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A painting catalogued simply as “Oil on Board, Triple Portrait with Lady Fainting” sold today, 22 September for $870,000 at Nye & Company Auctions in Bloomfield, New Jersey, against an estimate of $500-$800. The sleeper hit (lot 216), is believed to be a long-lost panel by a teenaged Rembrandt.

The 12.5in x 10in panel was described by the auction house as “Continental School, 19thC, appears unsigned”, and potential buyers were advised that the condition included “paint loss, some restoration to paint, wood cracks.”

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Billionaire money manager Steven A. Cohen is selling a dense, vibrant 1961 Jean Dubuffet painting valued at $25 million, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Christie’s said it will offer Dubuffet’s “Paris Polka” at a special evening auction, “Looking Forward to the Past,” on May 11. The estimate exceeds the late French artist’s auction record of $7.4 million set in November. Cohen, 58, is the seller, said the person, who asked not to be named because the information is private.

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There's always a battle going on somewhere between Sotheby's and Christie's for some piece of the art cake. But to get a sense of the biggest confrontation on the calendar, London is the place to be next weekend when the two auction houses exhibit highlights from their forthcoming New York sales of Impressionist, Modern (Monet to late Picasso) and Contemporary art (Rothko to today).

The most significant exhibit without a doubt is Picasso's eye-popping "Les Femmes d'Alger," 1955, based on a painting by Delacroix, that has a whopping $US140 million ($183 million) estimate from Christie's.

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Two paintings by Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn may leave France without as much as a whimper as the country says it’s too broke to buy them.

With the government’s coffers bare, France’s culture ministry is letting banking tycoon Eric de Rothschild export the masterpieces, paving the way for a sale that could fetch more than 150 million euros ($163 million), according to estimates. Under French law, major artworks can’t leave the country without the state’s permission. If the country denies permission, it must buy the art within 30 months.

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Tuesday, 30 September 2014 17:06

Christie’s to Charge a 2% Performance Fee

According to The Art Newspaper, Christie’s has boosted its seller’s commission in its contracts with consignors. The auction house will now charge 2% of the hammer price of a work that meets or exceeds its high estimate. After the 2% performance fee, Christie’s charges commission using a sliding scale based on a work’s final hammer price.

In order to attract powerful sellers offering blue-chip works, auction houses often waive the seller’s commission for preferred clients. Christie’s new 2% performance fee, which is in addition to the fixed buyer’s premium (the percentage of the hammer price paid by the buyer), ensures that the auction house will receive a portion of the profits from both sides of a blockbuster sale.

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The U.S. government is revising its count of the nation's museums, saying there is double the number of museums compared with a 1990s estimate.

The agency responsible for providing federal funding to museums issued a count Monday of 35,144 museums nationwide. That's compared to an estimate of 17,500 museums in the 1990s.

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Two works by the famous Venetian painter Canaletto were sold earlier this month during Sotheby’s Old Masters sale in London for $15.7 million. The paintings, which belonged to the corporate collection of HSBC Holdings Plc, carried a pre-sale estimate of $19.5 million.

The two identically sized canvases depict St. Mark’s Square and the Rialto Bridge in Venice and were painted between 1738 and 1742. The works’ buyer has not been identified.

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Tuesday, 29 October 2013 18:14

Two Canaletto Paintings Head to Sotheby’s

Two works by the famous Venetian painter Canaletto, which have been owned by a succession of bankers, will be sold during Sotheby’s Old Masters sale in London on December 4, 2013. The identically sized canvases both show views of the St. Mark’s Square and the Rialto Bridge in Venice. Created between 1738 and 1742, the paintings have been entered as one lot by HSBC Holdings Plc’s (HASBA) corporate art collection.

The paintings, which carry an estimate of $19.5 million, will be previewed in Moscow, Hong Kong, New York and London prior to the sale.

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Catherine Hutin-Blay, the daughter of Pablo Picasso’s (1881-1973) second wife, claims that a handyman stole over 400 of the artist’s sketches and watercolors from her. Hutin-Blay inherited a sizable chunk of Picasso’s oeuvre when her mother passed away as well as the home in the south of France where her stepfather and mother are buried.

Hutin-Blay believes that between 2005 and 2007 Freddy Munchenbach made off with 407 Picasso originals. She became suspicious after a number of works surfaced at auction in 2011. Munchenbach worked as a handyman for Hutin-Blay as well as the daughter of Picasso’s art dealer, who noticed pieces were missing from her own collection.  

The works, which are said to be worth less than $3,000 altogether, carry a much lower estimate than other Picasso works. The thief will most likely be unable to sell the works as collectors rarely buy art lacking authenticity, provenance and a legal title.

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While James Douthat, the recently retired president of Pennsylvania’s Lycoming College, was cleaning out a closet in his office, he uncovered a rare document signed by former president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. The historical certificate dates back to 1863 and names the college’s founder, Benjamin Crever, a Civil War chaplain. Preserved in a black frame, the document is in good condition and Lincoln’s signature is clearly visible. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton also signed the document.

Douthat, who has worked at Lycoming College for 24 years, had vaguely remember hearing about the document but was shocked to find it in his own closet. While no one is sure how the certificate got misplaced, they are pleased to have it back. An early appraisal estimated the document to be worth in excess of $6,000. The piece is significant for the small college because it adds some distinction to its name. Located in central Pennsylvania, Lycoming only has about 1,400 students.

Crever was one of 500 Union hospital chaplains. He served at a military hospital in Frederick, MD between July 1862 and August 1865, a period that included the battle of Gettysburg. The document is being kept in the archives of the college’s library for the time being.

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