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The Tate Gallery is negotiating with Serbian gangsters holding two Turner masterpieces in ransom, reports London's Sunday Times. In his new book, The Unconventional Minister, former British paymaster general Geoffrey Robinson spilled the beans, adding that the museum has already given "a small amount of money" to an intermediary after receiving several photographs of the paintings, which were stolen in 1994 from Frankfurt's Schirn Kunsthalle while on loan. The canvases, worth over £24 million, are Shade and Darkness - the Evening of the Deluge and Light and Color - the Morning after the Deluge, both from 1843.

Flash Art editor Giancarlo Politi is guilty of libel for calling 1993 Venice Biennial curator Achille Bonito Oliva "an unbearable, pathetic old man," according to a recent ruling by a Milan court. The long-running lawsuit stems from a 1993 incident in which Biennial officials seized the unofficial Flash Art catalogue for the Biennial's "Aperto" section, which Oliva had organized, and Politi retaliated with his criticism. Politi now must pay court costs and compensate current biennale president and curator Raffaello Martelli for moral and material damage. Meanwhile, in less incendiary news, 26-year-old Massimiliano Gioni has been appointed American editor of Flash Art after working at the magazine's Milan offices for two years.

Retired English teacher Dennis Heiner, 73, was been convicted on Oct. 20 of criminal mischief for vandalizing Chris Ofili's Holy Virgin Mary at the Brooklyn Museum during the notorious "Sensation" exhibition last December. Heiner faces a prison sentence of one year and a $1,000 fine for smearing white paint on the controversial work. Though the painting was widely reported to be unharmed, a curator testified during the trial that it remains damaged by a white film. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 1.

British proto-Pop artist Eduardo Paolozzi has been on life-support after collapsing in his studio in late August, reveals the London Guardian. Doctors think chances are unlikely the 76-year-old sculptor will recover, leaving his family with the grim task of deciding whether to continue their efforts to keep him alive. Paolozzi catapulted into fame after taking part in the highly-influential "This Is Tomorrow" exhibition at London's Whitechapel Gallery in 1956.

Despite his tremendous influence on what became known as the New York School, Clement Greenberg's collection is moving to the West Coast, reports the Seattle Times. Portland collectors Tom and Gretchen Holce purchased the fierce art critic's 152-piece art collection en masse from his widow, Janice Van Horne, and donated to the Portland Art Museum to ensure that the collection remains intact. Among the gems are eight Anthony Caro sculptures, 21 works by Jules Olitski (whom Greenberg considered America's best living painter) and works by Helen Frankenthaler, Hans Hofmann, Jackson Pollock and David Smith. The gift also includes Greenberg's stash of exhibition catalogues, many featuring the critic's handwritten annotations.

AMERICAN ART AT ARTNET.COM launches its new American Art Department with a pair of auctions beginning Oct. 25. The main sale features over 70 paintings by Albert Bierstadt, Preston Dickinson, Marsden Hartley, William Paxton and Everett Shinn, Oct. 25-Nov. 14. Presale price estimates range from $2,000 to $60,000. Complementing the paintings auction is a sale of early 20th-century American prints, featuring 25 works by Arthur B. Davies, Armin Landeck, Martin Lewis, Louis Lozowick, Grant Wood and others, Oct. 25-Nov. 9. Estimates range from $500 to $15,000. The auctions are organized by's new American paintings specialist Sandra Nessim Rosenthal.

A new gallery opens today in central London's fancy Cork Street. Flowers Central, a third branch of the Angela Flowers Gallery, launches into the scene with "Flowers One," which includes works by Patrick Hughes, Lucy Jones, Trevor Sutton and Edouardo Paolozzi, through Nov. 11. The gallery is located at 21 Cork Street, the space vacated when Victoria Miro left for the more avant-garde East End.

The Walter Reade Theater presents the fifth edition of Antonio Muntadas and Marshall Reese's Political Advertisement 2000 at 8:00 p.m. on Oct. 30. The project, which started back in 1984, features a stream of TV spots featuring candidates from David Eisenhower to Al Gore and George Bush, Jr., unaccompanied by any commentary from the artists. The video then travels to the Pacific Film Archive at the University of California, Berkeley, on Nov. 1, just in time for the Nov. 4 elections.

A major exhibition of rarely seen drawings by Raphael comes to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles courtesy of Queen Elizabeth II, Oct. 31, 2000-Jan 7, 2001. "Raphael and His Circle" features recently re-discovered drawings by the Renaissance master as well as works by his teachers and followers. The show is complemented by "Raphael and His Influence Across the Centuries," featuring works from the Getty's own collection.

Legendary downtown performance space the Kitchen teams up with Silicon Valley's art and technology network Ground Zero to host ".Art Frontiers: Partners in Art and Industry," a conference in Silicon Valley exploring partnerships between art and technology, Nov. 2 and 3 at the Stanford Research Institute International. Panelists include Alonso Addison, Andrea Cunningham, Sharon Daniel, Lisa Goldman, Lynn Hershman, Jon Ippolito, Brenda Laurel, Jane Metcalfe, Michael Naimark and Benjamin Weil. Check out for more details.

-- compiled by Giovanni Garcia-Fenech
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