Christie’s employs incompetence as smuggling technique

October 7, 2007

Christie’s is using a variety of techniques to get the paintings out of Europe and over to the unquenchable NY market. Recently, that has meant fronting legal fees for WWII-era restitution claims. But now we hear of a new method, which we might call accidental-but-actually-intentional smuggling.

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The case centers around an oil sketch of The Hunt of Meleager and Atalanta by Rubens. The picture was the star lot in Christie’s old master sale in London in December of 2005, going for £3,144,000. The Art Newspaper reports that name of the buyer has not emerged, but he is understood to be a private collector from the New York area. Read the rest of this entry »


THE DECIDER now gets to even decide Provenance

October 1, 2007

Um…didn’t anyone notice the spectacular irony in this?!! Leonard Lauder, older brother of “RestitutionRonald, is now having his own Klimt demanded back from him. Better yet, the piece was sold to Leonard by Ronald’s long time mentor Serge Sabarsky. It was Sabarsky’s idea to persuade Ronald to open the Neue Galerie back in 1996, soon before he died. He is now immortalized with over-priced Sacher Torte at the museum’s Cafe Sabarsky. We also witness the re-emergence Shoah-Chaser Randol E. Schoenberg (you know, grandson of 12-tone Arnold), but this time, instead of helping the Lauders acquire Klimts, he’s shaking them down for one they already own. And even with all this fabulous Viennese Secession Incest that’s really not the story here.

No folks, what is really big news here is that now the THE DECIDER can decide about the provenance of a painter’s oeuvre. This may sound like a minor development, but if Schoenberg’s strategy works it could place certain anointed art historians (basically those who write the catalogue raisonne for a given painter) in position to pass judgments worth millions of dollars. Alfred Weidinger has tred into this uncharted territory with his compendium of Klimt’s entire oeuvre.

Just look at this case, for example. Klimt painted Blooming Meadows around 1904-5

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Cool Object of the Week: PAINTINGS!!!!!

May 9, 2007

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Time again to strap on that paddle and plug in the black lamps, because it’s high auction season in Budapest. Three major auction houses, Kieselbach, Virag Judit, and Nagyhazi are all having their big Spring Auctions in the next 2 weeks. Though it hasn’t shown up on the web catalogue, local radio is reporting that Virag Judit has got a Klimt drawing. Only question will be then whether Ronald Lauder is buying or selling it.

As usual if you have any works that interest you, contact us about previewing and bidding.

Below are my picks.

BEST SLEEPER
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Virag Judit, lot 27, MISKOLCZY FERENC (1899-1994)
VIEW OF TOLEDO, 1925 Oil, canvas, 70,5×100,5 cm
Signed lower left: Toledo 1925 Miskolczy
Starting price: 180 000 Ft (€750)

Despite the painter’s little-known name, everything is right with this one: the location, the date 1925 (think The Sun Also Rises), and the fauvist colors with the El Greco expressionism…and good size.
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Suspect drips already flipped

April 25, 2007

The controversy over newly discovered works claiming to be by the world’s most expensive paint splatterer has gotten even more interesting. We reported a few months ago about the fallout from paint tests showing that a miraculous find of unknown Pollocks were fresher than his crash-test corpse. Now the IHT reports that Alex Matter, the owner of the trove of 32 small works found in his father’s storage locker might have already sold some of them (which should surprise nobody).
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Alex Matter with some possible Pollocks that he may or may not own anymore
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Cool Object of the Week: Kozma/Peche-istic parlor set

April 16, 2007

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Here’s a fascinating sitting room ensemble with it’s original 1920’s era upholstery.

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The set includes two armchairs

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and settee.
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Cool Object of the Week: Camille Gauthier dining room set

March 18, 2007

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Here’s a Camille Gauthier (protégé of Majorelle) dining room set.

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Christie’s: Yo, European Museums, we’re coming for your artworks!

February 26, 2007

It used to be back in the good old days of Duveen & Co. that the insatiable NY market would have top artworks smuggled out of Europe in false-bottom suitcases. Now Christie’s has struck upon a new tactic: providing legal support to heirs with restitution claims for artworks in European public collections. Since such procedures can take decades, it’s an expensive investment of resources for the auction house, but the strategy is now starting to pay enormous dividends.

Auction records for three Central European expressionists have all been set by restituted art works:
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Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s Street Scene-Berlin ($38 million); Egon Schiele’s View of Krumau ($24 million); Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II ($87 million)
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