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Artnet News

Christian Haye, the New York-based art dealer who runs galleries in Manhattan and Los Angeles under the name The Project, has been hit with a judgment in excess of $1.7 million in the closely watched lawsuit brought by collector Jean-Pierre Lehmann [see "Artnet News," Jan. 18, 2005]. In his ruling, New York Supreme Court Judge Ira Gammerman accepted Lehmann's testimony that he would have bought eight works by artist Julie Mehretu had Haye honored their agreement, in which Lehmann gave the gallery $75,000 in return for first choice of works shown there. The judge also accepted the higher valuations put on the works by Lehmann's expert (who used the Artnet auction database in her calculations). The daunting monetary award was calculated by combining the difference between the actual sales prices of the eight works (sold to other clients, of course) and their estimated current value.

What now? Outside the courtroom on Mar. 2, 2005, Lehmann expressed regret that the dispute had reached such a pass. "We tried to settle, many times," he said. As for Haye, he answered the query with a resigned shrug. If he decides to appeal the decision, he must post a bond equivalent to the judgment. If he cannot come up with the money, there's always bankruptcy -- a route art dealers have occasionally been known to take.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude's epic art project, The Gates, Central Park, New York City, 1979-2005, brought over 4,000,000 visitors to the city and generated an estimated $254 million in economic activity, according to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an ardent Gates supporter. The Central Park Conservancy said that the estimated number of visits to Central Park during the 16-day period of the project -- over 4,000,000 -- was substantially more than the 750,000 visits the park typically gets during a similar period in February. Hotel occupancy was up from about 74 percent to about 87 percent, according to the report, equivalent to an increase in revenues of over $2 million. The Four Seasons Hotel New York, for instance, said that The Gates transformed one of the slowest months of the year into the strongest February ever.

Business at restaurants near the park also soared, as did attendance at museums along Museum Mile, the stretch of Fifth Avenue bordering the park. The Metropolitan Museum of Art reported a 90 percent jump in attendance, and a 16 percent increase in restaurant and gift-shop sales. The economic benefits extended to more modest businesses, too -- hot-dog vendors reported a 200 percent increase in sales.

As for the Gates merchandise, the Central Parks Conservancy reports that it sold approximately $4 million worth of Gates sweatshirts, posters, postcards, watches and other items, and also raised another $158,000-plus from paid trolley tours of the park. What's more, the artists provided paid employment for 1,100 workers, including nearly 700 New York residents.

Speaking for the anti-art crowd, the Wall Street Journal published a "personal journal" column suggesting that the data is optimistic, at best -- a not unreasonable argument. Now, if only the paper would practice such skepticism in its reporting on the economic posturings of Bush & Co.

The Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) has voiced its support for artist Michael Heizer's battle to protect City, his monumental earthwork in Nevada's Garden Valley, from encroachment by a planned U.S. Department of Energy rail line. The $880-million, 319-mile-long Caliente Corridor rail line would ferry nuclear waste to the controversial Yucca Mountain dump, which is supposed to store 77,000 tons of radioactive waste now held in 39 states. According to a statement adopted by the AAMD at its February 2005 meeting, the rail line would "permanently destroy a visitor's experience of Heizer's isolated sculpture," and also "raises significant environmental concerns for the primitive wilderness areas" near the artwork. Like the artist and the Dia Art Foundation, which helps fund the project, the AAMD is urging the DOE to use an alternate route.

Artist Orit Ben-Shitrit has organized a benefit art auction to raise money for the Tsunami Relief Fund sponsored by the New York Daily News Charities and AmeriCares. The sale is slated for Monday, Mar. 7, 2005, from 6-10 pm at Phillips, de Pury & Co. on West 15th Street in Manhattan. The combination live and silent auction features works by over 70 artists, including Louise Bourgeois, Delia Brown, Don Doe, Eric Fischl, Ryan Johnson, Jeff Koons, Carl Ostendarp, Erik Parker, Danica Phelps, Michal Rovner, Dana Schutz, Nancy Spero and Mark Dean Veca. Admission at the door is $30. All auction proceeds go to the fund; for more info, contact

The Noguchi Museum in Long Island City plans to revisit "The Imagery of Chess," a celebrated exhibition organized by Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp and legendary Surrealist art dealer Julien Levy at his Manhattan gallery in 1944-45. "The Imagery of Chess Revisited," Oct. 20, 2005-Mar. 5, 2006, is organized by guest curator Larry List, and includes 12 of the 13 chess sets from the original show, as well as many of the paintings and sculptures. Among the participating artists are Andre Breton, Alexander Calder, Joseph Cornell, Duchamp, Ernst, Arshile Gorky, Man Ray, Matta, Robert Motherwell, Isamu Noguchi, Kay Sage, Yves Tanguy and Dorothea Tanning. The show is accompanied by an illustrated book published by George Braziller.

magazine's New York team, critics Daniel Kunitz and João Ribas, have organized an exhibition featuring 25 top emerging U.S. artists at Phillips, de Pury & Co. on West 15th Street in Manhattan, Mar. 10-24, 2005. The 25: Steven Baldi, Charlotte Becket, Walead Beshty, Eric Brown, Mathew Cerletty, Anna Conway, Tomory Dodge, Benjamin Edwards, Kirsten Hassenfeld, Nick Havholm, Nick Lowe, Florian Maier-Aichen, Megan Marrin, Keegan McHargue, Laurel Nakadate, Kambui Olujimi, Paper Rad, Mika Rottenberg, Dan Rushton, Dasha Shiskin, Gedi Sibony, Elf Uras, Johannes Vanderbeek, Helen Verhoeven, Anton Vojacek.

The sleeper exhibition of the winter art season in Manhattan has got to be "Milton Avery: The Flying Pig and Other Winged Creatures -- An Exhibition of the Artist's Illustrations and Prints," Feb. 18-May 27, 2005, on view at the New York Public Library. The show features Avery's original set of eight gouache illustrations for a children's book, unpublished during the artist's lifetime (they were finally put out in 1994 under the title Paul, and are to be republished under the original title this year). The illustrations were acquired by the library in 2001 and go on public view for the first time; the show also features 12 drypoints and woodcuts acquired between 1948 and 2004.

China has a new art magazine, according to a report in the People's Daily Online. Titled Art, the magazine is edited by Liu Rendao and published in Beijing by a committee of the China Society of Cultural History. Launched in response to China's current art boom, the magazine promises to closely monitor the art market.

The American Academy of Arts and Letters, the 107-year-old association of artists, composers and writers, has elected eight new members to fill vacancies in its 250-person roster. The new members are artists Kiki Smith and Cindy Sherman, architects Maya Lin and James Stewart Polshek, landscape architect Laurie Olin, playwright Tony Kushner, poet Rosanna Warren and composer T.J. Anderson.

Michele Senecal
has been appointed executive director of the International Fine Print Dealers Association (IFPDA), the 18-year-old nonprofit that sponsors the Annual Print Fair in New York each fall. Senecal had been an account executive at Artnet; at IFPDA, she succeeds Ali McVeigh.

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