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The $816 million art-for-pensions deal that is designed to preserve the Detroit Institute of Arts collection is fascinating, imaginative and clever. But it’s almost certainly illegal. And I’ll show you why.

Were it legal, the deal would help solve two very big problems. The first is Detroit’s radically underfunded pensions, which are at least $3.5 billion in the hole, by the reckoning of Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr. Simple economics says that Detroit needs to slash these obligations. But the pensions are not lavish, and thousands of retired Detroiters depend on the pensions for their daily bread.

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Pablo Picasso’s colorful 1932 oil painting “The Rescue” sold for $31.5 million at a New York auction Wednesday, far exceeding its $14 million to $18 million estimate.

“The Rescue” led the bidding at a Sotheby’s sale of impressionist and modern art. The auction house sold 50 pieces, raising about $219 million.

It was the second straight night a painting by the Cubist master changed hands for a big price. Picasso’s 1942 painting of his mistress in a purple dress titled “Portrait of Dora Maar” sold Tuesday for $22.5 million at Christie’s.

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For almost 30 years, Leila Heller ran her gallery from the Upper East Side, making a name for herself as an art dealer and for her support of emerging and midcareer Middle Eastern artists, before setting up shop in 2010 on a gallery-lined stretch of West 25th Street.

Now, Ms. Heller is returning uptown with a 16,000-square-foot, six-floor space in Midtown Manhattan that she will operate in addition to the Chelsea location. The new gallery will open on Tuesday, with an inaugural exhibition on portraiture that will run through August.

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Simon Shaw, Co-Head of Sotheby’s Worldwide Impressionist & Modern Art Department, commented: “A key factor in tonight’s successes was our longstanding relationships with top collectors, and our partnership with them throughout the sale process – the three works from the Private American Collection that led our sale, Monet’s Le Pont japonais, and more were non-competitive consignments. It was a privilege to offer Picasso’s spectacular Le Sauvetage exactly a decade after we last auctioned it in New York, and we are thrilled to see its price double in that time. We are pleased to once again deliver exceptional results on behalf of a great American institution, with Monet’s Sur la Falaise à Pourville selling for well over its high estimate to benefit the Acquisitions Fund of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.”

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German Nazi-era art hoarder Cornelius Gurlitt, who died on Tuesday, has made the Bern Art Museum in Switzerland his "sole heir".

The reclusive son of Adolf Hitler's art dealer is estimated to have amassed a collection worth up to a billion euros.

The museum said the news struck "like a bolt from the blue", given that it had had no relationship with Mr Gurlitt.

The collection was the subject of a long legal dispute over works that may have been taken illegally by the Nazis.

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Beyond the fields of lavender and honey-colored farmhouses, the land that launched a thousand fantasies is also home to another kind of delight: dazzling works of art and architecture by some of the great masters of modernism, from Picasso to Le Corbusier. Gully Wells goes on a treasure hunt.

One summer when I was a young and indolent teenager, I was packed off by my mother to stay for a week or so with some old family friends who lived in a farmhouse in the hills above Antibes on the French Riviera. Monsieur, tall with a wild bush of white hair, was a painter, and Madame, petite with olive-black eyes, was a sculptor.

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Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), which stood by Steven A. Cohen last year as his SAC Capital Advisors LP bore the brunt of a massive insider trading probe, has come to the billionaire’s aid again.

The top prime broker to the former hedge-fund firm, Goldman Sachs is making a personal loan to Cohen for the first time, according to a regulatory filing, joining the list of banks that have provided SAC’s founder with credit lines backed by his $1 billion art collection. Like Citigroup Inc. (C), JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America Corp., New York-based Goldman Sachs is making the loan through its private bank as part of an effort to expand its business catering to ultra-wealthy individuals.

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Auction houses expect to sell as much as $2.3 billion of art in New York this month as billionaires from China to Brazil compete for trophy works by Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso and Jeff Koons in a surging market.

Two weeks of semiannual sales of Impressionist, modern, postwar and contemporary art at Christie’s, Sotheby’s (BID) and Phillips begin May 6, with online bidding as early as today. Their combined sales target represents a 77 percent increase from estimates for a similar round of auctions a year ago.

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On Thursday, April 17, “Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs” will open at the Tate Modern in London. Late in Henri Matisse's career, when poor health prevented him from painting, he developed his cut-out technique, which involved cutting organic shapes out of painted sheets of paper and turning them into lively compositions on his studio’s walls. The process gave Matisse a renewed sense of freedom and he lauded the technique for its immediacy and simplicity, which he believed helped him express his artistic urgencies more completely.

The exhibition, which features 120 works made between 1936 and 1954, will be the largest and most extensive presentation of these unique, and often large-scale, masterpieces. Many of the cut-outs are being loaned from public and private collections around the world. “The Snail,” from the Tate’s own collection, will be exhibited alongside its sister work “Memory of Oceania,” from the Museum of Modern Art’s collection in New York, and “Large Composition with Masks,” from the National Gallery of Art’s collection in Washington, D.C. A photograph of Matisse’s studio reveals that these works were initially conceived as a unified whole and this is the first time they will have been together in over 50 years.  

When the exhibition’s run in London ends on September 7, “Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs” will travel to the Museum of Modern Art where it will be on view from October 25, 2014 through February 8, 2015.

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Christie’s announced that it will sell the late billionaire philanthropist Edgar M. Bronfman Sr.’s substantial art collection, which includes works by Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Egon Schiele, Milton Avery, and Henri Matisse. A selection of works from the collection will be offered during the auction house’s Impressionist and modern art evening sale in New York on May 6. The remaining 230 items, including decorative objects, jewelry, and antiquities, will be sold this year during sales in London, Hong Kong, and New York. Bronfman’s collection is expected to fetch more than $34 million. 

Highlights from the collection include Picasso’s “Mangeuse de Pasteque et Homme Ecrivant,” which is expected to bring $7 million to $10 million; a seascape by Matisse titled “Femme Aupres de la Fenetre,” which is estimated to fetch between $3 million and $5 million; and Monet’s “L’Escalier,” which is expect to garner between $1.5 million and $2.5 million. Most of the works being offered at Christie’s once hung in Bronfman’s Manhattan penthouse, which is on the market for $65 million.

Bronfman, who passed away in December, helmed the Seagram Company for 23 years before retiring in 1994. He also led the World Jewish Congress and helped establish it as the world’s preeminent Jewish organization.

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