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Artnet News

Sotheby's New York scored a $54-million total with last night's sale of 20th-century art from the collection of lumber heir Stanley J. Seeger. Of the 62 works offered, 59 -- or 95 percent -- sold; the $54 million total is well above the auction house's $32 million high estimate. New auction records were set for works by Francis Bacon ($8,585,750), Max Beckmann ($3,855,750) and Hans Hofmann ($797,750). Joan Miró's Nocturne also sold for $5,615,750, setting a record for a work on paper by the artist. Other top lots included the 1959 collage of oil and encaustic on paper, Colored Alphabet, by Jasper Johns, which sold for $3,745,750, well above its presale estimate of $2,000,000-$3,000,000. For complete illustrated results of last night's sale, go to's unique "hot auctions" page at

The stock market as a whole may be fighting off the bears, but they seem to have their teeth firmly set into Sotheby's stock. Currently trading at $18 and change, the price is near the stock's one-year low of $15.75, and well off the one-year top of $28.25. Sotheby's stock traded as high as $47 back in April of 1999.

Last night's $54-million auction of the Seeger collection goosed the stock price up a meager cent or so. But Sotheby's has several more important sales looming, with the second half of Seeger's collection going on the block today, and a mixed-owner sale of Impressionist and modern art due to sell Thursday night. And then there's the contemporary and Latin American sales in coming weeks.

Meanwhile, according to Kathryn Kranhold in the Wall Street Journal, Sotheby's beleaguered ex-chairman and controlling stockholder, A. Alfred Taubman, is thought to be unlikely to sell the company until after his trial on charges that he colluded with Christie's in an international price-fixing scheme. Taubman's 13.2 million shares are now worth about $240 million, and he has hired Credit Suisse First Boston to explore his options. Kranhold reported that Taubman is unlikely to sell his stake at present, in part because Sotheby's has to stand behind him publicly as long as he controls the company. And presumably, with the company itself having put the worst of the price-fixing case behind it, the stock has nowhere to go but up. Taubman, who has vowed to fight the case "tooth and nail," won't go to trial for several months. Stay tuned.

The 87-year-old art collector and former dealer Heinz Berggruen, who sold five of the seven works offered from his collection at Phillips on May 7 for a total of almost $65 million at the hammer, has said the sale is designed to provide for his second wife Bettina and his four children (two from each of two marriages). Speculative reports say that Phillips may have guaranteed him much more for all seven works, between $120 million and $150 million. Additionally, the city of Berlin has paid him about $115 million for an exquisite collection of works by Picasso, Klee and other modernists, currently housed in a namesake museum across the road from the Charlottenburg Palace there. Although these are only the public aspects of his finances, Berggruen certainly seems to be an exceptional provider as well as a dealer with a good eye.

The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis may close for as much as a year as part of its planned $90 million expansion, according to a report in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The Walker is slated to begin construction on a 110,000-square-foot annex to the south of its present facility in 2003. Closing the museum is not expected to have a dramatic effect on the Walker's finances -- gallery admissions account for only about $150,000 of a multimillion-dollar operating budget. The Walker's construction plans also call for a 350-seat performance space, a restaurant and the demolition of the nearby Guthrie Theater building for an underground parking garage and extension of the museum's famed sculpture garden.

After 10 years as one of the livelier sites for avant-garde expermentation in SoHo, the alternative art gallery Thread Waxing Space is slated to close at the end of its current show, a victim of rising rents and declining government arts support. Among its venturesome exhibitions have been Bill Arning's "Achieving Failure: Gym Culture" in 2000; a 1998 show of works by the late Fluxus great Al Hanson with his grandson, the rock star Beck; its 1997 show of "European Comics: Another Image," and "Beyond Ars Medica: Treasures of the Mutter Museum" in 1995. The final Thread Waxing exhibition, on view till June 9, 2001, is an astonishing installation by Israeli artist Sigalit Landau that includes a giant cotton candy machine designed to wrap the artist and other performers in candy cocoons. The artist is on site (at 476 Broadway) every day till the end of the show. Word is that once the art ends, the space is to be converted to a luxury living loft.

Actress Jane Seymour, whose role on the television series Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman won her a cult following, is now making a splash as a painter with selection of works on view at Holt Renfrew department store in Toronto. The exhibition is part of the store's "Blossom Gala" benefit for the Hospital for Sick Children. Seymour, who says she started painting 10 years ago at the encouragement of Japanese flower painter Hiro Yamagata, has sold works to Johnny Cash and Leeza Gibbons. Most of the watercolors in her current show portray flowers and children, according to Canada's National Post, and are priced at as much as $19,000. The German designer Escada has also turned one of Seymour's floral paintings into a silk scarf, with proceeds going to charity.

A portrait by Rembrandt van Rijn is on view for the first time in the U.S. as part of a project by artist Ken Aptekar at Pamela Auchincloss Project Space at 601 West 26th Street in New York's Chelsea District, May 9-20, 2001. Rembrandt's Man with a Sword (1644-46), borrowed from an unnamed European collector, is on view along with three "companion portraits" by Aptekar in a "collaborative project" designed to revive the Old Master as a contemporary artist. The show features an accompanying catalogue with an essay titled Paintings 'R' Us by Amsterdam professor and culture critic Mieke Bal (author of Rembrandt: Beyond the Word-Image Opposition). All the works are for sale; for more info, contact the gallery at A survey of Aptekar's work, "Ken Aptekar 1990-2000: Painting between the Lines," opens at the Kemper Museum in Kansas City next September.