CHRISTIE'S TAKEOVER BID
The Swiss banking giant SBC Warburg Dillon Read has made an $825-million takeover bid for Christie's International P.L.C., the 231-year-old auction house. Christie's, which is 29-percent owned by British billionaire Joseph Lewis, reported a pretax profit of $53.6 million in 1996. In the last ten days, Christie's stock, which trades in London, has risen 30 percent on takeover speculation. SBC Warburg is owned by Swiss Bank Corporation, which is planning to merge with Union Bank of Switzerland to become the second-biggest bank in the world. The merged banks would have assets of about $650 billion. "What a bauble to put on their tree!" commented one observer.
GETTY CENTER OPENS
Is there a person alive who is yet unaware that the $1-billion, six-building, 110-acre Getty Center in Los Angeles, designed by postmodernist architect Richard Meier, opens to the general public today, Dec. 16, 1997? Debut exhibitions include "Beyond Beauty: Antiquities as Evidence" (to Oct. 18, 1998), "Irresistible Decay: Ruins Reclaimed" (to Feb. 22, 1998) and "Incendiary Art: The Representation of Fireworks in Early Modern Europe" (to Feb. 28, 1998). Admission is free, but parking costs $5. For more info call (310) 440-7300. For other info, read Martin Filler's slam of the design in the "Christmas issue" of the New York Review of Books and the gossipy tale of the ego clash between Meier and garden designer Robert Irwin in the Dec. 8 New Yorker.
JOHANNESBURG BIENNALE CLOSES EARLY
The second Johannesburg Biennale, originally scheduled to run Oct. 12, 1998-Jan. 18, 1998, has closed early on Dec. 12, due to the financial difficulties of the city of Johannesburg, which was the major sponsor of the exposition. The abbreviated two-month run, the city said, would have to be "sufficient time for the beneficial effects of the event to be felt." Plans for future editions, if any, will be announced.
MORE MONEY FOR THE MET
The Metropolitan Museum has expanded its current Fund for the Met capital campaign from $300 million to $400 million. The museum says it has "already" raised more than $260 million from some 350 donors. The additional money will fund a high-tech text-and-image database of the Met's holdings in all curatorial departments and a new Center for Imaging and Photography to allow the photo studios to go digital; plus renovations of the Great Hall, various exhibition galleries and the Uris Center for Education.
BERLIN MEMORIAL UPDATE
Four final proposals have been selected for the controversial Berlin Holocaust Memorial, which is notable not least because of the terms of the public debate, i.e., that the Holocaust "can only be represented through its irrepresentability." The finalists are Gesine Weinmiller of Berlin, whose design features 18 sandstone walls in an abstract Star of David; architect Daniel Liebeskind's park setting with a gravel area shaped like the Reichstag footprint and divided by a fissured concrete wall; Parisian conceptual artist Jochen Gerz, whose design features a visitor center and 39 steel masts over the 15,000-square-meter grounds; and the team of Peter Eisenman and Richard Serra, who have proposed a grid of 4,000 concrete columns measuring up to 7.5 meters tall. An earlier design by Christine Jackob-Marks, a 100-meter-square concrete slab engraved with names of the dead, was rejected by German chancellor Helmut Kohl. A final decision is expected at the end of January.
MOFFET TO SOTHEBY'S Charles S. Moffet, director of the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., since 1992, has resigned (effective April 1998) to become Co-chairman of Impressionist and Modern Art Worldwide at Sotheby's.
PFAFF, SPERO AT BIENNIALS
Sculptor Judy Pfaff has been selected to represent the U.S. at the 1998 São Paulo Bienal, Oct. 4-Dec. 13, 1998. Representing the U.S. at the seventh Cairo Biennial, opening next December, 1998, is painter Nancy Spero.
BOURKE-WHITE TOPS DOYLE SALE
Top lot in William Doyle Galleries' auction of books, autographs and photographs on Dec. 5 was Margaret Bourke-White's Concrete Trestle, which sold for $31,050 (est. $10,000-$15,000). Bourke-White's Blast Furnace brought $25,300 (est. $4,000-$6,000) and Refinery Tanks brought $16,100 (est. $4,000-$6,000).
CHIPPERFIELD FOR BERLIN NEW MUSEUM JOB
British architect David Chipperfield has been selected to design the renovation of the Neue Museum on Berlin's Museum Island. The selection of Chipperfield's preservationist proposal overturns the previous choice of a more radical plan by Frank O. Gehry, which was rejected local heritage boards as too disruptive. The Neue Museum, built between 1841 and 1855 by Friedrich Auigust Stüler, was all but destroyed during World War II.
BLUMENTHAL TO DIRECT BERLIN JEWISH MUSEUM Michael Blumenthal, who served as Treasury Secretary during the Carter Administration, has been selected as director of the nascent Jewish Museum in Berlin, designed by deconstructivist architect Daniel Liebeskind and scheduled to open in 1999. Blumenthal, who was born in 1926 in Oranienburg, now heads up an institution that recently won wide-ranging autonomy within the city's museum system.
CEZANNE ON THE MONEY
France's new 100-franc note (worth about $16) features a portrait of Paul Cézanne on one side and an image of Pommes and Biscuits on the other.
ANSEL ADAMS CENTER SCALES DOWN
According to a report in the San Francisco Examiner, the Ansel Adams Center for Photography is scaling down, thanks in part to the rejection of the organization's 1998 grant request by the National Endowment for the Arts and a current deficit of some $200,000. Publication of the glossy photo magazine See, launched a few years ago, has been suspended, and the organization is seeking a new home with lower rent.