SEATTLE MATISSE SAGA CONTINUES
In the ongoing dispute over ownership of Matisse's Odalisque (1928), the Seattle Art Museum has filed suit against Knoedler & Co., the New York gallery that sold the work in 1954 that donor Prentice Bloedel bequeathed to the museum in 1996. The Seattle Times reports that the museum is demanding $2 million from Knoedler if forced to give the Matisse to heirs of Paris dealer Paul Rosenberg, whose huge art collection was seized by the Nazis after he fled to Bordeaux during World War II. The museum claims that Knoedler knew about the painting's dubious provenance.
STEVE WYNN, ART DEALER Mirage Resorts mogul Steve Wynn is in business as an art dealer, according to a report by Jeffrey Hogrefe of the New York Observer. Wynn's $300-million art collection, featuring works by Cezanne, Matisse, Monet, Picasso, Renoir and van Gogh and overseen by former Kimbell Art Museum director Edmund Pillsbury, will be for sale to casino high-rollers.
What's more, a 1997 Nevada state law set the sales tax rate for art works sold in Nevada at a relatively low two percent. That means Wynn pays substantially less than the 8.25 percent levied by New York on art sales to New Yorkers, as will any buyers out at the Bellagio. And in a special boon, the Nevada tax reform exempts the buildings where the art is displayed from property taxes.
COAGULA, THE MOVIE
California screenwriter and art collector Tom Patchett, whose Smart Art Press is publishing Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula Art Journal (due out Oct. 1), is working on a script for a movie version of the book. Patchett sees the film as a Leslie Neilson-type spoof of the art world, and likes Luke Perry for the role of publisher Mat Gleason and "Seaquest" star Peter DeLuise as editor Charlie Finch. Patchett's previous writing credits include episodes of the TV series "Alf" and the screenplay for The Muppets Take Manhattan.
MELTZER OUT AT CHRISTIE'S
Christie's pioneering contemporary art specialist Neal Meltzer, whose last sale at the New York auctioneer was 100 percent sold, has left to open his own gallery. He has established an office at 600 Madison Avenue. "I wanted to be my own boss," he told the Wall Street Journal. His pro-tem successor is Paris-based 20th-century art specialist Philippe Segalot, a protégé of new Christie's owner Francois Pinault.
NUDE BROOKE AT AMERICAN FINE ARTS
The infamous photographs of a 10-year-old Brooke Shields in the nude go on view at American Fine Arts in SoHo on Sept. 11, 1998. The photos are part of a show by photographer Garry Gross, who in 1975 paid the then-Ford model all of $450 to pose. Sheilds sued to block publication of the pictures in 1981, but a court found that her mother had signed a release giving rights to the pictures to Gross. The exhibition coincides with the appearance of Shield's husband Andre Agassi in the U.S. Open.
FRENCH BUY AMERICAN CENTER IN PARIS
The American Center in Paris, designed by Frank O. Gehry, has been bought by the French Ministry of Culture for use as the Maison du Cinema, according to a report in the September Art in America. The $40-million structure was originally conceived as an oasis of American art and culture, but closed in 1996 due to lack of funds. France will spend another $34 million to build theaters and a film library for the facility, which is scheduled to open in the year 2000.
NIMOY LIKES NAN Leonard Nimoy and wife Susan Bay Nimoy have donated $100,000 to the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art to buy Nan Goldin's Ballad of Sexual Dependency. The celebrated series of 126 photographs document New York's downtown bohemian scene between 1973 and 1986. They go on view Aug. 30-Oct. 25, 1998.
FRANCIS QUITS WARHOL MUSEUM
Did we forget to tell you about the Andy Warhol Museum announcement last July 23 that curator Mark Francis was leaving the museum for London, where his wife Sheena Wagstaff is joining the Tate Gallery as head of exhibitions and displays? Francis' immediate plans are to be house-husband, minding the couple's two kids, ages nine and twelve. Thanks to the Aug. 28 issue of the Baer Faxt for the reminder.