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Three gunmen stole a Rembrandt and two Renoirs valued at over $30 million from Stockholm's National Museum in a dramatic and well-organized heist, according to published reports. The museum was hit around closing time on Dec. 22, when one man brandishing a submachine gun issued a threat as two other picked up Rembrandt's Self Portrait (ca. 1630) and Renoir's Conversation with the Gardener (ca. 1875) and Young Parisian (ca. 1874) from separate galleries. Upon the burglars' exit, two parked cars were set ablaze by accomplices and the road was strewed with spiked mats. The gang escaped in a boat that was later abandonded. Swedish police surmise the robbery was made to order, as the works would be almost impossible to sell. The paintings are state property and were not insured. No leads have been reported.

The U.S. State Department's archaeologist-controlled Cultural Property Advisory Committee is winning its battle against art collectors for control of imports of plundered ancient artifacts into the country, reports Nina Teicholz in the Washington Post. The committee has succeeded in banning the import of most ancient artifacts from Cambodia, Canada, Cyprus, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Salvador, and is working to obtain similar bans on Greek and Italian artifacts. But collectors and dealers argue that the strictures only push the market underground, where objects are lost to scholarship and public display. Furthermore, they contend, top-class museums are the best homes for ancient masterpieces, which belong to the world and not to contemporary nations. The National Association of Dealers in Ancient, Oriental and Primitive Art affirms that over 95 percent of antiquities imported into the United States end up in museums within a generation.

Painter R.B. Kitaj has entered the pages of the Guinness World Records, along with the likes of Mark Hogg, who has swallowed the most live worms in 30 seconds (62 night crawlers), and Mike, a chicken who survived 18 months without a head. The record book has declared the artist's drawing After Rembrandt the world's most valuable Post-it note after it fetched £640 in an auction sponsored by manufacturer 3M to celebrate the sticky note's 20th anniversary. The funds benefited the Royal Academy schools and family charity Barnardo's.

London's Chelsea College of Art has won its multi-million battle for the key site on the Thames next to Tate Britain, reports the London Evening Standard. British Parliament decided on the art school's proposal for the three-acre Royal Army Medical College for an undisclosed price thought to be approximately £37 million. The project was up against the Aga Khan Development Network, which wanted to establish an Islamic cultural center on the site. The new grounds will allow the college to consolidate its campus, which is currently divided into four premises in west London.

Vedanta Gallery's former director Monique Meloche is putting the "chic" back in Chicago with a new gallery in the West Washington area in March. Until then, Meloche is exhibiting over 70 works by 27 international artists at her house in the appropriately named "Homewrecker" (to Dec. 31). The show is open on Saturdays 12 noon to 3 pm or by appointment; call (773) 395-6101 for details. If that weren't enough, Moloche and Lauren Weiner have organized "Disco," featuring John Armledder and Carla Arocha, which previews at design.lab.Miami, Jan. 19-Feb. 17, 2001, before it travels to Chicago and New York.

The New Museum of Contemporary Art is exhibiting its entire Altoids collection, including the 25 most recent works in the third annual acquisition, Jan. 12-Jan 28, 2001. The collection of 70 works by artists such as Laylah Ali, Nina Bovasso, Jessica Craig-Martin, E.V. Day, Steve DeFrank and Kristin Lucas has been assembled by a selection committee including such art world luminaries as Valerie Cassel, Dave Hickey and Collier Schorr. It is the first donation of a corporate collection to the museum.

The Miami Arts Project's presentation of contemporary art projects in urban spaces is turning its attention towards the Miami River, a five-mile waterway in one of the last under-developed waterfront districts in the city. Rome-based multi-disciplinary group Stalker is taking the river inside the city with a conceptual construction of canals based on the idea of a game of dominoes. The group is also holding a riverside walk on Jan. 20. Furthermore, Dan Graham, Carrie Mae Weems, Jack Pierson, Andrea Robbins/Max Becher and Mark Robbins have developed images for 65 billboards that will be sited in the neighborhoods adjacent to the river, beginning early Jan. through March 31, 2001.

The Museum of Modern Art and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., have simultaneously announced major acquisitions of work by photographer Lee Friedlander. MoMA made an unusual deal to acquire 868 prints ranging from the late 1950s to the present and 132 prints representing current and future work for the next five years. The National Gallery has bought 459 photographs, including the only complete set of vintage prints for the artist's book Self Portrait (1970) and a complete set of prints for his recent book Lee Friedlander (2000).

The Philadelphia Museum of Art has announced a $10 million gift from Lenfest Group president Gerry Lenfest and wife Marguerite, one of the largest donations in the museum's history. The gift brings the total raised to date to $94.6 million towards the museum's 125th anniversary fundraising campaign goal of $200 million over the next three years.

The Bellevue Art Museum in Washington is set to open the doors to its new building designed by Steven Holl with "First Light," a New Year's Eve celebration featuring music and performances. Tickets begin at $50 and guests must be 21 or older for late night admission; call (425) 519-0770 or visit the museum's website for more info. The public opening for the new space is scheduled for Jan. 13, 2001.

Karen McCready, 54, New York print dealer and author, died on Dec. 26 after a long illness. A fixture in the print world during a 30-year career, McCready was director of Pace Editions, ran the New York gallery of Crown Point Press from 1982 to 1994 and then established Karen McCready Fine Art in 1994, where she was one of the pioneer gallerists in the Meat Market District. In 1995 she began to publish her own editions, working with artists such as Lorna Simpson, Sandy Gellis and Kate Shephard, often collaborating with her husband, Jean Yves Noblet, a silkscreen printer. She authored two books on ceramics and was an authority on Art Deco and Modernist ceramics. McCready was a subject for a number of different artists, including Jim Dine, who entitled one of his prints Tree (A Female Robe for Karen McCready) (1981).

-- compiled by Giovanni Garcia-Fenech
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