Saturday, November 08, 2014

Murray Frum Sothebys Sale September 2014

1. PARIS - Sothebys.com - Ellen Taubman - I was the former expert in charge of Tribal and American Indian art sales at Sotheby’s, New York, my career spanned the decades between the late 1970’s and into the late 1990’s. I became immersed and engaged in a culture of the great collectors who were distinguished in their expertise and generous in sharing their knowledge with others. For some of these collectors, their well-trained eyes enabled them to transcend cultural boundaries in their collecting interesting and appreciate the beauty of all great objects.
If asked to “categorize” Murray Frum in a “typology” of collectors, my response would be that he was one of the  most rarefied. Murray was a highly individual collector which is in many ways, perhaps what endeared him to so many of us.
His ever-present and insatiable curiosity for knowledge and information, his essential passion for art and history, his astute ability to assess what was quintessential, combined with his highly discriminating and exquisite taste level, put him in a place that one could only describe as exceptional.    While today many collectors often rely on the services of professional art advisors, it is impossible to even fathom Murray ever seeking this type of advice; he relied on the advice of his heart, his soul, his own gut instinct and his eye.  At the same time, it is hard to imagine a conversation with Murray when art was not included, nor could one imagine Murray anywhere in the world and ever missing an exhibition, a great piece of theatre, music or any site that was worthwhile to see. An insatiable traveller, Murray was continually looking, asking questions, acquiring knowledge about works already in his possession as well as learning
about new areas of interest and often acquiring works related to it.
In the fields of American Indian, African and Oceanic art many will recall that the decades of the 1970’s and 1980’s were a time of transition. Perhaps, part of the catalyst may have been the coming of age of one generation of collectors and the dispersion of their holdings. These sales enticed and allowed professional dealers, institutions and both established and new private collectors to meet and enter an arena where the excitement of competitive bidding often made for compelling theatre as well as record-breaking prices. For example, in the late 1970’s, the well-known and highly regarded collector George Ortiz sold his collection of world-class Oceanic Art at Sotheby’s London, a sale that generated tremendous international interest not only in the art community but also in the international press. This landmark auction was soon followed by the
dispersal of the James Hooper Collection in another series of sales in London.  Each of these auctions presented to the public market for the first time an unprecedented number of rare, and important and highly coveted early examples of sculpture from the South Seas, many with early collection provenance. The appearance of these historic treasures on the market, in turn, generated tremendous excitement resulting in a significant increase in prices and the number of and buyers among international collectors and institutions, including, at that time, the British Rail Pension Fund. Subsequently, other important and early examples of Oceanic Art came to the market including works from the Morris Pinto Collection and from the highly important collection of Dr. Edmund Carpenter and his wife Ms. Adelaide DeMenil, to name but a few. At this time too, potential buyers would more often travel to sales in London while Paris was yet to become the centre of the Tribal Art auction scene. Each of the auctions would turn out a large crowd and, often, Murray would be among them.... more
http://www.sothebys.com/en/news-video/auction-essays/tresors-collection-frum/2014/07/murray-frum-collector-connoisseur-friend.html

2. PARIS - Sothebys.com
Total : € 7.53 million / $9.74 million 100% of lots sold
New world auction records include
Uli Memorial Figure, New Ireland – €1.6 million / $2 million
Maori statue, New Zealand - €1.4 million / $1.8 million
14 works sold over €100,000
3 works sold over €1 million
 Paris, 16 September 2014 : This evening’s sale at Sotheby’s Paris of Murray Frum’s
collection of Oceanic Art was greeted with lengthy applause, confirming its place as the
landmark event which launched the Paris auction season. The record result achieved by the
sale is a triumphant homage to the exceptional eye of Murray Frum, who over the course of
fifty years brought together one of the world’s most beautiful collections of Oceanic Art,
combining extremely rare pieces of remarkable quality with historical provenance. With an
auction total of €7,530,838, almost $10 million, this ensemble of just 49 works set a new
world auction record for a sale of Oceanic art and confirms Sotheby’s position as leader in
this market.
During a hugely successful pre-sale exhibition, 2300 visitors recognized the quality of the works. A majority of lots were the subject of intense bidding, both in the room, on the telephone and online, drawing interest from Europe, the United States and Asia. Those present included both Oceanic art enthusiasts and buyers from across collecting categories.
Speaking after the sale, Jean Fritts, Sotheby’s International Director of the African and Oceanic Art Department commented: “This event is the most important in 40 years to focus entirely on Oceanic art. This evening’s result offers recognition of Murray Frum’s eye. It sets
a new reference point in this field and inscribes Oceanic Art as a new area for collecting, beyond conventional boundaries.”   The highest price achieved this evening was for a monumental uli carving from New
Ireland. This ancestral image of a powerful clan leader, which includes a rare secondary character, achieved the world auction record for an Uli art work, selling for €1,609,500 ($2,082,194). Collected before 1908 by Wilhelm Wöstrack, the uli passed into the collection
of the Linden Museum in Stuttgart, belonged to the early German collector in this field, Ernst Heinrich, and later to the Swiss surrealist painter and sculptor Serge Brignoni. The major work from Polynesia was a pou whakairo Maori statue – whose imposing face stands out all the more thanks to the beauty of his tattoos and added hair – considered as
the apogee of Maori art. Dating back to the late 18th century, it was acquired by a European
collector for €1,441,500 ($1,864,854), a world auction record for Maori work. It takes its
place in the very small corpus of free-standing Maori figures.
Among the other standout Polynesian pieces being offered today was a magnificent
sculpture: the head of a “Staff God” (atua rakau) from Raratonga in the Cook Islands,
which sold for €1,201,500 ($1,554,369). Formerly in the James Hooper collection, the Frum
staff god is one of the few examples to have survived the destruction carried out by John
Williams of the London Missionary Society in the 1820s.
A striking example of imunu sculpture by the Iwaino people of Papua New Guinea achieved €373,500 ($483,193), exceeding the pre-sale high estimate of €250,000.    This magnificent example of the dancing spirit figures created in the Gulf of Papua is without
equal both in sculptural quality and the expressiveness of the gesture. Connoisseurs could not fail to see the remarkable quality of an important figurative
fly whisk handle, tahiri ra’a, a masterpiece of small scale carving from the Rurutu Islands or Tupua’i, Austral Islands. Having caught the eye of many collectors, it was acquired for more than triple its pre-sale high estimate: €337,500 ($436,620). The sculpture
has a distinguished history, probably collected by a member of the London Missionary Society in the 1820s.

 Dr Murray Frum (1931-2013)
 Murray Frum was a Canadian real estate developer. His parents had emigrated to Canada from
Poland in 1930, and he grew up in Canada. It was a visit to New York in the late 1950s to the
Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York that sparked his passion for collecting. During this visit, he
was able to buy a duplicate Egyptian standing figure from the Met's collection. The idea
for Murray and his wife that you could own a work of art which was several hundred years old was
astonishing. Over the next fifty years, he assembled an extraordinarily diverse collection of African,
Oceanic, Pre-Columbian, Silver, Art Deco, and Renaissance art as well as Canadian paintings.

Upcoming auctions of African Art at Sotheby’s
This winter Sotheby’s will host two important collections from both sides of the Atlantic. On the 11th  of November in New York, we will offer for sale the Myron Kunin collection of African Art. On the 10th of December, Sotheby’s Paris will present the Alexis Bonew collection of African Art, centering on works from the former Congo and featuring several historical pieces unseen in public since 1937.

3. PARIS - Sothebys results Murray Frum Collection
Murray Frum’s collection of Oceanic Art sold at Sotheby’s in Paris yesterday. All 49 lots were purchased for a total of $9.4m. The pre-sale exhibition had drawn a healthy 2300 visitors and there were records set as well as 3 works making more than €1m.

Tribal Museum Exhibitions Fall 2014


1. KANSAS CITY - The Plains Indians - Artists of Earth and Sky - September 19, 2014–January 11, 2015
This groundbreaking exhibition will unite the Plains Indian masterworks found in European and North American collections, from pre-contact to contemporary, ranging from a 2,000-year-old Human Effigy stone pipe to 18th-century painted robes to a 2011 beaded adaptation of designer shoes.
The distinct Plains aesthetic—singular, ephemeral and materially rich—will be revealed through an array of forms and media: painting and drawing; sculptural works in stone, wood, antler and shell; porcupine quill and glass bead embroidery; feather work; painted robes depicting figures and geometric shapes; richly ornamented clothing; composite works; and ceremonial objects.
 Together the 140 works will reveal the accomplishments of Plains Indian artists, not only as the makers of objects that sustain tradition and embody change, but as the bearers of individual creative expression and innovation. Many nations are represented—Osage, Quapaw, Omaha, Crow, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Lakota, Blackfeet, Pawnee, Kiowa, Comanche, Mesquakie, Kansa and others. Objects will travel from France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Canada and the United States.


Morton and Estelle Sosland Honored By Mayor Sly James
 Couple's Long Support of Native American Art Prompts Mayoral Proclamation
Kansas City Mayor Sly James has proclaimed Friday, Sept. 19, 2014, as "Morton and Estelle Sosland Day" in honor of the couple's legacy as champions of American Indian art.The proclamation noted that the

Soslands "are widely respected champions of American Indian art and discerning collectors in the field."
Mr. Sosland also has been "an invaluable supporter and advisor" for the exhibition, the proclamation said, and Mr. and Mrs. Sosland played a central role in visioning and creating the Native American galleries that opened at the Nelson-Atkins in November 2009.


2. KANSAS CITY - It is absolutely fitting — and thrilling — that some of the most beautiful cultural expressions of the region’s native peoples are now gathered in the gateway city of the Great Plains. A new exhibit, “Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky,” opens to the public Friday at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Expect it to astound and enlighten thousands of visitors over the next three and a half months.
There are many reasons to applaud this show. It resulted from the painstaking and intensely detailed effort of curator Gaylord Torrence to assemble more than 120 objects for display from dozens of institutional and private collections in the U.S., Canada and Europe. Torrence and the Nelson collaborated with the Musee du quai Branly in Paris, where the exhibit debuted last April and which holds a significant collection of Native American works, including several extraordinary painted buffalo robes. And it bridges the often contentious
scholarly divide between anthropology and art history, which will help prompt discussion among viewers of the nature of art and cultural context.
Most important, perhaps, the show tells stories of life and spirit that span centuries and, in its closing section of contemporary art works, declares that the lineage of tradition and creative exploration remains vital.
Anyone who sees “Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky” will revel in its quiet collective power. And undoubtedly visitors will find favorites among the impressively crafted pieces and the many absorbing small details. They include the spirit figure carved into a pipe to face the smoker as well as the blend of natural and commercial materials from buffalo hides and porcupine quills to colorful trade beads and shells to Hudson Bay cloth and weasel fur.
Go see it.
http://www.kansascity.com/opinion/editorials/article2143220.html

3. SYDNEY.- In Australia for the first time, the exhibition Aztecs tells the glorious, dramatic and ultimately tragic story of the Aztec Empire.
Featuring more than 200 sacred cultural objects generously lent from museums throughout Mexico, the exhibition provides a fascinating insight into the ways of life, beliefs and sacrificial rituals of the Aztecs.
The richness and depth of the Aztecs exhibition has captured the public’s imagination in New Zealand where it was shown at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington in this first ever visit of an Aztecs exhibition to Australasia. The exhibition is now in Australia, where it is having its second showing at the Australian Museum in Sydney.
“We’re delighted to be working in partnership with the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington and the Australian Museum to bring this exhibition of remarkable treasures to Australia,” said Dr
Patrick Greene, CEO, Museum Victoria.
“The Aztec empire is one of history’s greatest civilisations. This is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for visitors in Australia to learn about Aztec daily life and afterlife through archaeological finds, intricate models
and dramatic multimedia.”
“We are pleased to collaborate with our colleagues at Melbourne Museum, Victoria, and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, to uncover this innovative civilisation. The Aztec civilisation had it all; longevity, noteworthy accomplishments coupled with pioneering education and political structures, before their conquest by the Spanish in 1521. We look forward to sharing with our visitors this dramatic Aztec story told through remarkable objects,” said Mr Frank Howarth, Director, Australian Museum.
The Aztecs emerged as the dominant force in central Mexico in the 15th century. They developed a complex social, political, religious and commercial system from their capital city, Tenochtitlán – the site of modern-day Mexico City. The Aztecs were rich in culture and traditions, with remarkable accomplishments in art and architecture.
Mexican curator Raúl Barrera, head of the INAH Urban Archaeology Program, has selected a fascinating range of objects from a number of different Mexican museums for this exhibition. ..more
http://artdaily.com/news/72884/Exhibition-showcasing-stunning-artefacts-from-Mexico-s-major-museums-on-tour-in-Australia-#.VF03FP50zVk


Fake and Foregeries - Technology Fall 2014

1. GENEVA (AFP).- Dressed in an immaculate white lab coat, Sandra Mottaz stares intently through a stereo microscope at a bold-coloured painting purportedly by French master Fernand Leger, searching for signs of forgery.
"Here, we can make out vertical lines in what could be a grid," Mottaz says, looking up from the shiny white instrument providing a three-dimensional view of the painting.
That could signal the painting is a fake, but artists themselves also use the technique to copy their own work onto different formats, so more tests are needed, she says.
Mottaz and her colleagues at the Fine Arts Expert Institute (FAEI) use cutting-edge scientific methods like
radiocarbon dating and infrared reflectography to determine the authenticity of artworks, and sometimes to uncover unknown masterpieces.
"When you buy an apartment, you always get an appraisal first. But in the art world, until recently, you could buy works for 10 million euros without sufficient documentation," says FAEI chief Yann Walther.
But that is changing amid soaring prices in an art market where works worth an estimated $60 billion change hands each year.
The ballooning amounts up for grabs have also hiked the incentive for art forgers, and scientists like Walther and Mottaz are increasingly being called upon to supplement efforts by traditional art experts and conservationists to authenticate works.
Half artwork in circulation fake
The art world has in recent years been rocked by forgery scandals, revealing fake works attributed to a long line of masters, including Paul Gauguin, Marc Chagall, Jackson Pollock and Leger.
Experts estimate a full half of all artworks in circulation today are fake -- a number that is difficult to verify but that Walther says is, if anything, an underestimate. ... more
http://artdaily.com/news/73562/Fine-Arts-Experts-Institute--Lab-sleuths-in-Geneva-help-art-world-uncover-fakes#.VF0X6_50zVl

Legal Concerns Fall 2014

1. NEW YORK - November Meetings of Interest
November NYC Programs on Laws Affecting Ivory and Endangered Species
Appraisers Association of America National Conference: Director’s Order 210: Clarifying the Confusion, Sunday, November 9th, 2014, 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM. Lark Mason, President, iGavel Auctions, William Pearlstein, Partner, Pearlstein & McCullough LLP; Renee Vara, Vara Art (moderator).  Info here.

New York University, Art Law Day: Changing Laws for the Sale of Endangered Species, Friday, November 7th, 2014, 9:45 AM – 11:00 AM. Craig Hoover, Chief, Wildlife Trade and Conservation Branch, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Monica Kreshik, Associate Attorney, Department of Environmental Conservation, New York State; Michael McCullough, Partner, Pearlstein & McCullough LLP; Lark Mason, President, iGavel Auctions / Lark Mason Associates (moderator).  Info here.
http://committeeforculturalpolicy.org/november-programs-ivory-updates/

2. LOS ANGELES - James Cuno: The Case Against Repatriating Museum Artifacts
 An important article by Dr. James Cuno, President and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Museum Trust, entitled Culture War: The Case Against Repatriating Museum Artifacts, appears in Foreign Affairs’ Nov/Dec 2014 issue. Cuno prefaces his argument against blanket repatriation by describing Francesco Rutelli, then Italy’s cultural minister, rhapsodizing over the a 2009 Rome exhibition of 69 artworks returned by four major US museums: the objects, Rutelli said, “have reconquered their souls.” Cuno notes similarly aggrandizing attitudes in comprehensive ownership claims by other modern nations, noting Turkish minister of culture, Ertugrul Gunay’s statement in 2011 that “each and every antiquity in any part of the world should eventually go back to its homeland.”
(Gunay went even further in anthropomorphizing ancient artworks as living citizens of modern nations in 2012, stating that, “Artifacts, just like people, animals or plants, have souls and historical memories. When they are repatriated to their countries, the balance of nature will be restored.” See Art War with Turkey, CCP Art News, October 10, 2012. )
Setting aside the absurdity of such pronouncements, Cuno finds the blatant politicizing of art at odds with the humanist goals of encyclopedic museums that present human culture as a world-wide, evolving dialog between the present and the greatest achievements of the past. He states that, “antiquities and their history should not be used to stoke such narrow identities. Instead, they should express the guiding principles of the world’s great museums: pluralism, diversity, and the idea that culture shouldn’t stop at borders.”
Cuno states flatly that, “Contrary to their stated intent, countries that make political claims on historical objects are not helping protect their cultural heritages,” noting the horrific destruction and irreparable losses to world culture during recent wars and the deliberate excision whole periods of artistic history by xenophobic governments.
Cuno finds a way forward in “a robust program of exchange among museums around the world,” that will discourage frivolous restitution claims from individual governments and promote the responsible sharing of collections from encyclopedic museums with museums in places that themselves have no encyclopedic museums.”... more
http://committeeforculturalpolicy.org/james-cuno-the-case-against-repatriating-museum-artifacts/



State of the Art Market Fall 2014

1. LONDON - If you didn’t make it to Frieze, Vernissage TV’s tour of the fair is good way to get a taste of what visitors saw. Although sales were reported, there wasn’t a sense of market frenzy. The same tone seemed to hover over the auctions in London where Italian art created all of the heat and chatter.
So we asked Karolina Prawdzik to put together an overview chart of the Contemporary art sales in London during Frieze week from 2005 to today. What we saw was interesting, especially when we looked beneath the headlines of the evening sale and isolated the Contemporary day sales. Below you’ll see two charts comparing the average price (blue line) with the total sales volume (bars) for the Frieze Contemporary sales overall including Evening and Day sales (first chart) and then just the Day sales (bottom chart.)
The point of isolating the Day sales is to look at the day-to-day business of demand for Contemporary art. As we all know, value congregates in a few pieces by a few artists. The day sales present a broader look at demand.
From these charts you can see that volume and average prices for Day sale material is only now matching or exceeding the peak of 2007. Though the overall market, helped by the high flying Evening sales regained that ground two years ago.
If the Day sale numbers are finally back at 2007 levels, the fever pitch of the market certainly isn’t. For those who want to believe that the art market has entered a new phase, strong numbers amid sober expectations is a good combination. more....
http://artmarketmonitor.cmail1.com/t/ViewEmail/t/9FEEBF317AD8A6C6/BB79663AEFD4AC2D2540EF23F30FEDED

2. NEW YORK - Art Market Monitor - The art world “is like a guild meeting,” Jim Chanos, the founder of hedge-fund firm Kynikos Associates LP, said at a dinner he hosted for about 90 people at the Dorchester hotel. “Everyone gets together, they gossip and they pass judgment. It’s kind of silly and you have to take it with a grain of salt. You pick your spots,” said the investor, who’s known for betting against companies and markets.
Jim Chanos is no fan of art as an investment or even as an asset. The famed short-seller has tried to tie Sotheby’s stock to equity bubbles but even with recent market swoons, BID has collapsed without bringing down the broader equities market. That’s not to say that Chanos doesn’t have smart things to say about art consumption...
RUHLE: All right. Hedge funds make me think of the ultra 1 percent. You have been critical in the past of the art market, saying we are sitting on a bubble. Where do you stand now?
JIM CHANOS: Well I was in London last week and I spoke to a Bloomberg reporter Friday night about it. We’ve been short Sotheby’s. We were public on that. And I think that – that the art market is an interesting microcosm of all (inaudible).
RUHLE: The super rich?
JIM CHANOS: – about it in that – that it’s socially acceptable conspicuous consumption.
RUHLE: One more time?
JIM CHANOS: Socially acceptable conspicuous consumption. I think it’s a market that studies have shown correlates more with income inequality than general economic growth. And I think that’s an interesting part that a lot of people don’t realize about the art market, that the richer the rich get the better the art market does. The art market didn’t do so hot in the ‘60s and ‘70s when all incomes were going up. It did really well in the last10 years and in the late ‘80s, for example. So you have to be a little careful with art. I think art is wonderful. If you love a piece of art, buy it. Enjoy it. Put it up on your wall. But to use it as a financial investment or barometer I think is a little scary...more
http://www.artmarketmonitor.com/2014/10/21/chanos-art-buying-is-socially-acceptable-conspicuous-consumption/

3. NEW YORK - The Daily Beast - Are Over Half the Works on the Art Market Really Fakes?
A new study claims that over 70 percent of artworks for sale are either fakes or misattributions. If that’s true, are galleries and the art-loving very rich being taken for fools?
The late Bob Coe, a rich American who lived for a while on the Riviera, bought an important Picasso from a well-known Paris dealer in the 1930s. His house was near Pablo Picasso’s, so he got an introduction to him, and drove over with the picture in the back of his car.
Picasso, who was a remarkably mischievous person, flatly denied that he had ever painted the picture, and Coe then went off in a frightful state, and got hold of the dealer who had sold it to him. The dealer had
bought it directly from Picasso’s dealer—so there was no doubt the picture was genuine.
So back Coe went to Picasso, and confronted with the indisputable evidence of the authenticity of the work, all Picasso would say was “Souvent je peint des faux Picassos”— “I often paint false Picassos.”
And off poor Bob Coe—if you can call a man whose family were partners with the Rockefellers in Standard Oil “poor”—went again, no doubt scratching his head.
This little story—told to me by my father who had it from my grandfather, who was a friend of Bob Coe’s—gets, in its utterly absurd way, to the very heart of the never-ending debate about fake works of art.
The argument about whether a work is fake or really by the master can essentially be reduced to two words: Says who?... More
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/10/17/are-over-half-the-works-on-the-art-market-fakes.html

4. LONDON— Wall Street Journal - Christie’s bested rival  Sotheby’s  and boutique house Phillips during a round of evening auctions last week that tested the contemporary art market before New York’s major November sales.
All three houses logged solid results overall, but critical tests of deceased or older artists for whom the auction houses are trying to develop markets were mixed.
The auction market during Frieze Art Week, the European art world’s most frantic week of buying held each October, was further boosted by a sale of 43 museum-quality works from the collection of Karlheinz Essl, an Austrian owner of DIY stores whose failed expansion into Turkey and Eastern Europe triggered the sale.
Mr. Essl’s auctioned works last Monday totaled $75 million, between the $64 million and $96 million pre-sale estimate. It burnished Christie’sgrowing reputation as the leader in liquidating large single-owner collections, a reputation that first drove Mr. Essl’s interest in having them handle the “painful process,” he says.
German painter Gerhard Richter fetched the top price but also suffered the most awkward moment in that sale: his four-paneled painting “Clouds (Window)” sold for $10 million but “Net,” a major abstract painting expected to sell easily, failed to reach its $12 million low estimate, prompting a funereal moment of silence from the audience.
Mr. Richter, 82 years old, was the world’s most expensive living artist at auction before Jeff Koons’s “
Balloon Dog” sold last year for $58 million. Specialists expected demand for Richters to be boosted by his show at Marian Goodman’s new London gallery that opened last week with sold-out works priced between $76,000 and $4.4 million.
But buyers are establishing a pecking order for Mr. Richter’s older works, auction specialists and private dealers acknowledged after the auctions.
Though “Net” is an excellent example of Mr. Richter’s transition between blurring paint and using a squeegee, buyers shunned it because it wasn’t a “typical” Richter, says Christie’s specialist Francis Outred.
“The aesthetic wasn’t fashionable,” he said.
Mr. Richter’s drab camouflage-colored 1971 “Jungle Painting” stalled at Sotheby’s on Friday night under its $3 million low estimate.
The overall contemporary sale at Sotheby’s totaled $45 million, just above the pre-sale low estimate and below Christie’s’ $64 million total for its competing sale held on Thursday. Sotheby’s enjoyed a surprise hit in its side Italian sale on Friday when a private European collector paid $20 million for Piero Manzoni’s “Achrome,” a blindingly white 1958-1959 canvas...more
http://online.wsj.com/articles/london-caps-a-busy-art-week-1413754454

5. NEW YORK - EBay and Sotheby's To Launch Online Auctions For Fine Art And Antiques.. The traditional gavel is going, going, gone.
Ebay, the ecommerce giant beloved by bargain-hunters, today announced plans to broadcast live auctions of fine art and antiques in partnership with Sotheby’s, the elite auction house known for headline-worthy events like its $45 million sale of a Francis Bacon triptych.
The joint effort represents an attempt to woo the dollars that online shoppers are spending on luxury goods. According to eBay, more than 3,500 of its auctions close each day at a price point greater than $5,000. Sotheby’s, for its part, has seen a leap in buyers’ activity online over the last two years, with online bidders competing for nearly one in five lots in 2013. In April of this year, Sotheby’s sold John James Audubon’s elephant-folio The Birds of America for $3.5 million, a new record for the company.
“We are joining with eBay to make our sales more accessible to the broadest possible audience around the world.”
For eBay, the partnership further signals the company's shift away from online flea market to curated storefront of big-name brands. For Sotheby's, which has been looking to grow beyond its core, high-end audience, eBay offers both a channel for reaching 36 million collectibles shoppers, as well as a platform for selling a higher volume of lots at the mid-tier luxury price point most lucrative to its business. (Works like the Bacon triptych build an auction house's reputation, but the terms of the sale are typically more favorable to sellers than to the house.)
Competition in the category is heating up, with Christie’s hiring technical talent to build out its own online auction capabilities and galleries adding inventory to Artsy, a site that helps collectors discover and buy art that matches their tastes...more
http://www.fastcodesign.com/3033029/fast-feed/ebay-and-sothebys-to-launch-online-auctions-for-fine-art-and-antiques

6.  LONDON - A Shift in the Antiques Market -  “Hundred pounds? It’s no money at all. Eighty, then?”
The refrain — uttered by an auctioneer in Dorset, in the west of England — and others like it are being repeated in different accents, languages and currencies in any number of salesrooms around the world currently struggling to find a market for everyday antique furniture.
The lot in question, offered by the Dorchester auctioneer Duke’s on Sept. 25, was an English 18th-century oak lowboy — a deep-fronted side table with three drawers — estimated to fetch as much as 250 pounds, or about $405. Eventually a couple of bidders pitched in and this handsome, but not so fashionable piece was knocked down for a hammer price of £130, plus 22 percent in fees, to a woman in the sparsely attended salesroom.
“Fifteen years ago, antique furniture used to be about half our business. Now it’s less than 20 percent,” said Guy Schwinge, a partner at Duke’s, one of Britain’s most prominent regional salesrooms. “There’s been a shift in taste. People furnish homes in a more minimal way and they don’t do period schemes. Our lifestyles have changed.”
Mr. Schwinge pointed out that few people now had formal dining rooms, and this has affected the prices of period furniture. A set of seven Regency rosewood dining chairs sold for £317 with fees at Duke’s. People don’t read as many printed books as they used to, and they certainly don’t write many letters — hence the paltry £366 that went to an 18th-century mahogany bureau bookcase.
So the question on many collectors’ minds now is just how low can the price of period English furniture go? The British-based Antique Collectors’ Club’s Annual Furniture Index (AFI), based on a mix of auction and retail prices of 1,400 typical items, fell by 6 percent to 2,238 in 2013. The index has been on a slide for more than a decade after reaching a peak of 3,575 in 2002.
“For nice furnishing things, prices are as low as I can remember,” said Paul Beedham, an early oak specialist dealer in Derbyshire. “The professional classes who used to buy just don’t have the money any more. They’
re struggling to pay their mortgages and car loans.”
But while prices for middle- and lower-range antique furniture might be at an all-time nadir, exceptional collector pieces can still sell for substantial sums. Mr. Beedham sold a 16th-century turned oak armchair associated with Queen Elizabeth I’s lord chief justice, Sir John Popham, to an American collector for between £40,000 and £50,000 at the LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair in London’s Berkeley Square, which closed on Sept. 28.
On Sept. 18, the Zurich auctioneers Koller sold a freshly discovered circa 1720 “bureau plat,” or writing desk, by the French cabinet maker André-Charles Boulle for 3 million Swiss francs with fees, or about $3.1 million, to a private collector based in London. The elaborately inlaid desk with gilt-bronze satyr-head mounts is similar to an example in the J. Paul Getty Museum in California, and had been kept in a Swiss castle for many generations. The price was the highest ever paid for a piece of furniture at an auction in Switzerland.
“The market went down after 9/11, and it’s really crashed for medium and lower level items,” said Philippe Perrin, director of the Paris-based furniture and art dealers Perrin Antiquaires, who had been hoping to... more
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/06/arts/international/a-shift-in-the-antique-market.html?_r=1

7. NEW YORK  - Can the Art Market Thrive as the Business of Selling Art Suffers?
 It’s the quiet season in the art market. Time for reflection on what’s happened and what’s to come. Surprisingly, the word in the air seems to be one of moderation and retreat. Scott Reyburn channels some of that in his International New York Times column. He points to Sotheby’s weak stock price as a signal that the booming art market isn’t necessarily a boon to auction houses:
“Auction houses aren’t scalable businesses. They can’t expand by multiples like dealerships,” said Michael Hutter, a cultural economist who is director of the Cultural Sources of Newness research unit at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center in Germany. “Profits are crumbling at the top of the market. They can’t charge 50 percent, which is partly why they’re turning to online sales.”
Evidence of that auction houses have bumped into a ceiling, Reyburn says, can be seen in Sotheby’s stock price having slid from $55 to $40 in recent months.
“There’s a feeling among financial analysts that the valuations of art-related companies are peaking,” said Fabian Bocart, the director of quantitative research at the Brussels-based art investment advisers Tutela Capital. “These valuations are based on expected volumes at auction. Very expensive items have almost no impact.”
In other words, the headline sales don’t translate into operating margin for the auction houses and their growth prospects are limited by the seeming lack of a middle market:
“There are definitely fewer art buyers than there were in 2008,” said Mr. Bocart, the research director. “The cards have been redistributed by the financial crisis. Fewer people have more money, and they do spend more, but the base has been diminished. Art needs to be refreshed. We’re waiting for something to happen.”
Meanwhile, something is happening with Sotheby’s stock which has sharply recovered the crucial $40 threshold. Let’s see if it can hold above that price.
Scratches in the Art Market Gilding  (NYTimes.com)http://www.artmarketmonitor.com/2014/08/22/can-the-art-market-thrive-as-the-business-of-selling-art-suffers/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=can-the-art-market-thrive-as-the-business-of-selling-art-suffers

8. NEW YORK - Sotheby’s Private Sales Hit Hard in 2014 Even as Transactions Increased - What Sotheby’s Doesn’t Want You To Know About Its Private Sales  (artnet News)
Philip Boroff knows his way around an SEC filing. He went through Sotheby’s recent earnings to come up with these interesting numbers on the short-term drop in Sotheby’s private sales business which CEO Ruprecht reminds us is a “chunky” business. The most interesting piece of news isn’t the big drop itself, nearly half the value of the previous period, but the fact that transactions increased but were obviously at a much lower value:
Long a focus of company executives, private sales tumbled 48 percent in the first half of the year, according to an August 8 Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The value of private transactions, in which Sotheby’s discretely brokers art and other collectibles to one prospective purchaser at a time, dived to $294 million in the first half of 2014 from $561 million a year earlier. It was the lowest private sales total since 2010. The drop contributed to a 15 percent decline in quarterly earnings and an 8 percent drop in Sotheby’s stock on Friday.
In the first half of this year, private sales accounted for 8 percent of Sotheby’s overall sales. Private sales commissions for 2014's first half were $30 million, down by a quarter from a year earlier.
Besides accentuating the positive, Sotheby’s hasn’t offered many explanations about the setback. In an August 8 press release summarizing its results for the year’s first half, it highlighted a 41 percent jump in the number of private transactions while ignoring the dollar value slump.
http://www.artmarketmonitor.com/2014/08/12/sothebys-private-sales-hit-hard-in-2014-even-as-transactions560-increased/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=sothebys-private-sales-hit-hard-in-2014-even-as-transactions560-increased

Should Kunstmuseum Bern Accept the Donation

BERN - November 3, 2014; ArtNet News - Ronald Lauder, Jewish World Congress president, announced the other day that the Swiss museum Kunstmuseum Bern could face “an avalanche” of lawsuits if the museum accepts a collection of 1,300 artworks bequeathed to them by the late Cornelius Gurlitt. Gurlitt’s collection is suspected of being art looted by the Nazis.
After Gurlitt’s collection was reviewed in 2013, almost 600 pieces have been flagged as potential Nazi loot. These works have been registered at the Lost Art Internet Database. This past May, Gurlitt passed away, leaving the entire collection to the Kunstmuseum Bern. Lauder said if the museum does accept this collection, lawsuits may come from a variety of German museums and Jewish heirs, who may be the rightful owners of the works.
It has not yet been determined whether the museum will accept the collection, but a decision will be made on November 26. The museum is working with the German government to determine the process of evaluation and how to go about identifying the pieces within the collection. However, there is an unconfirmed proposal by the board of directors for the museum to accept the collection, but under strict terms. According to ArtNet News, these terms include “not taking possession of any work against which there is currently a restitution claim or about which there is any suspicion of Nazi provenance. It would use permanent loans to return all works that could be tied to other museums or institutions. And it would keep the entire collection in Germany in case further restitution claims arise down the line.”
An argument can be made that it would be in everyone’s best interest for the museum to accept the collection, because if it does not, the collection then goes to Gurlitt’s relatives. If the museum does accept the works, then they can be made available to the general public. ...
It is interesting to see the dynamic between best practices of accepting donor-bequeathed estates and general ethical code. It is always a plus for arts and cultural institutions to be named in a donor’s estate, yet, on an ethical and moral level, how the institution decides what it should accept is a whole other conversation. Clearly, the Kunstmuseum Bern would benefit greatly from the gift, but at what cost? Hopefully not at the cost of being labeled what Ronald Lauder called “a museum of stolen art.” more
https://nonprofitquarterly.org/management/25118-swiss-museum-likely-to-get-lawsuits-with-this-collection.html

Detroit Bankruptcy Update Fall 2014

1. DETROIT Eleventh-hour settlement all but secures Detroit’s art. The safety of the DIA’s collection is close to hand after a deal is reached with the bankrupt city’s biggest creditor
The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) has cleared its biggest remaining hurdle to secure its art collection. Last week, the city of Detroit reached a settlement with its largest holdout creditor, the Financial Guaranty Insurance Company (FGIC). As Detroit’s 16-month-long bankruptcy trial comes to a close this week, the 11th-hour deal all but guarantees that the DIA’s collection will not be sold to pay down the city’s debt.
The bond insurer FGIC—which is owed around $1bn of Detroit’s $18bn debt—was one of the most vocal opponents to the so-called “Grand Bargain”, a scheme to safeguard the DIA’s collection while generating money for the city’s pensioners. Under the terms of its recent settlement, the city has agreed to demolish the Joe Louis Arena, home to Detroit’s hockey team, and allow FGIC to develop a hotel, offices and retail stores in its place. In exchange, the company will withdraw its objections to Detroit’s plan to emerge from bankruptcy. Last month, the city reached a similar settlement with the Syncora Guarantee Insurance Company, another major creditor.
The bankruptcy judge Steven Rhodes is due to render a final verdict on the city’s plan—including the Grand Bargain, which is considered its centrepiece—during the first week of November. But some bankruptcy experts already consider it a done deal. “The city was always going to propose a plan that did not involve selling the art,” says Laura Bartell, a law professor at Wayne State University in Detroit. “That’s what they did, and the judge is going to confirm the plan.”
Many expected the fate of the DIA’s collection to remain in limbo well after Judge Rhodes’ ruling, however, because creditors unhappy with his decision were likely to appeal. (FGIC and Syncora previously claimed that a sale of the art collection could garner as much as $8.1bn.) The recent settlements take the possibility of an appeal off the table. The creditors “like what they are getting—they won’t want to appeal”, Bartell says.
If both the city council and Judge Rhodes approve Detroit’s proposed plan—which they are expected to do—the DIA will be spun off as an independent non-profit. The state of Michigan has teamed up with local and national organisations to pledge $816m over 20 years to the cause. The money would essentially fund a “buy-back” of the collection from the city of Detroit while providing pensions to retirees from the city’s police and fire departments. (Donors to the so-called Grand Bargain include the Los Angeles-based J. Paul Getty Trust, General Motors and the DIA itself, which pledged $100m.) http://www.theartnewspaper.com/articles/Eleventhhour-settlement-all-but-secures-Detroits-art/36039
Search artnewspaper.com the following related articles.
• Detroit's Big Three car makers pledge $26m to protect city’s art
• Detroit’s creditors demand a full reckoning of museum’s art
• Detroit Institute of Arts pledges to raise $100m for city pensions
• Michigan should save Detroit’s collection
• The immorality of using Detroit’s art to bail out bankrupt city

2. DETROIT - (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Friday confirmed Detroit's plan to adjust $18 billion of debt and exit the biggest-ever municipal bankruptcy.
The ruling by U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Steven Rhodes, who is overseeing the historic case, came more than two months after the start of a hearing to determine whether the 1,165-page plan was fair to creditors and feasible for the city to implement.
Speaking from the bench, Rhodes said the city acted in good faith when it proposed its plan to shed about $7 billion of debt and invest $1.7 billion over the next several years to improve services and attract residents and business.
Once a symbol of U.S. industrial strength, Detroit fell on hard times due to population loss, rampant debt and financial mismanagement that left it unable to provide basic services to residents. During the 15-1/2-month bankruptcy process, the city even considered selling its historic collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts in order to pay off creditors.
Detroit's odyssey through Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy began on July 18, 2013, with major creditors girding for battle and has wound down in a flurry of settlements. A so-called Grand Bargain taps into $816 million from foundations, the Detroit Institute of Arts and the state of Michigan to ease pension cuts and protect city-owned art work from sale.
Two companies that guaranteed payments on Detroit bonds, Syncora Guarantee Inc [SYCRFS.UL] and Financial Guaranty Insurance Co [FGIC.UL], received options to develop parcels of land.
Rhodes said the city's ability to mitigate cuts to retiree pensions "borders on the miraculous."
Attending Rhodes' ruling were Detroit's state-appointed emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, who took Michigan's biggest city to bankruptcy court, and Mayor Mike Duggan, who is now tasked with carrying out the plan. more..
http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/07/us-usa-detroit-bankruptcy-ruling-idUSKBN0IR20G20141107

3. DETROIT -  Less than 16 months after Detroit became the largest city in the United States to file for bankruptcy, a federal judge on Friday approved a plan intended to help it escape years of financial ruin and begin the hard work of becoming viable again.
Judge Steven W. Rhodes of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan found that the city’s plan to shed $7 billion in debt and to invest about $1.7 billion into long-neglected services was fair, feasible and in the best interest of Detroit’s creditors. The decision came with remarkable speed and with far less discord than many had foreseen given the size of the city and the complexity and depth of its financial woes.
Many bankruptcy experts had predicted that the closely watched litigation would take months or even years longer, as it has in smaller cities and counties. Vallejo, Calif., spent nearly three years in bankruptcy. Stockton, Calif., just got permission to emerge after 27 months. And Jefferson County, Ala., which spent a little more than two years in bankruptcy, now faces more litigation a year after its case was supposed to have
ended.
After many months of private mediation sessions, Detroit’s exit plan was more a deal than a court-imposed solution, largely agreed to by the major groups involved, including the city’s retired workers and financial creditors. That significantly quieted the court fight and limited the possibility of years of appeals.
The ruling marks an end to one chapter for Detroit, which, when the case began, had accumulated roughly $18 billion of debt and was wrestling with annual budget deficits, miserable city services and a nonstop exodus of residents and investment dollars. The exit plan sets aside $1.7 billion over a decade to remove blighted buildings, to purchase new fire trucks and ambulances, and to upgrade the city’s antiquated computer systems.
“Getting this resolved is a huge issue in terms of creating a great environment for the city, and not just the city but for the state, to all rally on focusing on growing Detroit,” Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan, who approved the city’s bankruptcy filing on July 18, 2013, said in an interview. “It really takes care of the city government issue and gets a normal context to be a more traditional government structure again.”
The plan requires strict oversight of the city’s finances in the years ahead by a commission that includes representatives of the state.
Detroit’s price tag for lawyers, experts and other costs of the bankruptcy proceedings was $150 million. But the city’s departure from bankruptcy does not mean an end to its vast challenges. While the court plan permits the city to free up additional money to make desperately needed improvements, it does not ensure that the city will not fall into financial distress once more, or that it will attract businesses that create jobs, or that it can lure enough new residents to end a decades-long population decline.
“We are starting this journey, not ending it,” said James E. Spiotto, a bankruptcy lawyer and expert on municipal bankruptcy. “Bankruptcy is just debt adjustment, but that’s not a solution,” he said. “What you really need is the recovery plan. We can’t lose sight of that. We won’t know for five, ten, 15 years whether Detroit has solved its systematic problem.”
To help him evaluate the city’s prospects, Judge Rhodes hired his own fiscal-policy expert to decide whether the plan of adjustment was feasible, part of what is required for an exit plan to be approved. The expert, Martha E. M. Kopacz, of Phoenix Management Services, said her research showed that the plan was feasible and that city officials were enthusiastic about making it work. But there were considerable risks, she said, and the speed of the bankruptcy proceedings had left Detroit with little margin for error.
To get one group of creditors to accept a settlement, Detroit’s negotiators sometimes had to reduce what was available to satisfy others. To make pension cuts acceptable to retirees, for example, the city based its exit strategy on an assumption that pension investments would earn average annual returns of 6.75 percent, something Ms. Kopacz said was too aggressive for a fragile city that could not afford investment losses.
“I would make it 5 percent if I ruled the world,” she said at one point during the bankruptcy trial, under questioning by Judge Rhodes.
The assumed rate of return gave the retirees something to hope for — the possibility that even better results from the pension investments than the 6.75 percent assumed by the city would show that cuts were not needed after all and that a new deal could be negotiated with the cuts reversed. But if the pension investments do not produce the returns needed, the city will have to make up the missing money.
Over all, Detroit’s creditors settled on a wide range of losses, but none as far-reaching as the city had proposed in February as it began planning how to leave bankruptcy.
Some financial creditors, like the bond insurer Syncora Guarantee, will get about 14 cents on the dollar for their debts, a low recovery rate but not as low as the city had initially proposed. Syncora and Financial Guaranty Insurance Company had insured a type of debt that was never very secure to begin with, and the city contended that low recoveries were appropriate given the level of risk.
Late in the deal-making phase of the bankruptcy, Syncora and Financial Guaranty both had their recoveries sweetened with possible gains on real-estate and infrastructure projects that Detroit promised to help them pursue on prime locations in the city. Bondholders who bought higher-quality bonds have been promised far better recovery rates.
Retired general municipal workers agreed to 4.5 percent cuts to their monthly pension checks, an end to cost-of-living increases, higher health care costs and a mandatory forfeiture of previous payments from the pension system that were deemed improper. Retired police officers and fire fighters have accepted smaller reductions.
The city was able to grant all of its retirees a better deal than first expected because of a so-called “grand bargain,” in which foundations, the state and the Detroit Institute of Arts pledged millions of dollars to bolster the city pension system and give the art collection new, bankruptcy-proof ownership... more
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/08/us/detroit-bankruptcy-plan-ruling.html?_r=0

4. DETROIT-—The cost of Detroit's historic bankruptcy has reached $126 million and counting, surpassing the bills the big auto makers faced when they were in similar straits.
An internal report on fees to outside advisers shows costs have roughly grown by four times since December when the city reported the total bill at nearly $28 million. The city's leading law firm on the case already has charged $47 million.
City officials describe the nation's largest municipal bankruptcy case as entering its final phase with the hope of exiting by year's end. The trial phase of the bankruptcy is under way and expected to stretch into October.
Detroit's municipal bankruptcy case has been both complex with more than 100,000 creditors and fast-paced with a goal of exiting bankruptcy as soon as possible so the city can again be run by locally elected officials.
The cost is surpassing such corporate bankruptcy filings as  General Motors Co.  GM +0.70%     , which came in around $110 million, and Chrysler at around $77 million. Still, Detroit is unlikely to set any records. Bankruptcy fees for the U.S. administration of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., for example, surpassed $2.2 billion.
The price tag for Detroit is significantly higher than the total amount reviewed so far by fee examiner Robert Fishman, who was appointed by the court to oversee costs. Court filings show he has largely signed off on more than $50 million in fees through March. Occasionally, Mr. Fishman has called out some professional fees as unreasonable, questioning the need for media relations services whose work includes monitoring newspaper articles about the case.
The city of 688,000 residents already has paid nearly $104.5 million of its $126 million bill for lawyers, accountants, financial advisers and experts on everything from police work and pension funds to art appraisals and public relations, according to a Sept. 5 spreadsheet reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
On Friday, the chief mediator in the case began a new round of nonstop talks between lawyers for holdout creditors and lawyers for the city. Because of that, Judge Steven Rhodes has put on hold the trial over the city's plan to cut about $7 billion of Detroit's estimated $18 billion in long-term obligations to allow for additional time to negotiate.
The city remains cash poor but not broke. With its bankruptcy filing, Detroit stopped paying certain debts, including payments to its pension funds, freeing up cash to pay its lawyers and consultants. The city had a cash balance of $156.8 million for the quarter that ended June 30.
City officials contend the fee charges aren't out of line. "Obviously the longer we're here, the more cost," said Bill Nowling, spokesman for Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, who has been running the city since March 2013.
Mr. Nowling added the fees need to be put into context: the city's debt-cutting plan written by consultants envisions eliminating $7 billion in city debt and reinvesting $1.4 billion into blight removal and city services.
Stephen J. Lubben, an expert in corporate governance and business ethics at Seton Hall University School of Law in Newark, N.J., said the fees struck him as consistent with many corporate bankruptcy cases, but "here obviously it's money that otherwise could go to Detroit creditors or even the residents of Detroit, who arguably could have better use for $126 million."
Mr. Nowling said the total fees may rise to roughly $150 million by the time the city exits bankruptcy protection. Mayor Mike Duggan declined through a spokesman to comment about the bankruptcy fees, citing Mr. Orr's role in running the case on the city's behalf.
http://online.wsj.com/articles/cost-of-detroits-historic-bankruptcy-reach-126-million-1410557043

5. DETROIT - Elizabeth Blair asked for a little help with her NPR story on Detroit’s wildly varying appraisals of the city’s art:
Marion Maneker, who publishes the Art Market Monitor says the price often depends on the tastes and mood of a collector on any given day.
MARION MANEKER: Nobody can peer into the depths of a billionaire’s soul and know just how valuable a work of art is to that person.
BLAIR: Christie’s was commissioned to appraise only about 5 percent of the museum’s total collection of some 66,000 objects. Some of Detroit’s creditors said that was unfair and that the whole collection should be valued. So the city and the museum brought in another appraiser to do that – Artvest valued it between $2.8-$4.6 billion.
[…]Financial Guarantee Insurance Company, FGIC, has proposed the art be used as collateral for a loan to pay off creditors. Marion Maneker says to understand why the two appraisals are so different, you need to look at who’s paying for them. The smaller value was commissioned by the city and the museum and the bigger one was paid for by the creditor.
MANEKER: What we have here are legitimate appraisals for different clients with different points of view on how the sale would take place.
BLAIR: Maneker is quick to add, if a sale takes place at all. A so-called grand bargain would raise more than $800 million for city retirees, who are also creditors, under the condition the art not be sold. Art appraisers for both sides are expected to testify during Detroit’s bankruptcy trial.
http://www.artmarketmonitor.com/2014/09/06/the-fine-art-of-pricing-detroits-collection-npr/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-fine-art-of-pricing-detroits-collection-npr

Why Do You Send Blurry Images?

Art appraisers and authenticators receive frequent requests from both private and institutional clients for their services. One would think this process might be enhanced by today's fast paced technology expediting the delivery of images and related information. Unfortunately, the answer is both yes and no. Cell phone cameras have created new monsters for clients thinking that they can just point, shoot and  email. Sometimes the quality of the images are horrendous evoking wishful memories of how great things were with Kodak Brownies. The old computer adage of junk in equals junk out also works for art appraising and authentication. Clients must understand that the more difficult they make the process the more problematic it is to have a very experienced expert on the other side. Art experts are not licensed so unless the clients understand industry standards like USPAP ( Uniform Standard of Professional Appraisal Practice) you just may be getting advice from a  very inexperienced untrained person. In this blog we have addressed how to find an expert, so you can locate this information with our search functions. This is about understanding how important it is to deliver correct information and good images. As an appraiser and authenticator with 40 years experience and because I understand the limitations of bad photos, I won't accept blurry dark images. Some appraisers especially those now that are providing online services will accept bad images as a necessary step to take your money.

Before you ask for help, put yourself in the place of the appraiser or authenticator and logically ask yourself what you think they might want. Clearly if it is a mask, good images of the front, back, sides, and maybe closeups of any areas of interest would be helpful. Or maybe its a rug. Shoot a good general shot and maybe do some closeups of the design and then include a shot of the back around a corner. Maybe it has fringe, or areas that are torn or stained.. All of this would be good to know.  Collection history, any previous appraisals, exhibition history, invoices are actually helpful in the physical examinations.  Some information that appears insignificant may give us a clue of something to look for in the examination. For example if I see that another appraiser valued it high but the documentation said it had entered the U.S. in the last ten years, even if it looked stylistically OK,  I would be far more suspicious as I examined it. So if it helps make a checklist before you send off your information; it may save you some money.

Wireless phone companies advertise that many of their cell phones now take images in excess of 10 megs. The size of the image does not ensure that image is good. Look at the image before you send it. If it is blurry or dark, or upside down, don't send it. The appraiser just may accept them... then you will really have a problem.

Self Taught Artists Featured in New York Fall 2014

1. NEW YORK, NY.- Betty Cuningham Gallery presents its first exhibition of the work of Bill Traylor, opening on Wednesday, October 29th from 6 – 8 PM. On view will be twenty-eight works from the collection of Charles and Eugenia Shannon, dating from 1939 – 42.
Bill Traylor was born a slave in 1854, on the George Traylor family’s plantation in Benton, Alabama.
Following Emancipation, Bill Traylor continued to work for George Traylor and later for his son, Marion Traylor, as a farm laborer and then as a tenant farmer. In 1910, after 56 years, Bill Traylor left the George Traylor plantation and moved to Montgomery County where he continued to farm for another 17 years. By 1928, at age 74, Bill Traylor had moved to the city of Montgomery, where he briefly worked in a shoe factory until he became crippled by arthritis. In 1936, homeless and on relief, Bill Traylor was sleeping in the back room of a funeral parlor in downtown Montgomery.
In 1939, Charles Shannon, an aspiring young artist, encountered the 85-year-old Bill Traylor, seated in front of a blacksmith shop on Monroe Street in Montgomery, Alabama. He describes Traylor as having a pencil stub in hand and appearing to be drawing for the first time. Intrigued, Shannon provided Traylor with encouragement and art supplies over the following three years. During this period, Shannon purchased, for modest prices, over 1200 works from Traylor.
Fascinated by the endless inventiveness and aesthetic beauty of Bill Traylor’s work, Charles Shannon organized Traylor’s first exhibition in 1940 at New South – an arts center in Montgomery founded by Shannon and others. Traylor’s next exhibition, the first in New York, was at the Fieldston School in 1942. Bill Traylor’s work would not be shown again until 1979-80 at R. H. Oosterom Gallery in New York. Since 1980 there have been numerous exhibitions. Particularly noteworthy are 1994 – 95 - Lively Times and Events: The Drawings of Bill Traylor, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, AL (and travelling); 1998-99 - Bill Traylor (1854 -1949) Deep Blue, Kunstmuseum, Bern, Switzerland and Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany (and travelling); and recently in 2013 – Bill Traylor, Drawings from the Collections of the High Museum of Art and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, American Folk Art Museum, New York, NY (and travelling) and Traylor in Motion, Wonders from New York Collections, American Folk Art Museum, New York, NY.


Museums Fall 2014

1. BROOKLYN, NY.- Double Take: African Innovations, an experimental installation of selections from the Brooklyn Museum’s renowned African collection, invites new ways of looking at African art. Built around fifteen pairs of objects, the exhibition focuses on artistic themes, solutions, and techniques recurring throughout African history that link seemingly dissimilar works. It will open October 29 in a temporary location while an extensive renovation of the first floor of the Brooklyn Museum is under way. The installation will also include some 150 selections from the Museum’s extensive African collection, one of the oldest and largest in an American art museum, in an open-storage display.
Double Take, the second phase in the Brooklyn Museum’s ongoing expansion of its African collection, continues and builds upon African Innovations, the critically acclaimed historical presentation that closed in late September, by exploring further connections between African artworks.
This installation of nearly forty objects will feature a number of major recent acquisitions. Looking Back Into the Future (2008), a work by internationally recognized Ghanaian artist Owusu-Ankomah, whose paintings depict a spiritual world inhabited by people and symbols, will be paired with an ancient hieroglyph-inscribed shabti of the Nubian king Senkamanisken (r. circa 643–623 B.C.E.) to explore the art of writing as a funda- mental embodiment of human expression in Africa over the course of many centuries. ..More... http://artdaily.com/news/73905/-Double-Take--African-Innovations--offers-new-ways-of-looking-at-African-art-in-long-term-installation-#.VFalq_50zVk

2. NEW YORK, NY.- Some 60 jeweled objects from the private collection formed by Sheikh Hamad bin Abdullah Al-Thani will be presented at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in the exhibition Treasures from India: Jewels from the Al-Thani Collection, opening October 28. The presentation will provide a glimpse into the evolving styles of the jeweled arts in India from the Mughal period until the early 20th century, with emphasis on later exchanges with the West. The exhibition will be shown within the Metropolitan Museum’s Islamic art galleries, adjacent to the Museum’s own collection of Mughal-period art.
“It is with great delight that we present to the public this selection of works representing several centuries of tradition and craftsmanship in the jeweled arts—from India’s Mughal workshops to the ateliers of Paris,” Thomas P. Campbell , Director and CEO of the Metropolitan Museum, said when announcing the exhibition.
Sheikh Hamad stated: “The jeweled arts of India have fascinated me from an early age and I have been fortunate to be able to assemble a meaningful collection that spans from the Mughal period to the present day. I am delighted that The Metropolitan Museum of Art will be exhibiting highlights from the collection, making the subject known to a wider audience.”http://artdaily.com/news/73899/-Treasures-from-India--Jewels-from-the-Al-Thani-Collection--opens-at-the-Metropolitan#.VFaqN_50zVk

3. AUSTIN, TX.- One of the most significant exhibitions on European colonization in the United States will open today at the Bullock Texas State History Museum. Beginning Oct. 25, 2014, one of French explorer Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle's ships that sank along the Texas coast more than 300 years ago, is set to be reassembled in the museum's gallery and visitors will see a centuries-old international story of cultural conflict unfold.
"La Belle: The Ship That Changed History," brings together for the first time the 17th-century ship timbers, more than 120 of the 1.6 million artifacts excavated with La Salle's ship, newly edited video footage, and a 4D film that tells this important Texas narrative.
"The exhibition of the shipwreck 'La Belle' is the culmination of nearly 20 years of work by dozens of experts in the fields of archaeology, marine conservation, history, and exhibition design," Bullock Museum Director
Dr. Victoria Ramirez said. "Very few museums in the world have on view such a vast collection of 17th-century artifacts that tell such a compelling and extraordinary story. The Bullock Texas State History Museum is simply honored to present 'La Belle' to the public."
Through an extraordinary feat of archeology and engineering, the "La Belle" shipwreck was excavated by the Texas Historical commission in the mid-1990s. Dr. James Bruseth was the lead archeologist on the project to excavate one of the most important shipwrecks in North America. He has authored books about the discovery and excavation of "La Belle" and La Salle's ill-fated expedition to establish a colony in the late 1600s.
After 330 years under water, the bottom third of the ship and some of its cargo will be on display at the Bullock Museum in Austin, Texas, with Bruseth as curator.
"'La Belle' is one of the most important shipwrecks ever discovered in North America," Bruseth said. "It will be the centerpiece of a spectacular new display in the heart of the Bullock Museum, placing it among the nation’s most innovative history museums. The new exhibition will offer an unprecedented opportunity to actually reorient the way we educate the public about 17-century regional, national, and world history."
The wreck of "La Belle" in Matagorda Bay and collapse of La Salle's Fort St. Louis colony near Victoria, Texas, changed the course of history — not just for Texas, but for America and the world.
"The clash among the French, the Spanish, and the American Indians helped forge the modern foundation of Texas more than three centuries ago," Bruseth said. "Cultural conflict in 17th-century Texas among these groups was a pivotal turning point, not only for the history of the state, but at national and international levels."
Most Texans – indeed most Americans – are unaware that the first European colony in the eastern part of the state was French, not Spanish. The incursion of France into New Spain represented by La Belle and the colony site of Fort St. Louis triggered a wave of settlement by the Spanish that resulted in the rich Hispanic heritage we have today, he said.
http://artdaily.com/news/73741/Bullock-Museum-exhibit-of-ship-that-sank-more-than-300-years-ago-reveals-early-Texas-history#.VFa6-P50zVk

4. PARIS (AFP).- A top-level sacking, harsh words from the artist's son, delays and a huge budget overrun -- Paris's Picasso museum reopens its doors on Saturday amid the fallout from a fraught $71-million renovation. Just over five years after it closed for what was intended to be a two-year refurbishment, the museum -- housed in a 17th-century baroque mansion in Paris's historic Marais quarter -- has been extensively modernised and is more than twice its previous size. Costs, however, stand at 22 million euros ($27 million) over budget due to an increase in the scope of the works, a rift has opened up between Picasso's son Claude and the French government and the museum's director of nearly a decade, Anne
Baldassari, no longer has her job. The gallery, which first opened in 1985, boasts one of the world's most extensive collections of Picasso's work with around 5,000 ... More
http://artdaily.com/news/72767/Paris-s-Picasso-museum-finally-reopens-after-controversial--71-million-renovation#.VFa9qP50zVk

5. SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- In the shifting sands of Saudi Arabia outside the city of Thaj, archaeologists discovered the tomb of a young royal girl buried nearly 2,000 years ago, uncovering exquisite jewelry, a haunting gold mask and other objects—all made of gold. These funerary treasures are just a few of the surprising discoveries on display in the fascinating exhibition Roads of Arabia : Archaeology and History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , opening Oct. 24, 2014 through Jan. 18, 2015 at the Asian Art Museum.
The Asian Art Museum will offer West Coast audiences a first look at Roads of Arabia , a traveling exhibition originating from Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in 2012, featuring recent archaeological discoveries that have radically transformed our understanding of Saudi Arabia. The exhibition includes more than 200 objects, revealing the peninsula’s role as a cultural crossroads through trade and pilgrimage over thousands of years.
Highlights of the exhibition include mysterious stone steles, monumental statues and finely forged bronze figures. A set of gilded doors that once graced the entrance to the Ka‘ba, Islam’s holiest sanctuary, is also featured.
“Roads of Arabia offers a rare look at arts and artifacts from Saudi Arabia, with the oldest artifact dating more than a million years old,” said Jay Xu, director of the Asian Art Museum. “This exhibition will alter your perceptions of the Arabian Peninsula’s ancient history by providing a glimpse into its largely unknown past, before the region emerged as the spiritual center of an expanding community especially important to Muslims around the world.”
http://artdaily.com/news/73335/Asian-Art-Museum-offers-West-Coast-audiences-a-first-look-at-recent-archaeological-discoveries-#.VFa_gf50zVk

6. LOS ANGELES - Wall Street Journal - Three clay jaguars, modeled by hand, then fired and painted, stand—eyeing visitors—at the entrance to “Grandes Maestros: Great Masters of Iberoamerican Folk Art” at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Made in 2011 by Juana Gómez Ramírez, of Mexico, they convey the power, the pride and the beauty of Latin America’s largest cat, which roams alone over wide swaths of terrain and is known as a fierce predator.
They also serve as an apt metaphor for this mesmerizing exhibition, which opens on Sunday [Nov. 9]. Encompassing about 1,200 works made of clay, metal, textiles, wood, glass, paper, leather, horn and even amber by some 600 artists from nearly 50 ethnic groups located in more than 260 towns in 22 countries, “Grandes Maestros” is bold, alive with tradition and imagination, and often as dazzling as those native cats.
Every object belongs to Fomento Cultural Banamex, a nonprofit arm of the large Mexican bank owned by Citigroup. More striking, each one was selected by Cándida Fernández de Calderón, Fomento Cultural’s director, as part of a social project. In 1995, in the midst of an economic crisis, she proposed a program to support the foremost Mexican folk artists, those who made “the most gorgeous expressions of folk art and were leaders of their communities,” as she recently told me. The next year, she began to buy their work to exhibit and to publish. She helped them improve their workshops (providing better kilns, for example), train their apprentices and boost their marketing. In 2007, after proving the economic benefits in Mexico, she expanded the program throughout Latin America and to Spain and Portugal.
If I were forced to pick just one highlight, Mexican artist Óscar Soteno Elías’s masterly “Artisan Tree of Ibéroamerica” (2012) would be a strong contender. Commissioned by Ms. Fernández, this molded clay tree of life cleverly incorporates a folk art tradition from every country in the exhibition, some on view elsewhere in the galleries. The tiny bride centrally located in Soteno’s piece, for example, replicates the primly dressed “Bride” (2008), her head wreathed in flowers, by Brazillian Isabel Mendes da Cunha, who started out making utilitarian pots... more
http://online.wsj.com/articles/a-new-perspective-on-an-overlooked-art-form-1415231293


Antiques Roadshow Summer Tour 2014 Blog Series: Charleston




















Antiques Roadshow Summer Tour 2014 Blog Series: Birmingham