London Eye: May 2013

A George IV silver-gilt ceremonial trowel, used by the Lord Mayor of London to lay the first stone on the City side of the new London Bridge in 1828. It is expected to fetch £5,000-7,000 ($7,500-10,500) at the inaugural online sale to be held by TheAuctionRoom.com on June 6. Image courtesy The Auction Room.
A George IV silver-gilt ceremonial trowel, used by the Lord Mayor of London to lay the first stone on the City side of the new London Bridge in 1828. It is expected to fetch £5,000-7,000 ($7,500-10,500) at the inaugural online sale to be held by TheAuctionRoom.com on June 6. Image courtesy The Auction Room.
A George IV silver-gilt ceremonial trowel, used by the Lord Mayor of London to lay the first stone on the City side of the new London Bridge in 1828. It is expected to fetch £5,000-7,000 ($7,500-10,500) at the inaugural online sale to be held by TheAuctionRoom.com on June 6. Image courtesy The Auction Room.

LONDON – It would be reasonable to assume that the last thing you would need when building an online auction room is a bricklayer’s trowel. After all, bricks and mortar are so last year, are they not? But if the trowel is of the George IV silver-gilt variety and for sale with an estimated value of around £5,000-7,000 ($7,500-10,500), then it might be just the ticket to get your new online business off the ground, so to speak.

It is entirely appropriate, then, that the ceremonial trowel coming under the hammer of the new, London-based, exclusively online auction business — The Auction Room (dot com) — on June 6 is engraved with the arms of the City of London. The new auction venture is the brainchild of former Sotheby’s specialists George Bailey and Lucinda Blythe who are hoping to succeed where others have failed. They may have timed it just right.

The London art research firm Art Tactic recently conducted a report into the use of technology in the art market in association with Hiscox insurers. It revealed a significant surge in the take-up of e-commerce platforms by private collectors in recent years, which bodes well for start-ups like The Auction Room. Bailey told Auction Central News that even if this week’s inaugural sales get off to an uncertain start, the venture will grow in time.

“If you look at the big contemporary art sales in New York recently, it’s clear that the middle price bracket is being left behind and as sale commissions continue to rise there are opportunities for new business initiatives to enter the digital space.” He referred to a recent live auction at Sotheby’s New Bond Street premises where 120 seats were provided for bidders but only nine people turned up.

For now, The Auction Room will be concentrating on smaller, more portable objects — silver, jewelry and watches — which will be on view at Brown’s Hotel in Albemarle Street prior to each sale. Other categories will come on stream in the fullness of time. The inaugural sale of fine jewelry takes place on June 4 and will include a fine platinum and diamond spray brooch estimated at £20,000-25,000 ($30,200-37,800),

This 1950s platinum and diamond spray brooch, set with 38 brilliant-cut diamonds and 46 baguette-cut diamonds, is among the lots on offer at the inaugural auction to be held by TheAuctionRoom.com, exclusively online, on June 4. It is estimated to fetch £20,000-25,000 ($30,200-37,800). Image courtesy The Auction Room.
This 1950s platinum and diamond spray brooch, set with 38 brilliant-cut diamonds and 46 baguette-cut diamonds, is among the lots on offer at the inaugural auction to be held by TheAuctionRoom.com, exclusively online, on June 4. It is estimated to fetch £20,000-25,000 ($30,200-37,800). Image courtesy The Auction Room.
while the watch auction on June 5 will feature a ladies Harry Winston wristwatch estimated at £12,000-14,000 ($18,150-21,160).
A fine Harry Winston ladies 'Avenue' 18K gold and diamond-set bracelet wristwatch — a gift from Nursultan Nazarbayev, the president of Kazakhstan, to a respected employee. It is estimated to fetch £12,000-14,000 ($18,150-21,160) when it comes up at the exclusively online sale of watches to be held by TheAuctionRoom.com on June 5. Image courtesy The Auction Room.
A fine Harry Winston ladies ‘Avenue’ 18K gold and diamond-set bracelet wristwatch — a gift from Nursultan Nazarbayev, the president of Kazakhstan, to a respected employee. It is estimated to fetch £12,000-14,000 ($18,150-21,160) when it comes up at the exclusively online sale of watches to be held by TheAuctionRoom.com on June 5. Image courtesy The Auction Room.
It was originally given by Nursultan Nazarbayev, the president of Kazakhstan, to a well-respected employee. The George IV trowel, used by the Lord Mayor of London in 1828 to open the building of London Bridge, will be offered on June 6.

Whether Bailey and Blythe’s interactive virtual saleroom will “transform the traditional auction experience” as they anticipate, remains to be seen, but nothing ventured nothing gained.

The Auction Room is not the only inaugural art event taking place over the coming weeks. June is always a busy time in London as overseas visitors arrive, brollies and guide-books in hand, to explore the many art fairs and other cultural attractions.

One of the most significant new events this year is London Art Week, a collaboration between dealers across the three main traditional categories — paintings, drawings and sculpture. These “tentless” events are in part a response to the proliferation of marquee blockbusters such as Art Antiques London and Masterpiece (both June) and Frieze (October). London Art Week aims to foreground the intimacy and ambience of the “bricks and mortar” gallery experience in contrast to the “mall” art fair culture currently sweeping the globe. It is the first time that Master Paintings Week, Master Drawings Week and Sculpture Week have come together under one umbrella. Judging from the recent summer weather here in London, umbrellas will certainly be needed.

Notable objects on view in London Art Week include a late Hellenistic marble torso of an athlete (circa second-first century B.C.) inspired by Polykleitos, one of the most influential Greek sculptors of the High Classical Period, which will be with Rupert Wace Fine Art,

This late Hellenistic marble torso of an athlete (circa second-first century B.C.) will be with Rupert Wace Fine Art during London Art Week from June 28 to July 5. Image courtesy of Rupert Wace.
This late Hellenistic marble torso of an athlete (circa second-first century B.C.) will be with Rupert Wace Fine Art during London Art Week from June 28 to July 5. Image courtesy of Rupert Wace.
while a Thomas Gainsborough drawing, Wooded Landscape with a Country Cart and Faggot Gatherers, dating from the 1760s, will be on view with Old Master Drawings dealer Stephen Ongpin.
Stephen Ongpin Fine Art will be offering this drawing, 'Wooded Landscape with a Country Cart and Faggot Gatherers' by Thomas Gainsborough, (1727–1788) during the inaugural London Art Week. Image courtesy of Stephen Ongpin.
Stephen Ongpin Fine Art will be offering this drawing, ‘Wooded Landscape with a Country Cart and Faggot Gatherers’ by Thomas Gainsborough, (1727–1788) during the inaugural London Art Week. Image courtesy of Stephen Ongpin.
Lowell Libson Ltd. is exhibiting a collection of 20 oil studies and 40 drawings by James Ward R.A. (1769–1859) that will throw light on every aspect of his career and working methods.
During the inaugural London Art Week, London Old Master dealer Lowell Libson will be showing this work titled 'Virgil's Bulls' by James Ward R.A. (1769–1859). Image courtesy of Lowell Libson.
During the inaugural London Art Week, London Old Master dealer Lowell Libson will be showing this work titled ‘Virgil’s Bulls’ by James Ward R.A. (1769–1859). Image courtesy of Lowell Libson.

It would not be an English summer without a few open air sculpture exhibitions. Two of the most significant shows opening in June are the University of Leicester’s annual Open Air Sculpture Show at the Harold Martin Botanical Gardens in Leicester, which runs from late June until October, and “Fresh Air,” the biennial outdoor sculpture show at The Old Rectory, Quenington, Cirencester, from June 16 to July 7.

 The organizers of the Quenington event say its purpose is “to wash the dust from the soul of everyday life” and to provide the opportunity to celebrate the vitality and diversity of outdoor sculpture. Regular exhibitors include the renowned British sculptor Terence Coventry who will be showing one of his popular Couple sculptures,

Terence Coventry, 'Couple I,' bronze, edition of five, on view at the Fresh Air open air sculpture exhibition in Quenington, Gloucestershire from June 16 June to July 17 where it will be priced at £13,500 ($20,400). Image courtesy of Fresh Air.
Terence Coventry, ‘Couple I,’ bronze, edition of five, on view at the Fresh Air open air sculpture exhibition in Quenington, Gloucestershire from June 16 June to July 17 where it will be priced at £13,500 ($20,400). Image courtesy of Fresh Air.
while among the more conceptual works on display is A Bench by Hannah Davies, priced at £1,350 ($2,040).
Hannah Davies, 'A Bench,' treated wood, edition 1 of 5, priced at £1,350 ($2,040) at the Fresh Air open air sculpture exhibition at The Old Rectory, Quenington, Gloucestershire from June 16 to July 17. Image courtesy of Fresh Air.
Hannah Davies, ‘A Bench,’ treated wood, edition 1 of 5, priced at £1,350 ($2,040) at the Fresh Air open air sculpture exhibition at The Old Rectory, Quenington, Gloucestershire from June 16 to July 17. Image courtesy of Fresh Air.

Her Majesty the Queen has sat for a fair number of artists during her long reign, the most memorable of which is perhaps the work by Lucian Freud. The latest portraitist to venture into what must be a nerve-wracking hot seat behind the easel is British painter Nicky Philipps.

Portrait painter Nicky Phillipps in her studio with her portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, commissioned by The Royal Mail for a new stamp. Image courtesy of Fine Art Commissions and the artist.
Portrait painter Nicky Phillipps in her studio with her portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, commissioned by The Royal Mail for a new stamp. Image courtesy of Fine Art Commissions and the artist.
Commissioned by the Royal Mail, Philipps’ portrait of Her Majesty will be used for a special stamp issue to mark the 60th anniversary of The Queen’s coronation. Royal Mail will be gifting the portrait to the Royal Collection but before that happens it will be on view to the public during the artist’s solo exhibition at Fine Art Commissions in Duke Street, St. James’s from June 5-28.
Nicky Phillipps' portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, which will be on public view at at the Fine Art Commissions gallery in St. James's from June 5-28. Image courtesy of Fine Art Commissions and the artist.
Nicky Phillipps’ portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, which will be on public view at at the Fine Art Commissions gallery in St. James’s from June 5-28. Image courtesy of Fine Art Commissions and the artist.

Philipps’ portrait will be in noble company in St. James’s at the end of June. Wander just a hundred yards up Duke Street into Jermyn Street you will find the Weiss Gallery, where from June 28 until July 5 there is a chance to see a magnificent full-length portrait of Mary, Lady Vere, by the Jacobean artist William Larkin.

This marvelous 17th century full-length portrait of the Puritan noblewoman Mary, Lady Vere, by the Jacobean artist William Larkin, will be on view at The Weiss Gallery during London Art Week, which takes place from June 28 to July 5 . Image courtesy of the Weiss Gallery.
This marvelous 17th century full-length portrait of the Puritan noblewoman Mary, Lady Vere, by the Jacobean artist William Larkin, will be on view at The Weiss Gallery during London Art Week, which takes place from June 28 to July 5 . Image courtesy of the Weiss Gallery.
Vere was a member of one of 17th-century England’s most noble Puritan families. It is an extraordinary image, Lady Vere’s appropriately black gown contrasting with the crisply painted folds of a crimson curtained backdrop. The painting is one of the highlights of a fine exhibition of Old Master paintings at the Weiss Gallery during London Art Week mentioned above. It will be well worth making a detour to see.

 

Roland Auction celebrates summer in the city June 1

Early Arredoluce ‘Triennale’ floor lamp. Roland Auction image.

Early Arredoluce ‘Triennale’ floor lamp. Roland Auction image.

Early Arredoluce ‘Triennale’ floor lamp. Roland Auction image.

NEW YORK – Roland Auction announces its June 1 estate sale and will be celebrating the start of the summer season with a phenomenal selection of modern and antique art, design and furniture. LiveAuctioneers.com will provide Internet live bidding. The auction will begin Saturday at 11 a.m. EDT.

“This sale has come together beautifully,” said founder Bill Roland. “We have a great collection of modern art and design, which always draws a crowd, but also some exceptional antiques and many other crowd pleasers.”

One of the other crowd pleasers Roland mentioned may be the exceptional collection of vintage and new—never used—high end designer handbags. There is a Marc Jacobs and Murakami collaboration for Louis Vuitton, in the form of a classic LV tote superimposed with anime style cherries. This is one of many Vuitton pieces, which includes luggage as well as handbags. A selection of new and old Hermes bags will also be available, as will exceptional examples by Fendi and Badgley Mischka. Some rare vintage finds include a 1920s ivory evening bag, chic French crocodile purse and Judith Lieber clutches in snake and lizard.

A not-to-be-missed collection of costume jewelry from longtime collectors includes Schiaparelli, Chanel, Kenneth Jay Lane and Sorelli, along with two Gatsby-era Venetian glass sautoir necklaces. A small but excellent estate wardrobe included in the auction features Pauline Trigere evening gowns.

Of course, there will be a substantial offering of fine estate jewelry including gold watches, diamond and colored stone necklaces, pins, rings and bracelets and a few surprises.

Modern art is well represented by such luminaries as Roy Lichtenstein, Joan Miro, Pablo Picasso, Alexander Calder, Henri Matisse and more. Many outstanding prints from collectors and estates have come together to create an impressive collection for the sale. There is also a tremendous selection of more modestly priced but, nevertheless, strong painting, sculpture and graphics, along with a small but worthwhile group of Old Msaster paintings and drawings.

Modern ceramics and other collectible objects feature works by George Ohr, Louis Wain, Jason Berg and many others.

An impressive Paul Evans hanging sideboard is only one of the examples of great 20th century design on offer by this sought after designer. Many other examples of modern furniture and decorations are part of this exciting auction. An early Arredoluce “triennale” floor lamp is just one of a great modern group of lighting available in Saturday’s sale.

With hundreds of pieces of fine antique and traditional furniture featured, there is something for every collector. A rare English Victorian corner cabinet, mounted with Minton tiles will appeal to many, as will a fine Georgian chest. Estate silver ranging from Georgian through 20th century Tiffany and Georg Jensen only enhance this already strong sale.

All items are available to be viewed online or in person. For details email info@rolandantiques.com or phone 212-260-2000.

View the fully illustrated catalog and sign up to bid absentee or live via the Internet at LiveAuctioneers.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


Early Arredoluce ‘Triennale’ floor lamp. Roland Auction image.

Early Arredoluce ‘Triennale’ floor lamp. Roland Auction image.

Paul Evans wall-mounted cabinet. Roland Auction image.
 

Paul Evans wall-mounted cabinet. Roland Auction image.

Roy Lichtenstein offset lithograph ‘Sunset.’ Roland Auction image.
 

Roy Lichtenstein offset lithograph ‘Sunset.’ Roland Auction image.

Reading the Streets: ‘Red, Yellow, and Blue’ in knots

‘Red, Yellow, and Blue’ by Orly Genger at Madison Square Park, New York City. Photo by James Ewing via Madisonsquarepark.org.
‘Red, Yellow, and Blue’ by Orly Genger at Madison Square Park, New York City. Photo by James Ewing via Madisonsquarepark.org.
‘Red, Yellow, and Blue’ by Orly Genger at Madison Square Park, New York City. Photo by James Ewing via Madisonsquarepark.org.

NEW YORK – Artist Orly Genger ‘s work frequently incorporates unexpected materials and large, complex installations, but her latest, Red, Yellow, and Blue, on view now through Sept. 8 in Madison Square Park, may be her biggest undertaking yet.

Others artists like previous “Reading the Streets” subject Olek, also use knitting or crocheting in their work, but usually over an existing object or wall. Genger takes it to another level; Red, Yellow, and Blue’s monumental structures are entirely knitted, not just knitted or crocheted over.

The three undulating stretches of knitted nautical rope make up the walls of what look like secret chambers, creating little parks within a park. The walls in bright primary colors look like waves. Sometimes they wrap around trees or other park structures, other times, they’re entirely freestanding.

This isn’t your average Christmas scarf. Genger knitted 100,000 pounds of hand-knotted nautical rope, covered in paint. That’s 1.4 million feet of rope almost 10 times the length of Manhattan. The rope was collected from up and down the Eastern Seaboard. The three enclosures created by this rope provide endless possibilities for exploration.

The best part of the installation is watching park visitors in their exploration. Children create secret worlds to play in the middle of the enclosures, their new secret parks. Tired joggers can rest against it before continuing on with their run. Even the park’s squirrels are getting in on the action, running up and down the sides of the various walls on the way to their next acorn.


ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE


‘Red, Yellow, and Blue’ by Orly Genger at Madison Square Park, New York City. Photo by James Ewing via Madisonsquarepark.org.
‘Red, Yellow, and Blue’ by Orly Genger at Madison Square Park, New York City. Photo by James Ewing via Madisonsquarepark.org.
‘Red, Yellow, and Blue’ by Orly Genger at Madison Square Park, New York City. Photo by James Ewing via Madisonsquarepark.org.
‘Red, Yellow, and Blue’ by Orly Genger at Madison Square Park, New York City. Photo by James Ewing via Madisonsquarepark.org.
‘Red, Yellow, and Blue’ by Orly Genger at Madison Square Park, New York City. Photo by James Ewing via Madisonsquarepark.org.
‘Red, Yellow, and Blue’ by Orly Genger at Madison Square Park, New York City. Photo by James Ewing via Madisonsquarepark.org.
‘Red, Yellow, and Blue’ by Orly Genger at Madison Square Park, New York City. Photo by James Ewing via Madisonsquarepark.org.
‘Red, Yellow, and Blue’ by Orly Genger at Madison Square Park, New York City. Photo by James Ewing via Madisonsquarepark.org.

Lakota horse effigy dance stick going on international tour

Lakota Sioux horse effigy with horsehair mane and tail, circa 1870. Image courtesy of the Museum of the South Dakota State Historical Society.
Lakota Sioux horse effigy with horsehair mane and tail, circa 1870. Image courtesy of the Museum of the South Dakota State Historical Society.
Lakota Sioux horse effigy with horsehair mane and tail, circa 1870. Image courtesy of the Museum of the South Dakota State Historical Society.

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — A Lakota carving of a horse that seems to be dying of battle wounds, a signature piece held by the South Dakota State Historical Society, is about to hit the road.

The Horse Effigy dance stick will be included in an exhibit featuring American Indian art from the Great Plains that will be displayed over the two next years at the Quai Branly Museum in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, Mo.

Jay D. Vogt, director of the South Dakota State Historical Society, said the 3-foot-long wooden carving is believed to have been made in about 1870 by a Lakota artist or warrior as a tribute to a horse that died in battle. The carving, used in various dances, is so highly regarded that it serves as the society’s logo.

Red paint, representing blood, seems to seep from wounds on the carving, which also features a real horsehair mane and tail.

“It looks like it’s leaping and there’s obviously blood coming from different spots on the body. Whether it was shot with bullets or arrows, we don’t know,” Vogt said. “Obviously, it’s a horse that’s in its last throes of life.”

Gaylord Torrence, senior curator of American Indian Art at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, said the horse carving will be part of a 140-piece exhibit that features objects from private and museum collections from North America and Europe. The exhibit, “Art of the Plains Indians,” will feature some of the greatest icons of Native American art from a region stretching from the Mississippi River Valley to the Rocky Mountains and from Texas to Canada, he said.

Torrence, guest curator for the exhibit, said it will open in Paris in April 2014 at the Musee du quai Branly, which features indigenous art from around the world. It will move to Kansas City in September 2014 and New York in March 2015. The exhibit will include items from before Europeans made contact with Native Americans in the region to the present day. Some items in the exhibit were collected by the Lewis and Clark expedition that explored the American West in 1804-1806, he said.

One of the most famous pieces will be the South Dakota horse carving, which gained fame in a 1976 exhibition that also traveled to Europe, Torrence said.

“In the world of American Indian art, all you have to do is talk about the famous horse effigy and everybody knows what you’re talking about. It’s a famous thing,” Torrence said.

Vogt said South Dakota officials are a little nervous about having the carving leave the state. But he said the exhibition will gain international attention that could bring visitors to the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre, where the carving is displayed in the American Indian section of the center’s museum.

“We loan artifacts to other museums, but this is just very high profile and our signature piece. It’s a big deal,” Vogt said.

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


Lakota Sioux horse effigy with horsehair mane and tail, circa 1870. Image courtesy of the Museum of the South Dakota State Historical Society.
Lakota Sioux horse effigy with horsehair mane and tail, circa 1870. Image courtesy of the Museum of the South Dakota State Historical Society.

Rare Action Comics No. 1 found in house insulation

This CGC-certified 9.0 copy of 'Action Comics' No. 1, the highest-graded specimen featuring the first appearance of Superman, was sold by ComicConnect.com for $2.2 million in 2011. The copy found in the Minnesota home recently is graded 1.5. Image courtesy of ComicConnect.com.
This CGC-certified 9.0 copy of 'Action Comics' No. 1, the highest-graded specimen featuring the first appearance of Superman, was sold by ComicConnect.com for $2.2 million in 2011. The copy found in the Minnesota home recently is graded 1.5. Image courtesy of ComicConnect.com.
This CGC-certified 9.0 copy of ‘Action Comics’ No. 1, the highest-graded specimen featuring the first appearance of Superman, was sold by ComicConnect.com for $2.2 million in 2011. The copy found in the Minnesota home recently is graded 1.5. Image courtesy of ComicConnect.com.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – It’s considered the Holy Grail of comic books: Action Comics No. 1 from 1938, featuring the debut of Superman. And David Gonzales found one mixed in with old newspapers insulating a house he was renovating in a small town in Minnesota.

Gonzales did some research that confirmed the comic with a cover showing the Man of Steel holding a car over his head was valuable, though it’s not worth as much as it could have been.

The book sat undisturbed in the ceiling of the house in Hoffman for over 70 years. But a few days after he found it, Gonzales said, he got into a heated discussion with his wife’s aunt about its value, and she wanted a cut of the money. He said he also grew irritated because every time she would turn a page, crumbs of paper would fall out.

Finally he said, he grabbed it and tossed it aside, accidentally tearing the back cover.

“I don’t care about the money,” he recalled telling her. “I don’t care. It’s my comic book. I can burn it if I want to.”

Gonzales said his wife’s aunt backed down when his wife warned her he was serious.

Partly because of the damage and partly because the book shows the effects of its long service as insulation, New York-based online auctioneer ComicConnect.com said it’s graded 1.5 on a 10-point scale. By comparison, an Action Comics No. 1 that was graded a 9 recently fetched $2.16 million.

“Valuable comic books so often have almost magical—and in many cases, ironic—in back-stories like this,” said Vincent Zurzolo, co-owner of ComicConnect.

Bidding on Gonzales’ find was up to $137,000 as of Friday. Gonzales said he figures he’ll get about half the sale price after the auction site and the Florida comic dealer he originally took the book to get their share.

Gonzales said he understands the ripped cover and other damage might have shaved $75,000 off the potential price. But he said that doesn’t bother him.

“I’m not a hungry person about money,” he said, adding that he’d rather work for it.

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-05-24-13 2147GMT


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


This CGC-certified 9.0 copy of 'Action Comics' No. 1, the highest-graded specimen featuring the first appearance of Superman, was sold by ComicConnect.com for $2.2 million in 2011. The copy found in the Minnesota home recently is graded 1.5. Image courtesy of ComicConnect.com.
This CGC-certified 9.0 copy of ‘Action Comics’ No. 1, the highest-graded specimen featuring the first appearance of Superman, was sold by ComicConnect.com for $2.2 million in 2011. The copy found in the Minnesota home recently is graded 1.5. Image courtesy of ComicConnect.com.

4-ton chunk of Berlin Wall auctioned near Atlanta

Germans stand atop the Berlin Wall near the Brandenburg Gate on Nov. 10, 1989. Image by Sue Ream. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.
 Germans stand atop the Berlin Wall near the Brandenburg Gate on Nov. 10, 1989. Image by Sue Ream. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.
Germans stand atop the Berlin Wall near the Brandenburg Gate on Nov. 10, 1989. Image by Sue Ream. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

SUWANEE, Ga. (AP) – A piece of the Berlin Wall was auctioned off in metro Atlanta as part of an effort to pay back victims of an investment scheme.

Event spokeswoman Meredith Fletcher says proceeds from the sale will repay 57 victims of a $7.3 million Ponzi scheme in metro Atlanta.

The item was sold at Saturday’s auction for $23,500. The buyer was Ray Stanjevich, a Serbian immigrant who owns three Friends American Grill restaurants.

WSB Radio reported the 12-foot, 8,000-pound chunk of wall ended up in the hands of an investment company that authorities say bought it with money bilked from dozens of investors. The concrete slab was seized as an asset by federal authorities.

The piece is currently being displayed in front of Suwanee City Hall.

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-05-25-13 2230GMT


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


 Germans stand atop the Berlin Wall near the Brandenburg Gate on Nov. 10, 1989. Image by Sue Ream. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.
Germans stand atop the Berlin Wall near the Brandenburg Gate on Nov. 10, 1989. Image by Sue Ream. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

Investigators analyze ashes as stolen paintings feared burnt

Claude Monte's 'Waterloo Bridge,' one of the stolen paintings. Rotterdam police image, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Claude Monte's 'Waterloo Bridge,' one of the stolen paintings. Rotterdam police image, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Claude Monte’s ‘Waterloo Bridge,’ one of the stolen paintings. Rotterdam police image, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

BUCHAREST, Romania (AFP) – Investigators are analyzing ashes found in the house of a Romanian suspect charged for the spectacular Dutch museum heist, judicial sources said Wednesday, raising fears that the seven stolen masterpieces may have been burnt.

“Tests are underway, they will take some time,” Gabriela Neagu, a spokeswoman for the Romanian prosecutor’s office, told AFP.

“The ash tests are a stage in the ongoing probe, investigators have to take every hypothesis into account, she added.

Investigators fear that the suspects may have set fire to their haul after realizing that they could not sell the paintings, which included works by Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet and Henri Matisse.

The ashes were taken from the house of Olga Dogaru, mother of one of the suspects and herself charged with “complicity to theft.”

Her son’s lawyer, Doina Lupu, told AFP the tests “were inconclusive” so far.

Dogaru was arrested in March after her house in eastern Romania was thoroughly searched. An empty suitcase which had presumably served to store the stolen paintings was unearthed during the operation.

Seven Romanians, including Dogaru, have been charged in connection with the theft of the paintings from Rotterdam’s Kunsthal museum on Oct. 16.

Experts have estimated their value at more than 100 million euros ($130 million).

The heist gripped the Netherlands and the art world as police struggled to solve the crime, despite putting 25 officers on the case.

The works stolen include Picasso’s Tete d’Arlequi, Monet’s Waterloo Bridge and Lucian Freud’s Woman with Eyes Closed.


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


Claude Monte's 'Waterloo Bridge,' one of the stolen paintings. Rotterdam police image, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Claude Monte’s ‘Waterloo Bridge,’ one of the stolen paintings. Rotterdam police image, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Katrina-damaged New Orleans theater goes for 1920s glory

Saenger Theatre's atmospheric interior in a photo taken before Hurricane Katrina. Photo by Noah Kern. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Saenger Theatre's atmospheric interior in a photo taken before Hurricane Katrina. Photo by Noah Kern. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Saenger Theatre’s atmospheric interior in a photo taken before Hurricane Katrina. Photo by Noah Kern. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – With its grand arches, intricate plaster moldings, faux facades suggesting a centuries-old European villa and blue domed ceiling dotted by pinpoint lights, the Saenger Theatre was typical of the opulent movie palaces and playhouses built around the nation in the 1920s.

But bits of its flapper-era splendor were sacrificed over the decades as various owners tried to roll with changing times.

Chandeliers were sold. A clunky escalator was installed and the balcony walled off to form a second movie theater in the 1960s—a pre-multiplex-era architectural affront that was undone in the ’70s.

“They were just trying to hang on as best they could,” Errol Laborde, local magazine publisher and New Orleans historian, said of the various changes.

Although diminished, the Saenger’s grandeur endured. It remained a venue for concerts and touring theatrical productions until 2005, when water from levee breaches during Hurricane Katrina rose shoulder deep in front of the stage, deteriorating plaster above and inundating electrical equipment on the floors below.

As is the story with much of the city, the Saenger’s recovery has sometimes dragged, slowed by complex financing. In 2010, its marquee announced a grand reopening in 2011. A spring 2013 deadline also has been missed.

But, when the touring production of Broadway’s The Book of Mormon takes the Saenger stage for a grand reopening in October, it will mark the end of a long-sought and meticulous $51 million renovation, restoration and replication effort that will bring a long-missed landmark to its pre-Katrina health and recreate some of its 1927 glory.

“To have it restored, again, not the way it was but the way she always should have been, is a theme that symbolizes what we’re trying to do with rebuilding the city of New Orleans,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said this month as he joined other city officials for a ceremony marking the installation of a key steel beam.

“It will look clean, well kept, but with a patina of 80 years of life,” said David Anderson, a principal in the Saenger Theatre Partnership, which donated the theater to a city-established nonprofit corporation in a complex redevelopment and operating agreement. A subsidiary of the partnership, ACE Theatrical Group LLC, will operate the theater. Anderson was interviewed last week while giving a tour of the facility, where much of the work remains masked by networks of scaffolding and a layer of construction dust.

It will be hard for the uninformed to tell what’s new from what’s old. A rounded marquee that jutted out over the Canal Street sidewalk is a childhood memory for many New Orleanians who came of age since the early 1960s. It’s gone now, to be replaced by a flatter marquee and a huge vertical sign, recreated from plans and pictures that survive from the ’20s.

Some of the chandeliers lighting the entryway and mezzanine will be re-creations as well. But some will be original equipment, discovered blocks away in a French Quarter antique shop.

“We were skeptical,” Anderson said of theater officials’ reaction when told that some of the original chandeliers were at the shop on Royal Street. But the owner had proof: “He showed us a bill of sale from the company to his father.”

Replication efforts included microscopic examination of paint scrapings to recreate the bright golds and iridescent pinks that originally graced the entryway ceilings and walls and filled the spaces around the Italian Renaissance-styled statuary, intricate ceiling medallions, and bas relief sculptures of warriors on horseback and mythological sea creatures.

The 1927 facade will mask modern technology: The stars in the ceiling will be LED lights. An expanded, deeper stage will be home to state-of-the-art theatrical equipment.

City officials say funding for the Saenger’s comeback includes roughly $15 million in federal and state grant money and more than $35 million in complex private investment facilitated by state and federal tax credits.

Laborde said he hopes the rebirth of the Saenger, in an area that has grown economically moribund despite its proximity to the French Quarter and the city’s central business district, heralds a time when going to a show will more closely mimic a New York experience. “I just hope sometime this whole area can develop into more of a theater, more of a pedestrian district, where there are little cafes along the way where people can go before shows,” Laborde said.

Landrieu, at the beam installation ceremony, said the Saenger’s rebirth is part of the rebirth of the area. “It’s about renovating the entire downtown of New Orleans, which hasn’t looked like this in the past 40 or 50 years,” he said. “The economic impact is going to be huge.”

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AP-WF-05-25-13 1955GMT


ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE


Saenger Theatre's atmospheric interior in a photo taken before Hurricane Katrina. Photo by Noah Kern. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Saenger Theatre’s atmospheric interior in a photo taken before Hurricane Katrina. Photo by Noah Kern. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
The 1927 Saenger Theatre on the corner of Canal Street and Basin. The rounded marquee, which was a later addition, has been removed. Image by Infrogmation of New Orleans. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attrribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
The 1927 Saenger Theatre on the corner of Canal Street and Basin. The rounded marquee, which was a later addition, has been removed. Image by Infrogmation of New Orleans. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attrribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.