Weekly News Roundup: July 6 – July 10, 2009

Headlining art, antiques and collectibles news is more bad news from the auction front, an heiress selling some Old Masters, and a craigslist seller getting stung.

From Bloomberg:
London Auction Total Falls 70% as Auction Houses Cut Guarantees

Bad news on the impressionist-auction front. It’s reported that sales dropped 70 percent from last year. The numbers might sound impressive—Sotheby’s, Phillips de Pury and Christie’s pulled in $269.4 million. However, in 2008, similar auctions saw $900 million. As much as buyers keeping wallets closed, the low returns are being blamed on sellers not bringing the highest-quality artwork to the block.

From Bloomberg:
Johnson & Johnson Heiress Raises $15.9 Million at Art Auction

It was one of those fairy-tale stories. She was the lowly Polish chambermaid. He was, well, he was rich, a Johnson & Johnson heir. He built her a mansion in Princeton, N.J., that had the locals’ jaws dropping. (A shipment of marble came in from Italy that was a tad shade off. Back it went to Italy.) The she (Barbara Piasecka) became the he’s (J. Seward Johnson) third wife in 1971 and inherited a ton of money (a half a billion after settling with his children) when he died twelve years later.

Some of the money went to acquiring Old Masters. Barbara Piasecka Johnson, now 72 and the 246th richest American, according to Forbes, put some of the paintings up for auction. The artwork went for almost $16 million.

From The Associated Press via Auction Central News:
New Hampshire police say stolen painting was on Craigslist

Where do you go to unload a stolen painting? Why craigslist, of course. Unfortunately, for the seller, the police were tipped off that “Nuyakuk Falls Rainbow” by Douglas Van Howd had been lifted from a Florida home. An undercover detective did a bit of negotiating and then arresting.

From The Telegraph (U.K.):
Antiques Roadshow finds $1 million Chinese jade

So, your father gives you a bowl and some other jade stuff he said he got when he was in China during the 1930s and ’40s. And what the heck, you take the pieces to the British “Antiques Roadshow.” Good move. The “stuff” turns out to be a Qianlong-era (1736-1795) trove. That’s what’s called JACKPOT.

From The New York Times:
Baseball Pioneer’s Letters Pulled From Auction

Harry Wright was there during the early days of major-league baseball, and he did some writing. Some of his letters were to be auctioned during an appropriate venue, the MLB All-Star game in St. Louis. Don’t get out your credit cards or checkbook. The FBI thinks the letters may have been stolen from a library.

From Auction Central News:
Leslie Hindman to auction letters of gay rights activist Harvey Milk

Harvey Milk did not hide that he was gay when he ran for public office, the first person to not do so in California history. His killer, Dan White, on the other hand, hid behind what was called “The Twinkie Defense,” the sugar made him do it. Be that as it may, letters written by Milk are on the block.

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