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Swedish police have arrested four men in connection to the dramatic heist of a Rembrandt and two Renoirs from Stockholm's National Museum, according to a late report by the Museum Security Network. The arrests occurred last night and earlier today -- but the art works have yet to be recovered and an intensive search continues, police superintendent Leif Jennekvist told the AP. Police had been involved in discussions with an intermediary for the brazen gang after receiving five photographs of the works and a letter demanding an undisclosed ransom -- believed to be approximately $6 million -- for the paintings, which are valued at over $30 million.

The New York City Buildings Department has backed down from its attempt to evacuate a dozen tenants -- most of them artists -- from their lofts in the D.U.M.B.O. (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) section of Brooklyn, reports the New York Times. The city tried to vacate the residents of 255 Water Street on Jan. 2 because the landlord had recently turned off the sprinklers, but backed down amid protests, television cameras and an intervention by city councilman Ken Fisher. City representatives agreed to let the residents stay while the problem was discussed with the landlord. The city is also discussing plans to bring up to code the neighboring building at 247 Water Street in hopes that tenants evicted in late December can move back in by next week.

The difficulties continue for the beleaguered Barnes Foundation in Merion, Pa. Having temporarily staved off insolvency thanks to a pair of last-minute $500,000 grants from the Pew Charitable Trusts and the J. Paul Getty Trust, the Barnes is now fending off a new initiative by its neighbors, who are proposing that the foundation solve pending zoning disputes by building its own private road to its parking lot. The Barnes tells the Philadelphia Inquirer that the scheme is untenable, since it would cost millions of dollars, entail tearing out prized trees from the Barnes' celebrated arboretum and require neighboring schools to give up property for the road. Whatever happens with the locals, the Barnes is still seeking $15 million for its immediate needs and $70 million to build long-term stability.

New York museums took a little flak for missing out on the big Vermeer show that wowed 'em a few years ago at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Now, the tables are turned as the Metropolitan Museum of Art presents "Vermeer and the Delft School," Mar. 8-May 27, 2001, an extravaganza of 85 paintings by 30 artists (including 15 by Johannes Vermeer) along with drawings, tapestries, gilded silver and faience. "Unlike recent monographic surveys," said Met director Philippe de Montebello, this exhibition "will examine the paintings of Vermeer and his fellow Delft artists within their proper historical context." The exhibition is co-organized with the National Gallery in London.

The installation of "Mies in America," a massive 220-work survey of the pioneering modernist architect Mies van der Rohe that is scheduled to debut at the Whitney Museum, June 21-Sept. 23, 2001, is being designed by the avant-garde media artist Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, whose work in the 2000 Whitney Biennial was inspired by Mies' glass-enclosed spaces. The Whitney show itself is organized by Phyllis Lambert, founding director of the Canadian Centre for Architecture. At the same time, the Museum of Modern Art is presenting "Mies in Berlin," a survey of the architect's first 30 years organized by MoMA curator Terence Riley.

Famed Artnet Magazine Gotham Dispatch columnist Max Henry has organized "Jello," which promises to be the first show of 2001 to test the digital zeitgeist for new art expression. The techie-exhibition, which bows at Frederieke Taylor Gallery in Chelsea, Jan. 13-Feb. 17, features works by Andrew Chesler, Enter Architecture, Dan Flavin, Torban Giehler, Matt Harle, Ernest Jolicoeur, Daren Kendall, Charles Long, Richard Patterson, Nicolas Rieben and Solange Fabião/Natasha Makowski.

Chicago's Terra Museum of American Art -- some of whose own trustees charged the museum leaders with mismanagement last fall -- recently spent $100,000 to hire a PR firm to improve its image. The move apparently prompted the Illinois Attorney General to call for an outside investigator, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune.

The Brooklyn Museum of Art has scheduled "Leon Golub: Paintings, 1950-2000" for May 18-Aug. 19, 2001, the last stop on an international tour. The show of 35 works by the political Neo-Expressionist originated at the Irish Museum of Modern Art.

1999 Nobel Prize for Literature winner Günther Grass is having his first drawing retrospective in New York's Chelsea art district at Jan Van Der Donk Rare Books, 601 West 26th Street, Jan. 5-Feb. 10, 2001. "Günther Grass: Graphics 1970-2000" features approximately 30 works, including recent forays into watercolor. The famed author of The Tin Drum and Dogs of War has said he routinely made hundreds of drawings and etchings both before and after each book.

Rock star and art patron David Bowie is immersing himself in the Internet art market for 2001. Ziggy has relaunched with an emphasis on young art, notably recent graduates of the Royal College of Art and coming soon, grads of four more art schools, including the New York Academy of Art. But don't call him an art dealer. Though the site sells art, Bowieart takes absolutely no commission -- 0 percent. What's more, the site also promises a free downloadable print by Bowie himself.

Christie's New York is offering a 2 1/8-inch-tall portrait of George Washington in a special sale on Jan. 19, 2001. The work was painted by fashionable portrait miniaturist John Ramage on Oct. 3, 1789, directly following the Father of the Country's inauguration, for first lady Martha Washington. The picture comes with a miniature gold case, also produced by Ramage, that encloses a lock of the President's hair. No word at press time on the presale estimate, which the auction house is keeping confidential.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum has awarded its New Media/New Century Award to create art for the Web to Cindy Bernard, Russet Lederman and Patrick Lichty. The artists have received grants of $4,000 and will have their work posted on Helios, the museum's online American photography center, in the near future. Jurors for the award were Walker Art Center director of new media initiatives Steve Dietz and Emerson College associate professor of new media Jim Sheldon.

In an unusual joint decision, the Whitney Museum and Harvard University Art Museums have appointed Menil Collection chief conservator Carol Mancusi-Ungaro director of conservation of the Whitney and director of the center for the technical study of Modern Art at Harvard, effective April 1, 2001. The Whitney appointment is accompanied by a $5 million grant from the Robert Wilson Foundation in support of conservation at the museum…. Connecticut's Wadsworth Atheneum has appointed Ulrich Birkmaier as paintings conservator and Trina Evarts as assistant curator of American decorative arts and elected former Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston director Gabriella De Ferrari to the board of trustees... The Asian Art Museum/Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco have invited graduate students to submit abstracts on art history for the second annual graduate art history colloquium on May 5, 2001. Deadline for submissions is Feb. 1; call Deborah Clearwaters at (415) 379-8895 or Jennifer Williams Moore at (415) 750-3624 for more info.

-- compiled by Giovanni Garcia-Fenech
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