Monday, August 15, 2011


  • WASHINGTON D.C./GREECE. The US and Greece have signed an MOU that makes it illegal for antiquities and Byzantine objects to be imported to the US without the approval of Greek authorities. The measure is aimed at reducing looting and trafficking of these culturally-protected objects. Lee Rosenbaum has criticized the secrecy involved in the decision-making process but transparency would be premature before each of the two countries has satisfied legislative procedures for the agreement's entry into force. Once the agreement is law, the Federal Register notice will publish the agreement and a "list of the types of archaeological and ecclesiastical ethnological material that will require documentation to be brought into the US."
  • LONDON. Former postwar and contemporary director at Christie's and Gagosian Gallery in London, Pilar Ordovas, is opening her own Mayfair gallery with a difference. The emphasis on historical exhibitions is in sync with the trend that "the lines between gallery and museum, corporate and curated, keep getting blurrier and blurrier."
  • LONDON. The High Court has awarded Sarah Thornton, author of the bestseller "Seven Days in the Art World" (an insightful portrayal of the art world and a hugely enjoyable read), £65,000 in damages in a libel case against Lynn Barber for her "scathing review" of the book in The Daily Telegraph. The decision doesn't "clip the wings" of criticism but makes it clear that under defamation law, "a reviewer is entitled to be spiteful as long as she is honest."
  • NEW YORK. Sotheby's, the oldest company traded on the NYSE and the only publicly-owned auction house, claims record first half results with $3.4 billion in sales. Looks like setting a new record required some "de-fudging" of the auction house's 2008 results but in any event, the results were sufficient to put Sotheby's ahead of Christie's (for an analysis of the market share reversal, see Lee Rosenbaum's post). Artinfo reports that Sotheby's CEO Bill Ruprecht attributes the staggering results to the "growth in private sales, increased demand from the Chinese market and exceptional tallies at their recent London auctions." He was also quoted as saying how China is now one of "three legs to the stool" of the art market, with the US and the Euro zone.

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