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Artnet News

The latest update two-year anti-trust saga involving Christie's and Sotheby's comes today in a front page story by New York Times reporters Carol Vogel and Ralph Blumenthal, in which the intrepid Timesers report on a group of handwritten memos that seem to outline the covert agreements between the two auction houses. The documents suggest that the auctioneers arranged to discontinue some of their more competitive business practices, such as making low-interest loans to clients or making donations to their client's charities, poaching each other's employees and clients, bragging about their business successes to the press, and slandering each other in public.

The Times also reports that Sotheby's former president and chief executive Diana D. Brooks is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 19, 2001, while former chairman A. Alfred Taubman will probably go to trial in October.

The Barnes Foundation in Merion, Pa., apparently has a collection of "hundreds" of Greek and Roman artifacts, decorative artworks and modernist paintings that have been in storage since the death of founder Albert C. Barnes in 1951. Barnes chief Kimberly Camp hopes to raise $500,000 or more for the fiscally straitened institution by touring the works to other institutions. Incredibly, the provision of Barnes' will that insisted that "all the paintings shall remain in exactly the places they are" has been interpreted to keep these missing artworks from public view for 50 years, an absurdity recently overturned by a ruling from the local court that oversees the Barnes indenture. Apparently the collection includes works by early American modernists like Charles Demuth, William Glackens, Alfred Henry Maurer and Maurice Prendergast, School of Paris artists like Jules Pascin and Chaim Soutine, and even works by Gustave Courbet and Giorgio de Chirico. The Barnes raised $17 million in the 1990s through a celebrated tour of the foundation's collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings.

The Public Art Fund is installing three massive bronze spiders by Louise Bourgeois at Rockefeller Center on June 21, 2001. The 30-foot tall central work, titled Maman, was one of the debut exhibitions last year at the Tate Modern in London. The two smaller flanking works, both titled Spider, are from 1996. Rock Center is owned by Tishman Speyer Properties, whose president is Jerry I. Speyer, a major art collector.

The Nevada Museum of Art in Reno is trading in its current overcrowded facility for a new $14.5-million model, according to a report in the Reno Gazette-Journal. The four-level, 55,000-square-foot complex, designed Arizona architect Will Bruder in black slate and glass to resemble "a piece of geology" in the Black Rock Desert, is slated to open March 2003. The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation has kicked in $10.5 million towards the project and several other donors have given $1 million or more; the museum hopes to raise a total of $22 million to cover operation and maintenance.

The New-York Historical Society appointed Columbia University history prof Kenneth T. Jackson as its new president. He succeeds Betsy Gotbaum, who has held the post for seven years and is now running for New York City Public Advocate.