Portrait of Duke Ellington by Tony Bennett. Circa 1993, watercolor and graphite on paper. Courtesy National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Gift of Tony Bennett.

Tony Bennett gives painting of jazz great to Smithsonian gallery

Portrait of Duke Ellington by Tony Bennett. Circa 1993, watercolor and graphite on paper. Courtesy National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Gift of Tony Bennett.

Portrait of Duke Ellington by Tony Bennett. Circa 1993, watercolor and graphite on paper. Courtesy National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Gift of Tony Bennett.

WASHINGTON (AP) – Tony Bennett donated a watercolor he made of longtime friend Duke Ellington to the Smithsonian on Wednesday, the 110th anniversary of the jazz great’s birth.

The painting depicts Ellington with a bouquet of pink roses in the background. The jazz musician made a habit of sending Bennett a dozen roses when he wrote a new tune in hopes that Bennett would record the piece.

“Every time the roses came, I said, ‘Oh, Duke wrote another song,'” Bennett said.

The 15-time Grammy Award-winning singer said Ellington told him years ago to maintain a second art form beyond music.

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Sotheby’s plans 5 percent cut in workforce

NEW YORK (AP) – Sotheby’s Inc. says the economic slowdown is forcing the auction house to slash its global work force by another 5 percent.

The cost-saving move comes just four months after the auction house trimmed its staff by 15 percent. It now employs 1,311 workers, down from 1,638.

The publicly traded company is also cutting its dividend to an annual rate of 20 cents from 60 cents per share. And it plans unpaid furloughs and salary reductions for top management.

It expects to save $160 million in 2009, including $15 million from the newest layoffs.

Christie’s, its chief competitor, is a privately held company but began a company-wide reorganization in January that included staff reductions.

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On the Net:

www.sothebys.com

www.christies.com

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-ES-04-29-09 1430EDT

Image used by permission of the Estate of Richard Wright.

Skinner to auction estate of doll expert, antiquarian Richard Wright

Image used by permission of the Estate of Richard Wright.

Image used by permission of the Estate of Richard Wright.

BOSTON – Leading antiques and fine art auction house Skinner Inc. announced today that it has been chosen as the sole auction house to handle the sale of the estate of Richard Wright, one of the world’s leading experts in the field of fine dolls, and a prominent and colorful appraiser on the PBS series, The Antiques Roadshow. Internet live bidding will be provided by www.LiveAuctioneers.com.

The estate of Richard Wright promises to be a major highlight of Skinner’s fall auction season as Wright’s vision is showcased in two exciting and diverse October sales. Stuart Whitehurst, Skinner’s specialist in European furniture and decorative arts, and one of the company’s most knowledgeable generalist appraisers, will head up the auction.

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African-American painter Ernie Barnes dead at 70

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Ernie Barnes, an African American figurative painter and lineman for the San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos, has died. He was 70.

Barnes died Monday at a hospital of complications from a rare blood disorder, his longtime assistant and friend Luz Rodriguez said. She would not elaborate on the disorder.

His famous Sugar Shack dance scene appeared on the cover of Marvin Gaye’s I Want You in 1976 and the closing credits of the Good Times television show.

“It was how he recalled the juke joints he saw growing up as a kid,” Rodriguez said. “That’s his experience. He mastered the movement and energy and the spirit of it all. Kids try to copy it and they just don’t hit it, try as they might.”

His paintings are characterized by elongated figures with their eyes closed and many capture the dynamism of sports. Read more

Image courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Met’s new American Wing Galleries to open May 19

Image courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Image courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art.

NEW YORK – When The Charles Engelhard Court-the grand pavilion that has long served as the entrance to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s American Wing-reopens on May 19 after two years of renovation, the museum’s unparalleled collections of American ceramics, sculpture, stained glass, architectural elements, silver, pewter, glass and jewelry will finally be seen in all their glory.

So, too, will its early American rooms-12 of the Met’s historic interiors, mostly from the Colonial period, located on three floors of the wing’s historic core-that have been reordered, renovated and reinterpreted. The popular American Wing Café will also reopen in its previous location on the park side of the court. The opening of the galleries marks the completion of the second part (begun in May 2007) of a project to reconfigure, renovate or upgrade nearly every section of The American Wing by 2011.

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Slate bannerstone, 4 5/8 inches, Sandusky County, Ohio. Estimate $2,000-$6,000. Courtesy Old Barn Auction.

Old Barn Auction: Notched, Winged Butterfly Bannerstone

Slate bannerstone, 4 5/8 inches, Sandusky County, Ohio. Estimate $2,000-$6,000. Courtesy Old Barn Auction.

Slate bannerstone, 4 5/8 inches, Sandusky County, Ohio. Estimate $2,000-$6,000. Courtesy Old Barn Auction.

FINDLAY, Ohio – A rare notched, winged butterfly bannerstone will be offered on Saturday, May 2, in Old Barn Auction’s 387-lot sale of prehistoric and historic Indian artifacts.

A long list of Native-American tribes is represented in the auction inventory, which includes arrowheads, blades, knives, axeheads and other weapons. Additionally, the auction will feature amulets and pendants; effigies, pipes, fish spears and many other desirable tribal artifacts. A small selection of books and other literature pertaining to North American Indians rounds out the sale.

One of the top lots in the sale, the aforementioned bannerstone is made of slate, measures 4 5/8 inches, and came from Sandusky County, Ohio. It is the best bannerstone in the collection being offered by Old Barn, and is expected to earn $2,000-$6,000 on auction day.

More than just functional artifacts, bannerstones are a form of art that appear in varying shapes, designs, and colors, symbolizing their ceremonial and spiritual importance.

For information on any lot in the sale, call 419-422-8531 or e-mail auction@oldbarn.com.

Click here to view Old Barn’s complete catalog.


ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE


Banded-slate birdstone, 4 inches, found on McKechron Fram north of Alveston, Ontario, Canada. Estimate $2,000-$6,000. Courtesy Old Barn Auction.

Banded-slate birdstone, 4 inches, found on McKechron Fram north of Alveston, Ontario, Canada. Estimate $2,000-$6,000. Courtesy Old Barn Auction.

Pop-eyed banded-slate birdstone, 3 inches, extensive provenance, pictured in Birdstones of the North American Indian by Townsend. Estimate $2,000-$8,000. Courtesy Old Barn Auction.

Pop-eyed banded-slate birdstone, 3 inches, extensive provenance, pictured in Birdstones of the North American Indian by Townsend. Estimate $2,000-$8,000. Courtesy Old Barn Auction.

Image courtesy Grey Flannel Auctions.

Babe Ruth “gunslinger” bat with 11 home-run notches sells tonight, Apr. 29

Image courtesy Grey Flannel Auctions.

Image courtesy Grey Flannel Auctions.

WESTHAMPTON BEACH, N.Y. (ACNI) – It is said that, for a short period of time in the mid to late 1920s, like a gunslinger out of the Old West Babe Ruth would mark his “kill” by carving a notch on his game bat after he blasted a pitch out of the park. There have been suggestions that this might be an apocryphal tale befitting the Babe’s legend, but many say there’s a mountain of evidence to back the claim.

Part of that evidence is one of Ruth’s bats used from 1926 to 1929 – a 4-season span during which he averaged an amazing 51.75 home runs per season – which is a premier lot in Grey Flannel’s Games of Summer 2009 auction, closing Wednesday night, April 29. The bat is carved with 11 notches, with each notch representing a home run.

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NASA/Grumman Moon Landing lapel pins had limited distribution. Image courtesy Aurora and LiveAuctioneers.com Archive.

Kansas collector ‘fasten-ated’ by lapel pins

NASA/Grumman Moon Landing lapel pins had limited distribution. Image courtesy Aurora and LiveAuctioneers.com Archive.

NASA/Grumman Moon Landing lapel pins had limited distribution. Image courtesy Aurora and LiveAuctioneers.com Archive.

HESSTON, Kan. (AP) – Visitors taking a look at Harvey Thiessen’s vast lapel pin collection aren’t just seeing a bunch of interesting-looking items, they’re viewing a sea of memories.

There’s the batch he picked up from a collector on a visit to Dollywood in Tennessee; then there’s a clothespin with a nail, a hokey “Hillbilly Tie Tack”; the Texas pins, including one with a pair of red cowboy boots and shiny gold star;  and a batch of 34 pins from a trip last year to South Dakota’s Black Hills.

The list goes on and on – as do the memories as to where he acquired them, or who gave them to him.

There are a lot of pins, too.

Thiessen pegs their number at 605, give or take a few.

Harvey’s wife, Lois, who is retired from Hesston Elementary School, takes a bemused approach to her husband’s hobby.

While it’s basically his collection, she has her favorites, too, and likes to keep track of who gave what to expand the collection.

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Looters prey on Arkansas artifacts for quick profit

JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) – Artifacts of prehistoric people who lived in Arkansas are being dug up by criminals. Dr. Julie Morrow, station archaeologist for Arkansas Archaeological Survey, wants to get the word out that raiding the state’s past is a felony.

Morrow said that every winter, looters go to the Little Turkey Hill and Harter Knoll sites in Independence County to dig.

“It’s a felony,” Morrow told The Jonesboro Sun. “People think they can trespass on anybody’s land. They think they don’t need permission.”

Morrow said the Antiquities Act and an unmarked burial law protect the sits. If items taken from a burial site are valued at more than $2,000, it makes the theft a felony, she said. Read more

Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers/Aguttes.

Aguttes 20th C. Decorative Arts sale features André Leleu collection

Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers/Aguttes.

Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers/Aguttes.

PARIS – On May 6, the distinguished French auction house Aguttes will present a Spring Sale highlighted by a selection of decorative and fine artworks from the private collection of the late André Leleu, of Maison Leleu. Internet live bidding will be provided by LiveAuctioneers.com.

The Leleu collection comprises approximately 50 pieces produced by the interior design house Maison Leleu over a timespan ranging from the 1920s through the 1970s. Among the unique artworks in this family-held collection are designs personally created by Jules Leleu (1883-1961), Paule Leleu (1906-1987) and André Leleu (1907-1995), including paintings, furniture, sculptures and carpets.

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