McGill, in 1983.”
Hazel Larsen Archer, a Santa Fe Living Treasure and teacher of numerous artists, is dead at age 80, says the AP wire. Archer, who lived in Santa Fe from 1975 to 1987, died May 18 in Tucson, Ariz. Archer developed a theory of art based on investigation into perception, and believed the process of seeing transforms the individual, sometimes instantaneously.
Dealer Ruth Seanor Hubbell died on May 25 in Rye, N.Y., after a brief illness. She resided at Sterling Park at the time of her death, having lived in Rye for more than 60 years. Hubbell worked with Nell Moore, the wife of Garry Moore, as an interior designer. After Nell’s death, Hubbell continued the business, designing for local and international residences. She was an inveterate traveler and began buying antiques abroad. In time, her primary focus shifted from interior design to antiques. Her goal as a dealer was to be accepted as an exhibitor at the Winter Antiques Show held each January in New York City. This was an achievement she equated to being nominated for an Oscar. She realized that goal in 1976, and participated for the next 18 years.
The Cleveland Museum of Art has announced the appointment of Susan Stevens Jaros to the position of Deputy Director for Development and External Affairs. Jaros is the Associate Vice President for Development and Alumni Affairs at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU). A native Clevelander, Jaros holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Denison University, and a Juris Doctorate from Case Western Reserve University, where she received the Order of the Coif. She practiced law in Cleveland in the 1970s and began teaching it at CWRU in 1979. Her specialties include law and the visual arts and copyright law.
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