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AXA Art Insurance Co. has leveled a lawsuit against Christie’s over several paintings that were destroyed last October during Hurricane Sandy. The claim states that the auction house failed to secure a valuable art collection that was being kept in one of its storage facilities in Brooklyn, New York despite the ongoing warnings about the damage Hurricane Sandy was expected to bring.

Paintings worth at least $1.5 million, which once belonged to the late cellist Gregor Piatigorsky and his chess champion wife, Jacqueline, were left on the ground floor of the storage facility where they were damaged by rising flood waters. While the suit didn’t specify which works were destroyed, the Piatigorskys’ collection included paintings by Edgar Degas, Claude Monet and Chaim Soutine.

A rep for Christie’s told the New York Daily News that they have not yet been served with court papers.

Published in News
Tuesday, 15 January 2013 11:32

The Met Breaks Ground on David H. Koch Plaza

A formal ground-breaking ceremony for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s new David H. Koch Plaza was held on January 14, 2013 in New York. The $65 million project, which was announced in February 2012, has been underway since October but was postponed due to complications associated with Hurricane Sandy. The plaza is expected to reach completion in the fall of 2014.

Funded by Met trustee and philanthropist, David H. Koch, the project includes the installation of new fountains and the redesign of a four-block-long outdoor plaza that runs in front of the Met’s Fifth Avenue façade from 80th to 84th Streets. The sidewalks alongside the museum’s entrance, which see six million pedestrians a year, will also be repaired.

While the Met has made a number of indoor improvements over the years, the outdoor overhaul is much needed. Built in the 1970s along with the existing plaza, the museum’s original fountains, which are now deteriorated, will be replaced by contemporary granite fountains. The new structures will be positioned closer to the museum’s front steps, improving access to the street-level entrances. The redesign also includes tree-shaded allées, improved seating areas, and energy-efficient lighting. The Met’s iconic front steps will be left untouched.

Philadelphia-based landscape architecture and urban design firm, Olin, will be the lead design consultants for the project.

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Two months ago, Hurricane Sandy battered New York City and caused severe flooding in many art galleries, especially those located in Chelsea. Initially, the prominent firm AXA Art Insurance estimated that the damage they would be paying out totaled around $40 million. Due to the severity of the destroyed gallery spaces and damaged artworks, that number is now closer to $500 million. The hard-hit area is slowly recovering but many galleries remain closed and under construction.

One of the main contributors to the growing price tag on Sandy-related art losses is Pop artist Peter Max (b. 1937) who lost an entire collection of works on paper that had been stored in a flooded warehouse. The claim for the lost Max works was set at $300 million.

Published in News

The Art Fair Company, owners of SOFA Chicago, SOFA New York, SOFA Santa Fe, The Metro Show, and the Spring Show NYC, announced that the Metro Show has formed an alliance with Editions/Artists’ Book Fair. Editions/Artists‘ Book Fair was slated to take place November 1-4 of this year, but was cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy. The show will now run alongside the Metro Show, which is held in New York City’s Metropolitan Pavilion from January 23-27, 2013. Susan Inglett, the founder of Editions/Artists’ Book Fair said, “We are grateful to our colleagues at The Art Fair Company who have provided us this incredible opportunity.”

Now in its fifteenth year, Editions/Artists’ Book Fair showcases contemporary publishers and dealers and presents an array of prints, multiples, and artists’ books from over 60 international exhibitors. The show also includes site-specific installations, lectures, and screenings.

Next door at the Metro Show, which is helmed by Caroline Kerrigan Lerch, historic art will be presented alongside contemporary design. Works include paintings, furniture, drawings, prints, photographs, sculpture, folk art, textiles, and decorative arts.

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California based auction house, Profiles in History, announced today that they will exhibit highlights from their upcoming auction, The Property of a Distinguished American Private Collector. The exhibit will be held at Douglas Elliman’s Madison Avenue Gallery from December 3 through December 9. The exhibit was supposed to be held at Fraunces Tavern Museum, but an alternate location was needed after Hurricane Sandy inflicted a fair amount of damage on the museum.

The Property of a Distinguished American Private Collector includes over 3,000 manuscripts that will be auctioned off at a series of sales beginning on December 18. The first part of the sale will include 300 of the most important letters and manuscripts from the collection and carries an estimate in excess of $8,000,000.

One of the most notable highlights of the exhibition and sale is a four-page handwritten letter by Vincent van Gogh. In the letter written to his close friends, Monsieur and Madame Ginoux, just seven months before his death, van Gogh talks of his failing mental and physical. He writes, “Disease exists to remind us we are not made of wood…” The letter, penned on January 20, 1890, is expected to bring between $200,000 and $300,000.

Other important documents on view include several manuscripts by George Washington, a Thomas Paine manuscript, a rare Emily Dickinson letter, and other correspondences by Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, and Thomas Edison.

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Christie’s kicked off their highly anticipated fall auctions with a lackluster Impressionist and Modern Art sale on Wednesday evening. While there were many outstanding circumstances (i.e., Hurricane Sandy, the presidential election, the Dow Jones’ drop) that may have contributed to the sale’s inability to reach its low estimate of $210 million, the auction garnered $204,800,000 but left 21 of its 69 lots unsold. Other factors that may have contributed to the uneven sale were too high estimates and an inconsistence in quality as it was the mid-level works that went without buyers.

The top sales were high with six works selling for over $10 million. Wassily Kandinsky’s early and rare Studie fur Improvisation 8 brought $23 million and a set a record for the artist at auction while just breaking its low estimate of $20 million. Claude Monet’s Nymphaes, a watercolor from his water lilies series, was the evening’s top lot at $43,762,500. Other top lots included Pablo Picasso’s Buste de Femme that sold for $13,074,500, Constantine Brancusi’s white plaster Une Muse that brought $12,402,500, and Joan Miro’s Peinture (Femme, Journal, Chien which fetched $13,746,500.

Sotheby’s sale begins today after three days of delays due to Hurricane Sandy.

Published in News
Monday, 05 November 2012 10:33

Sandy Spares Atlantic City’s Public Art Project

While many feared the worst for Atlantic City while Hurricane Sandy battered New Jersey, the east coast’s gambling mecca made it out relatively unscathed. Even Atlantic City’s $13 million public art project, “Artlantic,” was spared. Scheduled to open this Friday, the project hopes to inject some culture into the city, which is mainly associated with waterfront casinos and its famed Boardwalk.

“Artlantic: wonder” is the first phase of the five-year project that was designed by freelance curator, Lance Fung. Dominated by two large outdoor spaces, the form for “Artlantic” drew inspiration from the city itself and the legendary roller coasters on Steel Pier. Sheltered from the storm by 22,000 sod staples, “Artlantic” survived the relentless wind and water summoned by Sandy.    

While installations by artists such as Kiki Smith and Robert Barry will appear in these outdoor spaces, another site will be unveiled on Friday. Stretching 8,500-square-feet, this site will include a wooden-walled stage created by the artist John Roloff. When not being used for performances, the stage will be a stand-alone abstract artwork.

The Atlantic City Alliance, a marketing agency, and the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, are splitting the cost of “Artlantic” and have received funds from local businesses. The project organizers are using private land that is on loan for “Artlantic” meaning the land can be developed by the owners at any time. Hopefully the project will fulfill its five-year run, adding a new facet to an already iconic city.

Published in News
Wednesday, 31 October 2012 12:01

New York City’s Art World Feels the Wrath of Sandy

After Hurricane Sandy battered the east coast, art institutions from the Lower East Side to upstate New York felt the effects. Art galleries including R 20th Century in SoHo, Rachel Uffner Gallery on the Lower East Side, the New Museum on the Bowery, Postmasters Gallery in Chelsea, and Storm King Art Center upstate in Mountainville were without electricity as of yesterday. Eyebeam and Zach Feuer in Chelsea suffered serious flooding. Water levels reached above five feet inside Feuer’s gallery, destroying the entire exhibition on view. Most of the gallery’s permanent inventory is kept on storage racks higher than five feet so Feuer has hope that those works will be salvageable.

Once dealers have fully assessed and dealt with the damages to their galleries and inventories, they will be faced with increased insurance premiums. While many galleries have liability and short-term travel insurance, they do not usually insure art.

In addition, some of the city’s most anticipated galas were cancelled due to the hurricane. The Studio Museum, The Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Public Library, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and the New York Public Radio all put their galas on hold because of Sandy. Hopefully the hit to New York’s gala season won’t affect the fundraising efforts tied to such events.

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