Douglas Brinkley to be presidential scholar for NY museum

Author and history professor Douglas Brinkley

 

NEW YORK (AP) – One of the country’s leading presidential experts has been named an in-house scholar for the New-York Historical Society.

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Following public outcry, Guggenheim withdraws ‘fighting’ pit bulls installation

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Photo by Jean-Christophe BENOIST, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license

 

NEW YORK – Following an avalanche of protest, the Guggenheim Museum has removed three “artworks” by Chinese conceptual artists, each involving live animals. One of the them, titled “Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other,” features a 7-minute video of eight exhausted pit bulls trying to attack each other on non-motorized treadmills. According to the ASPCA, this type of treadmill regimen is used by dog fighters to encourage aggression in canines.

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The pyramids of Giza. Image by Ricardo Liberato, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Experts Discover How Great Pyramid Was Built, Vase Sells for 10,000 x Estimate, and More Fresh News

The Great Pyramid, which contains the burial chamber of Pharaoh Cheops. Image by Berthold Werner. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license.

 

News and updates from around the arts and auction community:

  • Archaeologists believe they have found the key that unlocks a mystery as old as the Great Pyramid itself: who built it, and how they were able to transport 2-ton blocks of stone to the ancient wonder 4,500 years ago? [Read more from Newsweek]
  • A Chinese vase valued between 500-800 Swiss francs has sold at a Geneva auction house for 10,000 times its pre-sale estimate. The 18th century Qianlong-era vessel hammered over 5 million Swiss francs (US$5.16 million). [Read about the bidding war at India Times]
  • Recorded in 1963, a rare, unreleased demo of the Beatles song What Goes On is currently up for bid on eBay. It pre-dates the version sung by Ringo Starr that appeared on the Rubber Soul LP and instead features vocals by John Lennon, with different lyrics. [Read more from Billboard]
  • Residents of Portland, Maine might recognize some scenery in the highly anticipated Batman: White Knight comic book series. Artist/writer Sean Murphy recently moved to Portland and says he was inspired by the “perfect foggy New England town.” [Read more from WTHR]

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Famous photographers highlight Jasper52 photogravure auction Sept. 30

Diane Arbus, ‘A young Brooklyn Family going for a Sunday outing,’ New York, 1966, heliogravure, printed in 1979, Italy, 9.75 in. x 9.75 in. Estimate: $800-$1,000. Jasper52 image

 

NEW YORK – Some of the most significant names in 20th-century photography – from Diane Arbus to Edward Weston – are represented in a Jasper52 online auction of unmounted gravures, which will take place Saturday, Sept. 30. Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.

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Measure correcting onerous provisions of Calif. Signed Memorabilia law awaits governor’s signature

Michaan’s in Alameda, Calif., offered this century-old Tiffany Studios Laburnum table lamp in a Nov. 17, 2012 auction with a $500,000-$600,000 estimate. Had the lamp come to Michaan’s during the timeframe in which the current legislation (AB 1570) was in effect, it would have been unlawful to sell it within the state of California, as there would have been no way to produce a document from an eyewitness to the actual application of the Tiffany Studios signature tag. Image courtesy of Michaan’s Auctions

 

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The California State Legislature has unanimously approved AB 228, a measure that corrects the problems created by provisions in AB 1570 (Chang) [Ch. 258, Stat. 2016], Signed Memorabilia. AB 228 is authored by Assembly Member Todd Gloria and Senator Galgiani. The measure is now with Governor Jerry Brown, awaiting his decision. Brown has until October 15, 2017, to either sign the measure, let the bill become law without his signature, or veto the measure.

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Paintings of mountains soar at Clars auction, capping banner year

Albert Bierstadt’s (American, 1830-1902) elaborate oil on canvas landscape titled ‘Passing Clouds Over Mountains’ led the auction, commanding of $102,850. Clars Auction Gallery image

 

OAKLAND, Calif. – Clars Auction Gallery hosted the final sale of an exciting 2016/2017 fiscal year with their monthly Fine Art, Decorative Art, Furniture, Jewelry/Timepieces and Asian Art Auction. Fine art was the star at this event, but great success and surprises were seen across all categories. Overall, the Sept. 16-17 auction earned $1.7 million, contributing to Clars’ $20 million year and  making it the second most successful year in the firm’s history. Absentee and Internet live bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.

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Mexico quake leaves country’s historic churches battered

One of many architectuarally and historically important churches in Mexico City, the Metropolitan Cathedral was built by the Spaniards over the ruins of a Mayan temple. Photo by Jeff Kramer, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

 

MEXICO CITY (AP) – Our Lady of Angels Church has survived several major earthquakes, but Tuesday’s magnitude 7.1 shake proved to be the final death knell for the Mexico City building’s historic cupola.

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Rare Rolex wristwatch expected to top Morphy jewelry auction Oct. 7

Rare Rolex stainless steel Milgauss wristwatch, estimated at $280,000-$320,000. Morphy Auctions image

 

DENVER, Pa. – Morphy Auctions will conduct a fine jewelry sale on Saturday, Oct. 7, starting at 11 a.m. Eastern time. Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.

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Four U.S. monuments to be scaled back hold artifacts, are key habitats

Rock formations at Gold Butte National Monument in Clark County, Nevada. US Bureau of Land Management photo

 

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s recommendation to shrink four sprawling national monuments in the U.S. West jeopardizes protections for ancient cliff dwellings, scenic canyons and habitat for endangered fish and threatened Mojave desert tortoises.

The recommendations, revealed in a leaked memo submitted to the White House, would scale back two huge Utah monuments — Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante — along with Nevada’s Gold Butte and Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou.

The monuments encompass an area larger than Connecticut and were created by Democratic presidents under a century-old law. Three were created or expanded in President Barack Obama’s final weeks in office.

President Donald Trump and other critics say presidents have lost sight of the original purpose of the law created by President Theodore Roosevelt, which was designed to protect particular historical or archaeological sites rather than wide expanses.

Environmental groups have vowed to take Trump to court if he approves Zinke’s recommendations.

A closer look at the four monuments set to be downsized:

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BEARS EARS NATIONAL MONUMENT, UTAH

Creation of the 2,100-square-mile (5,500-square-kilometer) monument at the end of Obama’s tenure marked a victory for Native Americans and conservationists. It was a blow to Republican leaders who campaigned to prevent what they call a layer of unnecessary federal control that hurts local economies by closing the area to new energy development.

Tucked between existing national parks and the Navajo Nation, the monument is on land considered sacred to a coalition of tribes and is home to an estimated 100,000 archaeological sites. Tribal members visit the area to perform ceremonies, collect herbs and wood for medicinal and spiritual purposes and do healing rituals.

The monument features a mix of cliffs, plateaus, towering rock formations, rivers and canyons. In the memo, Zinke highlights the hiking, backpacking, canyoneering, mountain biking and rock climbing.

Utah’s congressional delegation and top state leaders vowed to work to get the monument repealed. Zinke’s recommendation to downsize it to a yet-to-be-determined size came after he toured Bears Ears in May and met with Gov. Gary Herbert and others who oppose the designation. State officials recommended a significant decrease to about 195 square miles.

Zinke suggests Trump ask Congress to make the tribes co-managers. Under Obama’s designation, they were given an advisory role.

 

The Sixshooter Peaks in Bears Ears National Monument, San Juan County, Utah. U.S. Bureau of Land Management public domain image

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CASCADE-SISKIYOU NATIONAL MONUMENT, OREGON

The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, covering 175 square miles (453 square kilometers) of mountains, forests and rivers along Oregon’s border with California, was expanded by then Obama in his last days. The new areas include habitat for endangered fish such as the shortnose sucker and Lost River sucker.

In a July visit, Zinke expressed doubts that much scientific study went behind the drawing of its boundaries. He stressed that the Antiquities Act of 1906, which authorizes a president to create a monument, limits their size “to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected.”

“Nobody knows how exactly the boundaries were made,” Zinke said. “Going back, were the boundaries made on the basis of science, best guess? And so those are the things I’m reviewing.”

In a 2011 report, a group of scientists said many of the region’s species relied on habitat outside the monument’s then-boundaries, where they faced threats from logging, grazing and development. The smaller monument also didn’t provide continuous protection across different elevations, which is important for migration, especially amid global warming, said the scientists, who supported the expansion.

Created by President Bill Clinton in 2000, Cascade-Siskiyou is the first monument set aside solely for the preservation of biodiversity. Two timber companies have challenged the legality of Obama’s expansion, saying it reduces the supply of timber sold and jeopardizes their supply.

 

Soda Mountain is the center of the Soda Mountain Wilderness inside Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. Photo by John Craig, BLM. U.S. Bureau of Land Management photo

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GOLD BUTTE NATIONAL MONUMENT, NEVADA

Named for a ghost-town mining site near the confluence of the Colorado and Virgin rivers, the monument covers 464 square miles (1,202 square kilometers) of scenic land northeast of Lake Mead.

Dirt roads cross gold grasslands to rugged black mountains, red sandstone formations, Joshua tree forests and sites rich with Native American rock art and artifacts.

It is about 80 miles (128 kilometers) northeast of Las Vegas in the remote rangeland over which rancher Cliven Bundy let cows graze for decades before an armed standoff in 2014 with federal land agents.

Efforts began decades ago to protect and preserve Gold Butte as critical habitat for the threatened Mojave desert tortoise and rare local species of buckwheat and bear poppy plants.

Proponents, including former Democratic U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, tried for years to have it designated as a national conservation area before Obama made it a monument in December.

Republican members of Nevada’s congressional delegation have been vocal opponents. U.S. Sen. Dean Heller and Rep. Mark Amodei sponsored a measure this year to restrict the ability of future presidents to designate monuments without congressional approval.

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GRAND STAIRCASE-ESCALANTE NATIONAL MONUMENT, UTAH

Clinton created the monument in southern Utah in 1996 to preserve scenic cliffs, canyons, waterfalls and arches. Actor and Utah resident Robert Redford appeared at the ceremony.

In heavily Republican Utah, the move was viewed as a sneaky example of federal overreach that still irks GOP officials. Many Utah Republicans and some residents say it closed off too many areas to development — including one of the country’s largest known coal reserves — that could have helped pay for schools.

Gov. Herbert signed a resolution from state lawmakers this year asking Utah’s congressional delegation to support shrinking the monument that’s nearly 2,700 square miles (5,400 square kilometers), about the size of Delaware.

Zinke says in his memo to Trump that there are “several billion tons of coal and large oil deposits” within its boundaries. He also noted that while the permitted amount of grazing is the same as it was in 1996, the number of cattle in the monument has decreased because of restrictions on moving water lines, vegetation management and maintenance of fences and roads.

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By BRADY McCOMBS, Associated Press

Associated Press writers Ken Ritter in Las Vegas and Andrew Selsky in Salem, Oregon, contributed to this report.

Copyright 2017 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This information may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 

Ivory dealer goes undercover to help bust wildlife smuggler

Despite the global embargo on elephant ivory that has been in place since 1990, the rate of elephant slaughter for tusks is at a crisis point. In this picture, three female African bush elephants travel as a small herd in Tanzania. Photo by Ikiwaner, taken July 29, 2010, licensed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2.

 

SEATTLE (AP) – A Washington ivory and antiquities dealer will serve six months in prison after pleading guilty to federal smuggling charges four years ago and then going undercover to help authorities prosecute a former Canadian wildlife smuggler. Read more