Trade News from around the World
Two men accused of selling fake masterpiece paintings on eBay and inflating the bid prices pleaded guilty to fraud charges. Both men face five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on top of restitution payments. If they cooperate with the federal investigation, they could be sentenced to probation. Kenneth Walton, 33, pleaded guilty Tuesday to three counts of wire fraud and four counts of mail fraud. Scott Beach, 31, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and three mail fraud charges. Walton, a Sacramento attorney, was accused of maintaining nearly 20 eBay login identities that he used to sell and bid on paintings. Those login names were tied to more than 250 auctions, according to court documents. A third man, Kenneth Fetterman, 33, of Placerville, is a fugitive, prosecutors said. He has been charged with fraud and money laundering. He faces at least 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine if convicted. Harold Rosenthal, Walton’s attorney, told the Associated Press his client will cooperate with the investigation, but he does not know where Fetterman is living. Paintings offered for sale included an orange-and-green abstract work on which Walton forged the initials “RD 52” to imply it had been created by artist Richard Diebenkorn, according to court documents.
Calvin Sims of The New York Times reports that The Miho Museum, a Japanese antiquities institution, has admitted that a rare Sixth Century Buddhist statue (bodhisattva) in its collection, from China, is one that was stolen from Shandong Province in 1994. During an April 17 news conference, Miho administrators, writes Sims, signed an agreement with Chinese cultural officials that returns ownership of the carved limestone statue to the Chinese government without payment.
A divorce dispute has triggered a lawsuit over the remains of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. The Denver, Colo. auction house Ty Rex LLC claims Mark Newman and Japheteh Boyce failed to deliver the incomplete fossilized skeleton of the dinosaur unearthed on a Wyoming ranch in 1995. In a lawsuit filed April 17 in U.S. District Court, the company refers to the remains as Barnum the Tyrannosaurus Rex. Newman bought the bones from Boyce and promised to prepare them for auction and deliver them to Ty Rex by September, according to the lawsuit. Boyce had purchased the bones from another rancher who divorced his wife, according to the lawsuit. Ty Rex agreed to buy the bones, which make up about 25 percent of a full specimen, for $400,000. The suit requests damages of at least $200,000, according to AP.
The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York City, writes Carol Vogel of The New York Times, is returning a manuscript and a book which appear to have reached the market as a result of World War II looting. The 1599 German manuscript of liturgical music, compiled by Johann Schirmer, was purchased by the library in 1997 from London dealers Maggs Brothers. That firm had bid successfully for the manuscripts at Swann Galleries, New York City. The book features two works written by Joannes Cochlaeus, a theologian, which featured a binding decorated with a coat of arms designed by Albrecht Durer. “We bought them in good faith, thinking the provenance was clear,” Charles E. Pierce Jr., director of the Morgan, told the Times. “But when we found out their provenance, there was no question that we had to return them. Clearly they were stolen, and now they’re going back where they belong.”
Stephen Prokopoff, 71, a former director of the University of Iowa Museum of Art, died March 28. The cause was non-Hodgkins lymphoma, his wife, Lois Craig, told the Associated Press. Prokopoff, who began his career as a painter, was known for his attention to emerging or neglected artists and to genres like comics, folk and Outsider Art. He directed the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia from 1967 to 1971, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago from 1971 to 1977 and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston from 1977 to 1981. He became director of the Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in 1982, and 10 years later became director of the University of Iowa Museum of Art. He retired in 1999.
The Institute of Contemporary Art has announced the architects to design what will be the cultural jewel in the crown of the largest waterfront development in Boston’s history. The museum’s board of trustees have selected the firm Diller + Scofidio of New York as the architects for the new ICA at Fan Pier. Completion of the museum, which will be Diller + Scofidio’s first major new building project in the United States, is projected for 2004.
The Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio, has purchased the Salvador Dali painting “La Reve,” or “The Dream,” for an undisclosed price. The museum, which announced the purchase April 19, didn’t disclose the seller. The Plain Dealer reported April that it was sold by Daniel Filipacchi, chairman of Hachette Filipacchi magazines, which publishes Elle, Car & Driver, Premiere and Woman’s Day. The museum told the Associated Press that the painting, selected by Dali in 1936 among three works to represent him in a London Surrealist exhibit, would go on display April 27 for six months. The painting then will undergo treatment in the museum’s conservation studio.
The Henry Luce Foundation is at it again: a recent report in The New York Times states that the foundation’s latest happy target is The Brooklyn Museum of Art, which has received a $10 million grant “to create an open study center on the museum’s fifth floor that would display 3,000 works of American art that are now kept in storage.” It will be known as the Luce Center for American Art.