Bernard Buffet (French, 1928-1999) ‘Les Soucis,’ oil on canvas, signed, 29 inches x 21 1/4 inches. Included in the ‘Buffet Catalogue Raisonne’ prepared by Maurice Garnier. Estimate: $25,000-$40,000. Image courtesy of New Orleans Auction Galleries Inc.

Asian arts open New Orleans Auction Galleries’ sale, Sept. 30-Oct. 2

Bernard Buffet (French, 1928-1999) ‘Les Soucis,’ oil on canvas, signed, 29 inches x 21 1/4 inches. Included in the ‘Buffet Catalogue Raisonne’ prepared by Maurice Garnier. Estimate: $25,000-$40,000. Image courtesy of New Orleans Auction Galleries Inc.

Bernard Buffet (French, 1928-1999) ‘Les Soucis,’ oil on canvas, signed, 29 inches x 21 1/4 inches. Included in the ‘Buffet Catalogue Raisonne’ prepared by Maurice Garnier. Estimate: $25,000-$40,000. Image courtesy of New Orleans Auction Galleries Inc.

NEW ORLEANS – New Orleans Auction Galleries Inc. will conduct its three-day Major Estates Auction on Friday, Sept. 30 through Sunday, Oct. 2. The sale features 1,971 exquisite lots, with a special Friday afternoon session that includes 389 Asian lots, such as ivory, jade, cloisonné and artwork.

Bids may be submitted in person at the gallery, online and over the phone; live video/audio bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.com.

Pieces from this sale came from locations across the country, including one of America’s premiere antique shops, David Marshall’s The Antique Room, in Brooklyn, N.Y.; the collection of noted art dealer and connoisseur, the late Luba Glade; and the estate of Fernando Jimenez-Torres.

Notable pieces include:

  • Vintage couture from the succession of Elizabeth Turnbull (New Orleans,); a Denver collector and a New York fashion editor;
  • Important works of art by Diego Rivera, Ansell Adams, Albert Bierstadt, Bernard Buffett, Raoul Dufy, Kenneth Riley, Yves Brayer, Louise Nevelson, Constantin Brancusi, Benjamin Chambers Brown, Edmund William Gracen, and Carl Oscar Borg, among others;
  • A rare cabinet from the American Aesthetic Movement with inscription, likely a private commission from Pottier and Stymus or Herter Brothers (New York);
  • 311 gold pesos weighing over 4,700 grams of pure gold;
  • Impressive musical Irish Regency gothic clock inspired by Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill;
  • Collections of Paris porcelain, porcelain clocks and Meissen figures;
  • Collection of Regency tea caddies and tortoiseshell boxes; and,
  • American furniture by John Henry Belter; J. and J.W. Meeks; Alexander Roux; Charles White and Cook & Parkin, to name a few.

For more information about this Major Estates Auction or the gallery or to view a complete catalog listing, please visit www.neworleansauction.com or call 504-566-1849.

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


Important American carved mahogany and cherry Aesthetic Movement cabinet, New York, circa 1875-1880. Estimate: $20,000-$40,000. Image courtesy of New Orleans Auction Galleries Inc.

Important American carved mahogany and cherry Aesthetic Movement cabinet, New York, circa 1875-1880. Estimate: $20,000-$40,000. Image courtesy of New Orleans Auction Galleries Inc.

 

American Neo-Grec painted and gilt-incised rosewood parlor suite, attributed to Herter Brothers, New York, 1868-1872. Estimate: $10,000-$15,000. Image courtesy of New Orleans Auction Galleries Inc.

American Neo-Grec painted and gilt-incised rosewood parlor suite, attributed to Herter Brothers, New York, 1868-1872. Estimate: $10,000-$15,000. Image courtesy of New Orleans Auction Galleries Inc.

 

Darte Freres seven-piece Paris porcelain cobalt and gilt tea set, first quarter 19th century.  Estimate: $2,500-$4,000. Image courtesy of New Orleans Auction Galleries Inc.

Darte Freres seven-piece Paris porcelain cobalt and gilt tea set, first quarter 19th century. Estimate: $2,500-$4,000. Image courtesy of New Orleans Auction Galleries Inc.

 

Kenneth Riley (American, b. 1919) ‘Evening Light,’ oil on masonite. Estimate: $12,000-$18,000. Image courtesy of New Orleans Auction Galleries Inc.

Kenneth Riley (American, b. 1919) ‘Evening Light,’ oil on masonite. Estimate: $12,000-$18,000. Image courtesy of New Orleans Auction Galleries Inc.

 

Raoul Dufy (French, 1877-1953) ‘Still Life,’ gouache on paper, signed lower left. Estimate: $6,000-$9,000. Image courtesy of New Orleans Auction Galleries Inc.

Raoul Dufy (French, 1877-1953) ‘Still Life,’ gouache on paper, signed lower left. Estimate: $6,000-$9,000. Image courtesy of New Orleans Auction Galleries Inc.

Mick Fleetwood autographed his portrait painted by James Wilkinson. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Cooper Owen.

Mick Fleetwood has a new gig: opening eatery on Maui

Mick Fleetwood autographed his portrait painted by James Wilkinson. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Cooper Owen.

Mick Fleetwood autographed his portrait painted by James Wilkinson. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Cooper Owen.

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) – Long before the success of Fleetwood Mac, when band founder Mick Fleetwood was a kid in the U.K. learning how to play the drums, he dreamed of having his own restaurant. His parents entrusted the then 9-year-old with the stable of the old farmhouse they lived in, and young Fleetwood turned it into something of a children’s speakeasy that he called Club Keller. Instead of booze, he poured Coca-Cola.

“I used to serve up Smith’s crisps and fish and chips and stuff for other children to come round,” the bearded rocker recalled during a recent interview, his eyes twinkling at the memory. “I had my radiogram and my drums in there and it was my world.”

Now, five and a half decades later, Fleetwood is creating a new world for himself and his music: He’s opening a restaurant in his adopted hometown of Lahaina on the Hawaiian island of Maui.

Fleetwood’s on Front St. is set to open early next year, and its namesake sees it as the next professional chapter in his life: A place where he can indulge his taste for fine food and drink (including his own Mick Fleetwood Private Cellar wines), perform with his friends and run the whole show. He plans to showcase local musicians and artists and invite the occasional famous rock star. The new establishment is essentially a large-scale, souped-up version of his old Club Keller.

“I’ve always wanted to do this,” Fleetwood said on a visit to his manager’s office in Beverly Hills. “I’m like one of those weird Chinese creatures where you see something 30 years ahead. It’s petrifying and exciting and fulfilling, because … if you keep focused, and it’s a corny thing, but if you visualize and visualize and visualize, a lot of stuff really does come to you.”

Club Keller itself may actually be resurrected, said Fleetwood’s business partner, Jonathan Todd. “We have an option on a smaller place downstairs and, if we get it, I swear we’re going to call it Club Keller,” Todd said

Developing the restaurant is dominating Fleetwood’s time. He helped choose the site (a historic building dating back to 1916—the year his mother was born), select the decor and create the menu, but he insists “it’s not a shrine to Mick Fleetwood.”

“You’ll know that it’s my place but it will be very tastefully done,” the 64-year-old said. “It’s not a museum for Mick Fleetwood. This is a real working restaurant.”

He says he’ll draw on the “heritage of Fleetwood Mac” to inform its atmosphere.

“All of this is a responsibility to do it properly, and selfishly a responsibility to something that’s very precious to me, which is everything I’ve done with Fleetwood Mac and my partners and the music,” he said.

The restaurant has taken him away from music a bit, and he expects that to continue, but that’s fine with him: “Now I will have a place to play when I want to or need to.”

Besides Fleetwood Mac, the musician has two other bands, the Mick Fleetwood Blues Band and Mick Fleetwood’s Island Rumours Band. With or without his bandmates, Fleetwood plans to play at the restaurant often—and there’s at least one more Fleetwood Mac tour planned.

“We’re going out next year,” he said. “We’re all creatures of habit and we love what we do … Whatever has happened, we are together.

“The whole thing is powerful, and all of that is somehow resonating into what I’m doing with the restaurant, Fleetwood’s,” he continued. “It can’t help but have that filtering through it. It’s my place.”

But as his beloved band slows down, Fleetwood said he’s excited to devote himself to his new endeavor.

“It’s a sense of plugging who I am and what I am into something,” he said, “and for me it’s the perfect vehicle.”

___

Online:

http://mickfleetwood.com/

___

AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen can be reached at www.twitter.com/APSandy .

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-09-28-11 1154GMT

‘Love & Labor; The Unbroken Law’ (1910), Capitol Building, Harrisburg, Pa. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Pa. statehouse restoration costs cause concern

‘Love & Labor; The Unbroken Law’ (1910), Capitol Building, Harrisburg, Pa. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

‘Love & Labor; The Unbroken Law’ (1910), Capitol Building, Harrisburg, Pa. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Standing tall and naked, the marble statues just outside the state Capitol’s main entrance have been ogled and admired by passers-by for the last century.

Art enthusiasts see the statuary groups as a national treasure.

Preservationists see them as contributing to the grandiose decor that some say makes the most beautiful statehouse in the land.

Schoolchildren see the sculptures and giggle over the 27 figures’ nakedness, something that civic groups around the turn of the 20th century tried to squelch by ordering the artist to place covers over the male genitalia.

But the statuary that depicts sculptor George Grey Barnard’s representation of the spiritual burden carried by mankind has turned into a financial burden on taxpayers.

The art, known as Life of Humanity, has cost millions of dollars over the years in maintenance and upkeep since its dedication on Oct. 4, 1911.

It now costs about $120,000 a year to maintain the sculpture that Barnard, a native of Bellefonte, Centre County, was paid $180,000 to produce, which is about $4.3 million by today’s standards, according to Jason Wilson, research historian for the Capitol Preservation Committee.

That raises a question about whether in these tough economic times the upkeep of this piece of art that sits outside exposed to the elements has gotten too rich for taxpayers.

“In times of financial belt-tightening, everyone must make decisions whether to fund the necessities or the niceties. A hundred thousand dollars every year would fill many potholes across Pennsylvania,” said Matthew Brouillette, president of the conservative-leaning Commonwealth Foundation of Harrisburg.

“Instead of charging the taxpayers, the options include finding a private, nonprofit art supporter to maintain these statues or replace them with less opulent and less costly Capitol decor. My guess is that taxpayers picking up the tab would be for the latter.”

But the Barnard sculptures are a rare example of Symbolist sculpture in America, making them a national treasure and deserving to be preserved, said Brian Hack, an adjunct professor of American Art at the City University of New York, Kingsborough, and Barnard scholar.

“He saw those two works as evoking what he saw as universal truth and he saw them as a way to heal humankind and make better humanity. There’s a whole lesson there he wanted people to understand from it, and it’s kind of sad it’s so expensive to maintain,” Hack said.

The statuary has undergone several major restorations over the past century, including one in the mid-1990s that cost $1.1 million.

Some of the maintenance work done in the early part of the last century did more harm than good when conservators applied treatments that removed the Italian Carrara marble’s natural skin, making the statues more susceptible to damage, said Christopher Ellis, the committee’s senior preservation project manager.

To avoid or delay another costly restoration, the preservation committee 15 years ago began a routine maintenance program to keep the complicated piece of artwork clean and intact. This year, it entered into a five-year contract with Conservation Solutions of Washington, D.C., totaling more than $600,000, to perform that work.

“Sometimes we find tips get knocked off by nature, erosion or with old repairs, the adhesive or grout has fallen off. In fact, we found a fingertip just laying on the statue this year,” he said.

The Barnard statuary is one of the costliest pieces of Capitol artwork for the committee to maintain. With the cutting of the preservation committee’s state appropriation from $4 million in 2008-09 to just below $2 million now, the cost of upkeep for this piece of artwork represents a significant share.

Still, Ellis and committee members think that is an investment worth making.

“We have had people who come to the Capitol, whether they are tourists from outside the United States or even people here in the United States, who recognize the great value of the sculpture. To me, they are just extraordinary sculptured pieces,” said Rep. Paul Clymer, R-Bucks, who chairs the preservation committee.

The only way art like the Barnard statuary would find its way into a state government building today is if it were donated because “there simply is no government money available,” said Tom Darr, the state courts’ deputy court administrator who also serves on the preservation committee.

Darr oversaw the construction of the Pennsylvania Judicial Center that opened in 2009 in the Capitol Complex. The project’s $116 million budget left a wide open plaza and atrium devoid of art that to this day, Darr is racking his brain to try to remedy.

As for the cost of maintaining the Barnard statuary, Darr said it’s the price that has to be paid to preserve a part of Pennsylvania’s heritage.

“While we are all focused on the needs for more jobs and having safety nets and all the terribly important things, it’s worth having a little bit of heritage and artistic culture that gives people a feeling about where we came from,” Darr said.

___

Online:

http://bit.ly/ongdXk

___

Information from: The Patriot-News, http://www.pennlive.com/patriotnews

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 

AP-WF-09-27-11 1526GMT

 

A traditional monument to Pope John Paul II stands in Poznań, Poland. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Bowing to critics, artist will redo John Paul II sculpture

A traditional monument to Pope John Paul II stands in Poznań, Poland. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

A traditional monument to Pope John Paul II stands in Poznań, Poland. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

ROME (AP) – He was pilloried by the Vatican for creating a sculpture of Pope John Paul II that some mockingly say looks more like Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini than the beloved late pontiff. Now artist Oliviero Rainaldi has a chance at redemption.

The sculptor recently agreed to carry out changes decided upon by a committee of art experts, culture officials and scholars.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Rainaldi accepted the bad press and said it was all part of the work of being an artist.

“Even Michelangelo was criticized” for his work in the Sistine Chapel, the sculptor told The Associated Press in an interview in his studio in a converted pasta factory in Rome.

“Criticism is inevitable.”

The unveiling last spring of the nearly 16-foot-tall bronze outside the city’s main train station bewildered the public and triggered salvos of sarcasm from the Vatican’s art reviewer—promting Mayor Gianni Alemanno to appoint the committee.

The panel “suggested that a chance be given to the artist … to make it, as much as possible, similar to the original agreement,” Francesco Buranelli, a committee member and a top Vatican arts official told AP Television News in an interview.

Writing in L’Osservatore Romano, the Holy See’s usually restrained chronicle, critic Sandro Barbagallo lamented after the statue’s unveiling that it looked like a “bomb” had landed and likened the cloak the pope is depicted as holding open to a “sentry box.”

That few could recognize it as honoring John Paul was a “sin,” Barbagallo declared.

Asked what he tried to express in the work, Rainaldi told the AP the wide-open cloak was “a symbol of opening, of knocking down walls.”

John Paul “donated himself, emptied himself” in the name of dialogue, Rainaldi said in explaining the gaping space that the Vatican critic lambasted as “a gash.”

But the minimalist treatment of the statue’s roundish, bald head leads many passers-by to shake their heads as they wonder whom it depicts.

“Mussolini?” ventured Pavel Michenko, from Moldova, who stopped to scrutinize the sculpture as commuters rushed to catch trains, taxis whizzed by and buses belched fumes into the early autumn air.

“(Former Soviet leader Nikita) Khrushchev?” suggested Russian visitor Dimitry Filimonov, when prodded to hazard a guess after being told it represented a historical figure.

Despite agreeing to changes, Rainaldi said the “makeover” on the 4-ton sculpture will be modest, saying a drastic rework is something he “couldn’t contemplate.”

The bronze’s patina, or sheen, which now ranges from a sickly green to a brownish area on the cloak that looks as if a cappuccino was spilled on it, will be redone, leaving the work with a uniform, dark “cold green” hue, the 55-year-old artist said.

While the city’s announcement says the head will be “redone,” Rainaldi insists he’ll only do “technical touchups.”

A pedestal will be created for the sculpture, which sits on a small island of lawn, surrounded by modest rose bushes, with wilting blossoms in the yellow and white hues of the Vatican.

The Vatican’s acid pen was even more startling given Rainaldi’s impeccable credentials. Committee member Buranelli, a former director of the Vatican Museums, hailed a mystical vein in Rainaldi’s work in a commentary about his art in a coffee-table book.

Rainaldi was tapped by John Paul to become a member of a five-century-old prestigious pontifical academy of architects, musicians and artists.

In his studio is a photograph of a smiling Pope Benedict XVI, his eyes twinkling with curiosity, with Rainaldi beaming in the background, as the pontiff studies an oil painting of a gauzy, ghostlike figure representing saintliness. The artist’s work was included in a show at the Vatican this summer celebrating Benedict’s 60 years in the priesthood.

Rainaldi downplayed any hard feelings over the harsh criticism, although he did reveal that in the first days of the flap, he had holed up in his studio, only to slip out one night to stand in the station square and ask passers-by what they thought without identifying himself as the sculptor.

“The idea was to do a homage to the pope,” Rainaldi said, adding he could have done a literal image, like “the hundreds of those you see in souvenir shops.”

Instead, he said: “I did a sculpture.”

___

AP reporter Eugenio Montesano contributed to this report.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-09-28-11 0947GMT

The dust jacket of the book ‘Album Georges Simenon’ pictures the prolific Belgian author with his ever-present pipe. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com and Alain & Evelyne Morel de Westgaver.

Georges Simenon exhibition reveals ‘how he done it’

The dust jacket of the book ‘Album Georges Simenon’ pictures the prolific Belgian author with his ever-present pipe. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com and Alain & Evelyne Morel de Westgaver.

The dust jacket of the book ‘Album Georges Simenon’ pictures the prolific Belgian author with his ever-present pipe. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com and Alain & Evelyne Morel de Westgaver.

BRUSSELS (AFP) – He had 33 homes, 10,000 women, penned 500 novels, yet despite such excess, Georges Simenon, the writer who dreamt up world-known super sleuth Inspector Maigret, worked to a rigorous ritual.

A new museum exhibition that opened last weekend in the heart of his homeland, Belgium, tracks the obsessional work patterns of a man who left school at 15 to eventually be lauded as the most prolific writer of the 20th century.

For its launch, Brussels’ new Museum of Letters and Manuscripts brings together manuscripts in Simenon’s spidery longhand with original typescripts of Maigret and other novels that all told sold 550 million copies in 55 languages.

Underlining the velocity and ease of a writer able to churn out 60 to 80 pages a day, “the manuscripts show he made few corrections,” said curator Jean-Christophe Hubert.

“He worked only a part of the year,” Hubert said. “But he had a routine that became a superstition.”

Simenon, who died two decades ago in Switzerland after moving from Belgium to Paris to the United States and back again, more often than not in a ménage a trois or more, rolled out every major work under the same formula.

On a yellow manila envelope dating back to the 1950s showcased in the museum, Simenon scrawled the title, “Maigret’s Little Joke,” adding the names, ages and addresses of the main characters in a book whose plot was yet to be worked out.

In an airline calendar of the same year for the same book, also on show, Simenon marks down eight days to write the book, a week of rest and three days to re-edit the manuscript.

“It’s true my father had an amazing capacity for work and could write a book in a fortnight,” said his son John in an interview released by the museum, which is running “Georges Simenon, the Journey of a Belgian Writer,” its opening temporary show, until February.

“But first there would be a two-week gestation where he wasn’t particularly thinking about the plot but about the characters and their relationships, learning to know this new family.”

“Once he knew them, once they existed inside him, all that had to be done was to find the trigger, the crisis that would drive them to the edge.”

Unlike fellow fictional sleuths Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot, slow-moving pipe-smoking Maigret has little interest in clues or evidence.

Like well-traveled Simenon, who explored the seamy side of life as a cub reporter while still in his teens, Maigret’s passion was unraveling the psychological tensions of characters often from the underclass.

Simenon was a bright student and avid reader whose talent for producing torrents of words developed as a touch-typing junior reporter, promoted from covering local crime to full-blown colunmist before turning 20.

He then headed for Paris where he pumped out some 200 pulp fiction novels under pseudonyms, between nights out on the town and a fling with cabaret star Josephine Baker. By 24 he was wealthy enough to travel.

By his own admission, hard-living Simenon had 10,000 women over several decades “on the basis of two or three women a week,” he once said.

But “he was a good father and a family man,” his son said.

Curator Hubert said the 150-odd documents chosen for the show “highlight the role of the written word and its place in a man’s individual story.”

The new museum, located in an up-market 19th century walk-through gallery, features some 500 old letters and manuscripts, dating from the 12th century to current times, including Einstein’s scrawlings as he scrambled t produce his theory of relativity.

“We wanted to open a museum of manuscripts in the heart of Europe,” director Gerard Lheritier told AFP.”

The Brussels gallery, a favorite haunt of 19th century political exiles such as Victor Hugo and Charles Baudelaire, is famed too as the scene of a nonfatal shoot-out between poet Paul Verlaine and his longtime literary rival Arthur Rimbaud.

(www.mlmb.be)

 

Dylan onstage at the Azkena Rock Festival, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain on June 26, 2010. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Critics question originality of Bob Dylan paintings

Dylan onstage at the Azkena Rock Festival, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain on June 26, 2010. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Dylan onstage at the Azkena Rock Festival, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain on June 26, 2010. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

NEW YORK (AFP) – Bob Dylan faced uncomfortable questions Wednesday over several paintings in a New York exhibition by the prolific singer-songwriter that appear to have been copied directly from other artists’ photographs.

The paintings are part of a show at the Gagosian Gallery titled “The Asia Series,” billed as “a visual reflection on his travels in Japan, China, Vietnam, and Korea.”

According to the Gagosian, the artwork, which went on display earlier this month, shows how Dylan “is inspired by everyday phenomena in such a way that they appear fresh, new, and mysterious.”

But Dylan watchers and an article in The New York Times highlight another mystery behind the exhibition: that several paintings supposedly reflecting Dylan’s globe-trotting artistic career are nearly identical to already published photographs.

For example, a painting titled “Trade,” showing two elderly men bent over while talking, and one of them holding a banknote, is the same as a black and white photograph by famed photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson taken in 1948, the Times pointed out.

Even the lines on the foreheads of the men are similar, as is the short flight of steps in the background.

Another apparently copied painting is titled “Opium” and depicts a dark-haired woman in red lying down alongside opium paraphernalia. The same scene—in the same colors—appears in Leon Busy’s photo “Woman Smoking Opium.”

A third painting “The Game,” depicting three men playing a board game, is the same as a 1950 photograph by Dmitri Kessel.

The gallery shrugged off any possibility of controversy, saying in a statement that “the composition of some of Bob Dylan’s paintings are based on a variety of sources.”

These include “archival, historic images, the paintings’ vibrancy and freshness come from the colors and textures found in everyday scenes he observed.”

Some Dylan fans concurred.

“Everybody does that. In painting, music, literature. Everyone is always riffing on what someone did before them,” one person going by the online name the_revelator posted on the fan site expectingrain.com.

“People who are completely original are extremely rare. Almost all art is derivative. I don’t like Bob’s work any less because of all the influences and the appropriation,” the_revelator said.

But the revelation was more disturbing for others in the world of Dylan followers.

“I guess it’s because he gets away with it when others don’t as much … maybe that is what aggravates me the most,” said one commentator called Milkcow wrote.

Milkcow went on to express deeper reservations about the voice and writer behind many of the world’s most popular ballads.

“I was listening to his 60s songs … and really was blown away by his lyrics especially for how old he was when he wrote them … but then you find whole things snagged from other people’s stuff … the same thing he hates when people do it to him.”

Alan Shepard aboard Freedom 7 before the launch in 1961. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Astronaut Alan Shepard’s letter sells for $106,000

Alan Shepard aboard Freedom 7 before the launch in 1961. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Alan Shepard aboard Freedom 7 before the launch in 1961. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

AMHERST, N.H. (AP) – A letter future astronaut Alan Shepard wrote to his parents in New Hampshire about trying out for the “Man in Space” program has been sold for more than $100,000.

RR Auction of Amherst says the rare handwritten letter sold Thursday night for $106,228, about $25,000 more than auction officials had expected.

In the 1959 letter, Shepard, who was born in Derry, N.H., tells his parents that he would volunteer if asked to pilot America’s first mission into space—a job he later won. A rocket-powered suborbital flight on May 5, 1961, made Shepard the first American man in space.

Shepard died in 1998.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-09-23-11 1627GMT

 

In Memoriam: Bob Cassilly, sculptor and entrepreneur, 61

ST. LOUIS (AP) – St. Louis civic leaders and its art community are in shock following the death of Bob Cassilly, who is being remembered as a driving creative force in the city.

The 61-year-old founder of the eclectic City Museum was found dead Monday in a bulldozer he had been driving around his latest project, a former cement plant he was converting into an amusement park to be known as Cementland.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that friends and authorities believe the death was an accident. They believe the bulldozer slid on a hill and flipped before landing upright. Police and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration were investigating because it was a workplace fatality.

It wasn’t clear when Cassilly died. Relatives began to worry when he didn’t pick up his children late Sunday, said Bruce Gerrie, a curator at City Museum and Cassilly’s longtime friend.

“Bob lived a life of excitement, and I’m glad that he didn’t have to suffer from anything,” Gerrie said. “He went out as he was.”

Cassilly was known as an unconventional thinker who was unafraid to embrace the strange. He was a sculptor who unveiled Turtle Park—turtle and snake sculptures near Forest Park—in 1996.

A year later, he and his former wife, Gail, opened City Museum, which has become a leading St. Louis attraction with its unique combination of things to see and do, including artifacts and unique art as well as climbing tunnels, slides and even a Ferris wheel on the roof of the museum.

Though admired by city and civic leaders, Cassilly could be frustrating to them, too. He once spray painted tears and messages on the turtles at Turtle Park after the city put a protective resin on them, which he considered an affront to their integrity.

And in 2002, Cassilly and Gerrie were arrested after locking themselves in a parked car to protest the demolition of an old church tower. Police had to break into the vehicle and wrestle them out.

Cassilly also drew some criticism for what some saw as safety hazards at City Museum, which has been the subject of more than 25 personal injury cases.

Still, Cassilly was embraced by many local officials who believed he brought a vibrant energy to the city. U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, a St. Louis Democrat, called Cassilly a “creative legend.” Mayor Francis Slay said “the city has lost some of its wonder” and that Cassilly “pushed the envelope of what was possible.”

Cassilly grew up in St. Louis and began sculpting when he was a teenager. He moved briefly to Hawaii before returning to St. Louis.

Cassilly and Gail divorced in 2002. His current wife, Melissa, was in California when she learned of her husband’s death. The couple have two young children. Cassilly is also survived by two children from a previous marriage.

On Monday afternoon, City Museum employees gathered at the building to talk and console each other.

“Right now, we’re at a loss,” said Rick Erwin, the museum’s director.

___

Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-09-27-11 1433GMT

 

 

 

 

 

Mike Lowenberg and Joanne Herring with the Raeburn painting. Image courtesy of De Andre Moore, DM Video Production.

Woman’s battle to reclaim stolen artwork took grit

Mike Lowenberg and Joanne Herring with the Raeburn painting. Image courtesy of De Andre Moore, DM Video Production.

Mike Lowenberg and Joanne Herring with the Raeburn painting. Image courtesy of De Andre Moore, DM Video Production.

HOUSTON – Every year, hundreds of items are stolen from antique stores, collector’s homes and even museums. Perhaps the most famous art theft occurred in 1911 when the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre in Paris by an employee, only to be recovered two years later. The largest art theft in world history took place in Boston on March 8, 1990. Thieves broke into the museum and stole 13 works worth $300 million or more. To date, they have not been found.

Recovery of items does not happen often, and if it does, it can take years – something Houston socialite and philanthropist Joanne Herring recently experienced when a painting by Scottish artist, Sir Henry Raeburn was returned to her after being stolen over 25 years ago.

It all started when her Houston home was being restored. Herring had been a collector of 18th century artists to line the walls of her home. Most of her collection had been purchased from auction houses such as Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Doyle’s in New York. While the house was filled with contractors, her secretary relocated her art to Herring’s son’s apartment. At some point, several of the works went missing.

Herring filed a police report shortly after the theft (in 1986) and waited. One of the paintings turned up at auction in London just six months after it was stolen. Unfortunately, Herring did not act quickly enough, and the painting went missing again.

Fast forward to 2009 when she received a call from Christopher A. Marinello, executive director and general counsel of the Art Loss Register Inc., a firm retaining a database of stolen and missing works of art. Lo and behold, her painting had turned up again in New York at Sotheby’s auction house.

Portrait of a Man by Sir Henry Raeburn, had been consigned by Geoffrey Rice. Rice claimed he had purchased the painting in the mid 1980s from a Houston auction house, Hart Galleries. Rice, however, had no proof of this claim. Herring on the other hand came armed with her original receipt from Christie’s where she purchased the painting in 1980, along with a copy of the 1986 police report.

The painting was pulled from auction, but this was far from over. Rice had refused to cede ownership of the painting, therefore Sotheby’s could not release it to Herring without a court order.

One can only assume Rice thought Herring would go away without a fight. Anyone knowing Herring would know that would never be the case. Before long, Herring had attorney Mike Lowenberg on the case—pro bono.

The media caught wind of the story and The New York Post began calling it “Charlie Wilson’s Art War” in reference to Charlie Wilson’s War, the film featuring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, inspired by Herring’s relationship with the late Texas congressman and their role in funding Mujahideen fighters in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan.

The case was set to be heard Jan. 3, 2011. After three years of fighting, she was going to have her day in court in hopes of having the painting returned to its rightful owner. As Herring was making her way to the courthouse, she received a call stating Rice had agreed to return the painting.

The Raeburn finally made its way back to Houston in August. Herring, Lowenberg and Corbett Parker (general counsel for Herring) had the pleasure of uncrating the painting, and toasting the return of an “old friend.”

Herring is now hoping another art enthusiast might have interest in acquiring the painting. She plans to put it up for sale, with all proceeds going to her nonprofit organization assisting Afghan villages with clean water, sustainable food sources, modern schools and jobs and basic health care.

Herring also has a new book out titled Diplomacy and Diamonds: My Wars from the Ballroom to the Battlefield available in stores in October and online now.


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


'Portrait of a Man' by Sir Henry Raeburn.

‘Portrait of a Man’ by Sir Henry Raeburn.

A platinum and octagonal step-cut diamond ring sold for $268,000. Image courtesy of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers.

Leslie Hindman’s Fine Jewelry Auction realizes over $3M

A platinum and octagonal step-cut diamond ring sold for $268,000. Image courtesy of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers.

A platinum and octagonal step-cut diamond ring sold for $268,000. Image courtesy of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers.

CHICAGO – An audience eager for antique jewels helped make Leslie Hindman Auctioneers’ September Fine Jewelry and Timepieces auction by a resounding success, realizing over $3 million.

Fine jade jewelry, in particular, was in high demand on Sept. 18 from an international group of collectors. A pair of platinum, sapphire, diamond and carved jade pendant earrings sold for $10,980, quadrupling the high estimate, while a fine “glassy” jade bead strand sold for $12,200.

“Demand from the Asian market for fine quality was evident in the strong prices realized for jade jewelry,” said Hindman jewelry specialist Alexander Eblen,

Important diamonds were the high point of the sale, indicative of the current market’s desire for fine quality and large size. A vintage Van Cleef & Arpels platinum ring containing an excellent 7.00-carat emerald cut diamond and two triangular brilliant cut side diamonds outperformed its estimate bringing $244,000. Similarly, a beautifully cut 7.52-carat emerald cut diamond ring realized $268,000. Fancy color diamonds also made an impression. A 5.33-carat radiant cut fancy yellow diamond ring realized $53,680 amidst substantial competition. Additionally, a rare fancy purplish pink pear shape diamond of 1.10 carats brought $43,920, while an elaborate necklace containing a fancy yellow diamond, an emerald and numerous white diamonds sold for $18,300.

Signed works fared particularly well in a sale where collectors were ready to compete for fine examples. A contemporary yellow gold and lapis lazuli collar necklace by Elsa Peretti for Tiffany sold for $10,980 and a vintage Van Cleef & Arpels carved coral ring sold for $6,710. The rich tones of high-karat gold jewelry resonated with the audience and were in high demand. A 22K gold, baroque pearl and rose cut diamond bib necklace brought $18,300 against an estimate of $3,000-$5,000. Antique and vintage timepieces performed well including a rare Edwardian platinum and diamond pendant watch by Patek Philippe and wristwatches from the 1960s were also highly sought after.

Important natural colored gemstones proved their collectible value in the current market by achieving excellent prices. A fine pair of certified Colombian emerald earrings sold for $17,080 while an exceptional certified natural Sri Lankan sapphire in an Edwardian bracelet brought $26,840. An intricate platinum, diamond and sugarloaf cabochon cut emerald vintage ring captured the attention of buyers and sold for $24,400.

Leslie Hindman Auctioneers’ next Fine Jewelry and Timepieces auction will be held Dec. 2. Consignments are invited for upcoming auctions; contact Alexander Eblen at 312-334-4233 for more information.

 

Click here to view the fully illustrated catalog for this sale, complete with prices realized.


ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE


A platinum and diamond ring, Van Cleef & Arpels, sold for $244,000. Image courtesy of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers.

A platinum and diamond ring, Van Cleef & Arpels, sold for $244,000. Image courtesy of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers.

 

A platinum, emerald and diamond ring sold for $24,400. Image courtesy of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers.

A platinum, emerald and diamond ring sold for $24,400. Image courtesy of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers.

 

An 18K gold, fancy color yellow and white diamond ring sold for $53,680. Image courtesy of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers.

An 18K gold, fancy color yellow and white diamond ring sold for $53,680. Image courtesy of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers.

 

A pair of Art Deco platinum, jade, sapphire and diamond earrings sold for $10,980. Image courtesy of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers.

A pair of Art Deco platinum, jade, sapphire and diamond earrings sold for $10,980. Image courtesy of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers.