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Charges have been brought against an unnamed vandal after the repeated defacing of paintings at the Villa-Musée Jean-Honoré Fragonard in Grasse, south of France.

Le Figaro reports that a painting by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, a respected Rococo master, reproductions of his work, and additional artworks by François Gérard and François-André Vincent have all been defaced using felt tip and ballpoint pen.

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Tuesday, 27 January 2015 11:16

Sotheby’s Ups Buyers’ Premium

It’s about to get more expensive to shop at Sotheby’s. The auction house announced late Monday that it was effectively raising the rates it charges many of its buyers by changing the rate thresholds.

The first change in Sotheby’s rate structure in nearly two years means that beginning Feb. 1 buyers at its auctions will pay 25 percent on the first $200,000 of a hammer price, up from a previous low threshold of $100,000; 20 percent on the value between $200,000 and $3 million, up from the previous range of $100,000 to $2 million; and 12 percent on any amount remaining above $3 million, up from the previous upper threshold of $2 million.

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One of Germany's best known art dealers has gone on trial on charges of defrauding the heirs to the Aldi supermarket empire of millions of euros.

Helge Achenbach is accused of falsifying accounts of artworks and classic cars he purchased on behalf of the Albrecht family, including paintings by Pablo Picasso and Roy Lichtenstein, and vintage Ferraris, Bentleys and Bugattis.

Prosecutors accuse Mr. Achenbach of more than 20 counts of fraud, as well as charges of forgery and breach of trust, in the trial in the western city of Essen, the court said in a statement. If found guilty, he faces up to ten years in prison.

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Christie’s announced that they will be raising their buyer’s premium, a fee charged to buyers at auction, for the first time since 2008. The auction house had been charging 25 percent for the first $50,000 of a sale, 20 percent on the amount from $50,001 to $1 million, and 12 percent on the remaining price. The increase, which will go into effect on March 11, 2013, will bring the charges up to 25 percent for the first $75,000, 20 percent on the amount from $75,001 to $1.5 million, and 12 percent on the rest.

In recent years auction houses have started offering certain sellers a percentage of the buyer’s premiums, which can result in lower profits for the auction companies but ultimately brings in more business. Last month Christie’s announced that its sales for 2012 totaled $6.27 billion, a 10 percent increase from its 2011 sales. While no other auction houses have announced increases in buyer’s premium, it has been a trend among them in the past.

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Known for her extravagant shoe collection, one-time Philippine first lady, Imelda Marcos, also accrued an admirable art collection during her late husband’s reign. Marcos’ former secretary, Vilma Bautisa, was indicted on Tuesday, November 20th, on charges of conspiracy, tax fraud, and offering a false instrument for filing, all relating to artworks that had previously belonged to Marcos. 74-year-old Bautista acquired a number of important paintings from Marcos and her husband, Ferdinand, after his regime came crashing down in 1986 after a citizen revolt.

The Manhattan District Attorney hit Bautista, a New York resident, with charges that she was conspiring to sell paintings that were the legal property of the Philippine government. The District Attorney’s office claims that Bautista used false paperwork to sell Le Bassin aux Nymphéas (1899) from Claude Monet’s Water Lilies series in September 2010 for $32 million. The other works in Bautista’s possession are Monet’s L’Eglise et La Seine a Vétheuil (1881), Alfred Sisley’s Langland Bay (1887), and Albert Marquet’s Le Cypres de Djenan Sidi Said (1946). The four paintings involved in the suit once hung in a Manhattan town house used by Imelda Marcos and her husband.

Two of Bautista’s nephews were also charged but did not appear in court. Bautista pleaded not guilty and was released on a $175,000 bond.

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