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Artnet News
Sept. 10, 2005 

Sotheby’s former chairman A. Alfred Taubman is in the news again -- he has cashed in his 14,034,158 Class B shares in the auction house in exchange for $168 million, plus 7,100,000 Class A shares. The dual-share structure -- each Class B was worth 10 votes, and secured Taubman’s control of the company -- is now a thing of the past. The Taubman family (including Taubman’s son Robert S. Taubman, who remains on Sotheby’s board) still owns 12.7 percent of the firm’s stock, a total of 57.3 million shares. After the deal, Sotheby’s largest shareholder is Ariel Capital Management, the Chicago-based investment firm headed by Mellody Hobson (see Artnet News, May 15, 2002). Sotheby’s paid Taubman $20.83 per share, a premium over the company’s stock price of $17.43 on the day of the transaction. Sotheby’s stock opened the next day, Sept. 8, at $18.30.

Taubman, who is 81, built his fortune as a shopping mall developer before buying Sotheby’s in 1983. He oversaw the evolving fortunes of the world’s top auction firm, putting up a glossy new 10-story Manhattan headquarters building at York Avenue and 72nd Street, until being snagged in the auction price-fixing scandal in 2001. He resigned as chairman, paid $186 million in civil penalties and a fine of $7 million, and served 10 months in jail. He is now at work writing his memoirs.

In a statement, Sotheby’s chairman Michael I. Sovern noted that the new stock structure makes the company "much more attractive to investors" -- rumors that Sotheby’s is for sale have been circulating for years -- and said that the deal should help boost the stock price. Sotheby’s CEO Bill Ruprecht also noted the improving fortunes of the company, and said, "We have just reported the best second quarter of revenues in our history and the best profits since 1990 and we are optimistic about the continued strength of the art auction market."

To finance the transaction, Sotheby’s got a new $200-million, five-year line of credit from Banc of America and LaSalle Bank, which Sotheby’s said reduced the rate of the loan from 2.5 percent to 1.75 percent.

A dramatic new 9/11 memorial by New York sculptor Sassona Norton is being unveiled in Norristown, Pa., on Sept. 8, 2005. The $100,000 design, which was chosen from 36 entries, features a pair of golden bronze 20-foot-tall weathered hands sensitively grasping at a torn metal girder -- the memorial incorporates an actual 1,400-pound I-beam from the World Trade Center.

On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Gary Nader Fine Art, the Miami-based art impresario is branching out into Miami’s new Wynwood Art District, launching a new, 47,000-square-foot gallery to hold his personal collection of Latin American art. The space is also featuring solo and group exhibitions, concentrating on contemporary Latin American artists, along with performances and videos. The premiere exhibition, opening in Nov. 2005, is "Modern and Contemporary Masters," featuring works by Fernando Botero, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Marc Chagall, Alberto Giacometti, Frida Kahlo, Anselm Kiefer, Wilfredo Lam, Henri Matisse, Matta, Pablo Picasso, Robert Rauschenberg, Diego Rivera, Jaoquin Torres-Garcia and Xul Solar, among many others. Nader also established Gary Nader Editions in 1993 to publish art books and catalogues (including the Latin American Art Price Guide) and launched a series of Latin American art auctions in Miami that ran 1992-2003.

For the new school year, the List Visual Arts Center at MIT has has kicked off their "Student Loan Art Program," a lottery that allows students to borrow artworks for their dorm rooms from the center’s collection. Possible décor includes works by Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Joan Miró, Takashi Murakami, Nam June Paik, Cindy Sherman, Nancy Spero and Rirkrit Tiravanija. Competition among students is reported to be particularly hot for images from Berenice Abbott and Louise Bourgeois. The collection is currently on view at the List, Sept. 6-18, 2005, so that students can make their informed pick -- but with over 1,000 clamoring for about 300 works, chances are less than 1 in 4. For the rest, it will be back to the campus poster shop.

New York artist and Artnet Magazine contributor Elliott Arkin has a new project on the drawing boards -- a roving art vehicle that he has dubbed "Mr. Artzy." Arkin hopes to raise funds to transform a 1960 Mr. Softee Ice-cream truck into a multi-functional art vehicle, with one side serving as a portable information kiosk for the city's visual arts community, and the other incorporating an interactive multi-functional stage and presentation podium with video screen and puppet theatre. The back of the truck holds a small shop specializing in artist's books and multiples.

"I have big plans," said Arkin, who foresees a fleet of Mr. Artzy vehicles in cities across the land. The artist has even talked to a film production company about a children's television series based on the idea, a project that would include Mr. Artzy crayons and art supplies. Look for Mr. Artzy to hit the streets of New York by next summer.

The Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation in Meriden, Conn., is looking for adventurous curatorial talent. The foundation awards an exhibition grant of up to $125,000 to U.S.-based curators to help realize "a strong thematic exhibition concept that challenges the boundaries of contemporary art" at museums and nonprofit organizations. The application deadline is Apr. 10, 2006; for details, see

Forget the image of the artist as scruffy bohemian. The new look for hip artists is . . . the Vogue Man. While the inaugural issue of the quarterly men’s fashion mag from Condé Nast may feature a mere actor on its cover (George Clooney), inside are features on no less than three contemporary artists, plus more tidbits on the art scene. Highlights include a glowing write-up of British artist Julian Opie (pictured in Armani suit), a report detailing the studio contents of painter John Currin (wearing Paul Smith), and a super-macho portrayal of Walton Ford (in an undershirt) surrounded by taxidermy birds of prey.

Other features include a profile of the reopened Kantor/Feuer Gallery in L.A. and peeks into the lives of debonair auctioneers James Zemaitis, Ian Irving and Alistair Clarke, along with a tour of the studio of hip Brit architect David Adjaye (shown with a copy of the program for the 2005 Freize Art Fair, which took place in a tent he designed) and a profile of the framing specialists at London’s Lacy Gallery (who "can handle a masterpiece from a Monet to a Marden"). Looks like MV hopes that a focus on the art world is the perfect way to split the difference between the macho and the effetely fashionable.

Los Angeles art dealer and publisher Daniel Hug has launched a new Rental Gallery to host shows -- by invitation only -- organized by other galleries. The new space is located at 936 Mei Ling Way in Chinatown, and opens on Sept. 10, 2005, with Andreas Diefenbach’s "Content Management," courtesy of Galerie Christian Nagel from Cologne. Opening at Daniel Hug Gallery (at 510 Bernard Street) on Sept. 17, 2005, is "S.E.L.F.," a group show organized by artist Sabina McGrew.

Despite repeated reports of difficulties at Eyestorm, the London-based mass-market contemporary print purveyor, the company has announced plans to open five new franchise galleries in England and Italy. The new spaces are in Exeter (opening Sept. 22, 2005), Milan (opening Sept. 15), Ipswich (Sept. 19), Newcastle (Oct. 13) and Cardiff (tba). Potential franchisers, who need £40,000 in start-up funds plus "working capital," are invited to apply; see

The Alumni Society of the School of Visual Arts in New York is holding its inaugural benefit auction to raise funds for SVA scholarships on Sept. 13, 2005. Some 100 works have been donated for the event by a long list of SVA alumni, faculty and students, including Louise Bourgeois, Inka Essenhigh, Joseph Kosuth, Justine Kurland, Sol LeWitt, Elizabeth Peyton, Alexis Rockman and Collier Schorr (a complete list can be viewed here -- and f.y.i., the "closed" tags only mean that online bidding has ended, not that the lots have been sold). The benefit takes place at SVA’s Visual Arts Gallery at 601 West 26th Street in Chelsea, where the lots are on view Sept. 6-10, 2005. Tickets are $150; for details contact

Art dealer Jeffrey Deitch and downtown culture monthly Paper Magazine have teamed up to launch the new fall art season with SoHo’s first "Art Parade" and block party, commencing at the corner of Crosby and Grand Streets at 4 pm on Sept. 10, 2005. Participants include the fashion collective Asfour (on the Theremin, apparently), artists Ryan McGinnis and Steve Powers, and what is billed as a "semi-nude revue" by the Dazzle Dancers. The block party continues at Deitch Projects on Wooster Street, which currently houses an impressive new wall installation by California artist Jim Isermann.

Two hot exhibitions of photographs open at MB Fine Art in Los Angeles on Sept. 10, 2005. Patrick Tourneboeuf's "The Museum Project" presents large-scale photographs of the grand spaces of major French museums, taken while they were closed to the public for renovations. The resulting images are surreally transitional, and include a shot of an elegant Versailles gallery stripped of its fine finishings, and a view of a large space at the Grand Palais that is empty save for the four bronze horses that ordinarily rest on the museum roof. The show is the first in the U.S. of works by the prize-winning French photographer.

Opening at the same time is an exhibition of black-and-white photographs by Steve Banks titled "Nitro: California Drag Racing in the Sixties." Described as "a head-on collision between two technologies that have shaped Southern California culture: cameras and cars," the show features close-up "details of metal, smoke and power" by Banks, a self-taught photographer who studied with Richard Avedon in the late '60s and last year won the Leica Medal of Excellence. Both exhibitions run till Oct. 19, 2005. For more info, see

Manhattan’s newest skyscraper, the 80-story-tall Time-Warner Center on Columbus Circle, home of Manhattan’s newest five-star hotel, the 251-room Mandarin Oriental New York, is hosting its first art show. Cosmetics executive Sandie Tillotson, a founder of Nu Skin enterprises, is presenting 13 3D Color Field-style paintings by Salt Lake City artist John Bell in her penthouse apartment, Sept. 8-13, 2005. To view the exhibition, contact Mary Fresques at (801) 599-2087.

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