Saturday, May 19, 2012

Turkey and the AAMD Find Some Accomodation

1.  www.artsjournal March 20, 2012
"......I think that making judgments about possible "loot" requires informed, careful analysis by experts and (if necessary) by law enforcement agencies. An "open source platform" is likely to attract a fair amount of intemperate discourse and unsupported allegations that could prove harmful and counterproductive. I think that deputizing the general public to ferret out "loot" at their local museums is a problematic enterprise.
Speaking of antiquities lists, one of the first things that Max Anderson did when he hit the ground in his new gig as director of the Dallas Museum was to add 17 objects to the Association of Art Museum Directors' registry of works acquired since June 4, 2008 that have uncertain post-1970 provenances. (Actually, three of the works were acquired in the 1990s.)
What's surprising is that those objects weren't posted before, since the AAMD requires such postings of their members. (See "F" under the AAMD's guidelines.) One wonders how many other museums have ignored this posting requirement.
In response to my query, Max told me this morning that a Deaccession Database (such as the one that he instituted as director of the Indianapolis Museum) is also in the works for Dallas. "

2. The Cleveland List: 21 objects Turkey wants Cleveland Museum of Art to Return
Posted on April 2, 2012 |
On Saturday, Jason revealed in the Los Angeles Times that the government of Turkey is seeking the return of dozens of allegedly looted antiquities from American museums, including 21 objects from the Cleveland Museum of Art.
We’ve posted a complete list of the Cleveland objects below. They range from 14th Century BC Hittite objects through the Greek and Roman period and up to Ottoman period tiles and ceramic work.
 The Emperor as Philosopher, probably Marcus Aurelius (reigned AD 161-180)(CMA 1986.5)

The most prominent piece is likely this bronze Roman statue believed to represent Marcus Aurelius, which Cleveland acquired in 1986. On its website, the museum describes its origin as “Turkey, Bubon(?) (in Lycia.)” It is unclear how the bronze got from Bubon to Cleveland, and whether the object was granted an export permit, as required since the passage of Turkey’s 1906 cultural patrimony law. The Cleveland Museum of Art declined to answer questions about Turkey’s claim.
As David Gill has noted, a series of monumental bronze statues were taken from the sebasteion, or imperial cult room, of Bubon. A similar bronze depicting Lucius Verus is in the collection of Shelby White.
In the coming days, we’ll be posting details on the requested objects at the Getty and Dumbarton Oaks. We already posted the list of contested objects at the Met  here. chasing

3. Scoop: Turkey asks Getty, Met, Cleveland and Dumbarton Oaks to Return Dozens of Antiquities
Posted on March 30, 2012 | 2 Comments
In Saturday’s Los Angeles Times, Jason reports on Turkey’s bid to repatriate dozens of allegedly looted antiquities in American museums. The requests include 10 objects at the J. Paul Getty Museum; 18 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; 21 objects at the Cleveland Musuem of Art; and the Sion Treasure at Harvard’s Dumbarton Oaks. Below we’ve provided the complete article. In the coming days, we’ll be providing additional details on the objects sought at each of the museums. Turkey asks U.S. museums for return of antiquities The Getty and the New York Met are among the U.S. institutions the Turkish government has contacted over artifacts it believes were smuggled out of the country. chasing

4.  LOS ANGELES 8:48 PM PDT, March 30, 2012The government of Turkey is asking American museums to return dozens of artifacts that were allegedly looted from the country’s archaeological sites, opening a new front in the search for antiquities smuggled out of their original countries through an illicit trade.
 The J. Paul Getty Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Cleveland Museum of Art and Harvard University’s Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection are among the institutions that the Turkish government has contacted, officials say.
 Turkey believes the antiquities were illegally excavated and smuggled out of the country after the passage of a 1906 law that gave the state ownership of antiquities in the ground.
 Inspired by the success of its Mediterranean neighbors Italy and Greece, Turkey is taking a more aggressive stance toward its claims, many of which were first made decades ago.
 “Turkey is not trying to start a fight,” said Murat Suslu, Turkey’s director general for cultural heritage and museums. “We are trying to develop … cooperation and we hope these museums will also understand our point of view.”
 Turkey is presenting the museums with supporting evidence and has threatened to halt all loans of art to those institutions until they respond to the claims. Loans have already been denied to the Met, a Turkish official said.
 American museums’ antiquities collections have been the subject of intense scrutiny in recent years as evidence emerged of their ties to an illicit trade in artifacts found in archaeological sites around the world.
 Confronted with that evidence, the Getty, the Met, the Cleveland, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Princeton University Art Museum returned more than 100 looted objects to Italy and Greece, changed their acquisition policies and formed collaboration agreements that allow for loans to replace acquisitions of suspect material.
 But new evidence continues to emerge, underscoring that the scope of the problem is far wider. In January, Italy announced that it had recovered an additional 200 objects and fragments from the Met and Princeton after they were tied to an ongoing criminal investigation of Italian antiquities dealer Edoardo Almagia and Princeton antiquities curator Michael Padgett.
 None of the museums facing requests from Turkey would release a list of the contested objects in their collections, but The Times obtained a partial list from Turkish officials of what the country is asking for. Judging from publicly available records, most of the objects were acquired by the museums since the 1960s and have little or no documented ownership history before that, suggesting they could have come from illicit excavations.
Statue of a Muse. From Cremna, Turkey, circa 200 AD. (JPGM 94.AA.22)
The 10 Getty objects sought by Turkey were acquired from dealers, auction houses or collectors for more than $1 million between 1968 and 1994 and include four marble muses now on display in the Getty Villa’s Basilica gallery. According to ownership histories provided by the Getty in accordance with its reformed antiquities policy, several originated with Elie Borowski or Nicolas Koutoulakis, two antiquities dealers known to have ties to the illicit trade.
 The Getty’s talks with Turkey began in the 1990s, government officials said, and gained steam under the directorship of interim museum director David Bomford, who left the Getty in February.
 “We expect those discussions to continue and while they do, we will not be getting into specifics,” said Getty spokesman Ron Hartwig.
 The 18 contested objects at the Met are all from the private collection of Norbert Schimmel, a longtime Met trustee who died in 1990. The museum acquired the Schimmel collection in 1989, and several of the contested objects are now highlights of the museum’s Ancient Near East Galleries.
 A Hittite gold pendant of a goddess with a child, circa 1400 BCE from Central Anatolia. (MMA 1989.281.12)
 Harold Holzer, a spokesman for the Met, initially denied the museum had received a request for specific objects. He later acknowledged in a statement that Turkey had requested information about the 18 objects in September, adding that the museum is “in the process of providing” that information. Turkish officials say the Met’s only response has been to write a letter to the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
 At Dumbarton Oaks inWashington, D.C., ancient silver plates and other decorative objects known as the Sion Treasure are among the items Turkey is seeking to recover. The treasure was reportedly found in the early 1960s in an ancient burial mound in Kumluca, Turkey. It was acquired by the museum in 1966 from a private collector who bought them that same year from George Zakos, an antiquities dealer with documented ties to the illicit trade.
Paten with Cross, from the Sion Treasure. (BZ.1963.36.3)
 Turkey has been asking for the return of the treasure since 1968, hoping to reunite the objects with the rest of the treasure, which is in a museum in Antalya, on Turkey’s southwest coast.
 Twenty-one objects are being sought from the Cleveland Museum, which Turkish officials say has not responded to their inquiries. A museum spokeswoman declined to comment or release a list of contested objects.
 Turkey has long sought the return of objects taken illegally from its borders, with occasional success.
 Most famously, the country’s government fought a six-year legal battle with the Met for the return of the Lydian Hoard, a collection of goods looted from a burial mound in western Turkey. (It, too, had passed through the hands of Zakos.) The Met agreed to return the objects in 1993 after evidence emerged that museum officials had been aware of the material’s illicit origins and sought to hide it. To the chagrin of Turkish authorities, soon after its return a key piece of the treasure was stolen from the local museum to which it was returned.
 CMA 1942.204
 A similar battle played out between Turkey and the Boston MFA over the Roman statue Weary Herakles. Turkey requested the statue’s return in the 1990s after finding its bottom half in an excavation in Perge. The MFA had purchased the top half in 1981 jointly with New York collectors Leon Levy and Shelby White. The MFA’s piece has been known to fit the bottom half in Turkey since 1992, but the museum only returned it last September as part of a broader cultural cooperation agreement.
 In hopes of avoiding such protracted disputes, Turkey adopted a more aggressive stance in 2010, barring loans to institutions harboring contested objects. The Art Newspaper reported earlier this month that two British museums have recently been denied loans.
 “It’s part of a broader shift in the government saying, ‘culture matters to us,’” said Christina Luke, a lecturer in archaeology at Boston University. While working in Turkey over the last decade, Luke has seen Turkey make major investments in regional cultural sites, efforts to educate children about the value of their heritage and attempts to clarify and strengthen the country’s cultural policies.
 “Turkey is offended because of having insincere responses to her claims,” said Turkish official Suslu. “Turkey has been fighting against illicit trafficking of cultural objects since the Late Ottoman Period. Many ways were tried during the past years but they were not sufficient.”

Madison Ancient and Tribal Show - May 2012 Big Success

In the three years since the Caskey Lees cancelled its annual International Tribal Show in New York City former exhibitors and local and foreign dealers have had to make do with ad hoc shows of their own. Coalitions have formed and reformed to try to capitalize on the dealers and collectors who arrive in the metropolitan area each spring to attend the tribal auctions.  The evolution of this week of tribal art events has been fascinating. Each year has witnessed better organized events showcasing bigger names, offering more important works of art and attracting bigger crowds.  Last year's inaugural AOA show at the elegant Sinclair Mansion on 5th Avenue, led by Maureen Zarember of Tambaran Gallery, received some 500 guests on opening night.  New exhibitors included Galeria Guilhelm Montagut from Spain and Californian Andrew Berz.  Around the corner the literal new kids on the block was the Madison Ancient and Tribal Show at the exquisitely appointed Arader Gallery.  This group evolved out of a small hotel showcase three years ago to go toe to toe with AOA on every level. Organized by New York dealers Amyas Naegele and James Stephenson MATA brought in renowned veteran dealers Kevin Conru, Adrian Schlag and Bruce Frank and spiced things up with up-and-comers Joe Loux (California) and Kellim Brown (Brussels). 
  Among the impressive works on display were an ancient Karawari totem with a cave patina from New Guinea (Bruce Frank), a 19th c Mende statue (Stephenson), a Fang Byeri (Adrian Schlag) and a compact, intensely expressive Mambila figure (Amyas Naegele).  "We needed to find a deluxe venue to show off the art to its best advantage, " explained James Stephenson.  "When we became aware that the Arader gallery was available we jumped.  The owner was enthusiastic. The rooms and lighting were stellar and the staff could not have been more helpful." 
  MATA's opening was brimming with art buyers from around the world. A steady stream of guest strolled the rooms and corridors throughout the week.  Among the notable visitors were singer songwriter Suzanne Vega, fashion designer Bliss Lau, playwright Edward Albee, curator Alisa Lagamma, dealers Alain Monbrison and Entwistle,  and the Antique Roadshow's own Leslie Kino.  "It was a great experience for all of us,"  said Amyas Naegele.  "Everyone had great material, sold well and are enthusiastic about coming back next year and making this an even bigger and better event.  Moving forward it's vital that we have ever greater cooperation between ourselves, the auction houses, AOA, the museums and independent dealers in promoting not only this event but tribal art in general.  If we don't shepherd our own future we leave it to the wolves."  Amyas Naegele May 2012

Friday, May 18, 2012

Working with an Appraiser - Tips from Kim

 In working with an appraiser, many questions might come to mind as to how they work with clients— from photography and inspection, appraisal methodology and  format, to billing, and timelines for completion.
For this article, let’s stick to the first question. You’ve made the call to an appraiser and made an appointment for her to come to your home and inspect your objects. To prepare for this visit, knowing what allows her to do her best work will benefit you both in terms of time and money.
Here’s a to-do list before an appraiser visits you:

             1.  Locate prior appraisals and authentications, original purchase documents, insurance policies if art is listed, and exhibition and publication history of art, as appropriate. If updating an insurance policy, confirm monetary levels at which an object needs to be scheduled. These levels vary from policy to policy.  Having these documents copied for an appraiser helps them by not having them research information that was already collected, e.g. the original purchase price and seller of a glass vase, the height of a tall armoire or deciphering an illegible signature. Having these documents ready allows  the appraiser to be efficient onsite. Also, the information in the furnished documents can be included in the current appraisal, eliminating the need to refer to multiple documents in the future.

2.       Confirm that large pieces can be accessed and photographed. If a large painting is in a cramped dark hallway, if at all possible, move it to an area where it will be easier to navigate with a camera. Move heavy furniture that blocks access to arworks. Unwrap items tucked away in closets and boxes.

3.       Lay out the smaller pieces to be appraised in a well lit area, on a shelf or table. Leave room on the table for the appraiser’s tools and documents.

4.       Open curtains to let natural light in. If your house is dark, provide extra lamps or lighting where the appraiser will be working.

5.       If the appraiser is going to walk through your collection and talk to you about each piece informally, you might consider some type of numbering system for each piece, so you can refer back to the pieces quickly and easily after the appraiser is gone.

If you have any questions or you want to discuss an appraisal, call me at 972-239-4620 or email me at

Bill Mercer - Tribal art appraiser

After more than 25 years in the museum profession, Bill Mercer has completed his accreditation as an appraiser with the International Society of Appraisers and opened his own business specializing in the appraisal of Native American, Pre-Columbian, African, Oceanic and other tribal arts.  Mercer’s professional background includes stints at the Curator for the Art of Africa and the Americas at the Cincinnati Art Museum, Curator of Native American Art at the Portland Art Museum, and he was the Director of the Montana Historical Society Museum.  He has been the curator of numerous exhibitions and has published extensively.  Mercer continues to lecture and work with museums and collectors.  He was the curator for “Pueblo to Pueblo: The Legacy of Southwest Indian Pottery” that is currently traveling to various venues around the country and is currently working on an exhibition for the Bowers Museum that will open in Bogota, Colombia later this year.
His unique blend of education, which includes working on a PhD in Native American art history, and experiences provide him with a unique ability to work internationally with museums, to advise collectors and to perform appraisals.  Located in Southern California Bill can be contacted at or 818-624-0310.

My Credit Card Number is....

The ability to transfer money has changed significantly in the past ten years with services like Paypal and others that permit the transfer of money over the Internet. We have used Paypal for years for all our credit card processing and are very pleased with their service. With convenience, however, comes opportunity for the bad guys. It is surprising that the auction houses were not more sophisticated in their awareness to these potential problems.

"The Art Newspaper reports on an interesting and widespread problem with the art market in the United Kingdom. It seems fake credit cards have been used to steal art up for auction. And as the report notes, the problem flows all the way to Bonhams and Christie's, with as many as 30 auction houses reportedly affected.
Says one anonymous auction house director:
"[The problem is that people] were buying goods over the phone and picking them up before the transaction had cleared,” says the director of one of the defrauded auction houses, who wishes to remain anonymous. “We trusted that banks would be doing checks at their end. Aside from the usual identity checks we can’t tell whether the card that people use over the phone is theirs."
It is an obvious problem, but one that has not really been discussed. If buyers are allowed to remain anonymous, it is a perfect environment for criminal intervention. Auction houses play such a crucial role in the art market, and as a consequence play an important role in the way we transfer these important parts of our collective cultural heritage. But these institutions are poorly designed to safeguard against theft, looting, forgery, and fraud.
The way in which auction houses conduct business today has been revolutionised; online, anonymous and increasingly international bidding is now commonplace. This spate of frauds, however, suggests that the art market’s financial procedures have yet to catch up. " The Art Newspaper

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Pre-Columbian art May 2012

1. Four long numbers on the north wall of a ruined house related to the Maya calendar and computations about the moon, sun and possibly Venus and Mars; the dates stretch some 7,000 years into the future. Archaeologists have found the small room where royal scribes apparently used walls like a blackboard to keep track of astronomical records and the society's intricate calendar some 1,200 years ago. Anthony Aveni of Colgate University, along with William Saturno of Boston University and others, are reporting the discovery in the Friday, May 11, 2012 issue of the journal Science. AP Photo/National Geographic, Tyrone Turner.
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2. PHILADELPHIA (AP).- If the world ends on Dec. 21, 2012 — as some believe the Maya predicted — that leaves plenty of opportunity to see a new exhibit that examines the civilization's ancient kingdoms, intricate calendar systems and current culture. Experts at the Penn Museum in Philadelphia apparently give little credence to the apocalypse myth, considering the show runs through early 2013. But they say the legend, which has been perpetuated in pop culture through disaster movies and sensational tabloid headlines, offers a chance to engage people about ancient and modern Maya society. "Maya 2012: Lords of Time" features artifacts excavated from the historic Maya ruins of Copan in Honduras, including burial jewelry, food vessels and ceramic figures. Honduras President Porfirio Lobo Sosa is scheduled to cut the ribbon when the exhibit opens on Saturday. The show also uses interactive displays to explain the culture's glyph writing and sophisticated timetables. The upshot is that while it's human nature to seek ancient insight into the current world, people should not interpret the Maya calendar as predicting a cataclysmic event. "It's just a turn of a cycle," said curator Loa Traxler. Regarded as one of the world's greatest early societies, the Maya lived for centuries in parts of Mexico and Central America. Many of their iconic pyramids and other city remnants still stand in places like Copan, where 16 Maya kings ruled for about 400 years. As early astronomers, the Maya devised various types of calendars by observing celestial movements. Their "Long Count" calendar begins in 3114 B.C. and marks time in roughly 394-year periods known as baktuns. Thirteen was a sacred number for the Maya, and some scholars believe the 13th baktun ends on Dec. 21, 2012. Penn Museum experts say it ends Dec. 23, but that then another calendar cycle will begin — not Armageddon.  A jade figurine of Maize God is shown at the Maya 2012: Lords of Time exhibit at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Philadelphia. The exhibit opened May 5. AP Photo/Matt Rourke.
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3. MEXICO CITY.- Youths look at a replica of the headdress that was reputedly once owned by the last Aztec emperor on exhibit behind glass at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, Friday, April 27, 2012. Mexicos Senate approved changes to a cultural exchange agreement with Austria meant to help win the temporary return of the original headdress. The emperor Montezuma supposedly gave the headdress to Spanish conquerors but did not wear it himself. AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini.
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Stolen Art Updates From Around the World

1. CAIRO (AP).- Taking advantage of Egypt's political upheaval, thieves have gone on a treasure hunt with a spree of illegal digging, preying on the country's ancient pharaonic heritage. Illegal digs near ancient temples and in isolated desert sites have swelled a staggering 100-fold over the past 16 months since a popular uprising toppled Hosni Mubarak's 29-year regime and security fell apart in many areas as police simply stopped doing their jobs. The pillaging comes on top of a wave of break-ins last year at archaeological storehouses — and even at Cairo's famed Egyptian Museum, the country's biggest repository of pharaonic artifacts. Horrified archaeologists and antiquities authorities are scrambling to prevent smuggling, keeping a watch on European and American auction houses in case stolen artifacts show up there. "Criminals became so bold they are digging in landmark areas." including near the Great Pyramids in Giza, other nearby pyramids and the grand temples of the southern city of Luxor, said Maj.-Gen. Abdel-Rahim Hassan, commander of the Tourism and Antiquities Police Department. "It is no longer a crime motivated by poverty, it's naked greed and it involves educated people," he said.
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2. BOSTON (Reuters) - Authorities spent Thursday searching the home, and digging up the Connecticut yard, of an alleged mobster suspected of having information about a notorious Boston art theft that happened more than twenty years ago.
The search did not unearth the renowned paintings and other artwork nabbed from Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum on March 18, 1990, a source familiar with the activities said. But FBI agents carried away boxes, apparently of possible evidence, from the house.
Thieves disguised as Boston police officers entered the museum, located in a mansion modeled on a 15th century Venetian palazzo, at night, handcuffed guards and made off with 13 art works.,0,3883852.story
3. JERUSALEM.- Inspectors of the Israel Antiquities Authority recently seized two covers of Egyptian sarcophagi that contained ancient mummies in the past. The covers were confiscated by inspectors of the Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery while checking shops in the market place of the Old City in Jerusalem. The ancient covers, which are made of wood and coated with a layer of plaster, are adorned with breathtaking decorations and paintings of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. The coffins were taken for examination on the suspicion they might be stolen property. After undergoing examination by experts, which included among other things a Carbon 14 analysis for the purpose of dating the wood, it was unequivocally determined that these items are authentic and thousands of years old: one of the covers is dated to the period between the 10th and 8th centuries BCE (Iron Age) and the other to between the 16th and 14th centuries BCE (Late Bronze Age). Because these are rare artifacts made of organic material, they are being held for the time being in custody, under climate-control conditions, in the laboratories of the Israel Antiquities Authority in Jerusalem. Wooden sarcophagi of this kind have only been found in Egypt so far, and were preserved thanks to the dry desert climate that prevails there. It is suspected that Egyptian antiquities robbers plundered ancient tombs in the region of the Western Desert in Egypt, and afterwards unknown persons smuggled the wooden covers from Egypt to Dubai, and from there they found their way to Israel by way of a third country in Europe. Evidence of their having been smuggled is indicated by the sawing of the covers into two parts, which caused irreparable damage to the ancient items. This was presumably done to reduce their dimensions and facilitate concealing and transporting them in a standard size suitcase. Covers of this kind usually enclosed a sarcophagus made of palm wood c. 2 meters long, which contained the embalmed remains of a person. It is unclear what happened to the mummy and the sarcophagus.
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4. LONDON (AP).- British police say they have recovered two Chinese artifacts valued together at more than 2 million pounds ($3.2 million) that were stolen from a university museum earlier this month. Raiders chiseled through a wall to snatch the Qing Dynasty items from the Oriental Museum at Durham University in northern England on April 5. Police soon arrested several suspects, but the items — a large jade bowl with a Chinese poem written inside that dates back to 1769, and a Dehua porcelain sculpture — were not immediately recovered. Durham Police said Saturday that both artifacts had been retrieved, though it did not say how. Police have named two men they are searching for over the raid — Lee Wildman and Adrian Stanton, both from the West Midlands area of central England. The Oriental Museum is currently undergoing a major redevelopment project. This will involve the closure and complete redisplay of many of the galleries over the next 4-5 years. Work on the Egypt and China galleries has now been completed. During 2012/13 work will be getting underway on the Japan, South and South East Asia and Islamic World gallleries. We are trying to keep as much of the museum open and accessible to visitors during this work but it will involve some closures and disruption.
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5. ST. LOUIS (AP).- A St. Louis museum can keep hold of a 3,200-year-old mummy's mask, a federal judge has ruled, saying the U.S. government failed to prove that the Egyptian relic was ever stolen. Prosecutors said the funeral mask of Lady Ka-Nefer-Nefer went missing from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo about 40 years ago and that it should be returned to its country of origin. The St. Louis Art Museum said it researched the provenance of the mask and legitimately purchased it in 1998 from a New York art dealer. U.S. District Judge Henry Autry in St. Louis sided with the museum. The U.S. government "does not provide a factual statement of theft, smuggling or clandestine importation," Autry wrote in the March 31 ruling. "The Government cannot simply rest on its laurels and believe that it can initiate a civil forfeiture proceeding on the basis of one bold assertion that because something went missing from one party in 1973 and turned up with another party in 1998, it was therefore stolen and/or imported or exported illegally," the judge wrote. A message left with Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities was not returned. The 20-inch-long funeral mask of painted and gilded plaster-coated linen over wood with inlaid glass eyes was excavated from one of the Saqqara pyramids, about 16 miles south of Cairo, in 1952. Ka-Nefer-Nefer was a noblewoman who lived from 1295 BC to 1186 BC. U.S. government investigators suspect the mask was stolen sometime between 1966, when it was shipped to Cairo for an exhibit, and 1973, when the Egyptian Museum discovered it was missing. The art museum bought the mask in 1998 for $499,000 from a New York art dealer, and it has been on display at the museum in Forest Park ever since. U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan said a decision on whether to appeal has not been made. "We're just looking to make sure we haven't missed the tiniest bit of circumstantial evidence," Callahan said. "We're back to the drawing board and studying it." Museum officials have said they researched the mask's ownership history before buying it and had no indication there were questions about how it arrived in the U.S. The museum's research showed the mask was part of the Kaloterna private collection during the 1960s, before a Croatian collector, Zuzi Jelinek, bought it in Switzerland and later sold it to Phoenix Ancient Art of New York in 1995. The art museum purchased the mask from Phoenix Ancient Art. St. Louis Art Museum attorney David Linenbroker said the museum is confident the ruling will mean that the mask can remain permanently in St. Louis. "We don't have any interest in possessing a stolen object," Linenbroker said. "We've been facing all this innuendo for years." He said the legal process provided an opportunity for someone to prove the mask had been stolen, but no one did. "We're confident we're the rightful owner," Linenbroker said. Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.
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Auctions 2012

1. NEW YORK  Munch’s The Scream, 1895 (right), which sold for $119.9m at Sotheby’s New York on Wednesday, has a surprising and hitherto undisclosed provenance. The masterpiece had been resting in the vaults of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, for 17 years, with few people even knowing that it was there.
The Sotheby’s catalogue states that The Scream was “on temporary loan 1990-91” to the museum. It was on display from May 1990 to July 1991. What went unrecorded by the auctioneers was that it was also “on deposit” from 1989 to 2006. A spokeswoman told us that the work was “very frequently” shown to university classes and scholars in the museum’s print room. However, its lengthy stay was not recorded in the 2007 Munch catalogue raisonné.
The museum must have hoped that at some point it might be able to acquire the pastel (one of four versions of The Scream), through either donation or purchase.
The Oslo businessman Petter Olsen, who owned the work, has said he will spend the money made by its sale to establish a new museum, art centre and hotel. The museum in Hvitsten, 40km south of Oslo, is due to open in May next year. Olsen still owns some Munchs, which he inherited from his father, Thomas, a ship owner who bought The Scream in 1937.
Olsen is planning an exhibition on the paintings created by Munch between 1906 and 1916 for the auditorium at Oslo University. The show will take place next year, when Norway celebrates the 150th anniversary of the artist’s birth.

2. NEW YORK This photo from Heritage Auctions shows the recently discovered 1823 William Stone copperplate printing of the Declaration of Independence that sold at auction in New York for $597,500, against an estimate of $250,000, on April 11, 2012. Only 31 copies of this historic re-printing were known as of a 1991. Heritage Auctions stated that the document sold to an anonymous East Coast collector. NEW YORK, NY.- With a price worthy of its historic stature, a recently discovered 1823 printing of the Declaration of Independence, painstakingly engraved and printed by William Stone to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the founding of The United States, sold for $597,500, more than doubling its' pre-auction estimate, at auction in New York on April 11, 2012. It was purchased by an anonymous East Coast buyer and was considered the centerpiece of the Heritage Auctions Historical Manuscripts Signature(r) Auction. "In 1820, English-born engraver William J. Stone of Washington, D.C. was commissioned to produce an exact copy of the original Declaration of Independence onto a copperplate, a process which took him three years to complete," said Sandra Palomino, Director of Historic Manuscripts at Heritage. "It was almost 45 years after the Revolution, only six years after the War of 1812 and smack dab in the middle of President James Monroe's 'Era of Good Feelings,' the most significant period of growth in the young nation's history up to that point. Interest in the Declaration surged." In all, 200 official parchment copies were struck from the Stone plate in 1823, with one extra struck for Stone himself. Each copy is identified as "ENGRAVED by W. I. STONE for the Dept of State, by order" in the upper left corner, followed by "of J. Q. ADAMS, Sect. of State July 4th 1824" in the upper right. "We know from a 1991 census of the manuscripts that there 31 total known to survive, with only 12 copies in private hands," said Palomino. "This auction represented a singular chance for someone to acquire a prime piece of American history and collectors jumped at the chance."" Choice pieces of Early American history were greatly in demand at the auction, as a Thomas Jefferson presentation copy of A Manual of Parliamentary Practice, with a Jefferson autographed letter transmitting the book to Virginia Revolutionary War soldier, politician and judge Francis T. Brooke realized $113,525 - against an estimate of $30,000+ - and George Washington's signed copy from his own library of A View of the History of Great-Britain during the Administration of Lord North, to the Second Session of the Fifteenth Parliament, bearing the first president's bookplate, brought $101,575, also against an estimate of $30,000+.
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3. NEW YORK  In a 30-minute conference held on the 21st floor of the Daniel Patrick Moynihan U.S. Courthouse in lower Manhattan today, Judge George B. Daniels ruled against the government’s request for “a warrant to arrest” the 10th century Khmer sandstone sculpture, known as a Dvarapala, which is the subject of the in rem civil forfeiture action known as United States of America v. A 10th Century Cambodian Sandstone Sculpture [case number: 12 Civ. 2600 (GBD)]. If granted the warrant, the Government would transfer the sculpture from Sotheby’s warehouse to federal custody at another New York City warehouse. (Read about the case in the earlier post by Damien Huffer’s “Sotheby’s “Off-Base” on Cambodian Antiquities Again”.)
 [The statue remains at Sotheby's subject to a restraining order that requires Sotheby's not to move the Dvarapala from its warehouse and to make it available for viewing by the government.]
 The outcome of the conference was clear at the outset, when Judge Daniels told Assistant U.S. Attorney Sharon Cohen Levin that he “hesitates” to grant the government’s request to remove the statue from Sotheby’s warehouse at this time, because after he received the Government’s verified complaint, the Judge received an April 4 fax from Sotheby’s legal counsel Peter G. Nieman that challenges some of the government’s allegations. The existence of Sotheby’s April 4 fax, Judge Daniels said, required him to determine whether sufficient probable cause exists to grant the government’s request to remove the Dvarapala from Sotheby’s warehouse at this time.
 In response, Ms. Levin said that no rule exists allowing Sotheby’s to send the Judge its April 4 fax, because Sotheby’s is not a party to the case, merely a temporary custodian of the property. Therefore the fax should not be considered in the Judge’s decision.
 Ms. Levin then repeated the contents of her own April 4 fax to the Judge, citing Rule G of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which states that in order to establish probable cause, the Government’s must: (a) file a verified complaint; and the verified complaint (b) must state the grounds for subject-matter jurisdiction, in rem jurisdiction over the defendant property, and venue; (c) must describe the property with reasonable particularity; (d) if the property is tangible, must state the location of the property when the action is filed; (e) must identify the statute under which the forfeiture action is brought; and (f) must state sufficiently detailed facts to support a reasonable belief that the government will be able to meet its burden of proof at trial — all of which the Government had done.
 The Judge’s response: the Government’s verified complaint and two-page application for a warrant are “appropriate” but do not constitute probable cause for granting the Government’s request to remove Dvarapala from Sotheby’s warehouse.
 Judge Daniels asked Ms. Levin whether there was any “urgency” in the Government’s request to remove the Dvarapala from Sotheby’s warehouse. Ms. Levin responded no. The Government does not expect Sotheby’s to violate the Judge’s restraining order (which requires the Cambodian statue be kept safe and secure in Sotheby’s warehouse and available for viewing by the Government).
 Judge Daniels then questioned whether the Government of Cambodia had requested the US Attorney to request the warrant that would remove the Dvarapala from Sotheby’s warehouse. Ms. Levin said yes and agreed to send a copy of Cambodia’s request to Judge Daniels.
 In a bid to establish probable cause, Ms. Levin repeated the basic elements of the Government’s verified complaint. She asserted that the type of warrant requested by the Government is necessary, and should not have been considered unusual or unexpected by Sotheby’s, as Sotheby’s has argued. Ms. Levin added that, in the past, the Government has seized such items under similar circumstances from Sotheby’s, therefore Sotheby’s was familiar with the process and should have known what to expect. In certain of those cases, Ms. Levin said, the Govemment has determined that Sotheby’s indeed acted as an honest broker and should retain physical custody of the disputed item until the matter is resolved. But this is not one of those cases, Ms. Levin continued, since the Govemment alleges here that Sotheby’s continued to market and attempted to sell the Dvarapala after Sotheby’s own paid expert told the auction firm that the statue was “definitely stolen.” The expert has been identified by the New York Times as Emma Cadwalader Bunker, who is a grand-daughter of former U.S. Ambassador to South Vietnam Ellsworth Bunker.
[The Government's complaint references the Khmer scholar Eric Bourdonneau, who located a temple known as Prasat Chen, located at a site known as Koh Ker, deep in the Cambodian jungle, and found the base (known as a Bima pedestal) on which the Sotheby's statue and its mate, a similar statue now at the Norton Simon Museum, once stood. The measurements that Bourdonneau made of the feet, which are still attached to the Bima pedestals at Prasat Chen, match the Sotheby's and Norton Simon statues, which are both footless.]
[The Government's complaint also quotes the Sotheby's expert as saying in an email to Sotheby's: "I have been doing a little catchup research on Koh Ker (the site from this the statue was reputedly stolen), and do not think you should sell the Dvarapala at public auction. The Cambodians in Pnom Penh now have clear evidence that it was definitely stolen from Prasat Chen at Koh Ker, as the feet are still in situ…Please do not give this report to anyone outside of Sotheby, as I often have access to such material, and don’t want to anger my sources. The two Dvarapalas must have stood close together and their feet remain, so it’s pretty clear where they came from. I think it would be hugely unwise to offer the Dvarapala publicly, and I would not really feel comfortable writing it up under the circumstances. It is also possible that the Cambodians might block the sale and ask for the piece back….I’m sorry as I had some exciting things to say about it, but I don’t think Sotheby wants this kind of potential problem.” Later, the same expert emailed Sotheby's again, telling them the opposite: that the Cambodians may not complain complain after all: "I think it best that you know all this," the expert writes, "but think that legally and ethically you can happily sell the piece." In a third email quoted in the Government's complaint, responding to Sotheby's request to show the sales description that the expert had written to Cambodian authorities, the expert refused, saying "There is NO WAY that I can send what I write to [the Minister of Culture]…. Sending the writeup specifically would be like waving a red flag in front of a bull.” Sotheby’s then notified the Cambodian Culture Minister of its intention to sell the Dvarapala in November 2010 but did not receive an immediate response.]
 [The Goverment's complaint also references a January 20, 2011 Sotheby's internal email, which says in part: "You no doubt know that we will be selling a sculpture in our New York Asian sales that is known to have come from a specific site in Cambodia and or which we only have provenance from 1975... While questions may be raised about this, we feel we can defend our decision to sell it..." Finally, in a letter dated March 24, 2011, the day of the auction, Cambodian authorities demanded that the Dvarapala be removed from the sale, and that Sotheby's facilitate its return to Cambodia.]
 Ms. Levin concluded her argument by asserting that Sotheby’s is neither an appropriate nor neutral third party in this case and should not be permitted to hold the Dvarapala, which it should have known was considered stolen under Cambodian law. She added that the Judge should reject Sotheby’s argument, that it had consulted the UNESCO art law database and found no cultural property laws for Cambodia dating back to 1900, as the Government complaint alleges, because the UNESCO database contains a disclaimer stating that users must perform their own due diligence.
 [A simple Google search would have pointed Sotheby's to an article about Cambodia in Volume 17 of Cultural without Context, published by the MacDonald Institute at Cambridge University, references a 1925 Cambodian cultural property law that applies in this case, but does not appear in the UNESCO database].
 Ms. Levin also noted the U.S. customs routinely cares for precious artifacts. [Seized million-dollar artworks and antiquities are stored at the heavily guarded ICE facility at The Fortress in Long Island City.]
 While Ms. Levin was speaking, Judge Daniels thumbed through some papers and noted that Rule G(3)(b)(iii) states a warrant to remove the Dvarapala from Sotheby’s warehouse did not seem necessary, and is not required so long as a restraining order remains in place. So the Goverment’s request was denied. The next step, Judge Daniels said, is to proceed to a forfeiture hearing, which requires interested parties to file a claim no more than 30 days after the Government posts its final public notice. Therefore, the Court must wait until June 5 to determine whether there are any parties to the case other than Cambodia and Sotheby’s consignor.
 “It makes sense for the parties to exchange discovery information in the meantime,” said Judge Daniels, and if more information and witnesses are needed, the parties should provide that no later than July 7.
 The next conference in United States of America v. A 10th Century Cambodian Sandstone Sculpture is scheduled for Wednesday, June 20 at 10:30 AM.

Museums May 2012

Below are two important stories about U.S. museums in general and the Getty in particular.

1. LOS ANGELES, CA.- On Thursday, May 31, 2012 the Getty Research Institute will launch the Getty Research Portal, an unprecedented resource that will provide universal access to digitized texts in the field of art and architectural history. The Getty Research Portal is a free online search gateway that aggregates descriptive metadata of digitized art history texts, with links to fully digitized copies that are free to download. Art historians, curators, students, or anyone who is culturally curious can unearth these valuable sources of research without traveling from place to place to browse the stacks of the world’s art libraries. There will be no restrictions to use the Getty Research Portal; all anyone needs is access to the internet. “It is fitting that the Getty Research Institute, an international leader in the study of art as well as new research technologies, would spearhead a revolutionary resource such as the Getty Research Portal,” said James Cuno, President and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust. “By removing impediments to study, such as costly travel, and providing an authoritative convenient research tool, the Getty Research Portal underscores the Getty’s commitment to preserving and sharing the world’s artistic heritage.” The GRI worked with a number of institutions to create the Getty Research Portal—the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library at Columbia University, the Frick Art Reference Library, and the Thomas J. Watson Library of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, as well as members of the New York Art Resources Consortium; the Biblioteca de la Universidad de Málaga in Málaga, Spain; the Institut national d’histoire de l’art in Paris; and the Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg in Heidelberg. Together with the Getty Research Institute’s Library, these art libraries have already contributed nearly 20,000 digitized art history texts, which are immediately searchable via the Portal. Unlike other methods of searching for books online, every link in the Getty Research Portal leads directly to a complete digital surrogate that is free to download. “The mission of the Getty Research Institute is to further the understanding and appreciation of art. Supporting research and access to scholarly resources is the most important part of this endeavor,” said Thomas W. Gaehtgens, Director of the Getty Research Institute. “The six founding art institutions have come together to share their unique collections of rare books and primary art historical sources and scholars will be able to enter this virtual library wherever they are without cost. The Getty Research Portal is likely to be the most used tool in art historical research at universities and museums alike.” Because the Getty Research Portal only aggregates the metadata of the digitized texts and links to them, instead of keeping the texts on a server, there are no technical limitations to how much material can be collected. However, given current restrictions on the digital dissemination of copyright materials, all of the content on the Portal will be limited to works published before 1923.... for the complete article

2.  Leading US museums are finally in recovery mode and their directors are much more optimistic about the financial outlook than a year ago, but few are feeling bullish. Endowments may have increased but they have not regained their peak of 2007. Of the ten richest museums we surveyed, seven were within sight of their previous levels, but the wealthiest, the Getty Trust, is only a third of the way to the $1.8bn it lost during the downturn (see table, p10). The road to financial health will be long for all but a fortunate few, and many fear that the economic recovery may prove short-lived. Nevertheless, many directors describe themselves as “cautiously optimistic”.
Thomas Campbell, the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, remembers spending his first six months making 10% cuts in 2009. “It was all quite tough. We did what we needed to do,” he says. Seventy-four members of the professional staff were made redundant, and 95 took early retirement. His outlook is much more positive, buoyed by a return in the value of the endowment, booming attendance figures (see p35) and major donations, including $60m from a trustee, David Koch, announced in February. “I don’t want to tempt fate but the situation seems better,” says Campbell, who revealed that the museum raised more than the $100m it needed to renovate its wing of American art, which reopened in January.
The Met is among the museums in the best shape, almost back to its 2007 endowment high of $2.9bn. Others close to their pre-recession levels are the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the Art Institute of Chicago. Some institutions with smaller endowments have recently started to focus on rebuilding them. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA) has raised $437m of a $555m capital campaign that will also double its $153m endowment, for example. Others were insulated from the financial crisis: last year, the Walton Family Foundation donated $800m to the new Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Arkansas, for its endowments—$350m for operations, $325m for acquisitions and $125m for capital improvements. In its darkest hours, the Seattle Art Museum had to close for a fortnight and its staff took unpaid leave (the equivalent of a 4% pay cut), while senior staff also took a 10% hit. Charlie Wright, the chairman of the trustees, says that while some senior staff are still on reduced pay, “by the end of this financial year [June 2012], we should be clear of those issues”.
The museum was directly ­affected by the banking crisis: it lost $5.8m in annual rent, which it was expecting from its tenant, the failed Washington Mutual bank. Help came in the form of grants from the Chase bank and the Gates Foundation. Now the museum has a stable tenant: the retailer Nordstrom. But the time is still not right to launch a campaign to increase the endowment. “Things have improved, but they just haven’t improved enough,” Wright says.
“Are things better? Yes. Are things good? No,” says Arnold Lehman, the director of the Brooklyn Museum. Post-­recession, fundraising staff have to work harder. “Instead of sending out 50 requests for support for a project, we must send out 100.” He says that corporate sponsorship is much more difficult to ­attract, and praises the individual donors who came forward when things looked their bleakest.
At the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Timothy Rub, the museum’s director, says: “I hope it’s the beginning of a recovery, but I think it’s going to be a long road.” As a result, the museum’s priority is “stabilising support for ­exhibitions and the presentation of the collection. We want to make sure these are well funded and sustained, rather than growing [the museum] at the margins with buildings or ­programmes.”
He also says support from individuals has recovered strongly, singling out a “remarkable” $28m given by Gerry Lenfest, a former chairman of the museum, made in 2008. His gift is a challenge grant, which has encouraged other donors to give a further $15m so far. “It will end up netting $55m to $56m to endow curatorial positions.”
Economists predicted that the Midwest would be hit hardest by the recession, due to a “triple whammy” of the slumps in car manufacturing, banking and housing. But the director of the Cleveland Museum of Art, David Franklin, is in “growth mode—and feeling pretty confident”. In 2011, the museum raised about $20m, and “in the eight months up to March we have raised $18.5m”, he says.
Cleveland’s museum is due to complete a $350m expansion in two years. “That’s encouraging people to be generous,” he says. He also says that corporate support has returned “even though the economy is tense”, and that companies want to show they are being active in the community.
Douglas Druick, the director of the Art Institute of Chicago, says cost-cutting measures have ended, while support from companies, foundations and individuals has remained “steady”. “But it will take a little more time to see any major shifts coming out of an economic recovery,” he says.
San Francisco and the Dallas-Fort Worth areas escaped the worst of the recession and museums in both are expanding. “We’re very optimistic,” says Neal Benezra, the director of SFMoMA. “We certainly tightened our belts, but we didn’t have to cancel any exhibitions or lay off staff.”
The museum has raised “about 79%” of its $555m goal, says Benezra, “but when you’re on a capital campaign, the danger is that you neglect annual giving. We’re really asking our friends to give twice, but the response has been positive.”
Maxwell Anderson, who moved from Indianapolis to lead the Dallas Museum of Art in January, is about to announce a capital project. “[They] are typically harbingers of returning confidence,” he says. “Patrons have not been that hard hit or felt the pinch in their inheritances [here].”
Other parts of the US and smaller institutions may not be as fortunate. “My sense is that museums are coasting—to see how things go,” says Ford Bell, the president of the American Association of Museums. “The economy seems to be improving but a lot of people are waiting to see if ‘the other shoe drops’—it might suddenly get bad again.” A sharp rise in oil prices “or a big tangle in Congress about how to stimulate the economy” could derail the recovery.

Shut Up and Count the Money

Tribal art appraisers are constantly confronted with the challenge of comparing objects and understanding markets to arrive at value conclusions that will make sense to the client that could care less about appraisal methodology. For federal appraisals such as estate and charitable donation we are required to base our value conclusions on the federal definition of "fair market value".  The simple definition is "the price at which property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, neither being under any compulsion to buy or sell and both having reasonable knowledge of relevant facts.” That sounds pretty straightforward. As appraisers we use comparable sales both in the private market (from dealers, curators and collectors) and public market (auction houses). Okay willing buyer willing seller - that's pretty easy. Neither being under any compulsion to buy is also pretty straightforward if we ignore our obsession with this art. Which leaves us with  the concept of reasonable knowledge. That issue might be a bit trickier. What if the buyer knows nothing about tribal art and relies on the auction house or maybe an advisor that is getting a commission on the sale.  Is it fair market value. I think the courts might get a case like this where say an appraiser uses the illustrated Matisse Lega mask as a justification for  a donation value for a medium level comparable mask. Now maybe the comparable hasn't ever hung in the studio of a famous artist so maybe in that sense it's not comparable. Ignoring this fact and the fact that as appraisers we normally reject aberrant high and low values, the implication is still clear.  Bids that have ranged up to ten times expected value may represent sales that no longer even fall within the definition of "fair market value". I can guarantee you that appraisers will try to use these crazy sales to juice up up their charitable donation appraisal to make clients happy.

As sellers the past ten years  continue to focus out exactly what are our responsibilities in representing our art to the clients. Nobody wants to talk about this because there is a tremendous amount of money at stake in the these transactions. Go back and review the tape on Morley Safer's  60 Minutes piece a month or so ago when he tried to get the contemporary dealers to talk about the current buying frenzy. The smart guys didn't want to talk on camera. The others sounded like piranha feeding on clients that lacked "reasonable knowledge" of what they were doing. I remember one scene where the daughter of a Russian oligarch  was looking up at a European dealer who was  extolling the virtue of this work that was a steal at $4,000,000. Hmm maybe.. maybe not.

It is a gigantic game of musical chairs and when the music stops you know where you need to be. It is a very complex agenda driven world that requires some survival instincts to stay in the game. If you are looking for help, you might find a great many people in the art world mumbling "shut up and count the money."

What's Happening at the Auctions - May 2012

Considering the New York tribal art shows and the auctions a great deal of material was offered to buyers in May of 2012. A number of experts consulted believed that while there were some great objects in the mix, there were some significant objects that were over estimated in this market. The results seem to support that opinion. Heritage auction house in Dallas unfortunately had another lukewarm performance that was ensured by few lots of note and a very high buy back. Christies had a solid performance yielding over a $1,000,000 with just 51 lots many of which seemed to be carried by the strong lots. A expected Sothebys did very well in the May 11th sales despite a high buy back in the larger sale. One collector pointed out the proximity Sothebys created during the preview with the contemporary art with  exceed $320,000,000 in the two sales held at about the same time as the tribal. The entire gross of the tribal sale equates to one lot on the contemporary sale. So clearly Sothebys is marketing to a buyer that may relate more to the collection history than the quality of the object and its value in the marketplace. Is a mediocre Matisse Lega mask worth over $300,000? As the new buyers become more sophisticated

Heritage Auction house, Dallas Texas  - 2012 May 5 Signature Amrican Indian Art Auction
415  lots offered - 310 sold - 105 failed to sell with a buy in rate of 25% - Gross sales with Premium - $445,051. The highest single sale was Lot 196 a Cheyenne beaded hide baby cradle that sold for $35,000. Only six lots sold over $10,000.

Christies, New York Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas - May 10, 2012
52 lots offered - 51 sold - 1 lot failed to sell with a buy in rate of 2% - Gross sales with premium $1,606,000. The highlights of the sale were lot 1 the Aboriginal shield from the Beyeler coll. ht. 35 3/4" with an estimate of $3,000 to $5,000 sold for $116,500. The cover of the catalog Lot 6, the Santa Cruz Islands platter L. 24 3/4 from the Beyeler coll with an estimate of $80,000 - $120,000 sold for $314,500. Another surprise was lot 15 which featured a Bijogo mask ht. 45" from the Beyeler coll. with an estimate of $8,000 - $12,000 sold for $266,500. While there no big shockers on the downside, there were several lots that seemed to be carried along by the positive auction atmosphere.

Sothebys New York Masterpieces of African Art  Coll.  Werner Munsterbeger - May 11, 2012.
6 lots offered - 6 sold - buy in rate 0% - Gross sales with premium - $3,130,250 . Certainly the highlight of this sale was the Bena Lulua mask which sold for $2,546,500 with the premium. Quite frankly with the elaborate catalog, the pre-sale hype, and considering the recent purchases in Sothebys last sales, it would not have been surprising at all in this very strange market if this helmet mask sold for more than $3,000,000. We can debate whether all six pieces in the sale were actually "masterpieces". When does good art historical research end and hyperbole begins?

Sothebys New York African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian Art May 11, 2012
217  lots offered - 154 lots sold - 53 lots failed to sell with a buy in rate of 29%. Gross sales with the premium  - $14,580,501. There were 24 lots that sold over $100,000, 6 pieces sold over $500,000, and 3 pieces sold over $1,000,000.  I don't think Sothebys worried about their buy in rate of 29%. In lot 25 the Jalisco couple ht.  26" and 25 1/2" with an estimate of $30,000 to $40,000 sold for $362,500. The Stylized Bamana figure  ht 27 1/4 from the Charles Ratton coll. was estimate to sell for $400,000 to $600,000 and sold for for $2,658,500. In lot 72 the auction house stressed the affinity with modern sculpture and the Dogon art. This particular Dogon figure ht. 24 1/2" which passed through both Kamer and Klejman's hands was estimated to sell for between $250,000 and $350,000 but far exceeded this range by selling for $542,500. Prior to lot 81 Sothebys led in with an article entitled Henri Matisse The Sculptural Language of African Art. The Bamana seated figure which has passed down through the Matisse family was estimated at $150,000 to $250,000 but sold for $782,500. Lot 82 featured what many would consider a very mediocre Lega mask that was owned by Matisse but only had an estimate of $5,000 to $8,000. It probably didn't hurt to have a picture of Matisse's studio with the mask on the wall because the hammer price was $362,500. For many the true shocker of the sale was the Susan Vogel Baule mask which failed to sell in lot 96 with an estimate of $300,000 to $500,000. This mask was featured in William Rubin's introduction to Primitivism in the 20th Century Art. Susan Vogel is considered by many to be the most prominent expert on Baule art. A fine Kota reliquary from the Pinto and Arman collections was offered in lot 131 with an estimate of  $1,000,000 to $1,500,000.  It sold for $1,082,500. The 7 1/4" bone Azande figure in lot 164 was estimated to sell between $40,000 and $60,000. Bidders took this one to $512,500. Finally the Buyu male figure in lot 192 and only  18 1/8" in height  was estimated to sell between $600,000 and $900,000. It sold for $2,434,500

Skinner's Boston American Indian and Ethnographic Art - May 12, 2012
 533 lots offered - 476 lots sold - 57 unsold lots  with a buy in rate just under 11%. Gross sales with the premium not published.. Only 13 lots sold at $10,000 or above. The pictograph on muslin by Chief Henry One Bull (Sitting Bull's nephew) depicting the Custer battle was the high mark of the day selling at $80,000.

Bonhams New York  African, Oceanic,  and Pre-Columbian Art - May 12, 2012
347 lots offered - 183 lots sold - 164 lots unsold for a buy in rate of 47%... 21 objects sold at $10,000 or higher. The highlights of the sale were primarily four lots with everything else selling below $30,000. In lot 302, which was the only lot in six figures,  the seated Kuba king sold for  $182,500.

Bonhams, New York The Nancy Sue and Judson C. Ball Collection of Native American Art. -
May 14, 2012
190 lots offered - 81 lots sold - 109 lots unsold for a buy in rate of  57% . The gross sales total was not published. Only 6 lots sold at $10,000 or above.

Sothebys New York American Indian Art May 16, 2012
158 lots offered - 74 lots sold - 84 lots unsold with a 53% buy in rate. Gross sales were $3,248,128 with 10 lots selling over $100,000.  The highlights were lot 5 a Haida doll collected in 1828 estimates at $50,000 to $70,000 sold for $254,500, lot 36 a Naskapi painted hide coat sold for $278,500, lot 48 a burlwood effigy bowl $206,500, lot 86 a fringed hide war shirt attributed to Chief Joseph sold for $482,500. It is very interesting to compare this shirt with the one that sold earlier at Sothebys for over $2,000,000.