Thursday, December 15, 2016

Christmas Around The World 2016



Berlin



Bristol United Kingdon




Houstonian Hotel, Houston, Texas




London, United Kingdom




Mnailla Philippines




Roosevelt Hotel, New Orleans





Russia



The Breakers Hotel, Palm Beach


Tokyo






Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New York City




Mt. Washington Hotel, New Hampshire









































































My Word Christmas 2016

As has been my tradition in the past, I will try to limit the bad news in this Christmas issue. We finally brought the Mert Simpson estate  to auction with sales in October and December selling over $600,000 in African art that was primarily written off as decorative. Since December 2015 and the efforts to catalog over 1500 objects with the volunteer assistance from Amyas Naegele we learned that even things we had condemned as Cs and Ds sometimes needed a second look. We have one more African art sale and one that will primarily feature Mert's fine art collection. At this time the sales are scheduled for next February. Based on my experience with the last two Simpson African auctions, we might well find some sleepers in this sale as well.

In 2017 Quinns Auctions will be expanded their interest to include American Indian with the offering of the Metcalf collection.

OK some good news Many of us are hearing optimism from some in the business world with the surge in the stock market. If this is reflecting confidence in our future economy with a lowering in business taxes and money returning to the US, it could create more disposable income that could impact the art world. So regardless of who you voted for there are many on both sides of the aisle that could use some good news. See the article in this issue on the subject. There has been quite a bit of hedging among the experts, so I suspect much of this opinion has been driven by political preference. But there is hope.

The Sothebys tribal sales in Paris  finished the year strong with a total of over $8 million. If you are interested in West Africa, you might want as a curiosity to check out the catalog for some very strange Bamana masks.

In the next month or so we hope to launch our new website and blog. It has been a decade since we updated this area, so we are very excited in being able to reach more of you.

Barbara, Kim and I hope your have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Season.  JB




Tribal Auctions Christmas 2016

1. PARIS Christies - Millon, President of Millon auction house: “At the forefront of the Madeleine Meunier Collection are forgotten treasures of rare and captivating works of African and ancient art. The mythical figures of Aristide Courtois and Charles Ratton, at the heart of this collection, will also be celebrated. Their names live in perpetuity in the marketplace with this commemorative auction in two ways: In honor of the heirs who have given us their trust and with the appreciation of collectors and institutions, whose presence at Drouot will enhance the special atmosphere created by the legacy of such prestigious provenance”.
François de Ricqlès, President of Christie’s France, says: “This selection of African and Oceanic sculptures is illustrative of a time of astute art collecting specific to those who discovered African art at a time when classic tastes reigned supreme in the Western world.
It is a fascinating testament to two leading figures in the history of the appreciation of tribal art, who ignited a path to the field’s fame: Aristide Courtois and Charles Ratton.
It is clear that this auction will be a sale of great importance; one that will draw the greatest collectors into bidding wars not soon to be forgotten.”
The appearance on the market of the Madeleine Meunier estate has been eagerly awaited. In recent years, speculation about the content of this collection has taken on mythic proportions, because Meunier was married, successively, to two great figures in the world of African art: Aristide Courtois and Charles Ratton. Each played a major role in the discovery of African art, Courtois in Africa and Ratton in Paris.
Aristide Courtois (1883-1962), a French colonial administrator in the Congo, brought back hundreds of objects acquired during his assignments in the regions where he was stationed. Having an exceptional eye for distinguishing between masterpieces and ordinary objects, Courtois was one of the first colonial administrators to see these ritual objects as true works of art. Once back in Paris, Courtois worked with the first great African art dealer, Paul Guillaume, with whom he would conduct many transactions. Courtois married Madeleine Meunier in 1938 and the couple had a daughter, Annie. Madeleine Meunier kept a number of works from this period in her life: three Kota reliquaries from Gabon and four major works of Kuyu art from the Northern Congo, all collected by Aristide Courtois. Upon Guillaume’s death 1934, Courtois developed ties with Charles Ratton, who became a loyal customer and purchased many pieces from Courtois. Ratton’s purchase records from 1938 to 1943 list some two hundred transactions, including the famous six-eyed Kwele mask known as the “Lapicque mask”, now part of the collections at the Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac.
A few years later, Madeleine Courtois separated from her husband to marry Charles Ratton. Meunier would have a son with Ratton: the recently deceased Charles-François Ratton.
Charles Ratton (1897-1986) – who was honoured with an exhibition at the Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac in 2013 – had a significant impact on the history of African art by virtue of his talents as an expert, collector and dealer. He played a fundamental role in raising so-called primitive objects to the ranks of true art. Sensitive and erudite, Ratton forged a path as a dealer for ‘Haute Époque’ (Medieval and Renaissance) objects, which led to an interest in African arts, then antiques from South Seas and the Americas, and, atypical for the time, Eskimo art. In 1935, he w as a major lender and advisor to the landmark African Negro Art exhibition (Museum of Modern Art, New York), the first African arts show held in a museum of modern art. Ever seeking new opportunities to place African art on the forefront, he included his Yaka headrest (estimate: €40,000-60,000) at an exhibition at the Théâtre Edouard VII in Paris in 1936 celebrating the film premiere of The Green Pastures. Ratton also served as artistic advisor to the renowned 1953 film Les Statues Meurent, Aussi (Statues Also Die), directed by Chris Marker and Alain Resnais for Présence Africaine (it was the subject of an exhibition at the Monnaie de Paris in 2010). Two pieces from the Meunier collection appear in this film, whose whereabouts remained a secret for the past fifty years: Charles Ratton’s superb Fang male on a base by Inagaki (estimated value: € 300,000-500,000) and a Luba-Shankadi headrest (estimate: €500,000-800,000).
This masterpiece can be attributed to the most renowned sculptor of the pre-colonial period: The
Master of the Cascade Coiffure, active in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the late 19th century. Other headrests by this master carver can be found in important museums, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art (#1981.399), the British Museum (#AF46.481) and the Ethnological Museum of Berlin (III.C.19987).
Other great objects formerly in the collection of Charles Ratton are an exceptional Hungana pendant (estimate: €15,000-25,000) and two Sepik River works from Papua New Guinea, probably acquired from Pierre Loeb, including a four-caryatid headrest estimated at €30,000-40,000.
The Antiquities section comprises lots coming mainly from Egypt, but also from Greece and Rome. Several are of particular interest: an Egyptian limestone relief dated to the New Kingdom and representing the deceased praying in front of two women richly dressed, with three columns of hieroglyphs in between; an Egyptian bronze head of Onuris with inlaid eyes dated to the Third Intermediate Period; a Cycladic marble idol with crossed arms, Late Spedos (circa 2500-2400 B.C) and a charming Attic black figured white ground lekythos representing Hercules's fight with the Triton. This collection stands out by the numerous glass inlays and mosaic fragments it encompasses from the Ptolemaic Period, which evokes the famous ancient glass collections of the early 20th century of Kofler and Groppi.
On December 15th collectors and connoisseurs will have the opportunity to acquire these treasures kept by Madeleine Meunier for over half a century. This collection is the embodiment of a bygone era, illustrating the refined tastes of two legendary figures in the world of African art.
 http://artdaily.com/news/92163/Christie-s-to-offer-African-and-Oceanic-art-in-Paris#.WEWHfeYtabM

2. PARIS - Sothebys.com The sale of African and Oceanic art concluded in Paris with an outstanding total of €8 million. The Viviane Jutheau, Comtesse de Witt Collection totalled €5.4 million with 91% of lots sold and ten lots above €250,000.

Drawn from the very heart of African art, Viviane Jutheau, Comtesse de Witt's collection of African art masterly combined the archaism of the works with a highly modern sculptural style. All the works express both the classicism of the great African art styles and the originality of the artists who imbued them with their individual creative genius.

The sale was led by a Kota mask which achieved €847,500, a world record for a Kota mask. This rare large dance mask is a masterpiece from the former Solvit collection. During this auction, the bidders recognized the quality of this rare piece and eventually the mask over-doubled its high estimate of €300,000.

AUCTION DETAILS

Viviane Jutheau, the first female auctioneer in Paris, began to assemble what has become one of the most striking collections of African art after meeting celebrated art expert André Schoeller at the beginning of the 1980s. It embraces the core of African art, where strength and sensitivity, archaism and modernity meet in dialogue. The art of Gabon – Fang, Kota, Kwele – is the main focus of the collection: each artwork testifies to the individual genius of its sculptor and of the institutions which fed their imagination.

The collection charts the discovery of this art in the West at the beginning of the 20th century, with major figures such as Paul Guillaume, Walter Bondy, Roger Bédiat, Charles Ratton and later André Schoeller, as well as the legendary exhibitions in Paris and New York, all contributing to its recognition. Beyond the collection, Viviane Jutheau, whose family has had close links with Africa for three generations, conceived a manifesto where ‘African art is not a way of making, it is at first a way of being, a way of being more’ (Aimé Césaire, 1966). Sothebys.com

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Trump and the Art Market Chritsmas 2016

1. NEW YORK - The Art Market’s Reaction to Trump? Sales This Week Offer First Test -By ROBIN POGREBINNOV. 13, 2016  At Rockefeller Center on Sunday, milling outside Christie’s sales rooms — where private clients sipped mimosas as they took in one of Monet’s grainstacks — people in the art world sounded guardedly optimistic about how the auctions will perform this week, after a period of uncertainty exacerbated by the contentious American presidential election, Britain’s “Brexit” vote in June and China’s slowing economy.
“There has been a lot of insecurity and it’s hard to say exactly what will happen,” said Jay Gorney, a collector, curator and former dealer, predicting that “good things will do extremely well.”
The sales of Impressionist, Modern and contemporary art that start Monday offer the first test of how the art market will react to a Trump presidency and whether it will continue a softening trend that, for the past year, has had potential sellers reluctant to consign their best works.
“If you’ve got something great, you don’t sell it because you’re uncertain what you’re going to get for it,” said J. Tomilson Hill, the vice chairman at the Blackstone Group and art collector, about the prevailing mood. “Sellers are largely sitting on their hands.”
The result is that each of the three major auction houses — Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips — are entering this week’s sales with fewer trophies of more than $20 million than they have had in the recent past. Over all, the estimated sales in postwar and contemporary art are half what they were last year. The evening auctions of postwar and contemporary art at the three houses, for example, are expected to draw about $536 million, compared with $1.2 billion for the same auctions in November 2015.
“They gathered the best material they could with a lot of sellers cautious and not willing to commit,” said Neal Meltzer, an art adviser. “Supply is the issue more than demand.”
In the days before the sales, collectors, art advisers and auction specialists were pointing to encouraging signs, citing the postelection stock market highs, the post-“Brexit” London sales in June and Sotheby’s London auction of David Bowie’s art collection last week, which had a sell-through rate of 100 percent and set new top prices for 59 artists.
Moreover, many collectors are sanguine about the effects of Mr. Trump’s victory, both in the United States and around the world. “I feel great,” said the real estate developer Arnie Rosenshein. “I was for Donald Trump.”
Yet history suggests that single events rarely affect sales, art experts say. “The market has been pretty impervious to just about every event with the exception of the global meltdown of 2008,” said Robert Manley, who recently became Phillips’s new co-head of 20th century & contemporary art after 16 years at Christie’s.
Donald B. Marron, a financier and longtime collector, said he expected the auctions to be largely business as usual. “Clearly this is a surprise and in one sense makes everybody cautious until they see how everything works,” Mr. Marron said. “On the other hand, if you want to judge by the markets, less regulation is seen as positive. My guess is, it will be like most auction seasons: good pictures will do well.”... More
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/14/arts/design/christies-sothebys-phillips-fall-auction-trump.html?_r=0

2. NEW YORK ArtNet
What Happens Now? See What Experts Are Saying About the Art Market After Trump’s Win
Don't expect a major impact on next week's auctions, experts say.
Brian Boucher and Eileen Kinsella, November 9, 2016
Republican president-elect Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech during his election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown in the early morning hours of November 9, 2016 in New York City. Photo Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.
Republican president-elect Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech during his election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown in the early morning hours of November 9, 2016 in New
York City. Photo Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.
As financial markets react to Donald Trump’s shocking win in the US presidential election, expert observers are weighing possible outcomes for the art market. While art advisors, academics, and art dealers talking to artnet News today say it’s too soon to make concrete predictions, especially based on the vague and quicksilver nature of Trump’s policy proposals, they did offer some observations on what to look out for as we settle into the fact of the reality TV star as the Republican president-elect.
Markets have been volatile since the election went Trump’s way, diving last night but stabilizing today, further casting uncertainty on overall financial futures. In those circumstances, investors often look to tangible assets like gold and art, and some experts say that art could conceivably also look like an appealing place to park money amid the global uncertainly following Trump’s win.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a news conference at the New Yorker Hotel on November 9, 2016 in New York City. Hillary Clinton conceded the U.S. Presidency to Republican challenger Donald Trump.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a news conference at the New Yorker Hotel on November 9, 2016 in New York City. Hillary Clinton conceded the U.S. Presidency to Republican challenger Donald Trump.
As it happens, next week sees five major sales among the New York auction houses, including Impressionist, modern, postwar and contemporary art. The aggregate estimate for the evening sales at Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Phillips New York is anywhere from $882 million to $1.2 billion. All the evening sales at the same houses last year totaled $2 billion.
Did Artist’s Trump Campaign During 2000 Election Predict the Future?
By Sarah Cascone, Nov 8, 2016
Experts predict that the auctions will not be drastically altered by last night’s outcome.
“After everybody gets over the shock or elation, depending on one’s point of view, things may be up or down a little bit,” said New York art advisor Todd Levin in a phone interview. “But while I think Trump’s victory injects a modest amount of uncertainty, I don’t think that there is going to be any epic change in markets as that applies directly to the sales next week. That said, will the news put the auction houses on edge? Sure.”
Recommended Reading
These Artists Spent a Year on a Satirical Trump-Themed Road Trip. Here’s What They Learned
By Ben Davis, Nov 8, 2016
Suzanne Gyorgy, global head of art advisory and finance at Citi Private Bank, similarly suggests that major, high-quality, rare works of art may fare well next week regardless of last night’s outcome.
“The Wassily Kandinsky on offer at Christie’s is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she said via phone. “It hasn’t been on the market for 50 years, and it’s in pristine condition. It’s a powerful picture. The Monet haystacks painting is also once in lifetime, as it’s the last haystack in private hands.”
Gyorgy also looked to international collectors to continue to prop up the sale results.
“We’ll continue to see buyers from Latin America and Asia who have been working really hard building collections and have developed an eye for good works. I don’t see that changing.”
Levin was similarly sanguine.
“Whether they like Trump or don’t like Trump, a lot of what he is talking about with regards to tax rates and economic policy will possibly be very much in favor of the high net worth individuals who are major art buyers at evening sales,” Levin said. “Day sales, where buyers are on the lower economic rungs, may be more affected since those people are more exposed and nervous.”
Kim Oosterlinck, professor of finance at the Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management at the Free University of Brussels, took a broader view in an email to artnet News.
“Among the factors that could affect the art market are expected changes in the stock market and in income inequality, and the possibility for war,” he said.
“As for his specific policies, his promises of protectionism and trade restrictions will in all likelihood reduce wealth, though markets may rally in response to tax policies that are generous to the wealthy. And art markets are known to improve in tandem with increased income inequality. The wealthy, however, often buy art as a way to avoid taxes; they may have less incentive to do so if Trump’s policies improve their tax situation.”
Trump’s bellicosity, with his pledge to “knock the hell out of ISIS,” along with his laissez-faire pronouncements about nuclear conflict in Asia, could also have an effect, Oosterlinck observes.
“If people believe Trump’s presidency increases the risk of war, on the other hand, art prices could decrease, as they did just before the outbreak of World War II,” he said.
New York’s Marion Maneker, publisher of the blog Art Market Monitor, looked askance at attempts at short-term predictions. “Trying to predict behavior based on politics in the short term is almost impossible to do and not really very fruitful,” he said via phone.
A New York private dealer was similarly cautious about making any forecast.
“What we learned last night is to be prepared for the unexpected,” said Andrea Crane in a phone interview, “so it could go in either direction. But I will say that in moments of crisis like 9/11 and the 2008 crash, the art market has typically held steady.
“I’m not expecting anything dramatic next week,” she concluded, “but then again, I expected her to win.”
https://news.artnet.com/market/experts-art-market-after-trump-win-741509

Repatriation - Christmas 2016

1. UNITED KINGDOM Art Loss Register faces competition complaint from Art Recovery Group
Gloves come off in fight to run international database of stolen works of art
by Melanie Gerlis  |  26 January 2016
Art Loss Register faces competition complaint from Art Recovery Group
Art Recovery Group founder Chris Marinello with Matisse's Seated Woman, which was returned to the Rosenberg family last year (left), and Art Loss Register founder and chairman Julian Radcliffe
The privilege of running a commercial database of the world’s stolen art is proving as intriguing and complex as some of the crimes committed.
For the past 25 years, the task of keeping track of the millions of stolen or looted objects around the world has been taken on by the Art Loss Register (ALR). It provides a due diligence service to the art trade, insurers and—increasingly—private individuals.
The latest twist in the tale is that Chris Marinello, who founded Art Recovery Group (ARG) in 2013, has reported the ALR—which he worked for between 2006 and 2013—to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority. The ALR, which is run by Julian Radcliffe, has had a database since 1991. Marinello launched his in early 2015. Both firms have UK HQs.
That there is no love lost between Radcliffe and Marinello is now a matter of public record.
“Vexatious litigation”
ARG’s letter to the competition authority accuses ALR of “systemic breaches of competition law”, citing seven examples of “abusive behaviour”. ALR, according to the letter, “is implementing a persistent, pervasive and systematic plan to eliminate ARG from the market”.
Heading the list of complaints is what ARG describes as “vexatious litigation”, a reference to a civil claim that ALR took to the UK’s High Court in July. This claim accuses Marinello and others of “the unlawful establishment and operation” of ARG, citing breach of contract, breach of confidence and “infringement of database rights”, among other things. ALR’s claim demands the handover of any confidential information the defendants may have that belongs to ALR. Marinello and the other defendants filed a counterclaim in November, in which “each and every allegation contained in the particulars of claim is denied”. A subsequent reply and defence was lodged by ALR in December, which also denied all allegations.
James Ratcliffe, ALR’s director of recoveries, lawyer and near-namesake of the company’s founder, says that, while he has not seen ARG’s letter to the competition authority, ALR’s legal actions are “certainly not vexatious” and that there is “no systematic plan” to eliminate its competitor. He says the claim had to be issued to protect the interests of ALR’s stakeholders because Marinello “took confidential information from our business and we don’t know the full extent of it”. Marinello says: “The ALR knows exactly the extent of information in my possession because it was obtained openly, transparently and with express permission pursuant to an agreement signed by Julian Radcliffe in 2012.”
Julian Radcliffe is ALR’s majority shareholder, although Sotheby’s also has a stake (around 11%), as does Christie’s (around 3%), and Marinello himself (10%).
Room for competition
In ARG’s letter to the competition authority, Marinello describes ALR as “dominant in the market for the ownership and generation of an international database of stolen artwork”, with a market share of between 80% and 90%.
James Ratcliffe denies that ALR has a dominant share of the market. He says: “We have 90 auction houses [as subscribers], including five regional US houses. There’s a huge swathe of the market not touched by us.” The Artnet price database lists more than 800 auction houses globally, although ALR’s clients include Sotheby’s and Christie’s, the two largest auctioneers. “We’ve created this market,” James Ratcliffe says. “It isn’t unfair for us to have our clients.”
He goes on: “Multiple general databases are not in the interest of the art market—they would cause chaos.” He compares ALR’s log of 500,000 items to information providers such as the UK government’s land registry. “What if a theft victim registered their loss with one database and that item was sold by an auction house that searched with the other one? What is the answer to that? Was it negligent of the theft victim not to register with both databases? Should the auction house have searched both? What happens when a third one sets up? And a fourth?”
Not always the answer
James Ratcliffe adds that there is plenty of room for other databases to exist, such as those that specialise in losses from the Second World War or the records kept by national law enforcement agencies. “We are a very good starting point,” he says. “Sometimes we are all that is necessary, but we are not always going to be the complete answer.”
Marinello says: “This proves our point regarding the ALR’s anti-competitive behaviour. Competition in fact would provoke the production of better databases.”
There has been criticism that the quality of information on ALR’s database could be better and when Marinello launched his alternative service in 2015 it was welcomed by the trade. That year, Marinello was named Wealth Management Innovator of the Year by Spear’s, a specialist magazine.
“We never claimed that our system is perfect and are constantly working to improve it,” James Ratcliffe says, “but we are by far the best database of lost and stolen art.”
Many of ALR’s clients did not want to comment directly on the desirability of competition in this area of the art market. Martin Wilson, the global co-head of Christie’s legal and risk department, says his firm “supports all efforts for greater transparency of information on provenance and diligence”. Christie’s continues to submit its catalogues to ALR, he says, but also works with “many public and private archives, publications and academic experts to fill any gaps in provenance”, including Unesco, Interpol and the US Department of Homeland Security.
James Ratcliffe says he hopes that the civil case can be settled before it ends up in court. Marinello responds: “At present, ALR’s intransigence is preventing a resolution to the case.”
The competition authority has yet to say if it will investigate ARG’s complaint.
Why is the database so valuable?
While recovery companies can make big bucks from finding and returning lost or stolen works on a one-off basis, the really lucrative deals are few and far between and can take months, even years, to resolve.
A more reliable revenue stream comes out of the stolen works database. Auction houses, art dealers, museums, insurers, private individuals and other trade organisations can subscribe to it on an annual basis to check works they are offering for sale.
At the Art Loss Register (ALR), the annual fee is £500 for 25 searches, although auction houses, some of which submit every catalogue for a quick matching service, pay a different rate. Art dealers tend to want a more detailed search, and again rates vary. Art Recovery Group (ARG) charges £60 for a one-off search of its database, and tailors its packages according to its clients’ needs. Where applicable, the ALR will issue a search certificate; ARG issues a full report.
Neither firm would confirm the total number of subscribing clients to their databases. The ALR says it has more than 90 auction houses as subscribers and that dealers are also core to its clientele. ARG says that it has signed contracts with a small number of London’s top art dealers and some major US insurers.
The ALR’s lawyer James Ratcliffe says the ALR conducts 400,000 searches against its database every year. Fine art paintings are the most frequently searched for, although he would not go into any further detail on this.
Both firms increasingly look beyond the theft and looting history of works by also taking areas such as financial liens and export restrictions into account.
http://theartnewspaper.com/market/gloves-come-off-in-fight-to-run-international-database-of-stolen-works-of-art/




Museum Exhibitions Christmas 2016


1.PARIS.- Following in the footsteps of past exhibitions such as D'un regard l'Autre (2006) and Charles Ratton. L’invention des arts primitifs (2013), and ahead of the upcoming shows Picasso Primitif (2017) and Fénéon (2018), with Eclectic. A 21st Century Collection the musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac continues its examination of the history of art collecting, as well as the place of so-called ‘tribal’ art in the broader history of the arts.
Perspectives on non-Western arts, and the way in which collectors approach them, have evolved constantly and considerably since the late 19th century. By presenting a selection of masterpieces from the collection of Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière, the musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac hopes to offer new insight into the mechanisms and motivations of 21st century art collectors, particularly concerning art from Africa and Oceania.
An iconic modern collection, assembled in an age when non-Western arts have finally come to be considered on an equal footing with Western traditions, the items acquired by leading industrialist and philanthropist Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière constitute a sort of “ideal museum” reflecting the humanist worldview of this unusual collector, and his faith in universal harmony.
Through a selection of sixty ancient, modern, contemporary and non-Western pieces of artwork – including 25 works considered masterpieces of African and Oceanian art – the exhibition aims to retrace the origins of the collection and the personal relationship between the collector and the works. The chronicle of a private passion, Eclectic. A 21st century collection is also a rare opportunity for the public to share in one of the great collections of the 21st century, discovering never-before-seen treasures of the kind which collectors rarely let out of their sight.
The Ladreit de Lacharrière collection
Over the years, Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière has assembled a unique ensemble of works in his quest for the “ideal collection.” At first devoted primarily to classical and ancient art as well as modern and contemporary paintings, since 2003 the collection has been expanded with the addition of non-Western art, primarily works from sub-Saharan Africa, which have formed the basis of the collection over the past few years.
This development from a focus on classical arts (Ancient Greece and Rome) towards so-called ‘tribal’ art is the fruit of chance encounters and lasting friendships with great connoisseurs such as fellow collector Jean-Paul Barbier-Mueller, as well as experts and advisors from museums, the Artistic Committee of France’s National Museums and fellow patrons of the arts. Ladreit de Lacharrière’s boundless curiosity is also informed by his belief in the importance of dialogue between cultures, a theme so close to the heart of his friend former President Jacques Chirac, and of course fundamental to the philosophy of the musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac.
The development of this collection has been guided by Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière’s enthusiasm and eclectic interests which were shaped by old friendships and new passions, not all of which are covered in this exhibition: contemporary design, manuscripts and incunables, ivory sculptures (14th-19th centuries), modern and contemporary painting. This show at the Musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac is far from an exhaustive portrait of his catholic tastes and sensibilities.
A relentlessly curious, sensitive collector, Marc Ladreit de la Lacharrière does not claim to offer definitive critical judgements on the works in his collection, preferring instead to surround himself with masterpieces with which he has a direct, emotional connection. His is a profoundly humanist view of the world. His artistic and philanthropic endeavours are united in this rich collection of Western and non-Western art, a paean to tolerance and understanding.
As he has made his way in the world, Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière’s natural curiosity and open mind have helped him to slip free from the ‘mental straitjacket’ of Western-centric attitudes to art, embracing the universality of the artistic experience in human existence. He remains firmly convinced that art is not just a matter of aesthetics, but that one of the hallmarks of a great work of art, the source of its “human power,” is its ability to make us question our own certainties. The collection amassed by Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière is consistent with his approach to life, his sense of service and generosity and his belief in the importance of dialogue between different cultures.
In his working environment, Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière likes to surround himself with carefully-selected, universal symbols which represent his philosophy and his commitment to tolerance and peace: a timeless, harmonious vision of human culture in which Africa has come to occupy a pre-eminent position. His home presents a more classic side of the collection, with paintings adorning the walls, but not without a scattering of African sculptures arranged with the sense of freedom so characteristic of this most original of collectors.
THE EXHIBITION ROUTE
Divided into five sections, the exhibition is based around a selection of works primarily of African
and Oceanian origin, along with a handful of historic and contemporary works of Western art.
The spirit of the collection
Upon entering the exhibition, visitors are welcomed by a Dogon sculpture of a Millet Grinder. This exceptionally tall statue (100.5 cm), a masterpiece of Dogon art, is characteristic of the superb quality of the collection, and its owner’s taste for strong, elegant representations of women. With its intricate detail, stylised forms and subtle asymmetry, this statue embodies the exquisite refinement of African art.
Starting points and artistic dialogue
This section establishes a dialogue between significant works from Africa and Oceania and pieces from other fields and eras, playing on formal similarities and thematic echoes. Subtle interactions emerge between African masterpieces and ancient or classical sculptures: a plaque from Benin representing Oba Ohen (an 18th century king) sits side-by-side with a 2nd century bust of the Emperor Hadrian. A Dan crest mask from Ivory Coast, which once belonged to Paul Guillaume, presents a fascinating counterpoint to a Cycladic idol.
The collector’s eye
The second section of the exhibition is a partial recreation of the way in which these works are arranged and displayed in Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière’s public and private spaces, giving us an insight into his approach to collecting and the way he relates to art. The works are displayed in modern, minimalist surroundings, with colours and furnishings which evoke the homes of the pioneering Parisian collectors of the 20th century.
Faces and bodies, the essence of humanity
This section focuses on the African collection, which is the heart of the exhibition, and two fundamental aspects of human representation particularly prized by the collector: faces (masks) and bodies (statues), archetypes of African art as seen and framed by 20th-century collectors. This section illustrates the freedom with which Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière approaches the business of collecting art, with little interest in exhaustiveness or exemplarity.
The spirit of the collection - end
The route through the exhibition concludes with a Luluwa statue (Democratic Republic of the Congo) and a Luba arrow quiver (Democratic Republic of the Congo). These masterpieces bear echoes of the Dogon Millet Grinder sculpture which opens the exhibition, thus bringing the show to a neat conclusion.
Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière
Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière is a French businessman. He was born in Nice and studied economics before attending the Ecole nationale d’administration (Robespierre Class). Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière served as managing director for several firms in the financial and industrial sectors – Banque Indosuez, L’Oréal – before founding Financière Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière (Fimalac) in 1991.
Chairman of the Revue des Deux Mondes since 1990, in 2006 he founded the Culture & Diversité Foundation, a foundation dedicated to expanding access to culture and the arts for middle school pupils in underprivileged areas.
Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière was made a member of the Académie des Beaux-arts in 2006, and has also won plaudits for his philanthropic work and valuable contributions to French museums. A great patron of the Musée du Louvre, he has been a member of the Artistic Committee of France’s National Museums since 1997, a member of the Societé des amis du Louvre since 2004, and Chairman of Agence France - Muséums since its inception in 2007, overseeing the creation of the new Louvre Abu Dhabi. He has been a UNESCO Ambassador for cultural diversity since 2008 and in the wake of the Arab Spring in 2011 he founded the l’Association des Musées Méconnus de la Méditerranée (AMMed), devoted to the promotion of neglected museums and cultural sites in order to encourage dialogue and closer connections between people on both sides of the Mediterranean. He has also served as President of the Association pour la Mise en Valeur de la Grotte ornée du Pont-d’Arc, dite Grotte Chauvet (Association for the development of the Decorated cave of the Pont-d’Arc, otherwise known as the Chauvet Cave) since its inception in 2010.
http://artdaily.com/news/91945/mus-e-du-quai-Branly-continues-its-examination-of-the-history-of-art-collecting#.WEWht1ySZcg

Terrorism Christmas 2016

Nimrud (AFP).- Ali al-Bayati clambered onto the remains of a giant winged bull statue that once stood as a protector of Iraq's fabled ancient Nimrud before the Islamic State group came.
"When you came here before, you could imagine the life as it used to be," the local leader and tribal militia commander told AFP on Tuesday.
"Now there is nothing."
Iraqi forces announced that they had recaptured Nimrud -- located some 30 kilometres (18 miles) south of Mosul, the country's last city still held by the Islamic State group -- two days before.
The capital of the kingdom of Assyria some 3,000 years ago, Nimrud was one of the richest archaeological sites in the region.
But after IS took over the area along with swathes of other territory in 2014, it sought to level what remained of the city for propaganda gain.
The jihadist group released video footage last year of fighters blowing up the remnants of the famed Northwest Palace and smashing stone carvings at the site -- destruction it justified as wiping out un-Islamic idols.
Now it appears that almost nothing is left undamaged.
Statues lie shattered, the reconstructed palace is wrecked and the remains of a ziggurat -- once one of the tallest structures left from the ancient world at some 50 metres (yards) high -- has been reduced to a fraction of its height.
"One hundred percent has been destroyed," Bayati said as he surveyed the hilltop site, just 500 metres from his native village, for the first time in more than two years.
"Losing Nimrud is more painful to me than even losing my own house," he said.
UNESCO has said that the destruction of Nimrud by IS amounts to a war crime.
Bombs and booby traps
The group also blew up and looted antiquities in the spectacular Syrian site of Palmyra, smashed sculptures at ancient Hatra in Iraq, which is still under IS control, and rampaged through the Mosul museum.
In Nimrud, the jihadists attacked the antiquities with ferocity as they claimed they represented idols banned under their extreme interpretation of Islam.
But that has not stopped them from looting and selling such allegedly forbidden items to fund their operations.
"They want to make a new picture of Iraq -- with nothing before Daesh," Bayati said, using an Arabic acronym for the group.
He said he thought IS "destroyed this place because they wanted to destroy Iraq -- the new Iraq and old Iraq".
Most of Nimrud's priceless artefacts were moved long ago to museums in Mosul, Baghdad, Paris, London and elsewhere, but giant "lamassu" statues -- winged bulls with human heads -- and reliefs were still on site.
Now it will take experts to carry out a full evaluation of the damage IS has wrought at Nimrud.
But it may be some time before they can get there: the jihadists that Iraqi forces are fighting to drive back are still just a few kilometres (miles) away, and occasional explosions can be heard in the distance.
The site also still needs to be fully investigated and cleared by security forces of any hidden dangers IS may have left behind.
"There are many (bombs) and booby traps suspected," said Lieutenant Wissam Hamza, a member of an army explosives disposal team, as he walked carefully across the site.
"So we want to find them and clear the area -- then after that it can be called safe."
http://artdaily.com/news/91717/At-Iraq-s-Nimrud--remnants-of-fabled-city-IS-sought-to-destroy#.WEWoWlySZcg

Sothebys Commission Rate Change Christmas 2016


Art Market Christmas 2016


1. LONDON.- Barnebys, the leading search engine aggregator for art and antique auctions – covering 1,600 auction houses and carrying half a million objects at any one time – has taken a snapshot of the year, highlighting trends.
1. The increasing importance of online bidding. Anecdotal as well as researched evidence with the leading international auction houses shows that on average some 35% of bids now come in over the internet.
2. The widening of users of online bidding to include younger wealthy buyers. A new generation is logging on to buy instead of searching the high street, having discovered auction salerooms. So we can expect growth among the millennials. When it comes to the volume market they will be central to its growth, motivated in party by quality and also the environmental aspect of buying on the second-hand (i.e. auction) market. Recycling is going beyond cans and bottles - and it has ever greater strength. Auction houses and antique dealers offer Millenials qualities that appeal to them – environmental sensitivity as well as quality, durability and sustainability.
3. And partly as a result of this online revolution auctioneers are cutting back on the numbers of catalogues they print – a massive and significant saving – and some are doing without catalogues at all, using online catalogues.
4. Art market fluctuates. The Chinese market is significantly down while the US art market is stronger than it has been for some years.
5. While the very top of the market performed strongly, auction houses are increasingly looking at the middle and lower market where commissions are not under so much pressure to make up for losses at the top end. But as always the best and most unique items are still achieving huge prices not seen since 1990 and before the 2008 crash. The middle segment of the market is currently struggling. The lower end survives and grows as auction houses reach out to a whole new audience via social media and the internet.
6. Emerging Art Markets: China, Africa, Latin America. Interest in Chinese Contemporary art continues to grow but the real excitement for new ‘investors’ rather than collectors is in Contemporary African Art, Latin American art, Indian Contemporary art and Cuban Art. There will be an increasing focus on African art, which will include sculptures. Some emerging regions will be more interesting than others to follow. Currently artists from South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana lead the market with auction results. The market will be more and more aware that Africa is not a country, it's a continent of 54 countries.
7. Demand for Twentieth Century Design has been growing since the late 1990s. But it is now really sought after and world record prices are being achieved. For example - the world record price for design, still is the table by the Danish designer Peder Moos, from 1952, that was made for Villa Aubertin in Rosnaes, Nakskov Fjord i Norway. The estimate was £150,000- £200 000, but it was sold for £602,500 at Phillips.
8. The provenance (history) of an item becomes ever more important as celebrity connections add value. During 2016 we saw a lot of ”white glove” auctions, especially celebraties sales or collections of famous people. That will continue to grow and increase in revenue.
9. Collectibles like watches, coins and classic cars, areas that win on globalization and increased online bidding will continue to grow.
10. Female artists - The search for new names and the best works continues to grow. The high prices for female artists who have written the history of art in their own time will be central to future museum exhibitions. This will as ever affect the art market. Gallery owners, dealers and museums will place great emphasis on finding new, hidden artistry like Hilma af Klint and the best work by artists like Georgia O’Keeffe, Louise Bourgeois, Irma Stern, Frida Kahlo who already enjoy high profiles and achieve strong prices at auction.
http://artdaily.com/news/92232/Art-auction-bidding-trends-this-year-show-massive-change-is-underway-say-Barnebys#.WEnhXuYtabM

Stolen Art Christmas 2016

1. AIX-EN-PROVENCE A retired electrician who kept nearly 300 Pablo Picasso artworks in his garage for almost 40 years told a French appeal court on Monday that the artist's widow may have wanted to hide the works from his family.
"Mrs Jacqueline Picasso had problems with (her step-son) Claude (Ruiz) Picasso," Pierre Le Guennec said with a trembling voice, presenting a new version of events to the court in the southern city of Aix-en-Provence.
Le Guennec, convicted last year along with his wife of possessing stolen goods, said that Picasso's widow Jacqueline asked him to store between 15 and 17 garbage bags containing artworks after he died in April 1973.
The 77-year-old said that some time later she retrieved the bags but gave him one of them, saying: "Keep this, it's for you."
Le Guennec said "maybe" the widow was trying to prevent the works from being inventoried for the succession, and said he did not tell the truth in the earlier trial out of "fear of being accused, along with madame, of stealing these bags".
Le Guennec, who was the Picasso's handyman, had previously testified to being given the drawings while the artist was still alive, in 1971 or 1972. The couple's lawyer Eric Dupond-Moretti said he had learned the new version of events only a few days ago.
Le Guennec said Jacqueline gave him the 271 works --- 180 single pieces and a notebook containing 91 drawings --- as a gift recognising the couple's devotion.
He described the works as "drawings, sketches, (and) crumpled paper". Uninterested in the haul, Le Guennec said he put the collection in his garage and discovered it again in 2009.
Staggering lie
Claude Ruiz-Picasso's lawyer Jean-Jacques Neuer angrily denounced Le Guennec's testimony as a "staggering lie", saying the case involved the "art market's darkest and most powerful" forces engaged in an "international stolen art laundering" scam.
The collection, whose value has not been assessed, includes drawings of women and horses, nine rare Cubist collages from the time Picasso was working with fellow French artist Georges Braque and a work from his "blue period". Other more intimate works include portraits of Picasso's mistress Fernande, drawings of his first wife Olga and a drawing of a horse for his children. The works were created between 1900 and 1932.
The authorities seized them after Le Guennec tried to get them authenticated in 2010, showing them to Claude Ruiz-Picasso, who represents the artist's six heirs. The Picassos immediately pressed charges, and the works were handed over to Ruiz-Picasso.
The Le Guennecs were initially given two-year suspended prison terms for possessing stolen goods by a court in March 2015. The investigation did not formally identify the thief or thieves.
The defendants faced maximum jail time of five years and a fine of 375,000 Euros ($410,000) --- or half the value of the pieces, whichever figure turned out to be greater --- if the conviction was upheld. The prosecutor has asked for the couple to be given five-year suspended sentences saying they had harmed Picasso's "memory".
No works were signed
The trial centred on why none of the works was signed, with several witnesses saying the artist would sign everything, partly to ensure against theft.
According to Gerard Sassier, the son of Picasso's long-time cleaning woman, the artist once said after an attempted theft: "Anyway, nothing can be stolen as nothing is signed."
One of the few plaintiffs to have known Le Guennec when he was employed by the Picasso family, the artist's grand-daughter Catherine Hutin-Blay, acknowledged during the trial that the electrician did have a special relationship with the artist.
Prosecutor Laurent Robert said Le Guennec was a pawn who was manipulated by unscrupulous art dealers trying to obtain works initially stolen by Picasso's former chauffeur.
(AFP) http://www.wionews.com/life-fun/picassos-widow-may-have-hidden-art-says-electrician-who-stored-stolen-artwork-8169/
2. AIX-EN-PROVENCE - Pierre Le Guennec, the electrician employed by Pablo and Jacqueline Picasso in the 1970s, told the appeal court of Aix-en-Provence on Monday 31 October that he had "lied" when he said that the artist and his wife gave him 271 works in a cardboard box.
Le Guennec, now 78, and his wife, Danielle, 73, made headlines in 2010 when they took the hundreds of works to the Picasso Administration, asking for authentication certificates, which are required for a sale. The group of unsigned and unrecorded works on paper, dating from 1900 to 1932, includes rare Cubist-collages, two sketchbooks and portraits of his first wife Olga and friends such as Guillaume Apollinaire and Max Jacob. It is valued at an estimated €80m. The Picasso family filed a complaint for theft and the treasure was seized at the Le Guennecs' house on the French Riviera. Last year, they both received a suspended two-year prison sentence for concealment of stolen goods.
However, on Monday the retired electrician changed his story. He now claims that the works were given to him in a rubbish bag by Jacqueline, after the artist’s death. According to this new version, Jacqueline had entrusted him with 15 or 16 such rubbish bags that she had filled at a time when she was “having trouble with Claude Picasso”, Pablo’s son born from his previous union with Françoise Gilot, who was present at the trial. Le Guennec said that he returned the bags “a few months later” and Jacqueline then gave him “the last one”, picked “at random”. The defense attorney, Eric Dupond-Moretti, immediately requested an investigation into how many of Picasso's works might have “escaped the inventories”.
“All this is absurd,” said Anne-Sophie Nardon, the lawyer for Catherine Hutin-Blay, Jacqueline’s daughter. “How can someone think that she, who so admired her husband and his oeuvre, would have filled garbage bags with his drawings and other works?”. She accused the Le Guennecs of “doing everything to smear the reputation of the Picasso family”. Claude Picasso’s lawyer, Jean-Jacques Neuer, called it “an extravagant tale”, saying that the inventory was only completed in 1978, years after Le Guennec said he had returned the bags. Both lawyers asked for the works to be returned to Picasso’s heirs; the prosecutor requested at least a suspended sentence of two years. The judge is expected to give his verdict on 16 December. 
http://theartnewspaper.com/news/news/picasso-s-electrician-yes-i-lied/?utm_source=daily_nov1_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=email_daily&utm_source=The+Art+Newspaper+Newsletters&utm_campaign=d7d43b9225-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2016_11_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c459f924d0-d7d43b9225-43504689

Conservation and Resoration 2016

1. BOSTON, MASS.- The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, has announced a $24 million renovation project that will create a state-of-the-art Conservation Center comprising 22,000 square feet and six laboratories. The transformational renovation is supported by gifts, grants and MFA funds, completing the largest fundraising effort for conservation in the Museum’s 146-year history. The new space will provide advanced technology and foster a more interdisciplinary and collaborative approach among conservators. Additionally, the renovation project, which is scheduled to begin in 2017 and be completed in 2019, allows the Museum to convert 12,000 square feet of space into future galleries for Asian, European and Ancient World displays.
“With this new Conservation Center, the MFA will be among a small family of leading international Museums with exceptional conservation labs, strengthening the MFA’s commitment to preserve our collections for future generations,” said Matthew Teitelbaum, Ann and Graham Gund Director. “It will dramatically improve all facets of our conservation systems, improving infrastructure, technology and facilities while fostering an environment of teamwork. The project also provides the opportunity to open new galleries in the years to come, allowing increased display of works of art for the public to enjoy.”
The $24 million project is supported by the Sherman Fairchild Foundation, Honorary Trustee Rose-Marie van Otterloo and her husband Eijk, anonymous donors and MFA funds. The paintings conservation lab has been named the Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Paintings Conservation Studio.
The new Conservation Center will consist of six collaborative laboratories for paintings, objects, frame and furniture conservation, as well as mountmaking and exhibition preparation and scientific research. The MFA’s Asian Conservation Studio, Virginia Herrick Deknatel Paper Conservation Laboratory and Gabriella and Leo Beranek Textile Conservation Laboratory will remain in their current locations.
Featuring upgraded technology and air-handling systems, the new Center will have open floor plans with heightened ceilings that maximize use of natural light, and increased area for public interaction. Additional improvements include direct access to the freight elevator and renovated loading dock, which will facilitate transportation of large-scale paintings, sculpture and furniture. In addition to allowing conservators to share equipment and expertise, the combined laboratories will provide examination and meeting rooms where they can work closely with curators, scientists and technicians. The Conservation Center will also increase the MFA’s capacity to provide high-quality training for future museum professionals.
The MFA’s commitment to care for its collections at the highest level has always been central to its mission. In the late 19th century, following the opening of the Museum in 1876, consulting specialists were engaged for repair and restoration of artworks as needed. In the early 20th century, several curatorial departments created staff positions for conservation. These efforts were formalized in 1929, when the MFA established one of the nation’s first museum research laboratories. Over the decades, the conservation department has grown to encompass a total of more than 60 staff members and nine laboratories, which are currently located throughout four floors and four wings of the Museum.
Over the past five years, the MFA’s conservation department has averaged 4,800 object examinations and 750 treatments on works ranging from paintings and furniture to objects and textiles. In addition to performing restoration treatments, they examine and evaluate artwork and develop and implement methods to ensure the safety and stability of objects. Their efforts can be seen across the Museum—including Frida Kahlo’s Dos Mujeres (Salvadora y Herminia) (1928), a recent acquisition on view in the Art of the Americas Wing that was recently treated to remove discoloration, and Giovanni Francesco Rustici’s St. John the Baptist (about 1505–15), on view in Della Robbia: Sculpting with Color in Renaissance Florence, which was cleaned and extensively studied for further understanding of its modeling and materials. Visitors can also see conservators at work in the MFA’s Conservation in Action gallery, which currently features the monumental painting Devout Men Taking the Body of St. Stephen (1776) by Benjamin West and the 15th-century Monopoli Altarpiece from southern Italy. Additionally, the Museum highlights ongoing conservation efforts with the hashtag #mfaConservation on Instagram and Twitter, as well as an “MFA Conservation” playlist on YouTube.
http://artdaily.com/news/91514/MFA--Boston-announces--24-million-conservation-center#.WEWzH1ySZcg
2. SCOTLAND Physical maps may be disposable or obsolete today, but during the 17th century they were invaluable and prized documents. Naturally, it came as a bit of a shock when experts at the National Library of Scotland received a gift of a rare map by a well-known engraver that had been shoved up a chimney and forgotten for centuries. Now, thanks to some hard work by expert conservationists, the map has been thoroughly cleaned and restored.
In the late 1600s, fine maps were prized possessions that were often owned by the very, very rich—and the Dutch engraver Gerald Valck was one of the best at the time. Before it was rolled up and stuffed up a chimney in Aberdeen, the approximately 7-foot-long, 5-foot-tall map was one of just three copies Valck made of a intricately detailed map of the world, the BBC reports.
Unfortunately, chimneys don’t make the best storage spaces, preservation-wise.
“This is one of the most challenging tasks our conservation team has faced and they have done a terrific job,” National Librarian John Scally says in a statement. "Although significant sections of the map have been lost, the remainder has been cleaned and stabilized for future study and enjoyment.”
The fact that the map still exists in as good of a condition as it is now is a minor miracle. After spending centuries jammed up a chimney (possibly to seal up a draft), the man who found it while renovating the house nearly threw it away. It was rolled up in a plastic bag and looked simply like a gnarled, musty old pile of rags when it first arrived at the library, Tony Clerkson reports for the
 Scottish Daily Record.
“Once the map was unfurled I was able to assess its condition, which I must admit filled me with dread,” Claire Thomson, a book and paper conservator at the National Library, says in a statement. “Much of the paper had been lost, and the remainder was hard and brittle in places and soft and thin in others. We needed to stabilize it to prevent any further deterioration, make it robust and easier to handle to get to a point where it could be studied by researchers.”
While Thomson and her colleagues were unable to save the entire map, they managed to successfully restore sections of it to close to its original appearance, while preserving it for future study and display, Sarah Laskow writes for Atlas Obscura. Now, after countless hours of humidifying, flattening, dry cleaning, brushing and soaking, the delicate details of the map’s designs are once again there for all to see.
Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/rare-17th-century-map-found-shoved-chimney-restored-180961217/#PAtt50x0GJixDiAG.99

3. NEW YORK, NY.- Sotheby’s announced the establishment of a Scientific Research Department led by renowned scientist James Martin, who will join Sotheby’s this week following the acquisition of his firm, Orion Analytical. Employing state-of-the-art technical and scientific methods, the new department will complement the world-class expertise and provenance research behind the works of art, objects and wine offered by Sotheby’s. Bringing scientific expertise in-house mirrors a trend seen in the world’s great museums and places Sotheby’s in a position to provide even greater service to collectors.
“Sotheby’s has had the pleasure of working with Jamie for the better part of the past two decades, and over time it became increasingly clear that rather than work on a one-off basis we could create something unique within Sotheby’s that would further distinguish us in the marketplace and at the same time help to make the art market a safer place,” said Tad Smith, Sotheby's CEO.
Over four decades, James Martin has developed a unique and peerless skillset as a scientist, art conservator and teacher. He has undertaken more than 1,800 investigations for clients on five continents, and taught at The Getty Conservation Institute, The Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute, and the FBI’s Counterterrorism and Forensic Science Research Unit. He also holds academic appointments at New York University and Williams College. James has conducted art fraud investigations for the FBI for twenty years, and played a central role in the most significant forgery investigations of recent times.

“Having worked closely with Sotheby’s for decades, I am very pleased to be joining the company,” said Jamie Martin. “The range of works offered by Sotheby’s, as well as the breadth of existing expertise and experience, provides for a unique opportunity to leverage my capabilities across the company’s global platform. I am also looking forward to continuing my teaching and professional collaborations with museums and conservators, as part of my work at Sotheby’s.”

Some of the techniques employed by James include: technical imaging, magnified visual inspection, elemental analysis, and molecular analysis. His work on cultural property from ancient Egyptian artifacts to contemporary paintings can detect anomalies and anachronisms that raise questions about the attribution or age of works, or prove works misattributed or fake. As part of the attribution and valuation process, his work can provide investigative leads and test hypotheses of specialists and researchers.          
http://artdaily.com/news/92231/Sotheby-s-announces-the-acquisition-of-Orion-Analytical-and-appoints-James-Martin-as-Director-#.WEngc-YtabM

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Archaeology Christmas 2016

MEXICO CITY (AFP).- Experts have discovered a third structure within the Kukulkan pyramid in eastern Mexico, revealing that it was built like a "Russian nesting doll," experts said Wednesday.
A 10-meter (33-foot) tall pyramid was found within another 20-meter structure, which itself is enveloped by the 30-meter pyramid visible at the Mayan archeological complex known as Chichen Itza in Yucatan state.
The smallest pyramid was built between the years 550 and 800, engineers and anthropologists said.
The middle structure had already been discovered in the 1930s and dates back to the years 800-1,000, while the largest one was finished between 1050-1300.
The discovery suggests that the pyramid, known as "El Castillo" (The Castle), was built in three phases.
"It's like a Russian nesting doll. Under the large one we get another and another," Rene Chavez Seguro, the project's chief and a geophysics researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, told a news conference.
Structures were built on top of each other for various reasons, including deterioration or the arrival of new leadership, said Denisse Argote, expert at the National Anthropology and History Institute.
The smallest pyramid was spotted using a non-invasive technique that consists in lighting the inside of the pyramid to see its interior without causing damage.The discovery could shed light on the original Mayan culture before it was influenced by populations from central Mexico, Argote said.
Last year, archeologists discovered that the Kukulkan pyramid was built atop a cenote, or underground river, which are common in the region and are sacred to the Maya.
http://artdaily.com/news/91716/Archaeologists-discover-that-Mexican-pyramid-built-like-a--Russian-nesting-doll-#.WEWnRlySZcg
2. WASHINGTON (AFP).- Humans living in Africa used heat to break stones and make sharp blades tens of thousands of years before the technique was developed elsewhere, according to a study published Wednesday.
The new evidence, in the journal Plos One, shows that humans living in South Africa more than 65,000 years ago sharpened rock into blades in the oldest known use of pyrotechnology to transform matter, researchers said.
"This marks a leap in knowledge and skill to use fire in the transformation of matter, which represents a considerable step in the technological evolution of man that is unique to this region," Anne Delagnes, a lead researcher of the study from the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), told AFP.
Conducted at the Klipdrift Shelter -- a recently discovered Middle Stone Age site southeast of Cape Town -- the researchers analyzed heating techniques used to produce blades from silcrete rock.
The researchers found that 92 percent of the rock samples had traces of intentional heating -- a process that would harden and break open the rock, producing sharp pieces to make blades.
"The fire breaks the stone and removes internal impurities, minimizing the risk of fracture during the process -- a fairly sophisticated technique," said Delagnes.
Analysis suggested the stones were rapidly heated early in the process in open fireplaces at temperatures higher than 450 degrees Celsius (842 degrees Fahrenheit).
The humans were apparently making small stone tools with short blades on handles. Some even had multiple blades on one handle -- an ancient ancestor of the Swiss Army knife.
"It was an extremely innovative period in southern Africa," said Delagnes. Besides technological innovations including this form of pyrotechnology, she said there were already symbolic engravings of the first set of the elements on ostrich eggshells.
This most recent finding indicates that the use of intentional heat treatments was used in Africa between 50,000 and 65,000 years ago.
No traces of the technological innovation exist again until some 20,000 years ago when it was discovered in Siberia, and later on in Europe about 18,000 years ago, when heat was sometimes applied to finish tools.
Fire was applied to create blades more systematically in Western Europe just 11,000 years ago during the Neolithic period, which marked the beginning of human civilization with the appearance of agriculture and livestock.
http://artdaily.com/news/91050/In-Africa--humans-used-heat-to-make-tools-long-before-others--Study#.WEdWqVySZcg



Fakes and Forgeries Christmas 2016

 Note: After reading this article several questions immediately came to mind. Is this a fake, a composite, or a restoration? It seems to me that this article doesn't really answer the questions. Since the turquoise and the skull were determined to be appropriately old enough, the testers would need to check every plaque for the existence of contemporary glue. One plaque with ancient glue completely changes the picture from "partial forgery" (a term I don't like) to extensively restored.
 
1. THE HAGUE THE HAGUE (AFP).- An 800-year-old Mexican skull decorated with turquoise mosaic, for decades believed to have been a masterpiece of Mixtec indigenous art is a forgery, a Dutch museum and media said Saturday.
The National Museum of Ethnology in the western university city of Leiden made the shock discovery after an intensive four-year study on the skull, one of only around 20 in existence world-wide.
"Radiometric dating showed the skull and the turquoise are from the correct time period and origin and are authentic," the museum said on its website.
"But alas: further investigation showed a 20th-century glue was used (to mount the mosaic)," the museum said.
The teeth are also false "as it was too well preserved for a skull that lay underground for centuries," Dutch daily Trouw reported.
The museum bought the piece in 1963 for the equivalent of around $20,000 (19,000 euros) and was seen as a striking example of ancient Mesoamerican art.
An investigation into possible skull-duggery was launched after the museum's conservator Martin Berger received a telephone call back in 2010 from a French colleague in Marseille, Trouw said.
The colleague told Berger they received a similar skull from a private collection and that person who donated the art had doubts about its authenticity.
Berger and his colleagues travelled to a Paris-based laboratory where the Dutch-owned skull was analysed and where "we realised that ours was also a bit more 'modern' than we thought".
Berger told the paper he suspected the fake was mounted by a Mexican dentist back in the 1940s or 1950s, when Mexican archeological sites were subjected to large-scale plunder and dealing in artworks like those of the Mixtecs was a lucrative business.
Asked whether he was disappointed by the revelation, Berger told the newspaper: "No."
"In actual fact it's given us a bizarre story and that's exactly what museums want to do, to tell stories.
"It remains as one of our masterpieces -- except, we've changed the information on the sign board."
In any case, said Berger, the skull is only a "partial forgery".
"The skull as well as the turquoise are unique archaeological material. Only, the Mixtecs themselves didn't do the glueing," he said.
Similar Central American crystal skulls housed in museums in Paris, London and Washington, D.C. believed to have been pre-Colombian, were revealed to be fake in a scientific study published in 2008.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Fall 2016 Mert Simpson Estate Auction - Saturday October 1st



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date of Release: Sept. 18, 2016

Quinn’s Oct. 1 auction  showcases personal tribal art collection of noted expert, artist and NYC gallerist Merton D. Simpson

16th-century Benin palace plaque, ex British Museum, is premier artifact from estate collection – auction estimate: $800,000-$1.2 million

FALLS CHURCH, Va. – A 16th-century bronze plaque recovered in 1897 from the charred ruins of the Benin Kingdom’s Royal Palace (Benin City, Nigeria) leads the Oct. 1 auction of the late Merton D. Simpson’s private collection. Quinn’s Auction Galleries in Falls Church, Virginia (metro Washington, D.C.), will conduct the Oct. 1 sale, which includes artworks and rare African relics from the renowned tribal art expert’s personal collection, his Manhattan gallery, and some of his own paintings.

The plaque was one of 304 examples brought to the UK by Ralph Moor in 1897 following the Benin Expedition. Once having adorned wooden gallery roof supports around a large reception courtyard in the palace, the remarkable artworks were displayed later that year at The British Museum. Following the exhibition, the Museum acquired (as a gift from the British government) 203 plaques from the collection. The remaining 101 plaques were sold to British and Continental museums; and private collectors.

The plaque from the Simpson collection is numbered 192 on the 1898 Foreign Office list pertaining to the group acquisition. It remained a part of the institution’s collection until 1950, when the Museum de-accessioned some of its plaques.

It is believed that Merton Simpson, who began collecting African artifacts in the 1950s, may have acquired his plaque through a European dealer, as the object appears to have been expertly restored to European standards at some point in time.

The object measures 48.58 cm by 33.18 cm and is adorned with the single figure of an elaborately garbed warrior chief holding an eben – or ceremonial dance sword – indicating his participation in a palace ceremony. Other embellishments include a longhaired Portuguese man in profile, two crocodile heads and rosettes.

The plaque has been authenticated by prominent ancient art expert John A. Buxton, ISA CAPP, whom Quinn’s enlisted to oversee and supervise the Simpson auction; and Kathy Curnow, PhD and Associate Professor, African Art History, Cleveland State University. It also has undergone a rigorous forensic examination by Mark Rasmussen of Rare Collections, a respected firm that provides scientific investigation and research services to leading museums and private collectors here and abroad.

Quinn’s conducted an exhaustive search of all relevant art loss registries, including those of INTERPOL and other international sources, to confirm the plaque’s lawful status. It is similar to an example in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art and previously was part of the institution’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. It is entered in the auction with an $800,000-$1.2 million estimate.

Other top highlights include a horned plank Bedu mask with checkerboard design, Ivory Coast/Ghana, first half of 20th century, est. $10,000-$15,000; and a 15th to 17th-century seated clay figure from a cache uncovered in the 1980s in Mali, Niger Delta, est. $10,000-$15,000. It is believed that all of the figures from the Mali discovery now reside in non-U.S. museums or private collections, making Merton Simpson’s example all the more desirable.

Also estimated at $10,000-$15,000, a 20th-century Pwo mask from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chokwe culture, depicts a female with an elaborate fiber coiffure. Another wood mask from the Congo exhibits the type of composition and decorative style favored by the Teke people, late 19th to early 20th century. Its character’s oval-shape eyes are outlined in blue pigment. That, combined with its abstractly interpreted features, suggests the mask was likely produced by the Tsai group of the Teke tribe. Estimate: $10,000-$15,000.

A 20th-century night mask created by the Bacham culture of the Republic of Cameroon is similar to an example sold in Christie’s Amsterdam’s July 2, 2002 auction of tribal art from the Estate of Baron Freddy Rolin. Quinn’s has set an auction estimate of $5,000-$10,000.

The Ejagham people are best known for their large, skin-covered, headdress-style crest masks that often have one or more faces of known or imagined individuals. The Simpson collection includes a skin-covered headdress with curled horns from the Ejagham of Nigeria. A 20th-century piece, it could realize $3,000-$5,000.

With an acclaimed eye for spotting exceptional art and a career as an art dealer that spanned more than 50 years, Merton D. Simpson (African-American, 1928-2013) was one of the world’s most respected African and tribal art dealers. He was instrumental in helping individuals and institutions around the world to build comprehensive, historically significant collections. He was also a gifted artist in his own right and an early member of the Spiral group, a collective of African-American artists co-founded in 1963 by Romare Bearden, Hale Woodruff and other notables.

“For the New York County Public Administrator – fiduciary of the Simpson estate – to have chosen Quinn’s to auction this important collection was a tremendous honor for us. But the collection will also be taking its place in history, and rightly so, when it is sold during the opening week of the new National Museum of African American History & Culture, here in the Washington, D.C. metro area,” said Quinn’s Executive Vice President Matthew Quinn. “We couldn’t be more proud.”

The Saturday, Oct. 1 auction will take place at Quinn’s Auction Galleries at 360 S. Washington St., Falls Church, VA 22046, starting at 11 a.m. Eastern time (doors open at 9 a.m). Those who cannot attend in person may bid absentee, by phone or live online via LiveAuctioneers.com, Invaluable.com or Bidsquare.com. Items may be previewed at the gallery Sept. 23-24, and Sept. 26-29 inclusive, from 10-5:30; or from 9-11 a.m. on auction day. The gallery will be closed on Sunday, Sept. 25.

For additional information on any item, call 703-532-5632. Visit Quinn’s online at www.quinnsauction.com.


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All images courtesy of Quinn’s Auction Galleries