Published: November 14, 2000
Trade News from around the World
An alleged art thief and an accomplice have been charged with peddling $750,000 worth of stolen bronze sculptures to Manhattan collectors, police told Tom Hays of the Associated Press November 9. Detectives arrested the suspects – identified as Solly Sinay, 46, and Albert Shaul, 50, both of Tel Aviv – on November 6 based on a tip from James Graham Gallery, a Madison Avenue firm. Investigators recovered seven small, rare statues of tigers, a bull and other animals by Nineteenth Century artist Antoine-Louis Barye. The bronzes were among 121 pieces stolen during a $5 million burglary of a Paris gallery, Fabius Freres.
Art dealer Timothy Patrick Kornwolf of Stillwater, Minn., pleaded guilty to violating federal eagle and migratory-bird protection laws through the sale of eagle feathers, according to an announcement to the Associated Press on November 7 by the U.S. attorney’s office in Minnesota. He admitted during a court hearing last summer that he sold Indian cultural rdf_Descriptions including a Sioux dance shield, valued at $7,000, and an Indian headdress, valued at $15,000. He said he knew selling the rdf_Descriptions was illegal because they contained golden eagle feathers. Kornwolf, whose plea came in a case that included searches and seizures in Santa Fe, faces a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a $10,000 fine on each count. Authorities collected evidence in the case that led to the search of Joshua Baer & Co., a Santa Fe, N.M. art gallery, and the Santa Fe home of Thomas Cavaliere.
Mahogany doors from the historic Elm Street courthouse, New Haven, Conn., have turned up at United House Wrecking, a Stamford, Conn. antiques emporium specializing in architecturals, and state police are investigating whether they were stolen or thrown away after a sewage leak at the courthouse two years ago, Judge Robert Berdon told the Associated Press. The 85-year-old doors were priced $1,250 apiece. Andy Cunningham, general manager of United House Wrecking, said the doors were purchased in May 1999 from a deputy sheriff. He said 12 doors were sold in May, and the other 12 are in state police custody.
While Christie’s established a new world auction record for any work of art by Pablo Picasso and the fifth highest price for any work of art sold at auction during the firm’s November 8 offering of Impressionist and Modern art, the news wasn’t all good. Picasso’s “Femme aux bras croises,” a rare Blue period canvas first owned by the American writer and art patron Gertrude Stein, soared to $55,006,000 in a sale totaling $143,588,000. A release from the auction house proclaimed the event “58 percent sold by lot and 72 percent by value,” but Carol Vogel of The New York Times reported the auction carried the “highest unsold rate – 42 percent – for an evening sale of Impressionist art and Modern art since 1994, when the market was in the doldrums.” Vogel described the auction as “bloated with overpriced, mediocre paintings and lot by lot, they failed to sell.”
The British Museum, London, is transforming its two-acre inner courtyard, hidden for 150 years, into Europe’s largest covered square: The Queen Elizabeth II Great Court will open to the public on December 7. Designed by Foster and Partners, the project creates a new public space for London and its visitors, offering an array of educational and recreational resources. Covered by a 65,000 square foot glass and steel roof, the Great Court includes a new education center, new galleries, new lecture and seminar rooms, enhanced visitor services, and improved access through the museum’s building.
Fragments of an unusual fresco painted more than 700 years ago were found when a Baroque altar painting was moved in the church of Ara Coeli downtown Rome, Italy, says the AP wire. The fresco depicts the Madonna and Child flanked by St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist. Its importance to art historians lies in its rare combination of styles: the Virgin is in rigid Byzantine manner, while the child is in a more naturalistic manner prefiguring the humanistic Renaissance style that would emerge a century later. The fresco is probably by the school of Pietro Cavallini, a Roman master famed for his mosaics, art historian Tommaso Strinati said November 8.
The Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Tex., has acquired a sterling silver dressing table and stool created by Gorham Manufacturing Co. in 1899, currently showcased in the exhibition “Out of the Vault: Silver and Gold Treasures” on view in the Focus Gallery through December 10. The dressing table is considered to be one of the most important silver objects ever made in America. As an example of conspicuous consumption during the Gilded Age, the table consumed more than 2,300 hours of skilled labor and 1,253 ounces of silver and had a retail price of $8,800, with the stool costing an additional $960. The set was purchased for the DMA by the Eugene and Margaret McDermott Fund, Inc., in honor of Dr Charles L. Venable.
The Jane Bradley Pettit Foundation has given $10 million to the Milwaukee Art Museum for its expansion and endowment project, Milwaukee, Wis. The contribution announced November 2 is part of $81 million the museum has raised so far toward a $97.7 million goal, AP reports. The Bradley wing of the museum contains hundreds of works contributed over the years by Jane Pettit and her mother.
The widow of University of Arizona anthropologist Emil W. Haury has donated $1 million to the Arizona State Museum, Tucson, to bring in world-class scholars for research and education. The Emil and Agnese Haury Curatorial Fellowship Fund will aid the museum in maintaining its status as a premier research facility in Southwestern archaeology and research. “It’s really going to vitalize this place,” museum director George Gumerman told the Associated Press. The program will allow the museum to bring in scholars for two-year fellowships at the museum, according to Gumerman.
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