Published: January 2, 2001
Trade News from around the World
Police searched for clues on December 23 to find robbers who made off with three valuable paintings by Rembrandt and Renoir from the National Museum, Stockholm, Sweden, the evening before, writes Anne Pandolfi of the Associated Press. A man walked into the waterfront museum five minutes before closing time on December 22, pointed a submachine gun at an unarmed guard and stood watch while two accomplices already inside snatched the paintings off walls. The robbers sped away in a boat moored near the museum. Police found the boat, but not the thieves or the paintings, which museum officials say are worth several million dollars. Taken was a self-portrait by Rembrandt, about eight by 12 inches including the frame, painted on golden-surfaced copper plate to give a special light to the face, painted in 1630 and bought by the museum from a private collection in 1956; “Conversation,” by Renoir, a 14-by-18-inch close-up of a man and a woman with her back turned to the viewer, acquired by the museum in 1918; and “Young Parisian,” by Renoir, a young girl, acquired by the museum in 1913. Like other government property, the paintings were not insured.
Federal authorities arrested one man and were searching for another suspected of ripping off buyers on eBay. Assistant U.S. Attorney Dorothy L. Shubin said the two unrelated cases were among the first criminal prosecutions in the booming online auction business. George Arthur Cruz and Hen Ben Haim allegedly took winning bidders’ money and sent them nothing. They defrauded buyers out of more than $110,000, according to federal indictments. More than 240 alleged victims mailed checks or money orders to the Los Angeles area after submitting winning bids for rdf_Descriptions including computers, camera equipment, musical instruments and replicas of football helmets. U.S. postal inspectors intercepted checks and money orders totaling $34,000, Shubin told the Associated Press.
From defrauded buyers to bogus email: Troy Wolverton of CNETnews.com reports eBay is warning members about a false e-mail message that appears to come from the auction company that asks people to send in personal information. The e-mail warns people that they have a problem with their registration and asks them to update their personal information via a link in the e-mail, eBay said in a message on its announcements board late December 27. The link takes people to a page that looks like eBay but is not located on the company’s Web site. eBay posted the warning after being alerted to the e-mail by one of its Power Sellers, company spokesman Henry Gomez said. Gomez didn’t know whether any other members had recently received the e-mail, but he said eBay had seen and warned people of similar fake messages in the past.
But happy news regarding eBay is also on the wire this week: two historical cobalt blue glazed china pieces have found their way home, thanks to the Internet skills of an Ishpeming couple, reports Jacqueline Perry of The Mining Journal (Marquette) for AP. Liz and Robbie Powelson have presented their eBay findings to the Carnegie Public Library’s Friends of the Library. The first rdf_Description, a toothpick holder, boasts a color-engraved transfer image of the library, along with the words, “Carnegie Library, Ishpeming, Michigan.” The second rdf_Description, a miniature bud vase, includes a color-engraved image of Ishpeming City Hall, and reads “City Hall, Ishpeming, Michigan.” Both pieces, circa 1905-1910, were obviously created as a pair. The inscription on the bottom of both reads, “Made in Germany for Joseph Gill, Ishpeming, Michigan.”
Thieves routinely strip copper plumbing, aluminum siding and even insulation from houses. But a thief with an artistic flair has been stealing stained glass windows from old homes in Newark, N.J., reports Wayne Perry of the Associated Press. Police say over the past year 17 homes near the city’s border with Irvington have been hit by the thief, who most often strikes in the early morning hours on a Sunday. Sometimes he climbs up on garbage cans to reach a decorative window, prying it out with crude tools and making his getaway. Newark police have formed a task force to solve the thefts, which are targeting homes built in the 1880 or 90s, when Newark was an industrial powerhouse with a thriving middle class who went home to ornate houses when their factory shifts were over.
Roberta Smith of The New York Times writes that curator, art historian and collector Ronald G. Pisano, 51, an authority on the work of Nineteenth Century artist William Merritt Chase, died on December 11 in Manhattan of esophageal cancer. Pisano published several books, founded the William Merritt Chase Archives, and with his partner, Fred Baker, began collecting Nineteenth and Twentieth Century American paintings. Baker and Pisano gave more than 40 works to the Heckscher Museum of Art, where Pisano was curator of American art from 1973-77.
Chen Zhen, 45, a Chinese-born conceptual artist and sculptor whose work was featured in solo and group exhibitions around the world, particularly in New York and Europe, died in Paris on December 13. The cause of death was cancer, his wife, Xu Min, told AP. Chen won numerous grants and prizes, including awards from the Annie Wang Foundation for Art in Hong Kong and the Pollack-Krasner Foundation in New York. He was visiting professor of art at the Ecole Nationale Superieur des Beaux-Arts de Paris and Center for Contemporary Art in Kitakyushu, Japan.
Headed to the auction block at Christie’s in February is a collection of books, paintings, furniture and jewelry once owned by the Roosevelt family, most of it from Eleanor Roosevelt’s Val-Kill cottage, Hyde Park, N.Y. The National Parks Service hopes to buy rdf_Descriptions back with the help of private funds raised by a preservation group. “I would just think it’s a shame for these rdf_Descriptions to be scattered throughout the country,” Claudine Bacher, chairwoman of the Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Preservation Project, told the Associated Press. “They belong in Mrs. Roosevelt’s home.”
More than 94,000 persons visited the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Conn., over the twelve-week run of “The Impressionists at Argenteuil,” surpassing the museum’s record-breaking attendance of 81,000 during “Salvador Dali’s Optical Illusions.” The Atheneum projects attendance in 2000 at 266,000 visitors, the highest attendance figure in the museum’s 156-year history.
The Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Mass., has acquired more than 660 Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century Dutch landscape prints from the Light-Outerbridge collection. This significant acquisition builds upon the museum’s leading collection of Dutch drawings, making the Fogg the principal center for the study of Dutch landscape works on paper in the United States.
The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., has acquired 459 photographs by Lee Friedlander (b. 1934), who has been hailed as on of the masters of Twentieth Century American photography and is celebrated for his innovative photographs of modern American life. The purchase from the artist by the gallery includes the only complete set of prints for his 2000 book Lee Friedlander, as well as a group of photographs that survey the artist’s other accomplishments.
Heritage Harbor, Providence, R.I., has announced $110,000 in grants for exhibits at the under-construction museum that aims to chronicle immigrant contributions to the state, reports AP. In November, voters rejected a $25 million bond referendum for the museum, which is backed by the Smithsonian Institution, and organizers are turning to donors for help. The museum already has collected about $28 million, enough to complete about one-third of the $50 million project.
New Mexico’s oldest arts organization will continue operating thanks to an anonymous $200,000 donation that kept the Taos Art Association from folding. In July, the 50-year-old arts association was on the brink of dissolving itself and closed the Taos Community Auditorium, which the organization operated. Potential safety violations of the structure, built in 1972, were cited as a reason for the closure. Recently, the organization received a $200,000 donation that was earmarked for reopening the auditorium, TAA Board President Ted Dimond told AP.
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