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CHRISTIE'S: WE TALKED FEES WITH SOTHEBY'S|
In the latest revelation to emerge from the auction price-fixing scandal, Christie's has admitted that its senior executives talked about the buyers' premium with their opposite numbers at Sotheby's, according to the London Telegraph. Christie's denies colluding on fees, but admits that former chairman Anthony Tennant and former chief executive Christopher Davidge did discuss the subject with Sotheby's chairman Alfred Taubman and his right-hand, Diana Brooks. More secrets could come to light in the civil lawsuit by consignors against the auctioneers if U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan, who is presiding over the case, forces the Justice Department to share the evidence it has collected for the criminal investigation.
ART GAMBLES IN VEGAS
Las Vegas casino giant MGM Mirage has asked the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., to provide the first of a rotating series of exhibitions for the former Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art. The show is tentatively titled "Masterworks from the Phillips Collection" and is to include works by Cézanne, Degas, Monet and Picasso. Presumably the Phillips is receiving a fee for the favor, though the museum wouldn't specify an amount. Meanwhile, the Guggenheim Museum is still working on plans to mount exhibitions in a new 35,000-square-foot gallery to be designed by avant-garde architect Rem Koolhaus at the Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino. Not everyone is excited about the marriage of nonprofit museums and commercial resorts. "All of this is based on the presumption that art is a spectator sport, like a tractor pull," art critic Dave Hickey told the Los Angeles Times. "You're not in the museum business anymore. You're a carnival."
EBAY SCALES DOWN BUTTERFIELDS
Online auction giant eBay is converting its Butterfields' Chicago gallery into office space and laying off two-thirds of the gallery's staff, according to Forbes.com. In an effort to target high-end collectors, eBay bought the number four U.S. auction house last year for $260 million and launched a new "Great Collections" website. Some observers wonder whether the plan is working, citing the layoffs and the departure after less than a year of Kathleen Guzman, senior director of business development for Great Collections and head of the New York office. EBay says that the consolidation is just a matter of efficiency, as the Chicago merchandise has been mostly ending up in San Francisco. EBay is also leaving the New York market, according to the Wall Street Journal.
HIGH PRICE FOR DIRTY BED
English power-collector Charles Saatchi has paid £150,000 to buy Tracey Emin's notorious My Bed (1998), an installation of the artist's actual bed, complete with soiled sheets, empty vodka bottles and a used condom. The former advertising mogul beat out London's Tate Gallery, which had been in negotiations to buy the piece after it was shortlisted for last year's Turner Prize. The work will be featured in the "Ant Noises 2" exhibition scheduled for this fall at the Saatchi Gallery in London.
IRREPLACEABLE ARTIFACTS DESTROYED
A wall and two floors collapsed at the pioneering architectural salvage shop Irreplaceable Artifacts in the East Village on July 13, forcing the evacuation of three neighboring buildings and leading to the loss of most of the store's inventory. The accident occurred when a construction crew was making alterations to the structure, allegedly in defiance of an order from the Buildings Department to stop work. City officials had the four-story 1865 building destroyed, along with the contents of the store, a collection supposedly worth millions that included $50,000 Tiffany windows and a walnut ceiling from William Randolph Hearst's collection. Also believed lost in the collapse: Stripey and Pounces, two pet cats.
Artists often rely on the support of their families to get by, but Los Angeles performance artist China Adams has taken it to new heights in "Blood Consumption," her current installation at the Ace Gallery Los Angeles, July 15-Sept. 2. The work includes portraits of nine of the artist's loved ones who gave her a supply of their blood, on which she subsisted on for nine consecutive days. Adams has been pilloried in the past for selling her bones as religious relics, to be "accessed" by purchasers after her death, and for frying and eating part of a woman's leg.
WOLLASTON AWARD 2000
Britain's Royal Academy has announced the shortlist of artists for the £25,000 Wollaston Award, awarded to honor the most distinguished work in its popular "Summer Exhibition." Candidates are Basil Beattie, Georgia Hayes, Gerard Hemsworth, Harry Holland, Brian McCann, Frank Stella, Madelein Strindberg and Anthony Whishaw. Judges include Tate Liverpool director Lewis Biggs, painter Patrick Caulfield, singer Bryan Ferry, psych professor and author Richard Gregory and Wallsall New Art Gallery director Peter Jenkinson. Previous winners include Barry Flanagan, David Hockney and R.B. Kitaj.
CHANGES AT HOUSTON CAM
The Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston has promoted curator Lynn M. Herbert to senior curator and assistant curator Paola Morsiani to associate curator, and has appointed of Valerie Cassel as associate curator. Cassel, currently the director of the visiting artists programs at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, served as one of the six curators for this year's Whitney Biennial.
ACA GALLERIES TO CHELSEA
ACA Galleries is leaving the Fuller Building on East 57th Street after 13 years and moving to 529 West 20th Street in Chelsea. The new, larger location will open in September with a group show featuring Benny Andrews, Peter Blume, Aaron Bohrod, Earl Henry Brewster, C.K. Chatterton, Joseph Cornell, Alan Davie, Gary Erbe, Jimmy Ernst, Sidney Goodman, William Gropper, Grace Hartigan, Luis Jimenez, Wendy Mark, Richard Mayhew, George McNeil, Faith Ringgold, Jon Schueler, Moses Soyer and Abraham Joel Tobias, among others. The gallery will be open in August by appointment only.
GROOMS AT SHELLY'S
Shelly's New York, a new restaurant in the heart of the 57th Street gallery district, has unveiled new murals by Red Grooms titled Food, Fun and Sensuality. The faux-naïve artist created an eleven-by-five-foot cyclorama as a centerpiece and four smaller, accompanying works for the recently opened bistro, which is located at 104 West 57th Street in an historic 1938 Art Deco building.
-- compiled by Giovanni Garcia-Fenech