Weekly News Roundup Feb. 2-Feb. 6, 2009

From The New York Times:
Dear Amish Diary: After Floods, Made a Quilt

An Ephrata, Pa., auction of Amish diaries brought in about $3,000—mostly from Amish bidders. The diaries aren’t exactly what most of us think of. Instead of juicy details about our high-school crushes, the writers of these notebooks recorded chores, recipes and other facets of daily Amish life, often completely devoid of any hint of emotion. Ranging from the 1850s to several written as recently as the 1990s, the diaries are an interesting peek into the largely unknown—to outsiders, that is—world in which the Amish live. Keeping meticulous records is a fairly typical practice in Amish communities.

From the Lake Oswego (Ore.) Review:
Antique barber pole theft brings out the vigilante in Lake Oswego barber

Lake Oswego, Ore., barber Tyler Atkinson is on the hunt for his stolen antique barber pole with the help of his community. The Marvy barber pole has been a fixture outside the shop for more than 50 years, and Atkinson estimates that purchasing and installing a similar pole would cost upward of $2,000. Adding a twist to the story, in recent years, several antique barber poles in the Portland area have been stolen. None have been recovered.

From BBC News:
‘Rediscovered’ art fetches £4.4m

At its first appearance at auction, Lucio Fontana’s 1961 painting, “Concetto Spaziale,” sold at Sotheby’s contemporary-art sale in London for £4.4 million ($6.5 million). The abstract white-and-gold work ended the sale with the largest price tag, even though it didn’t reach its £5 million low estimate. “Concetto Spaziale” had not been seen in public for more than 40 years. Other works at the sale were a Jeff Koons sculpture and a Gerhard Richter oil on canvas.

From Bloomberg:
Brandeis ‘Screwed Up’ in Handling Art Museum’s Fate

According to Brandeis University President Jehuda Reinharz, the university’s decision to close its Rose Art Museum and liquidate the museum’s assets was mishandled. After an outcry from university board of trustees and the public, Reinharz says the museum’s building will remain open, but no final decision has been made about whether the art will be sold. Originally, the plan was to sell off the museum’s collection for fundraising purposes, as the university’s endowment has decreased in the current economic climate. Insiders feel certain that this plan will be carried out to some degree.

From BBC News:
Monet painting auctioned for £11m

A Monet painting depicting his wife, Camille, reclining in a field of flowers sold for £11,241,250 ($16.4 million) at Christie’s in London. Though the sale was a triumph in the midst of the art-market recession, it failed to reach its expected price tag of £15 million ($22 million). “Dans la Prairie” was part of the auction house’s Impressionist and Modern art sale, which also included a Renoir, a Matisse and another Monet. All three failed to reach their reserve price.

From BBC News:
‘Lovejoy’ find sells for £8,800

A 15-inch Chinese scepter that was originally purchased for £300 ($441) was sold for £8,800 ($12,864) at auction in Dorset, England. The 18th-century piece is believe to bring good luck to its owner and is thought to have been originally made for Emperor Quinlong. For those non-British collectors and readers, “Lovejoy” refers to a BBC television show about an antiques dealer of the same name. Lovejoy had a knack for discovering good bargains.

From Bloomberg:
Japanese Emperor’s Chinese Box May Sell for More Than $5 million

A gift from China’s Tang dynasty to a Japanese emperor is expected to sell for at least $5 million when the 8th-century vanity box is auctioned at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong. The tortoiseshell box with mother-of-pearl and amber inlay was given to Emperor Shomu in the 700s. Its high value is due to its rarity, according to Sotheby’s.

From BBC News:
Dancer fetches £13.3m at auction

Edward Degas’ “The Little Dancer” set a record for the artist when it sold at Sotheby’s for £13.3 million ($19.2 million) during the auction house’s Impressionist and Modern art sale. The bronze statue was originally made from wax in 1879–81 and went for £1 million more than the previous record for a Degas statue. With this sale, Sotheby’s cleared the bar for the first major test of the art market this year. Sales totaled £32.5 million ($46.8 million).

From BBC News:
Prison for Rothschild book thief

A man who stole hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of rare books from the well-known Rothschild family has been sentenced to jail time. David Slade, an antiques-book dealer, will spend 28 months in jail after the theft of books from the Rothschild private library. Slade was hired to catalog the book collection by Sir Evelyn de Rothschild. Christie’s auction house estimates the value of the stolen tomes totals at least £230,000 ($332,000).

From Playthings.com
Mattel to preview ‘Ghostbusters’ collectibles

Fans and collectors of all things Ghostbusters will be excited to hear that Mattel is producing a line of collectible toys to coordinate with the 25th anniversary of the film’s release. The 12-inch figures will be available on the company’s Web site starting in June, but attendees at New York’s Comic Con and Mattel’s New York Toy Fair Collector Preview Night will get a sneak peek of several of the toys. Mattel will also sell a few 6-inch Ghostbusters figures, as well.

From the New York Times:
Treasure Hunters Say They’ve Found a 1744 Shipwreck

The wreckage of a ship found last year in the English Channel has been confirmed as British warship H.M.S. Victory, according to Odyssey Marine Exploration researchers. In a severe 1744 storm, the ship sunk with 900 men on board, as well as a speculated four tons of gold coins—worth an estimated $1 billion.

The discovery team verified the ship’s identity by examining 41 of its cannons that were visible through the water. In its time, the H.M.S. Victory was one of the most feared vessels that sailed, complete with 110 bronze cannons. The Odyssey group came across the shipwreck last April. After 20 years exploring the English Channel, the group finally hit the mother lode.

From Auction Central News:
Lost 1793 Trumball painting discovered in England

A mislabeled painting bought for $280 turned out to be worth almost 80 times more than its purchase price. The miniature painting, which experts now know was painted by Colonial-era artist John Trumball, is valued at $22,000. A researcher for the London art dealer who purchased the painting thinks that the inscription on the back of the painting was mistakenly read as “Humbert” instead of Trumball. Trumball, a Connecticut native whose works hang in the U.S. Capitol, painted the portrait of Philadelphia lawyer William West in 1793.

From Art Info:
California Biennial Sculpture Mistaken for Trash

Jedediah Caesar’s sculpture, “Gleaners Stone,” is back in place as part of this year’s California biennial after a Culver City resident supposedly mistook the artwork for debris and contacted local officials to remove it. Caesar’s cast-resin work is known for its use of found objects and trash, and was installed on a street corner—part of an off-site project for the biennial.

From BBC News:
Turner landscape sells for £9.1m

Despite gloomy times for the art market, JMW Turner’s “The Temple of Jupiter Panellenius” sold for £9.1 million ($12.9 million) at Sotheby’s in New York last week. The oil painting is the second-highest price paid for a Turner work and has been in a private collection for the past 25 years. One of only three Turner paintings depicting scenes from ancient Greece, the landscape features dancing figures and a backdrop of a classical temple.

From The Winchester (Va.) Star:
Citizens Petition for ‘Jake’

Fifty residents of Winchester, Va., have signed a petition to keep “Old Jake” close to home. A town fixture, the 6-foot-tall copper weather vane has sat atop Rouss Fire Co. for 137 years, and Winchester citizens want him to remain there. Jake failed to sell at Sotheby’s last month. Presale estimates were between $3 million and $5 million, but the highest bid was only $2.1 million—short of the minimum purchase price. While Rouss Fire Co. is still working with Sotheby’s to find a buyer, local residents wish the company would keep this piece of town history.

From The New York Times:
Hard Times Hit Auction Houses

Christie’s press officers are fending off rumors that François Pinault, the luxury-brands mogul who owns the international auction house, plans to sell the company. Amid the economic crisis, eyes have been on auction houses, especially after Sotheby’s downsized to the tune of 60 personnel layoffs and archrival Christie’s let go more than 100 staffers. Both auction houses claim to occupy the higher end of the art-market spectrum, but results from upcoming Impressionist, modern, postwar and contemporary art sales will do the talking.

From BBC News:
Funds Secured for Titian Painting

After an extended deadline, the National Gallery of Scotland and the National Gallery in London have finally raised enough money—£50 million (about $71 million) to be exact—to keep Titian’s “Diana and Acteon” in the hands and in front of the eyes of the British public. The painting’s owner, the Duke of Sutherland, announced plans to sell “Diana and Acteon” in 2007 to the highest bidder and gave a Dec. 31, 2008, deadline to raise the necessary funds to keep the painting, which had been on public display for more than 200 years.

From Forbes:
Bowl-Related Business Less Than Super

Leading up to kickoff of Super Bowl XLIII, purveyors of game memorabilia were seeing lackluster interest in their wares. With game attendance projected to be down at least 1 percent compared to last year, it’s not surprising that fans didn’t have much cash left over after flying into Tampa from Arizona and Pittsburgh. A pregame auction in the Hall of Fame room slashed prices, and still there were few takers.

By Elizabeth Hendley, a WorthPoint writer based in Seattle

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