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Collected News June 30 Update

by Sandra Lee Stuart (07/02/08).

A Warhol lawsuit shares the news with a Warhol celebrity portrait for sale, a French art dealer is exposed as a smuggler and part of a recent Impressionist armed robbery, Chinese Olympic collectibles hit the market and family heirlooms turn prized antiques into a reason for therapy in today’s collected news of late.

Warhol for Charity

Tennis great John McEnroe’s winning $30,000 bid at a 1986 charity auction led to an acrylic-and-silkscreen portrait of him and wife Tatum O’Neal by Andy Warhol. Warhol worked from a Polaroid shot he took of the couple. http://www.sothebys.com/app/live/lot/LotDetail.jsp?sale_number=L08022&live_lot_id=27>Sotheby’s of London auctioned the piece July 1. Although it sold for far less than the expected $680,000, the hammer price of $481,535 with a buyer’s premium will go to benefit Habitat for Humanity. In a nice bit of scheduling, the sale was held during the second week of the Wimbledon tennis championships. McEnroe won this Grand Slam men’s singles title three times. Meanwhile, within the last month, ex-wife O’Neal made the headlines after being arrested in a drug bust. The Bloomberg.com article,“McEnroe to Sell His Warhol Portrait With O’Neal for Charity,” includes a photo of the painting.

Lawyers, Liars and Thieves in Jumpsuits

Warhol art made headlines again this week when The New York Times reported that another piece sold in 2000 for more than $3 million might be a fake. The seller is being sued by a one-time Warhol assistant who claims that not only did he make the piece after Warhol was deceased, but that he never sold the piece and is its rightful owner. Court papers call the seller, who was an artist and friend of the late Andy Warhol, a “liar” and “a consummate fraudster.”

In other art legal news, the Associated Press reports that a French citizen living in Florida was recently indicted for conspiring to sell stolen paintings for $4.7 million. In August 2007, Impressionist and Baroque-era masterpieces were taken from the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Nice, France, by armed robbers in jumpsuits and were recovered earlier this month. Undercover French and U.S. law enforcement caught the fraudulent art dealer in a sting operation that included meetings in Miami, Barcelona and other locations.

Home Accoutrements that Accost

What happens when a family heirloom owns you? An article in The New York Times Home and Garden section, “The Tyranny of the Heirloom,” explains how inherited furniture can lead to the shrink’s couch when prized antiques or paintings become guilt-ridden burdens.

20 Million Olympic Collectibles

A bed that belonged to Houston Rockets’ 7’6” star center Yao Ming is just one of 20 million souvenir collectibles for sale by the Beijing Equity Exchange and Beijing Olympics organizers in anticipation of the Summer Olympics. The Wall Street Journal blogs section reports that more than 100 categories of items are listed on the Beijing Equity Exchange Web site, including “chairs, tea tables, ironing boards, trash cans, shower stools and 16,000 single mattresses (may be purchased individually).” All bids are welcome, but there’s a catch. The auction is only listed in Chinese.

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