Chilly economic waters thwart potential sale of AntiqueWeek

KNIGHTSTOWN, Ind. – An unpredictable economy has apparently quashed a deal that would have resulted in new ownership of the antiques trade newspaper AntiqueWeek.

AntiqueWeek publisher Richard Lewis told Auction Central News that executives of the publication, which is owned by London-based dmg world media, had received an unsolicited offer to purchase the periodical but that the deal is now officially dead.

“Given the crazy economic times…everyone started panicking,” Lewis said. “This deal was not immune to [that]. The buyer got cold feet.”

Lewis said the offer received several weeks ago was a favorable one, and described the would-be buyer as “a good, reputable business.” However, Lewis said, the buyer wanted to proceed at a reduced price, which dmg world media rejected.

On Oct. 6, 2008, Lewis had advised employees that dmg’s three antiques-related titles produced in the Knightstown plant, as well as a fourth title published on site – the agricultural special interest weekly Farm World – were under offer and expected to be sold. Lewis said at that time that the sale hopefully would be finalized in 30 to 45 days and that he would be staying on as publisher.

At the same meeting, Lewis announced that dmg had already sold its British antiques trade newspaper, the Antiques Trade Gazette, but did not reveal the buyer’s name. In an Oct. 6, 2008 posting, Auction Central News identified the publication’s new owner as a group consisting of four members of ATG‘s senior management: Anne Somers (managing director), Mark Bridge (editor-in-chief), Simon Berti (sales director) and Pablo Luppino (finance director).

Publication of AntiqueWeek will remain “business as usual,” Lewis told ACN, adding, “We’re not actively selling it.”

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Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History reopens

WASHINGTON (AP) – George and Martha Washington, Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz and other costumed characters greeted thousands of visitors Friday as the National Museum of American History reopened after a two-year, $85 million renovation.

Former Secretary of State and retired Army Gen. Colin Powell read President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address to a crowd of at least 200 people on the museum’s steps before the doors opened.

“It is the 19th of November, 1863,” Powell said after the blare of horns announced the start of the famous speech. “Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

Powell’s Army uniform hangs in the museum’s gallery on military history.

The museum opens “a new era of education and inspiration,” Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough said. “We aspire to tell the story of America and of Americans to ourselves and to the world.”

The Children’s Chorus of Washington sang the national anthem, the crowd waved small American flags, and many wore red, white and blue top hats.

The museum opened a three-day festival with the firing of a cannon from the era when The Star-Spangled Banner poem was written in 1814. Set to the British tune To Anacreon in Heaven, the poem became the U.S. national anthem.

Inside, visitors found favorite exhibits, such as Kermit the Frog, and a gallery devoted to the American presidency, where President-elect Barack Obama’s picture already has been added to a timeline of presidents. Several people gathered around the small photo to take pictures with their cell phone cameras.

“He’s already on here! It’s exciting,” said Amelia Castelli, 26, who was visiting from Florida and spent several minutes getting the right snapshot of Obama’s picture.

Her goal for the day lay elsewhere.

“What I wanted to see were Dorothy’s ruby red slippers,” Castelli said. “That’s the only thing I really remember from being here years ago.”

Museum officials plan to have costumed historic characters on hand every weekend and daily during the busy summer months. George Washington greeted many children on the opening day, teaching them to bow “as we do in Virginia,” he said, rather than shake hands.

Sometimes called America’s attic, the Smithsonian is a collection of more than one dozen museums, including the National Museum of American History, plus the National Zoo. It resulted from a bequest of Englishman James Smithson, a scientist who died in 1832. His will said, without explanation, that the money should be used to build in Washington “an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.” He had never been to the United States.

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

AP-CS-11-21-08 1656EST

Prominent art dealer accused of selling forgeries

NEW YORK (AP) – A prominent New York and Miami art dealer was arrested on charges of selling forged paintings bearing the names of famous artists including Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall and Tom Wesselmann.

Guiseppe Concepcion was arrested Friday in Miami on wire fraud and interstate transportation of stolen property charges brought in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

Prosecutors said Concepcion induced customers to buy the forgeries between 2005 and 2007 as he operated in Manhattan and out of the Proarte Gallery in Miami. But Concepcion’s lawyer said the dealer was a law-abiding, dedicated art enthusiast who had not committed any crime.

A criminal complaint unsealed Friday said Concepcion acquired authentic works by the renowned artists and then acquired or commissioned forgeries of the paintings.

Concepcion falsely represented to buyers that the forged versions were genuine or deliberately failed to disclose that they were forgeries, the complaint said.

One victim paid $120,000 and traded a 2004 Bentley to Concepcion to cover the $180,000 price tag of a purported Alexander Calder oil painting titled Red Swirl and dated 1969, prosecutors said in court papers.

The Calder Foundation inspected the canvas and determined it was fake, prosecutors said.

They said the same person had bought about 14 other artworks from Concepcion, and experts determined those also were forgeries.

The complaint listed two other victims. One bought a purported Chagall watercolor for $125,000, while the other bought a purported Wesselmann oil called Study for Smoker #16, the complaint said. Both, it added, were found to be fake.

Defense lawyer Mark Heller said Concepcion had been under investigation for several years and would be exonerated. “I sincerely believe they will not be able to convict him of any crime because his conduct at no time was criminal,” Heller said.

Heller said he was aware of questions about the authenticity of at least one artwork, but he noted that it had been bought and sold by various other dealers on its way to Concepcion.

“Clearly, anything can happen on its way through the marketplace. To persecute and accuse my client when it passed through the hands of other dealers is unfair and makes him a scapegoat,” he said.

Bail was set at $500,000. If convicted, Concepcion could face up to 30 years in prison.


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


AP-CS-11-22-08 0137EST

Widow of NYC antiques dealer indicted in his death

NEW YORK (AP) – The widow of a wealthy Manhattan antiques dealer has been indicted for murder in the nearly two- decade-old killing.

Barbara Kogan’s defense lawyer says his client will surrender to authorities Tuesday to face a charge in the shooting death of George Kogan in October 1990.

The 64-year-old widow’s defense attorney, Barry Levin, says prosecutors have no “substantive evidence” to link his client to the death. He says the prosecution’s case is founded on “gossip.”

The Kogans were in the midst of a nasty divorce when George Kogan was slain outside his mistress’ home.

A jury in April convicted Barbara Kogan’s divorce attorney, Manuel Martinez, of hiring the contract killer.

Barbara Kogan was the beneficiary of life-insurance policies worth $4.8 million.


Information from: Daily News,

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

AP-ES-11-22-08 0334EST

Eureka! Treasure trove of Gold Rush art discovered

RENO, Nev. (AP) – Charles B. Gillespie’s iconic California Gold Rush artwork is no longer a family secret.

Historians are hailing the obscure 49er’s extensive collection of sketches and oil paintings after a descendant decided to put it up for sale this fall.

“This is an important archive, particularly the sketches, which are charming and historically significant,” Scott Shields, chief curator of the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, Calif., said in an e-mail.

For decades, the pieces were tucked away in the home of Gillespie’s great-great grandson, Dick Rogers of Bowling Green, Ohio – virtually unknown to historians and others. Now, Rogers is working with a Reno dealer, Fred Holabird, to try to sell the collection intact to a museum in hopes the public can finally have a chance to view it.

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Jail sentence for Memphis antique gallery owner who cheated consignors

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (ACNI) – The former owner of an antique gallery who pleaded guilty in August of bilking dealers and consignors out of more than $140,000 in merchandise has been sentenced to 30 days in jail and ordered to pay partial restitution.

Victoria A. Padgett, 59, former owner of Crump-Padgett Antique Gallery in Memphis, was sentenced Nov. 17 to one year in prison, which was suspended except for 30 days, followed by three years’ probation. Padgett was ordered to pay $4,472 in restitution to the state for unpaid sales tax that she collected but failed to remit from Aug. 1, 2003 through Dec. 31, 2003.

“I’m happy that she has accepted guilt, to the extent that she accepted guilt, with her guilty plea. I’m happy that finally there was a determination that what she did was wrong,” said Steve Jones, assistant district attorney.
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Cleveland Museum of Art to return art to Italy

ROME (AP) – The Cleveland Museum of Art agreed Wednesday to return 14 ancient treasures ranging from Etruscan jewelry to a Medieval cross that authorities say were looted or stolen from Italy.

Italian Culture Ministry officials and the director of the Cleveland museum signed a deal in Rome to transfer the artifacts within three months in exchange for long-term loans of other treasures.

The agreement is the latest success in an Italian campaign to recover artifacts that survived for centuries only to be dug up by looters, smuggled out of the country and sold to prestigious museums across the world.

Similar deals have yielded the return of scores of pieces from museums, including the J. Paul Getty Museum in California and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Director Timothy Rub stressed that the Cleveland museum had not knowingly acquired or received looted items. He said they were bought or donated to the museum in the 1970s and 1980s.

The treasures to be returned from Cleveland are mostly a sampling of art produced by the Etruscans and by Greek-influenced cultures that dominated central and southern Italy before the rise of Rome.

The objects are “of great historical, artistic and archaeological interest,” Italian Culture Minister Sandro Bondi said.

Among them are a pair of Etruscan silver bracelets from the 6th century B.C. and a bronze statue of a horned warrior, dated to the 9th-8th century B.C., which experts said is one of the finest remaining from a civilization that populated the island of Sardinia.

Most of the artifacts are elaborate and richly decorated pottery pieces from 5th to 4th century B.C. southern Italy.

They include vessels shaped as a donkey head, a pig and a duck as well as a 3-foot-tall vase attributed to the so-called painter of Darius – an artist named after one of his works which depicts the ancient Persian king.

The odd object in the group is a 14th century gold-plated processional cross stolen in the 1960s from a church near Siena, in Tuscany.

The artifacts were shown to have been looted mainly because photos and documents related to them turned up in raids conducted in the 1990s on the Swiss warehouses of antiquities dealers accused of controlling the flow of illegal art exports from Italy. The raids sparked what has turned into a worldwide hunt for Italy’s lost treasures.

The deal signed at the Culture Ministry came after nearly two years of negotiations that began when the museum contacted the Italians to check if Rome was seeking to recover any of its antiquities.

“When putting together a collection it is important that any museum acquire works ethically,” Rub said.

Bondi and Rub said the two sides had established a joint commission to determine within six months the provenance of two more contested pieces: a statue depicting Nike, the winged victory deity, and a bronze of the Greek god Apollo.

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

AP-CS-11-19-08 1549EST  

43 timepieces stolen from Israel found in French bank vaults

JERUSALEM (AP) – Israeli police say a joint investigation with French colleagues has uncovered 43 watches and clocks stolen from a Jerusalem museum 25 years ago in a legendary heist.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld says the items were found in two French bank vaults. He says they will be transferred to Israel in the coming weeks.

French police officials did not immediately comment on the announcement Wednesday.
The items were among 106 timepieces worth millions of dollars that disappeared from the L.A. Mayer Museum for Islamic Art in Jerusalem in 1983.

The theft was the costliest in Israel’s history. More than 40 other items were recovered before the latest discovery.

Israeli police traced the heist back to a notorious thief who fled the country and died in the U.S. in 2004.


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


AP-CS-11-19-08 0944EST

Britain’s Antiques Roadshow presenter Fiona Bruce, with the million-pound discovery behind her. Photo courtesy BBC.

Britain’s Antiques Roadshow reveals its first million-pound discovery

Britain’s Antiques Roadshow presenter Fiona Bruce, with the million-pound discovery behind her. Photo courtesy BBC.

Britain’s Antiques Roadshow presenter Fiona Bruce, with the million-pound discovery behind her. Photo courtesy BBC.

LONDON (ACNI) – BBC One’s Antiques Roadshow, the wildly popular British TV show that inspired its American counterpart on PBS Television, has aired a segment featuring its first-ever million-pound object. The Sunday, Nov. 17 edition of the program included an appraisal of an artwork by Antony Gormley OBE that was identified as the final model for a massive sculpture known as Angel of the North. Appraiser and art dealer Philip Mould valued the scale-model artwork at 1 million pounds (approximately US$1.5 million), making it the most valuable item ever brought in to Antiques Roadshow experts in Britain.

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Vienna Art Week

Fourth viennaartweek draws art experts to Nov. 17-23 series

Vienna Art Week

During viennaartweek, which is on now through Nov. 23, Vienna becomes a meeting point for international art insiders from all corners. Experts such as Julia Peyton-Jones and Hans-Ulrich Obrist from Serpentine Gallery in London, designer Alfredo Häberli from Switzerland, and Sir Norman Rosenthal, formerly with the Royal Academy of Arts in London, gather to discuss the future of the museum, the connection between art and the design market, and other current topics of importance.  

Many events and interactive visits are part of the week’s agenda. Daily at 7 p.m., a panel at the Museum of Modern Art Vienna offers insight into concepts of sculptural work. Among those participating are Helmut Draxler, Rachel Harrison, John Miller, Paulina Olowska and Franz West. Additionally, studio visits capture artists in their working environments, with Dorothee Golz, Peter Kogler, Sonja Gangl and Alois Mosbacher among this year’s featured artist participants.

Now in its fourth year, viennaartweek attracts international attention to the Viennese art scene. An important part of a vibrant international art community, artists are at its core. In this context, the two training schools, Academy of Fine Arts and University of Applied Arts Vienna, cover the symbiosis of art and knowledge, as well as explaining educational possibilities.

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