Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Need Appraisal, Authentication, or Expert Witness?

Ms. Kolker has degrees as an undergraduate in art (Bachelor of Arts specializing in print making 1989) and Secondary Art Education (1995) from the University of Dallas in Irving, Texas. Ms. Kolker also was in the M.F.A. program for Independent Filmmaking at Ohio University, where her first film won an award at the Baltimore International Film Festival. Her artwork is in private collections across the United States, and can also be found at Banc of America Securities in Dallas.

Most would agree that it is quite unusual to have such an extensive art background and also to have successfully passed her Series 7 & 63 Securities Exams in 2003 while working at Banc of America Securities from 2000 to 2006. In May of 2006, Ms. Kolker was one of 70 applicants that applied for the job of gallery and office manager of Shango Galleries in Dallas. This was only the beginning, as Ms. Kolker went on to pass her accreditation with the International Society of Appraisers as an appraiser of Fine Art in 2008. Kim is progressing towards achieving the highest appraisal qualification-- ISA's Certified Appraiser of Personal Property(CAPP). Ms. Kolker has been President of the North Texas Chapter for two years and steps down in December 2013. Kim's specialty in Fine Art is appraising 19th and 20th century paintings and prints, outsider, regional and Texas artists.


John Buxton graduated in 1968 from Tulane University, then spent five years in the Navy during which time he traveled extensively throughout Africa, Indian, Pakistan, Iran, and the Middle East. Buxton served as personal aide to Commander Middle East Forces, Vice Admiral Duke Bayne. In 1974 he established The Bahraini Chest, an import shop in Dallas,
Texas. Two years later he opened Shango Galleries, dealing in African, Pre-Columbian, Oceanic, and American Indian art. In 1990 he created the computer database, Auction Trak, for the appraisal, research, evaluation, and authentication of tribal art sold at auction in Europe and the United States. A year later Buxton founded and incorporated ArtTrak, an art services computer network. In 1996 he started Buxton, Appraisal Authentication and Consulting Services (BAACS). Mr. Buxton is a Certified Appraiser of Personal Property with the International Society of Appraisers, which is one of the largest personal property appraisal organizations in the United States. Mr. Buxton is the only appraiser currently within the organization and one of four appraisers nationally to qualify with a specialty in African art. Mr. Buxton is a past national director for the International Society of Appraisers. Expert witness, appraisal review, purchase consultation and collection management are among some of the services offered by his company. In 2012 Buxton completed and passed all USPAP requirements. Since 1974, Mr. Buxton has performed auction bidding for museums and collectors, and appraised, authenticated, and evaluated tribal art for private and institutional clients. Mr. Buxton has been an appraiser with ANTIQUES ROADSHOW since its first season in 1997.

John Buxton has been in the antiques and appraisal business for almost 40 years. Having completed 18 years as an appraiser of African, Pre-Columbian, American Indian, and Oceanic art on Antiques Roadshow, Buxton is looking forward to begin taping Season 19 in June. In addition to his expertise in tribal art, John also has served as an expert witness and a consultant for both appraisal review and deposition preparation. His counsel has been sought by museums as early as this past March when he was asked to fly to Paris to review the Barbier Mueller Pre-Columbian collection. Buxton and his friend Jim Cook at the request of the late Ray Wielgus were solely responsible for vetting the competing institutions for the donation of the sought after Wielgus embellished gun collection. Among his unique appraisals Buxton appraised Lucy, the famous hominid found by Don Johanson in Ethiopia in 1974. Rather than now seeing the end of his career this appraiser is looking for new ways to assist his clients.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Photos Around the World

Full Moon
Fernando Damico
Balloon Ride
Grandma Moses
Green Aurora
Jal Mahai, India
Peregrine Falcon
Orias Wave
Landscape Czech Republic

Sunday, November 24, 2013

 5th century comb

Obernail, France

My Word Fall 2013

This is the final "serious" issue of the Newsletter for 2013. Next month we have our annual Christmas issue which avoids bad news and unveils our lastest holiday card which the interns have been working on dilligently. And speaking of interns next month we will officially introduce Samantha Mason, a senior business major from the University of Dallas who is also an artist. Our other intern is Valerie Thompson who is a senior at Southern Methodist University and comes from Perth Australia. Valerie aspires to be a photo journalist. Both will be with us until June. We look forward to you meeting them.
There is a lot going on in the art and antique world with auction houses exapnding, new players like amazon coming on the scene, and museums still trying to find their way on repatriation.  I believe 2014 will be the hump that we all need to get over to see better times. All the money people I follow are predicting a correction which considering the present political climate and what's ahead there, this makes sense. I am an optimist and although rocky times are ahead , there are significantly better times ahead once we clear this hurdle.  We will cover the issues and continue to provide our view. I expect we will be talking a lot about Amazon, repatriation, the expanding auction houses, and the Detroit bankruptcy.

Tribal Art Exhibitions and Auctions

1. WELLINGTON.- An exhibition telling the glorious, dramatic and ultimately tragic story of the Aztec empire, opened at Te Papa this weekend. More than 200 treasured artefacts have been collected from museums throughout Mexico to go on show in New Zealand for the first time. Te Papa Curator Lynette Townsend says Aztecs: Conquest and glory provides a fascinating insight into the ways of life, beliefs and sacrifical rituals of the Aztecs. “This is a rare opportunity to view the Aztecs’ most sacred and treasured objects first-hand. One of my favourite objects is a large ceramic sculpture of Mictlantecuhtli, god of death and lord of the underworld. “He stands bent over with his liver hanging out, grinning manically. This fearsome looking sculpture stands guard at the entrance to our inner temple experience. Here visitors will learn about life after death and the journey to Mictlan – the place most Aztecs journeyed to when they died.”
“Another feature of the exhibition is a gold pendant depicting Xochipilli (Flower Prince) – the god of
2.  LONDON.- For centuries Europeans were dazzled by the legend of a lost city of gold in South America. The truth behind this myth is even more fascinating. El Dorado – literally “the golden one” – actually refers to the ritual that took place at Lake Guatavita, near modern Bogotá. The newly elected leader, covered in powdered gold, dived into the lake and emerged as the new chief of the Muisca people who lived in the central highlands of present-day Colombia's Eastern Range. This stunning exhibition, sponsored by Julius Baer, will display some of the fascinating objects excavated from the lake in the early 20th century including ceramics and stone necklaces. In ancient Colombia gold was used to fashion some of the most visually dramatic and sophisticated works of art found anywhere in the Americas before European contact. This exhibition features over 300 exquisite objects drawn from the Museo del Oro in Bogotá, one of the best and most extensive collections of
Pre-Hispanic gold in the world, as well as from the British Museum’s own unique collections. Through these exceptional objects the exhibition explore the complex network of societies in ancient Colombia – a hidden world of distinct and vibrant cultures spanning 1600 BC to AD 1700 – with particular focus on the Muisca, Quimbaya, Calima, Tairona, Tolima and Zenú chiefdoms. This important but little understood subject is explored in this unique exhibition following on from shows in Room 35 such as Ice Age art: arrival of the modern mind, Grayson Perry: Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman, Afghanistan: Crossroads of the Ancient World and Kingdom of Ife: sculptures from West Africa in shining a light on world cultures through their craftsmanship.
dance, song, art, flowers and beauty. He was a god associated with spring and a patron god of artisans who crafted precious metals. It’s a beautiful and skillfully made decorative piece, as many of the exhibits are,” said Lynette Townsend. A similar exhibition in London more than ten years ago was described as ‘powerful and macabre’. The centre piece of the Te Papa exhibition is a walk-in Aztec Temple. The exterior is a replica of the Templo Mayor, one of the main Aztec temples. “Religion was central to the Aztecs’ way of life. Their Great Temple dominated Tenochtitlán, the capital of the Aztec empire. This incredible structure was a grand and magnificent sight, and a major feat of engineering. “It was considered to be the physical and spiritual centre of the universe and was an important site for ritual sacrifice. The structure was created in seven stages by successive emperors, each asserting the growing power of the Aztec empire, beginning with the founding of Tenochtitlán in 1325. The temple was destroyed after the Spanish conquistadors overthrew the empire in 1521. “The Te Papa replica is a scale model, about one-tenth the size of the Mexican temple,” said Lynette Townsend. It has taken several years to plan Aztecs: Conquest and glory. Te Papa has been working closely in partnership with the National Council for Culture and the Arts and the National Institute of Anthropology and History (CONACULTA-INAH) in Mexico, along with the Australian Museum and Museum Victoria. “INAH, the Mexican regulatory body which has national oversight of all historical, archaeological and ethnological museums, excavations, research and international lending, has been coordinating the loan and collection effort. Mexican curator Raúl Barrera who is head of the INAH Urban Archaeology Program, has selected an incredible and fascinating range of objects from a number of different Mexican museums. “It’s been an ambitious and complex project so it’s exciting to be at the point now where we are about to open this once in a life-time exhibition to the public,” said Lynette Townsend.
Although gold was not valued as currency in pre-Hispanic Colombia, it had great symbolic meaning. It was one way the elite could publicly assert their rank and semi-divine status, both in life and in death. The remarkable objects displayed across the exhibition reveal glimpses of these cultures’ spiritual lives including engagement with animal spirits though the use of gold objects, music, dancing, sunlight and hallucinogenic substances that all lead to a physical and spiritual transformation enabling communication with the supernatural. Animal iconography is used to express this transformation in powerful pieces demonstrating a wide range of imaginative works of art, showcasing avian pectorals, necklaces with feline claws or representations of men transforming into spectacular bats though the use of profuse body adornment.
The exhibition further explores the sophisticated gold working techniques, including the use of tumbaga, an alloy composed of gold and copper, used in the crafting the most spectacular masterworks of ancient Colombia. Extraordinary poporos (lime powder containers) showcase the technical skills achieved both in the casting and hammering techniques of metals by ancient Colombian artists. Other fascinating objects include an exceptional painted Muisca textile and one of the few San Agustín stone sculptures held outside Colombia. Those, together with spectacular large scale gold masks and other materials were part of the objects that accompanied funerary rituals in ancient Colombia.
Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum said “Ancient Colombia has long represented a great fascination to the outside world and yet there is very little understood about these unique and varied cultures. As part of the Museum’s series of exhibitions that shine a light on little known and complex ancient societies this exhibition will give our visitors a glimpse into these fascinating cultures of pre-hispanic South America and a chance to explore the legend of El Dorado through these stunning objects.”
3. DENVER, PA.- A buzz filled the room at Morphy’s November 9 auction after the hammer fell on Lot 57, a 9¾-inch sea-green obsidian artifact known as the Rutz Clovis point. The star of Morphy’s 159-lot Prehistoric American Artifact & Arrowhead debut auction, the point discovered on a mountain in Washington state in the early 1950s is known to collectors far and wide as one of the great treasures of its type. Entered with a $200,000-$400,000 estimate, the Rutz Clovis did not disappoint, selling to a Texas collector for $276,000. All prices quoted are inclusive of 20% buyer’s premium. “How famous is the Rutz Clovis point? Ask the floor bidder who had an image of it tattooed on his calf!” said an amused John Mark Clark, who heads Morphy’s Prehistoric American Artifact & Arrowhead department. “Unfortunately for him, he’ll have to be satisfied with the tattoo, because he wasn’t the winning bidder.” With the sale of the Rutz Clovis, Morphy’s has established what experts believe is a world-record price for a North American flaked stone artifact at auction.
“Top lots in the sale attracted fantastic prices, and many collectors around the country were paying close attention,” said Morphy Auctions CEO Dan Morphy. “There was a lot of positive feedback after the sale, and we had several phone calls regarding the potential consignment of important collections. It’s an exciting new category for Morphy’s, and we’re definitely well guided with Mark Clark as head of our department. All of the collectors know how incredibly knowledgeable and honest he is.” Commenting on the success of Morphy’s debut in the category of prehistoric American artifacts and arrowheads, Clark remarked: “I think buyers had confidence in our authentication process and with our introduction of scientific procedures to that process. Right out of the gate, Morphy’s has established itself as the place to buy and consign top-quality artifacts.” Morphy’s next specialty auction in this category, slated for June or July of next year, will be considerably larger than
the Nov. 9 Prehistoric premiere and will continue to focus on the upper end of the market. Premium-quality artifacts have already been consigned, including a one-of-a-kind proto-historic pottery pipe, blades and projectile points from a three-generation northern Ohio family’s collection.     
Many other lots in the sale achieved strong prices. A ferruginous quartz bottle bannerstone found on the Bell Farm in Davidson County, Tennessee, in 1910, handily surpassed its estimate at $38,400. Another unusual figural piece, a rat-tail spud of polished metamorphic material, described in the auction catalog as “one of the rarest spud forms within the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex,” was bid beyond its estimate range to $31,200. Also attracting an impressive price was the lot of 20 points from the grouping known as the Motley Cache, of Todd County, Kentucky. It concluded its bidding run at $28,800.
4. NEW YORK, NY.- Bonhams New York announced that the auction of African, Oceanic & Pre-Columbian Art on November 14 achieved more than $1.4 million. Leading the auction was a Baga headdress from the Guinea Coast of Africa, representing a d'mba, or "idea" of a beautiful mother, that was purchased by an important European dealer for $305,000. This auction room was packed with domestic and international collectors and dealers in town for the many Tribal Art events taking place in New York. African artworks that stood out in the sale, in addition to the Baga headdress, included a Bamana or Mandinka forehead mask from Mali that sold for $23,750, soaring past a pre-sale estimate of $4,000-6,000, and two wooden Luba female figures from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, that brought $22,500 and $20,000, respectively. Luba artists have historically celebrated and honored the female figure in their art. A very successful category in the auction that included many
Bonhams next sale of Oceanic Art will take place in San Francisco in early February. Bonhams next sale of African, Oceanic & Pre-Columbian Art will take place in New York in mid-May of 2014.
top-selling lots was Oceanic Art. Among the highest-selling of Oceanic works was an ironwood u'u (warrior's club) from the Marquesas Islands that achieved $93,750, surpassing a pre-sale estimate of $40,000-60,000. The u'u club was a Marquesan warrior's most prized possession during times of warfare in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The clubs served as both a weapon in close combat and as a mark of high status within society. Another remarkable Oceanic work of note was a rare bird-shaped pestle pommel from the Central Highlands of Papua, New Guinea, made between circa 4000-1000 BC, that achieved $27,500, exceeding an estimate of $15,000-20,000. The bird, that was the subject of fierce bidding by two tenured Oceanic art collectors, was confirmed by petrographic study as one of the earliest works of Oceanic art ever to come to auction. Also from Papua, New Guinea, was a large, wooden Sawos male ancestral figure from the East Sepik Province of the Middle Sepik River that sold for $81,250, ahead of a $40,000-60,000 estimate, and a Mangan mask from the Lower Sepik River, that brought $32,500, past a $10,000-15,000 estimate. Additional notable Oceanic works - that shot past their $12,000-18,000 estimates - included a rare pahu heiau or patu hula from the Hawaiian Islands that sold for $68,750, and a rare fish shaped pectoral from Easter Island that achieved $43,750. Pre-Columbian artworks in the auction also performed well with brisk bidding both inside the auction room and on the telephones. A monumental, earthenware Colima seated dog from the Protoclassic period, circa 100 BC-AD 250, appealed to numerous bidders, achieving $37,500, while a large Nayarit standing male figure of the same period brought an impressive $23,750. The sale also featured the Evan M. Maurer Headrest Collection, which included a variety of exceptional African headrests, carefully assembled by Maurer, the current Director Emeritus of The Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Notable examples included a rare, figural wood Twa headrest of Rwanda/Burundi that brought $5,000; a wood, Yaka headrest of the Democratic Republic of the Congo that brought $2,000, past an estimate of $1,200-1,800; and two wooden Kuba headrests from the Democratic Republic of the Congo that exceeded their pre-sale estimates, bringing $2,125 and $2,000, respectively. According to Bonhams Director of African, Oceanic & Pre-Colombian Art, Fredric Backlar, 30 percent of this sale’s buyers were first-time buyers, indicating the continued growing demand for tribal art; especially Oceanic art, for which there was brisk competition. He commented, “This sale's strong results indicate that the middle market for tribal art, which has suffered in recent years, is finally back.”
5.   NEW YORK - Sothebys "The Collection of Allan Stone: African, Oceanic  and Indonesian Art - Volume I November 15, 2013 - The City Review: "The cover illustration of the auction's catalogue is Lot 114, a Songye "Four Horn" Community Power figure from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  It is 21 7/8 inches high.  Three of the horns atop the figure's head at Common Waterbuck  Antelope and the fourth is Domestic Goat.  The figure has a civet skin draped from its waist.  The lot
was once in the collection of Merton D. Simpson of New York.
 The catalogue entry notes "the serene expression of the figure's face, where time stands still,"  adding that "through this juxtaposition of opposing qualities, the unknown artist created one of the most arresting works of all figurative sculpture - a universal masterpiece." It added that "widely published and exhibited, the "Four Horn" statue from the Allan Stone Collection is an icon of African art." It has an estimate of $600,000 to $900,000.  It sold for $2,165,000 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article.  The sale total was $11,489,750 and more than 93 percent of the offered 154 lots sold.  Lot 28, a Dayak reliquary guardian figure from Borneo, Indonesia that is dated circa 1280-1400 A.D is 35 inches high and was once in the collecion of Maureen Zarember.  Primitive works of art are very rarely so old.  The catalogue entry said that such figures were "incorporated into richly-adorned ancestral ossuary -shrines which were placed incaves, on cliff ledges, or under rocky overhangs.  The lot has a very modest estimate of $60,000 to $90,000 and was the back-cover illustration of the catalogue.  It sold for $185,000. Lot 64 and 63 are superb Senufo Oracle Figures (Kafigeledjo) from the Ivory Coast.  They are 35 and 41 inches high, respectively.  Lot 64 was once in the collection of Allan Frumkin of New York.  Its featureless head is surmounted by hornbill feathers.  It has an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000.  It sold for $75,000.  One of the most imposing works in the auction is Lot 73, a large Ibgo male  shrine figure (Ikenga) from Nigeria.  It is 52 1/2 inches tall.  In one hand, the figure holds a large knife and in the other a severed  human head,.  The catalogue entry observes that the work has a "particularly lively, expressively sculpture style," add that "with its fleshly features, an impressive set of horns and a mischievously confident toothy grin, it is a superb image of the strength and prosperity ikenga expresses."  It has a modest estimate of $15,000 to $25,000.  It sold for $52,500. One of the most dramatic  works in the auction is Lot 80, an Ejagham headdress from the Cross River Region in Nigeria.  It is 27 inches high.  The catalogue entry quotes commentary on a similar work in the Musee Barbier-Mueller in Geneva that observes  that"the monumental hairstyle is composed of five coiled plaits or braids unusually large in African statuary and masterful in the perfection and symmetry of their coils. Ethographic accounts report that this hairstyle was worn by young women during initiation and the period of reclusion prior to marriage  The lot was formerly in the Merton D. Simpson collection.  It has an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000.  It sold for $305,000. Lot 103 is a Kongo Community Power Figure of the name "Chingung N" from the Loango Kingdom in the Republic of Congo.  It is 22 1/2 inches high and has considerable traces of kaolin.  It  was collected by Robert Visser between 1882 and 1903 and was once in the collection of Merton D. Simpson of New York.  It has an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000.  It sold for $293,000. Lot 100 is a Kongo-Yorribe Nail Power Figure from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  It is 28 inches high and was once in the collection of Merton D. Simpson of NewYork.  It has an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000.  It sold for $1,805,000. A very striking Songye Community Power Figure from the Democratic Republic of the Congo is Lot 131.  It is 36 inches high and is adorned with metal headdress and facial decorations and magical substances (bishima) and metal elements (bishishi).  It has a modest estimate of $150,000 to $250,000.  It sold for $137,000.  Lot 118 is a great Songye Community Power Figure from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  It is 35 inches tall and was once in the collection of Charles Ratton of Paris and Merton D. Simpson of New York.  The head is decorated with feathers of the female Congo Peafowl, streips of the Common Waterbuck Antelope and covered with White-Throated Monitor and Ringed water cobra skin.  With its ribbed neck and square-shaped torso and various attachments and studs, this is a spectacular work.  The lot has an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000.  It sold for only $605,000.  Another impressive Songye Community Power Figure is Lot 134, which is 32 1/2 inches high.  It was formerly in the collections of John J. Klejman of New York,Leslie and Peter Schlumberger of
Houston, and Merton D.Simpson of New York.  It has an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000.  It sold for $341,000."
6. BOSTON - Skinners American Indian November 9, 2013 - Out of 400 total lots 54 failed to sell. There were quite a few medium quality lots; however, there were some highlights of not. The Easter Island figure Lot 101 estimated at $4,000 - $6,000 sold for $39,000. The Maori lintel in lot 102 was estimated at $20,000 - $30,000 sold for $72,000. In lot 196 the pony beaded bowcase and scabbord  sold for $60,000 more than doubling the estimate of $25,000 - $35,000. The Woodl
ands belt cup lot 245 sold for $31,200. The Derby Sioux shirt lot 199 failed to sell with an estimate of $150,000 - $250,000. A great pictorial Plains buffalo hide blanket strip lot 205 sold for $39,000.
7. DALLAS - Heritage America Indian and Pre-Columbian Auction November 15, 2013 -  The total hammer price plus the sales commission for the sale for 678 lots was $1,009,128 with 83 lots failing to sell. The cover piece which was offered in lot 50265 was a Sioux boy's pictoial vest with an inked inscription in the interior saying that it was captured at the Custer battlefield sold $75,000. The only other important object in the sale was an 18th century superb Wood lands belt cup in lot 50330 that sold for $37,500. The Southeast beaded mocs in  lot 503345 were estimated at $20,000 to $30,000 but only reached $12,500

Luxury At Any Price

1.  DALLAS, TX.- A one of a kind Hermès 32cm Matte Geranium Porosus Crocodile & Black Togo Leather Sellier Kelly Bag with Feet, quite possibly the rarest and most-sought after Kelly bag in existence, is expected to bring more than $50,000 as the lead lot of Heritage Auctions' Dec. 10-11 Holiday Luxury Accessories Signature® Auction. It's a one-of-a-kind, special edition piece that carried an original retail price of nearly $60,000.
"All Hermès lovers have to hear is that this bag is one-of-one and they will know that it is an extraordinary piece," said Matt Rubinger, Director of Luxury Accessories at Heritage. "It was created as part of the whimsical and exclusive Petit H Exhibition and could be the most collectible bag in the world."
The auction is one of the largest and most important sales that the luxury accessories market has ever seen. It will take place in Dallas, Texas after a three-city tour and preview of the pieces.
The serious Hermès collector is sure to be drawn to the most impressive selection of ultra-exclusive and popular bags from the fashion house that sets the bar for leather goods. Examples are a Special Order Horseshoe 35cm Orange H, Vert Anis & Jaune Togo Leather Birkin Bag with Palladium Hardware, opening for bidding at $7,500 and a stunning Limited Edition Barenia & Shearling Kelly Muff Clutch Bag, opening for bidding at $2,000.
There will also be highlights of the most important creations from designer Marc Jacobs during his soon-to-be-ending tenure at the helm of Louis Vuitton.
"This is a major moment in the fashion world as Jacobs is stepping aside at Vuitton," said Rubinger. "He's done radical and amazing things with the brand and has everyone wondering what his legacy will be. To celebrate the groundbreaking work Jacobs did, we've put together a selection of his most famous pieces for Vuitton."
The auction features the extremely rare Louis Vuitton 2003 Limited Edition Eye Love Monogram by Takashi Murakami White Eye Dare You Overnight Bag. It is the most significant piece from his 2003 Eye Love Monogram Collection, with Takashi Murakami, and is opening for bidding at $2,000. The most sought-after piece from his Graffiti Collection in 2001, for which Jacobs collaborated with Stephen Sprouse, the Louis Vuitton 2001 Limited Edition Monogram Graffiti Speedy, is opening for bidding at $500. In addition, the 2012 Louis Vuitton Prune Ostrich Alma PM Bag with Gold Hardware is opening for bidding at $2,000 and represents another peak of Jacobs time with Vuitton.

2. HONG KONG (AFP).- A 118.28-carat white diamond broke a world record Monday when it fetched more than $30 million at a Hong Kong auction.
The sparkling translucent stone was sold to an unnamed phone bidder at the Sotheby's auction for HK$238.68 million ($30.6 million) following bidding that lasted for more than six minutes, leaving auctioneers thrilled. "We are extremely thrilled," Quek Chin Yeow, deputy chairman of Sotheby's Asia, told reporters following the sale, describing the buyer only as a "private collector". He said the sale signalled a "moving trend" for the southern Chinese city to host major global auctions. Hong Kong has become a centre for jewellery auctions thanks to growing wealth in China and other parts of the region. "The sale alone proves that we can actually sell major diamonds here in Hong Kong. It's a moving trend," he said. "The downturn everybody thinks is happening in Asia, or the slowdown... a lot of the collectors are still extremely wealthy individuals," he said. The egg-shaped
stone sold Monday has been described as the finest of its kind ever to appear at auction. Earlier estimates valued it at $28-$35 million. The stone, dubbed the "Magnificent Oval Diamond", was discovered in a deep mine in an undisclosed southern African country in 2011. As a rough stone before being cut, it weighed 299 carats. The stone, described by Sotheby's as "the largest D colour flawless diamond" sold at auction, has been given the highest quality rating awarded by the Gemological Institute of America. "D colour" diamonds are rare and colourless and fetch premium prices. The sale beat the record set at a diamond auction last year, when a 101.73-carat diamond was sold for $26.7 million. Another rare gem, a 7.59-carat blue diamond, was not sold, however, because bids fell short of auctioneer's expectations. Earlier, the stone was estimated to fetch up to $19 million. © 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse

3. GENEVA (AFP).- A spectacular and rare orange diamond, the largest known gem of its kind, was on Tuesday auctioned off for a record $31.5 million in Geneva. "At the back of the hall, 29million francs ($31.5 million, 23 million euros). Sold!" the Christie's auctioneer said as the fiery almond-shaped gem was snapped up in a room of about 200 people in a luxury Geneva hotel. The price excluded another $4.04 million in taxes and commission. The man who made the purchase swiftly got up and left the room to a round of applause. Christie's did not reveal his identity. The deep orange gemstone, which was found in South Africa, weighs a whopping 14.82 carats. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has handed it the top rating for coloured diamonds: "fancy vivid". Pure orange diamonds, also known as "fire diamonds", are extremely uncommon and very few have been auctioned, with the largest never more than six carats. "To have one that's over 14 carats is exceptional," Christie's international jewellery director David Warren told AFP. He said "The Orange" was "the largest recorded vivid orange diamond in the world". In 1990 the 4.77-carat yellow-orange Graff Orange diamond was sold for $3.92 million dollars and in 1997 the vivid orange Pumpkin diamond of 5.54 carats was sold for $1.32 million. Christie's had estimated "The Orange" would rake in $17 million to $20 million. Rare and expensive 'freaks of nature' Coloured diamonds, once considered a curiosity, are rarer than white diamonds and today attract higher prices per carat than even the most flawless, translucent stone. That, Warren explained, was because, "coloured diamonds are real freaks of nature. They begin as white diamonds, and it's some accidental colouring agent in the ground that will turn it a particular colour." Green diamonds, for instance, are coloured by radioactivity in the ground, blue diamonds get their colour from boron, and yellow diamonds, which in very rare cases turn orange, are coloured by nitrogen. Pink diamonds meanwhile get their colour from a distortion in the crystal lattice as the stone is taking shape. Coloured diamonds "are extraordinarily rare stones," agreed David Bennett, who heads the European jewellery division at Sotheby's. Christie's rival is set to auction off a flawless 59.60-carat vivid pink diamond, called "The Pink Star", in Geneva on Wednesday, with an asking price of $60 million.
Like "The Orange", the flawless plum-sized shimmering "Pink Star" has received the highest possible colour rating from GIA, as well as top marks for clarity. It is also the largest of its kind, Bennett said, insisting the anonymous seller was not asking too much. "Very, very few of these stones have ever appeared at auction and three years ago, a five carat vivid pink made over $10 million. So the estimate on this stone of $60 million would appear to be very reasonable," he told AFP. For those who can't cough up that kind of money, both Christie's and Sotheby's "Magnificent Jewels" auctions will also offer a range of other items of historic importance but with lighter price-tags. There is for instance a seven strand pearl necklace, sold by "a royal family" at an asking price of $4.5 million. Or the shimmering emerald and diamond necklace by Cartier that has been in the collection of Bolivian tycoon Simon Itturi Patino since he bought it for his wife in 1938.

4. GENEVA (AFP).- A plum-sized diamond known as the "Pink Star" was auctioned in Geneva
The 59.60-carat "Pink Star" is the largest in its class ever graded by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), with the second biggest less than half its size. The sparkling oval-cut rock measures 2.69 by 2.06 centimetres (1.06 by 0.81 inches), and weighs 11.92 grammes (0.026 pounds). In addition to its top colour and clarity ratings, it falls into a rare subgroup with the purest diamond crystals and extraordinary optical transparency, comprising less than two percent of all gem diamonds, according to the GIA. "The pink diamond, I have no hesitation in saying, is a truly amazing, royal stone. There is no stone of that size and colour known," said Bennett. The "Pink Star" was 132.5 carats in the rough when it was mined by De Beers in Africa in 1999, according to Sotheby's, which has not said which country it came from. It was cut and polished over two years by Steinmetz Diamonds, and unveiled to the public in 2003 under the title of the "Steinmetz Pink". The near-translucent rock was renamed after it was first sold four years later for an undisclosed sum to an unidentified buyer. Sotheby's declined to name the seller in Wednesday's auction, nor would it say whether the gemstone had been bought and sold again since 2007. Best known for shimmering white translucence, diamonds in fact come in all sorts of colours. Green diamonds, for instance, are coloured by radioactivity in the ground, blue diamonds get their colour from boron, and yellow diamonds, which in very rare cases turn orange, are coloured by nitrogen. "I think coloured diamonds have finally come of age. They are amongst rarest of all stones, and they are finally reaching the level where the is matching the rarity," said Bennett. A vivid blue, 5.04-carat diamond ring fetched 6.1 million francs ($6.6 million) -- a million francs over its estimate. And the final lot, the "Wasilewska Briolette Diamond" -- a yellow diamond brooch once owned by opera singer Ganna Wasilewska -- sold for 9.7 million francs ($10.5 million). Beyond the diamonds, a 114.74-carat sapphire hit 7.6 million francs ($7.1 million), almost double its upper estimate. Analysts note that investors have often turned to jewels in uncertain economic times. They also carry prestige for growing global elites. "In the last 30 years, the market has become completely international," said Bennett. © 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse
Wednesday for $83 million, a world record for a gemstone. David Bennett, chairman of Sotheby's jewellery division in Europe and the Middle East, brought down the hammer in a Geneva hotel after an intense, five-minute bidding race between four contenders. The winner, a bearded man apparently in his sixties sporting a Jewish skullcap, ended pitted in a one-on-race against a telephone competitor to whom Patty Wong, chair of Sotheby's in Asia, spoke in Mandarin from the auction room. The bearded man declined to identify himself to AFP but confirmed that he had been representing another individual. Sotheby's later said the buyer was Isaac Wolf, a New York diamond cutter, who was going to rename the stone "The Pink Dream". The diamond was the star of a high-end jewelry auction in the upscale Beau Rivage Hotel on the shore of Lake Geneva. The "Pink Star" was the penultimate lot, and there were gasps of awe as a model stood next to Bennett on the auction podium wearing the diamond, which is mounted on a ring. "And now for something different. One of the most remarkable gemstones ever to appear at auction," Bennett said as the bidding opened. The auction was conducted in Swiss francs, starting at 48 million and working its way upwards million-by-million. There was a long silence as the price reached 67 million Swiss francs, before the in-room bidder came back with the winning 68 million. The final Swiss franc price, including Sotheby's premium, was 76.32 million -- the equivalent of $83.2 million. The some 150 people in the auction room erupted into applause as the theme tune from the "Pink Panther" was played in a tongue-in-cheek gesture and staffed handed out glasses of pink champagne. The diamond had been estimated at $60 million. Three years ago, Sotheby's set an auction record of $46.2 million for a diamond when it sold the "Graff Pink" gemstone. The Sotheby's auction came a day after rival house Christie's sold an almond-shaped diamond dubbed "The Orange" for $35.5 million, also a record in its category. 'A truly royal stone'

What's Happening Museums Fall 2013

1. MINYA EGYPT – Looters Strike Egyptian Museum: The Malawi National Museum in the Egyptian city of Minya has been vandalized and looted in the country's latest wave of violence, with Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities reporting that the antiquities museum had been broken into and vandalized on Thursday night. An official Ministry statement accused members of the Muslim Brotherhood of being behind the attack, in which statues and sarcophagi were damaged, display cases were smashed, and contents stolen. [Daily Mail]
2. NEW YORK - Planned African Art Museum Becomes Policy Think Tank: Manhattan's long-delayed Museum for African Art has changed its name and shifted its focus slightly, rebranding as the New Africa Center and aiming to take on more of a policy-making role, in the vein of Asia Society. "The policy landscape in the U.S. regarding Africa is certainly less dynamic than it should be," said the co-chair of the Center's board, Hadeel Ibrahim. "By expanding our mandate, we are able to attract the increasing number of people who are interested in the continent but whose interest may lie in dance, film, policy or business." [WSJ
3. LONDON - U.K.'s Top Art Jobs All Go to Men: The major upcoming vacancies at leading U.K. art institutions like the British Museum and Tate will almost certainly be filled by men. "In culture, there are a number of women," says Serpentine Gallery's director Julia Peyton-Jones. "However, there is not a woman running one of the four national institutions in this country: the Tate, the
National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery or the British Museum… The glass ceiling exists because there’s not a way to enmesh women in the professional world… We don’t know how to do it, and we also don’t know how to support women so they can do it." [Bloomberg]
4. PARIS – Winged Victory Will Fly Again: Next month the Louvre will begin a nine-month renovation on iconic 2nd-century BCE sculpture "The Winged Victory of Samothrace," which happens to be the museum’s second most popular attraction. [WSJ]
5. LAS VEGAS — There may no longer be a major art museum in Las Vegas — the Las Vegas Art Museum shuttered in 2009 — nor a joint outpost of the Guggenheim and Hermitage museums — which closed in 2008 — but there is a museum-caliber art collection hidden in plain sight on the Vegas Strip. CityCenter, MGM Resorts’ sprawling five-complex campus, houses major works by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, Henry Moore, Isa Genzken, Frank Stella, and more, as well as large-scale, site-specific commissions by the likes of Maya Lin, Nancy Rubins, Jenny Holzer, and a brand new James Turrell installation. The collection forms a component of MGM CEO and chairman James Murren’s vision for CityCenter as a more civic-minded hotel-casino-condo-mall megadevelopment.
6. WASHINGTON DC The Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, slated to open in Washington, D.C., in 2015, has amassed a collection of some 18,000 artifacts including works by Wadsworth Jarrell and Sam Gilliam, though the institution is still looking to acquire pieces by Sanford Biggers, Rashid Johnson, and more. [TAN
7. BAHGDAD -  Saddam’s Palace Gets Arty Makeover: Saddam Hussein’s former palace in Basra is about to reopen as the Basra Museum. The new cultural center will display antiquities from the Assyrian, Babylonian, and Arabic eras of Iraq’s history. "It's important to affirm Mesopotamian ideas and culture in the face of aggressive Shia Islam, which puts about that there is nothing before or after Shia Islam," said Lieutenant General Sir Barney White-Spunner. "In fact, the story of Iraq goes back before the pyramids. This is the garden of Eden; the land of the great flood." [Guardian]
8. TERVUREN BELGIUM - Europe's "Last Colonial Museum" Revamps: The Museum of Central Africa in Tervuren, Belgium, considered by many to be the "last colonial museum" in Europe, will shutter on November 30 to completely renovate and rejigger its galleries and collection — which includes the terrifying statue of a leopard-man that was famously featured in a Tintin comic. "This museum shows how the white man saw Africa a century ago, at the time of his colonial triumphs," says Joseph Djongakodi Yoto, a representative of the museum's African diaspora association. The institution will reopen in mid-2017. [AFP]
9. KANSAS CITY, MO.- The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art joins Kansas City in mourning the death of Marion Bloch. The 83-year-old wife of Henry Bloch died after a long illness.
“I know that Mrs. Bloch was a vital presence at the Nelson-Atkins for many years,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, Director & CEO of the museum. “Henry was absolutely devoted to Marion and there is no stronger testament to true love. My deepest sympathies go to the entire Bloch family.” Marion Helzberg was born in 1930, the youngest of three children. She graduated from Southwest High School and the University of Missouri. During her junior year of college, Marion’s brother
introduced her to his close friend, a budding entrepreneur named Henry Bloch. They married in 1951. “Marion’s love made me whole,” said Bloch. “She was a remarkable woman; selfless and kind, beautiful and loving and strong.” With Henry, Marion was at the forefront of many civic and philanthropic initiatives in Kansas City. Their personal legacy includes generous and steadfast support of the Nelson-Atkins.
10. LONDON (AFP).- The sister of the Emir of Qatar was named the most influential figure in the art world in a "power list" published by Britain's ArtReview magazine on Thursday.
Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bint al-Thani has around $1 billion a year to spend on art as head of the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA), according to ArtReview -- 30 times more than New York's Museum of Modern Art. "No wonder, then, that whenever Sheikha Al-Mayassa is in town, everyone from government ministers to mayors queue up to pay their respects," the magazine said as it published its annual "Power 100" ranking. China's Ai Weiwei, who topped the list last year, is the
But Sheikha Al-Mayassa, who climbed the list after coming in 11th place last year, came first because of her "sheer buying power", ArtReview said. The QMA bought French post-impressionist Paul Cezanne's masterpiece "The Card Players" for $250 million last year, making it the most expensive painting sold to date. "If and when Doha finds it has bought enough art, there's going to be a hole in the market that no one else can fill," ArtReview said. The wealthy Gulf state, which has just 1.5 million inhabitants, is trying to establish itself as the region's cultural hub.
It runs several museums and galleries in Qatar including the Museum of Islamic Art, the largest of its kind in the region.
highest-ranked artist for 2013, coming in ninth place.

11. CLEVELAND, OH.- The Board of Trustees of the Cleveland Museum of Art announced today that David Franklin has resigned his position as Director, effective immediately. Dr. Franklin had been the Director of the CMA since September, 2010 and will be retained as a consultant for a period of time in order to insure an orderly transition.
“Thanks to our outstanding team, the Cleveland Museum of Art has made tremendous progress
during the past few years. Our Museum and its finances are in an excellent position to take advantage of an exciting and dynamic future,” said CMA board chair Steven Kestner. “The Museum is one of the premier art museums in the world and we are confident that we will find a great leader to continue the momentum.” Museum Trustee Fred Bidwell has been named by the Board to assume the role of Interim Director until a new director is in place. Kestner noted that, “Fred’s unique combination of business experience and passion for museums and collecting makes him a great choice to lead the Museum during the search.”

Detroit Bankruptcy Update Fall 2013

1.Detroit Institute for Art Makes Move to Engage State to Acquire Its Art
 DETROIT: The New York Times’s Randy Kennedy finally provides an inkling of the real story beneath the struggle over the Detroit Institute of Arts’s collection. To recap, the city bought much of the art contained within the museum. The region is eager to keep a world class museum. The surrounding counties have responded with alacrity by footing the museum’s operating costs with local taxes.

The only remaining issue has been how to help the City of Detroit realize the gain in value from the art it purchased without actually selling the art. This, not a philistine distaste for art as so many critics have leapt to assume, has been the real issue. Although it is never ideal for a museum’s collection to be treated as financial asset, the situation was created long ago. Now the Detroit Institute of Arts is putting the issue squarely on the table by appealing to the state of Michigan directly to save the museum’s art. If the proposal moves further, it will be a political victory for Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr who has been playing some very high level chess: The new proposal would ask the state to begin providing substantial funding to the museum that would allow the museum to provide money to the city that might otherwise be found only by selling art. At a business luncheon on Thursday in Detroit, Mr. Orr said that the museum might consider long-term leases of art works as another way of avoiding any sale. “I’m deferring to them to save themselves,” he told business leaders, referring to the institute.
The museum’s proposal for state help was described as a political long shot by many leaders
interviewed by the Detroit Free Press, who mentioned the competing demands for state money and the sensitivities over a city institution changing hands. “At first blush it sounds like it satisfies Kevyn Orr’s bottom line,” said Bert Johnson, a Democratic state senator, “but the continued divestiture of Detroit’s assets itself is implausible for me.”
Detroit Institute of Arts Mulls Transfer to State (Artsbeat/NYTimes)

2. NEW YORK At a packed, two-hour meeting at Manhattan’s Grolier Club last night, art dealers, museum curators, and other art world types sat rapt as a panel of high-profile experts held forth on the Detroit municipal bankruptcy filing and its possible implications for the billion-dollar-plus collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts.

What became clear during the panel, which was organized by the International Foundation for Art Research (IFAR) and moderated by its executive director, Sharon Flescher — and during the lively question-and-answer session that followed, in which organized art-world resistance and Nazi looting were invoked — was that those who oppose breaking up the collection are right to be worried.

This past spring, alarm bells went off in the art world when Kevyn Orr, the emergency manager appointed to oversee the city’s finances by Governor Rick Snyder, said that the DIA could “face exposure to creditors” if the city filed for bankruptcy — as it proceeded to do in July. Although a spokesman for Orr told the Detroit Free Press that “We have no interest in selling art,” he also said that the DIA’s collection would be considered part of the city’s assets, and in August Orr hired Christie’s to appraise some of the massive collection, a move that drew outrage from many observers. That $200,000 task was supposed to have been completed by the middle of this month but is still ongoing, the emergency manager’s office confirmed.

Left to right: Frank Robinson, Richard Levin, Graham W. J. Beal, Samuel Sachs II (photo by Steven Tucker)

The panel featured Graham W.J. Beal, the director, president and CEO of the DIA since 1999; Samuel Sachs II, the museum’s director between 1985 and 1997, and currently president of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation in New York; Richard Levin, a partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore who is advising the DIA; and Frank Robinson, a former director of the Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University, the Museum of Art at the Rhode Island School of Design, and Williams College Museum of Art.

Sachs kicked off the discussion by providing an overview of the DIA’s history, explaining how the 128-year-old institution came to be city-owned and “how we got here today.”  In  1919, he explained, when a group of enthusiastic citizens known as the “founder’s society” merged the museum with the city government, there were numerous benefits; the founders were freed to focus on matters like acquisitions and exhibitions while the city, one of the wealthiest and fastest-growing in the U.S., could be counted on to supply things like “floor wax and museum guard uniforms.”  (Another benefit was forestalling a planned 25-cent admission fee.) It was “a marriage made in heaven, as long as both parties had money,” Sachs said, and one that actually served to preserve and protect the collection. “I will talk in a few seconds about the wheels coming off the bus,” he added.

Beal said the museum has received confusing and mixed messages in recent months. “As soon as talk became serious about bankruptcy and the collection as an asset became obvious to everyone, we harbored what turned out to be forlorn hopes that the governor would decide it was politically the bravest thing to do to take [the collection] off the table. But he took another course; he decided, I presume, to take the emergency manager’s advice to leave us on the table.”

Many in the audience were surprised to hear Beal say that neither he, nor his chairman, has ever yet had a meeting with Orr. “From my point of view, it’s very strange,” he said.

Beal said he and his team have had several meetings with restructuring specialists. “We have spent considerable time doing our due diligence and looking at the possibilities of what might be feasible.” Beal said renting or loaning parts of the collection is an experiment the museum has tried in the past, but that it is not a viable way of monetizing the collection. He also noted that a lengthy report issued by the state’s attorney general in June had weighed in on the matter, saying that the DIA collection “may be owned by the city of Detroit but that it’s held in the public trust and as such, cannot be used to settle the city’s debts.”

 “After that [report], it becomes much murkier,” Beal said. His attempts to arrange a meeting with Governor Snyder have been met with “an effective stiff arm,” he said, and “in a way we are kind of i
n a cloud of unknowing.”

Levin, the Cravath partner, provided an excellent overview of how complicated the situation is, particularly by laying out how specific the laws regarding a municipal bankruptcy are, in contrast to those of a commercial bankruptcy. “Neither congress nor the court can interfere with any of the city’s properties or revenues — it’s a very important limitation that is not present in any commercial bankruptcy,” Levin said. And “only the emergency manager, not the court and not the creditors, can decide whether to sell the collection.”  (This decision, he added, is subject to two important constraints: what state law says about the emergency manager’s authority to sell; and the fact that the emergency-manager statute stipulates that the sale of assets valued at over $50,000 requires final approval from the governor.)

Levin said the attorney general’s report that the art cannot be sold to settle city debts, may be “persuasive, but not binding” for a court. Assuming Orr pushes for a sale, “some court is going to have to decide whether the attorney general’s opinion is right and the art is protected or not. Creditors will disagree. The matter is going to have to be litigated.”

During the Q&A session that followed, an audience member asked whether conditions could be imposed on a sale, such as partial ownership interest, by which the museum would retain some rights to the works, or limitation of a transaction to an institutional buyer. Levin reiterated that any plan would have to come from emergency manager Orr. Many art experts, meanwhile, suggested that any attempt to sell the art would be met with an art-world boycott, and that no major museum would even touch these works on principal. Walter Liedtke, curator of European paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, sitting in the audience, said: “The important thing to say is that institutions like yours, like my museum — the curators in my department would all resign if the Metropolitan Museum placed a single bid for any one of your objects, even in another department. I know that’s true.”

New York dealer Richard Feigen ratcheted up the evening’s rhetoric by likening the possibility of a sale to a notorious 1939 Nazi sale of “degenerate art” at Galerie Fischer in Lucerne, the shadow of which still looms over the respective works today. He rejected one audience member’s suggestion that an interested buyer, then or now, might feel they were saving or protecting the works. “The Nazi regime took them off the wall and put them up for sale. Theses were things for which they thought they could get money.”

And David Nash, another New York dealer, argued that the idea of the art world heroically resisting a sale was unrealistic. “I would like to like to think that,” he said. But even if American institutions and collectors refused to buy “there are dozens of very rich buyers outside the country, including in Qatar, Russia, and perhaps China” that might step up.