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NEWS ÀRCHIVE
More Than $13.5 M Sold In Five Sales Over Six Days [May 16, 2004]
To Observe and Imagine: British Drawings Opens [May 15. 2004]
Contemporary Art Sale at Sotheby’s Was A Success [May 14. 2004]
Stolen Cranach Painting Recovered by Georgian Police [May 14. 2004]
Record Set For Jackson Pollock at Christie-s Auction [May 13. 2004]
Sotheby’s to Sell Property from the Seagram Collection[May 13. 2004]
Inside the Sotheby’s-Christie Auction House Scandal [May 12. 2004]
Sale of 20-21st Century Design Art at Phillips[May 12. 2004]
Sotheby’s Holdings, Inc. Announces First Quarter Results [May 12. 2004]
Picasso’s War And Peace Exhibition At Picasso Museum [May 09. 2004]
  ART NEWS: May. 2004
 

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Conrad Kiesel
A Portrait of a Lady
Oil On Canvas

More Than $13.5 M Sold In Five Sales Over Six Days [May 16, 2004]
SAN FRANCISCO, CA. - This May 18th Bonhams and Butterfields will be holding the first of their twice yearly European Paintings Sale. Last week Bonhams & Butterfields, the world’s most dynamic auction house, completed a record-breaking coast-to-coast series of auctions, holding five sales over a six-day period, yielding over $13.5 Million in sales. Featured were sales in Los Angeles of exquisite jewelry from the famed Hermann Estate on Tuesday, April 27 drawing $6.2 Million, another LA sale of Modern paintings and the third annual 2-day Brookline, MA event featuring $2.5 Million sold in collector motorcars on Saturday, May 1st ; along with the $1.5 Million sale of furnishings and contents of the Hermann Estate on Sunday, May 2nd.

Calling bids from New England-based collectors, East and West Coast members of the trade and clients world-wide, Bonhams & Butterfields saw results at nearly 200% above the pre-sale estimations for the auction of property from the Hermann Estate of Falmouth, MA, held at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline. With more than 97% of lots sold, the May 2 sale totaled $1,515,033, incorporating intense levels of activity, and extremely fast paced bidding - particularly for the American and European fine art.

On Saturday, May 1st, also onsite at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum, Bonhams & Butterfields realized nearly $3 Million in sales of important collector motorcars, motorcycles, marine collectibles, rare Lalique mascots and automobilia. The firm started out the week with an auction of fine jewelry from the Hermann Estate, held at their LA showroom and drawing $6.2 Million on Tuesday, April 27th. The Hermann jewelry sale was followed by an auction of jewelry from various owners, that session bringing more than $2.3 million.

"With five coast to coast auctions in just as many days, we enjoyed a record-breaking week," Malcolm Barber, CEO and managing auctioneer of Bonhams & Butterfields said. "These results demonstrate our dedication to becoming the premier world-wide auction house, expanding out of California throughout the USA," he continued. "Single estate auctions have become increasingly rare, and the contents of the Hermann Estate - particularly the fine jewelry, and artwork - were exceedingly desirable," Barber explained. "We had bidders internationally, with particular interest from the United Kingdom, Australia, Austria and Spain."

Highlights from the week’s sales include: Exquisite Jewelry. The Tuesday, April 29 Hermann jewelry auction, simulcast between the Los Angeles and San Francisco galleries, paused for rounds of applause after significant lots were offered - each lot hammering at two to three times its estimate. A determined bidder paid $831,250 for Ms. Hermann’s important antique diamond necklace featuring 62 mine-cut diamonds totaling 125-carats. A pair of impressive Cartier diamond drop earrings sold for $539,750, each pendant topped with a square-cut diamond above a long straight baguette-cut diamond, terminating in a pear-shaped brilliant-cut diamond each weighing nearly 10-carats. Another signed French piece was an important Art Deco diamond, ruby and platinum necklace by Lacloche Freres (estimated at $50/70,000) which sold for $446,250.

In fact, Art Deco amour was the theme for that morning sale with each lot of rings, necklaces, bracelets and brooches attracting great interest and highly competitive bidding. An Art Deco diamond and platinum convertible bracelet which featured three detachable strands of diamonds totaling approximately 55-carats sold for $248,250 while an exceptional natural pearl diamond and platinum necklace sold for $193,250 (est. $60/80,000). An impressive 19th century emerald, diamond and gold necklace, circa 1890, was accompanied by a matching emerald and diamond pendant. The lot brought $314,250.

Collectors’ Motorcars & Automobilia. The Saturday, May 1 auction of collector motorcars featured a spectacular competition-ready 1950 Maserati A6G Spider sports racing two-seater which sold for $588,000 to a private East Coast collector- followed by thunderous applause from the 500-plus bidders and spectators under the great white tent erected by the auctioneers at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum. A 1921 Stanley 7 Passenger Touring Car drew $181,000 while a 1913 Mercer Model 35 Runabout, widely believed to be the only surviving roadster of its kind, and one of the last great American "Brass Era" cars, sold for $412,000. This lot was of great interest to an English gentleman who had flown in from the UK for the sale, alas, he left with out this prize as it sold to an American private collector. Other highlights include: 1956 Lancer Aurielia B24S convertible, selling for $92,000; and a Rudge Rotary tricycle, British, circa 1884, which sold for $23,000. A Mercury Woody wagon drew $63,250, significantly more than its original 1951 sticker price of about $2,530. An extremely rare example of Rene Lalique’s glass mascots brought a strong price. "Renard," a clear glass model introduced late in 1930, featured wonderful definition on the fox’s coat. Only 21-centimeters long, it is considered one of the most rare of all Lalique mascots and sold for $181,000. Another mascot, an Art Deco human form known as "Spirit of the Wind" was introduced in 1928 and sold for $22,425 while a bidder paid $16,100 for a rare "Grenouille" glass mascot, the frog first introduced in May of 1928.

Hermann Estate Furniture, Decorative & Fine Art .

On Sunday, May 2nd, the contents of the Hermann Estate, including furnishings, decorative arts, rugs and fine art went on the block, drawing intense interest and frenetic bidding - particularly for the fine art as several world record prices attest. Top lots include a 40 x 103 inch oil and gold gilt on canvas painting by Edwin Austin Abbey titled "The Dance of the Troubadours," signed and dated 1897, which sold for a record $211,875 - more than seven times the estimate. Sir Edwin Longsden Long’s "The Eastern Favorite," a female nude signed with the artist’s monogram and dated 1880 sold for $90,875, three times the estimate.

The Estate’s extensive collection of John Whorf watercolors were highly sought-after, with spirited bidding amongst local New England as well as international interests. The John Whorf "Siesta" pencil and watercolor drew $20,500, while his depiction of a fisherman reeling in his catch "Edge of the Fast Water," sold for $22,225 - three times the estimate, as did "On the Shoreline". Whorf’s "The Ballerinas" estimated at $7,000 to $10,000, was purchased for $30,275, establishing a record price for the artist.

Furniture and decorative arts from the Estate were also highly desirable, with a fine late 19th century Victorian carved oak long case clock selling for $30,275. The varied collection of bronze and marble sculpture included a four-foot bronze figure of a cavalier, inscribed by Ephrim Keyser, which sold for $11,750. A late 19th century 8’ x 10’ Heriz carpet, among several collector rugs in the auction, sold for $13,512. A series of lots comprised of well-traveled Louis Vuitton suitcases and steamer trunks, each with a myriad of cruise line and hotel stickers from around the world, saw fierce bidding - the eight lots of luggage brought a combined total of nearly $35,000, and their pre-sale estimates totaled under $4,000.

"It was a banner week for Bonhams & Butterfields," Malcolm Barber concluded. "We are thankful to have an elite staff - from specialists to administration and crew - to handle the intense levels of activity on both the East and West coasts of the States - simultaneously offering furniture in Brookline and Modern art in Los Angeles. We look forward to continuing to exceed the expectations of our clients."


Thomas Gainsborough
Study of a Lady
The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York
Photography: David A. Loggie

To Observe and Imagine: British Drawings Opens [May 15. 2004]
CINCINNATI, OHIO. - An exhibition of outstanding British drawings will inaugurate the Taft Museum of Art’s new Fifth Third Bank Special Exhibitions Gallery in To Observe and Imagine: British Drawings and Watercolors, 1600-1900. The exhibition runs from May 15 through August 15, 2004, marking the renovated and expanded Museum’s first special exhibition.
To Observe and Imagine, a selection of 101 drawings and watercolors from the Morgan Library in New York City, ranges from works inspired by the imagination to those rooted in the careful observation of nature. The exhibition traces three centuries of artistic development in England. It includes diverse subject matter such as landscapes, portraits, street scenes, architecture, figure and nature studies, literary illustrations, and still lifes. Beginning in the early seventeenth century with works by foreign-born artists working in England, the exhibition continues with works by such artists as Henry Fuseli (1741-1825) and William Blake (1757-1827), who were both attracted to the imaginary realm.
The exhibition then moves to the role that landscape played from about 1750 to 1850 in the works of Alexander Cozens (about 1717-1786) and his son, John Robert (1752-1797); Thomas Girtin (1775-1802); Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851); John Constable (1776-1837); and others. It concludes with works by Pre-Raphaelite artists including John Ruskin (1819-1900), Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882), and Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones (1833-1898).
The exhibition offers further exploration of works by British artists in the Taft Museum of Art’s permanent collection, including Turner, Constable, Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788), and Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792).
To Observe and Imagine: British Drawings and Watercolors, 1600-1900, is organized by the Morgan Library, New York. The curator in charge of the exhibition tour is Cara Dufour Denison, Curator, Drawings and Prints, the Morgan Library.
The Morgan Library enjoys the reputation of having one of the finest collections of works on paper in this country. Ranging from prepatory studies and sketches to finished works of art, the nearly fifteen thousand drawings, prints, and other works on paper in the collection span the fourteenth through twentieth centuries. Most major schools and periods are represented, although the collection is richest in European drawings executed before 1825. The holdings include works by Blake, Degas, Durer, Matisse, Pontormo, Rubens, and Watteau. In addition to drawings, the Morgan has the largest and finest group of etchings by Rembrandt in this country.


Roy Lichtenstein
Step-On Can with Leg
Detail

Contemporary Art Sale at Sotheby’s Was A Success [May, 14. 2004]

NEW YORK, N.Y.- Sotheby’s triumphed Wednesday night when its auction of Contemporary Art this evening sold every one of the 58 lots on offer. No one could remember when or if that had ever happened before in a various owners sale. The sale concluded with extended audience applause given this accomplishment and the sale’s total of $65,670,400, more than one million dollars over a high estimate of $64,440,000. Twenty-two works sold for over a million dollars, and auction records were established for 13 artists, including Ellsworth Kelly, Clyfford Still, Maurizio Cattelan and Takashi Murakami. The top selling lot of this evening’s sale was Roy Lichtenstein’s Step-On Can with Leg which sold for $5,104,000.
Auctioneer Tobias Meyer, Worldwide Head of Sotheby’s Contemporary Art department, described tonight’s sale as the first "white glove" evening various owners sale in memory, using the auction term for a sale in which every lot sells. "There were masterpieces in the sale and good paintings. All found buyers this evening. When you sell everything it tells you something about the market, but what was most interesting was the depth of bidding. Nearly every lot drew multiple bidders, both seasoned buyers and new collectors who are attracted to Contemporary Art as an entry market. Opinions are formed very quickly in this market," Mr. Meyer added. "Not in ten years, but in two."
The top price achieved tonight was for Roy Lichtenstein’s Step-On Can with Leg, a work that boldly announced the arrival of the artist’s new style and embodied many of the tenets of Pop Art, that sold for $4,849,500. Executed in 1961, a seminal year in the Pop Art movement, this was among the very first works the artist showed to Leo Castelli upon their meeting that year and marked the beginning of Castelli’s representation of Lichtenstein.
Jasper Johns’ exquisite watercolor, Corpse and Mirror, brought $3,144,000, surpassing the high estimate and setting an auction record for a work on paper by the artist. Created in 1975-76, this example of the artist’s crosshatch pattern shows the means by which Johns generated his celebrated Corpse and Mirror images. It was estimated to sell for $2/3 million. Also fetching $3,144,000 was Clyfford Still’s expansive canvas entitled 1960-F which set a record for the artist at auction.
Also among the highlights of the evening was Ellsworth Kelly’s rare and extraordinary 1971 work entitled Chatham XIII: Yellow/Red that inspired spirited bidding finally selling for $2,920,00, far surpassing the $1.8 million high estimate; and Cy Twombly’s Untitled (Bolsena) from 1969 which sold for $2,920,000 (est. $2.2/2.8 million).
Sculpture performed well tonight, with an outstanding Untitled work by David Smith, widely considered to be one of the most important American sculptors of the twentieth century, selling for $3,032,000. Also among the top ten lots tonight was Alexander Calder’s monumental standing mobile entitled Small Crinkly which sold for $2,808,000. Other sculpture highlights included Roy Lichtenstein’s Three Brushstrokes which sold for $1,912,000; Donald Judd’s Untitled from 1980, a galvanized iron and blue Plexiglas ’stack" that brought an impressive $1,128,000, just under the high estimate of $1.2 million; and Serial Project #1 ABCD 6 which set a record at auction for Sol Lewitt when it sold for $310,000. Executed in 1968, the work had been estimated to sell for $120/180,000.
The auction record for Pop icon James Rosenquist was set twice this evening when his 1961 oil on canvas entitled Brighter than the Sun sold for $456,000, and eight lots later his Air Hammer broke the records selling for $512,000.
Matthew Carey-Williams, Vice President, Sotheby’s Contemporary Art department, commented, "There is great depth in the market, not just for Abstract Expressionists and Pop works, but there are equally outstanding results to be had in the younger market. We were very committed to putting together a great group of works by younger artists and tonight we were justified in that with records established for Cattelan, Tim Noble & Sue Webster, Takashi Murakami, Yoshitomo Nara, John Currin and Rachel Whiteread."
One of the most spectacular moments of the evening came when Maurizio Cattelan’s The Ballad of Trotsky set a new world record for the artist at auction, selling for $2,080,000 well in excess of the $800,000 high estimate. Following a lengthy battle between a bidder on the telephone and one in the saleroom, the audience erupted into applause at the fall of the hammer. "The strong price achieved for the Cattelan, which had recently been on the market in London and more than doubled its former price in only three years, is a further illustration that quality is more important than freshness," Mr. Carey-Williams continued.
Other highlights of this group included Martin Kippenberger’s Self with Michael Wurthle which eclipsed the $300,000 high estimate to sell for $512,000, and Tim Noble & Sue Webster’s The Sweet Smell of Success which brought $232,000, a record for the pair at auction.
Interest in Japanese artist Takashi Murakami continues to increase at a dizzying pace, and tonight’s sale of Flower Ball (3-D) further proved this trend when it sold for $624,000 (est. $250/350,000), a record for the artist at auction. Also from Japan is Yoshitomo Nara whose Blue Sheep far surpassed the $100/150,000 estimate to sell for $198,400 against a high estimate of $150,000.


Lucas Cranach the Younger
Portrait of Lucas Cranach the Elder. 1550
Oil on panel
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy
Stolen Cranach Painting Recovered by Georgian Police [May, 14. 2004]

TBILISI, GEORGIA.- The independent TV channel Imedi in Georgia reported that police recovered a painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder titled “Procuress”. The work had been stolen from the Georgian Art Museum ten years ago. The work was found in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, according to Interior Minister Georgy Baramidze.

Lucas Cranach the Elder, an artist’s son was born in Cronach in Franconia in about 1472. He spent 1501 to 1504 in Vienna before coming to Wittenberg as court painter to the Saxon Elector Friedrich the Wise. The latter made him a member of the nobility in 1508, presenting him with a coat of arms with a winged snake. Cranach traveled to the Netherlands in that same year at the request of his Elector.

Some two years later he married Barbara Brengbier, a daughter of the mayor of Gotha. Cranach carried out extensive constructions to his large house in Schloss Street 1 during the ensuing years. Lucas Cranach’s workshop developed into an extremely manifold artistic manufacturing business.

His two sons Hans and Lucas (the younger) were born in 1513 and 1515. Both followed in their father’s footsteps and became artists. Cranach’s daughters Ursula and Barbara was born in 1517 and 1519. In 1520 Cranach acquired the apothecary’s privilege. Martin Luther was the Godfather of his daughter Anna, born in that same year. From 1523 onwards Cranach had a printing press for a while and later a book shop as well. Lucas and Barbara Cranach were the witnesses to Martin Luther’s and Katharina von Bora’s marriage, and Cranach was the Godfather of their first son Johannes.

Cranach was one of the most highly respected and richest citizens of Wittenberg. As such he was a member of the Wittenberg’s town council for numerous years and was also mayor a number of times. The death of his talented son Hans in Bologna in 1537 hit Cranach hard. Three years later his wife Barbara also died. In 1547 Cranach asked Emperor Charles V to have mercy with the imprisoned Elector John Friedrich.

Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) (Detail)
Number 12, 1949
Oil on paper laid down on masonite
Estimate: $5,000,000-7,000,000

Record Set For Jackson Pollock at Christie-s Auction [May 13, 2004]

NEW YORK. - Contemporary works by Jackson Pollock, Chuck Close, Dan Flavin, and Ed Ruscha set new records at Christie’s in a $102.1 million sale. This was the first postwar and contemporary auction that raises more than $100 million in Christie’s history, according to Christopher Burge , Christie’s honorary chairman and the evening’s auctioneer.

Jackson Pollock’s “No. 12, 1949,” was sold for $11.6 million. The work was sold by the Museum of Modern Art. Mark Rothko’s “No. 15” (1958) sold for $8.9 million. It was acquired by Robert Mnuchin, chairman of the Manhattan gallery C&M Arts. The work Self-Portrait, 1967 by Andy Warhol, sold for $6.9 million. “Large Florwers” (1964) also by Warhol, sold for $6.7 million. "Jim Beam J. B. Turner Train" (1986) by Jeff Koons sold for $5.4 million.

An important painting made at the very apex of the artist’s meteoric and turbulent career, Jackson Pollock’s Number 12, 1949 is a seemingly complete world onto itself. It is a self-contained cosmos in paint made out of a myriad of interlaced swirls and streaks of vibrant color that weaves a constantly moving, almost evolving, complex pattern of painterly form and energy. Painted for his third exhibition at the Betty Parsons Gallery in November 1949--the breakthrough show that would effectively launch the artist’s now legendary status--Number 12, 1949 is a work that both celebrates and explores Pollock’s new-found freedom and mastery of the radical "drip" technique he had originated two summers before. It is also a work that formed part of a select group of Pollock’s paintings chosen for the United States Pavilion at the 1950 Venice Biennale--an exhibition which was to have a radical and transforming effect on the development of much avant-garde European art in the early 1950s. Constructed using the full range of Pollock’s seemingly magical fluid painterly language, the painting manages to articulate an emotional intensity from the gossamer-like threads of the gestural drips and meandering lines of its enamel paint. Though it is not a large painting--Pollock painted very few large works in 1949--Number 12 is, nevertheless, one of the most intense and complete statements in the artist’s oeuvre.

The year 1949 was to prove the most decisive and important year of Pollock’s life. After two years of struggle formulating and evolving his "drip" technique Pollock and everyone around him, knew that the time was ripe, for him to assert his radical new work on a wider public. Pollock himself was in a confident and relatively stable frame of mind. Throughout the first part of 1949 Pollock settled into a simple and healthy routine at his house on Fireside Road in the Springs, East Hampton. Isolated from outside influence and the temptations of the city, Pollock worked soberly and keenly on several new paintings for his show in November.


Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
Barcelona Chair
Chrome Plated Flat Steel Frame, 1927

Sotheby’s to Sell Property from the Seagram Collection  [May 13, 2004]

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Sotheby’s June 17, 2004 sale of Important 20th Century Design will feature iconic "Barcelona" and "Tugendhat" furniture from the main executive reception area of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s legendary Seagram Building. Located at 375 Park Avenue, the Seagram Building was the result of a commission from 1954 to design the headquarters for the Seagram’s distillery company. Completed in the winter of 1957-58, the Director of Planning, Phyllis Lambert, and the co-architect, Philip Johnson, oversaw the selection of furniture for Seagram’s offices. The June auction will include five "Barcelona" chairs and two "Tugendhat" coffee tables designed by Mies and used in the main executive reception area and executive offices of the Seagram Building. The offering of furniture from the Seagram Building will also include a site-specific mural depicting the process of distillation by graphic designer Herbert Matter. This is one of only two murals painted by Matter and the first time one is to be offered at auction. The mural will be sold in situ and the furniture will be on public exhibition from June 13-16, 2004.

James Zemaitis, Senior Vice President and Director of 20th Century Design said, "These are the only Mies chairs and tables from the Seagram Building, circa 1958, to survive in their original condition. For collectors, the idea of owning the iconic "Barcelona" chair has always presented a conundrum. None of the first-edition chairs from 1929 are known to exist outside of institutions. And the classic Knoll reissue has been manufactured in the millions, a testament to the lasting power of the design. Here, in a rare opportunity, we are presenting examples of the model that are site-specific, and are clearly labeled with the provenance of an architectural masterwork."

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) was born in Aachen, Germany, and worked initially as a draftsman specializing in furniture design and rendering. In the mid-1920’s he began to design furniture that he conceived and created for particular interiors. In 1929, in collaboration with Bauhaus alumnus Lilly Reich, Mies created a chair upholstered in leather and set upon a curved metal frame in the shape of an X for his landmark German Pavilion at the Barcelona International Exhibition. It was this design that was selected for the Seagram executive offices. The June auction will include five "Barcelona" chairs, designed in 1929 and executed by Knoll circa 1958, in their original condition, all of which boast the iconic Seagram/FURNITURE & FIXTURES label denoting their early inclusion in the Seagram Collection. This label was not used on later additions. The chairs, which are estimated to sell for $6/8,000 each, were installed according to the original floor plan which was retained throughout the life of the space.

The sale will also include two "Tugendhat" Coffee Tables designed by Mies in 1930 for his Tugendhat House in Brno, Czech Republic. The tables, manufactured by Knoll circa 1958, were grouped with the "Barcelona" chairs on the executive floor, and also bear the sought-after Seagram labels. The tables are estimated to sell for $2,500/3,500 each.

The auction will also include a site-specific mural by noted photographer and graphic designer Herbert Matter (1907-1984) from the 5th floor executive reception area of the Seagram Building (est. $30/50,000). Born in Switzerland, Herbert Matter was educated at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Geneva and with Fernand Leger in Paris. He began his career designing posters for the Swiss National Tourist Office and Swiss resorts. Matter moved to New York in 1936 and worked as a freelancer for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, among other magazines. During the late 50s and early 60s in New York, Matter was an intimate participant in the New York art scene, counting Jackson Pollack and Lee Krasner, Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Franz Kline and Philip Guston and Alexander Calder as friends and confidants. From 1946 to 1966, after settling in the United States ten years earlier, Matter was a design consultant with Knoll Associates. Mies was also a Knoll designer and the two worked in collaboration on two projects, The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and the Seagram Building. After the completion of the Seagram Building in 1958, Matter created the large graphic mural in the 5th floor reception area. The mural depicts the liquor-distilling process, by showing the liquids in bright colors circulating through tubes and containers. This work is only one of two large-scale, site-specific murals Matter executed, the other being in the Grosse Pointe, Michigan Public Library.

"Matter is a hero to scholars and collectors of mid-century modern design," noted Mr. Zemaitis, "and we are honored to be presenting this important mural within the context of a 20th Century design auction."

Inside the Sotheby’s-Christie Auction House Scandal [May 12, 2004]

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Putnam just published the book titled “The Art of the Steal - Inside the Sotheby’s-Christie Auction House Scandal,” written by Christopher Mason. This is the definitive book on the price-fixing scandal that roiled the art world, from the reporter who Dominick Dunne says "knows more about the ins and outs of this story than anyone else" (Vanity Fair).

The Art of the Steal is the explosive inside story-the only book to tell the whole truth and dish the dirt-of one of the most fascinating big-business trials of the new century-the price-fixing scandal that rocked the auction world and put one of the richest men in America behind bars.

Brilliantly written and reported, it tells the story of larger-than-life figures-the billionaire tycoon Alfred Taubman; the most powerful woman in the art world, Diana "DeDe" Brooks; and the wily British executive Christopher Davidge-who quaffed champagne and dined on caviar while conspiring to cheat clients out of millions of dollars. The book also offers an unprecedented look inside this secretive, gold-plated industry, describing just how Sotheby’s and Christie’s grew from clubby, aristocratic businesses into slick, international corporations and showing how the groundwork for the most recent illegal activities was laid decades before the perpetrators were caught by federal prosecutors.

Christopher Mason is the only reporter who has persuaded all the key figures (and hundreds more) to spill the beans. He has followed the trail of this story wherever it has led-from galleries and boardrooms in London, Paris, and New York to parties in Palm Beach and courtrooms in lower Manhattan.

Evoking the best-known investigative narratives like Barbarians at the Gate and Den of Thieves, the hidden lives of the very rich described in Philistines at the Hedgerow, and the crime-and-high-society reporting of Dominick Dunne, The Art of the Steal is destined to become the hottest-and most entertaining-gossip-starter of the season.

The Art of the Steal is the explosive inside story-the only book to tell the whole truth and dish the dirt-of one of the most fascinating big-business trials of the new century-the price-fixing scandal that rocked the auction world and put one of the richest men in America behind bars.


Sale of 20-21st Century
Design Art at Phillips

Sale of 20-21st Century Design Art at Phillips [May 12. 2004]

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Phillips, de Pury & Company is pleased to present a sale of 20-21st Century Design Art on June 10, 2004 at their Chelsea galleries in New York. Blending classic with contemporary design, the sale will be conducted in two sessions , both of which have been carefully curated to showcase important examples from the various movements of the last century.

The first session, beginning at 4.00pm, comprises classic modern design of the early 20th century, and is dominated by works from the members of the Union des Artistes Modernes, founded by architects and furniture designers in 1930. Their avant-garde creations remain strikingly modern today, as shown in Louis Sognot’s rosewood low table ($15,000-20,000), Jean E. Puiforcat’s table clock ($40,000-60,000) and Boris Lacroix’s glass and metal coupe ($3,500-4,500) and vase ($5,000-6,000).

Another highlight of this section is an important desk by DIM’s Joubert et Petit ($70,000-90,000), which is further complemented by an outstanding group of modernist works by Desny, including a rare metal floor lamp ($40,000-60,000). Also included are exquisite examples of the high standard of craftsmanship and elegance within the Art Deco period, with such pieces as Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann’s two-tier console ($80,000-90,000), a pair of “Hydravion” armchairs ($70,000-90,000) and Edgar Brandt’s bronze standing lamp “La Tentation” ($80,000-100,000).

The evening session, commencing at 7.00pm, will present important works by Jean Prouve, Charlotte Perriand and their French peers, Italian Pop and Radical design, concluding with a section of razor-sharp contemporary design by Tom Dixon, Constantin and Laurene Boym, Zaha Hadid and Robert Wilson. A group of important works on sale by Charlotte Perriand includes three which come from a private apartment in Geneva, designed by Pierre Jeanneret in 1957 and furnished by Perriand. The highlight of this group is a rare free-form low table in ebonised oak ($80,000-100,000). Also from this commission is an extremely rare bookcase ($40,000-60,000) constructed from planks and wooden bricks to create a flexible structure, and an unusually long (3.6 meters) oak dining table ($60,000-80,000). Works by Perriand’s life-long collaborator Jean Prouve, are also expected to generate significant interest. These include a bookshelf from the Maison de la Tunisie ($35,000-45,000), a pair of aluminium “Porthole” door panels ($50,000-70,000), and a dining table with an aluminium base ($50,000-70,000). These pieces show Prouve’s strength as an engineer and architect adapted to his furniture designs. Line Vautrin, a French jeweller and sculptor is appreciated for her whimsical designs, such as the gilt bronze “Dante” bracelet ($7,000-9,000) and her free-form sculpture($18,000-20,000) wrapped with brass wire.

Another rarity, a suite of two chairs and matching table by Grete Jalk ($80,000-120,000), is one of the Scandinavian offerings included in the sale, while Italy’s Pop and Radical design movement of the 1960s and 70s is represented by Superstudio’s “Bazaar” seating environment ($50,000-70,000), a white stackable shelf by Ugo La Pietra ($15,000-20,000), and Angelo Mangiarotti’s three “Spirali” lights ($16,000-20,000).

 

Sotheby’s Holdings, Inc. Announces First Quarter Results [May, 12. 2004]

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Sotheby’s Holdings, Inc., the parent company of Sotheby’s worldwide auction businesses and art-related financing activities today announced results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2004. For the quarter ended March 31, 2004, the Company reported auction and related revenues of $59.1 million, compared to $38.1 million in the corresponding period in 2003 for an increase of $21.0 million, or 55%, principally due to the private sale of the Forbes Faberge Collection in February and increased auction commission revenues. Additionally, in the first quarter of 2004, the Company recognized license fee revenue of $45.0 million related to a one-time license fee received as consideration for entering into a license agreement with Cendant Corporation in conjunction with the sale of its domestic real estate brokerage business in February. The Company’s net income from continuing operations for the first quarter of 2004 was $13.5 million, or $0.22 per diluted share, compared to a net loss from continuing operations for the first quarter of 2003 of ($27.6) million, or ($0.45) per diluted share, due to the increases in revenue discussed above, as well as a significant decrease in restructuring charges and employee retention costs. During the first quarter of 2004, the Company recorded pre-tax charges of $0.9 million, primarily due to antitrust related special charges. During the same period of 2003, the Company recorded pre-tax charges of $10.1 million consisting of net restructuring charges of $5.8 million, employee retention costs of $3.5 million and antitrust related special charges of $0.8 million. Excluding these items, the Company would have recorded adjusted net income from continuing operations of $14.1* million, or $0.23* per diluted share, in the first quarter of 2004, as compared to an adjusted net loss from continuing operations of ($21.2)* million, or ($0.34)* per diluted share, in the prior period.

Excluding the one-time license fee revenue and expense recorded in conjunction with the license agreement with Cendant Corporation, the Company’s net loss from continuing operations for the first quarter of 2004 would have been ($14.8)* million, or ($0.24)* per diluted share, compared to a net loss from continuing operations for the first quarter of 2003 of ($27.6) million, or ($0.45) per diluted share. During the first quarter of 2004, the Company recorded pre-tax charges of $0.9 million, primarily from antitrust related special charges. During the same period of 2003, the Company recorded pre-tax charges of $10.1 million, detailed above. Excluding these items and the one-time license fee revenue and expense, the Company would have recorded an adjusted net loss from continuing operations of ($14.2)* million, or ($0.23)* per diluted share, in the first quarter of 2004, as compared to an adjusted net loss from continuing operations of ($21.2)* million, or ($0.34)* per diluted share, in the prior period, an improvement of 33%.

Because of the seasonal nature of the art auction market, Auction Sales (hammer price plus buyer’s premium) in the first quarter have historically only represented approximately 9% - 13% of annual Auction Sales and the first quarter has historically been a loss period for the Company. As a result, historically, first quarter results have not been indicative of expected full year results.

"We are extremely pleased with our first quarter results, especially since the large improvement over prior years is not only due to the Forbes Faberge sale but also to a solid selling season with auction commission revenues increasing $6.3 million, or 20%, from the prior period." said William F. Ruprecht, President and Chief Executive Officer of Sotheby’s Holdings, Inc. "These strong first quarter results have now been followed by an historic first that took place at Sotheby’s last week when a painting from the fabled Whitney Collection broke the $100 million barrier at auction for the first time ever."

Second and Third Quarter Sales

History was made at Sotheby’s last week with the sale of the Property of the Greentree Foundation from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John Hay Whitney when Sotheby’s sold the world’s most expensive painting at auction, Pablo Picasso’s Garcon a la Pipe, for $104.2 million. The price shattered the previous record of $82.5 million by over $20 million and was the first to break the $100 million threshold. Auction records for four other artists were broken that night for Sir Alfred Munnings, Jean-Frederic Bazille, William Blake and Raoul Dufy, with the sale totaling $189.9 million.

The day and evening sales of Impressionist and Modern Art the day after the Greentree Whitney sale brought impressive results as well with a total of $125.0 million, just below the high estimate of $128.8 million. The total surpasses last year’s May Impressionist and Modern Art sales total of $81.1 million by 54% which clearly demonstrates the vibrancy of the current market. Eighteen lots sold for over $1 million and Claude Monet’s Le Bassin aux Nympheas was the highlight of the evening, bringing $16.8 million, soundly above its high estimate of $12 million. Including the Greentree Whitney sale, the two days of sales led the market by a wide margin with a total of $314.9 million, our highest sales total since May 1990.


Picasso
War and Peace, 1937
Drawing

Picasso’s War And Peace Exhibition At Picasso Museum [May 09, 2004]
BARCELONA. -The exhibition “Picasso: War and Peace” which has been on vie at the Picasso Museum since earlier this spring brings together the works of Pablo Ruiz Picasso that reflect the ravages of war. The exhibition will coincide with Forum Barcelona and will end at the same time this September 26, 2004.

This aspect of Picasso’s work was particularly evident from the period of the Spanish Civil War on, and was clearly expressed in the mural Guernica, which was commissioned by the Republican government for the Spanish pavilion at the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris and has become an emblem of human suffering. The destructiveness of war is also expressed in all of the works related to Guernica.

When Picasso joined the French Communist Party in 1944, he began a period of intense activity in defense of freedom and peace. These aspirations were reflected in the work he did during this period and led to his participation in the Peace Congresses held in Wroclaw (1948), Paris (1949) and London (1950). At the congresses, Picasso’s drawings and lithographs of doves became an emblem of world peace.

In addition to his involvement in the Peace Congresses, in 1945 Picasso started work on two huge panels entitled War and Peace. The project involved a great deal of preparatory work, and, in 1954, the panels were installed at a chapel in Vallauris.

The humanism evident in the fifty or so drawings that Picasso did for the sculpture L’homme au mouton - the embodiment of the Christian good shepherd - also point to the context of war: the lamb represents the victims of war and the shepherd is the defender of peace and tolerance. L’homme au mouton evokes the Mediterranean tradition, a long reflection on the power of art in the face of terror.

The exhibition Picasso. War and Peace will bring together paintings, sculptures, drawings, engravings and posters from museums, galleries and private collections around the world.

Organizer: Maria Teresa Ocana, director of the Picasso Museum

 

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