Armed with a court order, a disgruntled art dealer seized 15 works by Robert Rauschenberg -- including the famous 1953 erased de Kooning drawing -- from his retrospective at the Menil Collection in Houston on Fri. 13. German art dealer Alfred Kren and the Austin Art Consortium says the 72-year-old Pop artist owes them $5.5 million, $1.8 million for unpaid commissions and $3.7 million for punitive damages. Apparently, Rauschenberg and lawyer Theodore Kheel were asleep at the wheel and failed to answer the court charges, resulting in a summary judgment. "The Menil Collection intends to file an action to recover possession of the Rauschenberg artwork and for damages that it has sustained as a result of the seizure of the artwork," said Bob Singleton, attorney for the Houston museum. Rauschenberg will argue that the seized works are not actually owned by him, but by Untitled Press, Inc., a Florida corporation in which he is a shareholder.
CHRISTIE'S TAKEOVER OFF Christie's won't be taken over after all by the Swiss investment-bank behemoth SBC Warburg Dillon Read, which late last year offered £500 million ($815.3 million) for the 230-year-old British auction house. The rationale for the move to take Christie's private was to give a handful of wealthy investors an inside track on the art market while providing Christie's with substantial financial resources. The deal reportedly fell through because the Christie's board decided the offer price was too low.
DEVIL'S ADVOCATE SUIT SETTLED
Kitsch realist Frederick Hart has settled his suit against kitsch movie-maker Warner Brothers, allowing the videotape release of the film The Devil's Advocate, starring Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves. Hart had claimed that a sculptural prop in the movie infringed upon his copyright for Ex Nihilo, a work Hart made for the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. After a federal judge in Alexandria, Va., said he would block the video release until after a trial, Warner Bros. folded rather than contend the issue of artistic freedom (surprise, surprise). Hart is perhaps best known for the smaltzy statue of soldiers added to the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial in Washington, D.C., installed following protests against Maya Lin's monument by right-wing veteran groups. According to court papers, Hart has realized an estimated $150 million during his life for sales of his artwork.
GLANTON OUT AT BARNES Richard H. Glanton, the president and de facto director of the Barnes Foundation in Merion, Pa., since 1990, has stepped down, reportedly after clashing with the Barnes' five-member board, notably Lincoln University president Niara Sundarkasa. He will be succeeded by Lincoln board president Kenneth M. Sadler, a dentist from Winston-Salem, N.C. The Barnes has appointed former Arco executive Earle L. Bradford Jr. as interim chief administrative officer, and will reportedly now seek to settle the ongoing litigation with Lower Merion Township over a planned parking lot. During his controversial tenure, Glanton oversaw a world tour of the Barnes Impressionists that raised $16 million as well as renovation of the 1932 facility. The financial condition of the famous museum-school, however, is said to be precarious still.
JOCK REYNOLDS TO YALE John M. "Jock" Reynolds, for the past nine years director of the Addison Gallery in Andover, Mass., has been selected to head the Yale University Art Gallery. Reynolds, who curated the Whitney Museum's current Arthur Dove retrospective, will also hold the Henry J. Heinze II professorship at the Yale School of Art. His job at Yale promises to be a difficult one (the last director, Susan Vogel, left after only a short time in the post), involving the politics of a strong art history department as well as raising funds to renovate the museum and conserve the 80,000-piece collection.
DELONAS GOES LEGIT New York Post cartoonist Sean Delonas, known for his drawings on the Page Six gossip page in which caricatures of Bill Clinton are inevitably accompanied by chickens, has recently unveiled the altar mural at the Church of St. Agnes on 43rd Street near Grand Central Station in New York. The triptych tells the story of Agnes, a young virgin who refused to marry a pagan and was thrown into a brothel naked, where her hair miraculously grew to cover her body.
The 1997 Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation awards -- grants of $20,000 -- have gone to Ann Agee, Dexter Buell, Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Enrique Cagoya, Anne Chu, Cohen/Frank/Ippolito, Bryan Crockett, Bill Davenport, Kim Dingle, John Drury, Jacob El Hanani, Jeff Elrod, Rochelle Feinstein, Pamela Fraser, David Gloman, DeWitt Godfrey, Maria Elena Gonzalez, Arturo Herrera, Eric Holzman, Richard Jackson, Ik-Joong Kang, Samm Kunce, Judy Ledgerwood, Tierney Malone, Virgil Marti, David Moreno, Bruce Pearson, Monique Pireto, Glen Seator, Shazia Sikander, Jonathan Wahl and Richard Ziemann. The jury consisted of artist William Bailey, Amalia Mesa-Bains and Judy Pfaff, and curators Alison de Lima Greene, Marc Mayer, John Perreault and Robert Storr.
SCHWARTZ COLLECTION TO ISRAEL MUSEUM
Italian curator and collector Arturo Schwarz has donated more than 700 works by Duchamp, Picabia and other Dada and Surrealist artists to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. The collection also includes ca. 150 works by Dada-Surrealist precursors like Bosch, Blake and Goya, as well as over 70 portraits of Surrealists by other Surrealists. An exhibition of 60 works from the gift goes up at the museum in May; a show of the entire collection is slated for 2000. Schwarz, who lives in Milan, said "Though I am an agnostic, I am profoundly attached to the ethical values of Judaism."
APRIL OPENING FOR WHITNEY
The Whitney Museum unveils its renovated Marcel Breuer building on Apr. 4, 1998, with new fifth-floor galleries dedicated to the permanent collection. The new 8,000-square-foot space, overseen by architect Richard Gluckman, will feature more than 100 works, including rooms dedicated to Hopper, O'Keeffe and Calder as well as a sculpture by museum founder Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney.
KLEE CATALOGUE FROM SFMOMA
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has published a catalogue of the 115-plus works by Paul Klee in its Dejerassi Collection, a promised gift to the museum. Dr. Carl Djerassi, inventor of the birth-control pill, has collected Klee for over 20 years. The catalogue price is $14.95.
ARTIST MARKETING AT L.A. MOCA
That marketing campaign for the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art -- postcards, billboards and street banners -- is designed by artist Pae White. Postcards with slogans like "That's art? Yes" have already been distributed at coffee houses and bookstores. On view now are billboards with images of works by Vija Celmins, Roy Lichtenstein and others from MOCA's collection with the slogan, "Art is never just black & white." MOCA promises this campaign will go on for several years.