Thursday, April 22, 2010

Park West Gallery Fiasco - Just the Beginning

A monumental legal dispute has been churning very quietly for the past several years in the Upper Midwest pitting Phoenix based Global Fine Art Registry against Southfield Michigan art gallery Park West. Park West Galleries, Inc. has hosted auctions on board cruise ships since the early 1990's and provided documentation from their appraisers as to authentication and value. Bottom line Fine Art Registry accused Park West of fraud. Park West sued Fine Art Registry for $46 million for defamation. Park West lost and Fine Art Registry was awarded $500,000 for trademark law violation. This now opens the door for all those buyers to come back at Park West for their own claims. This could potentially start an avalanche of claims against appraisers, Park West, and maybe the cruise lines as well.

Park West Galleries Inc. was not defamed by an Arizona art registry service, and will even have to pay $500,000 for infringing a federal trademark law while defending its reputation, a federal court jury found today.

Jurors took about a day and a half to reach a unanimous verdict against the Southfield art dealer and in favor of Phoenix-based Global Fine Art Registry L.L.C. Park West had sought $46 million in damages against the registry, its CEO Teresa Franks, owner Bruce Hochman of California-based The Salvador Dali Art Gallery, and a contract writer for the registry.

After a six-week trial before U.S. District Judge Lawrence Zatkoff, the jury on Wednesday awarded no damages in Park West's claims for defamation, tortuous interference and civil conspiracy.

It also awarded no damages in Fine Art Registry's and Franks' counterclaims of defamation and tortuous interference; but it did award $500,000 to Fine Art Registry for violations of the federal Lanham Act that governs several aspects of trademark law.

“I'm overwhelmed,” Franks said of the outcome Wednesday. “We went through three years of hell with this company (Park West), and I was honored by the witnesses and experts who came and helped us from around the country and all over the world. This was a company with three law firms and we were in a classic David and Goliath case, and I feel like we kicked rear-end today.”

The federal lawsuit stems from a series of online reports the Registry posted in 2007-08 about Park West, mainly involving buyers who claim fraud and violations of consumer protection laws in several states in art auctions that Park West hosts aboard cruise ships.

Many of those buyers are plaintiffs in eight other state and federal lawsuits seeking more than $22 million in damages; most of those cases were consolidated a few months ago into a multi-district federal lawsuit that heads to trial next year in Seattle.

Park West has hosted auctions aboard cruise lines since 1993, and the company has claimed they account for more than 80 percent of annual revenue, which peaked at nearly $300 million in 2006 and early 2007.

Celebration, Fla.-based Disney Cruise Line has ended its concession agreement to host Park West auctions last year and entered a new agreement with competitor West End Gallery Inc. of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. But Park West maintains its agreements with several other cruise lines.

Rodger Young, founding partner at Southfield-based Young & Susser P.C. and lead attorney for Park West, said he was shocked by the result and expects to file a motion next week for judgment as a matter of law, to supplant the verdict with a ruling by Judge Lawrence Zatkoff.

If that request fails, he said, the art dealer will take the matter to the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

"We are extraordinarily disappointed by the verdict," he said. "Absolutely anyone else in the courtroom must have heard a different case than the one the jury considered, and we intend to very vigorously appeal."

Robin Danek, director of marketing communications for Park West, could not be immediately reached. In a voicemail recording she deferred comment to Young.

Jonathan Schwartz, associate at Farmington Hills-based Kaufman, Payton & Chapa P.C., said the Lanham Act violation involved Park West's use of a Fine Art Registry trademark in sponsored links on search engines, to drive Internet user queries to a Park West reputation management page online.

He also hailed Wednesday's outcome as a win and a possible indicator of the strength of the buyer lawsuits. Kaufman Payton is also representing 10 art buyers in a civil lawsuit at Oakland County Circuit Court, and defended Franks and the Registry in the federal lawsuit in Port Huron.

“We mounted a defense of truth in the defamation case, and were able to bring witnesses and experts to support the claims that were made (online),” he said. “The (parties) are going to take a look at the buyer claims on a case by case basis, but if Park West wants to present this same case as a defense to those allegations, the outcome today might say something about the strength of presenting that defense.”
Compiled from:>

Quick Takes March/April 2010

1. Irwin Hersey Dies in New York April 2, 2010
HERSEY--Irwin. Born Irwin Herskowitz, editor and nationally known authority on tribal art died in Manhattan April 2 at age 89. Born September 15, 1920, Mr. Hersey was a graduate of City College and received his masters degree from Columbia University. In World War II he was commissioned and trained as a Japanese linguist and served in Tokyo on General MacArthur's staff. He was recalled to active duty in Korea. He left the army a captain and worked as a business editor for Fairchild and Hearst Publications. In 1957 he became editor of the Journal of the Society of Aeronautics and Astronautics and director of publications of the American Rocket Society. Later he became a consultant to cities wanting to expand business meetings and conventions, worldwide. His knowledge and expertise of African tribal art led to his work as an appraiser and was among the first to try to provide professional standards to the field. From 1978 to 1983 he founded and edited the Primitive Art Newsletter. Objects from his collection are represented in major U.S. museums. He is survived by his wife Marcia. (Published in The New York Times on April 6, 2010 )

2. Major Archaeological Discovery in Egypt
CAIRO (AP).- Archaeologists have unearthed a massive red granite head of one Egypt's most famous pharaohs who ruled nearly 3,400 years ago, the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities announced Sunday. The head of Amenhotep III, which alone is about the height of a person, was dug out of the ruins of the pharaoh's mortuary temple in the southern city of Luxor. The leader of the expedition that discovered the head described it as the best preserved sculpture of Amenhotep III's face found to date. "Other statues have always had something broken: the tip of the nose, the face is eroded," said Dr. Hourig Sourouzian, who has led the led the Egyptian-European expedition at the site since 1999. "But here, from the tip of the crown to the chin, it is so beautifully carved and polished, nothing is broken." The head is part of a larger ... More

3. Israeli Art Theft Of 30 Million Watch Solved
LOS ANGELES (AP).- The widow of a notorious Israeli thief has been convicted of receiving stolen property from a 27-year-old heist that included more than 100 expensive timepieces and museum artifacts, including what's been called "the Mona Lisa of the clock world." Nili Shamrat, 64, of Tarzana, was convicted Feb. 23 and sentenced to five years' probation and 300 hours of community service, state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner announced Tuesday. In 1983, 106 timepieces, paintings and artifacts were taken from the L.A. Mayer Museum for Islamic Art in Jerusalem. It was hailed as the costliest theft in Israeli history and included a pocket watch made by famed watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet for French queen Marie Antoinette that museum officials valued at more than $30 million. There ... More

4. Annie Leibovitz New Problems
NEW YORK (AP).- Photographer Annie Leibovitz is facing new accusations of balking at bills, less than a month after she struck a deal intended to resolve financial problems that had risked her rights to some of pop culture's most famous images. Investment firm Brunswick Capital Partners LP said in a lawsuit filed Friday that Leibovitz owes more than $800,000 in fees for its help arranging her recent financing agreement with another firm, Colony Capital LLC. Through a spokesman, Leibovitz declined to comment Monday. New York-based Brunswick said it "made exhaustive efforts" to link Leibovitz with investors who could help her out of a financial hole that had threatened to cost her control of her life's work. Leibovitz has photographed figures ranging from Bruce Springsteen to Queen Elizabeth during her 40-year career. Sometimes theatrical, often provocative, her work includes such famous images as a nude and very pregnant ... More

5. Milwaukee Public Open Quilt Show
Milwaukee Art Museum to Show American Quilts: Selections from the Winterthur Collection
MILWAUKEE, WI.- One of the world’s finest collections of early American quilts will be on view at the Milwaukee Art Museum May 22–September 6, 2010. Featuring rare surviving textiles of the late 1700s and early 1800s from Winterthur Museum & Country Estate, Delaware, American Quilts outlines America’s earliest cultural landscape in stunning detail. American Quilts features more than 40 exquisite quilts whose fabric, design, and stitching combine to provide an extraordinary visual experience. These works of art also present a wealth of new information about the lives of their makers and the world around them. Quilts make political statements, celebrate marriages, and document the early global textile trade. Close examination of these quilts show the frugal recycling of a pair of men’s wool breeches, or the special purchase of fashionable and expensive fabrics. The exhibition includes some of the finest and earlies ... More

6. The Middle East and
DUBAI.- Art enthusiasts can now shop online for some of the region’s most talented emerging artists with the launch of, the Middle East’s first affordable online art gallery. brings together a unique collection of over 20 artists from more than 10 nationalities, with artworks ranging in price from US $250 ranging to US $4,000. According to the website’s founder, Dubai-based Arij Baidas Kamal, showcases a variety of mediums from paintings, sketches, drawings to photography. “As well as offering superb artworks at an affordable price, the website is an important vehicle for artists to gain exposure in a wider market,” Ms. Baidas Kamal said. “It is our ambition to place at the heart of the region’s art community.” Artworks are sold unframed so they can be shipped safely and economically. Buyers can browse for artworks according to size, subject, price range and the arti ... More

7. Brooks Joyner Goes to Allentown
ALLENTOWN, PA.- J. Brooks Joyner has been appointed by the Board of Trustees as the Allentown Art Museum’s Priscilla Payne Hurd President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Joyner will assume his new post, vacated by Gregory J. Perry in September 2009, on May 1, 2010. Joyner comes to the Allentown Art Museum from the Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Neb., where he was director from 2001 to 2009. In formation since 1931, the Joslyn Art Museum's collection now contains more than 11,000 works of art from all over the world, antiquity to the present, with a concentration on 19th and 20th century European and American art. Highlights of the permanent collection include works by Lorenzo di Credi, Titian, El Greco, Veronese, Claude de Lorrain, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Pierre August Renoir, and Camille Pissarro. American masters such as Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Hart Benton, Mary Cassatt, Thomas Eakins, Winslow ... More

8. Now That's a Super Bowl Bet
NEW ORLEANS. LA.- The New Orleans Saints weren’t the only winners on Superbowl Sunday. E. John Bullard, NOMA’s Montine McDaniel Freeman Director, won an online betting match with Maxwell L. Anderson, the Melvin & Bren Simon Director of the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA). The spoils? A three-month loan of "The Fifth Plague of Egypt", 1800, a landscape by British artist J.M.W. Turner, which was unveiled on Thursday. “Dreams DO Come True!” Bullard said. “Both teams made their cities proud. We are looking forward to our friends at IMA, Colts fans, Saints fans and all football and art lovers visiting the New Orleans Museum of Art to see the Turner, our Lorrain and all the museum’s masterpieces. And I would be remiss if I didn't say, ‘Who Dat?!’” The betting war began on Monday, January 25, when arts blogger Tyler Green of Modern Art Notes ( tweeted: “@ ... More

Most of the articles abover were compled by

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

New Intern at the Gallery - Courtney Brown

We are delighted to announce the appointment of a new intern that has been selected to participate in all phases of the gallery, appraisal business, and our online presence.

Courtney Brown lives in Dallas, Texas. and is currently working on completing her Bachelors of Fine Art at the University of Texas at Arlington. Her work has been exhibited at 500x Gallery, The Gallery at University of Texas at Dallas, and Gallery West at University of Texas at Arlington. Courtney has been studying Lakota tradition and native spirituality since the age of sixteen. Her studies at UTA are focused on exploring the function of ritual and ceremony based painting and performance. Courtney will be working directly with John Buxton and Kim Kolker at Shango Gallery in Dallas, Texas. She hopes to gain invaluable insight into the work featured at Shango. When asked for a quote Courtney offered the following. "I am particularly interested in contemporary curatorial practices and standards in the dealing of tribal art. I am really looking forward to working with Kim and John at Shango."

Welcome Courtney!

Ash and Lightning Above an Icelandic Volcano

Explanation: Why did the recent volcanic eruption in Iceland create so much ash? Although the large ash plume was not unparalleled in its abundance, its location was particularly noticeable because it drifted across such well populated areas. The Eyjafjallajökull volcano in southern Iceland began erupting on March 20, with a second eruption starting under the center of a small glacier on April 14. Neither eruption was unusually powerful. The second eruption, however, melted a large amount of glacial ice which then cooled and fragmented lava into gritty glass particles that were carried up with the rising volcanic plume. Pictured above two days ago, lightning bolts illuminate ash pouring out of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano.

Dr. Edmund P. Pillsbury: 1943-2010

Ted Pillsbury, who passed away on March 25 os this year was certainly a major figure in the art world for over 35 years. We have reprinted the Dallas Morning News article from March 26, 2010.

Dr. Edmund P. Pillsbury: 1943-2010
Edmund P. "Ted" Pillsbury, director of the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth from 1980 to 1998 and a major figure on the American art museum scene, died on Thursday. He was 66.

Dr. Edmund (Ted) Pillsbury is pictured with a painting by Bartolome Esteban Murillo in 2006.
A spokesman for Dallas' Heritage Auction Galleries, where Dr. Pillsbury had served as chairman of fine arts since 2005, said he died of an apparent heart attack after visiting a client in Kaufman County. According to Pat Laney, a representative for the Kaufman County sheriff's office, the death is under investigation.
"Ted was one of the latter 20th century's most important museum directors," said Richard Brettell, chairman of art and aesthetics at the University of Texas at Dallas and former director of the Dallas Museum of Art. "He was, in some ways, single-handedly responsible for turning the Kimbell from an institution with a great building into one whose collection matched its architecture in quality."
Urbane, outgoing and dapper, Dr. Pillsbury was called "one of the most gifted men in the American museum profession" by New York Times critic John Russell.
"Ted was part showman, part scholar," said current Kimbell director Eric Lee. "He had an unusual combination of qualities that made him just right for the Kimbell at that particular moment."
Janet Kutner, former Dallas Morning News art critic, said, "He had a wonderful eye and was a very hard worker. I can't think of a single person who has had that positive an influence on the art world in Dallas and beyond."
Dr. Pillsbury, who held a doctorate in Italian Renaissance art from the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, attracted international attention with acquisitions of important works by Caravaggio, de la Tour, Watteau, Manet, Monet, Matisse and others. He was also responsible for mounting major exhibitions, publishing scholarly catalogues and creating innovative educational programs. He hired an outstanding curatorial staff and made the Kimbell an important force in art conservation.
He helped negotiate the first international loan exhibition from the Barnes Collection in Philadelphia, which broke attendance records during its 1994 run at the Kimbell.
"Ted Pillsbury will forever be remembered by the Kimbell, and within the art world," Lee said.. "When I walk through the galleries every day, when I look at the acquisitions he made hanging on the walls, I have such appreciation for what Ted did here.
In 1989, Pillsbury unveiled and promoted a plan by architect Romaldo Giurgola to expand the Kimbell's acclaimed Louis Kahn building, but after an international outcry the project was shelved. Architect Renzo Piano is now refining a new plan for an addition to the museum.
After escalating disagreements with the Kimbell board, Dr. Pillsbury resigned in 1998 and switched over to the commercial side of the art world. He took over the Dallas branch of the Gerald Peters Gallery, which then became Pillsbury & Peters Fine Art.
He then spent two years, from 2003 to 2005, as director of the Meadows Art Museum at Southern Methodist University, helping the museum find its direction in its new home. He left to work with Heritage Galleries and served as "consultative director" of the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art in Las Vegas.
"He turned down the Getty [Museum] to work for us," said Heritage co-director Jim Halperin. "He started our fine arts department and museum services department almost from scratch.
"He was a dynamo, our rock star. He was a brilliant, brilliant guy and very likable – really had a way with people. Every time he would give a speech, crowds would show up."
A Minneapolis native, Dr. Pillsbury was a great-grandson of the founder of Pillsbury Milling Co., now a division of General Mills. He received a bachelor's degree from Yale University before going on to graduate studies.
Before becoming the second director of the Kimbell, Dr. Pillsbury was director of the Yale Center for British Art. His first position was as a curator of European painting and sculpture at the Yale University Art Gallery.
Survivors include his wife, Mireille; son Edmund P. Pillsbury III of Dallas; and daughter Christine Pillsbury Raniolo of Singapore.
Ted Pillsbury: a career in art
1966: The Kimbell Art Museum, designed by Louis Kahn, opens in Fort Worth.
1980: Edmund P. "Ted" Pillsbury, the 37-year-old founding director of the Yale Center for British Art, becomes director of the Kimbell after the death of its first director, Richard Brown.
1981: Thomas Hoving, director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, in Connoisseur magazine, identifies the Kimbell as "America's best small museum," It acquires Cheat With the Ace of Clubs (late 1620s) by Georges de La Tour. The purchase was begun by Brown but completed during Pillsbury's first year.
1982: Pillsbury buys On the Pont de l'Europe (1876-77) by Gustave Caillebotte, an underappreciated French impressionist whose work has grown in favor.
1984: Four Figures on a Step, (1655-60) by Bartolomé Esteben Murillo, an enigmatic genre work by a Spanish painter known for his religious subjects, is purchased .
1986: Pillsbury finds The Apostle Saint James Freeing the Magician Hermogenes (1426-29) by Fra Angelico (Fra Giovanni da Fiesole), an exquisite panel from an unidentified altarpiece.
1987: The Cardsharps (c.1594) by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio is one of Pillsbury's greatest scores. 1989: Pillsbury unveils expansion plans that add wings to the Kimbell building, which are quickly abandoned because of protests by architects and Kahn's family.
1997: "Monet and the Mediterranean," consisting of 71 of the French impressionist's paintings, opens. By the time it travels to New York , it is the third-best-attended exhibition in the museum's history.
1998: Pillsbury abruptly resigns as Kimbell director. That same year the Kimbell Art Museum receives the American Institute of Architects' 25 Year Award.
1999: He teams up with gallerist Gerald Peters to form Pillsbury & Peters Fine Art. The union dissolves in 2003.
2003: He becomes director of the Meadows Museum at Southern Methodist University. This position lasts for two years.
2005: He begins working for Heritage Auction Galleries in Dallas, expanding their fine art auctions to a $50 million business. He consults on the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art in Las Vegas.
2009: Pillsbury alerts new Kimbell director Eric Lee to a Michelangelo painting in play. The Kimbell eventually buys The Torment of Saint Anthony (1487-88), and it becomes the only Michelangelo on exhibit in the Western Hemisphere.

Stella Awards - 2009 - We Hope this is Made Up

Stella Awards....It's time again for the annual 'Stella Awards'! For those unfamiliar with these awards, they are named after 81-year-old Stella Liebeck who spilled hot coffee on herself and successfully sued the McDonald's in New Mexico , where she purchased coffee. You remember, she took the lid off the coffee and put it between her knees while she was driving. Who would ever think one could get burned doing that, right? That's right; these are awards for the most outlandish lawsuits and verdicts in the U.S. You know, the kinds of cases that make you scratch your head. So keep your head scratcher handy.

Here are the Stellas for this past year -- 2009:

SEVENTH PLACE* Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas was awarded $80,000 by a jury of her peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running inside a furniture store. The store owners were understandably surprised by the verdict, considering the running toddler was her own son.

SIXTH PLACE * Carl Truman, 19, of Los Angeles , California won $74,000 plus medical expenses when his neighbor ran over his hand with a Honda Accord. Truman apparently didn't notice there was someone at the wheel of the car when he was trying to steal his neighbor's hubcaps.
FIFTH PLACE * Terrence Dickson, of Bristol , Pennsylvania , who was leaving a house he had just burglarized by way of the garage. Unfortunately for Dickson, the automatic garage door opener malfunctioned and he could not get the garage door to open. Worse, he couldn't re-enter the house because the door connecting the garage to the house locked when Dickson pulled it shut. Forced to sit for eight, count 'em, EIGHT days and survive on a case of Pepsi and a large bag of dry dog food, he sued the homeowner's insurance company claiming undue mental Anguish. Amazingly, the jury said the insurance company must pay Dickson $500,000 for his anguish. We should all have this kind of anguish.
FOURTH PLACE* Jerry Williams, of Little Rock, Arkansas, garnered 4th Place in the Stella's when he was awarded $14,500 plus medical expenses after being bitten on the butt by his next door neighbor's beagle - even though the beagle was on a chain in its owner's fenced yard. Williams did not get as much as he asked for because the jury believed the beagle might have been provoked at the time of the butt bite because Williams had climbed over the fence into the yard and repeatedly shot the dog with a pellet gun.
THIRD PLACE * Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania because a jury ordered a Philadelphia restaurant to pay her $113,500 after she slipped on a spilled soft drink and broke her tailbone. The reason the soft drink was on the floor: Ms. Carson had thrown it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument.
SECOND PLACE* Kara Walton, of Claymont , Delaware sued the owner of a night club in a nearby city because she fell from the bathroom window to the floor, knocking out her two front teeth. Even though Ms. Walton was trying to sneak through the ladies room window to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge, the jury said the night club had to pay her $12,000....oh, yeah, plus dental expenses. Go figure.
FIRST PLACE * This year's runaway First Place Stella Award winner was: Mrs. Merv Grazinski, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, who purchased new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On her first trip home, from an OU football game, having driven on to the freeway, she set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver's seat to go to the back of the Winnebago to make herself a sandwich. Not surprisingly, the motor home left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Also not surprisingly, Mrs. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not putting in the owner's manual that she couldn't actually leave the driver's seat while the cruise control was set. The Oklahoma jury awarded her, are you sitting down? $1,750,000 PLUS a new motor home. Winnebago actually changed their manuals as a result of this suit, just in case Mrs. Grazinski has any relatives who might also buy a motor home.

Picture of the Month April 2010

In this art market you must adapt...

News in the Pre-Columbian World

1. Sex, Death and Sacrifice in the Mochica Religion at the Musee du Quay Branly
PARIS.- For the very first time in Europe, the exhibition "Sex, death and sacrifice in the Mochica religion" puts together 134 Mochica ceramics depicting sexual or sacrificial acts with a surprising level of realism. These potteries reveal to us the link that the Mochica people had established between religion, power, sexuality and death. This amazing religious iconography, which is a meeting of the sexual act and the sacred, is unique in Precolumbian art and specific to Mochica mythology. It represents sacrificial acts but predominantly of a sexual nature between animals and/or anthropomorphous figures. The Mochica craftsmen have moulded these non reproductive rites into their pottery, making the stylized sexual attributes the central themes of an iconography for ritual purposes whose boldness is as pronounced as the strength of their beliefs. Steve Bourget proposes keys for interpreting this sexual imagery which is not linked to the daily life of the Moche, but refers to a po ... More

2. New Haven, Conn. — Yale College Dean Mary Miller, a leading authority on Mesoamerican art, will present the 59th A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts series this spring at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
Titled “Art and Representation in the Ancient New World,” the series will include the following lectures: April 18, “The Shifting Now of the Pre-Columbian Past”; April 25, “Seeing Time, Hearing Time, Placing Time”; May 2, “The Body of Perfection, the Perfection of the Body”; May 9, “Representation and Imitation”; May 16, “Envisioning a New World.”
According to the announcement issued by the National Gallery of Art, the lectures will examine the evolution of the field of Pre-Columbian art over the past four decades. Miller has explained that the series illuminates “an expanding universe: the black hole of Pre-Columbian art…what it means for those who try to study it,” and how Pre-Columbian works can compel us to understand principles that transcend cultural boundaries.
3. Maya Site Inhabitants Manufactured Weapons and Tools
MEXICO CITY.- Specialists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) explore in Tenosique, Tabasco, an archaeological site of Maya affiliation dedicated exclusively to manufacture weapons and tools. San Claudio “was occupied from 200 BC to 900 AD by Maya workers at the service of other community of higher hierarchy”, informed archaeologist Jose Luis Romero Rivera, director of the excavation project at the site. Located in the contact region between Chiapas Mountain Range and Guatemala, this site accounts for quotidian life of ancient Maya population dedicated to weapons and tools manufacture, which were commercialized with other towns. “One of the main activities at the site was flint exploitation; we have found a great amount of this mineral debris all over the place. Due to its relatively easy manipulation, it was used to create sharp tools such as knives, axes and arrowheads”. Flint ... More
4. Teotihuacan Mural Paintings Recover Splendor
MEXICO CITY.- Several Prehispanic mural paintings at Tetitla Palace, in Teotihuacan Archaeological Zone are fully restored after 2 years of work conducted by specialists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH). Among the paintings created between 600 and 700 AD, outstand Las Aguilas (The Eagles), Diosas verdes (Green Goddesses), Caballero Jaguar,(Jaguar Warrior), Jaguares anaranjados (Orange Jaguars), Manos (Hands), Aves con conchas (Birds with Shells) and Los Buzos (The Divers). Jaime Cama Villafranca, expert from the National School of Conservation, Restoration and Museography (ENCRyM) directed the intervention. He informed that work concentrated in 8 of the 16 paintings, those that presented more damage due to sun, wind, dust, humidity and time. “Intervention began in September 2007, conducting scientific research and taking pigment samples to be analyzed with ultraviolet technology, which allow ... More
5. Teotihuacan Lineage at Tikal Studied
MEXICO CITY.- Iconographic studies of Teotihuacan murals confirm the extension of the lineage of a ruler of the ancient city of Tikal, Guatemala, already revealed by epigraphists of the Maya area. The aforementioned investigation sums up to interpretations of Stele 31 of Tikal that relate to the dynastic line of Atlatl-Cauac (“Dart-thrower Owl”), possible ruler of Teotihuacan between 374 and 439 AD, and whose son, Yax Nuun Ayiin I, was seignior of Tikal. The emblem of this lineage would be represented by the image of a bird with a shield, observed in Teotihuacan murals, declared Dr. Raul Garcia Chavez, researcher at the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH). There would be a relation between the register at Tikal and other Maya sites of late 4th century, which refers to the son of Atlatl-Cauac, Yax Nuun Ayiin I, as ruler of Tikal between 379 and 404 AD, commented the researcher during his participation ... More

6. MEXICO CITY.- Interest in deciphering the sky, practiced during Prehispanic ages, is been retaken in 21st century at the Noche de Observacion Astronomica en Sitios Arqueologicos (Night of Astronomical Observation at Archaeological Sites), which first event took place in Tamtoc, San Luis Potosi in March 20th 2010. Considered the capital city of Huasteca Prehispanic culture, Tamtoc was an important sky observation point, being Huasteca world view closely linked to star movements. Centuries after, the interest of watching the sky and the path followed by stars is still present. At the night of astronomical observation organized by the Archaeology Coordination of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), hundreds of persons were able to do as their ancestors and watch the firmament. From 19:00 hours, visitors were allowed into the archaeological zone main square to take part in the activity guided by archaeologists Guillermo Cordova Tello and Estela Martinez Mora ... More

7. Peabody Essex Museum Opens Maya Exhibition
SALEM, MA.- Integrated by masterworks of Maya Art, the exhibition Fiery Pool: the Maya and the Mythic Sea was inaugurated at Peabody Essex Museum, in Salem, Massachusetts, United States. The showcase based on new interpretations regarding the relevance of the ocean for the Prehispanic civilization, will be open from March 27th to July 18th 2010. The National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) lent 22 pieces lodged at the National Museum of Anthropology (MNA); Yucatan Regional Museum “Palacio Canton”; Tabasco Regional Museum “Carlos Pellicer Camara” and Comalcalco Archaeological Site Museum, in Tabasco, and from the Museum of Maya Architecture and Museum of Archaeology, both in Campeche. Surrounded by sea, Maya people considered water was the source of life. Almost 100 objects, many of them never exhibited in the United States, represent the influence of water in Maya cosmology, its role in their supern ... More
8. MALIBU, CA.- The Aztec Pantheon and the Art of Empire, integrated by some of the most emblematic pieces of this Prehispanic culture was opened in The Getty Villa in Malibu, California, United States. The exhibition is sponsored by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) and J. Paul Getty Museum and will be open from March 24th to July 5th, 2010. Objects exhibited come from the collections of the National Museum of Anthropology, Templo Mayor Museum and J. Paul Getty Museum. Codices, sculptures, books, maps and other documents are displayed. The official inauguration was attended by Juan Marcos Gutierrez, Consul General of Mexico in Los Angeles, David Bomford, Director of Collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum and Alfonso de Maria y Campos, General Director of INAH. Among the 96 pieces lent by Mexico, stand out the diorite Coyolxauhqui head; an incense burner dedicated to Chicomecoatl; the Eagle ... More

9. Chinesca Culture Offering Found in Tepic
MEXICO CITY.- A funerary offering of Chinesca culture integrated by 8 ceramic pieces created between 200 BC and 400 AD was found in Tepic municipality, at Nayarit Mexican state. This is the first conjunct of Chinesca objects located in their original place in all Western Mexico. Six anthropomorphic figures and 2 vessels were found; based on the way they were placed, a reduced space in a half-moon shape, it can be deduced it was part of a shaft tomb. For the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) specialists, the finding represents an exceptional opportunity to explore shaft tombs of Chinesca affiliation, since these contexts had not been analyzed in situ before. The distinctive characteristics of Chinesca culture are the oriental features of the figure faces, as well as its pottery, which present a buff colored coating and with fine black and red lines. Armando Santa Cruz Ruiz, director of Nayarit INAH Center, ... More
10. MACHU PICCHU (AP).- The famed Inca citadel of Machu Picchu reopened to tourists Thursday after a two-month closure due to floods that washed out the rail link to the mountaintop ruins. Actress Susan Sarandon was on hand for an ancient ceremony asking for the blessing of mother Earth and other rituals, including the sounding of an Incan welcoming trumpet. Sarandon posed for photos with young girls wearing traditional Andean dress, and sipped coca tea that many locals use to ward off the effects of altitude at nearly 8,000 feet (2,440 meters) above sea level. Tourism Vice Minister Mara Seminario said hundreds of foreign visitors entered the ruins following the morning reopening, as an early downpour gave way to a brilliant sun. Peru's No. 1 tourist site had been shut down since late January, when heavy rains disrupted the rail link from the city of Cuzco and trapped some 4,000 tourists, many ... More

11. NEW HAVEN, CT.- Peru has voluntarily agreed to withdraw fraud and conspiracy allegations it made against Yale University in a lawsuit seeking the return of Inca artifacts removed from Machu Picchu nearly a century ago. The South American nation recently filed papers in federal court dismissing six of 17 counts from its lawsuit. Peru sued in 2008, demanding Yale return artifacts taken by scholar Hiram Bingham III between 1911 and 1915. The Machu Picchu ruins, perched in the clouds at 8,000 feet above sea level on an Andean mountaintop, are Peru's main tourist attraction. The complex of stone buildings was built in the 1400s by the Inca empire that ruled Peru before the arrival of the Spaniards in the 16th century. The withdrawal of some claims comes after ... More
The news above has been compiled by

African art Picture of the Month April 2010

Lega ivory and bone figures
Jay Last Collection
Beverly Hills, California

Tribal auction Schedule April - June 2010

Lempertz auction / Brussels / April 24 /
Bonhams auction / New-York / May 13 /
Sotheby’s auction / New-York / May 14 /
Pierre Bergé auction / Brussels / May 28 /
Bruneaf / Brussels / June 9-13 /
Pierre Bergé auction / Paris / June 12-13 /
Christie’s auction / Paris / June 15 /
Sotheby’s auction / Paris / June 16 /

Sunday, April 18, 2010

John Friede Update - The End May Be Near

The three-way dispute between John Fried, his brothers, and Sothebys may be near a favorable resolution for all parties. It is possible if some private funds can be raised that none of the Friede pieces currently at the de Young will need to be sold. Certainly John and Marcia Friede will be delighted when this chapter is behind them.

"Most of the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum's renowned compilation of Oceanic art will remain in place now that a deal has been signed ending an inheritance dispute that had threatened to dismantle the collection and force the sale of parts of it.
But some pieces that had been on display at the museum - including a striking shock-haired figurine used to top a sacred flute estimated to be worth more than $1 million - are currently on the auction block. That piece and others will be sold to help settle a cross-country legal drama that involved sweeping philanthropy, a bitter internecine spat over money, and a $25 million loan from Sotheby's that helped amass what is considered the world's most important private collection of tribal objects from Papua New Guinea.
The bottom line for the public is that 29 pieces that had been among the 398 on display at the city-owned de Young museum after being donated by New York philanthropists John and Marcia Friede have been removed for sale.
Those 29 are among 124 that had been pledged to Sotheby's as collateral for a loan to the Friedes. Museum officials were aware that Sotheby's had a claim to at least 88 of those items before the collection was unveiled at the rebuilt de Young in 2005, court documents show.
"We believe that under these very complex circumstances, we achieved the best possible result for the museum and the public," said John Buchanan, director of San Francisco's Fine Arts Museums, which includes the de Young. The "collection at the de Young will continue to be an unparalleled example of the masterworks of Papua New Guinea to be shared with current and future generations."
Under legal settlements the city attorney's office recently released to The Chronicle, the de Young gets clear title to 274 of 398 pieces at the museum - everything except those works that had been put up as collateral to Sotheby's.
Large collection
The Friedes had collected more than 4,000 pieces of New Guinea tribal art over four decades and promised the prized works to the de Young in a series of agreements dating to 2003.
The museum specifically designed an 8,000-square-foot gallery named for the couple to house the collection when it rebuilt its Golden Gate Park home.
The artwork, named the Jolika Collection after the first letters in the Friedes' three children's names, was to be transferred over a period of years.
But the couple also used the works to secure loans from Sotheby's to acquire more pieces and, at the insistence of John Friede's brothers, put the collection up as collateral in an inheritance dispute following the 2005 death of their mother, Evelyn A.J. Hall, sister of publishing tycoon Walter Annenberg.
The result was a series of legal battles in California, New York and Florida.
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera went to court in September 2008 to prevent John Friede's two brothers from seizing the collection and selling parts of it to raise up to $20 million after a Florida judge ruled that Friede had violated the terms of a legal settlement involving their mother's estate. Friede was to pay his brothers $30 million after their mother had loaned him millions before her death. He values the entire collection at about $300 million.
Issues resolved
The newly released settlement documents indicate the legal issues have been resolved. The documents were heavily redacted in places, including references to dollar amounts, specific pieces of art and conditions on sales, but indicate that artwork that had been displayed at the museum could be auctioned by Sotheby's to pay off the estimated $16 million to $18 million John Friede says he still owes the auction house.
The documents indicate the city paid an unspecified amount to get clear ownership of 168 works at the museum, on top of the 106 collection pieces the de Young indisputably owns. Attorneys for the city say the deal protects the majority of the works, may shield many more and avoids the uncertainty of a trial.
"You have to remember the context of this lawsuit," Deputy City Attorney Adine Varah said. "There was a Florida court order authorizing the brothers to seize the works in the museum and liquidate them to pay their debt. This is about preserving and protecting the collection for the public."
Under the settlement, the remaining $5.65 million from the $30 million that John Friede owed his brothers was paid from three sources: John Friede's one-third share of the Pierre Bonnard painting "Le dejeuner" that he owns with his brothers; a portion of a roughly $4 million payment from his mother's estate that was to go to the de Young to pay for upkeep, promotion and study of the Jolika Collection but instead went to purchase 168 of the works; and proceeds held in escrow from the sale of some works not housed at the museum.
No taxpayer funds
City attorneys stressed that the money used to secure the collection was from a charitable contribution from Friede's mother's estate.
"We're not talking about taxpayer funds," Varah said.
John Friede said he hoped additional donors could be found to pay the museum for the endangered pieces rather than have them sold to pay his debt.
"There is the very hopeful possibility that the museum will not use objects to pay it off but will find the money to avoid further diminishing the collection," Friede said. "I would love for none of them to sell." Read more: