Thursday, March 01, 2012

Tribal Art Notes for February 2012

1. Bonhams has not made a significant commitment into the recently hot Oceanic field until now. They can hope to repeat this success in future African sales.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- Bonhams inaugural auction solely devoted to Oceanic Art, February 11 in San Francisco, was led by the sale of a rare and important Rarotonga or Atiu pole-club, 'akatara,' of the Cook Islands, which achieved $146,500 - far exceeding its pre-sale estimate of $75,000-$100,000.
The pole-club is carved from the heart (taiki) of the toa (ironwood) tree with an exquisitely carved broad, scalloped blade with a needle-form tip. Its collar has two "eye" motifs on each side and its butt features chevron design. It is beautifully finished with a rich, dark-brown patina. It has provenance from Arthur Sewall (1835-1900) of Bath, Maine; thence by descent. Seawall was candidate for Vice President of the United States with William Bryan in 1896, and was one of the earliest and most prominent shipbuilders of Bath.
Additional highlights among the auction’s 150 lots of unique and fresh-to-the-market works from Polynesia, Melanesia, Micronesia, Indonesia and Australia, included a Maori greenstone amulet, hei tiki, from New Zealand, that sold for $21,250 against its pre-sale estimate of $6,000-$8,000. The amulet, measuring 3 3/8 in. tall, is finely carved, likely without the use of metal tools, with paua shell-inlay eyes.
Also a success was the $10,625 sale of a rare Telefomin shield from Papua New Guinea (pre-sale est. $8,000-$12,000). The shield was field collected, circa 1960, by Wayne Heathcote and was acquired by the present owner’s family in 1967. It is stone carved in high relief with motifs possibly representing a flying fox (sagaam); it is highlighted on the front with dark-brown, red-orange and white pigments.
Of the auction, Fredric Backlar, Specialist of African, Oceanic & Pre-Columbian Art at Bonhams, said, “We are extremely pleased with the results of today’s inaugural auction of Oceanic art in San Francisco; the Gateway to the Pacific. There was spirited bidding from both domestic and international collectors, many of which were first-time bidders, illustrating the continued growing demand for good quality, unique and fresh-to-the-market works of art at all price levels.”
Also, he added, “We were pleased to see many new and experienced collectors and dealers in town for the plethora of Tribal Art-related events that took place both at the De Young Museum and the San Francisco Tribal & Textile Arts show. After the auction, we were pleasantly surprised to experience brisk post-sale transactions.”
Weapons and tools saw much success in the auction, with such sales as a Cuirass and Sword, Tabiteuea Atol, Gilbert Islands (Kiribati), Cuirass, that brought $8,125 against its pre-sale estimate of $3,000-$5,000; a large and rare Ritual Shark Hook, gaung'akao, of Rennell Island that brought $6,250 (pre-sale est. $4,000-$6,000); a large Bone Fish Hook, makau iwi kanaka, Hawaiian Islands that took in $5,250, (pre-sale est. $5,000-$7,000); and a large Food Pounder, Micronesia that took in $4,750 (pre-sale est. $5,000-$7,000).
More of the auction’s success came with the $8,500 sale of a Hawaiian Quilt, “Ka Makani Kipuupuu O Waimea” (Crackling Wind of Waimea), a fine hand appliqué construction in navy blue over white cotton, made in 1936 by Mildred Isabelle Gross (pre-sale est. $2,000-$3,000); a finely detailed Rare Dayak Ritual Calendar/Oracle Tablet from Borneo Island, carved on both sides with ritual symbols, that sold for $3,750 (pre-sale est. $2,500-$3,500); and a rare French Exhibition Poster, "EXPOSITION ETHNOGRAPHIQUE DES COLONIES FRANCAISES," of the Museum National D'Histoire Naturelle, Le 20 Mai 1931, that realized $3,750 (pre-sale est. $4,000-$6,000).

2. The Walters Museum's  Pre-Columbian exhibition of the John Bourne features a major donation to the the museum that is intrigyuing in lighet of the American Association of Museum Directors acquisition guidelines for Pre-Columbian art  and their suggestion that all objects be listed in their online directory.  See article in this Newsletter
BALTIMORE, MD.- The Walters Art Museum presents Exploring Art of the Ancient Americas: The John Bourne Collection Gift an exhibition of 135 artworks from cultures that rose and fell in Mexico, Central America and Andean South America from 1200 B.C.–A.D. 1530. Drawn from the collection of John Bourne recently gifted to the Walters, this exhibition, on view February 12–May 20, 2012, expresses each culture’s distinctive aesthetics, worldview and spiritual ideologies.

Modern historians group the many ancient societies south of the United States into three great traditions based on ancient geo-politics and patterns of shared cultural features: Mesoamerica, Central America and Andean South America. The exhibition features artworks as illustrations of the societies’ fundamental principles such as the shamanic foundation of rulership in Mesoamerica, Costa Rica and Panama, and the cosmic principles embodied by gold and silver in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Artists expressed each society’s uniqueness in novel forms of monumental and portable art of human figures, spiritual beings and deities, and companions of daily life such as dogs, made from stone, clay, precious metals and fibers.
Exploring Art of the Ancient Americas touches on the performative nature of politics and religion—performance being a key mechanism for strengthening bonds of community and religious belief. The exhibition features the imaginative musical instruments used during these events and emotive portrayals of performers—from kings to commoners.
“Before mass communication such as television, the internet or smart phones, performance was a vital public device for real-time communication of a culture’s social, political and ideological beliefs,” said Curatorial Consultant for Art of the Ancient Americas Dorie Reents-Budet. “In the ancient Americas, as elsewhere in world history, performance communicates group identity and reinforces social hierarchy, political power and other key characteristics of a society.
This exhibition features selections from collector John Bourne, who was among the initial explorers to probe deep into the hilly jungles of southern Mexico. Traveling with adventurer Carlos (Herman Charles) Frey and photographer Giles Healy, they were among the first Westerners to visit Bonampak, the now famous Maya site celebrated for its three-roomed royal building whose interior walls are covered with murals recording a battle and public rituals concerning royal political history at the site during the eighth century. Bourne became enamored of the creative expressiveness of the Maya—and of all peoples of the ancient Americas—perceiving the works as equal to any artistic tradition in the world.
“Without question, this gift from John Bourne marks a great milestone in the Walters’ 70-year history,” said Director Gary Vikan. “In the decades to come, the museum will be at the national forefront in exploring and sharing with the public the rich cultural history of the great ancient civilizations of the Western Hemisphere.”
This exhibition has been made possible through the generous contributions of John Bourne, the Women’s Committee of the Walters Art Museum, the Selz Foundation and the Ziff Family, through its endowed exhibition fund for the arts of the ancient Americas.
Highlighted artworks include:
Mother and Child
(100 B.C.–A.D. 200) These cream-slipped figures were created during the culmination of the shaft tomb tradition in West Mexico, when tombs were filled with figural sculptures and pottery vessels. This woman proudly supports her son standing upon her lap, the sculpture being an informal yet stately expression of the procreative power of women and their lifelong calling as nurturers.
Human Effigy Pendant
(A.D. 400–1500) The medium of choice after A.D. 500, this cast-gold alloy piece portrays a dancing musician, his performance indicated by his bent knees. This finely cast pendant may render a shaman’s spiritual transformation, signified by the serpents emanating from the top of his head.
Llama Effigy
(A.D. 1000–1470) Well-adapted to the extremes of the Andean environment, the llama was at the heart of every Andean home, providing fine wool for warm clothing and being the only beast of burden in the Andes. This engaging earthenware sculpture captures the young animal’s natural inquisitiveness, its white and black face coloration following the Andean principle of duality and balance.

In Memorium - Mort Lipkin - 1926 - 2012

Rebecca and Mort Wedding Day
Mort Lipkin was a very good friend of mine that served both as a valued mentor in Pre-Columbian art and a role model as a tribal art dealer. Mort and Rebecca lived in Amsterdam, London, and Phoenix raising a daughter Linda and a son Bryan. Mort was old school and definitely was glad that he started his business career when he did and did not have to deal with computers, social media, and the internet. Mort told stories of sitting on the floor with banker and Uniontown Pennslyvania collector Jay Leff with fifty pieces spread out waiting to be included in the "package" of objects. Mort and his partner Bob Stolper had fewer problems finding pieces than collectors who were remotely interested in what then was a very new field. And tall tales came from both Mort and Ray Wilegus about the town house in New York with Everett Rassiga, Bob Stolper, and others coming in and out at all hours for both the party and the art. Lipkin was unusual in that he possessed a business and accounting background which are skills alien to many tribal art dealers both then and now. Mort understood buying right and selling for less than top dollar. As a consequence, he had many loyal clients and friends. Occasionally Mort was confronted with bad guys in the guise of collectors or dealers; and he didn't do well with the dark side. In 35 years I never heard a negative word or saw any anger from Mort. It was frustrating as our roles reversed and I would try to get him to fight back, but it just wasn't his way. He remained true to his own code to the moment he had his heart attack worrying about whether he had treated  a client correctly on a business deal. Mort would worry about worrying and could not be consoled. Ironically, the particular question that tormented Mort and triggered this fatal event has proven that Mort was right all along. It would be poetic justice if some Sicilian remedies through our courts could be pursued. But again it was not Mort's way.

Mort's friends, family, and clients will miss Mort as a rare, in his own words, "mensch". The obituary is below. If you have a moment log in and and leave a note for the family. JB

Lipkin, Morton - Obituary
Morton "Mort" Lipkin, 85, of Phoenix, passed on February 15, 2012 of natural causes. Mort was born July 24, 1926 in Brooklyn, NY. He graduated from NYU and proudly served his country in World War II in the Navy. Mort is survived by his wife of 51 years Rebecca, son Brian, daughter Linda (Joe) Freedman and their son and the apple of his eye, his grandson Jacob Standford Freedman. Graveside services will be held Monday, February 20, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. at Green Acres Cemetery, 401 North Hayden Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85257. Arrangements by Sinai Mortuary.
Mort and his daughter Linda at her wedding
Mort and Rebecca at Linda's wedding

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

African Art March 2012


Asante, Ghana, West Africa
Ht. 38 1/2"
c. 1910
Private US Collection
"Ntan (en-tan) bands were popular among the Asante peoples of Ghana between 1920s and 1950s.        They performed on occasions such as naming ceremonies, weddings, funerals and traditional festivals—any event where entertainment was needed. This is in contrast to other musical instruments and performances that were reserved for the court. The term ntan (meaning “bluff” in Twi) does not refer to the drum itself, but rather to the entire event that featured music and the display of carved figurative sculptures representing the chief, queen mother and members of the court. Reflecting the colonial presence of the times on the Gold Coast (present-day Ghana), the sculptural entourage also included figures of colonial officers. " National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution online

Ownership and Authentication of Street Art

We have featured several articles about street art in general and Banksy in particular. The problems associated with street art are unique and to some extent have defied our legal systems. Anny Shaw and The Art Newspaper have done a good job in the article below.

Problems arise over issues of ownership, illegality of street art and the artist’s refusal to sign works
 By Anny Shaw. Market, Issue 232, February 2012
Published online: 16 February 2012

 The pitfalls of authenticating Banksy murals came into focus again last month when it was revealed that the second alleged work by Banksy to hit the streets of Liverpool in the space of three weeks was, in fact, falsely attributed.
Fans and prospective buyers turn to Banksy’s official website ( for photographic evidence of murals, and the second work in Liverpool does not appear online. However, the artist neither officially sanctions his murals online, nor signs the actual street works for fear of legal repercussions.
Pest Control, the body that has authenticated Banksy’s gallery works since 2008, states online that it “only deals with legitimate works of art and has no involvement with any kind of illegal activity”. Subsequently, the independent New York-based organisation Vermin was set up to provide certification of Banksy’s outdoor works, although Vermin’s website now appears to be defunct.
As well as the legality of painting in the street, the question of ownership is difficult. Usually, the owner of a building with a Banksy mural owns the work de facto, and so can consign it for sale (although without official authentication from the artist). It is more complicated if, for example, a local authority owns the property or the building has been abandoned, as was the case with a Banksy mural cut from a derelict site in Detroit in May 2010, and due to go on show in the city next month after a lengthy legal dispute over ownership. Artists from the non-profit space 555 Galleries and Studios removed the work from an abandoned car plant owned by Bioresource Inc, a technology company which filed a lawsuit requesting that the 8ft section of wall be returned. The case was settled last September after the gallery paid $2,500 to Bioresource. The mural, which Bioresource argued could be worth more than $100,000, is not for sale, says a gallery spokesman. It is scheduled to be permanently displayed in a 7,000 sq. ft former police station that the gallery is renovating.
The issue of ownership can also give rise to allegations of theft. In December, Leon Lawrence appeared in court accused of cutting Banksy’s Sperm Alarm, 2011, from a wall of London’s Hesperia Hotel. Lawrence, who denies the allegations and is due to stand trial in May, reportedly tried to sell the work on eBay for £17,000.
While some say that the removal of street art is stealing, others call it salvaging. Stephan Keszler, whose gallery in the Hamptons deals in Banksy murals, says many works would be destroyed if they were not removed. He says he has around ten street works, including a door from Berlin priced at $200,000 and a piece from New Orleans priced at $70,000. Keszler was fiercely criticised last August when his gallery, in collaboration with London’s Bankrobber Gallery, brought two public murals by Banksy, neither of which was authenticated, from the West Bank to the US. He says he did not acquire Stop and Search and Wet Dog, both 2007, from the building’s owners, and that they had already been excavated when he took them. Keszler now plans to lend the works to an East Coast museum (see box, right).
The lack of an official authentication process for Banksy’s street works means that auction houses rarely sell them. Gareth Williams, a street art specialist for Bonhams, says: “We don’t handle Banksy’s street pieces as we do not condone their removal. We respect the artist’s belief that these works have been executed for the public to view and appreciate, and understand his unwillingness to commodify them.” Williams says that Bonhams only sells works authenticated by Pest Control, as “potential buyers need to be confident that what they are buying is an authentic work”.
The street artist Ben Eine, who has worked with Banksy for years, says that murals should be left in situ. “The street work we do is not painted to be sold a few years later,” he says. “This is one reason I don’t sign my street stuff, and, like other artists, would never authenticate it—it’s not made to be sold, but to be enjoyed.” Eine is, however, philosophical about the sale of street works: “As with everything of value, someone will want it and someone is always ready to make a profit—that’s life.”

Monday, February 27, 2012

Brit Artfinder app ready for Your Smartphone

The first Artfinder app, which is being released in partnership with the Dulwich Picture Gallery, will be available in the Apple’s App Store from Monday, and will allow users to take a picture of any painting in the current exhibition and find out more information about it.
Visitors to the Dulwich Picture Gallery, can download the app for £1.99 and then take a photo of any of the paintings in the Twombly and Poussin exhibition. The Artfinder app will scan the image, taking a digital fingerprint of it, recognise it and pull together information on that particular artwork and send it to your device.
The user is then invited to share the images of their favourite paintings with their friends on Facebook or Twitter, using the sync buttons via the app.
Artfinder, set up by the former chief operating officer of, Spencer Hyman, with financial backing from Reid Hoffman (founder of Linked In), and Wellington Partners (the venture capital firm which backed Spotify), is in talks to bring image recognition to the other major UK art galleries and museums imminently.
The site, which aims to do provide a digital home for the entire catalogue of fine art, already has information and images of 500,000 pieces of art and is aiming to help sell art in partnership with galleries.
Hyman said: “It is very hard for most people to get access to great affordable art. There are more artists than musicians in this country and art needs to be helped by the web in the same way music has…Every other sector has an online destination but art has been missing a single place where all works are housed together online, people can buy prints of them or new original art, and easily share their favourite pieces of art with their friends via social networks.
Artfinder also has a tool call Art Nearby, which allows people to find the nearest art galleries to them and see the collections online.

Boston Museum of Fine Art Launches Online Painting Resource  "Just in time for Presidents’ Day, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, will debut on February 20 its first online catalogue, Paintings of the Americas. The free digital publication, available here, will feature a selection of more than 400 paintings from its collection of nearly 2,000 (including new acquisitions) created by artists from the 17th through the 20th centuries. The online catalogue was produced to complement the Museum’s Art of the Americas Wing. This is the first publication in a generation to document the MFA’s world-renowned holdings of American paintings, along with those that represent the broader spectrum of the Americas. With its elegant design, ease of use, and access to a wide range of information, Paintings of the Americas tells a compelling story through a chronological exploration of diverse works from North, Central, and South America. It also showcases masterworks by John Singleton Copley, Mary Cassatt, John Singer Sargent, Thomas Eakins, Winslow Homer, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Wifredo Lam. Support for this publication was provided by the Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts, the Ann and William Elfers Publication Fund, the Wyeth Foundation for American Art, and the Vance Wall Foundation. “We are especially pleased to introduce to our online visitors—including families, students, and museum lovers—a new way to experience for free one of the world’s finest collections of American paintings in a format that will be regularly added to and updated as new information is entered into our database,” said Malcolm Rogers, Ann and Graham Gund Director of the Museum.
In 2000, the MFA was one of only a few museums in the world to make its collection available online, and today, the majority of its 450,000 works can be viewed on the web. Now, with the new online catalogue, readers using a personal computer or tablet, such as an iPad, will be able to dig deeper into information about 425 paintings by browsing artwork by chapter, title, and artist; bookmarking favorites; reading essays; and enjoying interviews with curators and conservators. The catalogue’s online format will allow content to be regularly updated and, in the future, the number of paintings featured will expand, as will the range of scholarly background information. Beginning with a Director’s Foreword by Malcolm Rogers and an introduction by Elliot Bostwick Davis, the John Moors Cabot Chair of the Art of the Americas Department, the catalogue is organized into 12 chapters,with headings written by Erica E. Hirshler, the MFA’s Croll Senior Curator of American Paintings. It will highlight works that reflect the broader definition of the art of our nation and the Americas by incorporating a greater number of paintings by women, indigenous artists, artists of color, Latin American artists, and self-taught artists. A selection of newly acquired works by African American artists from the John Axelrod Collection also will be showcased in the online publication.
“Complementing the opening of the Museum’s Art of the Americas Wing, the online catalogue represents painters from the colonial Americas, the United States, and those from North, Central, and South America. As in our galleries, we hope visitors to the publication will discover a range of artistic expression that derives inspiration from a variety of cultures, periods, and styles found around the world and closer to home,” said Davis, who oversaw the creation of the catalogue led by Karen E. Quinn, the MFA’s Kristin and Roger Servison Curator of Paintings, and Erica E. Hirshler.
Recent scholarship, innovative design, and the latest digital publishing technology will bring the Museum’s works to audiences as never before—completely for free. "We are committed to publishing the MFA’s collections by the best means available, whether the delivery ‘device’ has printed pages or a touch screen. This type of catalogue is well-suited to the digital realm. It represents a true marriage of traditional museum publishing and all the scholarship behind it, and the accessibility and connectivity made possible by the web," said Emiko Usui, Director of MFA Publications."

Maxwell Anderson Appointed as DMA Director

Maxwell Anderson Appointed as Dallas Museum of Art Director
The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) today announced that Dr. Maxwell L. Anderson has been appointed as its Eugene McDermott Director. Anderson, who is currently the Melvin & Bren Simon Director and CEO of the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA), succeeds Bonnie Pitman, who retired on June 1, 2011. Anderson will assume his role at the DMA on January 9, 2012.
Maxwell and Jacqueline Anderson
Anderson has served for more than 20 years as a museum director. Since assuming his position at the IMA in 2006, Anderson has added over $30 million to the museum’s endowment through gifts and pledges; built a significant international exhibition program; resumed a free general admission policy; more than doubled attendance to reach some 450,000 visitors annually; and led the IMA to become the first museum in the country to achieve the EPA’s Energy Star certification for its environmentally responsible practices. During his tenure, the IMA also launched innovative web-based tools to engage the public, such as a dedicated video channel for art and artists known as ArtBabble, as well as a Dashboard of real-time statistics and a deaccessioning database on its website to promote transparency, both of which have become new models for the museum field. In 2009, the IMA received the National Medal of Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor for museums.
Under Anderson’s leadership, the IMA created a conservation science program and lab at the museum. In June 2010, the IMA opened 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park, one of the largest contemporary art parks in the United States providing a new approach for such museum parks by featuring ongoing site-specific commissions. Anderson also led the museum’s acquisition and renovation of Eero Saarinen’s Miller House (1957), an iconic residence in Columbus, Indiana, which opened to the public in May 2011.
During his tenure, the IMA organized a number of major traveling exhibitions, including European Design Since 1985: Shaping the New Century; Sacred Spain: Art & Belief in the Spanish World; and Hard Truths: the Art of Thornton Dial. The IMA was also selected as the commissioning institution for the U.S. Pavilion at the 2011 Venice Biennale, bringing performance art to the U.S. Pavilion for the first time in its history by presenting new work by artists Allora & Calzadilla. Anderson also oversaw the remodeling and reinstallation of the museum’s galleries for its Asian, African, Design arts and textiles and fashion arts collections, which will reopen in 2012-2013.
Anderson is known as one of the leading technological innovators in the museum field. The museum launched IMA Lab in 2010, a consulting arm utilizing the IMA’s innovative approach to technology to promote smart, industry-specific solutions and to create and disseminate open source tools for use across the museum field. In its first year, IMA Labs generated over $500,000 in revenue to support museum programming. In the same vein, the IMA also recently launched IMA Art Services, a second consulting arm that utilizes the IMA’s curatorial expertise to advise on public art projects in and around Indianapolis. Revenue from these initiatives is invested into the museum’s programming, providing new revenue streams for the museum in a time of shrinking endowments and donations industry-wide.
“Max is a visionary director who has a proven track-record in translating innovative ideas into successful programs that have attracted audiences and patronage,” stated John R. Eagle, the President of the Board of Trustees. “He brings a strong commitment to scholarship while, at the same time, looking for new ways to strengthen the role that museums play within their communities. From his commitment to new technology and transparency to his ability to create new revenue streams for the IMA, Max is clearly a leader in the museum field who will expand the role that the DMA plays in the region, nationally and internationally in meaningful ways.”
“I am honored to have been selected to serve as the next Director of the Dallas Museum of Art,” said Maxwell Anderson. “The DMA has been distinguished by the great leadership of my predecessors and by outstanding trustees who understand the transformative power of art and have demonstrated a sense of civic responsibility that is unparalleled. I look forward to working with the museum’s terrific professional staff and legendary patrons in enhancing the role the DMA plays in the lives of people in the region, nationally and internationally.”
“Max has brought an incredible vision, energy and innovation to other encyclopedic museums. He nurtured a wide array of exhibitions and scholarship – from the ancient to the avant-garde – while introducing new programs that increased public participation,” noted Deedie Rose, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Dallas Museum of Art. “He is someone who understands how to celebrate the values that anchor museums while fostering innovations that serve both the institution he leads and the entire field.”
“We are extremely fortunate to have secured someone of Max’s multiple talents and experience to lead the DMA,” stated Cindy Rachofsky, chair of the Director Search Committee. “He is a scholar and a populist, and has created programs that have lasting value and meaning to institutions and the many constituencies they serve.”
As both a director and activist in issues in the field, Anderson has long championed the rights of artists to receive fair tax treatment when donating works of art to museums. He helped lead U.S. art museums to adopt 1970 as a bright-line date when considering acquisitions of archaeological material and ancient art. And he launched two consecutive projects to build international libraries of digital media documenting the collections and activities of art museums—one for still images (AMICO) and one for video (ArtBabble).
Anderson served as museum director for the Whitney Museum of American Art from 1998 to 2003. Under his leadership the Whitney attendance grew by 40% to over 600,000 visitors annually and its membership doubled. He added New Media and Architecture as collecting and programming areas, founded an endowed conservation department, created an M.A. program in curatorial studies with Columbia University, and initiated the Bucksbaum Award. Prior to joining the Whitney Anderson was director of the Art Gallery of Ontario (1995-1998), and Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University (1987-1995). He worked in the Metropolitan Museum of Art as curatorial assistant and later assistant curator for Greek and Roman Art from 1981 to 1987. In 1985 he taught in the Department of Art & Archaeology at Princeton University, and in 1987 at the Università di Roma.
Anderson received an A.B. from Dartmouth in 1977 with highest distinction in Art History and A.M. (1978) and Ph.D. (1981) degrees from Harvard, having spent 1979 to 1980 abroad as Harvard's Frederick Sheldon Travelling Fellow. He was decorated as a Commendatore (Knight Commander) in the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic and decorated as a Chevalier in the French Republic's Order of Arts and Letters. His book titled The Quality Instinct: Seeing Art Through a Museum Director's Eye will be released in January 2012 by The AAM Press of the American Association of Museums.

About the Dallas Museum of Art
Located in the vibrant Arts District of downtown Dallas, Texas, the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) ranks among the leading art institutions in the country and is distinguished by its innovative exhibitions and groundbreaking educational programs. At the heart of the Museum and its programs is its global collection, which encompasses more than 24,000 works and spans 5,000 years of history, representing a full range of world cultures. Established in 1903, the Museum welcomes approximately 600,000 visitors annually and acts as a catalyst for community creativity, engaging people of all ages and backgrounds with a diverse spectrum of programming, from exhibitions and lectures to concerts, literary readings, and dramatic and dance presentations. The Dallas Museum of Art is supported in part by the generosity of Museum members and donors and by the citizens of Dallas through the City of Dallas/Office of Cultural Affairs and the Texas Commission on the Arts.

Antiquities Dealer Robert Hecht Jr. Dies at 92

This blog has published a number of pieces on Marion True, Chasing Aphrodite, and the Getty. It is an interesting subject that involves a number of colorful characters. Certainly Robert Hecht is one of them. I find it a peculiar coincidence that both Marion True and Robert Hecht failed to be convicted by the Italian government because of the expiration of the statute of limitations. It will be interesting to learn more about this in the coming years. It does sound like an accommodation was found.

PARIS February 10, 2012 - "Journalist Jason Felch on Antiquities Dealer Robert Hecht Jr. "I found Hecht to be a likable rogue" Journalist Jason Felch, co-author of Chasing Aphrodite with Ralph Frammolino, reported for The Los Angeles Times the death of the "controversial dealer in classical antiquities," 92-year-old Robert Hecht Jr. who died in Paris just three weeks after Italian judges dismissed looting charges against him.

In their book on the history of The J. Paul Getty Museum's collection practices for antiquities, Chasing Aphrodite (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011), Felch and Frammolino describe Hecht as "the preeminent middleman of the classical antiquities trade" who's "network of loyal suppliers reached deep into the tombs and ruins of Greece, Turkey and Italy."
"Since the 1950s, Hecht had sold some of the finest pieces of classical art to emerge on the market. His clients included dozens of American and European museums, universities, and private collectors ... For decades, Hecht single-handedly dominated the antiquities market with his brilliance, brutality and panache.... Even those who sold directly to museums gave Hecht a cut of the deal, earning him the nickname "Mr. Percentage".
Last month, Elisabetta Povoledo for The New York Times reported that the Italian trial against Robert Hecht for "receiving artifacts illegally looted from Italy and conspiring to deal in them" ended with the expiration of the statue of limitations on his alleged crimes.
In fact, although Hecht was banished from Turkey in 1962 for allegedly dealing in ancient coins and from his home in Italy after details of his relationship with Giacomo Medici and Marion True emerged, Hecht was never convicted of any crime. Medici was convicted of trafficking in looted antiquities in 2004 but remains out of jail while he appeals the conviction. The case against Marion True was also dismissed because the statue of limitations expired.
Via email I asked for Jason Felch's thoughts on Robert Hecht whom he had interviewed on the phone after the charges were dismissed last month.  This is Mr. Felch's response: Hecht was a career criminal, and a remarkably successful one. We've detailed his crimes and the damage they caused in Chasing Aphrodite at length. He was investigated several times in several countries and never successfully prosecuted. Obviously that's a failure of justice.
That said, I rather liked Hecht. I first met him in 2006 in New York City and continued to talk and occasionally meet with him over the years as I investigated the illicit antiquities trade. During those same years I also met with several other key middlemen in the trade. All were interesting men, but most were unpleasant. Medici was overbearing and boorish, fond of speak of himself in the third person. [Gianfranco] Becchina was hard to read and rather ominous. [Robin] Symes, who I never met but Ralph interviewed in jail in London, came off as a shrill pill.
Hecht, by contrast, was fascinating and, for the most part, a pleasant dinner companion. He was very sharp, evasive and often witty. He told me his story and the story of the trade, while always remaining coy about certain details. He had deep knowledge about ancient art of all kinds and was clearly passionate about the subject. So much so that he was a lousy businessman, perennially broke because he couldn't say no (and because of a nasty gambling habit.) He was driven less by greed, it seems, than by a passion for the objects and the collector's obsession to possess. He was brilliant at what he did, and had he continued with his studies at the American Academy he would have made a remarkable archaeologist. Instead, he chose the dark side.
He also had a curious sense of honor, one honed during decades of working in a criminal underworld. The latest example was telling. About a month after I sent him a copy of Chasing Aphrodite -- which contain dozens of damning references to Hecht's role in the illicit trade -- he called me at my desk at the Times. Well written, he said, but you got one thing wrong. I asked: Was it that part about you running the illicit antiquities trade for decades? Or perhaps the part where Marion True describes you as an abusive, occasionally violent alcoholic? No, Hecht was upset that we had suggested he had ratted out the competition (something his competitors accused him of in sworn testimony.) He had never done so, he insisted, and our suggesting otherwise was "bad for business."
My job occasionally requires me to spend time with criminals. Many are awful people. I found Hecht to be a likable rogue. Someone should make a movie.
In addition to Chasing Aphrodite, you may find additional information about Robert Hecht Jr.'s career in the book by Peter Watson and Cecilia Todeschini, The Medici Conspiracy: The Illicit Journey. " Catherine Sezgin, ARCA (Association for Research into crimes Against Art) Blog Editor

My Word - February 2012

With the loss of Bill Siegmann, Norm Hurst, and now Mort Lipkin it has been a tough beginning to 2012. Such events, however, do put a bit of perspective on why you get up every morning. This became even more poignant for me when my brother had a massive heart attack about a month ago and barely made it out alive with four stints and the prospect of  a long-term rehab process. I have been his guardian since Christmas Day 1977 and should immediately begin writing the book now as a form of therapy. At the risk of being considered certifiable, I will offer the observation that these are the good old days and we better enjoy them. I say that because someone always has a worse story and oh by the way I am not being shot at on a daily basis. For those of you wondering whether I live on the south side of Chicago that was a reference to  Afghanistan and Iraq. So I am going to continue to be irreverent and looking for the humor wherever I can find it in my daily life.

And by the way I used to only say this about Santa Fe, but now this point of time has become either the very worst or one of the very best opportunities to buy tribal art. Some collectors are buying some very good things at very low prices. Some others are paying prices in this auction market that are insane and it is my opinion economic forces will sort this out. JB

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Museum and Dealer Tribal Art Shows 2012

1. Exhibitions: L'invention du sauvage
Dates :29 Nov 11 to 3 Jun 12
Place :Musée du quai Branly Paris , France
Event type :Exhibition
Topic :Tribal art
HUMAN ZOOS, The invention of the savage unveils the history of women, men and children brought from Africa, Asia, Oceania and America to be exhibited in the Western world in circus numbers, theatre or cabaret performances, fairs, zoos, parades, reconstructed villages or international and colonial fairs. The practice started in the 16th Century royal courts and continued to increase until the mid-20th Century in Europe, America and Japan.
A corpus of several thousand documents from over 200 international museums and private collections.

2, NYC Tribal Art Show -  May 7 - 13, 2012
A wealth of gallery exhibitions, auctions, and events focused on tribal art will take place from May 7 - 13, 2012 in New York City. A consortium of leading specialists will offer traditional African, Asian, Oceanic, and Native American works of art of the highest quality, including rare masterpieces as well as more affordable items.
New York Tribal Art Week™ was created in 2010 by David A. Cassera who said, “last year the excitement of the Sotheby’s auction had everyone enthralled, there was a great atmosphere in New York. I had a vision two years ago when I created the Madison Avenue Promenade (now AOA NY). After Caskey Lees canceled their annual Armory show I only had a month to create a website, map and booklet for the events. Somehow I pulled it off amidst a firestorm of negativity. Now in it's third year I am following the blueprints of New York's Asia Week. We are pleased with the progress we have made over the last few years bringing the excitement of Tribal Art back to the City where it all began. My philosophy, which differs from others, is to have fun and celebrate the beauty of the arts without all of the drama."
Participating NYC Tribal Art Week Galleries Include;
 Throckmorton Fine Art, Arte Primitivo - Howard S. Rose Gallery, Hemingway African Gallery, Turner Gallery, Reynold C. Kerr African Art, Cassera Arts Premiers, Tabwa Gallery, Alan Steele, David Zemanek, Howard Nowes, Chris Boylan, Fernandez Leventhal, Dave DeRoche, Cavin Morris Gallery, David Norden, Mark Eglinton Tribal Art,  Jacaranda Tribal, Patrick and Ondine Mestdagh, Gallerie J. Visser, Gallerie Flak, Neil Becker, Gail Martin Gallery, Claudia and John Menser, Earl Duncan, Michael Rhodes African Art, Bernard Dulon, John Giltsoff, Young Robertson African Art, Amyas Naegele Fine Art, James Stephenson African Art, Fily Keita African Art, Pace Primitive, Alaska on Madison, Nasser & Co.,  and more.
NYC Tribal Art Show: A New Addition to NYC Tribal Art Week
The NYC Tribal Art Show 2012, is a one of a kind cultural event designed for collectors, dealers, curators and museum professionals to view, purchase and discuss traditional art objects from Africa, Oceania and the Americas (AOA). The NYC Tribal Art Show will take place at the Bohemian National Hall at the same time as major auctions at Sotheby's and Bonhams, as well as various AOA gallery exhibitions around New York City.
Historically, New Yorkers have been among the foremost collectors of AOA tribal art. New York politicians, artists, business leaders, professionals, fashion moguls and celebrities such as Helena Rubinstein, Nelson Rockefeller, Andy Warhol, John Friede, Armand Arman and Robert Mapplethorpe have solidified the international tribal art market rumored to now only exist in Paris.
The goal of the NYC Tribal Art Show during New York Tribal Art Week™ is to bring together those who share a common interest in the arts and to inspire a greater public knowledge of the cultural importance and artistic significance of non-western art forms. Local and visiting collectors and aficionados, as well as anyone interested in tribal art or simply wanting to learn about this fascinating art form are invited to attend and help bring back the excitement of AOA tribal art to it's original home in New York City.

3. Tribal Perspectives, London  September 29 - October 1, 2012
Tribal Perspectives, London’s only exhibition to focus on works of art from rapidly diminishing cultures, opens to the public for four days from 29 September to 1st October 2011 at the neighboring Galleries 27 and 28 Cork Street, Mayfair, London, W1S 3NG.
This well-established group show has an international following, and was first launched in 2007.  Tribal Perspectives features seven leading galleries from around the globe, each a specialist in the art and cultural artefacts of peoples from Africa to Oceania.
This multi-cultural event offers an unique selling exhibition of precious objects from rapidly diminishing cultures, combined with lectures by leading authorities.
Tribal Perspectives seeks to offer an insight in to and an understanding of the rituals and historic customs of tribal peoples, many of whose way of life is rapidly coming under threat, if not already subsumed in to a homogenized world of ‘development’.
Tribal influences are never far from mainstream fashion and contemporary art.  Artists such as Picasso, Matisse, Braque and Modigliani were inspired by these cultures, whilst today they are appreciated and their artefacts collected by the likes of David Attenborough, the designer John Rocha and the well-travelled TV presenter and author Griff Rhys Jones.
Exhibitors at Tribal Perspectives will include:
• ALEX ARTHUR (Belgium) - Tribal art
• BRYAN REEVES (UK) - African tribal art
• CHRIS BOYLAN (Australia) - Tribal art from PNG and Oceanic
• ADAM PROUT (UK) - Tribal art and objects from around the world
• LOUIS NIERIJNCK (Holland)- Asian, Oceanic and African tribal art
• CLIVE LOVELESS (UK) - Abstract tribal artefacts from Africa and Oceania
Tribal Perspectives is supported by Tribal Arts Magazine and HALI the specialist magazine that writes about the textile arts of all cultures and periods.

4. Parcours des Mondes, Paris Wednesday 11th to Sunday September 16th, 2011
In the Beaux-Arts district of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris, VIe.
Galleries situated on the Beaux-Arts, de Seine, Jacques Callot, Mazarine, Guénégaud, Visconti, Jacob, Bonaparte and de l’Echaudé streets.
From Wednesday 11th to Sunday September 16th, 2011.

Art Fairs - January 2012

What's Happening  - January 2012 - Art Fairs
Metro Show NYC
The Art Fair Company
January 18-22, 2012
Metropolitan Pavilion
125 W. 18th St.
New York, New York
Palm Beach Winter Antiques Show & Sale
Dolphin Promotions
January 19-22, 2012
Crowne Plaza
1601 Belvedere Road
West Palm Beach, Florida
58th annual Winter Antiques Show
Celebrating Historic Hudson Valley at 60: Rockefeller Patronage in Sleepy Hollow Country
January 20-29, 2012
Park Avenue Armory
Park Avenue & 67th Street
New York, New York
Antiques at the Armory
Stella Show Mgmt. Co.
January 20-22, 2012
69th Regiment Armory
68 Lexington Avenue
New York, New York
Outsider Art Fair 2012
20th anniversary of the worldʼs foremost international marketplace for self-taught art, Outsider Art, and Art Brut
January 27-29, 2012
Outsider Art Fair
7 West 34th St.
New York, New York
Event Information
Americana & Antiques @ The Pier
Stella Show Mgmt. Co.
January 21-22, 2012
Pier 92
711 12th Avenue @ 55th St.
New York, New York

Never was the force represented by an association of men and women around a common project such an appropriate answer, at a point where the evolution of our society sets problems which the isolated individual is loth to solve.
The motto of Belgium « l’Union fait la Force » was never so up- to-date for our profession. When a gale is rising, one has to reduce sails. We, we brail up the sail, unite our efforts and our skills, each one respecting the other, listening to all.
Let us not veil face, nothing will be as before. The old conceptions of the trade and the management of the art galleries have drastically changed, just like the habits, the tastes of the collectors, and the means of communication between human beings.Individually, each one of us is ruled by to law of the strongest, the other fairs and the auction houses. Unified, we restore balance between the different actors of the art market.
On the occasion of this second winter manifestation, initiated by the BRUNEAF-office, we are delighted with the collaboration with Ars Antiqua Brussels, created and managed by Jacques Billen who gathered more than 16 international traders coming from all over Europe and from North America.
Winter B Sablon-project is also very pleased with the recognition of BRAFA, of which I want to thank especially the President, Bernard De Leye.
Always anxious to open our manifestation to the diversity of the world of art represented for more than four decades by the Sablon, we are delighted with the presence of four new guests: contemporary art will be represented by Fine Art Studio and Roots Contemporary, while the furniture will be honoured thanks to the participation of Jérôme Sohier, Design specialist, and the unveiling of the new space of the Gallery Pierre Mahaux, just a step away from the Sablon.
Reinforce the Art trade in Brussels, and particularly in the Sablon, by all consensual means, is, we believe it strongly, the only answer to the major changes in our society. The perenniality of our profession is at this price.
It is therefore with great impatience that we prepare ourselves to receive you with the warmth and kindness characterizing our events. Henceforth we present you our best wishes for 2012 and a superb Christmas.
Pierre Loos Initiator of Winter B-projectPresident of BRUNEAF

Winter B sablon :
18-22 January 2012 / Opening: 18 January from 11 am till 20 pm
Brafa 11 :
21-29 January 2012
 Next Summer edition of BRUNEAF, BOAfair & BAAF :
6-10 June 2012

Teotihuacan - A Major Find - Just Announced

MEXICO CITY (AP).- Archaeologists announced Tuesday that they dug to the very core of Mexico's tallest pyramid and found what may be the original ceremonial offering placed on the site of the Pyramid of the Sun before construction began.
The offerings found at the base of the pyramid in the Teotihuacan ruin site just north of Mexico City include a green serpentine stone mask so delicately carved and detailed that archaeologists believe it may have been a portrait.
The find also includes 11 ceremonial clay pots dedicated to a rain god similar to Tlaloc, who was still worshipped in the area 1,500 years later, according to a statement by the National Institute of Anthropology and History, or INAH.
The offerings, including bones of an eagle fed rabbits as well as feline and canine animals that haven't yet been identified, were laid on a sort of rubble base where the temple was erected about A.D. 50.
"We know that it was deposited as part of a consecration ritual for the construction of the Pyramid of the Sun," said INAH archaeologist Enrique Perez Cortes.
Experts followed an old tunnel dug through the pyramid by researchers in the 1930s that narrowly missed the center, and then dug small extensions and exploratory shafts off it. What they found points to the earliest days of the still largely mysterious Teotihuacan culture. The remains of three structures that predate the pyramid were found buried at the base. Archaeologists have known that the ceremonial significance of the site, perhaps as a "link" to the underworld, predates the pyramids.
They also found seven burials, some of them infant remains. Susan Gillespie, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Florida who was not involved in the project, called the find "exciting and important, although I would not say it was unexpected" given that dedicatory offerings were commonly placed in MesoAmerican pyramids.
"It is exciting that what looks like the original foundation dedicatory cache for what was to become the largest (in height) pyramid in Mexico (and one of the largest in the world) has finally been found, after much concerted efforts looking for it," Gillespie wrote in an email.
She said the find gives a better picture of the continuity of religious practices during Teotihuacan's long history. Some of the same themes found in the offering are repeated in ancient murals painted on the city's walls centuries later.
George Cowgill, an anthropologist at Arizona State University, called the find "pretty important" and suggested the Tlaloc offerings may thicken the debate about whether the pyramid was linked to the sun, the underworld or Tlaloc, who was also considered a war god.
"The discovery of seven humans suggests that they were probably sacrificial victims, along with several species of fierce animals," Cowgill wrote.
The city was founded nearly 2,500 years ago and came to have a dominant influence in architecture, trade and cultural in large swaths of ancient Mexico. But the identity of its rulers remains a mystery, and the city was abandoned by the time the Aztecs arrived in the area in the 1300s and gave it the name Teotihuacan, which means "the place where men become gods."

Association of Art Museum Directors Acquisition Guidelines

Registry of New Acquisitions of Archaeological Material and Works of Ancient Art

The Registry of New Acquisitions of Archaeological Material and Works of Ancient Art provides information on acquisitions of select works of archeological and ancient art by AAMD member museums since June 4, 2008, the date new AAMD Guidelines went into effect. These works are only those lacking complete provenance after November 1970, the date of the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import and Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.
Art museums regularly acquire archaeological material and works of ancient art, of which objects with incomplete modern provenance represent but a fraction. A complete recent ownership history may not be obtainable for all archaeological material and every work of ancient art. Recognizing this, AAMD believes that its member museums have the right to exercise their responsibility to make informed judgments about the appropriateness of acquiring such an object. AAMD is committed to ensuring that these acquisitions take place transparently and in full public view.
The Registry of New Acquisitions of Archaeological Material and Works of Ancient Art is a central component of AAMD's process to make information about such objects freely available to students, teachers, visitors, source countries, officials, as well as possible claimants. For information on individual museums’ acquisitions, follow the links to their web sites.
The objects documented in this Registry meet the standards of AAMD’s 2008 guidelines, as determined by the acquiring institution. Follow this link to read AAMD’s guidelines, formally titled the: Report of the AAMD Task Force on the Acquisition of Archaeological Materials and Ancient Art (Revised 2008). For information on AAMD's mission and members, please visit the main website at
Questions regarding any object in the Registry of New Acquisitions of Archaeological Material and Works of Ancient Art can be directed to the acquiring institution by using the Contact Us link on the left side of the screen.
In 1973—a decade before the U.S. Congress passed legislation incorporating elements of the 1970 UNESCO Convention into U.S. law—AAMD passed a resolution urging members to cooperate with foreign countries to prevent illegal trafficking in art as described in the new UNESCO Convention.
In 2004, AAMD issued guidelines for its members regarding the future acquisition of archaeological material and ancient art. The heart of the document reinforced the need for transparency in acquisitions, the strict observance of U.S. law, and specific procedures to allow acquisitions to continue if, after due diligence, no information came to light that stood in the way of purchases, gifts, or bequests. As part of the larger global dialogue taking place, AAMD’s guidelines helped stimulate discussions about the role of responsible collecting by museums and the importance of a licit market.
AAMD determined it should refine the 2004 guidelines to affirm more clearly and tangibly its members’ commitment to helping protect and preserve archaeological resources worldwide, and to strengthen the principles and standards used in making decisions regarding the acquisition of archeological materials and ancient art. The results, reflected in the 2008 guidelines are:

•The adoption of November 1970, the date of the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import and Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, as an important threshold date when considering an acquisition;
•Research protocols that are even more rigorous than those included in the previous guidelines; and
•The establishment of this searchable Object Registry, which ensures an even higher level of public transparency for members’ acquisitions.

Auction Art Market February 2012

1. Sothebys - Strong Modern and Impressionist Sale
LONDON.- Tonight in a packed saleroom, Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Evening Sale brought a total of £78,893,650 / $125,504,018 /€94,491,096 (est. £79– 113.3 million). The top price of the sale was achieved for Claude Monet’s previously unseen painting of 1885 L’Entreé de Giverny en Hiver, which sold in a four-way bidding battle to a buyer in the room for £8,217,250 / $13, 072,001 / €9,841,818 (est. £4.5-6.5 million) – an auction record for a snowscape by the artist. The sale saw a high average lot value for the works sold of £1,922,870, and was 76.9% sold by lot and 76% sold by value.
Commenting on the sale, Helena Newman, Chairman, Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art, Europe, commented: “Tonight we saw global bidding across the sale, with avid collectors competing for museum quality and rare works. There was strong competition for exceptional paintings, notably for Claude Monet, Ernest Ludwig Kirchner and Georges Braque. As we have seen in our recent international auctions, we continued to see the enduring appeal of works that are fresh to the market and are of exceptional quality.”
Other notable prices this evening
As was announced during the auction, Gustav Klimt’s rare 1901 landscape Seeufer mit Birken – which had not been seen in public in over a century – sold post-sale for £5,641,250 $8,974,100 / €6,756,525.
Ernest Ludwig Kirchner’s monumental Das Boskett: Albertplatz in Dresden of 1911 fetched £7,321,250/$11,646,644/€8,768,677 (est. £5 – 7 million). The work is one of the artist’s last canvases to depict the topography of Dresden - a recurrent theme in his oeuvre and the city where he came of age as an artist and as a man.
Georges Braque’s L’Oliveraie of 1907 sold for £5,081,250/ $ 8,083,252 / €6,085,824 (est. £2 – 3 million). The work provides a rare glimpse into the Fauve revolution at the beginning of the 20th century and Braque’s seminal contribution to the movement.
Selling for almost three times its high estimate, Otto Dix’s Die Elektrische (The Electric Tram) sold for £2,953,250/$4,698,030/€3,537,114 (est. £700,000-1,000,000).
Fernand Léger’s La Jeune fille à l'échelle, one of the artist’s definitive compositions of the 1940s, sold for £3,961,250 / $6,301,556/ €4,744,398 against a pre-sale estimate of £3.8 – 4.5 million.
Edouard Vuillard’s 1890 masterwork, Les Couturières fetched £3,401,250/ $5,410,708/€4,073,685 (presale est. £3 - 5 million).
One of Henry Moore’s most important monumental sculptures Reclining Figure no. 2, Three-Piece Bridge-Prop sold for £3,289,250 / $5,232,539 / €3,939,542. Estimated at £1.5 - 2.5 million, the work was conceived in 1963 and cast in an edition of six. It is one of his most technically sophisticated and complex iterations on his dominant theme – the reclining figure.
The auction saw strong prices achieved for Surrealist works in the sale
A group of 14 surrealist works were offered, achieving a combined total of £16,083,000, representing an average sold lot value of £1,340,250. Highlights among this group include:
Giorgio de Chirico's monumental and boldly coloured Ettore e Andromaca of 1925-30, regarded as one of his most successful metaphysical compositions, was sold for £2,841,250/ $4,519,860 / €3,402,971, against an estimate of £2.8 – 4 million).
Yves Tanguy’s 1941 oil on canvas Deux fois du noir sold for £2,505,250/ $3,000,543/3,985,352 (est. £2 -3 million) exemplifies the refined and personal language with which Tanguy transformed the boundaries of Modernist painting.
Max Ernst’s 1941 oil on canvas La Comédie de la soif, a masterpiece of the artist’s wartime oeuvre, was sold for £1,609,250 / $2,559,995 / €1,927,402 (est. £1.2 - 1.8 million).
René Magritte’s Souvenir de Voyage of 1962-63 sold for £1,609,250 / $2,559,995 €1,927,402 against a pre-sale estimate of £1.5 - 2 million.
The sale featured a strong offering of works by German artists, including the above mentioned Ernest Ludwig Kirchner painting Das Boskett: Albertplatz in Dresden of 1911; Emil Nolde’s 1908 Blumengarten, ohne Figur, which sold for £2,057,250/$3,272,67/ €2,463,973 (est. £2 – 3 million); and Alexej von Jawlensky’s 1911 Mädchen mit Roter Schleife, which sold for £ 3,065,250/$ 4,876,200/ € 3,671,257 (est. £3-5 million).
Sale statistics:
• Sold by lot: 76.9%
• Sold by value: 76%
• Of the 53 lots offered, 41 sold
• Average lot value: £1,922,870
• 25 lots sold for over £1 million, 34 sold for over $1 million 
2.  Bonhams Finds Chinese Jade Masterpiece for May Sale
LONDON.- A stunning discovery at Bonhams turns out to be a gift passed between two of the most important statesmen of the late Qing Dynasty, who attempted to modernise China and represented the Qing Dynasty in diplomatic negotiations with Western powers.
A magnificent and important pale green jade mountain, dating from the 18th century, and dedicated by Li Hong Zhang to Prince Gong will be the highlight of Bonhams next Chinese Art Sale on May 17th in New Bond Street, London.
Estimated to sell for £400,000 to £600,000, the large jade boulder is carved as a mountain peak in high relief with four sages and an attendant on a narrow ledge above a stream, amidst a mountainous landscape with pine and wutong tress. The reverse side is carved with bare rocky cliffs and pine trees, with a nine character inscription incised on an overhanging precipice with traces of gilt, reading: Jin Feng Gong Qing Wang Chen Li Hong Zhang (‘Humbly Presented [to] Prince Gong [by] Minister Li Hong Zhang). It comes with its original 19th century carved wooden stand. The artwork stands 14 1/2in (37cm) wide and 7in (18cm) high.
The history of this rare royal gift can be first dated to ownership by: Li Hong Zhang, GCVO (1823-1901), Premier of the Viceroyalty of Zhili, a leading statesman during the late Qing Dynasty who gifted it to Prince Gong,Yixin (1833-1898), formally known as Prince of the First Rank, the sixth son of the Daoguang Emperor (reigned 1821-1850) and half brother of the Xianfeng Emperor (reigned 1850-1861), who served as Prince-Regent during the Tongzhi Emperor’s reign (1861-1875). The carving was then passed on by descent to his grandson, Prince Gong.
When next heard of it was owned by the renowned Japanese dealers Yamanka & Co., who offered it for sale through the American Art Galleries, New York, on 22 February 1913, as lot 252 in The Remarkable Collection of the Imperial Prince Kung of China. It was subsequently sold at auction in London on 27th May 1963 to an English private collection of important jade carvings, and thence by descent to the current owner.
Asaph Hyman, Director of Bonhams Chinese Art Department, says: “We are delighted to have discovered this historically important work of art, presented by the leading statesman Li Hong Zhang to Prince Gong. This exceptional jade carving not only embodies the superb craftsmanship of the jade carvers of the 18th century, but is a unique representation of the relationship between two of the most important statesmen of the late Qing Dynasty, who attempted to modernise China and represented the Qing Dynasty in diplomatic negotiations with Western powers. The jade mountain was previously treasured in the Prince Gong Palace in Beijing until it was sold by his grandson. It has been cherished by two generations since it was last acquired in 1963.”

3. Middle East Buyer Expected to be Major Player for Scream in Sothebys NY May Sale
NEW YORK The only version of Edvard Munch's iconic painting left in private hands will lead a sale at Sotheby's in New York this May as the market for big-name artists shows no sign of receding.
Philip Hook, senior specialist in impressionist and modern art at Sotheby's, said: "This is one of the most important works of modern art we have ever sold."
Sotheby's believes that The Scream may be second only to the Mona Lisa as one of the most recognisable works of art, and points out that it has influenced Andy Warhol and The Simpsons.
Munch painted this version of The Scream in 1895 as the central part of his Frieze of Life series. One expert on the artist said: "He looms large in the imagination. The Scream may not look particularly striking or shocking these days, but at the time it was radical. It was all about expressing the psychological state."
Sotheby's said that accurately valuing the painting was difficult because it was rare that "true icons" come to the market. Recent sales of masterpieces at the auction house "suggest that the price could exceed $80m". Sotheby's currently holds the record for a Munch sale when the work Vampire was bought for $38.1m in New York in 2008.
The art market has this year shrugged off the gloom enveloping the wider economy. In a series of auctions in London, works by artists including Francis Bacon, Gerhard Richter and Mark Rothko raised tens of million of pounds.
This comes soon after the emirate of Qatar paid a world-record sum of $250m to buy Cezanne's The Card Players in a private sale. One auction expert said Middle-Eastern buyers were likely to be involved in this bidding process for The Scream. "They have a lot of museums and are looking to fill them with high-quality pieces," the expert said.
Munch completed four versions of the work. Three are in Norwegian museums. The piece going up for auction is owned by Petter Olsen, whose father Thomas was a friend and patron of the artist. The 1893 version and the 1910 version have both been stolen from different Norwegian museums, but both were recovered and remain on display.
Mr Hook said: "It speaks to the anxiety and alienation of modern man. It is the image that launched a thousand therapists." This version is more vibrant than the others and has a poem painted onto the frame by the artist.
Petter Olsen said: "I have lived with this work all my life, and its power and energy have only increased with time. Now, however, I feel the moment has come to offer the rest of the world a chance to own and appreciate this remarkable work."
The Norwegian businessman said the proceeds would establish a new museum, art centre and hotel at his farm, opening next year to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Munch's birth.
A major exhibition of the artist's work is to open in the UK later this year, when Edvard Munch: The Modern Eye opens at the Tate Modern in June.
Sketchy past: Thefts and recovery
The Sotheby's sale presents the opportunity for The Scream to leave Norwegian ownership for the first time – the other three versions are all owned by domestic museums. Munch painted the prime example of the expressionist work in 1893, which hangs in Norway's National Gallery.
A pastel version painted in the same year is thought to be a preliminary sketch for the work and is owned by the Munch Museum in Oslo. That museum also owns a 1910 version. The image became more widely known after Munch created a lithograph of it in 1895.
In 1994, the year Norway hosted the Olympic Winter Games, thieves stole the 1893 version from the National Gallery. Following a sting operation it was returned the same year. A decade later, masked gunmen stole the 1910 version. It was recovered two years later.

4. Heritage Auction House Sells Comic book Collection for 3.5 million
DALLAS (AP).- "Billy Wright plunked down dime after dime for comic books while growing up in the late 1930s and early 1940s, caring for the collection he started around the age of 9 until his death more than half a century later. On Wednesday, most of that collection sold for a whopping $3.5 million.

Wright's 345 comics, nearly all of which were published from 1936 through 1941, included many of the most prized issues ever, including Detective Comics No. 27, which features the debut of Batman, and Action Comics No. 1, in which Superman's first appears.

Experts say Wright's collection, which included 44 of The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide's top 100 issues from comics' golden age, was remarkable for its number of rare issues, but also because it was compiled by a single person in childhood who kept it in good condition until his death in 1994 at age 66.

"This really has its place in the history of great comic book collections," said Lon Allen, the managing director of comics for Dallas-based Heritage Auctions, which oversaw the auction in New York City.

The copy of Detective Comics No. 27, from 1939, drew the highest bid Wednesday, selling for $523,000, including a buyer's premium, Allen said. Wright's Action Comics No. 1, from 1938, sold for about $299,000; Batman No. 1, from 1940, sold for about $275,000; and Captain America No. 2, a 1941 issue with Adolf Hitler on the cover, sold for about $114,000.

"It was amazing seeing what they went for," said Michael Rorrer, who discovered his late great uncle's neatly stacked comics in a basement closet while cleaning out his great aunt's Martinsville, Va., home after she died last year.

Most comics from the golden age — the late 1930s into the 1950s — fell victim to wartime paper drives, normal wear and tear and mothers throwing them out, said J.C. Vaughn, associate publisher of Overstreet. Of the 200,000 copies of Action Comics No. 1 produced, about 130,000 were sold and the about 70,000 that didn't sell were pulped. Today, experts believe only about 100 copies are left in the world, he said.

"The scope of this collection is, from a historian's perspective, dizzying," Vaughn said.

There were 227 of the collection's comic books sold on Wednesday for $3,466,264. The remaining comics, which are of lesser value, will be sold in online auctions Friday and Sunday and are expected to fetch about $100,000.

Rorrer, 31, said he didn't realize how valuable the comics were until months after returning home to Oxnard, Calif., when he mentioned them to a co-worker who mused that it would be quite something if he had Action Comics No. 1.

"I went home and was looking through some of them, and there it was," said Rorrer, who then began researching the collection's value in earnest.

He reached out to his mother, Lisa Hernandez, who still had half the comics at her home in League City, Texas, that she intended to give to his brother in Houston. They then went through their boxes, checking comic after comic off the list.

Hernandez said it really hit her how valuable the comics were when she saw the look on Allen's face when the auction house expert came to her house to look through the comics.

"It was kind of hard to wrap my head around it," Allen said.

The find was a complete surprise for the family, and it is unclear if Ruby Wright was aware of the collection's significance. Rorrer said he remembers her making only one fleeting reference to comics: Upon learning he and his brother liked comic books, she said she had some she would one day give them. He said his great uncle never mentioned his collection.

Allen, who called the collection "jaw-dropping," noted that Wright "seemed to have a knack" for picking up the ones that would be the most valuable.

"There were some really hard to find books that were in really, really great condition," said Paul Litch, the primary grader at Certified Guaranty Company, an independent certification service for comic books.

"You can see it was a real collection," Litch said. "Someone really cared about these and kept them in good shape."

Hernandez said it makes sense that her uncle — even as a boy — had a discerning eye. The man who went to The College of William and Mary before having a long career as a chemical engineer for DuPont was smart, she said. And, she added, Wright was an only child whose mother kept most everything he had. She said that they found games from the 1930s that were still in their original boxes. " Associated Press

5. NEW YORK Wall Street Journal March 1, 2012 Sothebys reported that profits fell on weaker revenues causing their shares to drop 7.2% to $36.49. Although the stock was off over 20% this past year, analysts did not expect the weak earnings to be this far below expectations.  "The company blamed lower net auction sales, fewer single-owner sales and a significant decrease in auction commission margin for the latest decline."  Maybe the Wall Street Journal will follow up on this story which is interesting in light if their gross sales at almost 5 billion dollars, cost cutting measures, and their reports of booming private contract sales. We will follow Christies rpeorts as well.

Three Books of Interest

1. Museums Matter,  by James Cuno

"Since the Enlightenment, the encyclopedic museum has been a repository of human achievement, a reminder, in the midst of our many differences, of the value of such cosmopolitan virtues as tolerance, understanding, and a sense of shared history. But today museums find themselves under attack from critics who argue that they are little more than relics, promoters of Western imperialism and a distorted sense of both history and culture. Could it be that the encyclopedic museum has outlived its usefulness?

With Museums Matter, James Cuno, president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust and former president and director of the Art Institute of Chicago, offers a rousing defense of encyclopedic museums and their unparalleled ability to engage, enlighten, and educate the public. Cuno begins by taking us on a brief tour of the modern museum, from the creation of the British Museum—the archetypal encyclopedic collection—to the present, when major museums host millions of visitors annually and play a major role in the cultural lives of their cities. Along the way, he acknowledges the legitimate questions about the role of museums in nation-building and imperialism, but he argues strenuously that even a truly national museum like the Louvre can’t help but open visitors’ eyes and minds to the wide diversity of world cultures and the stunning art that is our common heritage.

Engaging with thinkers such as Edward Said and Martha Nussbaum, and drawing on examples from the politics of India to the destruction of the Bramiyan Buddhas to the history of trade and travel, Cuno makes a case for the encyclopedic museum as a crucial component of contemporary public life, promoting values that are essential in our ever more globalized era.

James Cuno is the president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust. He served as president and director of the Art Institute of Chicago from 2004 until 2011, the Courtauld Institute of Art from 2002 until 2004, and the Harvard University Art Museums from 1991 to 2002.."

2. Stone of Kings, In Search of the Lost Jade of the Maya by Gerard Helferich

During the 20th century, as tomb after tomb was discovered at great Maya sites like Palenque in Mexico and Tikal in Guatemala, more such fabulous jade artifacts came to light. The burial chamber of the seventh-century ruler Jasaw Chan K'awiil I, discovered at Tikal in 1962, yielded a headband of emerald-green squares and a jade necklace with beads the size of small apples.

In "Stone of Kings," Gerard Helferich describes not just how the gem achieved such status in the great Mesoamerican civilizations but how one of the original mines was finally located in Guatemala in 1974 by amateur prospectors Jay and Mary Lou Ridinger. That the two fell in love while searching for the mine is a gift for his narrative, and their continuing and dedicated quest for other jade mines over the next 30 years provides a compelling tale.

At times Mr. Helferich becomes a little breathless at the excitement of his own story and ladles on the superlatives. The story is exciting enough in itself; like jade, it needs no embellishment. But his description of the growth of the early Olmec and later Maya civilizations draws on respected academics such as Michael D. Coe, and he rescues the green stone from much of the Indiana Jones hokum that usually surrounds "lost treasure" (one group of rival prospectors even called themselves "the Jade Raiders"). This well-focused and well-told account brings America's most mythologized gemstone into sharp relief." Hugh Thomson,  Online Wall Street Journal

Cities of Gold,  by Bill Yenne

"The Spanish may have rejected jade, but their quest for precious metals was relentless, as Bill Yenne documents in "Cities of Gold." The figures for gold alone are astonishing. A relatively scarce metal in Europe before the conquest of the New World, by 1560 the Americas had supplied Spain with more than 100 tons of gold, much of which went to fund Charles V's European wars. In the following four decades, the Spanish mined so much silver that its price fell some 85%. They might have done better to follow the example of the Vikings, who simply buried much of their loot upon their return from plundering England.
The flood of 16th-century adventurers questing for gold in sites stretching across the Americas, from the U.S. Southwest to Brazil, has been told many times, and Mr. Yenne does not add greatly to previous accounts. Tellers of popular history need an engaging and accessible style, but Mr. Yenne veers so far towards down-home folksiness as occasionally to be risible. "Columbus was following the money," he explains. Another Spanish conquistador is said to have turned to his guide and asked, "Are we there yet?"
This is history as re-imagined by Homer Simpson, and can at times be good knockabout fun: Pizarro is described as "a middle management type" of only average ability—perhaps unfairly, given that while unprincipled and illiterate, he did conquer an Inca empire of many millions with less than 200 men. Many a corporation would be happy to have him on the staff.
Perhaps the most heart-rending story is that of Sir Walter Raleigh, described by Mr. Yenne in an unhappy phrase as England's "signature soldier of fortune." Raleigh was one of the Elizabethan age's most favored sons, an accomplished officer, courtier and writer, before embarking on a quixotic search for gold in Guiana. He was lured by tales that were both economically and anthropologically enticing, telling of a tribe so rich in gold that they sprinkled themselves with its dust when they feasted. Encouraged by Elizabeth I to go in search of this treasure claimed by Spain—although, with her usual caution, she refused actually to finance the expedition—Raleigh was lucky to return alive from the Orinoco. Two decades later, he returned in search of El Dorado, this time to lose both his beloved son's life and, ultimately, his own. The sad tale has been lucidly recounted before by both V.S. Naipaul and the historian John Hemming, neither of whom Mr. Yenne lists in his bibliography.
Along the way, his account does cast interesting sidelong glances at a parallel narrative: the tales of great Amazonian civilizations recounted by the first conquistadors to travel down that river. These accounts were dismissed as fanciful by those who followed years later and found nothing, but archaeologists have recently uncovered evidence of substantial settlements built in wood, not stone, whose builders may have been vulnerable to European diseases and quickly died out after "first contact." As archaeological methods continue to improve, we are likely to learn far more about these "missing civilizations" who built in such perishable conditions—in many ways a fresher and more important history than that of the gold which so lured European adventurers." Hugh Thomson, Online Wall Street Journal

Legal Update - Fisk - Crystal Bridges - and Barnes

I have written a few pieces on the Fisk University - Georgisa Okeefe case and the Barnes Foundation move to Philadelphia. Below are come background comments on both Fisk and Barnes and the concept of "cy pres" which is the partial basis of how our legal system deals with charitable trust disputes. This provides some insights of how and why trusts are and sometimes should be broken.

The Tennesse Attorney General has gone ahead and filed for permission to appeal the most recent ruling in the Fisk case.  Here's a brief AP story.  Here's the brief.  And here is donor-intent protector Lee Rosenbaum, coming out of retirement to cheer on Super Cooper's forfeiting of his neutrality.
A few comments on the brief:
1.  It contains as clear a statement of Donor Intent Absolutism as you will ever see:  "[T]he fact that the donee may cease to exist if it is not permitted to change the conditions of a gift ... does not authorize a deviation from the conditions of the gift."   Wow, that's cold.  O'Keeffe said no sales and that means no sales.  If that results in Fisk having to shut its doors, so be it.  But wasn't it also part of her intent that Fisk own the works?  After all, she could have given them to anyone, but she chose Fisk.  Why do we assume the no sale part of her intent is more important than the Fisk part of her intent?  It's not as if she said "here is a bunch of artwork, I don't really care who owns them or what happens to them just as long as, please God, they never ever be sold!"  In other words, do we really think that, given the choice, O'Keeffe would prefer to see Fisk close down and the works sent somewhere else than the collection sharing arrangement on the table now, in which Fisk survives and retains a 50% interest in the works?
2.  Speaking of that retained 50% interest (and the related right to exhibit the works for two out of every four years):  the brief bizarrely reads as if the whole collection is being shipped off to Russia or something, never to be seen again.  It claims the deal that's been approved converts the collection "into nothing more than a source of revenue for Fisk."  It argues that, under the cy pres doctrine, any deviation "must be as close as possible to what the donor intended" and this deal "is far removed from Ms. O'Keeffe's intent and purpose."  What was that intent and purpose that we are far removed from?  According to the AG, it's that the work "be used for art education in Nashville and the South."  O'Keeffe's "primary charitable purpose was to enable the public -- in Nashville and the South -- to have the opportunity to study the Collection in order to promote the general study of art."  Seriously?  That's their argument?  That a collection-sharing arrangement that has the work in Nashville at Fisk half the time and at a brand new museum of American art in Arkansas (which may well "become a place of pilgrimage for art lovers from around the world") half the time is far removed from an intent to enable the public -- in Nashville and the South -- to have the access to the collection?  Really?
3.  Finally, a word about this silly notion that allowing this collection-sharing arrangement to go forward will "chill" future charitable donations.  Look, this case isn't inventing a new way to subvert donor intent; it's applying long-standing doctrine (one that existed at the time O'Keeffe made her gift).  As the AG's brief itself notes, the cy pres doctrine was "first codified in New York in 1893."  Every single charitable gift comes with an implicit asterisk to the effect that, when changed circumstances make compliance with the terms of the gift impracticable, a court may modify those terms.  That was true before the Fisk decision, and remains true after.  Reversing the decision in this case would not make that asterisk go away.  No donor can ever be "certain" that the conditions of her gift will be honored for all eternity.  Fisk happens.
posted by Donn Zaretsky at 11:52 AM 
The cy-près doctrine ( /ˌsiːˈpreɪ/ see-pray) is a legal doctrine that first arose in courts of equity. The term can be translated (from old Norman French to English) as "as near as possible" or "as near as may be."[1] The doctrine originated in the law of charitable trusts, but has been applied in the context of class action settlements in the United States.[2]

When the original objective of the settlor or the testator became impossible, impracticable, or illegal to perform, the cy-près doctrine allows the court to amend the terms of the charitable trust as closely as possible to the original intention of the testator or settlor, to prevent the trust from failing.

For example, in Jackson v. Phillips,[3] the testator bequeathed to trustees money to be used to "create a public sentiment that will put an end to negro slavery in this country."[4] After slavery was abolished by the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the funds were applied cy-près to the "use of necessitous persons of African descent in the city of Boston and its vicinity."

University of Pennslyvania Law Review - Excerpts -

The battle over the modification of the trust bylaws will be based on the intent of Albert C. Barnes as the court finds it. The relevant legal question is not what is best for the public, but what Dr. Barnes would have done if he were alive today. The importance of Barnes’s wishes is in no degree lessened because he has been dead for over fifty years. Charitable trusts and all of the idiosyncratic provisions of their founders run in perpetuity. Notwithstanding the potential for a meaningful public benefit, donor intent— not public interest—remains paramount in the administration and modification of charitable trusts.....

The history and current status of charitable trust law is crucial to understanding the Barnes dilemma and how the law currently protects donor intent. The codification of charitable trusts first began in 1601 with the Statute of Charitable Uses.....

To the extent that the influence of donor intent has declined in the United States, it has been at the behest of a handful of lenient judges and jurisdictions,62 by trustees in states without funding for sufficient oversight,63 or by donors themselves who intentionally design trusts with greater discretion.
64 Unless they litigate for a cy pres deviation, trustees are charged with fulfilling the purposes of the trust for the specific class of beneficiaries and in the precise manner ordered by the donor.65 Thus, general public interest can be taken into consideration only insofar as the terms of the trust allow. In a restrictively worded trust such as that governing the Barnes Foundation, the trust terms leave little room for the public interest beyond what is achieved by Barnes’s specific directives. Steadfast respect for donor intent has been justified by theories of private property, freedom of testation, and society’s moral and legal obligation to the donor’s largess.The next Part articulates why respect for donor intent should extend no further than the long-term benefits that it provides for the
This Part explores three benefits that charitable trusts receive that are critical to their growth and survival: tax exemption, an exception to the rule against perpetuities, and public enforcement of trust provisions. The public cost of providing these benefits is significant and often not offset by the increase in public welfare attributable to trusts. While charitable trusts need only meet a nominal threshold for the public good they provide, the public costs they create are highly variable. The Barnes Foundation epitomizes that problem by providing....

The Barnes Foundation’s 1992 decision not to deaccession over fifteen paintings was based partly on public outcry, serving as an example of how extralegal forces can help to maintain aspects of donor intent.168 Without a court ruling or expensive litigation, the trustees backed down from a decision that the public viewed as an inappropriate use of the Foundation’s assets.169....

The doctrine of cy pres limits the likelihood that impracticability, impossibility, or illegality of specified purposes will lead to failure of the trust because cy pres allows the trust purposes to be modified.189 Although in some cases cy pres has been used as a vehicle to undermine
donor intent,190 typically and traditionally it is used to perpetuate the original intent. Under most cy pres laws, modifications must approximate what the donor would have wanted if he had anticipated the failure of the purposes of the trust. The current Barnes Foundation litigation highlights these problems. Albert C. Barnes’s idiosyncratic beliefs and dictations live with us to this day, regardless of the resulting detriment to the public. A world-class collection remains shrouded by restrictive trust terms, with access limited to mere hundreds of people per week, when millions clamored to view the art on its one-time tour. Meanwhile, the collection has benefited from huge tax breaks, ongoing enforcement of trust terms, and use of the judicial system and the office of the Attorney
General for enforcement of each of the Barnes indenture’s provisions. Now the Foundation, the City of Philadelphia, and the public have a unique and unprecedented opportunity to open the collection and free it from unreasonable restraints. Under current law, however, it is unclear whether the court will allow such a significant departure from Barnes’s original terms. This Comment has discussed five ways that the public interest can be incorporated into the administration of charitable trusts like the Barnes Foundation. Through statutory reform and changes in the public policy regarding charitable trusts, perhaps the public will displace donors as the true beneficiary of charity in America.