Weekly News Roundup: March 23-27, 2009

Finishing out the week in art, antiques and collectibles news is John McEnroe’s role in the Salandar implosion, a green light for the Michael Jackson sale, TEFAF Maastricht’s biggest buzz, art thieves in England, a 1939 Grand Prix car and two museums’ plans to deaccession pieces of their collections.

From The New York Daily News:
Tennis great John McEnroe helps nab art dealer Lawrence Salandar, who was indicted for fraud

More details about the Lawrence Salandar case. Anyone who’s seen John McEnroe throw a tantrum on the tennis court knows better than to cross him. Too bad Lawrence Salandar was none the wiser. When Salandar allegedly defrauded McEnroe out of $2 million, he should have known there would be hell to pay. McEnroe paid Salandar 50-percent interest for two Arshile Gorky paintings—the same half-interest that Salandar had already sold to another investor before he sold the paintings and kept the proceeds. McEnroe is only one of the clients of the Salandar-O’Reilly Galleries whose losses has help indict Salandar on more than 100 counts of fraud. He’s currently being held on bail of $1 million.

From Auction Central News:
Michael Jackson sale going forward; auctioneer alledges physical threats

Julien’s Auctions’ sale of Michael Jackson belongings and memorabilia is a go, according to Darren Julien. After lawsuits and even alleged physical threats, the sale will take place in Beverly Hills, April 22–25. Curious onlookers and collectors alike can view many of the sale’s lots at the Times Square Hard Rock Cafe in New York. Among the highlights of the sale are Jackson’s iconic white, crystal-encrusted glove, the entertainer’s American Music Awards for “Thriller” and “Beat It,” and several customized jackets and belts that the King of Pop has worn over the years.

From The New York Times:
The High Altar of the Temple of Love

For the first time, The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) in Maastricht, Netherlands, had a separate section devoted to 20th-century design, but it was a Louis XVI bed that made the biggest splash during the fair, which ended Sunday.

From BBC News:
Art raid thieves were ‘animals’

Four men broke into the house of Esmond and Susie Bulmer, of Bulmer’s cider fame, and tied up the couple’s house sitter before stealing £2 million ($2,865,000) worth of jewelry, antiques, artwork and a Mercedes. Deborah Barnjum was house-sitting for the Bulmers while they were on vacation and was letting their dog out at night when the men ambushed her and tied her to the house’s banister. Paintings by George Frederic Watts and Sir George Clausen were among the 15 artworks stolen.

From Bloomberg:
Grand Prix Car from 1939 May Fetch Record $8 Million

A 1939 200-mph D-Type Auto Union automobile that was discovered in eastern Germany by Russians following World War II will likely fetch $8 million as this type of car rarely appears at auction. The silver Grand Prix race car goes under the hammer at the Bonhams & Butterfields August 14 car auction in Carmel, Calif.

Carnegie, Montclair Museums Deaccessioning Works From Collections

Following the controversy surrounding the decision at Brandeis University’s Rose Art Museum to deaccession several pieces from its collection for fundraising purposes, the Carnegie Museum of Art and the Montclair Art Museum have announced that they plan to do the same. The two museums will sell pieces from their collections—in both cases, items that either no longer fit the museums’ visions or items rarely seen by the public—in order to acquire new pieces. Montclair Art Museum plans to sell a 1951 Jackson Pollock work at an upcoming Christie’s sale while the Carnegie had George Nakashima and Charles and Ray Eames pieces in a Sotheby’s sale today.

From The Associated Press via Auction Central News:
Fate of Titanic, its treasures, in U.S. judge’s hands

A Virginia judge is expected to rule that the wreckage and treasures from the Titanic must remain together and accessible to the public. Because the ship sank in international waters, many legal claims have been laid to the ownership of the ship’s artifacts and wreck site since it was found in 1985. RMS Titanic Inc., the team that salvaged the wreckage, would like to be granted limited ownership of the artifacts.

From BBC News:
Antique giant bird’s egg on sale

An egg laid by the Great Elephant Bird of Madagascar in the 17th century is up for sale at the Chelsea Antiques Fair in London for a cool £5,000 ($7,200). The egg’s circumference measures 3 feet and was laid by the now-extinct bird, whose species died out in the mid-1600s.

From Bloomberg:
Slain Gold Magnate’s Art Sale May Fetch South African Record

The 20th-century art collection that belonged to Brett Kebble, a South African businessman who developed South Deep, the largest gold deposit in the world, before being assassinated in 2005, is expected to bring in at least 100 million rand ($11 million) when it goes under the hammer on May 7 in Johannesburg. Experts say the 133-lot collection might break a record for South African art.

Yale Goes to Court to Protect a Van Gogh

In a pre-emptive tactic to protect a painting in its collection, Yale University has filed a suit arguing that the university is the rightful, legal owner of Vincent Van Gogh’s “The Night Café.” Acquired through donation in 1961, the painting once belonged to a famous Russian art collector, Ivan Morozov. When the USSR nationalized its citizens’ private collections after the revolution, the painting became property of the government, which then sold it. Last year, a man surfaced in Paris claiming to be Morozov’s great-grandson, saying that he has legal claim to the painting.

From AFP:
Hitler art to go on sale in Britain

Thirteen paintings created by one of history’s most infamous men will go on sale April 23 in Ludlow, England. The paintings, mostly watercolors, bear Adolf Hitler’s initials and are thought to have been painted when Hitler was an artist during his 20s. Recently discovered in a garage, the paintings were brought back to England presumably by a British soldier after World War II and are expected to fetch six figures at auction.

From The New York Times:
Art Dealer Is Charged With Stealing $88 Million

More than a year after the implosion of Manhattan’s Salandar-O’Reilly Galleries, owner Lawrence B. Salandar has been arrested and charged with 100 counts of grand larceny, fraud, falsifying business records, scheming to defraud and perjury. The charges stem from allegations that Salandar stole $88 million from clients¬—including such high-profile investors as John McEnroe and Roy Lennox—who consigned artwork to him and never received sale proceeds, and, in some cases, never saw their pieces again.

From The Associated Press:
‘Psycho’ score fails to sell at London auction

The spine-tingling musical score to Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” failed to bring in bids near its low estimate of £30,000 ($44,000) at a Bonhams auction in London on Wednesday. High estimates for the 20-page sheet music topped £40,000 ($56,000). It will be returned to the third wife of Bernard Herrmann, the score’s composer, who was selling it.

From Bloomberg:
Clown Car Toy Sells For Record $103,500 in $4 Million Auction

The cast-iron clown car that was supposed to be the star of Donald Kaufman’s toy collection, indeed, made quite a splash when it sold for $103,500 at auction last week. The toy, made in Germany in 1909, headlined the sale of Kaufman’s extensive, 7,000-piece collection and was originally estimated to bring in $40,000. Kaufman was the co-founder of KB Toys.

From BBC News:
Ostrich egg art in online auction

Scottish artists have decorated more than 50 ostrich eggs for an Easter Monday auction to benefit Mary’s Meals, an international charity that provides food to developing countries. Bidding starts at £50 ($73) for each egg, which are decorated by the likes of John Lowrie Morrison and Ronnie Fiord.

From The New York Times:
Christie’s Is Sued After Francis Bacon Painting Fails to Sell

Weiss Family Art, a family trust led by collector George A. Weiss, is suing Christie’s over a Francis Bacon painting that failed to sell at the auction house. According to the suit, Christie’s reneged on the $40-million guarantee to the trust when the painting went up for auction. The guarantee meant that the auction house would pay $40 million if the painting went unsold, but Christie’s did not to honor the guarantee because of the economic crisis.

From The Associated Press via Auction Central News:
Missing Italian statue found in N.C. couple’s home

A statue of St. Innocent that was stolen from a church in Naples, Italy, almost 20 years ago has been found in Charlotte, N. C. The couple that bought the statue had no idea it had been stolen from Santa Maria degli Angeli alle Croci when they purchased it from an antiques dealer. Sixteen other sculptures and two oil paintings were stolen at the same time.

From BBC News:
Hockney’s housewife gets display

David Hockney’s “Beverly Hills Housewife” will go on display for the first time in two decades before it’s auctioned off at Christie’s of London in May. The painting belonged to collector Betty Freeman, who died in January and whose collection will go under the hammer May 13. Christie’s experts say “Housewife” should fetch between £5–7 million ($7,287,000–$10,201,000).

Elizabeth Hendley is a WorthPoint writer based in Seattle.

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