Thursday, May 21, 2009

Featured African piece

12th century Processional cross, Ethiopia

Quick Hits

1. On November 12, 1864 marking the beginning of his second term Abraham Lincoln jotted out his victory speech; and then delivered it from the White House window balcony to the delight of 1500 gathered supporters. 145 years later on February 12, 2009 Christies sold that speech for 3.44 million dollars. President Lincoln had a message for us all today. “Human nature will not change,” he said. “In any future great national trial, compared with the men of this, we shall have as weak, and as strong; as silly and as wise; as bad and good.”

2. The Antiques Roadshow tour starts June 6th in Atlantic City for what will be season 14. Over thirty of the original appraisers are still together from the start of season one in 1996. Many exciting changes have taken place to include the expanded Roadshow website with video on demand of the appraisals and more access to the appraisers. Marsha Bemko’ staff has worked diligently to ensure that each Saturday on the road is a great experience for Roadshow guests. More time has been spent in post production on fact checking with the appraisers. We are all looking forward to the season and some of your appraisers will be “tweeting” from the floor.

3. King Tut just left the Dallas Museum of Art with over 600,000 attendees, not a bad record considering the economic downturn, swine flu, and rising travel costs to dissuade travelers.

4. John Friede’s trouble actually involved two debts – one to Sothebys and one to his brothers. The recent sale at Sothebys of Friede New Guinea objects were to satisfy the former not the latter. The New York Times reported it in the following manner: “Sotheby’s plans to auction 10 works from a tribal art collection assembled by John and Marcia Friede that the de Young Museum in San Francisco expected to own in its entirety. The Friedes promised their 4,000-piece collection to the de Young in a series of agreements completed in 2007. But a battle over the estate of Mr. Friede’s mother, Evelyn A. J. Hall, and a roughly $25 million debt owed by the Friedes to Sotheby’s have threatened to break up the collection. In October a New York State Supreme Court judge ruled that Sotheby’s could take possession of 54 works. Seven will go on the block in Manhattan on May 15, and three others will be auctioned in Paris on June 17. Separately, The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the City of San Francisco will allow 76 works to be sold to pay off part of a debt that Mr. Friede owes.”

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ooops.. Maybe We Don't Want It Back.....

On Antiques Roadshow we all wait for that great story we can tell about an object that has been undiscovered or lost from view. A bust of Queen Nefertiti, believed to be over 3400 years old had been on view at Berlin's Altes Museum. It was at the center of a big dispute with the Egyptian government who wanted this pristine complete bust returned as an important part of their cultural patrimony. Unfortunately, there was some very critical information that was missed by the very prestigious and highly acclaimed Egyptian scholars. The piece was commissioned by Germany archaeologist Ludwig Borchardt in 1912 at the site of the dig. When a German prince admired the work when he was visiting the site the same year Borchardt did not wish to embarrass the man and gave him the bust. The prince proudly displayed Nefertiti in his study for ten years until 1923 when it went on public display at the museum. That also marked the beginning of the dispute with Egypt. Swiss art historian Henri Stierlin is a noted scholar in this area and has just completed a book outlining the story and the results of his research. Stierlin noted some critical differences in the carving of the figure and in the timeline of its "discovery". It was significant that none of the French archaeologists on site even mentioned what would have been an extremely important find. It will remain in Germany where undoubtedly the story will attract more visitors than maybe even the real thing might have.