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MORE PRICE-FIXING FALLOUT|
In order to avoid jail time in the U.S. government investigation of the auction price-fixing scandal, Sotheby's former chairman Alfred Taubman and former Sotheby's CEO Diana Brooks may have to pay (along with the auction house itself) fines totaling as much as $10 million-$40 million, reports the New York Post. Taubman has already agreed to pay $156 million towards settling civil lawsuits in the case, plus another $30 million to resolve a shareholder suit contending that the scandal has depressed the house's stock; he is reportedly considering selling his controling block of 13.2 million Sotheby's shares to raise funds for the deal. Brooks, who owns about 1.3 million shares, is not contributing to the settlement but could be tapped for criminal fines.
Christie's has been spared a similar fate thanks to the immunity it secured when CEO Christopher Davidge blew the whistle on the price-fixing allegations at the beginning of the year, but questions remain on how it will be able to finance the settlement payments. The auctioneers say the expense "will have no impact on our operations," but in the three years before it went private, Christie's reported pretax profits of little more than half its $256 million share of the settlement, according to the New York Times.
MGM MIRAGE TO SELL FOUR MORE BELLAGIO PAINTINGS
MGM Mirage has announced plans to sell four of the remaining paintings in the Bellagio Collection to reduce the company's debt. The works, two by Modigliani, one by Morisot and one by Renoir, will be up for bid at Sotheby's Nov. 9 Impressionist auction in New York and are expected to fetch $6 million. The paintings are part of $66 million in new sales of non-strategic assets to cover the debt incurred when MGM bought Mirage Resorts for $4.4 billion in May. The gambling resort sold 11 paintings from the collection earlier this year for a total of approximately $124 million.
MORE REVELATIONS IN TERRA MUSEUM FLAP
More details have emerged in the mismanagement lawsuit filed by two Terra Museum of American Art board members alleging that Judith Terra, widow of founder Dan Terra, and Terra Foundation president Paul Hayes Tucker are conspiring to move the museum from its home in Chicago to Washington D.C., reports the Chicago Tribune. According to court records, Tucker advocated relocating the foundation to the American Pharmaceutical Building on the Mall in Washington and proposed a strategic partnership with the National Gallery to move the museum. The suit also claims Judith Terra wants to move the foundation to "obtain a prominent place in social circles" in the nation's capital, where she resides. Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan's office has joined the case and is seeking the removal of Terra, Tucker and former U.S. Senator Alan K. Simpson as directors of the foundation, as well as the appointment of a receiver to conduct an accounting of the foundation's assets. A Cook County Judge has issued a temporary emergency order barring the museum board from closing the building, removing most of its artworks out of the state or ousting any members until Oct. 12. Lawyers for the board call the lawsuit "frivolous."
WHITNEY OUSTS TSAI
The Whitney Museum's associate director of curatorial affairs Eugenie Tsai has been discharged. A spokesperson for the museum says Tsai's position had become administrative instead of curatorial and was eliminated due to the restructuring that has been going on for the past one and a half years, adding that she had not curated shows since Lee Mingwei's "Way Stations" in May of 1999. Sources claim Tsai's job had been basically been made redundant with the hiring of Marla Prather as post-war art curator. The Whitney says that it is still in negotiatons regarding Tsai's projected Robert Smithson restrospective, originally scheduled for 2003. Tsai, who was appointed senior curator in the fall of 1998, tells Artnet Magazine she is not yet at liberty to comment on the developments.
MOMA OPENS FIRST INSTALLMENT OF "OPEN ENDS"
Today marks the opening of the Museum of Modern Art's second-floor as part of "Open Ends," the third and final installment of "MoMA 2000," the museum's reinstallation of its permanent collection. The floor is comprised of five thematic exhibitions covering the museum's holdings of art made since 1960. The show, organized by curators Kirk Varnedoe and Paola Antonelli with assistant curator Joshua Siegel, will feature a total of 11 exhibitions, including installations of Cindy Sherman's Untitled Film Stills (1977-1980), Gerhard Richter's October 18, 1977 (1989) and James Rosenquist's monumental F-111 (1965).
JENNY HOLZER'S BMW SET TO RACE
LED artist Jenny Holzer's BMW Art Car is set to finally make its racing debut in the Petit Le Mans race at the Road Atlanta Motor Sports Center on Sept. 30. The Art Car had originally been slated to enter the race at the Le Mans in France on June of last year, but art fans had to settle with an honorary lap around the renowned French course after BMW entered two other cars instead. The customized BMW V12 LMR racing sportscar is festooned with several of Holzer's trademark statements: "Protect me from what I want" is done in large pinstripe-edged reflective letters on the top of the car, while "You are so complex you don't respond to danger" runs down the side of the racer and "Lack of charisma can be fatal" is on the air foil. Holzer even provided a slogan for the driver's helmet.
NEW DIRECTOR FOR THE WADSWORTH ATHENEUM
Cleveland Museum of Art deputy director Kate M. Sellers has been appointed director of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. Sellers succeeds Peter C. Sutton, who left the Hartford museum after a six-month sabbatical at the end of 1999 in a move widely seen as an ouster. Interim director Elizabeth Mankin Kornhauser remains as deputy director and chief curator.
VAGUE CAMPAIGN FOR HIGH MUSEUM
The Woodruff Arts Center board in Georgia has given the thumbs-up to the High Museum in Atlanta to begin what might be the largest nonacademic fund-raising campaign in the state's history, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The campaign has yet to name a goal, but it has already raised over $60 million in its aims for more than $100 million to expand the museum, increase its endowment and enhance its acquisitions. Museum officials are also close to signing an agreement with architect Renzo Piano to design the High's expansion.
-- compiled by Giovanni Garcia-Fenech