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On Sunday, December 1, Sotheby’s wrapped up Beijing Art Week, a series of sales that marked the company’s first commercial auction in mainland China. The auction house offered $212 million worth of western and Chinese art, jewelry and furniture in three private sales and an auction.

During the Modern and Contemporary Chinese Art auction on Sunday night, a record was set for Chinese-French artist Zao Wou-Ki. the artist’s 1958 oil-on-canvas abstract work, which was sold by the Art Institute of Chicago, brought $14.7 million. Wou-Ki’s previous record was set on October 5 during a sale at Sotheby’s Hong Kong when a work sold for $11 million.

China is home to the fastest growing art market and the success of the Beijing sales indicates that there are active buyers on the mainland.

Published in News
Friday, 29 November 2013 11:55

Two New Lawsuits Leveled at Knoedler & Co.

Disgraced gallery Knoedler & Co. is at the center of two new lawsuits. The first suit was filed by Los Angeles’ Manny Silverman Gallery and Richard Feigen’s gallery in New York. The two dealers are asking to be repaid $1,050,000 for a forged Clyfford Still painting that was sold in a three-way transaction with Knoedler in 2000. The second suit was filed by Los Angeles collectors Martin and Sharleen Cohen, who bought two works, one by Mark Rothko and another by Willem de Kooning, both of which turned out to be forgeries. The couple is demanding to be repaid $475,000 plus interest for the two paintings.

All of the works were part of a trove of fake paintings supplied to Knoedler & Co. by Long Island art dealer, Glafira Rosales. Knoedler & Co. has been involved in over a dozen lawsuits as a result of the forged artworks it received from Rosales.

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The fourth annual Dallas International Art, Antique & Jewelry Show will kick off with an opening night preview party on Thursday, November 7 at the Dallas Market Hall. Each year, collectors, curators and art lovers from across the globe flock to the high-profile event to browse the selection of furniture, silver, fine art, antiquities, porcelain, manuscripts, Americana, jewelry, textiles and more.

This year’s show will include a Designer Showcase featuring room vignettes created by five leading local interior designers. In addition, guests of the Dallas International Art, Antique & Jewelry Show will be able to take exclusive tours of the show floor with Miller Gaffney, founder of Miller Gaffney Art Advisory and one of the stars of PBS’ hit series Market Warriors.  

The Dallas International Art, Antique & Jewelry Show, which is organized by the Palm Beach Show Group, will take place through Monday, November 11.

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Collectors Charles and Irene Hamm have donated $1 million and 165 works from their collection of coastal art to the New Britain Museum of American Art in New Britain, CT. The collection includes oil paintings by Robert Henri, Thomas Hart Benton and Rockwell Kent as well as watercolors by Fairfield Porter and William Trost Richards. The generous monetary gift will help fund the construction of an 18,000-square-foot New Wing, which will include a Charles and Irene Hamm Gallery. The bequest will also increase the museum’s endowments for operations and acquisitions.

John R. Rathgeber, Chairman of the museum’s Board of Trustees, said, “With the donation of Charles and Irene Hamm, the New Britain Museum will have one of the most outstanding collections of coastal art in the country.” The museum plans to hold thematic exhibitions drawn from the Hamm’s holdings. A number of the significant works will be loaned to other institutions throughout the country and, in the future, the New Britain Museum plans to organize a traveling exhibition of highlights from the Hamm Collection.

Charles Hamm, a successful advertising and financial mogul, and his wife Irene, an educator, have been collecting for several decades. Charles’ affinity for maritime scenes was spurred by his love of sailing.

Construction is expected to begin on the New Britain Museum’s New Wing in 2014.

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Thieves have made off with valuables including priceless 18th century oil paintings from a colonial-era Roman Catholic church in Bolivia. Located in the small town of San Miguel de Tomave, the church has been looted three times in the last five years.

Churches in remote areas of Bolivia and Peru have recently fallen victim to repeated robberies. Thieves have gone so far as to create tunnels under church walls to make their way inside the structure undetected. Since 2009, Bolivian churches have allegedly been robbed 38 times of 447 objects including jewelry and silver.

Authorities claim that the thieves are stealing from the churches for collectors in Europe and the United States, where there’s a considerable market for Latin American art. Modest churches in sparsely populated areas are easy targets for the looters.

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Back in May 2013, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles announced that it had bought Rembrandt Laughing, a 17th century self-portrait by the Dutch master, from the London-based art dealer’s Hazlitt Gooden & Fox. On Tuesday, July 16, 2013, it was revealed that Britain’s culture minister, Ed Vaizey, had delayed approval of the Getty’s application for an export license until October 15, 2013, a tactic usually used to give collectors and museums enough time to collect the funds necessary to keep an artwork in the country.

In 2007, Rembrandt Laughing was put up for sale at a small auction house in England and said to be by a “follower of Rembrandt” even though a number of dealers thought it to be an authentic work by the artist. Eventually, scientific tests and studies by a leading Rembrandt scholar confirmed the attribution, causing the work’s value to skyrocket. In order to keep the painting in England past October 15, a British institution interested in buying the work will need to raise around $25.1 million, the price the Getty has agreed to pay for it.

The Getty has run into trouble exporting works out of Britain in the past. In 1994, the institution was told that they could not have Antonio Canova’s sculpture Three Graces, after raising $12 million and waiting five years.  

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Christie’s announced that it will hold its first ever sale in India during December of this year in order to tap into the country’s burgeoning art scene. The London-based auction house has had an office in Mumbai for the past 20 years.

The upcoming sale will include domestic artwork and according to Christie’s chief executive, Steven Murphy,” will reflect “the increased international appeal of Indian art and the growing participation of Indian collectors across international sale categories.” The sale will be the first of its kind by an international auction house in India.

Interest in western art has increased in India over the past decade thanks in part to the country’s substantial economic growth. The first auction of international masterpieces in India took place last year in New Delhi and included works by Vincent van Gogh and Pablo Picasso. The demand for Indian artworks outside of India continues to grow. In 2010, a painting by Indian artist Syed Haider Raza sold for nearly $3.6 billion at Christie’s London, setting the record for a modern Indian work.  

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Sotheby’s Old Masters auction, which took place during the evening of July 3, 2013 in London, garnered over $52 million and included the sale of El Greco’s (1541-1614) Saint Dominic in Prayer. The painting sold for $13.9 million, exceeding its high estimate of $7.5 million and setting the record for a Spanish Old master at auction.

The auction, which captured the attention of collectors from 33 different countries, included another work by El Greco, Christ on the Cross, which sold for $5.1 million. The sale marked the first time in living memory that two masterworks by the artist were offered as part of the same auction.

Alex Bell, Worldwide Head of Sotheby’s Old Master Paintings, said “The greatest Old Master paintings have a timeless quality that transcends their era and gives them a relevance to audiences today, as tonight’s global bidding and record result for El Greco’s St. Dominic in Prayer attest. The dialogue between Old and New is injecting fresh energy into our field. We’re now firmly in a new era, where clients from new markets are collecting Old Masters in new ways. Our response has been to offer the most exciting and diverse works we can find – and to present them in a more contemporary way.”

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Irina Antonova, the 91-year-old director of Moscow’s Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts who has helmed the institution for 52 years, has been let go after just recently renewing her five-year contract. The announcement, which was made on Monday, July 1, follows a battle waged by Antonova to bring a collection of Impressionist art, which was sent to the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg by Joseph Stalin, back to Moscow.

Antonova’s vision was to restore the once magnificent State Museum of New West Art in Moscow, which housed paintings by Henri Matisse (1869-1954), Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) and Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890). Stalin shuttered the museum in 1948 after his regime deemed the collection too far removed from Soviet art. The Museum of New Western Art’s collection, which was assembled by Russian art collectors Sergei Shchukin and Ivan Morozov, was later divided between the Pushkin Museum and the Hermitage Museum.

Antonova first made her campaign public in April 2013 when she appealed to Russian president Vladimir Putin during a televised call-in show. The plea sparked controversy with the Hermitage’s director, Mikhail Piotrovsky. After a heated battle, the state intervened and suggested creating an online “virtual museum” as a compromise between the two parties but Antonova refused.

Since the Pushkin’s announcement earlier this week, Antonova has been moved to the ceremonial post of the museum’s president. Marina Loshak, an established curator, will replace Antonova.

Published in News
Tuesday, 18 June 2013 18:47

Swiss Website to Track Nazi-Looted Art

The Swiss government has launched a website that will help claimants, museums, and researchers track Nazi-looted artworks that have made their way to Switzerland. Switzerland became a hub for Nazi plundered artworks following World War II. The country was a popular place for Jewish art dealers who were fleeing the Nazis and many Swiss museums, collectors and dealers acquired works stolen from the Jews by the Nazis.

The new site will provide visitors with guidance on provenance research, links to relevant databases and archives, and details on Swiss museums’ own analyses of their collections. Switzerland is one of 44 countries that sanctioned the Washington Principles on returning Nazi-looted art in public collections in 1998. Under the policy, governments agreed to find “just and fair” solutions for the victims of Nazi plundering and their heirs as well as to allocate resources to identifying looted art. In spite of Switzerland’s cooperation, it is still believed that there is a fair amount of Nazi-looted artworks in Swiss collections. Provenance research has only been conducted among a select few of the government museums, private collections, and foundations that have artworks from this tragic period.

Switzerland’s newly launched website for tracking Nazi-looted artworks is www.bak.admin.ch/rk.

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