Weekly News Roundup: July 13-17, 2009

At the top of art, auction and collectibles news is a check with Neil Armstrong’s John Hancock, pinup art, more in the fight over the Obama poster and a Constable that doesn’t meet its reserve.

From The Boston Globe:
One giant signature for mankind

On July 16, 1969, a Saturn V rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral. Destination—the moon. Before the launch, astronaut Neil Armstrong wrote a check for $10.50, repayment of a loan from Hal Collins, the NASA chief of mission support. In time for the 40th anniversary of the successful mission, that check is going on the auction block. It’s believed it will go for more than $19,000, the highest price paid for an Armstrong autograph to date.

From The Associated Press:
Hoarded art by ‘quirky’ collector could net $20M

Charles Martignette had a thing for illustration art, be it pinups or Norman Rockwell. And during his 57 years, he managed to indulge quite a bit in his penchant, amassing a collection of some 4,300 items. Described as a “character,” he needed a 2,500-foot warehouse to stash the art. After his death more than a year ago, a relative inherited the trove and then sold it to a group of investors. Heritage Auction Galleries is selling the collection this week and estimates it will bring in $20 million.

From The New York Times:
Obama Poster Photographer Says He Owns the Picture

The case of the Associated Press v. Shepard Fairey is getting curiouser and curiouser. The AP sued Fairey for copyright infringement over the artist’s use of a photo of Barack Obama in an iconic poster. But hold on. The freelance photographer who snapped the shot says the AP had no right to copyright it. So Mannie Garcia is suing both the news organization AND Fairey.

From The BBC News:
Constable fails to fetch reserve

Again, a story of a painting not being recognized as the work of a famous artist. In this case, last year, a bidder walked away with a picture for a mere £24,000 ($40,000). The new owner had it authenticated, and voilà, it turned out to be “Storm Clouds over Hampstead” by John Constable. Sotheby’s put the painting up for auction with a presale estimate of £300,000 ($500,000) to £500,000 ($820,000). When the reserve price was not reached, the owner decided to keep the painting.

From The Associated Press via The Denver Post:
Warhol’s Jackson portrait dropped from NY auction

The Michael Jackson death mania has affected a scheduled auction of his Andy Warhol portrait. An East Hampton, N.Y., house had put up the 1984 painting with a $1-million to $10-million estimate. Now with all things Jackson selling phenomenally, the official statement from the house is it wanted “the greatest number of prospective purchasers” to have the opportunity to bid.

From The New York Times:
Shepard Fairey Gets Probation

Shepard Fairey of the Obama campaign-poster fame is not going to the slammer for peppering public and private property in Boston with his art. Fairey got two-year’s probation and a $2,000 fine. The artist was arrested in February on his way to a Boston Institute of Contemporary Art party for the opening of a, yes, Shepard Fairey retrospective. How embarrassing. Still pending is the Associated Press suit charging Fairey used an AP photo in that Obama Hope poster.

From The Los Angeles Times:
I return Bette Midler’s stolen Emmy

Let’s say you really wanted the Emmy that Raymond Burr got for “Perry Mason.” And let’s say you were outbid, so you went for the Bette Midler Emmy and other odd memorabilia that went with it and got the lot. That was five years ago, and you’ve wondered ever since why the Divine Miss M would have put up her first Emmy for auction. You mention this to D-List Kathy Griffin, and whoa, Bette Midler’s people are on the phone.

From Forbes:
1,500-Year-Old Hidden Record Of Christ’s Words

The Codex Climaci Rescriptus has a history worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster. The sixth-century document with the supposed words of Jesus is on the block after a tortuous trek from a sacred monastery in the Sinai to Westminster College in Cambridge, England, to Sotheby’s with stops in between.

From BBC News:
Cartier-Bresson photos ‘not lost’

Henri Cartier Bresson, credited as the founder of photojournalism, was understandably upset when it was discovered that hundreds of his photos archived in France’s National Centre for Contemporary Arts were water damaged. Although they were supposed to have been destroyed, Bresson’s widow (he died in 2004 at 95) charges negligence on the part of centre since some of those photos are showing up on the black market.

WorthPoint—Discover Your Hidden Wealth

Join WorthPoint on Twitter and Facebook.