Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Roadshow Moment to Remember

In the past 16 years we have had a number of memorable moments that we as appraisers look back ocassionally  and re-live over a drink with poignant teasing for the "appraiser"  delivering the message. Some guests delivered some classic insults such as: "What do you know about African art, you're white. That jewel has been sent my way 3 times in 37 years and I doubt seriously if PBS would ever air that.  PBS also could salvage the segment with an elderly gentleman who had a Navajo weaving which was about 6' in width, which turned out to be just outside his hearing range - something we missed during interview when we were less than 3 feet away. Not only was hearing a problem but when the end of the segment came upon us the appraiser was supposed to take the weaving off the support and show the Roadshow viewers how the Navajo actually wore the textile. The gentleman decided to help but he dropped his end and promptly bent over to pick it up and mooned the cameras. There was not much to do to salvage this. But what made me start to reminisce was this past weekend in Tulsa when something nice happened to a really good guy. Lark Mason, Sothebys former director of Asian art worldwide and now owner  of the successful online auction house found 5 late 17th to early 18th century rhinoceros horn cups which he valued  from $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. The coverage has been everywhere which will certainly not hurt Lark  or the show a bit.  It was a great segment that came together for two very likable guys - the guest and Lark.  So while the rest of are suffering from segment envy, we salute our colleague who will be buying drinks for at least the balance of the season. JB

Bernard Ewell - Dali Authentication

We promised when we had signed documents on the appraisals or authentications from the professionals hired by Park West Galleries, we would print them. We have also attached Fine Art Registry's comments for you to examine and judge for yourself. While ArtTrak certainly does not profess to be a Dali expert or fine that matter an expert in prints, we are interested in methodology. It is somewhat puzzling to me as an appraiser and authenticator how this one document could be the only substantiating  reference for authenticating such a valuable work. We note this is page 2 of 6. We ask our readers to send us the rest of the package if we have unfairly represented  Ewell's efforts. JB

"Analysis of Flawed Provenance and Ewell's Cookie Cutter Authentication Reports and Opinions

Ewell claims in scores of his cookie cutter authentication reports he prepared for Park West Gallery that he "discerns from the information, [Dali] prints and research all clues as to authorship, authenticity, originality, and condition." We find this statement amazing, considering Fine Art Registry has evidence that in all cases we have reviewed (and we have reviewed a great number of Ewell's opinions - in fact, if you've read one, you’ve read them all), Ewell did NONE of these things.
A Sherlock Holmes he is not when it comes to "discerning" much of anything regarding the Dalí prints at issue - except to simply sign off on them for Park West Gallery and collect a check. Not only did he not discern clues as he certainly should have relating to the Dali prints other experts have inspected - he altogether ignored gigantic red flags that should have been enough to stop any competent expert. Assuming Ewell independently investigated any of the "information", "prints", "research" or "clues" as they relate to "authorship", "authenticity", "originality", or "condition", he certainly missed or outright ignored (or was told to ignore) obvious clues such as the poor condition of many of the prints Ewell claims are in excellent condition, serious gaps in, or non-existent provenance in the "line of descent" of the prints, strange documents and proven data forgeries used to support the authenticity of the prints, and sketchy documentation that is quite obviously not related to any specific prints in any way, as well as documents that have clearly been manufactured on demand. One only has to look at the set of Divine Comedy prints that were sold to Sharon Day and Julian Howard for nearly $500,000, in addition to others we have reviewed to see the pattern of deception as it relates to the Park West Gallery Dalí provenance documents.
Fine Art Registry will go into a great deal more detail regarding the Park West Gallery wildly distorted and counterfactual provenance in a separate article (see below), but it is interesting to note that throughout the entirety of our over two and half years of investigation into Park West Gallery Dali prints, Park West has never readily made these provenance documents available to prospective buyers for inspection IN ADVANCE of purchase. Why? Because if everyone with even a modicum of sophistication regarding art collecting got hold of the Park West Gallery so-called provenance in advance, it wouldn't take them long to discover exactly what Fine Art Registry has found.
There are many, many other "clues" that Ewell missed as to the inauthenticity of the Dalí graphics we have reviewed that will be addressed in another in-depth investigative article we will publish soon. The article will focus on the Park West Gallery provenance in particular and how it is non-existent and unavailable, unless and until one of its customers demands a refund. Once a refund is demanded by a victim (and especially if it is for a substantial sum) suddenly, the victim is papered to death with all manner of documents in French, Italian, Spanish and, if Park West could get away with it, in Swahili too. In nearly every case, none of it is translated into English and none of it is in any way specific to the victim's print or prints at issue. Doctoring and manufacturing provenance is an age old deception in art fraud and art crime. In our next article, we will go into great detail regarding the tricks of the trade. How criminals use provenance to fool the unsuspecting collector, buyer and art professional."

Asia Continues Buying

HONG KONG.- Christie’s concluded its Spring season with a total of HK$4bn (US$515m), including the off-season sale of fine wines in March and April, the Spring sale series from 27 May to 1 June, and the Beijing sales by Christie’s brand licensee in China - Forever. This represents the highest season total for Christie’s in Asia, which is a 68% increase over the same period a year ago and 17% over the second half of 2010 (HK$3.4bn/US$440m). These results indicate the continued growth in the breadth and depth of collecting interest, and reaffirm Hong Kong as a leading centre in the global art market.

“Strong bidding with moments of passionate enthusiasm was the hallmark of the week of Spring auctions in Hong Kong. With two standing-room-only salerooms operating concurrently from 10 a.m. to late in the evening, sparkling prices were obtained for Asian and Southeast Asian Modern and Contemporary art, Chinese Ceramics & Works of art, Chinese Classical and Modern Paintings & Calligraphy, Jewelry, Watches and Wine. With sales up 65% over the same period last year, the growth of the art market in Asia is greater than anywhere in the world. This is due to the strength of the economy in the region and also to the great appetite of Asian collectors for Works of Art of the finest quality,” said François Curiel, President of Christie’s Asia.

As Asian buyers continue to drive the sales, intensive bidding resulted in prices going well over their estimates across all categories, and sharp increases in sales totals from 2010. In the May/June sales, 36 auction records were achieved across the range of categories, with private collections being particularly sought-after by sophisticated buyers.

Strong Chinese buying continues to fuel Christie’s sales, with Greater China clients (from Mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong) contributing to70% of the total sale value of Christie’s auctions this season.

In addition to traditional Chinese art categories such as Chinese Paintings, where 91% of buyers were from Greater China, luxury categories such as Wine, Jewelry and Watches also saw a high proportion of buyers from that region. Jewelry, for example, saw an increase in Greater China buyers from 67% in Autumn 2010 to 72% in Spring 2011.

International participation also remains strong, especially in Watches where internet bidding from Christie’s real-time bidding service (Christie’s LIVETM) accounted for 25% of the total bidding and sales from clients in 21 countries from Europe, South America, Asia, North America, UK and the Middle East, the highest proportion of sales completed online at Christie’s Hong Kong.

Forever, the brand licensee of Christie’s in China, recorded the best season sale results in its six-year history, achieving RMB180m (US$28m) from its Spring 2011 series of sales in Beijing. The four Forever sale categories were Chinese Paintings, Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art, Chinese 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Chinese Liquor.

Cleveland Museum Art Acquires Congo Collection

CLEVELAND, OH.- The Cleveland Museum of Art announces the acquisition of a single collection of 35 works of Congolese sculpture from the Belgian collectors René and Odette Delenne. In exceptional condition, these works represent the deep cultural meanings and formal diversity of the art of Central Africa, ranging from the naturalistic styles of the Kongo people to the abstract styles of the Ngbandi people. This acquisition was in part a donation by the Delenne family to the Cleveland Museum of Art, a gift which acknowledges the distinction of the museum’s existing African holdings and importance as a comprehensive art museum.

An exhibition in the spring of 2013 featuring the Delenne collection, along with a companion catalogue, is being planned to celebrate this acquisition, which puts the museum’s African art collection among the best in the United States.”A private collection with a personality and character of its own, and comprising artwork of exceptional quality, at once expands and elevates the Cleveland Museum of Art’s existing African collection,” explains Constantine Petridis, the museum’s curator of African art. David Franklin, director of the Cleveland Museum of Art elaborates,”These acquisitions bring our collection to a level equal to that of the country's finest African art holdings; while making it possible for us to develop new exhibitions and programs, and conduct new research in the field.”

The René and Odette Delenne Collection
The 35 objects acquired by the museum cover the scope and breadth of Congolese art in that it contains prime representations of most of the dominant styles found in the Congo Basin up to the midtwentieth century. The collection is also comprised of a strong core of objects from the Lower Congo region, inhabited by the Yombe, Vili and other Kongo-speaking peoples. Many works in the collection are distinguished by deep patinas indicating intense usage over a long period of time. However, these objects are quite intact and complete in terms of the preservation of their original accessories and accoutrements, such as feathers, animal hides and pelts and beaded decorations. Also included in the collection are two crucifixes which testify to the early contacts between that part of Africa and Europe, as well as a helmet-like mask from the Suku people of the Kwango-Kwilu region in southwestern Congo.

The René and Odette Delenne Collection is one of the oldest surviving Belgian private collections. The Delenne collection of Congolese sculpture has never been exhibited in its entirety and many objects remain unpublished, a situation that will be addressed by the upcoming exhibition and catalogue organized by the Cleveland Museum of Art. However, some of the artworks were included in two exhibitions which are generally recognized as landmarks in the field of African art, the 1970 exhibition Die Kunst von Schwarz-Afrika, organized by Elsy Leuzinger at the Kunsthaus in Zurich and the 1988 exhibition Utotombo, organized by a team of Belgian experts at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels.

Highlights from the Delenne collection include:
• Male and Female Figure Pair, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ngbandi people.A pair of figures like these stunning works most likely represents the founding ancestral couple of a community. Displayed near a shrine, or simply stored in the house of a husband and wife, such sculptures were believed to bring good luck and offer protection.
• Female Bowl-Bearing Figure, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Luba people. Such bowl-bearing figures are among the most important accessories of royal diviners. The female figure is sometimes interpreted as the wife of the spirit by which the diviner is possessed during his divination session. In general, such sculptures belong to the category of mankishi or”power figures” that enable communication with the spirit world.
• Male Figure, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Songye people. An exquisite example of a Songye nkishi or”power figure,” this type of carving was used to deal with all kinds of human trials and tribulations. Assuring the figure’s effectiveness are the animal, plant or mineral ingredients that the ritual specialist assembles and inserts in one or more cavities, most often in the swollen abdomen, or in a horn planted in the skull. Such an implanted horn at once functioned as an”antenna” between earthly and heavenly realms.
• Male figure, Republic of the Congo, Beembe people. This large figure of the Beembe people is arguably the finest and most beautiful of two surviving carvings of this genre, the other being preserved at the Museum of Ethnology of the University of Zurich, Switzerland. The hairdo and beard suggest that this is the representation of a chief or at least a high-ranking male individual. It is believed that the figure belonged to a cult of the ancestors and that its responsibilities included assuring the protection and wellbeing of its owner
• Helmet Mask, Republic of the Congo, Suku people. Such helmet masks, generically called hemba among the Suku, were danced within the context of the nkhanda puberty ritual for young boys. Specifically, they performed within the seclusion of the initiation camp when important charms were shown to the initiates. The masks were also considered charms and believed to posses healing powers.
• Crucifix, Democratic Republic of the Congo or Cabinda, Kongo people. Crucifixes were introduced by Portuguese missionaries in the Kongo region as early as the seventeenth century. At first, these objects were faithfully copied from European prototypes but they would increasingly be transformed to conform to local styles and were quickly adopted by local ritual specialists and used for healing or to guarantee success in all kinds of undertakings. This Christian icon was readily integrated into traditional Kongo culture because it was visually similar to how the Kongo envisioned the world as a crossroads between the world of the living and the dead.

René and Odette Delenne
The Delennes began acquiring African art in the late 1950s and made their last important acquisitions in the late 1970s. Their enthusiasm for African objects was specifically triggered after seeing the Congolese exhibition at the 1958 World Fair in Brussels. René Delenne was a graphic artist specializing in book design. For a few years, in the mid-1960s, Odette Delenne (born Lemaître), ran a dealership of non-western art in Brussels. While the Delennes purchased a number of their Oceanic works during their travels to the Pacific, most of their African works were acquired from other collectors, dealers, and occasionally at auction, mainly in Belgium and France. (

Picture of the Month June/July 2011

Cheetah, South Africa

Photograph by Frank Trimbos, My Shot
This Month in Photo of the Day: Animal Pictures

Pre-Columbian Art June/July 2011

Avian Hacha
Veracruz. East Mexico
AD 600 - 900
Ht. 10 1/2"

African Art June/July 2011

Sande Society Bundu mask
Mende Sierra Leone
20th century
Ht. 17"

Are Art Galleries Becoming Outdated

These three articles caught my attention this summer after assisting a friend and client who had been caught in the private sales trap on an art purchase. We say business is business but sometimes the gray area makes this process bordering on deceptive trade. In the past the auction house has been at least to some degree an open public forum for answering the question of an object's worth. Galleries and auction houses existed in a world of uneasy truces where both parties politely trashed each other but still coexisted as essential parts of the art world. Now with the increase in private sales there no longer will be a balance between private and public sellers. We all should look at the auction houses with a skeptic eye , for apparently business is business and whatever happens happens. Transparency and objectivity now really don't exist in the art world as auction houses become more and more like public and private dealers.  As an appraiser this transformation certainly makes our jobs more difficult. It is just a matter of time before the auction houses will have their dirty laundry aired in a court of law which will be the final arbiter of what's fair. In this system the big will only get bigger and in their way the auction house will attempt to be the judge and jury on what's valuable and what's not. I am a borderline libertarian and, therefore, against almost all government oversight and regulation. In this changing art world I will support oversight. JB

 1. Gallery system is structurally weak - A new report by the non-profit dealers’ federation Cinoa finds that fair-led and online business is taking over as the main source of revenue

By Charlotte Burns | From issue 226, July-August 2011
Published online 28 Jul 11 (News)

BRUSSELS - The Art Newspaper - The traditional gallery model is in decline, according to a new report by the non-profit dealers’ federation Cinoa (Con­féd­ération Internationale des Négociants en Oeuvres d’Art), which found that fair-led and online business is taking over as the main source of revenue.
Gallery visits are declining as the art market expands to new international centres served better by art fairs or electronic media.
“We do much more business at the fairs than at the gallery—no question,” said Dominique Lévy, the co-director of L&M gallery.
András Szántó, consultant and contributing editor to The Art Newspaper, said: “The fairs have done very well in exploiting a structural weakness of the gallery system—it is inchoate and based on local markets.” With the withdrawal of those markets during the downturn “the overall weight has shifted to clients who don’t live where you work—so you service them through art fairs,” said dealer David Zwirner.
According to a recent report from Capgemini, the Asia-Pacific region has overtaken the west in terms of the number of individuals with investable assets worth $1m or more. It is no coincidence that the Hong Kong art fair, Art HK, in which Art Basel bought a 60% stake in May, attracted such a stellar line-up of western dealers this year.
The growth of fairs brings with it huge pressures for dealers to fund travel, staff fairs and find enough material. Whether the traditional gallery model can sustain all this outreach remains to be seen. Some think not. “It is more convenient and inspiring to work in a more unconventional format, having an office and platform, and doing temporary projects and pop-up shows,” said Berlin dealer Matthias Arndt, when he announced earlier this year that his gallery would now open only sporadically for shows.
“We are in a major systemic shift,” said Szántó. “The expansion of the auction business and art fairs is adding a whole layer above the gallery system as it evolved in the 20th century.” A handful of galleries, including Gagosian, Hauser & Wirth and David Zwirner “have pulled away from the pack, but the question is, where does that leave the regular rank and file gallery?” he added.
Dominique Lévy is sanguine. “The proliferation of fairs is ridiculous. They will strangle each other in the end,” she said. She suggested that the old-fashioned benefits of a gallery may, in fact, be key to their survival. “The secret is to inform new buyers of all the options—and galleries offer a special service, whether it’s taking care of shipping, hanging works, advis­ing on exhibition loans, refram­ing or insurance. Collectors will realise [this],” she said, but added that it “may be later [rather] than sooner”.
Several web-based ventures, including the VIP art fair, and Paddle8, have recently emerged. However, dealers remain to be convinced that online business will work for expensive art. “There’s a lot of potential for cheaper works…but nobody is going to spend a huge amount on a work without seeing it,” said the New York-based, secondary market specialist Christophe Van de Weghe. “The comfy price limit is $100,000,” confirmed Alexander Gilkes, the co-founder of Paddle8.

2. Private Sales & Internet Bidding Up; US Sales Down at Christie’s in 2011 So Far
Christie’s has released it’s first half sales totals. The company had $3.2 billion in turnover, a 19% rise in dollars (but only 10% in Sterling.) Private sales soared reflecting Christie’s emphasis on building the category. Although there were many new clients buying at the auction house, the vast majority of them come from Europe and the US, not Asia. Christie’s business has moved toward London with European sales rising the most and US sales falling by 6% in dollar terms.
  • Christie’s Private Sales secured £286.7 million ($467.3 million) of sales in Jewellery, Old Masters, Impressionist and Modern Art, Asian Art, American Art and Post-War and Contemporary Art, up 57% year-on-year.
3. Private Sales Still Rising at Sotheby’s
Sotheby’s CEO Bill Ruprecht made this comment during this week’s quarterly earnings call:
“Also positively contributing to these excellent first quarter results is our continued commitment to private sales, with private sale commissions up 79% in the first quarter. Since 2007, we have underwritten almost $1.7 billion in private sales, and we will continue to focus on this valued service to our clients. Private sales are an important source of revenue for our business and a strategic initiative for Sotheby’s.
Why is this important? Tobias Meyer recently emphasized the importance of having a worldwide platform in selling an artists work. Few dealers beyond Gagosian have such a platform and one reason for the growth of the auction houses in the last 15 years has been their ability to tap into and service the globally integrating art market.
Ruprecht is signaling that the auction houses won’t easily let go of their market share in private sales now that the auction market has returned. The level of private sales at the houses will be a key indicator to watch going forward.

Also of Interest:

  • France Opens the Gates to Auction House Private Sales
    Artinfo explains the auction houses’ success in getting a new law passed in France that will allow private treaty sales...
  • Christie’s Exploding Private Sales
    Earlier this year, Christie’s announced a new emphasis on private sales and the numbers explain why. Here’s a chart of...
  • India Rising
    Four Artists Get Evening Sale Billing Sotheby’s makes a concerted effort to break out Contemporary Indian and Pakistani artists in...
  • Private Placement
    The Telegraph‘s Colin Gleadell reports on the growth of private sales. Using Sotheby’s unique Beyond Limits exhibition space at the...
  • Frieze Sales: Private Competition
    Bloomberg‘s Scott Reyburn previews the Frieze art fair auctions in London with the now familiar scare statistics: volume down 70-80%...

African Ivory Smuggling Operation

ArtTrak will follow this case. It is hard to believe that there would be a market large enough to sustain this volume of ivory. JB


Federal Agents Seize Approximately One Ton of Elephant Ivory

BROOKLYN, NY – The owner of a Philadelphia African art store, Victor Gordon, was arrested earlier today on charges of conspiracy, smuggling and Lacey Act violations related to the illegal importation and sale of African elephant ivory. As part of the government’s investigation, federal agents seized approximately one ton of elephant ivory – one of the largest U.S. seizures of elephant ivory on record. Gordon is scheduled to have his initial appearance and arraignment today before United States Magistrate Judge Steven M. Gold, at the U.S. Courthouse, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, New York.
The criminal charges were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Salvatore Amato, Special Agent-in-Charge of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Northeast Region Office of Law Enforcement.
As alleged in the ten-count felony indictment, Gordon paid a co-conspirator to travel to Africa to purchase raw elephant ivory and have it carved to Gordon’s specifications. In advance of the trips, Gordon provided the co-conspirator with photographs or other depictions of ivory carvings, which served as templates for the ivory carvers in Africa, and directed the co-conspirator to stain or dye the elephant ivory so that the specimens would appear old. Gordon then planned and financed the illegal importation of the ivory from Africa to the United States through John F. Kennedy International Airport and sold the carvings to customers at his store in Philadelphia.
Illegal trade in African elephant ivory is a major threat to elephant populations in Africa, particularly in the hardest hit poaching regions of West and Central Africa, where the ivory in this investigation originated. African elephants are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (“CITES”), an international treaty that entered into force in 1975 to prevent species from becoming endangered or extinct due to international trade. The African elephant is also listed as a threatened species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
The global demand for elephant ivory led to devastating declines in the number of these giant animals, particularly in the 1970s and 1980s. Despite international efforts to control the ivory trade and stop the decline of elephant populations, prices and demand remain high, causing continued elephant poaching and illegal ivory finding its way into international and domestic markets.
“The amount of the elephant ivory allegedly plundered in this case is staggering and highlights the seriousness of the charged crimes. We all have a responsibility to protect endangered species, both for their sake and for the sake of our own future generations,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “We will continue to vigorously investigate and prosecute those who illegally engage in trade involving endangered and threatened species.” Ms. Lynch commended the agents and inspectors of the Fish and Wildlife Service for their outstanding efforts in leading this investigation and expressed her grateful appreciation to the United States Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, for its cooperation and assistance.
“Illegal ivory trafficking jeopardizes the survival of an imperiled species and undermines decades worth of efforts to conserve African elephants. With this investigation, we’ve shown our commitment to tracking down profiteers who deal in black market ivory in the United States,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent-in-Charge Amato.
The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment. The indictment also seeks forfeiture all the seized and sold ivory.
The government’s ongoing investigation into the importation of elephant ivory from Africa into the United States has already resulted in the convictions of eight defendants for federal smuggling and/or Lacey Act violations.
The criminal case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Vamshi Reddy and Claire Kedeshian.
The Defendant:
Age: 68
via Eastern District of New York.

News from Egypt - Digs and Politics

1. CAIRO (AP).- Archaeologists have begun excavating a 4,500-year-old wooden boat found next to the Great Pyramid of Giza, one of Egypt's main tourist attractions, Egypt's top antiquities official said Thursday. The boat is one of two buried next to the pharaoh Khufu in what appeared to be a religious custom to carry him in the afterlife. Khufu, also known as Cheops, is credited with building the Great Pyramid of Giza. Sakuji Yoshimura, a Waseda University professor who is leading the restoration project with Egypt's Antiquities Council, said scientists discovered that the second ship is inscribed with Khufu's name. Khufu founded the 4th Dynasty around 2680 B.C. and ruled Egypt for 23 years. Zahi Hawass, Minister of State for Antiquities, called the excavation "one of the most important archaeological and conservation projects in the world." He hoped its display would boost tourism in Egypt, which has fallen sharply .

2. CAIRO (AP).- Egypt's antiquities minister, whose trademark Indiana Jones hat made him one the country's best known figures around the world, was fired Sunday after months of pressure from critics who attacked his credibility and accused him of having been too close to the regime of ousted President Hosni Mubarak.
Zahi Hawass, long chided as publicity loving and short on scientific knowledge, lost his job along with about a dozen other ministers in a Cabinet reshuffle meant to ease pressure from protesters seeking to purge remnants of Mubarak's regime.
"He was the Mubarak of antiquities," said Nora Shalaby, an activist and archaeologist. "He acted as if he owned Egypt's antiquities, and not that they belonged to the people of Egypt."
Despite the criticism, he was credited with helping boost interest in archaeology in Egypt and tourism, a pillar of the country's economy.
But after Mubarak's ouster on Feb. 11 in a popular uprising, pressure began to build for him to step down.
Hawass was among a list of Cabinet ministers protesters wanted to see gone because they were associated with the former regime.
And archaeology students and professors blasted him for what they saw as his lack of serious research.
Shalaby said Hawass didn't tolerate criticism. She said most his finds were about self-promotion, with many "rediscoveries" in search of the limelight.
Hawass prided himself in being the "keeper and guardian" of Egypt's heritage. He told an Egyptian lifestyle magazine, Enigma, in 2009 that George Lucas, the maker of the "Indian Jones" films, had come to visit him in Egypt "to meet the real Indiana Jones."
Hawass, 64, started out as an inspector of antiquities in 1969 and rose to become one of the most recognizable names in Egyptology. He became the general director of antiquities at the Giza plateau in the late 1980s, before being named Egypt's top archaeologist in 2002.
In one of Mubarak's final official acts as president, hawass' position was elevated to that of a Cabinet minister. After Mubarak's ouster, Hawass submitted his resignation but he was reinstated before finally being removed Sunday.
His name has been associated with most new archaeological digs in Egypt, with grand discoveries such as the excavation of the Valley of the Golden Mummies in Bahariya Oasis in 1999 and the discovery of the mummy of Egypt's Queen Hatshepsut almost a decade later.
He was also a staple on the Discovery Channel, which accompanied him on the find of Hatshepsut's mummy. He started his own reality show on the History Channel called "Chasing the Mummies." The channel introduces him as "the man behind the mummies."
Hawass has long campaigned to bring home ancient artifacts spirited out of the country during colonial times. He said since he became top archaeologist, he managed to recover 5,000 artifacts.
In January, just before anti-government protests erupted, he formally requested the return of the 3,300-year-old bust of Queen Nefertiti that has been in a Berlin museum for decades.
Hawass also had a fashion line, including his hat, for which he organized a photo-shoot in the Egyptian Museum, something that drew the ire of many archeologists.
"He was a personality created by the media," said Abdel-Halim Abdel-Nour, the president of the Association of Egyptian Archeologists.
He said many campaigned for Hawass's removal, including on Facebook and in Tahrir Square, the center of Egypt's protests.

Technology and the Arts Summer 2011

1. HUNTLEY, IL.- By providing a mobile CT scan unit free of charge to Chicago's famed The Field Museum for a series of mummy scans this month, Genesis Medical Imaging, Inc. has helped discover ancient secrets, and opened the door to new mysteries.
Field scientists were surprised to find only a skull and legs inside the wrappings of one Egyptian mummy and the baskets of four Peruvian specimens simply empty, with no mummies inside. Yet it was all instructive for the museum's researchers, who after several days of scanning objects more than 2,000 years old are more certain of what their collection actually holds.
Several of the museum's oldest and most delicate specimens were moved with painstaking care last week to the museum's back parking lot, where they slowly passed through an advanced multi-slice computed tomography scanner in a 53-foot semi-truck trailer specially configured by Genesis. The company rents the mobile unit and others like it to medical institutions in need of additional CT or MRI scan capacity.
For each mummy, technicians captured a volume of 3-D images now stored on computers for viewing and analysis. The images can be rotated, re-rendered and otherwise manipulated to allow researchers to discover facts previously unknown, without actually unwrapping the specimen. The digital images also can be shared with other museums to learn more about mummies in their collections.
"We were intrigued by the research and pleased to offer 21st Century medical technology as a window to antiquity," said Robert Dakessian, Genesis president and CEO.
2. KANSAS CITY, MO.- With a careful eye and a feather-light touch, tapestries that are nearly 350 years old will be cleaned by conservation fellow Rose Cull in full view of the public at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art from June 22 through July 1.
“This is a fascinating process that the public generally doesn’t see,” said Cull. “After the tapestries are taken down from the wall in Kirkwood Hall, I will use a low-suction vacuum that pulls the dirt out without disturbing the fibers.”
Four large-scale Baroque tapestries in a series of eight will be cleaned. The complete series tells the story of Phaethon, the son of Helios (another name for Apollo, the god of the sun) which is taken from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Each scene is surrounded by ornate borders of foliage, lions, grotesque masks and profile busts of warriors.
“This set of tapestries is extremely rare, as it is the most complete surviving group of this design,” said Catherine Futter, The Helen Jane and R. Hugh “Pat” Uhlmann Curator of Decorative Arts. “At the peak of their popularity, during the 16th to 18th centuries, tapestries were the most expensive art form. This set was produced by the master weaver Jan Leyniers in Brussels.”
Patrons commissioned the best artists and designers to produce tapestry cycles, or series, such as the Phaethon cycle. A thorough conservation treatment will clean and preserve these rare works for future visitors.
“This set is displayed as tapestries would have been displayed in a castle, and it’s rare to have that sense of context,” said Cull. “Years ago, smoking was allowed in that space, and it’s always been a popular place for receptions and parties. So the tapestries have soaked up quite a bit of dirt during that time.”
Cull will clean the tapestries on weekdays when the Museum is open to the public and will be available to answer questions and discuss the process for 15 minutes at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. each day. The tapestry cleaning is part of a series of public conservations, which have included Monet’s Water Lilies and a Louise Nevelson work of art. It is part of an effort by the Museum to bring the science of conservation into the public arena.

Museum News June/July 2011

1. WALTHAM. The sad saga of Brandeis University’s Rose Art Museum, whose collection university trustees had voted to sell in 2009, ended today when the university announced the settlement of a lawsuit filed by museum supporters and the promise to keep the museum open without putting any of its art up for sale.
“The Rose remains open, and it has an important role to play in the life of Brandeis,” Fred Lawrence, the university’s president, told The Art Newspaper. “There are no plans to sell art.” Further, he added, the lawsuit, brought by four Rose board members and donors to prohibit any sales in Suffolk Probate and Family Court in Boston, was terminated, and the Massachusetts Attorney General has closed the case.
Lawrence declined to rule out another option that has been considered, however, that the Rose might raise money by “renting out” part of its collection. “We’re exploring options, but I’m focused on the 50th anniversary of the Rose this year, with planning traveling exhibitions, and with bringing supporters back to the museum,” he said.
The Rose was threatened with closure in January 2009, when Brandeis’s board of trustees voted to help alleviate the university’s deep financial troubles by selling art from the Rose’s collection, whose 7,000-plus works include seminal pieces by Willem de Kooning, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Morris Louis, Matthew Barney, Cindy Sherman, and Richard Serra, among others. It has been valued at more than $350 million. Making matters worse, the board’s decision was sprung without warning on Michael Rush, then the Rose's director, and the museum’s board — who fought the move publicly and vociferously. Within months, Rush’s contract was not renewed and he has not been replaced.
2. SAN ANTONIO, TX.- The San Antonio Museum of Art announces the acquisition of a rare and extremely important Tibetan painting, Buddha Amitabha in Western Paradise.
According to John Johnston, the Coates-Cowden-Brown Curator of Asian Art, “This is the finest Tibetan painting in our collection and one of the best paintings of its type in America.”
The thangka, or scroll painting, dates to circa 1700 and features vivid pigments and gold painted on cotton. The thangka depicts a celebratory scene of Buddha Amitabha seated in meditative pose and resting on a lotus supported by a peacock throne. Around Amitabha are elaborate scenes featuring over one hundred figures in attendance to the Buddha. The painting is unusually large for a thangka, as most scenes of this size and detail are featured on wall paintings rather than scroll paintings.
Buddha Amitabha in Western Paradise was purchased with funds provided by the Bessie Timon Asian Art Acquisition Fund, and is currently on display on the second floor of the Museum’s Lenora and Walter F. Brown Asian Art Wing.
The San Antonio Museum of Art is housed in the historic Lone Star Brewery along the celebrated new Museum Reach section of the beautiful San Antonio River Walk. SAMA’s collection contains more than 25,000 works of art representing over 5,000 years of history and cultures from around the world. SAMA conducts more than 500 guided tours annually and provides approximately 200 educational programs each year. Programs include lectures, concerts, films, children’s workshops, scholarly symposia, family art activities, and special exhibitions .,%20Buddha%20Amitabha
3. SAN FRANCISCO, CA (AP).- The case of a stolen Picasso has been cracked — and police say it was a New Jersey man who walked into the gallery in downtown San Francisco, snatched the drawing and fled in a taxi.
Police arrested Mark Lugo, 31, of Hoboken, N.J., on Wednesday at an apartment in Napa, and found the artwork stripped from its frame. The 1965 pencil-on-paper drawing — titled "Tete de Femme" — was purchased at a spring auction in New York. It's worth about a quarter of a million dollars.
"I've had some sleepless nights," said Rowland Weinstein, who owns the Weinstein Gallery. "I feel very, very lucky and very relieved that the Picasso wasn't harmed and will be returned back safely."
Weinstein said he planned to upgrade the street-level art gallery's surveillance system. The drawing was displayed under guard at a news conference at the police station on Thursday.
Lugo faces burglary, grand theft and drug charges and is being held on $5 million bail. He has been in town since July 4 and was visiting friends, said Police Chief Greg Suhr.
Lugo's arrest comes a day after surveillance video released from a nearby restaurant showed a man matching his description walking by with a piece of framed artwork covered by a newspaper under his arm.
Suhr said the footage played a key role in the arrest.

4. VANCOUVER, BC.- It is said that when Surrealist André Breton first saw an indigenous mask from the Pacific Northwest , he called it “more surreal than the Surrealists.” During the 1930s and 40s, Breton and many of his Surrealist colleagues were intrigued and became avid collectors of this art and, in some cases, visitors to British Columbia and Alaska. For the first time in an exhibition, The Colour of My Dreams: The Surrealist Revolution in Art brings to light the Surrealists’ fascination with First Nations art.
The Surrealists’ passion for Pacific Northwest First Nations art began in New York , where many artists fled as Europe slid from the First World War into fascism and a new conflict. Surrealists were drawn to the ‘authentic’ quality, inventiveness of form and visual brilliance of First Nations art. Some of the movement’s members collected, wrote about and even exhibited their own work alongside First Nations art from British Columbia and Alaska . To Breton, the turn toward so-called primitive art and thought was a necessary response to the “great social and moral crisis” of the era. Breton and other Surrealists saw Europe and the West more broadly as a failed society, where the triumph of rationalism brought conflagration and vast human suffering. The Surrealists – including Max Ernst, Enrico Donati, Kurt Seligmann and Wolfgang Paalen – saw something in the Aboriginal art of the Pacific Northwest which they felt held the secret to revolutionizing what they viewed as the depleted Western imagination. Said Breton in 1946, “today, it’s above all the visual art of the red man that lets us accede to a new system of knowledge and relations.”
The Colour of My Dreams includes a spectacular Kwakwaka’wakw headdress from Alert Bay, British Columbia, which once belonged to Breton; five Yup’ik masks from Alaska, formerly of the collection of artist Enrico Donati; and many other remarkable works – all displayed near the masterworks of the Surrealists who collected them.
5.  PARIS.- With more than 160 exceptional items, most of which have never left their country of origin, this exhibition offers the opportunity to discover the Guatemalan Maya, one of the major civilizations that shaped the history of pre-Columbian America. In an attempt to promote the protection of the Guatemalan national heritage, the exhibition highlights the latest significant archaeological discoveries on several recently studied sites – such as El Mirador, which heads the list of the five sites selected to be nominated for UNESCO World Heritage site status. This latest research enables the presentation of a broader and more complex concept of Maya civilization; one which describes the great variety and the development of its social organization, architectural forms and artistic styles. Painted ceramics, stelae, finely carved stones, funerary elements, architectural remains and ornaments, all presented in chronological order, provide a complete ... More

Norman Hurst - In Memorium 1944- 2011

For those of you that knew Norm Hurst, you were better for it. He was a good guy, knowledgeable appraiser, and successful art dealer who managed in Cambridge to weather the storm through many decades. Norm, you will be missed. JB

Below is the obituary sent by his wife Kathy -

Norman Paul Hurst, 67, of Cambridge and Newton, MA (AB Harvard 1966), lost a lengthy battle with cancer at his home in Newton on July 27, 2011. Norman was the devoted husband of Katherine Burton Jones, loving stepfather to Gregory Burton Garmil, and beloved son of Elaine Hurst and the late Jefferson Hurst of Albany, OR. Norman is also survived by two sisters: Anne Dewey of Portland, OR and Susan Derrickson of Lebanon, OR. He was a much admired and inspirational uncle to Alex Dewey of Palo Alto, CA and Lydia Dewey of Portland, OR.
Norman was one of the foremost art dealers and certified appraisers of tribal art and antiquities. He was nationally and internationally respected for his professional expertise and loved for his kindness and gentle nature. Norman was an inspiration to many and will be sorely missed by those who knew him and loved him.

For over 30 years, Norman was the proprietor of Hurst Gallery in Cambridge, MA. The gallery has been a unique fixture in Harvard Square, where Norman introduced countless patrons to the beauty and significance of non-Western arts. The scholarly catalogs of specialized exhibits published by Hurst Gallery, many of them authored by Norman himself, have been circulated worldwide and constitute a significant contribution to study of the field. In addition, Norman served as a consultant to both museums and to private art collectors, providing appraisals, planning exhibitions, and advising on the development of collections. He was one of a handful of appraisers with expertise in the arts of Asia including China, India and Japan; Graeco-Roman, Egyptian and Middle Eastern antiquities; American Indian, Eskimo and Pre-Columbian art; African art; and art and artifacts of the Pacific Islands.

He was a member of the International Society of Appraisers and the Appraisers Association of America, organizations in which he earned special certification for his expertise in non-western arts. Norman was also an active member of the Antique Tribal Art Dealers Association (where he was one of four founding members), The Appraisers? Registry of New England, LLC, the New England Museum Association, and the Pacific Art Association. He was a supporter of many museums and cultural organizations across New England. Norman travelled widely and there was never a museum, archaeological site, or art gallery that he missed during these trips.
A private service will be held in his home in Newton, MA. Memorial services will also be held in Cambridge, MA and Albany, OR.
Norman was a competitive and accomplished tennis player; the family asks that donations be made in his name to the Museum of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, Newport, RI. Alternatively, donations may be made in his name to fund the research of Dr. Eric Wong, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, Boston, MA (neuro-oncology).


How Much is Billy The Kid Worth

June was a good month for antique photograph collectors…

Within a span two weeks and across two continents, two new world auction records were set for 19th Century photographs.  On June 18th, "Bateaux quittant le port du Havre", an 1856-1857 albumen print by the luminary French photographer Gustave Le Gray, sold for 917,000 euros (approximately $1.3M USD) at Rouillac auction house in Vendome, France, to a Texas collector.  The photograph of sailing ships silhouetted against a sunset horizon, was one of several Le Gray’s from the same collection to do well on the auction block, with all ten prints totaling 1.6M euros ($2.3M USD).  The sale is not only the record for the artist, but for an albumen photograph.

Not to be outdone by the French, on June 27th, a vernacular 1880’s tintype full-length portrait of the American outlaw, Billy the Kid, sold for $2.3M USD at Brian Lebel’s Old West auction in Denver, Colorado, to William Koch of Florida.  As the photohistorian Robert McCubbin notes in the catalog, the photograph is believed to be not just the only extant photograph of the mythological antihero, but one of the most widely recognized photographs in American history.  The lot, which also included family photographic provenance, was one of several photography lots to do well in the sale, and was accompanied by strong reported sales by photo dealers at the companion dealer show.  The photograph now holds the record for both a tintype, as well as a 19th Century photograph.

The fact that both results coincide with one another is not mere circumstance, but rather an indication of an increase in the market for antique photographs.  October’s photography sales in New York should provide similar encouragement for collectors.

Scott W. Hale, ISA AM
Native American Art Appraisals, Inc.!/NAAAinc

August Roadshow Travels - Will We Be Near You

The summer has already been a bit crazy with trips to Eugene, Oregon; El Paso, Texas; Minneapolis, Minnesota:, and last week in Tulsa, Oklahoma. On Thursday I leave for Atlanta and Pittsburgh which will be our final two stops on Season 16 on the Roadshow.

If you have any requirements for appraisal work, authentication, or you would like to see what we are offering currently in the gallery, you can reach me at the contact information below.

John A. Buxton, ISA CAPP6717 Spring Valley Road
Dallas, Texas 75254
972-239-4620  Voice
214-789-4695 - Cell972-239-9766 - Fax214-556-5650  Skype  The art connection
Antiques Roadshow