Published: February 19, 2002
Trade News from around the World
According to the Associated Press, dealer Frederick Schultz, of Frederick Schultz Ancient Art on East 57th Street, New York City, was convicted February 12 of plotting to smuggle a stolen bust of a pharaoh out of Egypt. A jury deliberated four hours before finding Frederick Schultz, 47, guilty of conspiracy charges. He faces up to five years in prison and heavy fines at sentencing on May 30. The key government witness at the two-week trial in Manhattan federal court was Schultz’s co-conspirator, a convicted art smuggler named Jonathan Tokeley-Parry. Tokeley-Parry testified he smuggled the stone 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. Prosecutors said Schultz purchased the head from Tokeley-Parry in 1992 for $915,000. He resold it for $1.2 million to a London art collector.
An employee of the National Archives and Records Administration was accused February 11 of stealing hundreds of historical rdf_Descriptions, from pardons signed by President Lincoln to autographed photographs of Apollo astronauts, and selling many of them on eBay, writes AP’s Joann Loviglio. Shawn P. Aubitz, 45, of Morrisville, was charged with one count of theft by a government employee for allegedly taking the rdf_Descriptions between August 1996 and July 1999. The National Archives believes it is the first time in its 68-year history that an employee has been charged with stealing historical documents. About 60 rdf_Descriptions have been recovered, but many others were sold and have not been located, said U.S. Attorney Patrick L. Meehan. At least 100 documents worth at least $100,000 were stolen, authorities said. “While those dollar values are significant…it’s really stealing a part of our vital American history,” he said. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert A. Zauzmer said Aubitz is cooperating with investigators but cannot remember exactly how many documents he took, so authorities were uncertain how many rdf_Descriptions remain missing. Aubitz intends to plead guilty, according to his attorney, Gregory Miller. The stolen rdf_Descriptions included pardons signed by Presidents including James Madison, Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson; Civil War documents including an 1863 warrant to the United States Marshal to seize Arlington House, the estate of Robert E. Lee; slave trade documents; and hundreds of autographed photographs of astronauts taken during Apollo and space shuttle missions.
Theresa Bernstein, 111, an influential painter and writer whose career spanned nearly 90 years, died Wednesday, February 13, reports the Associated Press. Bernstein gained recognition in the early 1900s as one of the first female realists, a school of art that depicted often gritty portrayals of people living everyday lives. Also an activist, she was a founding member of the Society of Independent Artists, a group begun in 1916 to sponsor regular exhibits of contemporary art without juries or prizes. In 1919, Bernstein married the artist William Meyerowitz, who died in 1981. In recent years, Bernstein’s works sold for up to $100,000, and her career was in the midst of a revival. A major exhibit, “Theresa Bernstein: An Early Modernist,” was held last year at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in Hagerstown, Md.
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art has acquired 775 pieces of Islamic art, doubling its collection and making it one of the world’s best places to see historic Islamic art, museum officials said February 11. The acquisition gives the museum more than 1,770 pieces of Islamic art. Most of the money to fund it came from Camilla Chandler Frost, a longtime museum trustee who is the sister of Otis Chandler, former publisher of the Los Angeles Times. The collection of calligraphy, ceramics, tiles, textiles and glass objects was amassed by Maan Madina, a Syria-born professor emeritus of Middle Eastern languages at Columbia University. He sold the bulk of his collection to the county museum for an undisclosed price. He also donated some pieces. A scholar familiar with the Madina collection, which dates from the Seventh Century to the Nineteenth Century, told the Times it is worth about $15 million. With the Madina collection, the county museum’s Islamic holdings ranks third in the nation, Linda Komaroff, the museum’s curator of Islamic Art, told the Associated Press.
A rare oil painting by Thomas Nast has been donated to a museum in the New Jersey town where the work was created, AP reports. “The Immortal Light of Genius,” which pays tribute to the noted illustrator’s favorite writer, William Shakespeare, was given to the Morristown-Morris Township Joint Free Public Library last month. The site is already is home to much of Nast’s works in books and one other painting, the “Grand Caricaturama.” Those familiar with Nast’s work said the painting would probably be sold at auction for as much as $40,000 to $50,000 if it was in mint condition. However, years of dirt and dust have darkened the already painting. Water damage has caused the paint in some places to buckle in some places to buckle, crack and flake off. Library officials said repairs will cost about $10,000.
Four Frederic E. Church (1826-1900) paintings from Olana State Historic Site, Hudson, N.Y., will be featured in “American Sublime,” an exhibition of Nineteenth Century American Art at Tate Britain, London. The four works, “Clouds Over Olana,” “Bend in the River,” “Horseshoe Falls, Niagara” and “Sunset Bar Harbor,” represent the range of Church’s talent including quick views from and of Olana, a study for a major work and a breath-taking Maine sunset. The exhibition, “American Sublime” is about the great American landscape painters of the mid-Nineteenth Century, focusing on the Hudson River School and their contemporaries. Nicholas Serota, director of Tate Britain, writes about the drive to organize this exhibition, “Although these were the painters who first gave complete visual expression to the idea of America as a vast new world, they are hardly known in Europe. They took to a logical conclusion many of the ideas about landscape that had preoccupied European artists in the Eighteenth and early Nineteenth Centuries and their work perfectly reflects the country they are exploring: magnificent, dramatic and subtle by turns.”
On February 6, the board of trustees of the American Federation of Arts announced that the AFA received a $150,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation through its special initiative to assist New York City cultural organizations directly affected by the events of September 11, 2001. According to AFA Chairman Jan Mayer, “We are indebted to William G. Bowen, the Foundation’s president, and the Special Committee of the Trustees. Their sensitivity, responsiveness, and extraordinary generosity enhance the lives of us all.” AFA Director Julia Brown said, “The grant allows the AFA to continue producing art exhibitions, such as ‘Eternal Egypt: Masterworks of Ancient Art from The British Museum,’ currently on view at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, educational programs and professional conferences. Regularly presented in New York museums, AFA exhibitions and public programs are vital parts of the city’s cultural fabric and, thanks to the Mellon Foundation, we will be able to effectively continue this work.”
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