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Laurent Le Bon, the director of the Musée Picasso only arrived in the troubled Paris institution in June but he has worked quickly to repair relations and establish new ones.

A peace agreement was signed with his predecessor, Anne Baldassari, on 1 September. The contract is supposed to be secret, but she issued a press release asserting she was also going to write a catalogue for the museum’s 5,000 works. It is too soon to know if this is the first sign of an attempted comeback or if the transition is proceeding as smoothly as the French Culture Ministry would like.

Published in News
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 City of North Miami has asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit filed earlier this month by the Museum of Contemporary Art.

The city is calling MOCA's suit to move some of its artwork and spread it out across South Florida "legally deficient."

"We're not going to let anybody take our art collection and move it somewhere else after so many years of establishing the great MOCA," Councilman Scott Galvin said.

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After three years at the helm of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), former New York art dealer, Jeffrey Deitch, is expected to resign as director. Deitch announced his intention to leave the institution to MOCA's trustees and board. He is currently in the middle of a five-year contract with the museum.

Prior to joining MOCA in 2010, Deitch ran the Deitch Project, a massively successful and pioneering contemporary art gallery in Manhattan. He also served on the authentication committee of the estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat, one of Deitch’s close friends.

Deitch’s tenure at MOCA has been plagued by criticism. After firing longtime chief curator Paul Schimmel in 2012, John Baldessari, Ed Ruscha, Catherine Opie and Barbara Kruger resigned from the museum’s board, leaving it void of artist representation. While MOCA was in poor financial standing when Deitch came on board, the museum continued to fall into financial despair during his time as director. The museum is just starting to regain its footing after fundraising efforts by board members garnered over $75 million in donations.

A meeting is schedule for MOCA’s board on Wednesday, July 24, 2013. A search committee is expected to form shortly after.

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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
Monday, 25 February 2013 13:27

Disgraced Knoedler Gallery Hit with New Lawsuit

Prominent Canadian art collector David Mirvish filed a lawsuit on Friday, February 22, 2013 against the disgraced New York-based art gallery, Knoedler & Company. Since closing its doors in late 2011, Knoedler & Company has been accused by multiple clients of selling forged paintings, which were acquired by the gallery from Long Island dealer Glafira Rosales. Mirvish’s is the fifth lawsuit against Knoedler since 2011.

However, Mirvish’s claim is slightly different than its predecessors. While the other lawsuits accused Knoedler of passing off fake Jackson Pollock (1912-1956), Robert Motherwell (1915-1991), and Mark Rothko (1903-1970) paintings as the real deal, Mirvish claims that the works he purchased from the gallery were authentic. Instead, Mirvish is arguing that he lost out on millions of dollars in profits when Knoedler failed to sell three Jackson Pollock masterpieces he purchased jointly with the gallery.

Between 2002 and 2007 Mirvish purchased two paintings attributed to Pollock and bough a half stake in a third for $1.6 million. The sole purpose of Mirvish’s dealings with Knoedler was to resell the works for a profit. One of the Pollock paintings sold to collector and hedge fund manager Pierre Lagrange for $17 million in 2007, but in 2011, the day before Knoedler shut down, Lagrange announced that he would be filing a lawsuit against the gallery as forensic testing suggested the painting was a fake. The Lagrange suit was eventually settled but Mirvish was not involved and refused to return the money he made off of the deal.

Mirvish is now seeking reparations for the two unsold Pollocks, claiming that Knoedler breached its agreement when the gallery suddenly went out of business. Mirvish is asking Knoedler to return the two paintings, referred to as “Greenish Pollock” and “Square Pollock,” as well as reimburse him for his $1.6 million stake in the third painting, referred to as “Silver Pollock.” Even though Mirvish only paid Knoedler $3.25 million, half of “Greenish Pollock” and “Square Pollock’s” purchase prices, he claims that Knoedler’s violation of contract entitles him to both paintings.

Nicholas Gravante, the lawyer of Knoedler’s former president, Ann Freeman, is representing Mirvish. Freeman is not named as a defendant in Mirvish’s case and she has maintained that all works acquired from Rosales are genuine. Rosales is currently under investigation by the F.B.I.    

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Abu Dhabi has finally awarded a $653 million contract to build a branch of the Louvre Museum to Arabtec Holding Co., a Dubai-based construction company, which is partly owned by Abu Dhabi. The Louvre has been planning the outpost since March 2007, but was sidetracked by a number of delays prompted by a public spending review of Abu Dhabi’s government.

The Louvre’s new 688,890-square-foot location, which will be designed by the French architect Jean Nouvel, is expected to open in 2015. The museum’s inauguration will be followed by the opening of the Zayed National Museum, which is being built in association with the British Museum in 2016 as well as a franchise of New York’s Guggenheim Museum in 2017. All three of the museums will be part of a development located off the coast of Abu Dhabi City on Saadiyat Island.

The Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi is part of the country’s effort to establish itself as a cultural hub as well as a noteworthy tourist destination. Arabtec, which won the project after a competitive bidding process, is expected to begin construction on the museum immediately.

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After a confrontation that lasted 10 months, staff members at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor and M.H. de Young museums agreed on a new contract with their employer, the Corporation of Fine Arts Museums (COFAM).

When COFAM and the Services Employees International Union (SEIU) began working to replace the contract that expired in October 2011, accusations of stubbornness, obstructionism, and disregard for the museums’ fiscal stability abounded on both sides.

Electricians, security guards, graphic artists, retail staff, and office administrators voiced their dissatisfaction with COFAM. The dispute peaked last May when Eric Mar, the San Francisco city supervisor who once served as a shop steward of the SEIU, wrote a piece for the San Francisco Examiner supporting the union, complaining about wage freezes, and arguing that the fact that COFAM requires workers to contribute to their own healthcare coverage was unfair. Another peak in the argument was reached this past August when many union members formally approved a strike. On September 7th, protestors gathered outside of the de Young during the museum’s popular event, “Friday Nights at the de Young Museum” catching the media’s attention.

Two weeks after the protest, COFAM stated that they reached a “tentative accord” with the union. The agreement provided 100 members with a 12 to 18 percent pay raise during the three years that their new contract is in effect. That raise is in addition to a three percent pay increase upon signing the new contract and another three percent raise on January 1, 2013.

While employee contribution to health care coverage was a huge point of contention in the dispute, most workers will still be required to make minimal payments. Employees will pay on a sliding scale that starts at $25 per month for employees, $50 for one dependent, and $75 for families.

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