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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Plot for da Vinci Code II revealed in Busted-up Boston Baptist

February 19, 2007

Marietta Cambareri, assistant curator of decorative arts and sculpture at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, made the sort of discovery that folks in her business dream about: taking that backroom collection of shards and through the skills of her trade, turning it into a serious art object of wondrous benefit to scholarship, and…lest we not be blunt about it…turned an item of negative value (it had to be stored and insured without being enjoyed or even understood) to something now worth millions of dollars. Yeah I’m sure they really gave her a compensatory bonus for that one… NOT.

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attr. Giovanni Francesco Rustici St. John the Baptist, early 16th Century
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Art Miser totally scoops Mainstream Media on that Rembrandt thing

February 7, 2007

Well, wouldn’t you know it, two days after I drew our readers attention to the problems inherent in the Rembrandt recently auctioned at Sotheby’s, then the IHT picks up the same story. The article describes the problems of Rembrandts on the market and specifically discusses the sale of St. James the Greater and how it had to overcome numerous technical difficulties in order to reach it’s modest sale price of $25.8 million. We are told the insightful observation that the piece had been offered at the 2006 European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht for $45 million. Nice try. What the article fails to notice, though, which Art Miser readers had an exclusive on, is the Footnote of Death.

When is a Rembrandt really a Rembrandt? [IHT]


Pollock surely could not have dripped this

February 6, 2007

Who better to strain the connoisseur’s fine balance of art and science than Jack the Dripper, the guy who didn’t even have a brushstroke. The NYT reports to us today on one of the most befuddling cases of art authentication plaguing the world’s currently most expensive painter.

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Romans locate suspected site of ancient she-wolf suckle

January 28, 2007

Underfunded Italian archaeologists have discovered a vaulted chamber on Rome’s Palatine Hill that they believe may be the grotto worshipped as the site where Romulus and Remus suckled the she-wolf. The AP article explains that Italian archaeologists are extremely short of funds, and may have trouble fully excavating their new finds, which are part of the area around Augustus’ palace. I find this very profound, because Palatine Hill is ground zero for the birth of the Art Market, where Popes started digging up statuary in the 15th Century and began art collecting as we know it.
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Duveen Rembrandt not worth mentioning, sells for $25.8 mil.

January 28, 2007

Sothebys is trumpeting their recent sale of a Rembrandt, St. James the Greater, which went for $25.8 million at a recent Old Masters Auction, but could it be that the sale was actually a disappointment?
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The painting comes to us through a Who’s Who of art dealing in the last 2 centuries, and such a provenance should have pushed prices to the stratosphere, but instead St. James came up 3 million short of the high end of its estimate. In many ways, the pieces serves as an Exhibit A1 for what’s problematic with Rembrandts.
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“Tomb Raider” True bought looted Greek wreath cheap

January 17, 2007

Getty Museum antiquities curator Marion “Tomb Raider” True’s legal struggles have now extended in to Greece where she faces charges for having knowingly purchased a looted 4th Century BC golden funerary wreath. Among many points of interest in a fabulously juicy story (see NYTimes article) is the claim that she bought the piece through a Swiss middleman for the staggeringly cheap price of 1.1 million USD. Geez, you can’t even get a half-way decent Csontvary for that kinda money. I mean get a load of this thing:

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Funerary Wreath, Greek c.320-300 BC. Gold, with blue and green glass-paste inlays.
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