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Sotheby's stock price is soaring on news that the high-class auctioneer is moving its sales online. Not the Impressionists and moderns, at least not yet. But the house plans to sell part of the $10-million Barry Helper collection of sports memorabilia via the web in 1999 (and Sotheby's sold some $63,000 worth of rare books in an online sale last June). In a year-end review, Merrill Lynch analyst Mark Miller said that he thought Sotheby's, then trading at 28, could reach 35 in the next 18 months -- and the auctioneer's stock promptly jumped to 38 (as of yesterday, it had dropped to a fraction above 34). Values are skyrocketing in the Internet auction business, the Wall Street Journal reports, with eBay now at over 270 and new issue uBid -- which went public on the Nasdaq exchange at 15 on Dec. 4 -- trading at over 140 as of Dec. 29.

The Dia Center for the Arts is quietly planning to move its permanent collection upstate to a former International Paper Company factory in Beacon, N.Y., according to a report on "Page Six" in the New York Post. The story says the deal has the support of New York Gov. George Pataki, thanks to the influence of his "art-loving" wife Libby, and that it was prompted by "threats" from Dia chief Michael Govan to move the cultural resource out of state -- to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, Mass. Dia's collection includes Richard Serra's Torqued Ellipses as well as works by Don Judd, Joseph Beuys, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol and other avant-gardists. A Dia spokesperson couldn't confirm the report.

After a 20-year restoration project, Leonardo da Vinci's 1498 mural The Last Supper is all but ruined, according to Carlo Bertelli, director of Italy's Istituto Centrale del Restauro. Only 20 percent of Leonardo's original remains, Bertelli says, with the rest done by restorers. The Times of London reports that in a recent British documentary, art critic Waldemar Januszczak said the work looked like it had been "copied from a postcard." Another Leonardo expert, Jacques Franck, noted that nothing was left of the head of Christ, and blamed chief restorer Pinin Brambilla Barcilon for turning the work into a "20th-century Leonardo." The painting, located in the refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, is due to be unveiled early in 1999.

A series of hard-hitting investigative stories in the Boston Globe, spearheaded by reporter Walter V. Robinson, has painted the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston as a major repository of smuggled antiquities. A recent Globe report claims that 61 Greek and Roman artifacts acquired by the MFA in the mid-'80s have no previously recorded ownership or provenance -- strong circumstantial evidence of illegal excavation or export. The paper also recently reminded its readers that the MFA owns a half-interest, with the husband-and-wife collector team Leon Levy and Shelby White, of a 2nd century AD statue called The Weary Herakles that Turkey says was smuggled out of the country in 1980. And a year ago, the MFA declined to return scores of pre-Columbian artifacts to Guatemala that cultural officials said had been looted from ancient Mayan grave sites. MFA director Malcolm Rogers has declined repeated requests for comment from the paper, but says the museum retains good title to the disputed art.

A Visual Artist's Guide to Estate Planning has been published by the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation in association with the committee on art law of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. The 278-page paperback is available for $10 from the Sharpe Art Foundation, 711 N. Tejon St., Suite B, Colorado Springs, Co. 80903.

The Metropolitan Museum is returning a 14th-century stone statue of Buddha to a New Delhi holy place, according to a report in the Times of India. The statue disappeared in 1989, and the Met reportedly purchased the work in 1990 for $50,000. The work was discovered in the Met collection after the museum published the acquisition in its bulletin.

The French government plans to build a new Museum of Arts and Civilizations near the Eiffel Tower, dedicated to Africa, Asia, the Americas and Oceania. The $200-million non-Eurocentric museum is scheduled to open in 2004 and incorporate the collections of the existing Museum of African and Oceanic Arts and the Museum of Mankind.

Documenta XI artistic director Okwui Enwezor has selected the three artists for the fall 1999 residency program at ArtPace in San Antonio. They are London-based photographer and video artist Oladélé Ajiboyé Bamgboyé, Brooklyn-based film installation artist Liisa Roberts and sculptor Chris Sauter from Boerne, Tex.

The Guggenheim Museum recently announced several new acquisitions that dramatically expand its photography program. The museum received as a gift the collection of 531 photographs by George Platt Lynes, valued at $1.75 million, assembled by his friend Monroe Wheeler, who was director of exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art from 1935 to 1965. Why didn't the photos go to MoMA? Perhaps the Modern has all the pictures of nude men it needs, said one wag. The Guggenheim also recently acquired through gift and purchase photos by a range of contemporary artists, including Vito Acconci, Janine Antoni, Uta Barth, James Casebere, Thomas Demand, Stan Douglas, Anna Gaskell, Andreas Gursky, Jim Hodges, Roni Horn, Bill Jacobson, Gabriel Orozco, Steven Pippin, Aura Rosenberg, Cindy Sherman and Ike Ude. The Gugg's photo collection was launched in 1992 with $5 million from the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation.

Swiss architects Jacques Herzog & Pierre de Meuron have been named architects for the new Jack S. Blanton Museum at the University of Texas at Austin. The 10,000-square-foot facility is scheduled to open in 2002. Herzog & de Meuron have designed museums in Munich, Duisberg and Aarau, Switzerland, as well as the addition to the Tate Gallery of Modern Art in London, due to open in 2000.

Skowhegan, the famed artist's retreat in Skowhegan, Me., has gone online at Interested parties can download application forms, as well as get a slide tour of the campus and info on who's teaching next summer (John Waters and Lynda Benglis are among the scheduled visiting profs).