Ten paintings worth an estimated $20 million, including an El Greco and a Courbet, were ordered returned to an Armonk, N.Y. woman whose family lost them to the Nazis in World War II. According to Jim Fitzgerald of the Associated Press, Martha Nierenberg, 76, who with her husband founded Dansk Design housewares, won her lawsuit October 20 in Budapest Municipal Court. The Hungarian government has until November 4 to appeal and a spokesman for the treasury, Zoltan Molnar, said that was likely. Nierenberg’s grandfather, Baron Maurice Herzog, owned the collection before the war and left it to his three children, including Nierenberg’s mother. In 1944, as Nierenberg’s Jewish family fled Hungary, the best pieces were grabbed by the Nazis and sent to Germany.
Bidpath Corporation, Bellevue, Wash., announced the closing of $9.5 million in funding co-led by Venture Strategy Partners in San Francisco and eFund, LLC in Kirkland. Bidpath is a provider of e-marketing tools and distribution for traditional auctioneers. The funding round is part of a $12 million deal soon to be completed. This amount includes a follow-on investment by Timberline Venture Partners, the principal investor in Bidpath’s first round.
The cash-strapped Barnes Foundation whose art collection is worth billions is considering reviving one of the most contentious, and successful, ideas in its recent history: putting many of its world-renowned works on tour. Unlike the world tour of Barnes Foundation masterpieces in the mid-1990s, this time the foundation is dusting off pieces stashed away in basement storage, a Chester County farmhouse, and a suite of private offices, says the Associated Press. For 45 years, these pieces – including ancient Greek and Egyptian artifacts, rare early-American decorative artworks, and dozens of paintings by important Nineteenth and Twentieth Century artists – have gone largely unseen by the public.
Attendance for the exhibition “N.C. Wyeth: Precious Time” eclipsed all previous museum records, drawing 82,419 people to the Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Me., this summer. The previous record for an exhibition was set in 1997 when 77,672 people visited the “Andrew Wyeth at 80” exhibition. During the final three days of the show, which closed on Sunday, October 15, 3,937 people came to see the largest selection of N.C. Wyeth’s private paintings ever publicly shown, including portraits, still lifes, and Maine landscapes.
Italy showed off a haul of recovered loot in Rome on October 25, displaying a fifth century B.C. Greek drinking cup and some of 900-plus other smuggled ancient artifacts recently returned from the United States and Europe. The single biggest cache – 300 amphora, vases, terra cotta statues and other objects – had been smuggled into the United States by a US citizen using a pasta import company as cover, Italian art theft police official Gen. Roberto Conforti told the Associated Press. The 2,500-year-old drinking cup that was the highlight of the haul. Thieves stole the cup from a state storeroom in Rieti, near Rome, in the late 1980s; it was sold by London-based Sotheby’s to a German buyer for about $43,000 in 1995, Conforti said.
John and Adrienne Maxwell of Richmond, Va., have given the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts more than 1,000 volumes on the arts of Asia, including rare and out-of-print books on topics such as archaic jade, sculpture, painting and ceramics.
A Lynchburg, Va. teen-ager is suspected of fleecing at least a half-dozen people in other states and overseas by selling nonexistent merchandise over Yahoo!, police told the Associated Press. Investigator Dennis Lariviere says four victims thought they were buying digital cameras and two thought they were bidding on baseball cards. The buyers lost $3,200, he said. The teen could face possible charges of grand larceny if one or more of the victims are willing to travel to Lynchburg to prosecute.
eBay has apologized to infuriated customers for a database upgrade that triggered intermittent outages and service problems over the past two weeks. “We conduct lots of tests to make sure that these transitions are as seamless as possible,” eBay said October 23 in a note on its announcements board. “Sometimes they are not. And for that, we are very sorry.” eBay representatives did not respond to calls by Troy Wolverton of CNETNews.com seeking comment for his article about the problem provided to the Associated Press. In its note, the site said the upgrade should be complete within the next 10 days. The company’s system upgrade and subsequent problems come on the heels of a solid earnings report that lent support to its sky-high future earnings expectations. eBay, based in San Jose, even told analysts and executives that its investments in technology upgrades had begun to pay off.
Paintings by Jackson Pollock and Helen Frankenthaler are going to the Portland Art Museum, Oregon, from the private collection of Clement Greenberg, one of the most famous American art critics of the Twentieth Century, reports the AP wire. The museum announced October 19 it has purchased 152 paintings and sculptures from the collection, which features mid-Twenteith Century Abstract Expressionism and related American art. It will fill a gap in the museum’s permanent collection, which is nearly bereft of works from that period. “The acquisition takes us from zero miles an hour in this particular chapter of American art history to 100 miles an hour,” said John Buchanan, the museum’s executive director.
The Heritage Center Museum of Lancaster County, Lancaster, Pa., has acquired several important pieces of locally made iron and copper for its permanent collection, purchased at the recent sale of the Harlan Miller Collection at the Conestoga Auction Company in Manheim. The rdf_Descriptions were a brass and iron fat lamp attributed to John Long, a local blacksmith, and two copper tankards shaped like beer barrels and signed by John G. Schaum, a coppersmith. The center also acquired a rare and possibly unique signed dressing table made in Columbia, Lancaster County during the early Nineteenth Century made by Jacob F. Markley (1800-1854), who worked in Columbia between 1830 and 1846.
A forensic analysis in Tennessee has strengthened a Chapel Hill, N.C. professor’s belief that a photograph he bought on the Internet is indeed the second known photo of poet Emily Dickinson says AP. The computer analysis, conducted by a forensic anthropologist, found that the face of the woman in the black-and-white photograph is very similar to Dickinson’s in the one known photograph of her. UNC English professor Philip Gura bought the photograph for $481 on the eBay Internet auction site six months ago. He commissioned the study after realizing that he may have scored a priceless purchase.
“Untitled (Red, Yellow, Blue),” a major Jasper Johns painting recently acquired by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, with funds from the Brown Foundation, will be on view through January 1. The painting will be shown in context with 11 other works in the Caroline Wiess Law Building.
Two paintings by Eighteenth Century artist Peter Severin Kroeyer – worth up to $225,000 each – were recovered undamaged shortly after they were stolen the morning of October 24 from Ellekilde auction house of Copenhagen, Denmark. The Associated Press reports that hieves rammed the front door of the downtown firm. Less than an hour later, police stopped a car a few miles away and found the two paintings on the backseat.