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Aug. 10, 2006 

The Neue Galerie’s celebrated installation of five Klimt works, "Gustav Klimt: Five Paintings from the Collection of Ferdinand and Adele Bloch-Bauer," July 13-Sept. 18, 2006, has suddenly become a "selling exhibition." Maria Altmann, the 90-year-old Los Angeles resident who won the pictures from the Galerie Belvedere in Vienna after a long court battle, promptly selling the gold-encrusted Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907) to Neue Galerie founder Ron Lauder for a reported $135 million, has now announced plans to turn the remaining paintings over to Christie’s auction house for sale.

An Austrian businessman, Christoph Leitl, president of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce, told the AP that he had a prospective buyer ready to pay $25 million for Klimt’s Houses in Unterach on Lake Atter (ca. 1916) and put it on view at the Lentos Museum in the northwestern Austrian city of Linz. The remaining works include another portrait of Bloch-Bauer and two more landscapes, and have been estimated to be worth a total of $100 million-$140 million; they might be auctioned or sold privately, according to Christie’s president Marc Porter. Christie’s typically holds sales of German and Austrian art in London in October and June. What the Altmann family plans to do with its windfall remains unreported.

For those keeping score, auction results for the first half of 2006 for the world’s two top auction houses -- Christie’s and Sotheby’s -- were reported earlier this summer. Worldwide, Christie’s sold $2.13 billion worth of art and collectibles in the first half, while Sotheby’s sales totaled $1.96 billion. Sotheby’s top lot during the period was Pablo Picasso’s Dora Maar au chat (1941), which sold in New York for $95,216,000 on May 3, 2006. Sotheby’s top lot at its London sales was Amedeo Modigliani’s Jeanne Hébuterne (au chapeau) (1919), which went for £16,360,000 (ca. $30,296,296) on June 19, 2006. Christie’s high price was the $40,336,000 paid for Vincent van Gogh’s L’Arlésienne, Madame Ginoux (1890) in New York on May 2, 2006.

The auction market is booming, and both houses reported that the semi-annual results are the best ever. Christie’s total is 39 percent higher than the same period a year previously, while Sotheby’s total is up about 50 percent from the first half of 2005, when its sales added up to $1.3 billion. In 2005, Christie’s sales totaled $3.2 billion, notably more than Sotheby’s 2005 total of $2.7 billion.

The auctioneers don’t keep all that revenue, of course, though they do take a percentage on top of winning bids from the buyers and a lesser sum from the sellers.

Celebrated portrait photographer Arnold Newman, who died earlier this year at age 88, assembled a notable collection of artworks, along with an archive of his own photographs. A selection of his photos is going to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, where he helped establish the photo department in the 1970s, buying works for the museum. His sons David Newman and Eric Newman have also consigned a portion of the collection for sale at Christie’s this fall. First up on the block is Stuart DavisCoffee Pot #2 (1930) -- Davis and Newman were neighbors on West 67th Street in Manhattan -- which is included in Christie’s sale of American paintings on Sept. 12, 2006.

Works Newman owned by Alberto Giacometti, Henry Moore, Paul Klee and Piet Mondrian -- two studies for Broadway Boogie Woogie (1942) -- go into Christie’s Impressionist and modern sales on Nov. 8-9, 2006, while works by Hans Hofmann, Robert Indiana, Willem de Kooning and Pierre Soulages are in the Nov. 16 sale of post-war and contemporary art. A group of prints from the Newman collection is included in Christie’s sale of prints on Nov. 8. Newman’s collection of more than 50 items of African and oceanic art -- he traveled to Africa in 1958 on a shoot for Life magazine -- is being sold in Paris in December. The family is keeping works by Frank Stella and Rufino Tamayo, among others.

Hedge fund maestro Adam D. Sender is selling some of his contemporary art -- works by Richard Prince, Andreas Gursky and Mike Kelley, among others -- at Phillips, de Pury & Co. this fall, according to Carol Vogel in the New York Times. Todd Levin, Sender’s curator, said that the collector is selling only a small portion of his holdings of some 800 works acquired over the last eight years. To convince Sender to consign the works to Phillips, the auctioneer is reported to have given Sender an undisclosed, and substantial, guarantee. Selections from Sender’s collection can be viewed at

Sotheby’s auction house, whose stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (weathering dramatic ups and downs over the last five years, following a federal price-fixing investigation that cost the company an estimated $500 million and sent Sotheby’s then-chairman A. Alfred Taubman to jail), has declared a quarterly dividend of 10 cents a share for the third quarter of 2006. "The resumption of a cash dividend to our shareholders, after a six-year absence," said Sotheby’s CEO Bill Ruprecht, "is a very important indicator of the health of our company." Sotheby’s stock recently closed at about $29 per share, close to its one-year high of $33.84. The stock traded as low as $15 a share a year ago.

Bonhams & Butterfields
, which bills itself as "the world’s third-largest fine arts auctioneers," is auctioning off the William H. Guthman collection of antique arms and armor at the Frank Jones Center in Portsmouth, N.H., on Oct. 12, 2006. Guthman, who died last year, had regularly appeared on Antiques Roadshow on PBS. Among the lots hitting the block is a collection of tomahawks, including an 18th-century "hammer pole tomahawk" with a one-piece iron head ($60,000-$80,000). A collection of Guthman’s furniture, Native American objects, engraved Colonial powder horns and decorative arts is being sold by NorthEast Auctioneers at the same time.

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