Stolen Picasso etchings recovered

PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) – Authorities say they’ve recovered two Picasso etchings stolen from a Palm Beach art gallery in May.

Police arrested 37-year-old Marcus Patmon at his Miami home on Friday. Authorities say he tried to sell Le Repas Frugel, valued at $395,000, to a California art dealer in July. But the dealer checked the Art Loss Registry and discovered that it had been reported stolen.

Authorities tracked Patmon to his home, where they found the other piece, the Jacqueline Lisant etching, valued at $145,000.

Patmon was charged with dealing in stolen property. He also had an outstanding warrant for driving with a suspended license. Authorities say charges of burglary and grand theft are pending. He was released on $10,500 bail.

Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-ES-09-07-08 0430EDT

Lanter Hill green-glaze face jug, Seagrove, N.C. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers Archive and Slotin Folk Art.

Pottery feud divides North Carolina town

Lanter Hill green-glaze face jug, Seagrove, N.C. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers Archive and Slotin Folk Art.

Lanter Hill green-glaze face jug, Seagrove, N.C. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers Archive and Slotin Folk Art.

SEAGROVE, North Carolina (AP) – Among the endless allegations of thievery, financial subterfuge and conspiracy, there is only this certainty: people in the state of North Carolina take their pottery seriously.

And that’s about all outspoken potter Don Hudson can say without throwing himself further into a deepening dispute among the noted artisans living in an area of central North Carolina rich in natural clay, where pottery has flourished for more than 250 years.

The dispute has resulted in two pottery festivals in Seagrove scheduled for the same November weekend. One is new this year, the other has been held for the last 26.

The divide, and all the confusing reasons for a fight over pottery, can appear ridiculous to outsiders. But it’s venomous for those involved, resulting in ugly propaganda, reports of a gunshot fired at one shop and allegations of assault. Attempts to settle it have gotten nowhere.

“It’s crazy. It’s doing huge damage, and they should get over it,” said Charlotte Brown, author of the 2006 book The Remarkable Potters of Seagrove and director of the Gregg Museum of Art & Design at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. “It’s not over anything that matters. It’s personal. Everybody stands to lose.”

Even some customers are starting to take sides, said Michelle Kovack, an artist who paints pots thrown by her husband, Craig, and is neutral in the feud.

“They’ve got to realize, we’re stuck in the middle of this,” she said. “We’re just trying to make a living.”

Potters have carved out a living in the Seagrove area, about halfway between Charlotte and Raleigh, since the mid-18th century. It was founded by seven families who embraced the abundant clay underfoot.

Seagrove artists’ fans include actors Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman, and the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Tokyo. North Carolina governors have commissioned the community’s pottery as gifts for world leaders.

All of which helps explain the passion that feeds a feud that has simmered for years and went public this summer.

The schism generally involves differences between potters who support the Museum of North Carolina Traditional Pottery – which is more of a welcome center with samples of local work – and artisans who have broken from it.

Some in the breakaway group also support the financially struggling North Carolina Pottery Center, which displays and promotes work from artists statewide, not just those based in Seagrove. It also sells pottery, which critics say hurts local artists and takes business away from their shops.

The center, which doesn’t support either festival, has been the target of attacks by Hudson, a museum board member and a potter in nearby Sanford.

Hudson has published two articles that have infuriated some potters and written numerous e-mails, one of which resulted in legislative fiscal researchers examining the center’s finances in August. The state auditor has since given the center a clean financial report.

Museum supporters operate the Seagrove Pottery Festival. It attracts 5,000 to 6,000 people to Seagrove – population 250 – each year and is considered one of the best festivals in the U.S. Southeast. Scheduled for the weekend before Thanksgiving, it gives potters a chance to make money before tourism slows in the winter and raises $50,000 to $60,000 for the museum.

“I know that people know that the economy is bad now, but really, for us, it’s been dwindling for several years,” Kovack said. “And it makes that show all the more important because the slow season is like January through March, maybe even April. And we need to make a lot of money at Christmastime to get us through that slow season.”

Some museum supporters say the center has tried to steal the festival for years, though the former center director denies that.

Hudson tries to frame the feud around the center. He brought the simmering ill feelings to the public with a May article he published in the guide of a separate pottery gathering. The article, “Frankenstein’s Monster,” referenced the museum’s efforts to start the center years ago.

Hudson accuses the center of playing favorites and planting “seeds of discord and strife in a community already under the stress of intense competition.”

In doing so, Hudson didn’t win any friends. The former attorney said in an e-mail that no one “has ever confused me with Mother Teresa.”

The tone of the article upset many, including some of his museum board colleagues, who failed in an attempt to boot him. Two other board members and an office staffer resigned.

“I think Don in his heart thinks he’s doing absolutely the best he can for us,” said Judy Merritt, board secretary until she resigned in early June after the failed ouster attempt.

Word of a new event soon followed: the Celebration of Seagrove Potters, scheduled for the same weekend as the other festival. It began as a group of irked potters, but is now under the auspices of the Seagrove Area Potters Association, a nonprofit marketing group.

Phil Morgan, a potter renowned for his crystalline glazes, said the new event is part of “a vindictive attack to try to kill the museum because Don Hudson is associated with the museum.”

Nonsense, said dissident group leader Ben Owen III, another titan of Seagrove and descendant of one of the community’s founding families. He insists the new festival is about highlighting only Seagrove artists, and doesn’t have anything to do with Hudson. That despite the festival, with an emphasis on pottery made in a specific Seagrove area, not including Hudson, who is based in nearby Sanford.

In the past few weeks, things have only gotten worse. Morgan said someone fired a gunshot into his shop on N.C. 705 – known as “Pottery Highway.” Two other potters accused each other of assault.

Museum supporters are threatening to go to court, claiming the second festival doesn’t meet town ordinances. In August, Hudson wrote a flier titled, “SewerFest,” referring to the event’s location: a vacant building beside a sewer lagoon. It includes a tribute to Richard Gillson, the longtime museum president who died in January after falling from a ladder at the museum. Hudson and his supporters defended the flier as political satire.

But Gillson’s daughter, Deborah Gardner of Dunkirk, New York, said her father would be horrified.

“My father was a very outspoken man, but he never would have stooped to the level that Don Hudson has brought himself down to,” she said.

Museum of North Carolina Traditional Pottery

Celebration of Seagrove Potters

N.C. Pottery Center

Seagrove Area Pottery Association

Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-CS-09-04-08 0721EDT

Grey Flannel Auctions president Richard E. Russek with Hall of Famer Earvin Magic Johnson at the Basketball Hall of Fame Induction banquet. Image by Chuck Miller.

Grey Flannel Auctions team and hoop stars snapped at Hall of Fame dinner

Grey Flannel Auctions president Richard E. Russek with Hall of Famer Earvin Magic Johnson at the Basketball Hall of Fame Induction banquet. Image by Chuck Miller.

Grey Flannel Auctions president Richard E. Russek with Hall of Famer Earvin Magic Johnson at the Basketball Hall of Fame Induction banquet. Image by Chuck Miller.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (ACNI) – Around 350 people, including Basketball Hall of Famers and their families, gathered at an invitation-only reunion dinner Thursday evening, Sept. 4, at the Springfield Marriott in downtown Springfield, Mass. Hosted by Grey Flannel Auctions of Westhampton Beach, N.Y., the dinner was one of many official activities planned around this weekend’s 2008 induction ceremonies at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, also in Springfield. Grey Flannel has an exclusive marketing agreement with the Basketball Hall of Fame and serves as its official appraisers and authenticators of basketball memorabilia.

The team from Grey Flannel Auctions attended the dinner and fielded numerous enquiries about the game-used and autographed stars’ basketball apparel and other items to be auctioned Saturday, Sept. 6, at the Hall of Fame.

Springfield’s mayor, Domenic J. Sarno, opened the event, and ESPN Radio announcer Bob Picozzi introduced several luminaries who received special awards. Among the recipients were TV broadcaster Bob Wolff, the voice of the New York Knicks’ games for decades, who was given the Curt Gowdy Media Award for Broadcast Journalism. USA Today and Washington Post reporter David DuPree received the Curt Gowdy Media Award for Print Journalism.

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Skinner Inc. announces move of headquarters to Marlborough, Mass.

BOSTON (ACNI) – Skinner Inc. will move from its longtime Bolton, Mass., headquarters to a spacious facility in nearby Marlborough, Mass., early next year. The newly purchased site will house the company’s corporate offices, suburban auction gallery and warehouse. The company’s city gallery, at 63 Park Plaza in Boston’s Back Bay, will continue to serve as a venue for sales of fine art, American and European furniture and decorative arts, and other categories for which Skinner has become well known.

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Fernand Leger's 1921 oil on canvas titled Woman and Child, missing from the Wellesley College Collection. A reward of $100,000 has been offered for its return. Copyright Wellesley College. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Wellesley museum loses prized 1921 Cubist painting by Fernand Leger

Fernand Leger's 1921 oil on canvas titled Woman and Child, missing from the Wellesley College Collection. A reward of $100,000 has been offered for its return. Copyright Wellesley College. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Fernand Leger’s 1921 oil on canvas titled Woman and Child, missing from the Wellesley College Collection. A reward of $100,000 has been offered for its return. Copyright Wellesley College. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

WELLESLEY, Mass. (AP) – Wellesley College has lost a 1921 painting by French cubist Fernand Leger that was likely worth millions of dollars, officials said.

Woman and Child had been in the collection of the college’s Davis Museum and Cultural Center since 1954. It vanished last year after it was one of 32 works borrowed for an exhibit at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, The Boston Globe reported on Aug. 27.

“We’ve all wondered about it,” Jacqueline Marie Musacchio, associate professor of art at Wellesley, told the newspaper. “It’s a tremendous loss for the college, but, beyond that, we just don’t have a lot of information.”

Police were told, and the museum’s insurer, Travelers Insurance, has paid a claim. Last year, Leger’s paintings sold for an average of $2.8 million, and the newspaper quoted an unidentified Travelers official as saying the payout was “in that area.”

Travelers is offering a $100,000 reward for the painting, the Globe said.

The painting was a 1954 gift to Wellesley from Professor and Mrs. John McAndrew, given in honor of Alfred H. Barr Jr.  Professor McAndrew was not only a faculty member but also director of Wellesley College’s museum.

Along with 31 other works from Wellesley’s collection, Woman and Child was lent to the Oklahoma City Museum of Art for exhibition and returned in April 2007.

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Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers / Fame Bureau Limited

British museum buys Rolling Stones’ lips artwork at auction

Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers / Fame Bureau Limited

LONDON (AP) – Mick Jagger’s pout is officially fit for a museum.

London’s Victoria and Albert Museum announced Tuesday that it bought the original artwork for The Rolling Stones’ famous “lips” logo, inspired by the singer’s mouth. The museum said it bought the work at an auction in the United States for $92,500.

The lips-and-tongue logo was designed by London art student John Pasche in 1970, and first used on the band’s Sticky Fingers album the next year.

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Google

Google unveils its new Chrome superbrowser, aiming at 100+ countries

Google

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) today launched Google ChromeTM, a new open source browser intended to create a better Web experience for users around the world. Available in beta in more than 40 languages, Google Chrome is a new approach to the browser that’s based on the simplicity and power that users have come to expect from Google products.

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Robert Rauschenberg (American, 1925-2008), a master of Abstract Expressionism and pop art. Photo courtesy of Morris Museum of Art.

Morris Museum of Art to reinstall Rauschenberg’s August Allegory (Anagrams)

Robert Rauschenberg (American, 1925-2008), a master of Abstract Expressionism and pop art. Photo courtesy of Morris Museum of Art.

Robert Rauschenberg (American, 1925-2008), a master of Abstract Expressionism and pop art. Photo courtesy of Morris Museum of Art.

AUGUSTA, Ga. – On Sept. 21, in celebration of Augusta’s inaugural Westobou Festival, the Morris Museum of Art will unveil Robert Rauschenberg’s August Allegory (Anagrams) in its new location in the auditorium lobby on the museum’s first floor.

“Rauschenberg was undeniably one of the great figures in American art,” said Louise Keith Claussen, Director of Fine Arts at Morris Communications Co. and former director of the Morris Museum of Art, “and we are very fortunate to have some of his works in the collection of the Morris Museum, particularly fortunate to have a major work that is specific to Augusta, Georgia.”

Commissioned in 1996 and completed in 1997, Rauschenberg’s August Allegory is an extremely large – roughly 5 by 12 feet – work on paper, a montage, printed in vegetable dyes, created from the artist’s original photographs. Rauschenberg, working in collaboration with his partner Darryl Pottorf and assisted by the Morris’s former deputy director Rick Gruber, conducted the original shoot during a three-day visit to Augusta. Details of the work-in-progress appeared in the September 1996 issue of Vogue magazine in an article on the artist and his career.

Claussen, director of the museum when the Rauschenberg was commissioned, wrote recently that “the work reflects his response to both the details and spirit of Augusta as he saw it, and elements include several church steeples, Springfield Church, Sacred Heart Cultural Center, a 19th-century textile mill, the Confederate monument, a railroad bridge, an antebellum home, Augusta bricks, the ‘haunted pillar,’ and the feet of the bronze sculpture of Arnold Palmer.”

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Eva Zeisel designed these porcelain vases with iridescent glaze for Zsolnay. They were produced in 1999. Image courtesy of Erie Art Museum.

Eva Zeisel exhibition dates announced

Eva Zeisel designed these porcelain vases with iridescent glaze for Zsolnay. They were produced in 1999. Image courtesy of Erie Art Museum.

Eva Zeisel designed these porcelain vases with iridescent glaze for Zsolnay. They were produced in 1999. Image courtesy of Erie Art Museum.

Eva Zeisel revolutionized ceramic design by bringing her own vision of modernism into American middle-class homes with dinnerware created for Hallcraft, Sears and Red Wing. The prolific designer is the subject of an exhibition by the Erie Museum of Art that will begin a three-stop national tour in September.

The Shape of Life by Eva Zeisel will be at the Tyler Museum of Art, Tyler, Texas, from Sept. 12 through Dec. 9, 2008; the Asheville Art Museum, Asheville, N.C., Jan. 30 through May 17, 2009; and the Hoyt Institute of Fine Arts, New Castle, Pa., October through December, 2009.

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Sweeping changes ahead as eBay pushes fixed-price selling

SAN JOSE, Calif. (ACNI) – For some time, now, rumors have been circulating quietly within the auction community that eBay was planning to make a gradual shift from – if not completely eliminate – its traditional timed-auction format in favor of a fixed-price platform. While the online giant’s top brass insist that there are no plans to abandon timed auctions, an Aug. 20 statement from Lorrie Norrington, president of eBay Marketplace, confirms that a decided move toward the Buy It Now™ method is firmly on the company’s radar.


In the aforementioned statement, Norrington announces “some bold changes” designed to lower up-front costs and help eBayers to sell more efficiently. If successful, those changes – to be implemented on Sept. 16 – may spirit defectors back to eBay, which has been losing market share to Internet shopping sites. Increasingly, buyers preferring instant gratification, i.e., not having to wait up to 10 days for an eBay auction to end and a selling price to be established, have been turning to other mega-retailers, such as eBay nemesis amazon.com.

Norrington said the plan to be rolled out includes reducing the up-front cost to list an item on eBay, with the bulk of fees shifting to the auction’s close. That way, Norrington said, fees “align with (the seller’s) success.” From Sept. 16, the listing fee for all items entered on eBay via the fixed-price format will be reduced to 35 cents, with even lower fees applying to books, video games and other articles that fall under the Media category. The final value fee is where eBay will make its money.

In addition to the price change, Buy It Now™ listings will now appear on the eBay site for up to 30 days, an increase from the previous seven days. According to Norrington, the combination of lowered up-front fees and longer exposure time on eBay equates to a 70 percent reduction in listing fees on fixed-price items. There will be no changes, however, to auction-style listings. “We believe this format is already a good deal, especially when you list with a low start price,” Norrington said. She also offered the assurance that “auctions will always have a place on eBay – they are a proven way for sellers to get the best value for their unique items, and they continue to receive significant exposure…”

Other features to be introduced this fall include free shipping incentives in all categories, free subtitle listings and a faster, more reliable electronic checkout process that will put an end to payment by check or money order. Those two forms of payment will no longer be accepted on eBay because, Norrington said, history has shown that these methods are “80 percent more likely to result in an item not [being] received” than if paid for with a credit card of PayPal. An exception will be made, at the seller’s discretion, for items that are picked up locally by the purchaser.

As of Nov. 1, sellers will also have to meet a new minimum DSR [Detailed Seller Rating], another protocol intended to reduce the possibility of fraudulent activity in eBay transactions. “Today, only a small fraction of sellers fall below the threshold that will be required of sellers under the new rule, said Norrington, “yet they are responsible for a high percentage of customer complaints…”

EBay hosted a series of Webinars on Aug. 20 and 21 to explain the fine points of upcoming changes. A final Webinar, which is open to the public through eBay’s Web site, will be held on Thursday, Aug. 26 at 1 p.m. Pacific Time, 4 p.m. Eastern Time.

Click here to read additional information at the Community News section of www.ebay.com.

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