Weekly News Roundup Feb. 9-Feb. 13, 2009

Headlines in the world of art, antiques and collectibles feature a French national monument returning to its homeland, disappointing contemporary art sales and a new record set at auction for an American historical document.

From Auction Central News:
Seattle buyer returns 1919 car to France

The Seattle man who purchased a 1919 Turcat-Mery roadster in France for almost $1 million has decided to return the car to its native country after the French government claimed it as a national monument. Charles Morse will ship the car back to France, hoping to find a buyer an antique-car show in Paris. The car was originally built for a descendant of Louis XVI, and as an original part of the Randan royal estate, is considered a French national monument.

From Bloomberg:
Koons Snubbed for Cheaper Art in London as Bargains Sought

In what was expected to be the highlight of Phillips de Pury’s London sale, Jeff Koons’ glass-vitrine sculpture failed to receive a single bid from buyers. Koons’ work was estimated to bring in at least $2.6 million at the sale, which sold two-thirds of the lots for a total of £4.2 million ($6 million). The Phillips de Pury sale is yet another indication that the contemporary-art market is far from healthy.

Lincoln Reelection Speech Sets Auction Record

The handwritten text of Abraham Lincoln’s re-election speech sold at Christie’s in New York for $3,442,500, a new record at auction for an American historical document. Lincoln delivered the speech two days after his re-election to the presidency at the White House in 1864. The document’s previous owner was the Southworth Library Association, which had owned it since 1926. It was part of a sale that brought in a total of $5,565,063.

From The New York Times:
Glamour Girls for the Middle Class

Through April 7, the Center for Jewish History’s Leo Baeck Institute is hosting an exhibit of Goldscheider ceramics. The popular, kitschy collectibles were made in Vienna from 1885–1938 and are from the collection of Kathryn Hausman, who serves as president of the Art Deco Society of New York. Goldscheider figures were splashes of glamour that decorated middle-class homes. More than 9,000 different models were made, ranging from the Hollywood starlets of the 1920s to North Africans in native costumes.

From BBC News:
German court orders poster return

A Florida man whose German father’s collection of vintage posters was seized by the Nazis during World War II has won the court decision over the ownership of the posters. The 4,000 posters, currently in the German Historical Museum, will be returned to Peter Sachs. It’s only a piece of the 12,500 posters that made up his father’s collection, but Sachs is hopeful that the German court decision will help bring the rest of the collection together. The entire collection is thought to be worth about £4 million ($5.7 million) and includes a 1932 “Die Blond Venus” movie poster, featuring Marlene Dietrich, which was used at court to argue Sachs’s case.

From Bloomberg:
Hirst Opens Second Shop, Defies Slump With £3.50 Keychains

British artist Damien Hirst has no doubt been affected by the contemporary-art market slump and has decided to do something about it. Hirst recently opened a new shop, Other Criteria, in London’s Marylebone district, selling smaller, affordable items for as little as £3.50 ($5). The cheapest of Hirst’s wares are the £3.50 Hirst-designed key chains, limited-edition prints, books and sculptures.

From WTHR-TV (Indianapolis):
Fate of antiques at children’s home debated

An Indianapolis children’s home that started as an orphanage for children of Civil War veterans is may close its doors, and with that comes the question of what to do with the home’s vast collection of antiques. Items amassed at the home since its opening in the 1800s include old clothing, bathing suits, a box of diapers from the early 1900s, original artwork, antique fireplaces, handmade clocks and furniture, and stained-glass windows. For now, the antiques will stay put thanks to a lawsuit filed in hopes of keeping the items in place.

From The (Colorado Springs) Gazette:
Antiques preserve experience of world’s first skiers

Most collectors keep their antiques in their homes on shelves where the collectibles can be admired. A Carbondale, Colo., man who possesses one of the most extensive collections of vintage ski gear in the world, likes to use his antiques for their intended purpose: on the slopes. Richard Allen owns a ski shop in Carbondale and organized antique-ski races in Aspen, as well as renting out equipment from his extensive collection—boots, skis, hats, gloves, poles, posters, patches and pins, to name a few—for commercials and the like.

From BBC News:
Gandhi’s spectacles up for sale

Mahatma Gandhi’s iconic glasses, along with a pair of leather sandals and a pocket watch, will be auctioned in New York next month. The spectacles, which Gandhi once said gave him “the vision to free India” from British colonial rule, are valued at $42,000, partly because he had so few material possessions. The Zenith pocket watch, made in 1910, is expected to be the biggest sale at the auction.

From The Chicago Sun-Times:
Cars, collectibles worth millions saved from fire

A fire at an auto showroom in suburban Chicago went up in flames Monday night, but the business’ $500,000 Ford Mustang was saved from the blaze. Another Mustang—this one a 1964 car that was the first Mustang to ever come off the manufacturer’s assembly line and worth about $5 million—was also saved, along with multiple signed rock ’n’ roll records from Elvis, the Beatles, Buddy Holly and others. The fire department that responded to the call reported that the blaze started in a 1968 Oldsmobile in the showroom. The Oldsmobile was worth $75,000.

From Luxist:
Watch Owned by Kennedy and Onassis Up at Auction

A 14K gold watch that belonged to both John F. Kennedy and Aristotle Onassis is scheduled to be up for auction at Antiquorum in March. Estimated to bring in bids up to $200,000, the watch has 57 gemstones on it and has two inscriptions. Kennedy’s personal secretary found the watch in his desk after he was assassinated and gave the timepiece to Jackie Kennedy. She later gifted the watch to Aristotle Onassis.

From The Art Newspaper:
Design forgery ring uncovered in France

Double-check your collection if it contains pieces by Jean Prouvé, Charlotte Perriand, Alexandre Noll and Pierre Chareau. French police have busted a counterfeiting scheme that reproduced objects by these famous 20-century designers. The artist behind the fake pieces died several years ago, but members of his family, in addition to other associates, were arrested on charges of counterfeiting, receiving counterfeit goods and fraud.

From The New York Times:
Artist Sues The A.P. Over Obama Image

Shepard Fairey has had quite a week so far. After being arrested in Boston—on his way to a retrospective in his honor at the Institute of Contemporary Art—for illegally papering the city with posters of his artwork, Fairey, in a pre-emptive strike against the Associated Press, has filed a lawsuit asking to be protected from a claim of copyright infringement. Fairey’s now-iconic poster of President Obama is based on an AP photograph of the then-candidate. Fairey’s lawyers believe he falls under the fair-use exemptions of copyright law. The AP has not taken legal action to date but contacted Fairey’s studio last month asking him to pay for the use of the image.

From The Associated Press:
Rare trove of Hebrew books displayed in NYC

The Valmadonna Trust Library, estimated to be worth $40 million, went on display at Sotheby’s in New York this week. The 11,000 works are thought to be the greatest collection of privately owned Judaica. Among the rare Hebrew books and manuscripts on display are a 16th-century Hebrew bible once used at Westminster Abbey, a 10th- or 11th-century Franco-German Hebrew bible and an almost-perfect complete edition of the Babylonian Talmud, printed in 1519-1523. The collection is the life work of London collector Jack Lunzer, who wanted it to end up eventually at the Library of Congress. Per his request, Sotheby’s will sell the collection as a whole to either a private collector or public institution.

From The New York Times:
Rare N.Y. Photo to Be Offered by Sotheby’s

A rare photograph of New York City, dated 1849, will be up for sale at Sotheby’s next month. The auction house claims that the daguerreotype is the oldest photograph found of the city, a landscape of what is now Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Because antique daguerreotypes of the New York City are quite rare, experts at Sotheby’s don’t have an estimate of how much the photograph will sell for at auction.

From Auction Central News:
Santonio Holmes’ Super Bowl gloves in charity auction

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver and Super Bowl star Santonio Holmes has donated his Reebok-made gloves to an auction to raise money for the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America Inc. The gloves, worn by Holmes when he made the touchdown catch to seal the Steelers’ victory over the Arizona Cardinals, have a current high bid of $15,200 on the Reebok Web site that is running the auction through Thursday. Holmes’ son suffers from sickle cell disease.

From BBC News:
Classic Bugatti makes 3.4m euros

After being discovered by its late owner’s children in a musty garage in England, a classic Bugatti automobile sold for 3.4 million euros ($4.43 million) at a Bonhams auction in Paris. The 1937 Type 57S Atalante has not been driven in more than 50 years and is considered to be one of the most coveted cars among automobile collectors.

By Elizabeth Hendley, a WorthPoint writer based in Seattle

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