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"Selling $125 million worth of art in an hour and a half is not all bad," said Sotheby's CEO Diana Brooks following the Nov. 16 two-part evening sale, the first of the fall "auction week." Sotheby's put on the block 37 lots from the Reader's Digest Collection (33 sold for a total of $86.6 million) and a mixed owner sale of 41 works (19 sold -- a shockingly low 45 percent by lot -- for a total of $37.2 million). Considering that the stock market is over 9,000, Brooks was putting a good spin on what was a moribund evening, at least by auction standards.

Modigliani's Portrait of Jeanne Hebuterne (1919) sold for $15 million, an auction record for the artist. The other Modigliani of the same subject sold a few lots later for $9.9 million. Giacometti's La Foret: Sept figures et une tete for $7.5 million, an auction record for the artist. Curiously, a big Cézanne landscape, L'Estaque vu a travers les pins (ca. 1882-83) sold for $11 million, more than the Monet Le bassin aux Nymphéas (1917-19) of similar size, which went for $9.9 million.

Among the disappointments were the unsold Brancusi Muse (est. $8 million-$10 million) and the unsold Bonnard Still Life (1942) (est. $1 million-$1.5 million) that had been in the Museum of Modern Art retrospective. And someone should inform auctioneer Henry Wyndham, chair of Sotheby's Europe, of New York State law, which requires an auctioneer to announce unsold lots, not mumble something inchoate while bringing down the hammer.

See ArtNet's exclusive free current sales results for an illustrated report on the rest of the auction.

Staff at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris has held a five-day walkout to protest the stressful working conditions that have resulted from the sold-out exhibition of 85 paintings by Vincent van Gogh and his mentor Jean-François Millet. The strike closed the show from Thursday, Nov. 12, until today, Nov. 17, and may be extended. The unions are demanding a bonus of $285 per worker dealing directly with the crush of visitors, according to Reuters, and $178 for other employees. They also want three additional vacation days.

Dallas art collector and real estate developer Raymond D. Nasher has given $7.5 million to Duke University in Durham, N.C., towards a new Nasher Museum of Art on the campus. Construction of the new $15-million, 50,000-square-foot museum is expected to begin in the year 2000. Nasher and his wife Patty have a celebrated collection of 700 works, including 300 modern sculptures. Nasher is a Duke trustee emeritus and his daughter Nancy is a 1979 graduate of the Duke School of Law and a member of the steering committee for the school's $1.5 billion capital campaign.

The Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin has acquired the Suida-Manning Collection of 700 Old Master paintings and drawings. The works were assembled by two generations of a family of art historians -- William Suida and Robert and Bertina Suida Manning -- and goes to the Blanton as a partial gift of its owners, Kurt and Alessandra Manning Dolnier. The museum has launched a $15 million fundraising campaign to help pay for the acquisition, which includes works by Boucher, Correggio, Fragonard, Lorrain, Poussin, Rubens, Tiepolo and Veronese.

Anthony Grant and Marc Selwyn have opened their New York gallery, Grant Selwyn Fine Art, at 37 West 57th Street with the exhibition "Sculpture and Drawings, 1945-1995," featuring works by Carl Andre, John Chamberlain, Donald Judd, Ellsworth Kelly, Isamu Noguchi, Richard Tuttle and David Smith, among others. The 3,000-square-foot space is designed by Michael Gabellini, a former RISD classmate of Grant's who also designed boutiques and showrooms for Jil Sander, Giorgio Armani and Adrienne Vittadini. Grant and Selwyn have previously worked together at Sotheby's and at PaceWildenstein. They plan to open a Los Angeles gallery in January 1999.

TOM BRAZELTON, 1958-1998
Tom Brazelton, 40, painter who helped found Cash/Newhouse Gallery in the East Village in 1983, died in New York City on Nov. 11, 1998. Brazelton showed his own paintings, which have been described as "Max Beckmann with a sense of humor," at Fawbush and Julian Pretto galleries in New York. Donations in Tom's memory may be made to the American Foundation for AIDS Research. For information regarding a memorial service and show of Tom's works to be held at a later date, please contact Brian Bendlin, P.O. Box 232, Copake Falls, N.Y. 12517.