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Artnet News
11/9/00
 
     
  MORE LAYOFFS AT BUTTERFIELDS
Online auction behemoth eBay plans to lay off 15 percent of its Butterfields employees, according to the Wall Street Journal. In the second restructuring of the year, 32 of 200 positions are being eliminated in the number four U.S. auction house. In an effort to target high-end collectors, eBay bought Butterfields last year for $260 million and launched a new "Great Collections" website. The plan ran into trouble, leading to July's dismissal of two thirds of the company's Chicago staff and the closing of its New York offices.

AND ALONG COMES ALICE
Despite the travails afflicting the art auction business, Alice, a newly established international auction company specializing in 19th and 20th-century fine art, launches its first sale in New York on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2000. Founded by former Sotheby's France managing director Francis Simon, the operation plans to distinguish itself by its lean methods, limiting itself to less than 50 pieces per auction, charging buyers a flat 10 percent rate (as opposed to around 17.5 percent for the big auctioneers) and sellers up to five percent, and holding four sales a year -- two in Paris and two in New York. The company estimates that it only needs to make sales of $25 million to break even, a mere pittance in comparison to its money-burning competitors. The highlight of Tuesday's sale at Peterson Hall (50 East 68th Street at Park Ave.) is Pablo Picasso's early Au Moulin Rouge (La Fille du Roi d'Egypte) (1901), which carries an estimate of $3.5 million-$5 million (it last sold at Sotheby's London in 1994 for $2,837,390). Alice, by the way, is an acronym for Authenticity, Legality, Integrity, Credibility and Excellence.

NEW MUSEUM LAUNCHES MEDIA Z LOUNGE
The New Museum of Contemporary Art in SoHo has opened the Media Z Lounge, a new space designed for the exhibition and exploration of digital art, experimental video and sound works. The lounge debuts with Candice Breitz's Babel Series installation and Rhizome.org's "Rhizome@newmuseum.org," a selection of web-based artist projects, Nov. 16-Dec. 17. Designed by the architectural team of Ada Tolla and Guiseppe Lignano (a.k.a. LOT/EK), the project is being touted as New York City's only museum space dedicated to new media exhibitions and programs and the only place of its kind in the city with free admission.

ERUDITE WARHOL
Warhol is not just about celebrities anymore -- the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., presents "Andy Warhol: Social Observer," an exhibition exploring the depth and variety of the Pop artist's observations of American society, Nov. 18, 2000-Feb. 19, 2001. The show features more than 86 paintings, prints, photographs and one film, including selections from such serious series as "Electric Chairs," "Car Crashes," "Most Wanted Men" and "Race Riots," as well as one of his rarely seen time capsules.

BRUCE ALTSHULER TO NYU
Christie's director of graduate programs Bruce J. Altshuler has been named director of New York University's Museum Studies Program and adjunct professor of fine arts. He replaces Flora Kaplan, who helped found the program in 1978 and was director for 21 years.

CATHERINE THE GREAT IN LONDON
St. Petersburg's Hermitage Museum is inaugurating the Hermitage Rooms, its London branch at the Somerset House, with "Treasures of Catherine the Great," Nov. 25, 2000-Sept. 23, 2001. The exhibition features jewels, wrought silver, gold medals, antiquities, paintings and portrait miniatures the ruler bought for herself or gave as presents to her children, grandchildren and lovers. Somerset House, a late-18th-century office building built in Baroque style, was for years the repository of British birth, death and marriage records. The innovative partnership was the brainchild of Lord Rothschild and Hermitage director Mikhail Piotrovski.

$3 MIL PLUS TO PHILLY MUSEUM
The Philadelphia Museum of Art has received $3,375,000 in grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The grants will go to endow one existing senior conservator position and three new conservation fellowships, projects to present and publish the results of conservation research and treatment and towards efforts to catalogue and enhance access to its archival collections.

CONTEMPORARY PHOTO AUCTION FOR GIRLS CLUB
Art collectors know that bargains lurk in benefit auctions. So, pay attention! Nonprofit children's services agency the Lower East Side Girls Club is holding a silent auction benefit featuring works by contemporary photographers, including Merry Alpern, Larry Fink, David LaChapelle, Annie Leibovitz, Susan Meiselas and Rebecca Horne (not to be confused with assemblage artist Rebecca Horn). The event is being held Nov. 10-Nov. 12, 2000, at the Margaret Bodell Gallery, Cooper Union and Middle Collegiate Church, all located within blocks from each other in the East Village. Call Margaret Bodell at (212) 477-1820 for more information.

BONK NOT ELECTED MAYOR OF HAWAII
Former East Village painter Keiko Bonk, who left New York in the 1980s to become a political activist in her native Hawaii, has gone down to defeat in her race to become mayor of Hawaii. The Green party candidate lost to Republican Harry Kim, who had never run for office before and restricted campaign donations to $10 per person.

-- compiled by Giovanni Garcia-Fenech
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