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Among the choice selections at the New Museum of Contemporary Art's forthcoming benefit gala on Sunday, Apr. 13, 2003, is a Harley Davidson motorcycle that was purportedly once owned by Cher. The chopper was purchased last year on eBay by a New Museum benefactor who wishes to remain anonymous; its estimated value in the live auction is $20,000. Other lots (to be gaveled down by Phillips, de Pury & Luxembourg chief Simon de Pury) are works by Louise Bourgeois, Cecily Brown, Tony Feher, Kendell Geers, Nan Goldin, Julian LaVerdiere, Louise Lawler and Zwelethu Mthethwa. For more info on the gala, see

New coffee and tea services by a host of avant-garde architects go on view at Max Protetch Gallery in Chelsea in "Tea & Coffee Towers," May 1-June 28, 2003. The 20 sets, made variously of silver, titanium, porcelain and glass, are produced by the Italian design company Alessi. The designers are Vito Acconci, Will Alsop, Weil Arets Architects, Juan Navarro Baldeveg, Shigeru Ban, Gary Chang, David Chipperfield, Denton/Corker/Marshal, Deszo Ekler, Massimiliano Fuksas, Future Systems, Zaha Hadid, Toyo Ito, Tom Kovac, Greg Lynn, Alessandro Mendini, Morphosis, MVRDV, Jean Nouvel, Dominique Perrault, Kazuyo Sejima and UN Studio. The sets range in price from $4,000 to $50,000 and are done in editions of 99.

The Smithsonian Institution's Archives of American Art has launched Archivos Virtuales, a web site devoted to Latino art and artists. Online is a guide to more than 150 manuscript collections, 150 oral-history interviews and approximately 1,000 letters, photos, sketches and other documents. "Letters of Frida Kahlo, signed with her lipstick kisses; Enrique Riverón's scrapbook of his Cuban cartoons, and Emilio Sanchez's European and Moroccan sketchbooks" are among the documents, according to Archives curator Liza Kirwin.

The Jewish Museum has unveiled an exhibition of 18 works of contemporary art acquired during the last two years, works that "relate to aspects of the Jewish experience while posing questions about national and personal identity in a global age." Among the works are a double-screen video of home movies by Sanford Biggers and Jennifer Zackin that was included in the 2002 Whitney Biennial, a monumental charcoal drawing by Robert Longo of the stairs to Sigmund Freud's apartment in 1938, a large pencil drawing of Meyer Lansky's Financial Network by the late artist Mark Lombardi, an impressive trio of oversized sepia prints of Jorge Zontal, gaunt and suffering from AIDS-related wasting disease -- he had been born in a concentration camp -- by AA Bronson, and a "counter-monument" by Horst Hoheisel, a collection of woodchips and stones from a demolished Gestapo barracks and prison in Weimar. Other artists in the show are Omer Fast, Fred Wilson, Tirtza Even and Brian Karl, Elinor Carucci, Gloria Bornstein, Nan Goldin, Micah Lexier, William Kentridge, Nancy Spero, Ori Gersht and Tomer Ganihar. The show is on view Apr. 11-July 27, 2003.

The hot young American painter John Currin, whose Old Masterish painting of bosomy gals and bearded gents can sell for more than $400,000 at auction, has his first U.S. museum retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, May 3-Aug. 24, 2003. The show includes some 40 paintings selected by MCA curator Staci Boris and Rochelle Steiner of the Serpentine Gallery in London, where it appears Sept. 9-Oct. 26, 2003. The show subsequently travels to the Whitney Museum, Nov. 20, 2003-Feb. 22, 2004.

At the same time, the MCA is mounting the first museum solo for another hot young artist, Paul Pfeiffer, whose digital video loops, photos and sculptures go on view May 3-Aug. 31, 2003. "Paul Pfeiffer" is co-organized by MCA curator Dominic Molon and Jane Farver, director of the MIT List Visual Arts Center in Cambridge.

The Blaffer Gallery at the University of Houston presents a comprehensive survey of prints by Photo Realist painter Chuck Close in "Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration, Sept. 13-Nov. 23, 2003. Organized by Blaffer Gallery director Terrie Sultan, the show includes approximately 125 images in what is called "the museum's most ambitious project to date." The exhibition has an extensive itinerary, making appearances at the Metropolitan Museum, the Miami Art Museum and museums in Knoxville, Charlotte, Andover, Ann Arbor, Fort Worth, Bellevue and San Francisco.

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond has unveiled the master plan for its $100-million expansion, designed by London-based architect Rick Mather. The overhaul gives the museum a new main entrance, a new five-level, glass-and-stone structure that adds more than 100,000 square feet of space to the existing 240,000-square-foot building, and reclaims a 3.5-acre parking lot for a new sculpture garden. Groundbreaking is planned for 2004.

First the Toronto Star reported that the Canadian investment tycoon Michael Lee-Chin donated $30 million to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. Then the paper reported that the two flagship mutual funds he manages, AIC Advantage and Advantage II, haven't made money for investors over the past five years (both funds have compound losses of 5.4 percent a year). "Buy, hold and perspire," the paper wrote about the mood of AIC investors, a play on the funds' slogan of "buy, hold and prosper." Lee-Chin, who was born in Jamaica and formerly worked as a bouncer, has requested that the museum name a four-story interior atrium the Hyacinth Gloria Chen Crystal Court in honor of his mother. The ROM expects to break ground for a $200 million renovation and expansion next month.