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Last month's online photography auction conducted by the Photography Auction Inc., a new company, didn't do too bad, for a pioneering effort. Just under 50 percent of the 54 lots had sold at the close of the auction on May 16. The highest price garnered was $13,800 (including a 15 percent buyer's premium) for a vintage print of Edward Weston's 1946 North Shore, Point Lobos. Another star lot was Moholy-Nagy's Marsellie, 1929, which was knocked down for $9,200. The most expensive picture in the auction, a vintage print of Weston's 1922 Steel, failed to sell; it was estimated at $150,000-$175,000. The sale was held on the photography website PhotoArts in conjunction with SoHo photo dealer Howard Schickler, former Sotheby's photo head Beth Gates Warren and California private dealer Dale Stulz. Another go-round is planned for the fall; for more info check out PhotoArts.

Famed psychedelic artist Peter Max begins a two-month prison term for tax evasion on Aug. 1. The multimillionaire painter pleaded guilty last year to hiding $714,000 in income by bartering his art for various goods and services during 1987-91. U.S. district judge Kimba Wood also sentenced Max to 800 hours of community service (teaching art to disadvantaged children) and fined him $30,000.

Got your tickets to Basel yet? The 29th annual art fair, Art 29'98, opens June 10-15 in Basel, Switzerland, with some 260 galleries exhibiting over 1,000 artworks. The fair's special "Statements" section features 26 solo shows by younger artists, including Matthew Antezzo, Claudia Di Gallo, Devon Dikeou, Keith Edmier, Udomsak Krisanamis, Stephane Magnin, Kara Walker and more. And for the first time, the Basel Art Fair has a special hall for sculpture, featuring a mini-retrospective of 25 works by Cubist Jacques Lipschitz plus works by Dieter Appelt, Anthony Caro, Eduardo Chillida, Tony Cragg, Wilhelm Mundt, Claes Oldenburg, Panamarenko, Roman Signer, Joseph Zehrer, Beat Zoderer and more.

Citing undisclosed "personal and professional reasons," supersculptor Richard Serra has withdrawn from the competition for Berlin's controversial Holocaust memorial. Serra and architect Peter Eisenmann had jointly proposed a graveyard-like grid of 4,000 25-foot-tall concrete pillars that is favored by German chancellor Helmut Kohl -- though a final determination is yet to be made. All four designs (the other three are by Gesine Weinmuller, Daniel Libeskind and Jochen Gerz) have been criticized for failing to convey the gravity and horror of the Holocaust. Eisenmann says he will continue with the project despite Serra's withdrawal.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation of Chicago has announced its "genius awards" for 1998. Artworld winners include chocolate-gnawing mop top Janine Antoni, 34 (she receives $225,000 spread over the next five years); New York social expressionist painter Ida Applebroog, 68 ($375,000); and Seattle video magician Gary Hill, 47 ($290,000).

Large-scale installation artist Ann Hamilton has been selected to represent the United States at the next Venice Biennale, where she will make an as-yet-unspecified work for the American Pavilion. Co-curators are Katy Kline, director of MIT's List Visual Arts Center in Cambridge, and Helaine Posner, new curator at New York's International Center of Photography. In the past, Hamilton has designed an installation of pennies at the 1991 Sao Paolo Bienal and carpeted a gallery at the Dia Center in New York with manes and tails from Mongolian ponies.

Director James Cameron has been taking credit as author of the drawings supposedly done by Leonardo DiCaprio's character in the blockbuster movie Titanic. Now, according to a report by John Bowe in New York Magazine, at least three of the drawings appear to have been copied from well-known photos -- Bijou of Montmartre by Brassai, Rodney Plogger at 6:01 by Sally Mann and Georgia O'Keeffe, Hands, 1920 by Alfred Stieglitz. The article suggests that Mann has already reached some kind of accommodation with the famed director and that Gilberte Brassai, the photographer's widow, is in France and unlikely to take legal action. U.S. copyright has expired on Stieglitz works, since he died more than 50 years ago.

Spanish police arrested two British tourists after they tried to pry off a section of the exterior cladding of the Guggenheim Bilbao for a souvenir. The ultra-modern new museum, designed by Frank O. Gehry, is covered with thousands of titanium sheets.

According to the New York Post, actress Margot Kidder -- best known for her movie portrayal of Lois Lane -- will star as Georgia O'Keeffe in an off-Broadway production called "Alfred Stieglitz Loves O'Keeffe." TV's own Mike Hammer, Stacy Keach, will play Stieglitz. The show premieres next spring at the Scottsdale (Ariz.) Center for the Arts.

Two Egyptian brothers were hanged in Cairo on May 24 for fire-bombing a tourist bus parked in front of the Egyptian Museum last September. Ten people were killed in the blast. Saber Farahat Abu el-Ela and his brother Mahmoud said they staged the attack to avenge Islam after a Jewish woman posted pictures depicting the Prophet Mohammed as a pig, according to Reuters.

The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., must be expecting large crowds for its "Van Gogh's Van Goghs" show (Oct. 4, 1998-Jan. 3, 1999). Advance passes become available starting Sunday, Aug. 30, free of charge at the East Building pass desk -- or they can be purchased for $4 through TicketMaster. Daily passes will be required for this show of 70 paintings from Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum.

Dallas Museum of Art director Jay Gates has been named new director of the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. He succeeds Charles S. Moffett, who now works for Sotheby's.

Cake-baking corporation Sara Lee plans to donate its $100-million art collection to some 20 museums around the world, says Sara Lee c.e.o. John H. Bryan. Hometown museum Art Institute of Chicago gets 12 works by Matisse, Braque, Degas and such; the other museums each get a single work -- the Metropolitan Museum selected Monet's Jean Monet on his Mechanical Horse (1872) and the National Gallery chose Roger de la Fresnaye's The Bathers (1912). But first the works are to tour unspecified museums until the year 2000. Sara Lee decided against selling the collection, despite recent successful corporate art sales (IBM got $31 million in 1995 and CBS got $3.2 million in 1997); the gifts will give the company a sizable tax deduction.

Christie's New York has scheduled a June 19 sale of 33 lots of Korean art to coincide with the opening of the Metropolitan Museum's new permanent gallery for Korean art. The sale's centerpiece is a Choson Period white-glazed porcelain brush holder estimated to go for $200,000-$250,000. The record for a Korean work of art is over $8.4 million, paid in 1996 for a 17th-century dragon jar.

In conjunction with a show of Edvard Munch prints: "Symbolist Prints from the Vivian and David Campbell Collection," the Baltimore Museum of Art urges you to prepare your loudest, softest, funniest or scariest scream for its "Screaming Contest," held today, June 4, at 7:30 p.m.. For inspiration, make sure to look for Munch's well-known work, "The Scream." The museum says camera crews are welcomed.