Trade News from around the World
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum announced plans November 26 for an ambitious new project: a curvy, 40-story “cloudlike” museum that would reshape New York City’s downtown waterfront, reports Timothy Williams of the Associated Press. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani pledged three city piers and $32.8 million to help build the landmark museum designed to showcase the Guggenheim’s modern art collection and one day serve as its headquarters. The structure – with an estimated $800 million price tag – is the work of Los Angeles architect Frank Gehry, who seemed taken aback at the possibility of building it. “This is awesome and exciting and a bit overwhelming at this point,” Gehry said at a news conference. The Guggenheim’s collection is currently housed in a landmark white spiral structure designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, along Museum Mile on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Gehry’s museum would rise the equivalent of 40 to 45 stories on three city-owned piers at the end of Wall Street. The site is just below the South Street Seaport Museum, and not far from the Holocaust Museum and other cultural and historic sites. The current plan would have the 575,000-square foot museum sitting atop huge stilts sunk into the river bottom. The building itself would somewhat resemble the wispy, twisting structure of the Bilbao museum, with titanium and glass predominating.
Celestine Bohlen of The New York Times reports in the November 30 edition that associations representing American art museums have reached an agreement with a presidential Holocaust commission that will require museums to take on broad new responsibilities in combing their collections for art that was looted by the Nazis. Under the sweeping guidelines, which were approved last month by the American Association of Museums and the Association of Art Museum Directors, museums must research and disclose on their Web sites the backgrounds of all art works acquired after 1933, when the Nazis took power in Germany, and produced before the conclusion of World War II in 1945.
Former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson told AP that a lawsuit filed against him by two fellow trustees of a Chicago-based art museum is frivolous and misleading, Terra Museum board members Ronald Gidwitz and Dean Buntrock claim Simpson and others are attempting to move the museum and its $173 million art collection out of Chicago. The Terra, known for a collection of American impressionist works among its roughly 700 paintings, was founded by former Reagan administration arts official Dan Terra, who died in 1996 and left most of his estate to the Terra Foundation. At issue is whether the foundation, set up in 1978 and moved to Michigan Avenue in 1987, should close its poorly attended and money-losing museum and move it to Washington, D.C., or elsewhere to join with another institution. Gidwitz and Buntrock, in their lawsuit filed in September, claim the museum founder’s widow, Judith Terra, who lives in Washington, has colluded with fellow board members Simpson and Paul H. Tucker to financially mismanage the foundation to justify moving its collection to the nation’s capital.
The Everhart Museum, Scranton, Pa., has found a buyer for its Henri Matisse painting, “The Pink Shrimps,” after failing to sell the painting at Sotheby’s November 9, reports the Associated Press. Trustees November 27 accepted an offer of $1,025,000 from an anonymous American who will “place the painting in his private collection,” director Michael Illuzzi said. The price is well below the $2 to $3 million the museum had hoped the painting would bring, but Illuzzi said he was pleased with the offer and looked forward to bringing new exhibits to the museum. Opponents of the sale accused the Everhart for violating museum ethical standards in the original removal process and in the proposal to use the money from the sale to pay for future exhibitions, which are considered capital expenses and inappropriate uses of those funds. “The sale more than doubles the Everhart’s existing endowment, and places the museum … in the position of facing its future with more confidence, energy, and hope,” Illuzzi said at a press conference. To critics of the sale, Illuzzi said he understood their point of view, but “the fact of the matter is that no one painting can transcend the mission of this institution.”
The Museum of New Mexico Foundation, Santa Fe, will reconsider plans to sell a Georgia O’Keeffe painting after hearing an appeal from state museum officials. The private, nonprofit foundation, named after the museum system it was chartered to support, acquired the abstract study in oils of Bear Lake in 1984. O’Keeffe gave the foundation part of the money used to purchase the painting, which she completed in 1931. Foundation chairman Sandy Besser would not say what the proceeds of the sale of the painting might be used for. Besser told AP it was premature to discuss the matter before the December 4 meeting, which will not be open to the public.
Film director Tim Burton filed a lawsuit November 29 against a man who allegedly stole 48 pieces of his artwork from a Pasadena, Calif. apartment building, says the Associated Press. Burton, who directed Edward Scissorhands and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, accuses David Patrick Bontempo of stealing a box full of original sketches, drawings and paintings in 1991 from an apartment complex storage area. Burton owned the Castle Green Apartments, a historic apartment building used in several movies, between 1985 and 1999. According to the lawsuit, Burton received a letter in which Bontempo “admitted that he was in possession of the artwork.” Bontempo allegedly refused to return the art and “stated that he had made certain arrangements to auction the artwork at Christie’s,” court documents said.
W. Donald Duckworth has decided to retire as president and director of Bishop Museum, Honolulu, Hawaii, when his current contract expires June 30, he confirmed with AP on November 29. Duckworth, who has headed the museum since 1984, was to formally announce his retirement when he met November 30 with the museum’s board of directors. Duckworth noted he’s 65 and feels it’ll be appropriate for him to leave.
Pauline Baerwald Falk, 90, a philanthropist, and collector of Asian art who once was president of the Jewish Board of Family and Children Services died November 21 in New York City, according to the Associated Press. Falk worked with Jewish refugees during World War II. She was active in the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and became a founding member of the National Refugee Service, the Council for Jewish Women and the Jewish Social Service Association.