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After years of deliberation, the French National Assembly has adopted a plan allowing foreign auction houses to hold sales in France. The French government is paying French auctioneers a total of 450 million francs ($70 million) -- each firm will receive between 15 and 50 percent of its value -- to compensate for money they might lose due to the opening of the market to foreign competitors. Reform proponents hope that the move will result in renewed activity in the French art market, which has a total estimated annual turnover of $488 million. Currently, the market in Paris labors under a 5.5 percent value-added tax (VAT) and a 3 percent resale royalty, which obviously does little to encourage art auctions in France. The new measure does not apply to online auctions, and French auctioneers are fighting a last-gasp battle to block the French website Nart from carrying out sales over the Internet. The organization of French auctioneers went to court on Jan. 10, 2000, arguing that Nart auctions in November and December 1999 included property owned by French nationals and thus should be governed by the more restrictive French auction rules.
-- Adrian Darmon

New York City is still a guys and gals kind of place. First, famed celebrity photog Annie Leibovitz unveils a show of nudes called "Women" at the Edwynn Houk Gallery on Fifth Avenue, Jan. 20-Mar. 4, 2000. Then, the other half of the sexual universe gets its turn with "Manly" at Art in General in Tribeca, Feb. 5-Apr. 1, 2000. Organized by New-York Historical Society curator and sometime Artnet Magazine writer Grady T. Turner, "Manly" features works by 18 artists addressing issues of hypermasculinity, androgyny, cross-dressing and pornographic role-playing. Ouch! The show includes work by Anthony Goicolea, Nir Hod, CheekiMunki Productions and Kiki Seror.

Want to know what's hot in the contemporary art market? Check out the 1999 acquisitions of the undeniably hip Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art. Among the accessions are 17 gifts in honor of new director Jeremy Strick, including John Currin's Girl on a Hill (1995), Uta Barth's Ground #54 (1995), Tracy Emin's Finding Gold (1996), Steve McQueen's Drumroll (1998), Chris Ofili's Monkey Magic - Sex, Money and Drugs (1999) and Elizabeth Peyton's Rirkrit & Jorge (East Marion) Reading Newspapers (1999).
Other acquisitions of note are:
  • Scatter Walk (1958) by Lee Mullican.

  • Blue Balls VIII (1961-62) by Sam Francis.

  • White European Myths, Triumph over Good and Evil (1984) by Tony Cragg.

  • Untitled (Self-portrait Holding a Book) (1985) by Cindy Sherman.

  • Portrait of James (1993) by Catherine Opie.

  • Untitled (1997) by Robert Gober, an installation first commissioned by MOCA for his 1997 exhibition.

  • Still other acquisitions were of works by emerging Los Angeles artists:
  • Three works from the "Nippon Davidson and Lard Lamps" series (1992-93) and #6 from Swedish Erotica & Fiero Parts (1994) by Jason Rhoades.

  • World Picture (1998) by Jessica Bronson.

  • House: South View from Court (1999) by Kevin Appel.

  • Am Safety Zone (1999) by Monique Prieto.

  • 24 prints of the "Nervous Character" series (1999) by Amy Adler.

    Sotheby's Hong Kong paid over £250,000 in compensation to clients after Philip Wong, one of the auction house's jewelry experts, confessed to stealing items sent to the salesroom. According to the London Telegraph, Wong would pretend to arrange for "private viewings" of choice lots but instead would sell the objects himself, telling his bosses at Sotheby's that the goods had been returned to their original owners. The scheme was uncovered in July 1998 and Wong was fired, though the theft was not reported to police. According to Sotheby's president Diana Brooks, security has been tightened up in the jewelry department since the incident.

    Upstate New York art dealer David K. Anderson has donated his namesake Anderson Gallery building, a former school worth an estimated $3 million in Buffalo, N.Y., to the University at Buffalo. Anderson is also transferring a substantial part of the gallery's 20th-century art collection to the university, and has established a $2-million fund to assist with maintenance and exhibitions. Anderson, who moved his gallery from Manhattan to Buffalo in 1991, is the son of New York Abstract Expressionist dealer Martha Jackson, who died in 1969. He has previously supported the UB Center for the Arts and donated nearly 300 paintings, sculptures and prints valued at over $1.5 million to the school.

    Software entrepreneur Peter Norton and his wife Eileen have donated nearly 1,000 works of contemporary art valued at more than $3 million to 29 U.S. institutions and the Tate Gallery in London, the New York Times reports. The gift includes art by Chuck Close, Elizabeth Peyton, Robert Rauschenberg, Ed Ruscha, Cindy Sherman. Destined for the Tate is John Currin's pseudo-pornographic painting of two women, The Wizard, which was caught up in the bankruptcy of a California collector and eventually was the subject of a lawsuit over its ownership between Norton and British collector Charles Saatchi (Norton won). Other beneficiaries include the Museum of Modern Art, the Bard Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City.

    California governor Gray Davis has earmarked $10 million for arts education in the state's 2000-2001 budget. The funds, to be allocated via programs of the California Arts Council (CAC), go to programs for kids in kindergarten through 12th grade.

    An online database featuring images and descriptions of Germany's vast repository or artworks known or suspected to have been stolen from Jewish victims of the Nazis is scheduled to be available in Mar. 2000 at The registry is to include every German museum's inventory of pre-1945 works acquired after 1933, will allow postings by those seeking lost artworks, and will be available to the public free of charge.

    The 100th anniversary of the death of British art god John Ruskin is being marked at the National Arts Club in New York with an evening of readings by critics, writers and artists, including art historian Laurie Schneider Adams, painters Rackstraw Downes and Deborah Rosenthal, and critics Hilton Kramer and Donald Kuspit. The event is scheduled for Jan. 20 at 8:15 p.m. Call (212) 532-1111 for more info.

    A little-seen side of influential film director Sergei Eisenstein goes on view at the Drawing Center, Jan. 22-Mar. 18, 2000. "The Body of the Line: Eisenstein's Drawings" is curated by Jean Gagnon, director of of programs for the Daniel Langlois Foundation. A symposium on the Russian director organized by Catherine de Zegher and Annette Michelson is being held Jan. 27, and screenings of his films Bezhin Meadow (1935-37) and Strike (1923) are scheduled for Jan. 31 and Feb. 7, respectively. For more information, call (212) 219-2166.

    The eight annual Outsider Art Fair, which includes 34 dealers in folk, eccentric and outsider art, takes place at the Puck Building in SoHo, Jan. 28-30, 2000. General admission is $12. A Jan. 27 preview benefits the Museum of American Folk Art; tickets are $75. For more info on the preview, call (212) 977-7170, ext. 308.