Weekly News Roundup: Sept. 21-25, 2009

Starting out art, auction and collectibles news is an armed robbery of a Rene Magritte painting worth €3 million, a museum director accused of taking Egyptian artifacts, and an Italian airline auctioning its art collection.

The Times of London
Armed thieves steal Magritte painting in daylight raid

A masterpiece by the surrealist painter René Magritte worth up to €3 million was stolen by armed thieves today in a lightning daylight raid on a museum dedicated to his life and work. ”Olympia”, a nude inspired by Magritte’s wife and muse Georgette, was taken off the wall of the small gallery in the artist’s former home while museum staff and visitors were ordered to lie down in the back garden.

From Newsday:
Ex-museum director to surrender in theft of artifacts

The FBI filed a complaint last week against a one-time director of Long Island University’s Hillman Museum. The director, who was at the museum for 22 years before his contract was not renewed last August, is accused of taking nine Egyptian artifacts and putting them up for auction at Christie’s.

From Bloomberg:
Alitalia to Auction Art Collection Valued at 1 Million Euros

Alitalia, the Italian airline, landed in bankruptcy court. It has been ordered to auction its art collection, which includes a work by Gino Severini, an important member of the Italian Futurism movement. It’s expected the sale will bring in $1.5 million.

From Auction Central News:
John Lennon autographed magazine sells for $12,713

In 1966, John Lennon gave an interview to an American teen magazine in which he famously declared the Beatles were more popular than Christ. This set off a firestorm, especially in the Bible Belt, where people took to burning their Fab Four albums. (The Beatles manager, Brian Epstein, was not fazed by this. After all, “They have to buy the records before they burn them,” he pointed out.) Lennon autographed a copy of the magazine for its publisher. An orthopedic surgeon from New York was the winning bidder.

From Bloomberg:
Rembrandt Portrait May Raise 25 Million Pounds at Christie’s

A Rembrandt portrait may come in with the highest estimate ($29.7 million to $40.5 million) ever placed on an Old Masters. While contemporary art has taken a major hit—the works of some living artists are selling 50 percent lower than last year—Old Masters’ prices are faring much better.

From Bloomberg:
Charles Darwin Ship’s Whale Tooth Sells for 40,800 Pounds

So what makes a carved whale tooth, a scrimshaw, worth $67,480? If it happened to be carved when Charles Darwin was onboard gathering material for “The Origin of Species” is the answer.

This also happens to be the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the revolutionary book’s publication.

WorthPoint—Discover Your Hidden Wealth

Join WorthPoint on Twitter and Facebook.