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Artnet News
Dec. 23, 2008 

The economic crisis has hit the J. Paul Getty Trust with a vengeance, dropping the endowment of the wealthy Malibu museum by roughly 25 percent in a mere six months, according to a statement by Getty director James Wood. The institution had almost $6 billion at the end of its 2008 fiscal year on June 30, 2008, but the endowment has dropped to about $4.5 billion since then. What’s more, according to Culturegrrl blogger Lee Rosenbaum, the Getty endowment has been losing value since 2007, when it ended its fiscal year at $6.4 billion. The losses are no doubt due to the substantial sum, $3.71 billion, that the trust had in "alternative investments" -- hedge funds, distressed debt and other dicey financial instruments. The Getty’s operating budget was $339 million for fiscal year 2008.

Chanel is ending its "Mobile Art" tour, which sent a space-age Zaha Hadid-designed pavilion with its own custom collection of contemporary artworks traveling to Hong Kong, Tokyo and New York, attracting glamorous crowds at every stop [see "Fall Glamour in New York," Oct. 23, 2008]. Though critics were not kind to the enterprise -- New York Times architecture writer Nicolai Ouroussoff called it a "cynical marketing gimmick" -- Chanel said that the decision to cancel the rest of the tour (to London, Moscow and Paris) was made for economic reasons. Not so Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld, who told WWD that "for me, artistic reasons are more important. I always thought the building was a sculpture. I prefer it empty." The pavilion is now to be permanently sited at a Chanel factory in Paris, where it will be used for temporary exhibitions.

The cash-strapped Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, has accepted the $30-million bailout plan of billionaire supercollector Eli Broad. MOCA director Jeremy Strick has resigned as part of the overhaul, according to the Los Angeles Times, and UCLA chancellor emeritus Charles E. Young has been named as the museum’s new chief executive. Strick, who has headed the museum for nine years, made no public comment. The plan implicitly splits the museum directorship into two parts, with Young overseeing the business side and a new director, still to be named, in charge of artistic matters.

The Broad plan provides a $15-million challenge grant for a new MOCA endowment fundraising drive, and $3 million a year for five years for operating funds. The MOCA board has reportedly pledged more than $20 million in new gifts, though no details were revealed. The agreement also sets the MOCA budget at $13 million-$16 million a year; in recent years, the museum budget has averaged $20 million.

The move also means, of course, that MOCA is not taking up LACMA director Michael Govan’s offer of a merger with his museum.

The venerable Berry-Hill Galleries in New York, which was a major player in the market for American paintings until a financial squeeze in 2005 pushed the firm into bankruptcy, has emerged from its fiscal crisis with a new program. In a press release, Berry-Hill announces that it now deals in "artists ranging from Turner and Renoir to Rothko and Motherwell." Among the new properties is J.M.W. Turner’s jewel-like watercolor Brienne (ca. 1883) and Jackson Pollock’s Man, Bull, Bird, currently on loan to "Pollock and Shamanism" at the Pinacothèque de Paris. At present, Berry-Hill is exhibiting works by the 20th-century American folk artist Earl Cunningham.

David and Lee Ann Lester have re-acquired the PalmBeach3 contemporary art fair from DMG World Media in London. Terms weren’t disclosed. The Lesters founded the fair 12 years ago, and sold it and its sister show, the Palm Beach International Art & Antique Fair, for an estimated $18 million in 2001. PalmBeach3, under the direction of art advisor and curator Fran Kaufman, opens Jan. 14-18, 2008, at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach. Some 80 galleries are in the lineup, including Barry Friedman, Gerald Peters, Hamburg Kennedy Photographs and James Goodman from New York.

DMG, which still owns the International Expositions of Sculpture Objects & Functional Art (SOFA), said it was "downsizing its consumer fair portfolio." According to DMG director Mark Lyman, the firm couldn’t make the Palm Beach shows financially successful. "Given the economic downturn," he told the Palm Beach Daily News, "things can only get tougher."

The Lesters express confidence that Palm Beach is a viable market for contemporary art. "PalmBeach3 has really flourished in recent years under the direction of Fran Kaufman," David Lester said. "By taking the reins again, we can ensure its continued success."

The Dahesh Museum of Art, which closed its Manhattan outpost at Madison Avenue and 58th Street more than a year ago, has now partnered with Syracuse University to organize exhibitions from its collection of 19th-century academic art. The shows are to be presented at the SU Art Galleries in Syracuse as well as at Lubin House at 11 East 61st Street in Manhattan (home of the "Michelangelo" show currently featured on ArtneTV starring Thomas Hoving). The collaboration, which is inked for two years but may be extended, begins with "In Pursuit of the Exotic: Artists abroad in 19th-century Egypt and the Holy Land," organized by former Dahesh director David Farmer and going on view in New York City, Mar. 24-Apr. 30, 2009. For more info, see

The Noguchi Museum in Long Island City has canceled the exhibition "Asian / American / Modern Art: Shifting Currents, 1900-1970" due to unanticipated delays in the museum’s renovation. Organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the show was scheduled to open in New York on Feb. 18, 2009. In the meantime, the Noguchi Museum’s collection galleries are displaying a selection of the artist’s signature Akari lamps. The museum’s new entry pavilion is now scheduled to open on Mar. 1, 2009, and its sculpture garden in summer 2009.

Paintings, watercolors and sculptures by filmmaker Blake Edwards (Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Pink Panther, Victor/Victoria) go on view in a retrospective exhibition at the Pacific Design Center, Jan. 9-30, 2009. Organized by Gail Oppenheimer, the show presents work spanning 40 years, including bronzes made for the 1983 film, The Man Who Loved Women, whose main character was a sculptor. The paintings range from alpine scenes to abstractions. The show is cosponsored by Feingarten Galleries and P.S.Arts, a nonprofit that supports art in schools.

"Al Hansen, the Matchstick Traveler," a 53-minute-long documentary on the life and work of the late Fluxus artist Al Hansen, debuts at Anthology Film Archives in New York on Jan. 4, 2009. Directed by Mareike Wegener and produced by the Academy of Media Arts Cologne, the film is part of Anthology’s "New Filmmakers Festival."

Detroit artist Charles McGee, 84, has been named the inaugural 2008 Kresge Eminent Artist, a new $50,000 award that is part of the Kresge Foundation’s major community development efforts in Detroit. A teacher and community arts advocate, McGee is founder of the Charles McGee School of Art, Gallery 7 and the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit (CAID). McGee was selected by a panel that included Gerhardt Knodel, former director of Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.; Dennis Alan Nawrocki, author of Art in Detroit Public Places; and Cledie Taylor, founder and director of Arts Extended Gallery in Detroit.

The Kresge Foundation is also funding 18 $25,000 artist fellowships for Detroit artists. The next deadline for applications is Feb. 27, 2009. For more info, see

Art Gallery of Ontario
(AGO) director Matthew Teitelbaum has won the MOCCA Award 2009, a $20,000 prize presented every two years by the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art in Toronto. The award recognizes Teitelbaum’s role in overseeing the Frank Gehry-designed renovation of the AGO, which opened in November 2008.

The round of layoffs at Sotheby’s auction house is snagging some big fish, including Christopher Gaillard, its senior vice-president of prints. Since joining the firm in 1999 as head of the contemporary print department, Gaillard has overseen a number of highly successful sales, including the record-setting auction of the collection of Kenneth Tyler and Tyler Graphics. The print department staff at the auction house also includes senior specialist Mary S. Bartow and specialist Molly Steiger. Sotheby’s has said that it intends to cut personnel and other costs by $7 million for 2009.

Tate Modern
in London is looking for a good photo curator who can kick things up a notch at the famous museum. The Tate has a curator for contemporary art & performance (Catherine Wood) and a curator for film (Stuart Comer), but no dedicated curator for modern and contemporary photography. The new curator is charged with shaping acquisitions and the exhibition program not only at Tate Modern but at Tate Britain as well. The salary is ca. £40,000; the application deadline is Jan. 9, 2009. For more details, see

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