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Nan Rosenthal, a curator who helped bring the 20th century to the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, died on Sunday at her home in Manhattan. She was 76.

The cause was heart failure, her sister-in-law Wendy Mackenzie said.

Over three decades, Ms. Rosenthal organized exhibitions and oversaw the acquisition of contemporary art, first at the National Gallery, which she joined in 1985, and afterward at the Met, with which she was associated from 1993 until her retirement in 2008.

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The Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, New Hampshire, announced that it has received a significant gift from the estate of May Gruber, a legendary New Hampshire businesswoman and civic leader. Included in the donation are works by Rembrandt, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Pierre Bonnard, James McNeill Whistler, David Hockney, and Jim Hodges. many of the works are currently on view in the museum’s European, Modern, and Contemporary art galleries.

Gruber, the former head of Pandora Industries, a Manchester institution that created iconic sweaters and knitwear in the city from 1940 until 1983, helped found Child Health Services and the Manchester Community Music School. Gruber and her first husband, Saul Sidore, began collecting art in the 1960s based on advice from Charles Buckley, then director of the Currier.

Susan Strickler, the director and CEO of the Currier, said, “May Gruber felt strongly about giving back to the community that helped her company to grow. Her tastes were eclectic and wide-ranging, as is evidenced by the works she gave to the Currier. Because of her bequest, the region has an even more exceptional collection of art to cherish.”

Founded in 1929, the Currier Museum of Art’s collection includes European and American paintings, decorative arts, photographs, and sculpture.

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Three men were charged on Monday, April 21, in connection with a forgery scam led by the Long Island-based art dealer, Glafira Rosales. During the fifteen-year scheme, Rosales and her accomplices sold counterfeit works that mimicked the styles of modern masters, including Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Mark Rothko, through well-known galleries such as the now-shuttered Knoedler & Company gallery in New York. Rosales and her camp swindled unsuspecting customers out of more than $33 million. 

Among the trio was the Queens-based painter Pei Shen Qian, who allegedly made the forgeries and is believed to have fled to China. Qian, who has been charged with wire fraud conspiracy, wire fraud, and making false statements, faces up to 45 years in prison if he is convicted. Brothers Jesus Angel Bergantinos Diaz and Jose Carlos Bergantinos Diaz were arrested last week in Spain. Jesus faces up to 80 years in jail and Jose faces a maximum sentence of 100 years behind bars. Rosales, who already pleaded guilty, is awaiting sentencing. She faces up to 99 years in prison.

Manhattan US Attorney, Preet Bharara, said, "Today's charges paint a picture of perpetual lies and greed...With today's Indictment, the defendants must now answer for their alleged roles as modern masters of forgery and deceit.”

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Austria turned down an offer to buy a collection of modern art belonging to a home-improvements millionaire, who claimed that 4,000 jobs in his struggling company were at risk if the country did not do so. Officials had previously stated that they were prepared to purchase Karlheinz Essl’s collection if it would help save jobs, but have since decided that his BauMax DIY store chain could reach an agreement with creditors.

Essl’s collection, which includes works by important Austrian artists as well as internationally-recognized names such as Gerhard Richter and Anish Kapoor, is housed in a museum in a suburb north of Vienna. The works are estimated to be worth around $344 million. The Austrian government was met with criticism when initial talks about acquiring Essl’s holdings began. Critics felt that the collection was of inconsistent quality and that the money could be put toward more important causes.

BauMax employs around 10,000 people in Austria and in eight other countries. The company has been struggling with restructuring after a considerable expansion into eastern Europe and Turkey.

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Christie’s announced that it will sell the late billionaire philanthropist Edgar M. Bronfman Sr.’s substantial art collection, which includes works by Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Egon Schiele, Milton Avery, and Henri Matisse. A selection of works from the collection will be offered during the auction house’s Impressionist and modern art evening sale in New York on May 6. The remaining 230 items, including decorative objects, jewelry, and antiquities, will be sold this year during sales in London, Hong Kong, and New York. Bronfman’s collection is expected to fetch more than $34 million. 

Highlights from the collection include Picasso’s “Mangeuse de Pasteque et Homme Ecrivant,” which is expected to bring $7 million to $10 million; a seascape by Matisse titled “Femme Aupres de la Fenetre,” which is estimated to fetch between $3 million and $5 million; and Monet’s “L’Escalier,” which is expect to garner between $1.5 million and $2.5 million. Most of the works being offered at Christie’s once hung in Bronfman’s Manhattan penthouse, which is on the market for $65 million.

Bronfman, who passed away in December, helmed the Seagram Company for 23 years before retiring in 1994. He also led the World Jewish Congress and helped establish it as the world’s preeminent Jewish organization.

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Wednesday, 26 March 2014 09:43

Hirshhorn Museum Receives $1 Million Bequest

The Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. has received a gift of $1 million from British artist and philanthropist Basil Alkazzi for the acquisition of paintings and drawings by contemporary American and British artists. Alkazzi decided to make the generous donation to the Hirshhorn because of his admiration for the museum’s commitment to supporting emerging artists.

Kerry Brougher, the Hirshhorn’s interim director and chief curator, said, “His gift will allow the Hirshhorn to significantly enhance its holdings of hand-painted paintings and drawings by key figures in the U.S. and U.K. As we celebrate and highlight our collection this year during our 40th anniversary, we are thrilled that thanks to the public-spiritedness of donors like Basil Alkazzi this collection will continue to grow and be a lasting legacy to the nation.”

The Hirshhorn focuses its collection-building and exhibition-planning on modern and contemporary art and sculpture.

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Two sisters of the late, New York City-based modern artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat, filed a $1 million lawsuit against Christie’s in Manhattan’s Federal District Court on Tuesday, March 4. Basquiat’s siblings claim that the auction house tried to sell possible fakes and falsely suggested that a number of the works had been authenticated by the estate.

The works in question are being offered by Alexis Adler, Basquiat’s former girlfriend and roommate, and include poems written on scrap paper, painted clothing, a sketchbook, prints, and collages. The suit states that six of the more than three dozen items being offered were authenticated by the estate in 2007, but one was rejected because the committee did not consider it a work of art. The other objects were never submitted for the authentication committee’s approval. The lawsuit states that despite bypassing the committee, Christie’s included a notice in the auction catalog that the works being offered had been copyrighted by the estate. Basquiat’s sisters are seeking a court order barring the auction house from using the estate’s name in the sale.

The Basquiat auction, which is being held online and at the auction house, began on Monday, March 2 and will run through Monday, March 17.

Basquiat, who rose to fame in the 1980s, died of a drug overdose in 1988. His graffiti-inspired Neo-expressionist and Primitivist paintings remain highly influential in the realm of contemporary art.

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On February 5, Sotheby’s London’s Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale fetched 163.5 million pounds, significantly more than its pre-sale estimate of 128.4 million pounds. Out of the 89 lots offered, 10 failed to find buyers.

The highlight of the sale was Camille Pissarro’s ‘Boulevard Montmartre, Matinee de Printemps,’ a street scene that sold for a record 19.9 million pounds, nearly five times the previous record for the Impressionist master at auction. The painting, which is widely considered to be one of the most important Impressionist works to appear at auction in the last decade, was originally owned by the Jewish industrialist, Max Silberberg. During World War II, the Nazis forced Silberberg, who perished in a concentration camp, to get rid of his entire collection of 19th and 20th century artworks. ‘Boulevard Montmartre, Matinee de Printemps’ was restituted to Silberberg’s family in 2000.

The auction also saw the highest price for a Vincent Van Gogh painting offered at auction in London when ‘L’Homme est en mer’ sold for 16.9 million pounds. Other highlights included a print by Pablo Picasso titled ‘Composition au Minotaure,’ which sold for a record 10.4 million pounds and a work on paper by Alberto Giacometti titled ‘Homme Traversant une Place par un Matin de Soleil,’ which achieved a record 8.5 million pounds.

Two weeks of London sales kicked off on February 4 at Christie’s where works by Picasso, Rene Magritte and Juan Gris helped an auction reach 177 million pounds, a record for a sale in London. During the sale, Gris’ still-life ‘Nature Morte a la Nappe a Carreaux’ sold for 34.8 million pounds, a world record for the Spanish artist at auction.

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Sotheby’s announced that it has named Alexander Rotter and Cheyenne Westphal the new Global Heads of Contemporary Art. Tobias Meyer, the auction house’s former Worldwide Head of Contemporary Art, stepped down at the end of November 2013. Rotter and Westphal have both been with Sotheby’s for many years -- Rotter was behind the recent sale of Andy Warhol’s ‘Silver Car Crash,’ which brought a record $104 million, and Westphal helped launch Sotheby’s new contemporary art galleries in London.

Helena Newman and Simon Shaw will helm the auction house’s department of Impressionist and Modern Art. Newman, who joined Sotheby’s in 1988, was instrumental in the February 2010 auction that netted $263.6 million, a record for a European sale. Shaw, who has worked at Sotheby’s outposts in Stockholm, Paris and London, orchestrated the 2012 sale of Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream,’ which sold for an historic price of $119.9 million, a record for a modern work of art at auction.

Daniel Loeb, a hedge fund manager who is Sotheby’s largest shareholder, recently commented on the auction house’s need to establish new leadership and more efficient operations.

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Thursday, 23 January 2014 12:58

Owners of Art Miami Acquire Downtown Fair

The owners of Art Miami, a leading contemporary and modern art fair, have acquired New York’s Downtown Fair for an undisclosed price. The inaugural Downtown Fair will be held from May 8 through May 11 at the 69th Regiment Armory in New York City at the same time as Frieze New York. So far, around 50 contemporary art dealers have signed on to participate in the show.

Art Miami Partner and Director, Nick Korniloff, will direct the first edition of the Downtown Fair along with a management staff comprised of experienced marketing and exhibitor services professionals. Korniloff released a statement saying, “"We will deliver a well-vetted show that features a quality roster of artists that are represented by important international galleries. The advisory committee of dealers will insure that galleries are making every effort to show quality works that are fresh to the market."

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