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Robert Rauschenberg has managed to settle the $5.5-million lawsuit lodged against him by German art dealer Alfred Kren and the Austin Art Consortium. The default judgment against Rauschenberg led to the embarrassing removal of 15 works by the famous Pop artist (and Texas native) from his retrospective as it opened at the Menil Collection in Houston on Feb. 13. Rauschenberg, 72, was forced to put $6 million in escrow so that his retrospective could continue its tour to Cologne and Bilbao. Now, the parties have announced a settlement, terms not disclosed, and dropped all litigation.

Put Richard Koshalek at the top of the short list to head the Whitney Museum. Director of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art since its inception over 15 years ago, Koshalek announced his impending resignation on Oscar day, Mar. 23 {thus burying the news}. He plans to depart when his current contract runs out in summer 1999, and serve as a consultant for five years after that. Is he coming East? Koshalek, 56, would only say that he will stay in L.A. and work as a "cultural advocate."

Just days after Whitney Museum director David Ross announced his departure for greener pastures at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, a profile of Whitney chairman (and Estee Lauder c.e.o.) Leonard A. Lauder by Judith H. Dobrzynski in the Mar. 26 New York Times reveals the astonishing truth behind the move. Admitting he wants to be the Whitney director himself, Lauder complains that the Whitney lags way behind other New York museums in attendance, and promises more popular programming, such as a show of Andrew Wyeth landscapes that opens May 28. The story rehearses charges that Ross made the museum a showcase for "trendy or political shows that mainly attracted complaints," bolstering this claim with a single quote from CUNY's most loathed professor, William Gerdts, calling the program "a horror." Lauder also gripes about several gaps in the collection, ranging from Abstract Expressionism to photography and prints. And in a passage that semioticians are interpreting as an invitation to wealthy West Coast gay patrons (Lauder wants to bolster the Whitney endowment from $39 million to $100 million) , the 65-year-old Lauder singles out works by the notoriously gay or gay-friendly artists Charles Demuth, Joseph Stella and Florine Stettheimer as his favorites. "There's still a hole in the wall for it," he exclaims, in regard to the Stettheimer.

Millionaire rocker and art aficionado David Bowie is leading a new British invasion of U.S. art publishing with the debut in April of the first exclusively American edition of Modern Painters, the quarterly London art glossy, and a new American edition of Blimey!, a survey of young British art by Matthew Collings. The new Modern Painters, which was founded in 1987 by London dealer Bernard Jacobson and the late English critic Peter Fuller, features Bowie and Jeff Koons on the cover (photo by Iman, Bowie's wife) and a 5,000-word interview inside. Other contributors include Dore Ashton, Jed Perl, David Hockney and filmmaker Ian MacMillan (future issues will feature ArtNet's own Charlie Finch as New York correspondent!). Blimey! is published by 21 Publishing Ltd., formed last year by Jacobson, Bowie, Modern Painters editor Karen Wright and shopping-center magnate and National Gallery of London patron Sir Timothy Sainsbury. Its other books include a biography of forgotten Abstract Expressionist Nat Tate {who?} by William Boyd.

A British court has begun hearing the celebrated case against Anthony-Noel Kelly, the 42-year-old London artist who is accused of stealing human body parts to make macabre sculptures. The prosecution has alleged that Kelly, a nephew of the Duke of Norfolk, stole heads, a partial torso, a brain, arms, legs and feet from the Royal College of Surgeons between 1991 and 1994. He made plaster casts of them to exhibit and sell, before burying the rotting remains in a field near his family's estate at Romden Castle, Kent. He also stored body parts, including slices of upper arm, in the basement of a girlfriend, who had no idea of the contents of the sacks he left. Police were alerted by Dr. Laurence Martin, Her Majesty's Inspector of Anatomy, who had seen a newspaper article on an exhibition of Kelly's works at the Contemporary Arts Fair in Islington -- where Kelly did not in fact sell a single piece -- and recognized "beyond question" that they originated from dissected human parts.

Centre Pompidou curator Didier Schulman has said that his museum has postponed plans to show paintings from the Leopold Collection in Vienna due to the controversy surrounding provenance of works in the collection. The exhibition would have featured Leopold works by Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt and Oskar Kokoschka. Late last year, two Schiele paintings on view in "Egon Schiele: The Leopold Collection" at the Museum of Modern Art were said to have been stolen by Nazis from their legitimate owners.

Another aboriginal artist from Australia has been revealed to be a fraud. According to Australian state TV, Sakshi Anmatyerre is in fact an Indian from Calcutta named Farley French. Among Anmatyerre's collectors are the actor Paul Hogan and the Sultan of Brunei. Last year, the Aborigine artist Eddie Burrup was unmasked as being a non-indigenous woman named Elizabeth Durack, while the painter Kathleen Petyarre admitted that her Welsh-born boyfriend had been responsible for much of her award-winning work.

The American Civil Liberties Union has sued the Los Angeles parks department for covering a section of a group mural by artist Richard Taylor, 23, that showed a pig dressed in a blue uniform beating up a graffiti artist. The mural was done on the oceanside Venice Pavilion last August under the auspices of the Social and Public Art Resource Center. Some 100 artists participated.

A scheme by the Louvre to brighten up the enigmatic smile of Leonardo's Mona Lisa by restoring the painting has been called off after news of the project was greeted by widespread protest. The Louvre is still considering a $6.5-million plan to establish a separate gallery for La Gioconda, now viewed behind bullet-proof glass in a huge hall of other 16th-century Venetian art works.

The Archer M. Huntington Art Gallery at the University of Texas at Austin has changed its name to the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, in honor of the former chairman of the UT board of regents. The museum plans to build a new 100,000-square-foot facility scheduled to open in 2002 and has raised more than $35.5 million towards its $42-million capital campaign.

St. Paul, Minn., Mayor Norm Coleman wants to convert the city-owned west building of the Science Building of Minnesota into a museum for Playboy artist (and St. Paul native) Leroy Neiman. Museum backers have about $1.3 million in the kitty, and hope to raise another $600,000-$800,000.

Adam Sheffer has become director of Danese gallery in New York. He formerly was director at Mary Boone and an associate at Robert Miller Gallery.

The Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation is having an open house on Thursday, Apr. 16, 2-8 p.m., at its studios for artists at 443 Greenwich Street in New York. Artists in the "Open Studio" exhibition are Jennie Booth, Tari Campbell, Janet Cooling, Teresita Fernandez, Stephen Hendee, Arturo Herrera, Kristin Lucas, Josiah McElheny, Ben Pranger, Sarah Sze, Jennipher Satterly, Megan Walch, Tad Wiley and William Wood.