Published: February 5, 2002
Trade News from around the World
A government witness, Jonathan Tokeley-Parry, testified in US District Court, Manhattan, on January 30 that New York dealer Frederick Schultz, of Frederick Schultz Ancient Art, helped him develop a plan to make it appear as if a $1 million stone sculpture of a pharaoh had not been stolen from Egypt. Schultz, 47, is charged with conspiring to receive and possess stolen property. If convicted, he could face up to five years in prison. Larry Neumeister of the Associated Press reports that Schultz was accused of helping to direct a scheme in which Tokeley-Parry would make it appear that the sculpture was part of an old art collection rather than an object taken from Egypt. Tokeley-Parry said he smuggled the sculpture of the head of Amenhotep III, who died in 1375 B.C., out of Egypt by dipping it in plastic and painting it black to make it look like a cheap tourist souvenir. He said he bought the sculpture in Egypt for about $7,000, thinking it was worth up to $50,000. “It was more than I’d ever paid for a piece, but for a piece of this quality it was an extraordinarily low price,” he said. Schultz allegedly purchased the head from Tokeley-Parry in 1992 for $915,000 and resold it for $1.2 million to a London art collector. Schultz’s lawyer, Linda Imes, told the jury that her client never knew Tokeley-Parry was selling stolen antiquities. Schultz is a former president of the National Association of Dealers in Ancient, Oriental and Primitive Art. “The case, seen by many as a test of the American government’s resolve on stolen antiquities, has divided the art world,” writes Celestine Bohlen of The New York Times. “It has sent a chill through antiquities dealers who fear more aggressive policing in an area where proof of provenance can be hard to come by, and it has greatly cheered archaeologists who hope that such prosecutions will help cool the illicit antiquities trade.”
Philadelphia stamp dealer Earl P.L. Apfelbaum Inc. and its executive vice president, John Apfelbaum, were charged January 28 with conspiring with unnamed others to submit “collusive, noncompetitive and rigged bids” at stamp auctions from the early 1980s until at least 1997 and for several months in 1999, according to the case filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. About $20 million in stamps were sold at the periodic public auctions in the United States and Europe at which Apfelbaum and coconspirators allegedly rigged the bids, prosecutors told AP. The Justice Department said the defendants took part in pre-auctions to determine which stamp dealer would bid for specific lots of stamps. They agreed not to bid against dealers who submitted the highest bid in the pre-auction and paid the dealers who agreed not to bid at the public auctions, prosecutors said.
EBay Inc. and Sotheby’s are joining forces in a new partnership, matching the technology savvy of the leading player in Internet auctions with the high-end heft of one of the oldest names in real-world auctions, writes Brian Berstein of the Associated Press. The alliance, announced January 31, shows how far eBay has come in just a few years, from a virtual flea market for Beanie Babies and hand-me-downs to an all-purpose trading platform with 42 million registered users. It also indicates that Sotheby’s needs to recharge its online sales and bring a wider variety of buyers into its auctions. Sotheby’s lost $41.3 million in the first three quarters of 2001 and is recovering from a price-fixing scandal, while eBay is generating record profits. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. As part of the partnership, Sothebys.com, the online wing of the 258-year-old auction house, will be managed by eBay and linked to its voluminous trading pages, replacing the “eBay Premier” category, which has not grown as well as the company had hoped since its launch last January. That means the art, jewelry, antiques and other high-end collectibles for sale on Sothebys.com will come up when eBay users search for those kinds of rdf_Descriptions. Some of the rdf_Descriptions will come from Butterfields, the eBay-owned auction house based in San Francisco.
According to the Associated Press, a delegation of Ethiopian priests and officials arrived in Britain January 26 to retrieve a sacred carving looted from their country in the Nineteenth Century. The wooden tablet, known as a Tabot, was seized by British soldiers during a bloody battle in Ethiopia in 1868. An officer bought the Tabot and presented it to his home church, St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church in Edinburgh, where it was recently discovered in a cupboard by the Rev. John McLuckie. The delegation, together with Ethiopia’s ambassador to Britain Fisseha Adugna, met George Reid, deputy presiding officer of the Scottish Parliament and the Right Rev. Brian Smith, the Bishop of Edinburgh, at a reception in the Scottish capital.
One hundred sixteen years after the Statue of Liberty arrived in New York from France, the mayor of Paris is offering to donate a new work of art. Mayor Bertrand Delanoe met with New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg on January 31 and proposed three ideas for the gift, reports the Associated Press. “Wall for Peace” – a steel structure to be inscribed with the names of victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks – would be modeled after the “Mur la Paix” in Paris. One alternative would come from a competition in France in which artists from around the country would submit ideas. A third option would be to donate a sculpture by the late Russian artist Ossip Zadkine.
Michael Hammond, a lifelong student of how music and medicine are intertwined, died just a week after becoming chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. He was 69. Jennifer Loven of the Associated Press writes that Hammond was found January 29 at a home in Washington, D.C., where he had been staying. NEA spokesman Mark Weinberg said Hammond had complained of feeling ill in recent days, and he appeared to have died of natural causes. Hammond was dean of the School of Music at Rice University in Houston when President Bush nominated him to chair the federal agency that distributes grants for the arts. Confirmed by the Senate on December 20, Hammond took over January 22.
What happens behind the scenes at the Louvre Museum is something of a mess, according to a report issued January 31 by France’s state auditors, writes AP’s Elaine Ganley. Waste and mismanagement are disrupting the show for some of the millions of visitors to the famed museum in Paris, the report by the Cour des Comptes suggests. The report was part of a more than 800-page study of the entire public sector.The report said the world’s biggest museum doesn’t know how many works of art is has, how many people work there or how much time employees spend on the job. Some workers habitually take extra days off or go on coffee breaks that last for hours, according to the report. The Louvre took in 6 million visitors in 2000 – two-thirds of them foreigners, the report said. While progress has been made in welcoming the public, “worrisome deficiencies” remain, it said. The ticket and information counters are a particular problem: coffee breaks, the report said, “can take two and a half hours a day for employees working the information bank … and three and a half hours for employees in the cloakroom, at the cash register and at the ticket control post.” When visitors do get in, they will never see the whole museum. Not just because it is so big, but because it is never fully open. Nearly a quarter of the rooms were closed to the public in 2000 for lack of security personnel, the report said. Security is also a problem. The report cited a museum official complaining of disputes among security guards and a lack of vigilance. When a Corot painting was stolen in 1998, a security chief was fired. But it was only 28 months later that he turned in his keys and left the apartment provided to him free of charge, the report said.
The Antiques Dealers’ Association of America, Philadelphia, Pa., has announced the creation of an Award of Merit to honor distinguished persons in the antiques industry. The first Award of Merit will be presented to Albert M. Sack, of Israel Sack, Inc, New York City. Involved in the antiques field for more than 60 years, Sack epitomizes the passion for knowledge and excellence that is sought by the ADA for this award. The presentation ceremony and dinner will be held on Saturday, April 6, at 8 pm, during the Philadelphia Antiques Show at the 33rd Street Armory. Author, scholar and antiquarian Wendell Garrett will serve as the special guest speaker at the presentation ceremony.
According to Glen Burnie Historic House and Gardens president Kay S. Whitworth, an approximately 50,000-square-foot Museum of the Shenandoah Valley will open on the Glen Burnie site in the fall of 2003, designed by architect Michael Graves. Cost of the new museum has been estimated at $20 million. When the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley opens, said Whitworth, the homestead of Winchester founder James Wood will be transformed into a regional history museum complex that is open on a year-round basis. Within this context, the Glen Burnie Historic House, with its surrounding 25 acres of gardens, will continue to be an important part. Currently, the historic house and gardens are open April through October only.
Though the generosity of founding patron Roy R. Neuberger, the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, N.Y., has acquired Patrick Henry Bruce’s “Still Life,” an oil on canvas painted circa 1922-25. It is one of Neuberger’s favorite paintings, which, until recently, was positioned in his bedroom alongside his first Milton Avery acquisition. Before coming into Neuberger’s hands, the Bruce work was in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. An American Cubist painter, Bruce (1881-1936) is the great-great-great grandson of the patriot Patrick Henry.
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts board of trustees, Richmond, Va., has approved the acquisition of three remarkably different works of art from India – a rare Jain “Kalpasutra” manuscript, an Eighteenth Century ivory-clad drop front diminutive secretary made for the American market, and a contemporary sculpture by Ravinder Reddy, one of India’s leading artists. The emphasis by the trustees on Indian art is in celebration of the recent publication of The Arts of India by the museum’s curatorial chairman, Dr Joseph M. Dye III, and the exhibition “Worlds of Wonder and Desire: Indian Paintings from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts,” on view through February 24.
Thanks to a nearly $300,000 grant from the Jodik Foundation, the Noah Webster House, West Hartford, Conn., and West Hartford Historical Society will be able to create a facsimile hearth and a new, multimedia orientation exhibit. Established by Dick and Jody Gates, 50-year residents of West Hartford, The Jodik Foundation began making grants in 1978 and was to provide resources for those projects and programs that could not be funded by other donors.
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