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HAIDER ORDERS NAZI ART REMOVED FROM PARLIAMENT|
Austrian political firebrand Jörg Haider, governor of Carinthia and unofficial leader of Austria's far-right Freedom Party, has ordered the removal of a number of Nazi-themed frescoes by Switbert Lobisser from Klagenfurt's parliament chamber, reports the London Guardian. The murals depicting flag-waving Nazis were commissioned by the National Socialist party after Germany's annexation of Austria in 1938 and were whitewashed by the new government in 1948. They were rediscovered and restored in the 1970s and have been kept behind ventilated wood panels since. Haider has ordered that the works be transferred to a Carinthian museum and his party has called the move proof that the politician, who has stirred controversy in the past for praising Hitler and applauding SS veterans, has no sympathies with the Nazi party.
CONVICTED DEALER TO THE STARS WRITES TELL-ALL
Former art dealer to the stars Tod Michael Volpe has been released from federal prison and is shopping around a book detailing the "charades of the contemporary art market," reports Variety. Volpe was sentenced to 28 months in prison in 1997 and ordered to pay nearly $2 million in restitution for stealing the proceeds from the sale of art works he took on consignment from Hollywood big-shots such as David Geffen, Penny Marshall, Demi Moore, Jack Nicholson, Barbra Streisand and Bruce Willis. The book, Eye of the Fox: Glitz, Glamour and Corruption in the Art World and in Hollywood, promises to show how the art market "flourishes with wildly inflated prices, under-the-table trading, price rigging and false bids."
DEALERS CHEAT ON SOTHEBY'S ONLINE CONTRACT
Art dealers who signed contracts agreeing to sell their art exclusively on Sotheby's online auction sites have been selling works elsewhere on the Web, reports Ken Bensinger in the Wall Street Journal. Back when Sotheby's was signing up charter members for its internet art operation, dealers were required to forgo other web auctions in return for not paying sales commissions at Sothebys.com. According to Bensinger, many savvy Sotheby's art wranglers have been selling on sites like eBay using pseudonyms. Though the auction house admits it's had reports of dealers selling on other sites, it points out that the contract allows such sales as long as they are under $300.
HOUSTON'S MFA ACQUIRES ITALIAN PHOTO COLLECTION
The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Tex., has acquired a group of 18 photographs by leading Italian photographers of the 1940s and '50s, forming a new collection. The purchase of 11 of these works was made with funds provided by the family of Carla and Lorenzo Borlenghi, which prompted the museum's purchase of an additional seven photographs to complement the 32 Italian photographs already in the museum's vaults. Among the artists represented are Giuseppe Bruno and Carlo Mantovani of Venice's La Gondola group, Mario Finazzi, founder of the group La Bussola, paparazzo Tazio Secchiaroli (on whom the lead character in Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita was based) and a number of Neo-realists such as Mario Carrieri, Cesare Colombo and Mario De Biasi.
ELIZABETH BROWN TO HENRY ART GALLERY
Elizabeth A. Brown has been named chief curator of the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington. Brown had previously been chief curator for the University Art Museum at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she organized a number of exhibitions, including "Stream of Consciousness: 8 LA Artists" (1996) and a project by Kenji Yanobe (2000).
FOREST MOVES TO ICA
At the last moment, Amtrak has sidetracked a giant public artwork planned for the 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. Joseph Bartscherer's Forest, a series of huge, vertical photographs of deep woods, was commissioned by the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania, but at the last moment Amtrak decided to use the display space for commercial advertising banners instead. The ICA has installed the work in the museum as part of its "Wall Power" exhibition, which opened May 12 and runs through Aug. 4.
BELLE ÉPOQUE AUCTION HIGHLIGHTS AT WILLIAM DOYLE
Contentment (1880), a painting by Henry T. Cariss (1840-1903), somersaulted over its $5,000-$7,000 estimate at the June 7 Belle Époque auctions at William Doyle Galleries to fetch a whopping $32,200, a record for the relatively unknown fin de siècle artist. Another highlight of the sale was the sale of seven oak dining chairs, ca. 1910, by American Arts and Crafts Movement furniture-maker Gustav Stickley (1858-1942), which brought $24,150, well over the $6,000-$9,000 presale estimate.
LOUIS FINKELSTEIN, 1923-2000
Louis Finkelstein, 77, painter, educator and critic, died June 20 at a Manhattan hospice. Finkelstein wrote for ARTnews and taught for many years at the City University of New York.
TOM MILLER, 1945-2000
Tom Miller, 54, artist known for the brightly painted furniture in a style he called "Afro-Deco," died June 23 at Joseph Richly Hospice in Baltimore after a long illness. Miller's work was exhibited at the American Craft Museum and the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery, and his furniture and screenprints were the subject of a major retrospective at the Baltimore Museum of Art in 1995.
-- compiled by Giovanni Garcia-Fenech