Trade News from around the World
A New York City judge formally accepted a plea deal February 2 by Sotheby’s that calls for a $45 million fine after the company admitted to an antitrust conspiracy to cheat its buyers and sellers. The deal was made several months ago as Sotheby’s former chief executive pleaded guilty to fixing commission prices and fees with rival Christie’s auction house. U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan had refused to accept the plea until he received more information about the company’s finances. Kaplan called the scheme worked out between former CEO Diana D. Brooks and top executives at Christie’s an “especially serious case” worked out at “an extremely high level…These were people who knew a lot better and they certainly didn’t need the money,” he told AP. Brooks is awaiting sentencing. Steven Reiss, a lawyer for Sotheby’s, said the payment of the fine and the settlement reflects a “strong desire to make things right with our buyers and sellers.”
Irvin Molotsky reports, in the February 5 edition of The New York Times, that two America Online executives and their wives have given $30 million to the Corcoran Gallery of Art toward construction of a planned addition that is being designed by Frank O. Gehry. The gift, writes Molotsky, is from Barry Schuler, chief executive officer of AOL Inc., and his wife, Tracy, and from Robert W. Pittman, co-chief operating officer of the recently merged AOL Time Warner, and his wife, Veronique. It is the largest donation in the Corcoran’s 131-year history, and bumps the institution’s current fundraising totals to $60 million, or half the proposed cost.
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Williamsburg, Va., announces that The Grainger Foundation of Lake Forest, III., and David and Juli Grainger of Winnetka, Ill., have established a new museums administration chair at Colonial Williamsburg, It will be known as the Juli Grainger Director of Museums Chair. The Grainger gift totaling $1.5 million funds in perpetuity the position of director of museums at Colonial Williamsburg. “The creation of this endowment demonstrates the Grainger”s deep commitment to Colonial Williamsburg’s museums program as well as their admiration and respect for the current director of museums, Carolyn Weekley, who will be the first holder of the chair,” said Colonial Williamsburg President Colin G. Campbell. “The Juli Grainger Chair and other endowed positions are invaluable in assisting Colonial Williamsburg to attract highly qualified individuals whose scholarly accomplishments contribute so much to the quality and distinction of the foundation’s programs.”
Those who have been questioned say the Hawaii’s state attorney general’s office is investigating whether state funds given to the Hawaiian Chinese Multicultural Museum and Archives were misused. Among those interviewed, reports the Associated Press, is state Sen. Rod Tam, (D-Downtown-Pauoa-Nuuanu), a member of the nonprofit museum’s board of directors who urged state funding be provided. Also questioned was museum president James Ho, who said the state’s money was properly spent. At Tam’s urging, the 1998 Legislature appropriated $194,000 to develop the storefront museum at 91 South King Street.
John Biggers, 76, a Gastonia, N.C. native and one of the country’s celebrated black artists, died January 25 in Houston, Tex., where he had lived for more than 50 years. Biggers, known for his painting and murals depicting Southern folk traditions and African themes, founded the art department at Texas Southern University. He taught for more than 30 years before retiring in 1983.
The AP wire reports the new director of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Mo., will be Rachel Blackburn, 36, who will begin work in early April. She fills the post vacated by Dan Keegan, who left last October to be director of the San Jose Museum of Art in San Jose, Calif. Previously, Blackburn worked 10 years at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, in Texas.
Marilyn Karos, art dealer and owner of Karos Fine Art Ltd., has admitted she obtained and intended to sell scientific artifacts she knew had been stolen from an Italian museum in 1984. Karos, 59, pleaded guilty January 30 in U.S. District Court, Milwaukee, Wis., to one count of receiving and possessing stolen property. Federal authorities estimate that the astronomical instruments she obtained for her gallery were worth $1.5 million to $2.5 million. According to AP, she faces a maximum prison term of 10 years and a $250,000 fine when she is sentenced May 3 by Judge Lynn Adelman.