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BILLION-DOLLAR DAMAGES IN AUCTION SCANDAL?|
Auction insiders are predicting that damages in the Christie's and Sotheby's price-fixing scandal could approach $1.5 billion, according to a report in the New York Times. U.S. Justice Department prosecutors hope to prove collusion between the two auction houses in 1991, which would vastly enlarge the pool of potential plaintiffs in the ongoing class-action lawsuit. It was in 1991 and '92 that the two auctioneers raised the fee charged consignors from 10 percent to 15 percent. According to the Times, prosecutors are threatening former Sotheby's chief executive Diana Brooks with stiff penalties, including prison time, for her part in the alleged scheme in order to convince her to testify against former Sotheby's chairman Alfred Taubman.
SWINGING LONDON BRIDGE CLOSES AFTER THREE DAYS
London's £18-million, 350-yard-long Millennium Bridge across the Thames, built to link the new Tate Modern with the area around St. Paul's Cathedral, was closed by engineers three days after it opened on June 10, when moderate winds set the span swaying dramatically. Co-designed by high-tech architect Norman Foster and sculptor Anthony Caro, the structure is the first footbridge across the Thames since Roman times and the first new river crossing in London for more than a century. More than 160,000 people made the trip before the bridge was closed. Officials hope that the nature of the problem will be sorted out in a matter of days.
BRITS LAUNCH ART CRITICAL FEUD
A bizarre front-page petition in the June issue of the Art Newspaper, a respected monthly published in London, has launched a trans-Atlantic art critical feud -- except the Americans seem to know nothing about it. Headlined "Join the Art Newspaper protest against critics' dogmatism," the unsigned appeal claims that the International Association for Art Critics (AICA), led by American Kim Levin, has voted to exclude anyone who does not regularly write about modern or contemporary art. "I don't know what the fuss is about," said an American critic. "AICA was founded to promote criticism of modern and contemporary art!" The Art Newspaper is convening a protest meeting on June 14, followed by a vote on the resolution to be passed on to the British branch of the association. Among the Brit art-critical big foots expected to attend are Art Newspaper editor Anna Somers Cocks and Richard Dorment, Caroline Elam, Edward Lucie-Smith, John McEwan, Bill Packer, Brian Sewell, Robin Simon, David Sylvester and John Russell Taylor.
ART INSTITUTE SETTLES LOOT DISPUTE
The Art Institute of Chicago has reached an agreement with the heirs of Federico Gentili di Giuseppe that allows the museum to keep Francesco Mochi's Bust of a Youth (ca. 1630), after it was established that the work had been auctioned by France's government during the Nazi occupation. In what the museum calls a "purchase and donation agreement," the museum announced that it will make a payment of an undisclosed amount to di Giuseppe's heirs and in turn the family will donate the sculpture to the institute. The heirs recently recovered five paintings that had been in the Louvre and one that had been at the Gemaldegalerie in Berlin, including works by Tiepolo, Bernardo Strozzi and Alessandro Magnasco; four of the five Louvre pieces pieces sold for $3.7 million at Christie's auction in New York last Jan., the Chicago Tribune reports.
BAILEY TO FRICK
National Gallery of Canada deputy director and chief curator Colin B. Bailey has been named chief curator at the Frick Collection in New York. He succeeds Edgar Munhall, who has retired. Bailey had previously been a curator at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Tex., and scored high marks in Canada despite initial criticism that he was not familiar with Canadian art.
HILLARY AND BARBARA FACE OFF!
Performance-art mavens are flocking to see artist Linda Montano as Hillary Rodham Clinton and Franklin Furnace founder Martha Wilson as Barbara Bush in a face-off for the benefit of the Pauline Oliveros Foundation, tonight, June 13, at the Knitting Factory in Tribeca, starting at 8 p.m. Wilson is famous for her Bush performances; Montano is perhaps most notorious for spending a year roped to a Chinese artist, though the quality of her imitation of Senate candidate Clinton remains to be seen. Other performers scheduled include Barbara Barg, David Gamper, Ione, Norman Lowrey, Joe McPhee, Straylight, Stephen Vitiello and Lorah Yaccarino, as well as the New Circle Quintet, featuring Oliveros on accordion.
RALLY TO SUPPORT MOMA STRIKERS
The Museum of Modern Art's striking Professional and Staff Association of the Museum of Modern Art employees are holding a rally June 14, 6-9 p.m. dressed in formal wear, in front of the museum to coincide with the museum's scheduled $1,000 plate fundraiser. The museum's professional staff has been on strike since Apr. 28. At issue are what PASTA-MOMA calls healthcare givebacks, blatant union-busting, job security and substandard wages that start at $17,000 a year for full-time work. For more information call (520) 621-7968.
SALON SCREENINGS AT THE FOSSIL LOUNGE
MWF Video Club presents Salon Screenings at The Fossil Lounge every Friday this summer, from 6-9 p.m., at the Scott Pfaffman Gallery for Photography and Fine Art at 35 East First Street on the Lower East Side. Hosted by Dorjkhandyn Tumunkh, the June 16 installment features videos by @rtmark, Colab, Saeri Kiritani, Pam Payne, Sophie VDT, Franz Vila and Howard Weinberg and Nam June Paik, as well as performances by Michael Carte, Mitch Corber and Alan Moore and music by Terry Mohre. Established in 1986 as a project of the New York-based artists' organization Colab, MWF represents some 100 artists and independents in video editions for sale; contact Leonard Abrams for more information at (718) 599-5285.
JACOB LAWRENCE, 1917-2000
Jacob Lawrence, 82, leading African-American Modernist painter whose "Migration" series (1940-1941) is shared between the Museum of Modern Art and the Phillips Collection in Washington, died at his home in Seattle on June 9.
GEORGE SEGAL, 1924-2000
George Segal, 75, Pop artist celebrated for his life-size plaster sculptures of individuals in iconic American settings, died of cancer on June 9 at his home in South Brunswick, N.J. He received the National Medal of the Arts from President Clinton in 1999.
-- compiled by Giovanni Garcia-Fenech