Welcome to our July 2007 Newsletter!
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News from the world of art and antiques
June 20, 2007, BBC News. Claude Monet's masterpiece Nympheas has been sold at auction for £18.5m at Sotheby's in London.
The painting, which had been expected to sell for £15m, was seen as one of the finest of Monet's water lily series to have come on to the market.
But, despite expectations, it failed to break the artist's auction record of £19.8m, set in 1998.
A view of the River Thames by Monet sold for almost £18m - more than twice its estimate - at Christie's on Monday.
His paintings of water lilies are among the most iconic images of Impressionism, and only a few such works remain in private hands.
Painted in Monet's garden at Giverny in 1904, Nympheas was bought from Michel Monet, the artist's son, in the 1920s by a French collector, and remained in the same family for 80 years.
The masterpiece, which had not been seen in public since 1936, was bought by an anonymous American bidder over the phone.
Art expert Bobby Read said the sale showed there was currently a "buzz" in the London art scene.
"It is unsurprising that this piece by Monet sold at such a high price. It is an exceptional example of his water lily series which is one of the most iconic images of impressionism.
"Our figures show that modern art has rocketed in value in the last year."
The auction also featured works by Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
Regency Center Table, England, c.1830.
An exciting find! The top of this amazing quality oval table is veneered with crotch mahogany . . . a figuring so remarkable and beautiful that it was saved for only the best pieces. The handsomely proportioned, turned and hand-carved solid mahogany pedestal is supported by three very graceful legs, terminating in brass castors . . . and everything is original. This period piece is in excellent condition, and would be a stunning addition to any home.
Warhol Foundation Accused of Dominating the Market By Alan Feuer, NYTimes.com
Since the death of Andy Warhol in 1987, the chief steward of his estate and reputation has been the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. The nonprofit group in Greenwich Village, which owns a number of his works, has given grants supporting young artists by deftly selling Warhol paintings, silk-screens and the like to the tune of millions of dollars over the years.
In the 1990s, the foundation was dogged by accusations of financial chicanery, resulting in investigations by the state that led to bitter probate hearings but ultimately no charges. Now, however, a New York filmmaker, who owns a minor Warhol, has used those accusations as a loose springboard for a lawsuit.
The filmmaker, Joe Simon-Whelan, contends that the foundation has waged a 20-year conspiracy to bend the art world to its will and, by way of “enforcers,” “secret meetings” and doctored files, has tried to win “total domination” of the Warhol market.
Mr. Simon-Whelan claims in his suit that the foundation and the Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board have colluded in a “deeply corrupt enterprise” to drive up the value of the works the foundation owns by denying the authenticity of numerous works that purport to be Warhols.
The suit, filed on Friday in Federal District Court in Manhattan, says the main purpose of the “Warhol conspiracy” is to reject “as many works as possible so as to induce artificial scarcity in the market for Warhol works, thereby maintaining and increasing the value of the foundation’s own substantial holdings.”
K. C. Maurer, chief financial officer for the foundation, said yesterday that she had not seen the suit and could not comment on its charges. Ms. Maurer said the foundation gave grants, not authentication papers, and was wholly separate from the four-member board.
Vincent Fremont, the exclusive sales agent for the Warhol estate, said in an interview yesterday that the lawsuit was “shocking nonsense.”
“Dominating is not what I do,” Mr. Fremont said. “I protect the legacy of Andy Warhol and his work. I was one of the last people to work with Andy, so I get attacked all the time.”
Mr. Simon-Whelan’s suit revolves around a relatively little-known self-portrait that Warhol is said to have given to the publisher Richard Ekstract in 1964 in exchange for some video equipment. The silk-screen on synthetic polymer paint and canvas was untitled at the time of its creation, though Mr. Simon-Whelan, who lives in London, has, for the purpose of his lawsuit, given it the name of “Double Denied,” a reference to the fact that its authentication as a veritable Warhol was twice rejected by the board.
After it passed through the hands of numerous galleries and owners, Mr. Simon-Whelan bought the 24-by-20-inch piece from an art dealer, Michael Hue-Williams, for $195,000 in 1989. According to the lawsuit, it was authenticated years before by Mr. Fremont, the Warhol sales agent, and Fred Hughes, the estate’s executor, who went so far as to write on its lower left-hand edge, “I certify that this is an original painting by Andy Warhol completed by him in 1964.”
When Mr. Simon-Whelan moved to sell the painting for $2 million in July 2001 (the Postal Service had just issued a stamp of the piece, which he assumed would increase its value), the authentication board announced its doubts and stamped the work “denied.”
He submitted it again in 2003 and was again refused, even though he had, in the meantime, obtained a letter from Paul Morrissey, a filmmaker and friend of Andy Warhol, supporting its authentication; a letter from Billy Name, the chief photographer at the Factory, Warhol’s original New York City studio; and a transcript from the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh of Warhol himself reminiscing on the creation of the piece.
At first, the board refused to tell Mr. Simon-Whelan why it had rejected his piece and, according to the lawsuit, only explained a year later when it sent him a letter referring to certain background features being printed, not hand-painted, and to telltale flaws in the “density of the halftone.” Adding artistic injury to insult, the “denied” stamp bled through the back of the canvas, the lawsuit says, and was visible from the front.
The lawsuit accuses the foundation of restraint of trade and of trying to monopolize the Warhol market “in New York, the United States and Europe,” and seeks at least $20 million in damages.
With the rhetoric of a criminal complaint, it accuses the foundation of concealing files from the government, “surreptitious communication” and holding “secret meetings.”
The lawsuit casts Mr. Fremont as its chief villain. Yesterday he said, “It just gives me a big headache.”
The Care and Feeding of Antiques
by Dexter S. Augier
In past newsletters (http://findersfayre.com/archives.htm) we have talked about caring for your fine linens and your silver. Today we’ll address the focal point of the well appointed table: your dinnerware.
Often called simply ‘china’ or ‘porcelain’, for our purposes they’re all one and the same. Whether your dinnerware is fine new china, vintage, or antique, the tips for its proper care are identical.
Did you know...?
by Dexter S. Augier
Just about everyone has heard of Limoges porcelain (pronounced without the ‘s’)….but did you know that Limoges is not a company, or a trade name? In fact, it is the name of a village in France that has large quantities of a certain kind of clay…kaolin… necessary for making porcelain. Once this was discovered, in 1768, even the King of France got into the deal by purchasing one of the manufactories there. After the French revolution, an American by the name of Haviland moved to Limoges and opened his own factory to make dinnerware, which by the way, is still in business there today. By the year 1830, there were over 30 companies in Limoges producing porcelain, and today there are even more.
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