Published: July 25, 2000
AP relates that Amazon.com is aiming to have “more than half” of its total sales come from outside the United States within the next “ten-plus years,” Jeffrey Bezos, the electronic-commerce giant’s founder and chief executive, said July 19. Amazon, which is based in Seattle, currently has about 23 percent of its sales come from outside the United States, he said. Over the past year, global expansion has become one of the hottest topics amongst Internet-related companies.
I Photo Central, a new web portal focused on photography collecting, aesthetics and history, may be previewed beginning in August at www.iphotocentral.com. The site will officially launch October 1, and will feature articles on collecting issues – such as insurance, risk management, appraisals, taxes and conservation. Search capabilities for a multi-dealer photography gallery and bookstore will also be included.
Two art dealers have been arrested on charges in a gangland-style beating that authorities say could be linked with the theft of million-dollar artifacts from a museum in Italy, reports the Associated Press. The target of the beating incident nearly three years ago was a Libyan-born fine-art broker named Zak, who spoke with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on condition that his full name not be used. The arrests July 21 give momentum to an international art theft investigation by the FBI and a federal grand jury in Milwaukee, Wis. Taken into custody were Marilyn N. Karos, 59, a Whitefish Bay art dealer, and Richard F. O’Hara, 58, of Winnetka, Ill., who runs a Chicago gallery. Both are charged with felonies in the beating of Zak, who sold art on commission for Karos. The dealers have not been charged in the art thefts, but the beating and the thefts are linked by the FBI and in criminal complaints filed this week. Zak, who has testified before the grand jury, has told authorities that he believes he was beaten on Karos’ orders because he had not returned a globe-like armillary sphere and three astrolabes – objects she had given him to sell. FBI spokesman Barry Babler confirmed that the four objects are the subject of a grand jury probe, which could result in criminal charges for the theft. Stolen in 1984 from a museum in Italy, they are several centuries old and worth at least $1 million apiece, Babler said.
Aden Enterprises, Inc., Omaha, Neb., a creator and manager of several Internet companies, has made an agreement with Kruse International, a subsidiary of eBay, to host the Bovey estate auction on is website Leftbid.com, on July 27 to 30 from Kalispell, Mont. Presented will be more than 3,600 lots of fine art, antiques, glassware, furniture, musical instruments, automobiles and motorcycles, and a working stagecoach.
Growing enthusiasm for the arts has boosted attendance to record levels at two of Minnesota’s premier art museums: the Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. The Walker rebounded from a 1999 attendance slump with a record-breaking 992,747 visitors. Officials with the Minneapolis Institute of Arts announced at its annual meeting July 20 that an all-time record 535,829 people saw its exhibitions and programs, up from a half-million last year. Shows of Andy Warhol drawings and Man Ray photos ranked “in the top 10 in all-time attendance,” the Walker told the Associated Press. At the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, attendance rose more than 35,000 people, to 535,829 this year from 500,301 in 1999. Although that tally included 128,000 visitors who came especially to see a show of Star Wars memorabilia this spring, museum officials did not credit that show for the growth. The increases are due mainly to interest in the museum’s collection and regular shows, MIA officials said.
FineArtLease.com, which offers distribution of fine art through leasing and lease-to-own programs, has redesigned its website, adding an e-commerce component and creating a new division as part of its re-launch. The new e-commerce aspect will support the site’s educational component. Rare artifacts, vintage books, historical documents and specialized museum catalogues will be offered for sale to complement the special learning tools that supplement browsing, leasing and sales.
Larry Neumeister of the Associated Press tell us that a federal judge in New York City ruled July 19 that a painting allegedly looted by the Nazis and recovered by U.S. forces after World War II can be returned to Austria because it is no longer considered stolen in the eyes of the law. U.S. District Judge Michael Mukasey dismissed legal challenges that had kept the art in the United States but stayed his ruling to allow a possible government appeal. “Portrait of Wally” by early Twentieth Century Austrian artist Egon Schiele was loaned to New York’s Museum of Modern Art for an exhibit that ended in 1998. The painting, worth $2 million, was then supposed to be returned to the Leopold Foundation in Vienna. Prosecutors instead sought a grand jury warrant to seize the painting based on allegations by Henry Bondi of Princeton, N.J., who maintained that Nazis seized it from the art gallery of his late aunt, Lea Bondi Jaray, a Viennese Jew, in 1938 as she fled to London. The judge said “Portrait of Wally” can be distinguished from other cases of looted artwork because the painting was seized after the war by U.S. forces when they arrested the apparent thief on suspicion of war crimes.
A new organization dedicated to the of Wedgwood has been formed in Fairfax, Va. The Wedgwood Society of Washington, D.C. (WSWDC) will hold a minimum of six meetings each year to include scholarly lectures, informal group discussions and special events, all focused on Wedgwood subjects. It will also publish annually at least six comprehensive newsletters. For information write WSWDS, 3505 Stringfellow Court, Fairfax, Va. 22033.
The Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, Mich., will open a new African-American Department and art collection, says AP’s Geralda Miller, a move aimed at developing a deeper connection with residents of a city that is 80 percent black. The General Motors Center for African-American Art, funded by a $5 million donation from the automaker, will “become a vital intellectual center” for the study of black artists, museum director Graham Beal said. Other museums that experts cited for their extensive collections of works by black artists include The High Museum in Atlanta, and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Conn.
Alexander Calder’s 39-foot-high steel sculpture “Eagle,” which stood on the East Terrace at the Philadelphia Art Museum for nearly a year, has been sold and will leave the city by fall. The Seattle Art Museum announced its acquisition of the piece to the Associated Press July 18. The Seattle museum declined to reveal the purchase price, believed to be between $10 million and $15 million. According to the announcement, museum patrons Jon and Mary Shirley gave the money to subsidize the purchase. Jon Shirley is a former president of Microsoft Corp.
Soi, Inc., has launched searchoutside.com, a business-to-business website catering to both professional designers and members of the public who wish to locate landscape ornament and garden art. The site was created by Jon Benson, a landscape architect from Atlanta, Ga.; Clif Bussey, also a landscape architect; and Marianne Weinberg-Benson, a site artist and potter.
The planned auction of a rare fossil unearthed in a northern New Jersey quarry has sparked a dispute between its owner, who needs money to pay medical bills he incurred after a stroke, and scientists, who are appalled at the idea of auctioning such a piece of history. Alfred Siefker – an amateur fossil hunter – and two other men discovered the Icarosaurus siefkeri, a 200 million-year-old winged reptile, in 1960. Scientists were thrilled at the discovery, which proved that vertebrates flew much earlier than had been thought. On August 27, Siefker plans to put it up for auction for a minimum of $250,000. Butterfield & Butterfield, the Los Angeles auction house handling the transaction, thinks it could fetch much more. Siefker had donated the piece to the American Museum of Natural History for safekeeping. When he wanted it back, the museum balked, and he sued them for $60 million. The museum then returned the fossil.
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