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Superdealer Larry Gagosian, who presently operates galleries in SoHo, on Madison Avenue and in Los Angeles, is planning to launch a space in London's fancy Cork Street area (as opposed to the more avant-garde East End). Molly Dent-Brocklehurst is manning the new office on Berkeley Square while the search for a proper exhibition space is under way, a process that is expected to take six months. "Larry believes London is the New York of Europe," said a gallery staffer. Gagosian represents top British artists like Damien Hirst, Dinos and Jake Chapman, Marc Quinn and Jenny Saville in New York, and it makes sense to have a London base. Many Gagosian artists show with other London dealers -- Cecily Brown at Victoria Miro, Ellen Gallagher at d'Offay -- and certainly any conflicts will be amicably resolved. The dapper art don is riding high after winning the "L.A. gallery war," as the New York Post referred to the closing of the Left Coast branch of competitor PaceWildenstein. Gogo is also expected to branch out to Chelsea, where he is said to be negotiating for the largest space yet on the 24th Street strip, home to "MGM" (Metro Pictures, Barbara Gladstone and Matthew Marks) and Andrea Rosen and Luhring Augustine.

London ad man and art patron Charles Saatchi is launching a chain of restaurants named Sensation after the controversial exhibition of New British Art from his collection that the Royal Academy mounted in London two years ago. "Don't worry -- there won't be anything to disturb your appetite," cautioned restaurateur Chris Bodker, half-partner with Saatchi in the scheme. "Sensation" included artist Marc Quinn's self-portrait bust of frozen blood, a portrait of Moors murderer Myra Hindley made from children's handprints and Damien Hirst's famous shark in formaldehyde. The first restaurant is expected to open in London's West End in 12 months. In the meantime, "Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection" opens at the Brooklyn Museum on Oct. 2, 1999.

The Armory Show 2000, the latest installment of the hip, cutting-edge New York art fair that began five years ago as the Gramercy Art Fair and morphed last year into the Armory Show, is scheduled for Feb. 25-28, 2000, at the New North Pavilion at 39th and 11th Avenue -- otherwise known as the Jacob Javits Convention Center. Everyone agrees that last year's brainstorm of scheduling the downtown fair to coincide with the tony Art Show mounted uptown by the Art Dealers Association of America was a great success. Unfortunately, the Lexington Avenue venue has a previous engagement for 2000. The cost at the Javits location, out of the way for everyone except Chelsea galleries, is rising some -- booth rental fees range from $5,200 to $18,000. "It's expensive but worth it," said one downtown dealer, who noted that the cost of a booth at the ADAA fair begins at $18,000.

Freelance art critic and curator Brian Wallis has been named director of exhibitions at the International Center for Photography, which operates two exhibition spaces in Manhattan. Wallis has been a curator at the New Museum, where he organized several of that institution's most influential shows of the early '80s, and was also an editor at Art in America magazine. He has edited several books, including Art after Modernism: Rethinking Representation (1984) and Blasted Allegories: An Anthology of Writing by Contemporary Artists (1987).

A very contemporary statue of Christ by Young British Artist Mark Wallinger has gone up on a plinth next to Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square in London. Cast of marble dust and resin, the sculpture shows Christ as clean-shaven, muscular and crowned with gold barbed wire. Most religious authorities in England seem to have been pleasantly surprised at Wallinger's decision to portray the humbled Jesus in a relatively conventional way, considering the artist earned his fame by buying a horse and calling it A Real Work of Art.

The plinth has been empty for 150 years, and now is to hold a series of three contemporary works. The two other works to follow are Phil Woodrow's giant bronze Regardless of History and Rachel Whiteread's upside-down cast of the plinth. Some failed ideas for the prime position included a sculpture of Lady Thatcher in a tank and a 24-foot-tall pigeon. A committee chaired by Sir John Mortimer will decide which statue will be placed permanently in the square to be enjoyed by visitors and pigeons alike.

Prince Charles, long famous for his informal role as arbiter of British architecture, will sit on a panel to choose the design of a $3-million, 50-foot-wide Hyde Park memorial to be dedicated to Indian and Afro-Caribbean soldiers who fought for Britain in two world wars. The new memorial is to feature three gates that will stretch across Constitution Hill in view of Buckingham Palace. The Prince of Wales is expected to protect the design from the vulgarity that critics said characterized the Queen Elizabeth Gate six years ago.

A Florentine auctioneer claims that a painting that will be exhibited at London's Royal Academy in September at a Van Dyck exhibition is misidentified, according to a report in the Guardian. Van Dyck's The Continence of Scipio is owned by Christ Church College, Oxford. However, Angiolo Magnelli thinks that he has the real version, and that the Christ Church painting is by Rubens and depicts Alexander the Great rejecting the hand of King Darius's daughter. He says he bought the Scipio painting at a London art gallery and has studied the two paintings since then for 29 years. If Magnelli is right the painting would increase in value. British experts do not doubt that the work is a Van Dyck but Italian critics side with Magnelli.

An $8-million Impressionist painting by Camille Pissarro has turned up in the collection of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, according to a report in today's London Guardian. Pissarro's Boulevard Montmartre, Spring (1897) was owned by collector Max Silberberg until 1935, when the Nazis forced its sale in one of the notorious "Jewish auctions." Silberberg died in the concentration camps, but his son Alfred and daughter-in-law Gerta fled Germany in 1939. The Pissarro work, which was donated to the Israel Museum two years ago, had a series of Jewish owners after the war. A representative of the Pissarro family said that they hoped Mrs. Silberberg would donate the picture to the museum so it can remain on public view. Silberberg recently has received the return of a van Gogh drawing that had been in the National Gallery of the former East Berlin.

The Cleveland Museum of Art has announced the acquisition of Frans Hals' portrait of the wealthy merchant Tieleman Roosterman (1634). "It is now our most important Dutch picture," said CMA chief curator Diane De Grazia. London art dealer Clovis Whitfield bought the painting on the museum's behalf for $12.8 million at the Rothschild sale at Christie's London on July 9. The funds came from the CMA Leonard C. Hanna Jr., Fund, established in 1958 for important acquisitions; the purchase is the most CMA has paid at auction for a work of art. The painting was confiscated by the Third Reich during World War II and exhibited in Austrian state museums until earlier this year, when the Austrian government returned it to the Rothschild family.

The Museum of Modern Art has installed nine "smart" cars in its garden, exemplifying the future of environmentally friendly design. Across the pond at the Royal College of Art they get nine luxury cars, including an Aston Martin sports car. RCA rector Christopher Frayling bragged that all four members of the team that designed the Hyundai were RCA grads. The show opens July 29.

Rare platinum photos by Turkish-American artist Burhan Dogancay from his book Bridge of Dreams are to be exhibited at Radio House Gallery when the book is released this fall. The Hudson Hills Press publication is a photo-documentary of the centennial restoration of the Brooklyn Bridge. The photos will also be on exhibition at the JFK airport through fall 1999.