LOUSE MACBAINS $625 MILLION MEDIA FUND
Louise T. Blouin MacBain, the Harvard Business School grad who currently owns Art + Auction magazine and who was briefly CEO of the Phillips, de Pury & Luxembourg in 2002, has recently announced plans to spend more than $625 million of enterprise value to build an international media group -- beginning with the purchase of Art Knowledge Corp., publisher of Museums magazines. Launched in 1993 by Larry Warsh and boasting total annual readership of 10 million, Museums is published in separate editions in New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington. Our philosophies meet, said Warsh, who wants to extend his franchise to Europe. Theres good energy there.
Warshs AKC also does some custom publishing for several museums and for Lincoln Center, and produces calendars to promote cultural events for families that are distributed to 8,000 schools in 11 key U.S. cities. AKC also plans to launch a new Internet site called www.museumstraveler.com to take advantage of cultural arts tourism. One of Warshs more immediate pet projects is a special guide to the big survey of Chinese photography coming up next month at Asia Society and the International Center for Photography.
LTB Holding, MacBains investment holding company, apparently plans to build on the "Art + Auction" brand to launch "Art +" publications in design, collectibles and other fields. Last month LTB acquired a fashion publication titled Spoon, and also claims to have plans to create "the art world's Bloomberg" on the internet. The push may well be on for more acquisitions -- could Modern Painters be next?
CELEBRITY RESULTS AT SOTHEBYS AMERICAN SALE
Sothebys sale of American art in New York on May 19, 2004, posted impressive -- and celebrity packed -- results, with 179 of 205 lots finding buyers, or more than 87 percent, for a total of $48,718,200 (with premium).
The top lot was John Singer Sargents small (20 x 24 in.) painting from 1885 of a bemused Robert Louis Stevenson stroking his mustache, with his wife sitting nearby, playfully draped in an Orientalist robe, which sold for $8,800,000, above its presale high estimate of $7 million, to Steve and Elaine Wynn. The painting is slated to go on view at the new Wynn Las Vegas Resort and Country Club, due to open next year. According to the press announcement, the painting is to be the centerpiece of an educational program conducted in conjunction with Las Vegas schools -- one not involving lessons on the evils of gambling, presumably.
The sale featured seven works from the estate of Mr. & Mrs. John Hay Whitney, including the Stevenson portrait and two other Sargent paintings (the top three lots in the sale), two trompe loeil works by William M. Harnett and two works by Andrew Wyeth. The collection was sold to benefit the Greentree Foundation, a nonprofit devoted to promoting world peace, and went for a total of $19,028,800. French & Company bought the sales number two lot, Sargents informal but intricate Spanish (or Venetian) Loggia (ca. 1880-82), for $5,608,000 (est. $3 million-$4 million), and Berry-Hill Galleries won Sargents charming watercolor portrait of Madame Roger-Jourdain (ca. 1883-85) reclining with her parasol on the green grass for $2,696,000 (est. $1 million-$1.5 million).
The Metropolitan Museum premieres a major new Childe Hassam retrospective in June, and Hassams placid oceanscape, Sailing on Calm Seas, Gloucester Harbor (1900), sold for $1,100,000, well above its presale high estimate of $500,000.
Three new auction records were set in the top ten alone: Severin Roesens Still Life with Flowers and Fruit (ca. 1860-69) sold for $1,576,000 (est. $500,000-$1,500,000); John F. Kensetts simple On the Coast, Beverly Shore, Massachusetts (1872) went for $988,000 (est. $700,000-$9,000,000); and Oscar Bluemners American Night-Red Glare (1929), a semi-abstract cityscape that looks like desert cliffs in the red evening light, was knocked down for $904,000 (est. $500,000-$700,000).
For complete illustrated results, see Artnets signature Fine Art Auctions Report
"LES DEMOISELLES" SPIT-CLEANED
When the Museum of Modern Art opens its renovated and expanded museum building in midtown Manhattan on Nov. 20, 2004, the centerpiece of the new installation of the permanent collection is bound to be that touchstone of modernism, Pablo Picassos 1907 Les Demoiselles dAvignon -- which is being given its first cleaning in 20 years for the occasion. According to a report by Calvin Tomkins in the current New Yorker magazine, MoMA conservator Michael Duffy removed accumulated surface dirt from the picture using cotton swabs dampened with his own spit before cleaning off the paintings protective varnish with organic solvents. When the restoration is finished, the painting should look fresh enough to be able to hold its own against MoMAs major works by Picassos lifelong rival, Henri Matisse.
MORE KRAMARSY DRAWINGS FOR MOMA
Museum of Modern Art trustee Werner H. Kramarsky has given the museum a collection of 81 drawings by contemporary artists, ranging from Carl Andre and Mel Bochner to Ed Ruscha and Tony Smith. This gift comes in addition to the 95 drawings that Kramarsky has donated to the museum since 1999. Twenty-four of the 70 artists represented in the new donation are entering the museum collection for the first time: Eve Aschheim, Brad Brown, Kenneth Capps, Anne Chu, Max Cole, Elena Del Rivero, Lee Etheredge IV, Kendra Ferguson, Cheryl Goldsleger, Teo Gonzalez, Christine Hiebert, Nancy Holt, Ann Ledy, Lee Lozano, Julia Mangold, Stefana McClure, Stephen Metts, Tatsuo Miyajima, Deborah Gottheil Nehmad, Gloria Ortiz Hernandez, Laurie Reid, Winston Roeth, Eric Saxon, Joan Waltemath.
SCOPE L.A. UNDER WAY
The second annual scopeLosAngeles art fair gets under way at Standard Hollywood hotel (8300 Sunset Boulevard) in Los Angeles, May 21-24, 2004. About 50 exhibitors are on hand, including 31 Grand (Brooklyn), Artemis/PS 742 (Miami), Bank (Los Angeles), Christopher Cutts Gallery (Toronto), Dust Gallery (Las Vegas), Galeria Jorge Alcolea (Madrid), Galerie Schuster (Frankfurt), Galerie Sphn (Berlin), Hespe Gallery (San Francisco), Jennifer Kostuik Gallery (Vancouver), Koelsch Gallery (Houston), Lisa Kurts Gallery (Memphis), Margaret Thatcher Projects (New York), Mark Moore Gallery (Santa Monica), Othergallery (Winnipeg), Rebecca Ibel Gallery (Columbus), Ricardo Reyes Arte (Mexico City), Richard Levy Gallery (Albuquerque) and Square Blue Gallery (Costa Mesa).
Tickets for the gala May 21 preview, benefiting the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, begin at $100; contact Aileen Fraser at (323) 857-6205 for info. Three panels are on tap: Did Video Kill the Art Star?, Attitudes and Art-Making: L.A. and The Art of Performance. The emerging artist grant for Scope L.A. has been awarded to Daniel Gordon, while the independent curator award has gone to Sarah Belden & Nicole Wong for their show, Pulp Figuration.
ROBERT INDIANA IN BARTLESVILLE
The new Price Tower Arts Center, located in Frank Lloyd Wrights 19-story skyscraper in tiny Bartlesville, Okla., has put itself on the map with a survey of paintings and sculpture by Pop pioneer Robert Indiana. Centerpiece of Robert Indiana 66: Paintings and Sculpture, Apr. 23-July 4, 2004, is Sixty-six, a new sculpture inspired by the artists memories of the omnipresent Midwestern oil company, Phillips 66, where Indianas father worked (and, as it happens, the major patron of the Price Tower Arts Center). The exhibition is organized by peripatetic Art Newspaper writer Adrian Dannatt.
SHORTLIST FOR 2004 TURNER PRIZE
The Tate has announced the four finalists for the 2004 Turner Prize, which comes with a cash award of 40,000 (the winner is to be announced on Dec. 6, 2004). The shortlist (and the current odds, according to British bookmakers) is Jeremy Deller (7/4), Yinka Shonibare (5/2), Kutlug Ataman (3/1) and the team of Ben Langlands and Nikki Bell. Deller is celebrated for a film installation at ArtPace in San Antonio documenting his travels in Texas. Shonibare is cited for his shows at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam and the Stephen Friedman Gallery in London. Ataman is cited for his entry in the Istanbul Biennial. And Langlands and Bell are cited for a video tour of a house in Afghanistan that is thought to have been occupied by Osama bin Laden.