Students of the decade-long controversies that have dogged the Barnes Foundation in Merion, Pa., can follow a new courtroom drama involving the world-renowned collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterworks established by Albert C. Barnes in 1927. A $5-million lawsuit filed in Pennsylvania state court by former Lincoln University president Niara Sudarkasa accuses former Barnes Foundation president Richard Glanton of smearing her reputation and engineering her 1998 ouster at Lincoln; Glanton himself was shown the door at both the Barnes and Lincoln, where he was trustee, in 1997.
According to a report on Law.com, the trial, which is slated to begin July 9, 2001, promises "to air a wealth of dirty laundry." In court filings, Sudarkasa's lawyer implies that Glanton used the Barnes as "his own private slush fund and patronage haven, doling out millions of dollars in consulting, printing and legal contracts." The suit also suggests that Glanton's law firm, Reed Smith, sponsored the famed fundraising tour of Barnes art for "rainmaking" purposes. Reed Smith did sponsor the tour, but says it "never got any business out of the Barnes." Stay tuned.
EUROPE SETS RESALE ROYALTIES FOR ARTISTS
Despite fervid resistance from Britain, the European Union seems to have finally succeeded in imposing artists' resale royalties on all its member states. On July 3, the EU adopted a rule stating that artists may collect four percent of the profits on the resale of their original artworks for prices between $2,540 and $42,340, a royalty that can be collected by their heirs as well for up to 70 years after the artist's death. Of the 15 EU governments, only Austria, Britain, Ireland and the Netherlands don't already have some form of droit de suite.
The new rule, which British art dealers say will drive the art business to New York and elsewhere, has a four-year implementation period for living artists and six years for deceased artists. In a curious twist, a London-based anti-resale royalties group, Artists against Droit de Suite, is arguing that the rule "creates a shameful inequality between famous artists on the one hand and struggling artists on the other." Its members include Karel Appel, David Hockney and Emma Sergeant.
PHILLIPS, BONHAMS MERGE MIDMARKET SALES
The auction business continues to evolve, as Phillips has agreed to shed its midmarket operations in Britain as part of a merger with Bonhams & Brooks. Bonhams and its chairman, Robert Brooks, continue to manage and hold the controlling interest in the new firm, which will operate under the Bonhams name. Phillips is to hold a minority 49.9 percent of the new business. The deal doesn't effect the New York and Geneva operations of Phillips, De Pury & Luxembourg, the high-profile auction house launched two years ago by Bernard Arnault, head of the French luxury-brand conglomerate LVMH. No cash changes hands in the deal, which can be seen as a continuation of Phillips' strategy of striving to create an upmarket boutique house in the lucrative auction business. Bonhams, established in 1793, currently has sales totaling about £75 million annually.
BROOKLYN ONLINE Bkyn.com, a new ezine dedicated to the hot Brooklyn art scene, has been launched by artists Paul Laster, who is the journal's editor, and Susan Cook, who is the designer. The premiere post features a jazzy lineup of features, ranging from poetry and prose to streaming audio and video, along with links to hip art websites and jpgs of people at art openings.
GETTY STREAMLINES PUBLISHING OPERATION
The Getty Trust has consolidated its three publishing imprints -- Getty Museum Publications, Getty Research Institute and Getty Conservation Institute -- into a single entity, Getty Publications, under the direction of publisher Christopher Hudson. Last year, the Getty published 40 new titles, 80 percent of them museum publications. Hudson told Publisher's Weekly that he hopes to "even out the number of titles from each imprint."