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Thursday, 13 June 2013 12:01

Police Bust International Forgery Ring

German police arrested two people and raided 28 locations in an effort to halt a multi-million dollar international forgery ring responsible for selling fake paintings they claimed were by Russian avant-garde artists including Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944). Apartments, business premises, and art galleries in Wiesbaden, Mainz, Suttgart, Munich, and Hamburg were searched by police officers. Over 1,000 items were seized including supposed forgeries and sales documents. Additional searches were carried out in Switzerland and Israel.

The forgers are believed to have sold over 400 works ranging in price from $1,332 to over $1 million since 2005, accruing more than $2.7 million. The two men who were arrested are believed to be the leaders of an international group of six counterfeiters. Private collectors in Germany and Spain acquired most of the fakes sold by the forgery ring.

Confidence in the German art market has been unstable since it was shaken by the largest forgery scandal to date in 2011. Art forger Wolfang Betrachhi was sentences to six years in jail after admitting to painting copies of works by Fernard Leger (1881-1955) and Max Ernst (1891-1976) and then selling them as masterpieces to unwitting collectors.  

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Monday, 10 June 2013 18:29

Art Antiques London Opens this Week

The fourth edition of Art Antiques London will open on June 13, 2013 at Kensington Gardens in London. The show attracts collectors, curators, and exhibitors from across the globe and presents everything from furniture, paintings, and jewelry to sculpture, ceramics, and silver. This year, Art Antiques London is happy to welcome a number of new international exhibitors including Roell Fine Art (The Netherlands), Sabbadini (Italy), and Christopher Perles (France).

The fair, which is held through June 19, 2013, includes a private viewing on June 12, a collectors’ dinner on June 13, and a lecture series, which will feature a talk on Russian Imperial porcelain and sculptures led by Dr. Ekaterina Khmelnitskaya, the curator of Russian porcelain at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg Russia.  

Art Antiques London is organized by Haughton International Fairs. For more information visit http://www.haughton.com/international-fairs/19/fair_pages/art-antiques-london.

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The Michigan state Senate has taken measures to protect the Detroit Institute of Arts’ (DIA) works from being sold as a means to help revive the city’s grim economy. On Tuesday, June 4, 2013, the Senate’s General Government Committee approved a bill that aims to codify the ethical standards implemented by the American Alliance of Museums, which bans institutions from selling artworks for any reason other than the enhancement of its collection.

The Senate decided to take action after Detroit’s emergency manager Kevyn Orr asked for an appraisal of the DIA’s collection. Orr was considering whether the museum’s multi-billion dollar collection could be considered an asset to Detroit, which could potentially be sold to help cover the city’s $15 billion debt. Orr’s inquiry sparked an immediate reaction and DIA hired bankruptcy lawyer Richard Levin of Cravath, Swaine & Moore to protect the collection from any possible losses.

DIA is a unique public museum as Detroit retains ownership of its building and collection while a separate nonprofit institution manages its day-to-day operations. DIA’s collection includes major works by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525-1569), Henri Matisse (1869-1954), and Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890). Many of these masterpieces were donated by the city’s finest collectors, some of who have put restrictions on the works stipulating what DIA or the city can do with the works.

The bill, which was approved on a 5-0 vote, will now move to the full state Senate where it will be reviewed later this week.

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After acquiring a considerable number of important drawings, the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City has mounted an exhibition to showcase their recently added works. Spanning from the Renaissance through the 19th century, the drawings were acquired through gifts, purchases, and bequests. Over 100 of these works will be featured in Old Masters, Newly Acquired.

The Morgan has greatly improved its Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and Symbolist holdings by acquiring a number of works by such artists as Édouard Manet (1832-1883), Paul Cézanne (1839-1906), Édouard Vuillard (1868-1940), and Odilon Redon (1840-1916). The museum also acquired over forty Danish drawings including sheets by several Golden Age masters including C.W. Eckersberg (1783-1853) and Johan Lundbye (181-1848). The Morgan added to their British watercolor collection with works by John Martin (1789-1854) and Samuel Palmer (1805-1881). William M. Griswold, director of the museum, said, “The Morgan’s collection of drawings is among the finest in the world, and the institution has been very fortunate to have long-standing relationships with some of America’s most important collectors. This exhibition celebrates their connoisseurship and their commitment to the Morgan.”

Old Masters, New Acquired will be on view at the Morgan Library & Museum through August 11, 2013.

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In a last-ditch effort to help revive Detroit’s dismal economy, emergency manager Kevyn Orr has asked for an appraisal of the Detroit Institute of Arts’ (DIA) collection. While nothing has been finalized, Orr is considering whether the museum’s multi-billion dollar collection could be considered an asset to Detroit that could potentially be sold to help cover the city’s $15 billion debt.

Orr’s inquiry sparked an immediate reaction and DIA has hired bankruptcy lawyer Richard Levin of Cravath, Swaine & Moore to advise it in troubling situations and to protect the collection from any possible losses. Orr’s spokesman, Bill Nowling, assured the public that the appraisal is not a sign that they will be selling off the collection, an act that would surely be controversial, complicated, and mired by opposition. DIA is a unique public museum as Detroit retains ownership of its building and collection while a separate nonprofit institution manages its day-to-day operations.

While Nowling is adamant that Orr is not considering selling DIA’s collection, he did say that he would consider the museum’s holdings as assets of the city, especially as Detroit might be filing for bankruptcy. DIA’s collection includes major works by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525-1569), Henri Matisse (1869-1954), and Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890). Many of these masterpieces were donated by the city’s finest collectors, some of who have put restrictions on the works stipulating what DIA or the city can do with the works. If Orr does decide to sell works from DIA’s collection, it will undoubtedly prohibit the institution from receiving future donations and support.

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An anonymous donor has given $15 million to the future Pérez Art Museum Miami. The Miami Art Museum announced on Friday, May 17, 2013 that they received $12 million in cash and $3 million art. It is unclear whether the donor has had any involvement with the museum and why the benefactor wishes to remain nameless.

The Pérez Art Museum Miami, which is months away from opening, was formerly known as the Miami Art Museum. The institution closed in 2011 and construction on the new building, which was designed by the Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron and overlooks Miami’s Biscayne Bay, began immediately. Fundraising efforts for the project began in 2004 when Miami-Dade county voters approved a general obligation bond for $100 million in public money. Private donors contributed another $60 million for the building’s construction and institutional endowment. After developer Jorge Pérez pledged $35 million to the project in 2011, officials decided to rename the Miami Art Museum The Pérez Art Museum Miami, which did not go over well and led to a number of board members and collectors withdrawing their support.

The latest gift, which comes with no strings attached, brings the museum to 85% of its $220 million fundraising goal. The generous donation will go towards the museum’s endowment.

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Today, May 13, 2013 marked the end of the second-ever Frieze New York. One of the most highly anticipated art fairs, Frieze’s New York iteration took place at Randall’s Island Park and featured approximately 180 of the heaviest hitting contemporary art galleries from around the globe.

Along with its primary offerings, Frieze New York included two separate sections, Frame and Focus, which were dedicated to promising up-and-coming galleries. This year’s fair also featured seven site-specific commissions, a sculpture park, and a series of panel discussions and conversations led by high-profile artists, writers, and cultural commentators.

Frieze New York kicked off with a VIP opening on Thursday, May 9, which attracted throngs of the art world’s most elite collectors. Top sales that day included Sigmar Polke’s (1941-2010) Nachtkappel (1986) which was sold by Paris’ Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac for $4 million; an Anish Kapoor (b. 1954) sculpture sold by London’s Lisson Gallery for $764,500; and a painting of a flying tiger titled Tri Thong Minh, which was sold by New York’s Paul Kasmin gallery for $950,000.

The sister fair of Frieze London, which launched in 2001, the 2013 edition of Frieze New York was the largest stateside version of the show to date.

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The Minneapolis Museum of Arts acquired a rare Renaissance bust of St. John the Baptist yesterday, May 8, 2013. Created by the Italian sculptor Benedetto da Rovezzano (1474-1554), the terracotta bust was one of the works handpicked by Hitler to appear in his Führermuseum, which never came to fruition. The institution was expected to house a massive collection of the most important works of Western Art in the historical canon.

Rovezzano’s bust was bought from Theresia Willi Lanz by Hitler’s special representative, Hans Posse, who was in charge of traveling across Europe seizing important works from Jewish art collectors and buying them from non-Jewish collectors. After the Führermuseum was never realized, the bust was hidden along with a number of important works by Leonardo da Vinci (1542-1519), Vermeer (1632-1675), and Michelangelo (1475-1564) in a salt mine in Austria. As it became clear that the Nazis would not win World War II, Hitler’s officials called for the destruction of the mine. However, the miners from the Austrian town wished to keep their livelihood intact and worked to save the mines and the art inside by removing inactivated Nazi bombs and setting them off through controlled explosions within the tunnels of the mines, saving the salt and the art but making them inaccessible. The bust was ultimately returned to the Netherlands.

Rovezanno was one of the most prominent sculptors during the high Renaissance and his bust of St. John the Baptist is well known among Renaissance experts. Created in Florence during the time when Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Raphael (1483-1520) were working there, the bust is the earliest Renaissance sculpture in the Minneapolis Institute’s collection. The bust of St. John the Baptist will go on view in the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts permanent galleries alongside other renowned Renaissance busts by Agostino Zoppo (circa 1520-1572) and Giovanni Battista Caccini (1556-1613).

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Sotheby’s has announced that they will be opening a gallery for private sales close to its London outpost on Bond Street. The gallery will be ideal for big-name collectors who prefer to do business through unpublicized sales rather than in the public auction arena.

Private sales have seen an uptick in recent years and unpublicized transactions increased at Sotheby’s by 11% in 2012. These inconspicuous sales accounted for $906.5 million of the $5.4 billion Sotheby’s brought in from auctions the same year. Most of Sotheby’s private sales come from big-ticket modern and contemporary works, which are sold when a buyer visits a viewing room within the auction house. Details surrounding these transactions are often kept under wraps. These private sales are also beneficial for the auction house because publicity costs are nonexistent.

Sotheby’s new gallery is expected to open in London during the fall of 2013.

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Thursday, 25 April 2013 13:31

Rothko Museum Opens in Artist’s Hometown

A museum honoring the painter Mark Rothko (1903-1970) opened on April 24, 2013 in the artist’s hometown of Daugavpil, Latvia. Rothko, who was born Marcus Rothkovitz, lived in the southern city then known as Dvinsk and in the Russian empire, until he was 10. Rothko and his family fled Europe in 1913 as anti-Jewish sentiments began to rise.

Rothko went on to become a remarkable artistic force in American modern art. Often called an Abstract Expressionist, Rothko opposed classification and even disliked being called an abstract painter even though some of his best-known paintings are comprised of nothing more than blurred blocks of color. Rothko continues to play a prominent role in the art world as his paintings are highly sought after by collectors. Last year, his large-scale painting Orange, Red, Yellow (1961) garnered $86.9 million at auction, setting a record for any contemporary work of art.

The Mark Rothko Art Centre features a small selection of key works from the artist’s oeuvre, which were donated by Rothko’s family. The museum also includes lecture rooms and artist studios. The Centre is being funded by the European Union and Daugavpil’s city council in hopes that the institution will help transform the city into a popular tourist destination.

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