Lawsuit over Idaho dinosaur tracks settled

POCATELLO, Idaho (AP) – A lawsuit involving ownership of what experts describe as the most complete collection of dinosaur tracks ever found in Idaho has been settled.

Idaho State University on Friday announced that the 88 trackway stones containing the 200-million-year-old dinosaur footprints are being divided three ways.

The Idaho Museum of Natural History at the university will retain six trackways.

The estate of Montpelier rancher Grant Loertscher, who quarried the trackways in 2008 in Bear Lake County in southeastern Idaho and donated them to the museum, will receive 38 trackways.

And the estate of Floyd Benton, a business partner of Loertscher whose company owned the land where the trackways were quarried, will receive 44 trackways.

Loertscher filed a lawsuit in Bannock County in September of 2009 seeking possession of the trackways.

___

Information from: Idaho State Journal, http://www.journalnet.com

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WS-05-22-10 1708EDT

 

Copyright 2010 Roanoke College. All rights reserved.

Roanoke College offers reward for stolen paintings

Copyright 2010 Roanoke College.  All rights reserved.

Copyright 2010 Roanoke College. All rights reserved.

ROANOKE, Va. (AP) – Roanoke College is offering a reward to anyone who can help find three paintings that were stolen from a school building.

The paintings of President John F. Kennedy, civil-rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. and Nazi leader Adolf Hitler were part of a series called “The Movers and the Shakers” by the late George Solonevich, a painter who settled in Roanoke County after living under three dictatorships. They were reported missing April 9.

School officials sent a campuswide e-mail offering a “significant monetary reward” for the paintings’ return.

Solonevich’s daughter, Ulita Taliaferro, estimates that each painting could sell for $10,000. When Solonevich donated them in 2000, three years before he died, each was estimated at $2,400.

Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of the painting or other tips is asked to contact Associate Director of Campus Safety John Grisetti at 540-375-2310 or Grisetti@roanoke.edu. Callers may remain anonymous.

___

Information from: The Roanoke Times, http://www.roanoketimes.com

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-ES-05-22-10 1143EDT


ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE


Copyright 2010 Roanoke College.  All rights reserved.

Copyright 2010 Roanoke College. All rights reserved.


Copyright 2010 Roanoke College.  All rights reserved.

Copyright 2010 Roanoke College. All rights reserved.

The Museum of the Rockies will host an exhibit of machines made from designs by Leonardo da Vinci. The exhibit will open on May 29 and run through Sept. 11, 2010. Image courtesy Museum of the Rockies.

Exhibit of da Vinci inventions opening May 29 in Bozeman

The Museum of the Rockies will host an exhibit of machines made from designs by Leonardo da Vinci. The exhibit will open on May 29 and run through Sept. 11, 2010. Image courtesy Museum of the Rockies.

The Museum of the Rockies will host an exhibit of machines made from designs by Leonardo da Vinci. The exhibit will open on May 29 and run through Sept. 11, 2010. Image courtesy Museum of the Rockies.

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) – A traveling exhibit of 41 full-sized machines based on sketches by Leonardo da Vinci opens later this month at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman.

In addition to painting the Mona Lisa, da Vinci sketched out plans for pedal-powered flying machines, a war tank, a water-powered sawmill, a wooden bicycle, a parachute and even a gear-powdered robot.

Scientists and Italian craftsmen built the machines for an exhibit that toured Eurepe for three years. Bozeman is the only stop in the northwest for “Leonardo da Vinci, Machines in Motion.”

The exhibit opens May 29 and contines through Sept. 11. The exhibit cost $180,000 to bring in, so ticket prices are increasing to $9 for children, $12 for seniors and $13 for adults this summer.

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WS-05-22-10 1131EDT

 

57 ancient tombs with mummies unearthed in Egypt

CAIRO (AP) – Archeologists have unearthed 57 ancient Egyptian tombs, most of them containing a painted wooden sarcophagus with a mummy inside.

The Supreme Council of Antiquities says the oldest tombs date back to around 2750 B.C. Twelve of the tombs belong the 18th dynasty which ruled Egypt during the second millennium B.C.

It says the discovery throws new light on Egypt’s ancient religions.

Council chief Zahi Hawass says the mummies are covered in linen decorated with religious texts from the Book of the Dead and scenes featuring ancient Egyptian deities.

The council said in a statement Sunday the findings were unearthed at Lahoun, in Fayoum, some 70 miles (100 kilometers) south of Cairo.

Last year, some 53 stone tombs dating back to various ancient periods were found in the area.

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-ES-05-23-10 0900EDT

 

The top-targeted antiquity that Egypt would like to repatriate is this bust of Nefertiti, which is housed in Berlin's Neuen Museum. Image taken Nov. 8, 2009 by Xenon 77, permission to reproduce granted through Creative Commons Attribution - Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

German foreign minister says Nefertiti bust should stay in Berlin

The top-targeted antiquity that Egypt would like to repatriate is this bust of Nefertiti, which is housed in Berlin's Neuen Museum. Image taken Nov. 8, 2009 by Xenon 77, permission to reproduce granted through Creative Commons Attribution - Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

The top-targeted antiquity that Egypt would like to repatriate is this bust of Nefertiti, which is housed in Berlin’s Neuen Museum. Image taken Nov. 8, 2009 by Xenon 77, permission to reproduce granted through Creative Commons Attribution – Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

CAIRO (AP) – Germany’s foreign minister says the 3,300-year-old bust of Queen Nefertiti that has been in a Berlin museum for decades is in Germany legally and could break if moved to Egypt.

Egypt’s antiquities chief had said he will formally demand the return of the bust of the 14th century B.C. monarch because it was taken out of Egypt with fraudulent documents in the early 20th century.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Saturday the case is still open but that German experts believe even lending the statue to Egypt could endanger it.

Germany has declined past Egyptian requests for the bust’s return, saying it was too fragile to move.

Egypt is campaigning to retrieve thousands of antiquities spirited out during Egypt’s colonial period and afterward.

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-ES-05-22-10 1636EDT

 

Auctioneer: Swedish stamp retains world record

GENEVA (AP) – The Swedish “Treskilling Yellow” retained its title as the world’s most expensive stamp when it changed hands at a private sale shrouded in secrecy, the auctioneer claimed Saturday.

The one-of-a-kind 1855 misprint was sold to a group of buyers who asked that their identities and the winning bid be kept confidential, said auctioneer David Feldman.

He declined to reveal whether the sale matched the 2.875 million Swiss francs (then about $2.3 million) price it set a record for in 1996.

“It is still worth more than any other single stamp” including the even older “2 Penny Post Office Mauritius Blue” that sold for 1.5 million francs (then $1.4 million) in 1993, said Feldman.

He added that both the price and identity of the buyers, who took part in the telephone auction against a single rival bidder, would likely become public knowledge eventually.

Noted U.S. stamp expert Robert Odenweller said it wasn’t unusual for buyers of such valuable items to keep details of the sale secret at first, only to release information bit by bit later.

“The people who run around with that kind of change in their pockets have their own ideas about publicity,” Odenweller told The Associated Press.

For years the owner of another unique stamp, the 1856 “British Guiana 1 cent Magenta,” remained a mystery until it transpired that it had been bought for nearly $1 million by chemicals fortune heir John du Pont in 1980, Odenweller said. That stamp is believed to lie in a bank vault while du Pont serves a 13- to 30-year sentence for third degree murder.

“It’s fairly possible that if the British Guiana were ever put up for sale again it could blow everything out of the water,” said Odenweller, a past president of the Collectors Club of New York.

The Treskilling Yellow is the only known misprint of an 1855 three shilling stamp that was supposed to be green. It has fabled status among collectors and is considered one of the world’s most valuable objects for its size.

The auction house valued the stamp at euro1.5 million to euro2 million ($1.87 million to $2.5 million) before the sale, but actual sales prices can vary greatly depending on what the buyers feel such unique items are worth.

Feldman told the AP that Saturday’s auction “happened very quickly because the buyers clearly knew how much they were prepared to pay.”

The economic downturn has made people more careful about bidding for such pricey items, he said. At the same time, stamps are increasingly being seen as investment opportunities, he added. “People are looking for investments they can hold in their hands.”

The Treskilling Yellow has changed hands at least once since 1996, but little is known about the last owner except that he or she had to sell the stamp because it had been put up as financial collateral.

The first collector to own the stamp is said to have been a Swedish schoolboy, who found it in 1885 among a pile of letters left by his grandparents. A similar tale is told about the 1 cent Magenta.

Feldman said the Treskilling Yellow was last displayed in public a week ago at the London 2010 Festival of Stamps.

___

Online: David Feldman Auctioneers: http://www.davidfeldman.com/

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-ES-05-22-10 1501EDT

 

It took $19,000 to buy this Hubley toy calliope at an RSL auction in Oldwick, N.J. It is in mint condition and has the original box, which adds to the value. Circus toys remain very popular.

Kovels – Antiques & Collecting: Week of May 24, 2010

It took $19,000 to buy this Hubley toy calliope at an RSL auction in Oldwick, N.J. It is in mint condition and has the original box, which adds to the value. Circus toys remain very popular.

It took $19,000 to buy this Hubley toy calliope at an RSL auction in Oldwick, N.J. It is in mint condition and has the original box, which adds to the value. Circus toys remain very popular.

Children love the circus, so what better toy than a model circus parade. In the late 19th century, cages of animals were drawn by horses through the main part of town to announce that the circus had arrived and to stage some shows. People along the parade route saw horse-drawn cages, elephants marching in a row, aerialists, clowns and other acts. Circus parades also featured music, spangled costumes and extravagantly decorated cages and wagons. The parade was a major event in town and became a preshow tradition. By the 20th century, circuses had to compete with radio, then television, and new ways to advertise were used. But in the early 1960s, the circus parade returned and can still be seen in some cities. So, 21st-century children understand the circus toys of the past. Toy replicas of circus wagons, animals and performers were made by many toy companies, including Schoenhut, Kenton Hardware, Arcade, Kingsbury and Hubley. The Hubley circus, made from 1906 to 1919, even had an iron “Royal Circus” calliope wagon that carried a music-making machine. It came in several sizes. In October a 16-inch-long calliope with horses, in mint condition with the box, was offered for sale. The original price in 1915 was $5.98. It auctioned for $19,000.

Q: I bought a Goebel Beatles figurine from a friend several years ago and am looking for something to compare it to. It is marked “Bull 307” and has a three-line Goebel mark. Others I have seen are painted; this one is all white. Can you help with any information?

A: A set of Beatles figurines inspired by the animated movie Yellow Submarine was issued in 1968 by the Goebel Porcelain Co. of Germany, famous for its Hummel figurines. It is thought that Goebel had trouble with the colors its artists were using and stopped production after about 100 sets were made. Some of the sets were given away and the rest were never released for sale, making them the rarest of all Beatles memorabilia. A few sets have sold at auction for between $15,000 (in 2000) and $18,000 (in 2002). Single figurines of Ringo Starr and George Harrison have sold for $800 to $2,700. Goebel reissued the Beatles figurines in a limited edition of 1,968 sets to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the release of the movie. They are identical to the originals and come in a display box with stand. They sell for about $1,000 a set.

Q: I have some ceramic molds that look like my modern tin Jell-O molds. When did they start making Jell-O?

A: Your early ceramic molds were used for gelatin desserts or salads. Beginning in the 14th century, molds were served at elaborate parties. Most popular were those with chopped cooked meat, cream, spices and sugar. The gelatin, a form of animal collagen, was made by boiling animal skin, bones, even cattle hooves and other animal tissues. It was a time-consuming project. Then either sweet foods like fruit were added to make a dessert, or meat, poultry or fish were cooked and added to make a salad or first course. In 1845 the process became easier because a gelatin was made to be sold in stores. Charles Knox developed granulated gelatin in 1894, and in 1897 Jell-O was created. Victorians thought elaborate molds should be served at every dinner party. Molds made of metal, particularly copper, were used. Molded foods went out of style in the first half of the 20th century, but in the 1950s molds came back. Layers of colored Jell-O or salads made with lime or lemon Jell-O and shredded cabbage were perfect for buffet dinners, the newest way to entertain. Old and new molds are still easy to find and use.

Q: I was told there was a solar lamp in the 18th century. Did it really run on sunlight?

A: The solar lamp was invented in the 1840s, but it was not like what we call a solar lamp today. The 19th-century solar lamp burned whale oil, olive oil or, most commonly, lard. It had a unique burner and a reflector that sent a draft against the flame, which made a narrow, very bright flame. There were English deflectors similar to solar lamp deflectors, so some think the solar lamp was invented by the English. But in the United States, solar lamps were made by Cornelius & Co. and Archer, Warner, Miskey and Co., both Philadelphia firms that operated from the 1840s to the 1860s. Solar lamps were being sold in Canada by 1847.

Q: My oak rocking chair was purchased at an estate sale in 1956. The label on the bottom says “Taylor’s Comfortable Rockers, Rocker Specialists, The Taylor Chair Co., Bedford, Ohio.” What can you tell me about this company?

A: The Taylor Chair Co. is said to be the oldest furniture maker in the Unites States. It traces its origins to 1816, when Benjamin Fitch began making chairs in Bedford, Ohio. His son-in-law, William O. Taylor, began managing the business in the 1840s. The name of the company was changed to the Taylor Chair Co. in 1885. The firm manufactured more than 100 different styles of chairs in the early 1900s. Tables, sofas and other types of furniture were added to the company’s production lines in the 1950s and ’60s. The company still is in business in Bedford.

Tip: Washing your hands is good for your health and that of your collections. Grease and dirt can stain pieces and permanently lower their value. You can’t always wash your hands in the middle of a flea market, but you can take wipes along to use.

Terry Kovel answers as many questions as possible through the column. By sending a letter with a question, you give full permission for use in the column or any other Kovel forum. Names, addresses or e-mail addresses will not be published. We cannot guarantee the return of any photograph, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The volume of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovels, Auction Central News, King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.

Need more information about collectibles? Find it at Kovels.com, our Web site for collectors. Check prices there, too. More than 700,000 are listed, and viewing them is free. You can also sign up to read our weekly Kovels Komments. It includes the latest news, tips and questions and is delivered by e-mail, free, if you register. Kovels.com offers extra collector’s information and lists of publications, clubs, appraisers, auction houses, people who sell parts or repair antiques and much more. You can subscribe to Kovels on Antiques and Collectibles, your monthly newsletter filled with prices, facts and color photos. Kovels.com adds to the information in our newspaper column and helps you find useful sources needed by collectors.

CURRENT PRICES

Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.

  • Tin coffee urn, brass spigot and feet, oval, applied loop handles, interior strainer, soldered joints, heart and geometric reticulated base, hinged door at lower back, 19th century, 16 inches, $68.
  • J.D. Kestner character boy doll, bisque head, sleep eyes, open mouth showing teeth, brown mohair wig, composition body, 14 1/2 inches, $205.
  • 1950s cocktail dress, red nylon, red acetate underskirt, pleating at waist, V-neck, Fred Perlberg tag, size small, $335.
  • Continental pine lavabo, cream paint, tapering cistern with shaped side enclosures, zinc-lined basin, bow-front panel door, bracket base, 1840s, 60 x 18 1/2 x 19 1/2 inches, $560.
  • Hand-woven wool tapestry, urn overflowing with fruit and flowers, landscape, bird perched on tree, cotton backing, 1940s, 68 x 91 inches, $570.
  • Columbia Five Star Cruiser bicycle, boy’s model, green and cream, leather saddle seat, rear carrier, front fender lamp, whitewall balloon tires, 1950s, $765.
  • Salesman sample coffin, grain-painted rosewood, removable panel covering glass viewing window, pillow and pad, circa 1900, 2 1/4 x 8 inches, $880.
  • Melox dog food sign, embossed, butcher and policeman chasing two dogs down street, one with bag of food in mouth, 10 x 19 inches, $2,035.
  • River Swamp Chill and Fever Cure bottle, yellow amber, tooled lip, Augusta, Ga., 1885-95, 6 3/8 inches, $3,000.
  • Liverpool creamware pitcher, privateer ship Bellona, eagle with banner on other side, cream ground with black transfer, inaugural voyage, Oct. 10, 1781, 8 3/4 inches, $5,750.

The best book to own if you want to buy, sell or collect. The new full-color “Kovels’ Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide, 2010,” 42nd edition, is your most accurate source for current prices. This large-size paperback has more than 2,500 color photographs and 47,000 up-to-date prices for more than 700 categories of antiques and collectibles. You’ll also find hundreds of factory histories and marks and a report on the record prices of the year, plus helpful sidebars and tips about buying, selling, collecting and preserving your treasures. Available online at Kovelsonlinestore.com; by phone at 800-571-1555; at your bookstore; or send $27.95 plus $4.95 postage to Price Book, Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122.

© 2010 by Cowles Syndicate Inc.

Elvis Presley gold medallion, estimate $1 million to $1.4 million. Image courtesy Fame Bureau.

Elvis, James Dean and Banksy star in May 27 Fame Bureau sale

Elvis Presley gold medallion, estimate $1 million to $1.4 million. Image courtesy Fame Bureau.

Elvis Presley gold medallion, estimate $1 million to $1.4 million. Image courtesy Fame Bureau.

LONDON – Rare street pieces by the elusive British graffiti artist Banksy, Elvis jewelry, John Lennon’s original peace banner and a pocket watch that belonged to screen legend James Dean are among the highlights in Fame Bureau’s May 27 auction. Internet live bidding will be provided by LiveAuctioneers.com.

The popular art section is led by the British art world’s hottest star, Banksy. Four early original street pieces will be auctioned, including Plywood Ghetto Rat 2004, Lock Pick Rat 2005, and Bling Rat 2006. Rare prints which include the LA set 2006, Silver Flag, Trolley Hunters (color), Love Rat, Toxic Virgin and Grannies.

Also included are pieces from John Lennon, John Davis, Andy Warhol and James Wilkinson.

The John Lennon artwork, titled WWIII, is a stunning peace campaign banner, hand-painted and signed by Lennon. It hung in the Apple offices alongside more of his original work.

A collection of more than 40 John Davis multimedia paintings was commissioned by Roger Daltrey and Pete Townsend to illustrate the autobiographic book, Decades of the Who. The unique psychedelic interpretations are accompanied by all legal paperwork between the commissioning agents, signed letters from Pete Townsend, drafts of ideas and letterheads for Eel Pie Studios, and an extensive collection of Who Books posters, personal and candid photographs with an inventory of who retains ownership and copyright.

Elvis Presley’s TCB tour bus, his fingerprints on a Palm Springs gun license application, and a gold and diamond necklace are the highlights in the large Elvis Presley section in The Fame Bureau’s May 27th auction.

Scotty Moore, Elvis’ legendary guitarist, is also contributing to the auction by consigning Elvis Presley’s cherished  teenage record collection that influenced many of the songs released by Elvis in his early recording years.

Elvis’ solid gold partner cross is also offered along with his Graceland golf buggy, his personal TCB logo design in his own hand, two clumps of Elvis’ hair and many other personal items relating to the life of Elvis Presley.

James Dean dominates the film section in the form of his “lucky charm” pocket watch, which is said to be one of the most important personal artifacts of James Dean known to exist. The cover of the pocket watch bears James Dean’s engraved initials. When Dean made his screen debut in the classic East of Eden, he insisted on wearing this lucky pocket watch throughout filming, despite director Eli Kazan’s protest. Dean wore the watch hanging from a belt loop and it can be clearly seen throughout the movie.

Marilyn Monroe’s personal clutch bag is also a feature of the auction, alongside a rare autograph.

Also included are two original Gerry Anderson-designed puppets used in filming Thunderbirds. A fully signed Godfather poster and the iconic Wayne’s World AMC Pacer car that was included in the “Bohemian Rhapsody” scene adds an amusing touch to the sale.

A selection of 2-inch multitrack master tapes of alternate recordings made for television features the artists Diana Ross, Karen Carpenter, the Four Tops, Adam & The Ants, Dusty Springfield, Moody Blues, INXS, Barry White, George Benson, Madness, Elvis Costello, the Monkees and many more. A rare home recording of Jimi Hendrix comprising 14 unreleased tracks is also included.

The Beatles are represented by a selection of items including Ringo Starr’s first cymbal, 1962 Brian Epstein letters concerning the Beatles and offering a performance for £50 for an hour. The two letters also relate to Gerry and the Pacemakers and The Big Three and come with an original Cavern Club membership card. A hip flask inscribed “For Kaiser John, Happy Birthday 9th October 1960 From Stu” written in German was presented to John Lennon as a gift from his friend and fellow Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe on his 20th birthday in Germany.

A rare surviving Fender Twin Reverb amplifier used by Jimi Hendrix at Electric Ladyland Studio in 1970 is included in the Hendrix section, as is an amethyst purple crystal pendant owned by Hendrix.

Other items include Madonna’s True Blue jeans, Stevie Nicks’ top hat, a selection of signed guitars,  Michael Jackson signed items, Joey Ramone’s hair (caught in his hair band), handwritten lyrics/prose by Jim Morrison and Marc Bolan, and the Ivor Novello award for War of the Worlds.

This historic sale represents the first time an auction has been conducted using multiple currencies and launching the first real-time trading of the WOCU. The WOCU is a new theoretical currency unit created by WDX in London constructed from a basket of the world’s currencies. Read more about the wocu at www.wocu.com.

The auction takes place on Thursday, May 27, starting at 3:30 p.m. London time (10:30 a.m. Eastern Time USA), with a second session commencing at 6:30 p.m. London time (1:30 p.m. Eastern Time).

For additional information on any lot in the sale, call 011 44 7900825898 or email info@famebureau.com.

View the fully illustrated catalog and register to bid absentee or live via the Internet as the sale is taking place by logging on to www.LiveAuctioneers.com.


ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE


Elvis Presley record collection, estimate $180,000-$215,000. Image courtesy Fame Bureau.

Elvis Presley record collection, estimate $180,000-$215,000. Image courtesy Fame Bureau.


James Dean pocket watch, estimate $43,000-$50,000. Image courtesy Fame Bureau.

James Dean pocket watch, estimate $43,000-$50,000. Image courtesy Fame Bureau.


Hip flask personalized to John Lennon, estimate $2,800-$4,300. Image courtesy Fame Bureau.

Hip flask personalized to John Lennon, estimate $2,800-$4,300. Image courtesy Fame Bureau.


Banksy, 2005, Lock Pick Rat, estimate $115,000-$144,000. Image courtesy Fame Bureau.

Banksy, 2005, Lock Pick Rat, estimate $115,000-$144,000. Image courtesy Fame Bureau.

Update: Broken alarm system enabled $123M art heist in Paris

PARIS (AP) – A broken alarm system made it as easy as 1-2-3: A masked intruder clipped a padlock, smashed a window and stole a Picasso, a Matisse and three other masterpieces from a Paris museum Thursday — a $123 million haul that is one of the world’s biggest art heists.

Offloading the artwork may prove a tougher task, however, with Interpol and collectors worldwide now on high alert.

In what seemed like an art thief’s fantasy, the alarm system had been broken since March in parts of the Paris Museum of Modern Art, according to the city’s mayor, Bertrand Delanoe.

The museum, in a tony neighborhood across the Seine River from the Eiffel Tower, reopened in 2006 after spending $18 million (€15 million) and two years upgrading its security system. Spare parts had been ordered to fix the alarm but had not yet arrived, the mayor said in a statement.

So with no alarm to worry about, a lone masked intruder entered the museum about 3:50 a.m., said Christophe Girard, deputy culture secretary at Paris City Hall. The thief cut a padlock on a gate, then broke a side window and climbed inside — his movements caught on one of the museum’s functioning cameras, according to the Paris prosecutor’s office.

The intruder later slipped back out, carrying the canvases and leaving behind empty frames. The whole thing took 15 minutes, a police official said.

Three security guards were on duty overnight, but “they saw nothing,” Girard said. A night watchman discovered the theft around 7 a.m.

The stolen works included Pablo Picasso’s Le pigeon aux petits-pois, an ochre-toned Cubist oil painting worth an estimated $28 million (€23 million), and La Pastorale, a pastel-hued oil painting of nudes on a hillside by Henri Matisse worth about $17.5 million (€15 million), Girard said.

Also seized were La femme a l’eventail (Woman with a Fan) by Amedeo Modigliani, L’olivier pres de l’Estaque (Olive Tree near Estaque) by Georges Braque and Nature morte aux chandeliers (Still Life with Chandeliers) by Fernand Leger.

Estimates of the total value of the paintings varied: The prosecutor’s office initially put their worth as high as $613 million (€500 million) but later downgraded the figure to about $111 million (€90 million). Girard said the total value was about $123 million (€100 million).

The broken alarm system also renewed concerns about museum security in the French capital. There was no operating surveillance system when a thief made off with a red sketchbook of 33 Picasso drawings from the nearby Picasso Museum while it was undergoing renovations last summer.

Within hours of Thursday’s heist, red-and-white tape surrounded the Museum of Modern Art and signs on the Art Deco building’s ornate bronze doors said it was closed for “technical reasons.”

On a cordoned-off balcony, police wearing blue gloves and face masks examined the museum’s broken window and the discarded frames. The paintings appeared to have been carefully removed from the disassembled frames, not sliced out.

Investigators were trying to determine whether the intruder was operating alone, Girard told reporters. Stephane Thefo, a specialist at Interpol who handles international art theft investigations, expressed doubt that one person could have pulled it off the heist, even if only one person was caught on camera.

Many high-profile art thefts have ended in failure, with the artworks recovered as thieves struggle to trade their illegal bounty for cash. But some famous stolen works remain at large — such as those seized more than two decades ago from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Alice Farren-Bradley of the Art Loss Registry in London said the Paris theft appeared to be one of the biggest art heists ever, considering the prominence of the artists, the value of the paintings and the high profile of the museum.

However, she said it will be “virtually impossible” to sell such prominent paintings on the open market and typically stolen art fetches lower prices on the black market.

“Very often they can be used as collateral to broker other deals” involving drugs or weapons, she said. “They are not necessarily going to be bought by some great lover of the arts.”

Art expert Jean-Marie Baron said the heist could have been organized by thieves who plan to sell the paintings to wealthy individuals in Russia, China or elsewhere, and “who won’t verify the origins of the paintings.” Another possibility was that the thieves planned to “ransom” the paintings in exchange for a big insurance payout, he said.

The FBI estimates the market for stolen art at $6 billion. The Art Loss Register has tallied up to 170,000 pieces of stolen, missing and looted art and valuables.

Picasso is the world’s most stolen artist due to his prolific output and the value of his works. The Art Loss Register lists some 550 missing Picasso pieces, including paintings, lithographs, drawings and ceramics, as of 2007.

Hours after Thursday’s heist, the director of the neighboring Palais de Tokyo modern art museum called the thieves “imbeciles.”

“Those paintings are absolutely unsellable. First off because these are very well-known paintings. And also because we are in a new civilization … of instant global communication,” Pierre Cornette de Saint-Cyr told AP Television News. “The entire planet has pictures of these paintings.”

The loss is “like the death of a family member,” lamented Flemming Friborg, manager of Copenhagen’s Glyptotek museum, known for its Impressionist collection.

___

Associated Press reporters Nicolas Garriga in Paris, Karl Ritter in Stockholm and Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen contributed to this report.

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Twenty of these mid-19th century Paris porcelain cabinet plates will be sold on the first day of the auction. Signed ‘Boyer rue de la Paix 2,’ the set of 9 1/2-inch plates has a $3,000-$5,000 estimate. Image courtesy Neal Auction Co.

Prestigious estates give up the goods for Neal’s auction May 22-23

Twenty of these mid-19th century Paris porcelain cabinet plates will be sold on the first day of the auction. Signed ‘Boyer rue de la Paix 2,’ the set of  9 1/2-inch plates has a $3,000-$5,000 estimate. Image courtesy Neal Auction Co.

Twenty of these mid-19th century Paris porcelain cabinet plates will be sold on the first day of the auction. Signed ‘Boyer rue de la Paix 2,’ the set of 9 1/2-inch plates has a $3,000-$5,000 estimate. Image courtesy Neal Auction Co.

NEW ORLEANS – American, French and English antiques, Southern paintings, historical material and decorative arts will be sold at Neal Auction Co.’s Late Spring Estates Auction on May 22-23. LiveAuctioneers will provide Internet live bidding both days.

Saturday’s auction, which will consist of 683 lots, will begin at 10 a.m. Central at Neal Auction’s gallery at 4038 Magazine St. Sunday’s session will be conducted at 3923 Carondelet St. beginning at 11 a.m. Central.

Choice items in the auction have been consigned by discerning collectors and fine estates and institutions, including the Grove, the Tallahassee, Fla., home of the early territorial governor Richard Keith Call and of 33rd governor and Mrs. LeRoy Collins. Fine art in the sale is from the collection of Alice Barry, New Orleans and Pass Christian, Miss. Antique furniture and decorations are from the lifetime collection of a noted New Orleans jurist.

Highlights include a French bronze figure titled Pro-Jure: A Gallic Warrior Victorious over the Roman Legion after Emile-Louis Picault (French, 1839-1915). The 34 1/2-inch/tall figure from the late 1800s has a $5,000-$7,000 estimate.

A large – 48 inches by 60 inches – painting of a squire on horseback at a hunt is by Peter Tillemans (Flemish, active England, 1684-1734). Signed “P. Tillemans,” the framed work has a $5,000-$7,000 estimate.

Contemporary art includes an equally large George Rodrigue (American/Louisiana, b. 1944) oil on canvas titled 4 Roses for me Tonight (Flower Child). The signed “Blue Dog” painting, dated 2008 en verso, has a $40,000-$60,000 estimate.

A set of 20 fine Paris porcelain polychrome and stencil-gilt cabinet plates by Boyer has a $3,000-$5,000 estimate. Each plate has finely painted floral bouquets, claret banding with periwinkle floral festoons linking gilt cartouches alternately containing a monogrammed “B” crested by a griffin head with the motto “Gaudeo,” Latin for “to rejoice” or “take pleasure in.” Each colorful plate is 9 1/2 inches in diameter.

An important Yoruba carved and painted wood helmet and body mask were once used in celebration of Gelede, an annual festival honoring “our mothers.” Mounted together on a metal shaft, the ensemble from Nigeria is about 48 inches high and estimated at $5,000-$10,000.

A set of four Chinese carved hardwood panels inset with hand-painted porcelain plaques is from the late 19th or early 20th century. Each panel is relief carved with bamboo, prunus and other flowering branches and vines. The set of panels is more than 5 feet tall and has a $4,000-6,000 estimate.

For details contact Neal Auction Gallery at 800-467-5329

View the fully illustrated catalog and register to bid absentee or live via the Internet as the sale is taking place by logging on to www.LiveAuctioneers.com.


ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE


Standing 34 1/2 inches high, this French bronze titled ‘Pro-Jure: A Gallic Warrior Victorious over the Roman Legion’ is expected to sell for $5,000-$7,000. Image courtesy Neal Auction Co.

Standing 34 1/2 inches high, this French bronze titled ‘Pro-Jure: A Gallic Warrior Victorious over the Roman Legion’ is expected to sell for $5,000-$7,000. Image courtesy Neal Auction Co.


Famille Rose porcelain plaques are mounted on a set of four Chinese carved wood panels from the turn of the 20th century. Each panel is 61 inches high by 17 1/2 inches wide. They carry a $4,000-$6,000 estimate. Image courtesy Neal Auction Co.

Famille Rose porcelain plaques are mounted on a set of four Chinese carved wood panels from the turn of the 20th century. Each panel is 61 inches high by 17 1/2 inches wide. They carry a $4,000-$6,000 estimate. Image courtesy Neal Auction Co.


Carved figures representing snakes, lizards, birds and fish decorate this Yoruba ceremonial helmet and body mask. Joined by a metal skeleton, the ensemble is approximately 48 inches high. It has a $5,000-$10,000 estimate. Image courtesy Neal Auction Co.

Carved figures representing snakes, lizards, birds and fish decorate this Yoruba ceremonial helmet and body mask. Joined by a metal skeleton, the ensemble is approximately 48 inches high. It has a $5,000-$10,000 estimate. Image courtesy Neal Auction Co.


Peter Tillemans (Flemish, active England, 1684-1734) painted ‘A Squire on Horseback, at the Edge of a Hunt’ on a large canvas. The framed painting is signed and has a $5,000-$7,000 estimate. Image courtesy Neal Auction Co.

Peter Tillemans (Flemish, active England, 1684-1734) painted ‘A Squire on Horseback, at the Edge of a Hunt’ on a large canvas. The framed painting is signed and has a $5,000-$7,000 estimate. Image courtesy Neal Auction Co.