Published: March 5, 2002
Trade News from around the World
In a rare defeat for eBay Inc., the company said February 26 it will pull out of Japan, even as the company’s international expansion continues with the purchase of a Taiwanese auction site, writes AP’s Brian Bergstein. EBay entered the Japanese market in 2000, and never got close to Yahoo! Japan Corp., which is that country’s No. 1 player in online auctions. It is co-owned by the Silicon Valley Internet company and Tokyo-based Softbank Corp. Although eBay does not charge Japanese users any fees – and did so only briefly – the site has just 25,000 rdf_Descriptions listed for sale, ranking it a distant fourth in the market. The site will close March 31; and 17 jobs will be cut. “We may come back to Japan sometime when factors are a little more in our favor, but they are not at the current time,” eBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove said. “We never seemed to be able to execute in that area.”
Also according to the Associated Press, changes to eBay Inc.’s user and privacy policies give the online auctioneer greater ability to notify others about a user’s auction history and policy violations. They also state more explicitly the types of information – such as contact methods and shipping addresses – that users must provide in order to access certain services. Company spokesman Kevin Pursglove on February 27 characterized the changes, which take effect March 19 for new users and April 19 for existing users, as “very routine.” But Jason Catlett, a privacy advocate with Junkbusters Corp., complained that some of the language was too vague and would provide loopholes that could allow eBay to share more information about users.
Ebay’s changes come too late in the case of a Michigan ceramic figurines dealer who has disappeared amid a police and FBI investigation of whether he defrauded at least 100 eBay auction buyers, reports AP. The customers say their purchases from a December online auction were never delivered by the seller, Stewart Richardson, 60, who disappeared January 17, police said. The Lladro’s, Hummel and Wee Forest Folk ceramic figurines the customers bought were worth tens of thousands of dollars total. No charges have been filed. Richardson left his White Lake business – Retired Figurines Exchange – after reportedly withdrawing more than $200,000, police said. His wife filed a missing persons report.
A story from AP’s Verena von Derschau shows the French justice system hasn’t finished with Yahoo! Inc. A Paris court said February 26 that French judges have the right to try the Internet portal because auctions of Nazi paraphernalia were once held on its Web site. The French court’s decision was the latest development in French human rights groups’ two-year, trans-Atlantic legal battle to hold the California-based company responsible for racist material that has appeared on its Web pages. The Paris court said officials will gather May 7 to set a date for a trial of Yahoo and its former chief executive, Tim Koogle. Yahoo spokeswoman Joanna Stevens declined to comment on the development, saying it is an ongoing legal matter.
For 13 years, authorities have been on the lookout for a rare missing print of the Titanic believed stolen from Birmingham, England, and dated just four days before the massive liner hit an iceberg and sank in the North Atlantic. On February 26, police told the Associated Press that the limited edition print had been handed in anonymously by someone from the north of England. The print is of a watercolor entitled “Titanic at Queenstown,” a reference to the Irish port where the liner called on April 11, 1912, before heading across the Atlantic to New York on its maiden voyage. The print bears the signatures of two Titanic passengers.
The Wyoming Supreme Court recently ordered a Bill Gollings painting worth $15,000, mistakenly sold from an estate by the Salvation Army in 1999 to Wyoming art collector Rick Kenyon for $25, returned to its rightful owner, Claude Abel. Abel had inherited the painting, which features a Crow Indian on a white horse, from his aunt. Tim Woodward of The Idaho Statesman (via AP) writes that it now hangs in Abel’s Boise home, where it will be the centerpiece of a family reunion. Abel said he contacted Kenyon twice about the Salvation Army’s mistake, but “he wouldn’t talk to me. That made me mad.” Mad enough to spend $7,000 in legal fees taking Kenyon to court. He did not care about the value of the painting as much as he did about the principle. To him, the painting was a family heirloom.
Gizel Berman, who recounted her experiences as a Holocaust survivor in sculpture, books and storytelling to schoolchildren, is dead at 82, reports AP. Berman, a Czech native whose sculptures are displayed at the Jewish Community Center on Mercer Island and at the Yad Vashem Holocaust art collection in Jerusalem, died in her sleep February 25. Living on Mercer Island until the couple moved to an apartment in Seattle, Berman became known for poignant cast metal sculptures, such as a one-winged bird in her home garden.
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) announced that it has received six major paintings by Frank Stella from Mr and Mrs Harry W. Anderson. The pieces span Stella’s four-decade career. The group of six paintings follows the Andersons’ gift to SFMOMA in December 2001 of a significant early Stella work, “Zambezi,” 1959. “Polk City,” 1963, will go on view next week in the museum’s permanent collection galleries, facing “Zambezi.” Additionally, the Andersons and SFMOMA have agreed to a collection-sharing program for these monumental works, whereby they will remain on public view at the Quadrus office complex in Menlo Park, Calif. (formerly headquarters of Mr Anderson’s Saga Corporation and now owned and managed by the Kaiser Family Foundation).
Former US Senator and Chairman of the Board of Trustees Alan K. Simpson has announced the appointment of Dr Robert E. Shimp to lead the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody, Wyo. “Following a wide national search we feel we found just the right person for us at this time in our long history,” Simpson said. The new director will be leaving McMurray University, Abilene, Tex., where he has served as president since 1993.
Margaret Burchenal, curator of education at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, Mass., was recently selected by the National Art Education Association (NAEA) to receive its 2002 Art Educator of the Year Award. Burchenal will accept the award at the National Art Education Association’s National Conference in Miami on March 24.
Associate curators Ron Spronk and Harry Cooper were awarded the College Art Association/Heritage Preservation Joint Award for Distinction in Scholarship and Conservation during a ceremony on February 20 in Philadelphia. Ron Spronk is associate curator for research, Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, and Harry Cooper is associate curator of modern art, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Mass.
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art – LACMA – has received a grant of $250,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to support “The Legacy of Genghis Khan: Courtly Art and Culture in Western Asia, 1256-1353,” which will be on view at the museum beginning in April 2003. Of the total grant, $150,000 was given outright with an additional $100,000 that must be matched by LACMA from other sources.
The Olana Partnership, Hudson, N.Y., has appointed Hilary Ferrone as its new development director. Ferrone comes to the partnership with an extensive background in historic preservation and the not-for-profit world, including grant writing, project management and event coordination. She has worked for the Trust For Mutual Understanding and has served as a consultant for the Getty Conservation Institute and the World Monuments Fund, among others.
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