Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Indiegogo Campaign for Berlin Gallery of Australian Photography

An Australian artist, based in Berlin has recently launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise money to set up a gallery of contemporary Australian photography.
Michael Dooney an artist, architectural lighting designer and photography enthusiast has announced his ambitious goal of establishing Europe’s first art gallery dedicated to displaying Australian photography. 
Mr. Dooney has named the gallery, Galerie Pavola and he has located an ideal space for the gallery in Linienstrasse in Berlin Mitte. The first show is planned to feature renowned Melbourne-based photographer Polixeni Papapetrou’s haunting series, “Between Worlds.”
With Galerie Pavlova, Mr. Dooney is providing a new opportunity for both Australian and New Zealand contemporary photographers to get wider exposure for their work outside the traditional Australian channels.  As an expatriate Australian living in Europe, he has seen first hand the increased level of competition the artists encounter in Europe as opposed to what they face in the homeland.
Mr. Dooney, as an architectural lighting designer, is very aware of the importance of a well-lit Gallery.  Proper lighting is especially important, when it comes to illuminating exhibitions of photography.  On his Indieggo campaign page he explains that the majority of the 5000.00 Euros ($6892.00 USD) he is looking to raise is earmarked for the state-of-the-art lighting system.    
The short-term plans for Galerie Pavlova, include participation in the “2014 European Month of Photography” as well as the “2014 Unseen Photofair” in Amsterdam.   In the long term Dooney plans to organize workshops and conferences where Australian and New Zealand photographers can meet and collaborate. 
Mr. Dooney also offered some fantastic rewards for early contributors to the Indiegogo fundraiser.  The rewards included a limited edition Michael Dooney photograph, Galerie Pavlova membership, a professional architectural lighting consultation, and a one on one portrait photography session for contributors who live in Germany. 
We wish Mr. Dooney much success in providing his fellow Australian artists a fantastic new showcase in Europe.  

Monday, October 21, 2013

Christie’s Australian Auction Falls Short Despite Fred Williams Painting Selling for $1.18 Million

 The Christie's annual Australian Art auction fell short of expectations recently. A large Fred Williams panting, previously owned by Leopold de Rothschild,  took the top bid at the auction in London, however, several other masterpieces did not sell, which was rather disappointing.

Williams’ landscape, titled Lysterfield, was expected to sell for up to $855,000, but when the final gavel came down the painting sold for $1.18 million. It was clearly the top lot of the auction. The unnamed winning bidder, who is thought to be Australian, will pay $1.475 million, plus freight, insurance and other costs.

Christie’s catalog contained 75 Australian and New Zealand artworks. The total lot was expected to bring in between $9.3 million to $12.7 million.  However, the end results fell flat of the expectations.  In total slightly over half the works were sold totaling $6.6 million including the auction premium of 25 per cent.

Nick Lambourn an Australian art specialist for Christie’s, stated that although he was happy to sell the major paintings by Fred Williams and John Glover, he was disappointed that other important artworks by Charles Blackman, Russell Drysdale and Fred McCubbin were passed over.

The total lot was the most impressive group assembled by Christie’s since it stopped holding auctions in Australia.  The high profile Australian art exhibition opened at the Royal Academy.  The daytime auction was held at Christie’s King Street headquarters.

70 people attended the auction. There was some bidding activity from phone bidders and the Internet but the lion’s share of bids came from the people in the room.  Mr. Lambourn said “our sale looked fantastic on the walls and the Royal Academy show delivered a really good crowd, it helped bring over a lot of Australians, but I don’t think it had any effect on our prices…the market is the market.”

Glover's Tasmanian Landscape
In total 41 artworks were sold including a John Glover Tasmanian landscape that had been held in a collection for two centuries. It sold for $2.6 million to an unnamed bidder, who will pay $3.25 million with the premium. Although the piece sold for $500,000 less than the low estimate, it is still a record for the artist.

There was a flurry of bidding over a rare Jeffery Smart painting of his partner Ermes De Zan of North Sydney. The work sold for $299,000 including the premium. Mr. Lambourn stated’ “shifting tastes perhaps explains some of the failures,  we’re not sure. A mixed bag but overall it was a little disappointing.”     

Friday, October 11, 2013

Breaking Bad, Heisenberg and the $9,900 Pair of Tighty-Whities

The startup company ScreenBid.com has recently auctioned some 337 props and costumes from the Breaking Bad TV series. The online Auction, held on behalf of Sony Pictures Television, saw fans of the show bid nearly $1 Million for the seemingly unlimited items.

The auction went live just after the series finale aired and took advantage of the fan mania surrounding the Emmy-winning TV show.   Jeffery Dash co-founder of ScreenBid.com had suggested the auction could bring in more than $2 Million.   Even though that goal was not reached, both Sony Pictures and ScreenBid were very pleased with the auction results.  Dash stated, “We’ve been floored by some of the bid prices.”

About 5,800 people registered at ScreenBid for the auction, with 2000 actually bidding. The site adds a 24% “buyer’s premium” onto the final bid price.  The highest winning bid was $65,500 for the inscribed copy of Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass,” the crux key plot shift late in the series.  It was sold to an unnamed bidder going by “bbadfan101.”

Hector “Tio” Salamanca
Several other items in the lot also commanded five-figure final bids.   Hector “Tio” Salamanca’s wheelchair bell sold for $26,750.  The pink teddy bear that fell from an exploding airliner sold for $23,250 and the eyeless version of that teddy bear also sold for $23,250.  Walter White’s red Cadillac closed for $19,750.  Tuco’s “grill” sold for $20, 250.  Walt’s RC car remote, that played a critical role in the finale, went for $8,400. The biggest surprise of the auction was the $9,900 winning bid for the pair of underwear that Bryan Cranston wore in the pilot episode, where Cranston looked to be dieting. 

Jeff Dash started ScreenBid.com with Bill Block, CEO of indie film company QED International, as an avenue for production companies to generate income from props that they typically would give away or simply discard.

Dash who is also CFO of ArtMix Creative, a Culver City, CA based agency, said 
“We’ve found a way to monetize these assets for the studios.”  ScreenBid’s arrangements with the studios vary.  Dash would not comment on the deal with Sony, but in general the deals are structured such that the studio handles the warehousing for the auction items and ScreenBid runs the online auction and collects the money from the bidders.  The studio keeps 80% of total collected.

The Infamous Tighty Whities!
Not up for bid was the RV that Walt and Jesse Pinkman used as their mobile meth lab. Sony plans to use it for studio tours in the future.  Another highly coveted item that was not up for bid was the pork pie hat worn by “Heisenberg,” Walter White’s crystal meth cooking alter ego. 

The $9,900 pair of tighty-whities are currently on display at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, NY, as part of its “Breaking Bad” exhibition.  The underwear will be shipped to the winning bidder after the exhibit ends this month. You just can’t help thinking that somewhere out there, Heisenberg is laughing his pants off.

Friday, June 28, 2013

The United States Blocks the Private Sale of Picasso Painting

The United States obtained a restraining order to block the sale of a painting by Pablo Picasso valued at an estimated $11.5 million at the request of the Italian government, the Justice Department announced.

The case involves a 1909 work by Picasso known as "Compotier et tasse" which had been offered for private sale in New York
American officials obtained a restraining order blocking any sale and preventing the painting from being moved after Italian authorities asked for help in connection to the prosecution of Gabriella Amati. She and her late husband, Angelo Maj, were charged by Italian prosecutors with embezzlement and fraud.

The couple allegedly worked with an official for the city of Naples and embezzled approximately $44 million of the city's tax revenues, according to Italian court documents.

The Picasso was not stolen but was purchased with money that Amati and her husband allegedly obtained through criminal activity, said a U.S. law enforcement official.

Agents working for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement located and recovered the painting in New York, where it was being offered for sale.

"Restraining this valuable artwork is an effort to help recover some of the estimated $44 million that this couple stole from the tax-paying citizens of Naples," U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton said in a written statement.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

German Jailed and Accused of Art Smuggling by China

A German man that was held in a Beijing prison for over 100 days last year on suspicion of smuggling art has left China, according to Germany’s foreign minister.

Nils Jennrich, the man accused, left China and spoke of relief that “many months of uncertainty and concern, was over for the present.”  The German foreign ministry declined to provide any information about his whereabouts.  The proceedings against Jennrich are still not resolved in China.

Jennrich was taken into custody last year on March 29th and formally detained on May 7 after he allegedly underreported the value of imported art in order to evade paying $1.5 million (10 million yuan) in taxes. He was released on bail in August.

German Justice Minister, Sabine Schnarrenberger has called the conditions of Jennrich’s detention  “deplorable” and “not in accordance with international minimum standards.” 

Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang is scheduled to visit Germany where he will meet Chancellor Angela Merkel.   In China, the sentence for evading greater than 500,000 yuan in duty ranges from 10 years to life.  There is hope though that the courts may issue a lesser punishment.

Nils Jennrich worked in Beijing as a general manager for the Hong Kong based company, Integrated Fine Arts Solutions.  The company imports a small amount of art for clients, but their main focus is providing secure storage for mostly Chinese art pieces. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Many Unique Histories For These Odd Sale Lots

*At the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York, Visitors can view a small rare blue glass creamer. It has a hollow base with an American penny sealed inside. Although its origin is unknown, the date on the penny is 1794 and experts agree it was most likely produced in Philadelphia sometime after that date.

Northeast Auctions in Manchester, N.H. sold the creamer at auction for $82,600. The family that cosigned the piece had acquired it the 1860s. The date on the coin often was to mark a birthday, or other special occasion.

The Corning Museum of Glass owns other glass vessels with coins sealed inside, but  by far the American made pieces are extremely rare. 

*Collecting 1960s Zippo cigarette lighters that belonged to American soldiers has been the focus for Bradford Edwards, an art collector based in Vietnam.  Each lighter is unique because they are engraved with sentiments for peace, home, sex, marijuana, and even death wishes for their enemies.

Mr. Edwards consigned 282 lighters from his collection to Cowan’s Auctions in Cincinnati. The collection was valued between $30,000 to  $50,000.  When the collection did not sell, the owner of the auction house Wes Cowan, approached the Manhattan collector, John Monsky, and convinced him to spend $35.250 for the lot, so that it would not be broken up.  Mr. Monsky has said, “each one of them is like a little emotion.”  His favorite is the lighter engraved with a peace sign and the words “WHY ME.”  

He plans to have them mounted for traveling exhibitions, with a database of engravings and the owners’ biographies.

*It was quite a surprise for furniture historians to discover that the Centennial Museum at the University of Texas at El Paso had two pairs of 1880s gilded chairs from a Vanderbilt home, forgotten in storage since the 1960s.     

The armchairs were produced in Manhattan by the luxury cabinetmaking team, the German born half-brothers, Gustave and Christian Herter.  They are studded with mother-of-pearl and leafy gilding on their sides and were last known to be used by William H. Vanderbilt at his town house on Fifth Avenue.

The Museum placed them at auction through Charlton Hall Auctioneers in South Carolina and the four were sold for $363,000.  Margot Johnson, a New York dealer specializing in Herter pieces, acquired them for the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  The Met commissioned restoration work on the gilding and velvety red upholstery prior to adding them to an exhibition about Herter work done under Vanderbilt patronage.

*For years “Star Trek” fans have debated whether a huge 1960s prop from the television series had survived. The prop is a 24-foot model of the show’s Galileo shuttlecraft that was used to film scenes of crews and visitors in transit.

Sadly, the actual metal and wood box used in the shuttlecraft ended up being left outdoors in Ohio and exposed to the elements for years. It was badly rusted and the wood eroded when it was put up for sale by Kiki Auctions of Canton, Ohio.  Adam Schneider, a consultant in New York, paid $70,000 for it. 

Mr. Schneider commissioned Master Shipwrights in New Jersey to do a full restoration.  Galileo’s metal frame and landing skids are salvageable, but the shell and doors will all have to be replaced. Schneider is researching every detail, of the Galileo as it appeared in the show, right down to the exterior lettering. 

Mr. Schneider collects space ship models from “Star Trek” sets and displays them at his home, complete with reactivated lights and sound effects. Once restored, he plans to donate the shuttlecraft to a museum as a children’s exhibit.

*Sometimes auctions can get pretty heavy. The government decided to remove a 12-ton concrete topographical map of the Gettysburg battlefield from a battlefield visitor’s center.  The map is covered with light bulbs that light up to indicate civil war troop movements.

The 1960s piece was chopped up and stashed in trailers slated to be dumped.  Local preservationists discovered the plan and set up a web site to save the electric map.  Enough support was garnered to convince the General Services Administration to instead offer the piece for sale in and on-line auction.

A developer, Scott Roland from Hanover, PA. paid about $14,000 for it, winning the bidding against an unknown rival.  The pieces have been hoisted by crane and reassembled at a 1950 brick building that is being converted to serve as a conference and visitors center.

Mr. Roland’s team will have the map reactivated in time for Hanover’s 250th anniversary and the 150th anniversary of Civil War Battles in the area.  The wiring had been cut and ruined. All of the mechanisms will be rebuilt from scratch and should work even better than before.   

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Steve McQueen’s 1914 Indian Model F Motorbike goes under the Gavel

Steve McQueen's motorbike will be at auction later this month, with bids starting between  
$33,576 and $42,732. The Hollywood icon's 1914 Indian Model F motorbike is slated to be auctioned off in England later this month, April 2013. The estate of the actor, best known for his film The Great Escape, is putting the motorbike up for auction at the International Classic MotorCycle Show in Stafford.

Bonhams Auction House, said it plans to sell the Steve McQueen motorbike at its April 28 sale. This particular Indian Model F is one of only 242 motorcycles up for auction during the Bonhams sale. Steve McQueen's isn't the rarest motorbike up for auction, and doesn't have the highest estimate.

However, Steve McQueen's connection to the motorbike could make the item a "wild card" in term of how high a price it will sell for.  Reportedly, a number of McQueen's former cars and motorcycles have ended up selling for "many times their estimated value" in auctions over the past decade.

"This machine was a part of Steve McQueen's motorbike collection," said Ben Walker, head of Bonhams Motorcycle Department. "Rather than one he would have raced." Steve McQueen's 1914 Indian, a true collector's item, would make any motorcycle buff's dreams come true.

Steve McQueen's motorbike is an early board-track racer from an era when motorcycles were raced on banked wooden tracks. The bikes were push-started and ran at speeds up to 100 mph! The machines against which these motorbikes competed, generally had no clutch, throttle or breaks. At the end of the race, the motorbike rider would cut the magneto ignition to turn off the engine.

"The men who raced these early board-track motorcycles were not only pioneers and champions of early motor racing, but must also have been incredibly brave," said Walker. "In this age of health and safety the idea of riding at up to 100 mph with no helmet or protective clothing, knowing you have no way of stopping in a hurry, is a terrifying thought."

For those not interested in purchasing this Steve McQueen motorbike, they can still see the actor's, Scott Flying Squirrel motorcycle which is on display at Dale Winfield's motorcycle museum in Haslingden, Lancashire. The Scott Motorcycle Company first introduced this model of bike in 1926.

Steve McQueen's passion for motorsports is long-running. He was known to pursue auto and motorcycle racing equally. McQueen and Peter Revson won in their class in the 12 Hours of Sebring Race of 1970. The car McQueen raced was later used as a camera car in the film Le Mans.

Steve McQueen also competed in off-road motorcycle racing, often going by the name Harvey Mushman. He raced in the '60s and '70s in races including the Baja 100, Mint 400, and Elsinore Grand Prix. McQueen represented the U.S. in the International Six Days Trial in 1964 and was inducted in the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1978.

Steve McQueen is known for his roles in such movies as The Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven, The Nevada Smith, and Papillion. The actor passed away on November 7, 1980 of a heart attack.