MY WORD Fall 2017

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This Fall has been a busy way to finish the year. We are underway cataloging the Allan Stone collection for sale in 2018 by Rago Auctions outside Philadelphia. As You will note in this issue we are preparing next week to launch our Christmas Jewelry Show including over a hundred objects ranging from $25 to $10,000. Yesterday we saw Sothebys New York hammer down the Silver Ethnographic collection for over 7 million. I watched the Christie's sale of Leonardo Da Vinci's Salavdor Mundi and it was staggering to watch the last three or four bidders fight it out. No one expected either the final price of over 450 million or to see two power plays the a bidder tried to jump the bid to intimidate his or her competition. Needless to say If you have that kind of money, I suspect you don't intimidate easily. I believe we will soon know who the winner is and we shall follow it for you.

Most importantly we are getting down to the wire on you acting to stop the STOP Act. S1400 and HR3211 are the bills in the Senate and House that are attempting to further confuse and complicate the very sensitive issue of the ownership of Indian artifacts. Noting below the Committee for Cultural Policy's fine analysis of these bills which describes in detail why these bills won't do what they are intended to do.. It is not surprising that politicians in their zeal to advocate for their constituencies are not as concerned with the fallout as they are with making a big explosion on the front end. So if you care about individual property rights this issue might warrant a call to your representative or senator. JB

STOP ACT Update Fall 2017

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Editor's Note: S1400 and HR3211 are the bills in the Senate and House that are attempting to further confuse and complicate the very sensitive issue of the ownership of Indian artifacts. Noting below the Committee for Cultural Policy's fine analysis of these bills which describes in detail why these bills won't do what they are intended to do.. It is not surprising that politicians in their zeal to advocate for their constituencies are not as concerned with the fallout as they are with making a big explosion on the front end. So if you care about individual property rights this issue might warrant a call to your representative or senator.

STOP Act Introduced to Penalize Exporting Indian Artifacts    

A bill has been introduced in the Senate that would prohibit the export of Native American and Hawaiian objects deemed tribal patrimony. Senate Bill 3127, the Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony Act of 2016 (the “STOP Act”), makes it unlawful for any person to knowingly export from the United States any Native American “cultural object” obtained in violation of four existing U.S. statutes: NAGPRA, 18 USC § 1170, ARPA, and18 USC § 1866(b).
The bill also raises the penalty for a violation of any of the above existing laws from 5 years to 10 years. And finally, the bill adds a provision granting immunity from prosecution to anyone who “repatriates” an unlawfully obtained cultural object to the “appropriate” Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization within two years of the STOP Act’s implementation.
The highly publicized French auctions of Hopi, Acoma, and Navajo ceremonial items triggered the drafting of the proposed bill. An “in rem” forfeiture was filed July 20, 2016 against the shield (see below) in New Mexico federal district court.
The STOP Act’s congressional sponsors have stated that it will address tribal concerns without impeding the rights of collectors to own, buy, and sell lawfully acquired Native American art and artifacts.
It is not clear that by making export of an object obtained in violation of ARPA or NAGPRA a crime, the bill adds much, if any, additional legal protection to Native American tribal artifacts or even to sacred objects. Trafficking of an object obtained in violation of ARPA or NAGPRA is already a crime. The best way to achieve a proper balance between retaining objects important to tribes and allowing free trade in others may be through direct consultation with the tribes to refine the terms of the STOP Act.
As it is now written, the STOP Act will make it a separate crime to export not only sacred or ritually significant objects, but also any type of Native American artifact if the artifact is over 100 years old and came out of federal or Indian lands after 1906. It is unavoidable uncertainty about the origins of artifacts, not knowledge of unlawful origins, that will most worry collectors and the art trade.
Hundreds of thousands of Native American objects entered the stream of commerce since the 1880s, and many have been passed through multiple owners over decades. How is a current owner to know if an object might be claimed as sacred by a tribe or claimed as coming from federal or Indian lands by the federal government?
At an art law seminar in Santa Fe, NM on July 29, 2016, attorneys who have represented the Acoma Pueblo suggested that if in doubt, owners could ask the tribe. At the same time, they acknowledged that although some types of objects, such as ceramics, are generally accepted as non-ritual, some of these might turn out to be ritually significant if they were used in a particular ceremony.
The question remains: even if it was feasible for a private owner to contact the presumed originating tribe before selling or exporting an object – and even if the tribes were willing to provide a firm answer – how would tribal governments cope with the enormous volume of objects currently encompassed by the STOP Act?
Tribes and the collecting community should work together to make clear the objects covered in the STOP Act.
It is in the interest of Indian art collectors and dealers to work with tribal communities to obtain clarification on what items tribes are claiming, and on what basis the claims are made. It is in the interest of the Native American and Hawaiian communities to assist in making good laws by identifying exactly what is their cultural patrimony and what is not. A forthright declaration of exactly the types of objects for which repatriation is sought would likely ease concerns about the apparent breadth of the proposed legislation, and do much to ensure compliance with its terms. It would also encourage repatriation of the artifacts most sought by the tribes.
Existing laws already enable a variety of tribal claims and protect sacred objects.
ARPA is based primarily on where the object came from. It is already a crime under ARPA to buy or sell an object that is taken without a permit from federal or Indian lands after 1906, the date of passage of the American Antiquities Act. (ARPA was not passed until 1979, but it is an “umbrella statute” that makes it a crime punishable under ARPA to traffic in an object obtained in violation of any federal, state, or local law. Despite the acknowledged fact that the Antiquities Act was almost never enforced until passage of ARPA in 1979, no amount of time will make that object lawful, whereas an identical object that was found on private land is lawful to buy and sell.)
ARPA covers a very broad range of objects – basically anything made by human hands that is over 100 years old, based on a rolling date. When ARPA was first passed, it covered items older than 1879. Today, it covers items older than 1916.
Ritual and sacred objects are another matter. Such items may already be claimed under NAGPRA, if taken from federal or Indian lands after 1990, or a civil suit for replevin may be filed by a tribe for a communally owned object. Essentially, the tribes can claim superior title to objects that are meaningful to current religious practices, even against private owners and downstream good faith purchasers, and regardless of where they were “found.” Tribes have had the ability for many years to seek the return of privately owned objects that the tribes claim as “cultural patrimony,” that is, objects that are communally owned by the tribe, and cannot lawfully be sold by an individual tribal member, even if that tribal member lawfully possesses them.
There are no measurable standards or criteria to identify objects covered by the STOP Act.
The STOP Act appears to encompass a very wide range of objects (see below), far greater than the types of “sacred” or “inalienable” objects of cultural patrimony whose recent export has angered and upset the people of Acoma Pueblo, the Hopi and the Navajo.
No tribes have made public lists of missing items, or identified which types of items they consider religious or non-religious or cultural patrimony or not. Since passage of NAGPRA in 1990, US museums and institutions that receive federal financial support have been required under federal law to catalog all Native American human remains and ritually significant items and submit these lists to tribes to allow the tribes to request repatriation. Even with federal guidance and institutional academic expertise, this process has taken decades. In the end, different museums have returned different ranges of objects. This variety of standards poses additional questions and ambiguities for Indian art collectors and the trade.
There is no evidentiary standard for proof of superior title by a tribe.
Like other legislation pertaining to tribal artifacts, the STOP Act once again fails to set forth criteria for determining whether an item is the property of an individual and therefore something that can be lawfully sold, or if it belongs to the larger community, and cannot be sold or abandoned without permission of the group. It does not address the legal status of the many important cultural objects that tribal communities sold when they adopted Christianity or because of early 20th century pressure by the US government to abandon traditional ways.
(In 1883, Secretary of the Interior Henry Teller issued rules establishing Courts of Indian Offenses to prohibit Native American ceremonial activity under pain of imprisonment. Teller ordered Indian agents to discontinue dances and feasts and to compel medicine men to halt their practices. Teller’s rules prohibited anyone less than 50 years old from being present at feasts and dances. Missionaries encouraged the destruction of paraphernalia used in tribal religious celebrations. At various times in the early part of the 20th C, Native Christian groups also encouraged people to destroy relics. It was only in 1978 that the American Indian Religious Freedom Act gave Native American religions the same rights given to others.)
What makes an object “cultural patrimony”?
There is also debate about whether objects are truly traditional cultural patrimony or authentic religious objects. Several of the Hopi katsina sold in Europe in recent years have been identified as fakes or pastiches by knowledgeable observers, yet some of these also were claimed by the Hopi to be inalienable cultural patrimony.
In past cases involving tribal claims to “cultural patrimony,” US courts have given great deference to the testimony of tribal elders, holding that items were cultural patrimony owned by Native American communities rather than individuals. This has been the case even when other tribal elders have disagreed.
Essentially, the Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony Act appears to reinforce the idea that if a Native American community says now that an item is sacred, it is sacred, regardless how long ago it was sold, or under what circumstances.
A cooperative partnership and equal application of the laws can enhance compliance.
One can understand that Native communities are reluctant to share information about items they consider sacred. Nonetheless, the severity of the ten-year sentence for unlawful export proposed by the STOP Act would argue for some evidentiary standard for conviction.
The Acoma shield withdrawn from the most recent Paris auction was a very unusual case. It was voluntarily withdrawn by the auction house because it was specifically identified as having disappeared from the home of a particular family, on the basis of an affidavit executed by a family member who had been a child at the time. This is more evidence than has been presented for other objects sold in recent years at a foreign auction.
Native American communities that wish to take advantage of stricter laws should also be responsible partners in ensuring that laws are respected within the tribes. In the past, most tribes have been unwilling to report unlawful sales or theft of cultural property by tribal members or to identify the circumstances in which unlawful sales occurred. While Acoma Pueblo has made sincere efforts to enforce its own laws regarding community-owned objects, not all tribes have been diligent in policing their own members.
Complaint for In Rem Forfeiture Filed Against Acoma Shield in Paris Auction
On July 20, 2016, a civil action was filed in U.S. District Court in New Mexico to seize the shield voluntarily removed from the Paris auction in May 2016 in  United States of America v. Acoma Ceremonial Shield described by EVE Auction House as Lot #68 “Bouclier de Guerre Pueblo probablement Acoma ou Jemez XIX siecle ou plus ancien cuir.” The case is 1:16-cv-00832-MV-KBM. An “in rem” forfeiture is a civil judicial forfeiture action filed against the property itself, rather than against an individual or entity.
Terms of the Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony Act
What items does the Act cover? More meaningful definitions might resolve much of the controversy surrounding the proposed law.
The STOP Act penalizes export of any Native American cultural object obtained in violation of NAGPRA, 18 USC 1170, ARPA, or 18 USC 1866(b).
The STOP Act defines a cultural object as fitting one of three categories (descriptions from the source statutes in italics):

    “cultural items as described in NAGPRA, 25 USC 3001”:

25 USC 3001(3)((3) “cultural items” means human remains and—

(A) “associated funerary objects” which shall mean objects that, as a part of the death rite or ceremony of a culture, are reasonably believed to have been placed with individual human remains either at the time of death or later, and both the human remains and associated funerary objects are presently in the possession or control of a Federal agency or museum, except that other items exclusively made for burial purposes or to contain human remains shall be considered as associated funerary objects.[1]

(B) “unassociated funerary objects” which shall mean objects that, as a part of the death rite or ceremony of a culture, are reasonably believed to have been placed with individual human remains either at the time of death or later, where the remains are not in the possession or control of the Federal agency or museum and the objects can be identified by a preponderance of the evidence as related to specific individuals or families or to known human remains or, by a preponderance of the evidence, as having been removed from a specific burial site of an individual culturally affiliated with a particular Indian tribe,

(C) “sacred objects” which shall mean specific ceremonial objects which are needed by traditional Native American religious leaders for the practice of traditional Native American religions by their present day adherents, and

(D) “cultural patrimony” which shall mean an object having ongoing historical, traditional, or cultural importance central to the Native American group or culture itself, rather than property owned by an individual Native American, and which, therefore, cannot be alienated, appropriated, or conveyed by any individual regardless of whether or not the individual is a member of the Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization and such object shall have been considered inalienable by such Native American group at the time the object was separated from such group.

    An “archeological resource as defined under section 3 of ARPA, 470bb(1)”:

(1) The term “archaeological resource” means any material remains of past human life or activities which are of archaeological interest, as determined under uniform regulations promulgated pursuant to this chapter. Such regulations containing such determination shall include, but not be limited to: pottery, basketry, bottles, weapons, weapon projectiles, tools, structures or portions of structures, pit houses, rock paintings, rock carvings, intaglios, graves, human skeletal materials, or any portion or piece of any of the foregoing items. Nonfossilized and fossilized paleontological specimens, or any portion or piece thereof, shall not be considered archaeological resources, under the regulations under this paragraph, unless found in archaeological context. No item shall be treated as an archaeological resource under regulations under this paragraph unless such item is at least 100 years of age.

    Or “object of antiquity protected under section 1866(b).”

“(b) …any historic or prehistoric ruin or monument or any other object of antiquity that is situated on land owned or controlled by the Federal Government without the permission of the head of the Federal agency having jurisdiction over the land on which the object is situated…”

Image: Senator Martin Heinrich, speaking on the STOP Act.

 

CHRISTMAS JEWELRY Show November 2017

Tuesday, November 21, 20175:00 PM
Monday, January 8, 20186:00 PM
For over four decades we have been collecting ethnographic jewelry from around the world.  Some Coptic pectoral crosses were collected when I was in Ethiopia in the early 1970's. We have a fascination as well with Pre-Columbian cultures which are represented by Maya jade necklaces, Classic shell ear flares, and gold from a private Miami collection. Several brightly beaded Naga necklaces come the border area of India and Burma. We are also quite excited to present Asian ethnic jewelry from a private Santa Fe collection. Let us know how we might help with your Christmas. We can provide authentication documents, special wrapping, and last minute shipping if required.
The collection will be posted just before Thanksgiving..

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US AUCTIONS Fall 2017

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1. NEW YORK Although his work was not the highest valued sales at Swann’s African American Art auction on October 5th, Sam Gilliam was the big winner last week. His Rubiyat significantly out-performed estimates. A more recent work from 2001 also did quite well.
Also significantly out-performing was Norman Lewis’s work.
Sale total: $2,750,585 | Estimates for sale (without premium): $2,283,500-$3,371,000; 154 lots offered; 124 sold (81% sell-through rate by lot)
All prices include Buyer’s Premium.
    4       Henry Ossawa Tanner, Flight into Egypt, oil on canvas, circa 1910.  $341,000
    48      Norman Lewis, Untitled (Processional Composition), oil on marbleized slate, 1960. $233,000
    88      Sam Gilliam, Rubiyat, acrylic and flocking on canvas, 1973. $191,000
    20**  Elizabeth Catlett, War Worker, tempera, 1943. $149,000
    31      Hughie Lee-Smith, Untitled (Youths on a Lakeshore), oil on board, 1952.  $93,750
    39*    Richmond Barthé, The Awakening of Africa, cast bronze, 1959.  $87,500
    68      Charles White, I Have A Dream, Series #11 (Study for the Wall), oil on board, 1968.  $81,250
    12      Barthé, Stevedore, cast bronze on marble base, modeled in 1937, cast in 1985.  $75,000
    150    Eldzier Cortor, Lady with Fan II, oil on canvas, 2005. $75,000
    147    Gilliam, Not Spinning, acrylic on plywood construction with aluminum frame, 2001-04. $57,500 C
    124    Lee-Smith, Interlude, oil on canvas, 1991.$55,000
    125    Lee-Smith, The Encounter, oil on canvas, 1991.  $52,500
    95*    Ernie Barnes, The Maestro, acrylic on canvas in artist-built frame, circa 1978. $47,500
    42      Alma W. Thomas, In the Studio, oil on canvas, 1956. $45,000
    129    Carrie Mae Weems, Sea Island Series, quadriptych with two silver prints and two text panels, 1992.$45,000
    101    Catlett, Glory, cast bronze on wood base, 1981. $40,000
    1       Edward M. Bannister, Untitled (Rhode Island Coastal Scene), oil on canvas, circa 1885-89.$40,000
    109    Romare Bearden, The Evening Boat, collage and watercolor on board, 1984.$40,000
    110    Bearden, At the Dock, watercolor, 1984.  $37,500
    21    Jacob Lawrence, Eight Passages, eight color screenprints illustrating the Book of Genesis, 1990.$30,000
http://www.artmarketmonitor.com/2017/10/10/swann-african-american-2-7m/

 

 

INTERNATIONAL AUCTIONS Fall 2017

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1. NEW YORK (AFP).- The last Leonardo Da Vinci painting still in the hands of a private collector will go under the hammer next month in New York, the Christie's auction house said Tuesday, estimating its worth at $100 million.
Dating from around 1500, "Salvator Mundi" -- which depicts Jesus Christ as the world's savior -- was long believed to be a copy of an original by the Italian master, until it was eventually certified as authentic.
Fewer than 20 works by Da Vinci, whose art was already highly sought after during his lifetime, have survived to this day -- all of them held in museum or institutional collections, with the exception of "Salvator Mundi."
As a general rule, very few pre-19th-century artworks remain in private ownership, and it is extremely rare for one of them to be offered at auction.
"For auction specialists, this is pretty much the Holy Grail, no pun intended, but it doesn't really get better than that," said Loic Gouzer, co-chairman of Christie’s Americas post-war and contemporary art department.
A third party guarantee has been arranged for the painting, which ensures it will sell for around the estimate of $100 million on November 15, said Francois de Poortere, head of the Christie's old masters department in New York.
The work will travel to Hong Kong, San Francisco and London, before spending three days on display in New York leading up to the sale.
According to Poortere, "Salvator Mundi" -- which measures 45x65 cm (26x18 inches) -- was last sold to an unnamed European collector following a historic Da Vinci exhibition at London's National Gallery in 2011-12.
Mining a common theme, next month's auction will begin with the sale of the massive "Sixty Last Suppers" by pop artist Andy Warhol -- which depicts Da Vinci's "The Last Supper" 60 times over, and is offered with a $50 million estimate.
http://artdaily.com/news/99422/Last-privately-owned-painting-by-Leonardo-Da-Vinci-to-go-on-sale-for--100-million#.Wd-ceUqGMnY

2.HONG KONG (AFP).- A 1,000-year-old bowl from China's Song Dynasty sold for US$37.7 million in Hong Kong on Tuesday, breaking the record for Chinese ceramics, auction house Sotheby's said.
The small piece -- which dates from 960-1127 -- stole the previous record of $36.05 million set in 2014 for a Ming Dynasty wine cup which was snapped up by a Shanghai tycoon famous for making eye-watering bids.
The person behind Tuesday's winning offer wished to remain anonymous, Sotheby's said, with the auction house declining to say whether the buyer hailed from the Chinese mainland or not.
"It's a totally new benchmark for Chinese ceramics and we've made history with this piece today," Nicolas Chow, deputy chairman of Sotheby's Asia, told reporters.
Bidding started at around US$10.2 million with the suspense-filled auction lasting some 20 minutes as a handful of phone bidders and one person in the room itself competed with each other.
The winning offer eventually came from one of the phone bidders and was received by a round of applause.
The bowl -- originally designed to wash brushes -- is an example of extremely rare Chinese porcelain from the imperial court of the Northern Song Dynasty and one of only four such pieces in private hands, according to Sotheby's.
Measuring 13cm in diameter, the dish features a luminous blue glaze.
'Chicken cup'
The price tag exceeds the earlier record made by a tiny white piece known as the "Chicken Cup", decorated with a colour painting of a rooster and a hen tending to their chicks, and created during the reign of the Chenghua Emperor between 1465 and 1487.
That cup sold in 2014 to taxi-driver-turned-financier Liu Yiqian, one of China's wealthiest people and among a new class of Chinese super-rich scouring the globe for artwork and antiquities.
He famously drank tea from the dainty vessel after his purchase, causing something of a social media meltdown in China at the time.
In recent years Liu, who has built his own museum in Shanghai, has made a series of record-breaking bids and has become China's highest profile art collector.
More recently he has turned to acquiring Western masterpieces.
In 2015 he splashed out on Modigliani's "Nu Couche" or "Reclining Nude" for more than US$170 million at Christie's in what was then the second highest price ever paid at auction for a work of art.
An ongoing anti-corruption drive in mainland China has done little to dent feverish bidding in Hong Kong's auction houses.
Earlier this year a giant diamond named the "Pink Star" broke the world record for a gemstone sold at auction when it fetched US$71.2 million.
The 59.60-carat rock was sold to the city's Chow Tai Fook jewellery chain which has a strong presence across East Asia.
Last year the city's auction houses set a new record for the most expensive designer handbag -- a diamond-encrusted crocodile-skin Hermes handbag with white gold details that sold for US$300,000.
China's various dynasties were renowned for their fine ceramics with the Song period often regarded as producing some of the region's most superb examples.
Song ceramics are particularly known for their subtlety, simplicity and exquisite glazing and have long been among the most sought after objects for collectors.
http://artdaily.com/news/99254/-37-7-million-bowl-sets-Chinese-ceramic-auction-record-at-Sotheby-s-Hong-Kong#.Wd-fikqGMnY

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EARLY MAN - ARCHAEOLOGY Fall 2017

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1.PAPUA NEW GUINEA - SYDNEY (AFP).- A 6,000-year-old skull found in Papua New Guinea is likely the world's oldest-known tsunami victim, experts said Thursday after a new analysis of the area it was found in.
The partially preserved Aitape Skull was discovered in 1929 by Australian geologist Paul Hossfeld, 12 kilometres (seven miles) inland from the northern coast of the Pacific nation.
It was long thought to belong to Homo erectus (upright man), an extinct species thought to be an ancestor of the modern human that died out some 140,000 years ago.
But more recent radiocarbon dating estimated it was closer to 6,000 years old, making it a member of our own species -- Homo sapiens. At that time, sea levels were higher and the area would have been near the coast.
An international team led by the University of New South Wales returned to the site to collect the same geological deposits observed by Hossfeld.
Back in the lab, they studied details of the sediment including its grain size and geochemical composition, which can help identify a tsunami inundation.
They also identified a range of microscopic organisms from the ocean in the sediment, similar to those found in soil after a devastating tsunami hit the region in 1998.
"We have discovered that the place where the Aitape Skull was unearthed was a coastal lagoon that was inundated by a large tsunami about 6,000 years ago," said study author and UNSW scientist James Goff.
"It was similar to the one that struck nearby with such devastating effect in 1998, killing more than 2,000 people.
"We conclude that this person who died there so long ago is probably the oldest-known tsunami victim in the world."
The conclusions, aided by researchers from the United States, France, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, are published in the journal PLOS ONE.
Massive inundation
Goff, a world authority on tsunamis, said while the bones of the skull had been well-studied previously, little attention had been paid to the sediments where they were unearthed.
"The geological similarities between these sediments and the sediments laid down during the 1998 tsunami made us realise that human populations in this area have been affected by these massive inundations for thousands of years," he said.
"After considering a range of possible scenarios, we believe that, on the balance of the evidence, the individual was either killed directly in the tsunami, or was buried just before it hit and the remains were redeposited."
Following the 1998 tsunami, which penetrated up to five kilometres inland, attempts to retrieve victims were called off after a week because crocodiles were feeding on the corpses, leading to their dismemberment.
This may also explain why the skull of the person who died 6,000 years ago was found on its own, without any other bones, the researchers said.
World attention has been drawn to the devastating impact of tsunamis in recent decades, particularly following those in Indonesia in 2004 and Japan in 2011, which killed about 230,000 and 16,000 people respectively.
But research in the Pacific has shown that throughout history and prehistory, the region has seen repeated catastrophic tsunamis that have caused death, abandonment of settlements, breakdown of trading routes and even war, the study said.
"This work reinforces a growing recognition that tsunamis have had a significant influence on coastal populations throughout Pacific prehistory and doubtless elsewhere as well," said study co-author Darren Curnoe, also from UNSW.
http://artdaily.com/news/99819/Papua-New-Guinea-skull--world-s-oldest-tsunami-victim-#.WgiFdIhry70
© Agence France-Presse

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2. PARIS (AFP).- The skull of an infant ape buried by a volcano 13 million years ago has preserved intriguing clues about the ancestor humans shared with apes -- including a likely African origin, scientists said Wednesday.
A previously-unknown creature that shared an extended family with the human forefather, had a flat face like that of our far-flung cousin the gibbon, but did not move like one, its discoverers wrote in the journal Nature.
They named it Nyanzapithecus alesi after "ales" -- the word for "ancestor" in the Turkana language of Kenya, where the lemon-sized skull was unearthed.
The sole specimen is that of an infant that would have grown to weigh about 11 kilogrammes (24 pounds) in adulthood. It had a brain much larger than monkeys from the same epoch, the researchers said.
"If you compare to all living things, it looks most like a gibbon," study co-author Isaiah Nengo of the Stony Brook University in New York told AFP.
This does not mean the direct ancestor of living apes necessarily looked like a gibbon, just that a member of its family did at the time.
Assuming a gibbon-like appearance for our ancestor would be similar to scientists from the future unearthing a gorilla skull and concluding that all hominins -- the group that also includes chimps and humans -- looked like a gorilla.
The location of the extraordinary fossil find, said the team, supported the idea that the ape-human ancestor lived in Africa and not in Asia as some have speculated.
"With this we... put the root of the hominoidea in Africa more firmly," said Nengo.
Hominoidea, or hominoids, is the name for the family of apes.
The group is divided in two, with humans, bonobos, chimps, gorillas and orangutans on the one side (hominids), and agile, tree-swinging gibbons (hylobatids) alone on the other.
The new species belonged to a much older, ancestral group that included the forefather of hominoids, the researchers concluded.
Out of Africa
That group, which has no official name yet, lived and died millions of years ago.
"The majority of that group, and the oldest members of that group, are African but we would not have been able to resolve all of that without Alesi," said Nengo.
"Alesi is the one that has allowed us to... know who is in that group... and when we take a close look we see that most of the group are found in Africa."
Alesi's is the most complete ape skull from the entire Miocene period, which ranged from about 24 million to five million years ago.
"It may be younger (than some other fossil pieces) but it is the only one where you have a face, you have the base of a skull, you have the inside of the skull, so you can see what a representative of them might have looked like," said Nengo.
Hi-tech scans of the skull showed that Alesi had teeth similar to some gibbon species.
While its baby teeth had been knocked out, Alesi's adult teeth lay unerupted inside its jaw, and their age could be determined with great precision -- the ape was one year and four months old when it died.
The team also established that the balance organs in Alesi's ear were unlike those of the gibbon, meaning it probably had a different, slower, way of moving.
While a lot is known about human evolution since we split from chimps about seven million years ago, little was known about common ancestors from before 10 million years ago.
Commenting on the study, anthropologist Brenda Benefit of the New Mexico State University described this as a fossil find "that I never thought would be made during my lifetime".
"This discovery will help to fill in missing information regarding adaptations that influence ape and human evolutionary histories," she said in comments published by the journal.
"This is an exceptional discovery," agreed Paul Tafforeau of the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble, France, who helped examine the skull. http://artdaily.com/news/98130/Ancient-skull-hints-at-African-roots-for-ape-human-ancestor--Study#.WdZ690qGMnY

3.  COPENHAGEN.- Early humans seem to have recognised the dangers of inbreeding at least 34,000 years ago, and developed surprisingly sophisticated social and mating networks to avoid it, new research has found.
The study, reported in the journal Science, examined genetic information from the remains of anatomically modern humans who lived during the Upper Palaeolithic, a period when modern humans from Africa first colonised western Eurasia. The results suggest that people deliberately sought partners beyond their immediate family, and that they were probably connected to a wider network of groups from within which mates were chosen, in order to avoid becoming inbred.
This suggests that our distant ancestors are likely to have been aware of the dangers of inbreeding, and purposely avoided it at a surprisingly early stage in prehistory.
The symbolism, complexity and time invested in the objects and jewellery found buried with the remains also suggests that it is possible that they developed rules, ceremonies and rituals to accompany the exchange of mates between groups, which perhaps foreshadowed modern marriage ceremonies, and may have been similar to those still practised by hunter-gatherer communities in parts of the world today.
The study’s authors also hint that the early development of more complex mating systems may at least partly explain why anatomically modern humans proved successful while other species, such as Neanderthals, did not. However, more ancient genomic information from both early humans and Neanderthals is needed to test this idea.
The research was carried out by an international team of academics, led by the University of Cambridge, UK, and the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. They sequenced the genomes of four individuals from Sunghir, a famous Upper Palaeolithic site in Russia, which is believed to have been inhabited about 34,000 years ago.
The human fossils buried at Sunghir represent a rare and highly valuable, source of information because very unusually for finds from this period, the people buried there appear to have lived at the same time and were buried together. To the researchers’ surprise, however, these individuals were not closely related in genetic terms; at the very most, they were second cousins. This is true even in the case of two children who were buried head-to-head in the same grave.
Professor Eske Willerslev, who holds posts both as a Fellow at St John’s College, Cambridge, and at the University of Copenhagen, was the senior author on the study.
• What this means is that even people in the Upper Palaeolithic, who were living in tiny groups, understood the importance of avoiding inbreeding, he said.
• The data that we have suggest that it was being purposely avoided.
• This means that they must have developed a system for this purpose. If small hunter–gatherer bands were mixing at random, we would see much greater evidence of inbreeding than we have here.
Early humans and other hominins such as Neanderthals appear to have lived in small family units. The small population size made inbreeding likely, but among anatomically modern humans it eventually ceased to be commonplace; when this happened, however, is unclear.
• Small family bands are likely to have interconnected with larger networks, facilitating the exchange of people between groups in order to maintain diversity, Professor Martin Sikora, from the Centre for GeoGenetics at the University of Copenhagen, said.
Sunghir contains the burials of one adult male and two younger individuals, accompanied by the symbolically-modified incomplete remains of another adult, as well as a spectacular array of grave goods. The researchers were able to sequence the complete genomes of the four individuals, all of whom were probably living on the site at the same time. These data were compared with information from a large number of both modern and ancient human genomes.
They found that the four individuals studied were genetically no closer than second cousins, while an adult femur filled with red ochre found in the children’s’ grave would have belonged to an individual no closer than great-great grandfather of the boys.
• This goes against what many would have predicted, Willerslev said.
• I think many researchers had assumed that the people of Sunghir were very closely related, especially the two youngsters from the same grave.
The people at Sunghir may have been part of a network similar to that of modern day hunter-gatherers, such as Aboriginal Australians and some historical Native American societies. Like their Upper Palaeolithic ancestors, these people live in fairly small groups of around 25 people, but they are also less directly connected to a larger community of perhaps 200 people, within which there are rules governing with whom individuals can form partnerships.
• Most non-human primate societies are organised around single-sex kin where one of the sexes remains resident and the other migrates to another group, minimising inbreeding says Professor Marta Mirazón Lahr, from the Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies at the University of Cambridge.
• At some point, early human societies changed their mating system into one in which a large number of the individuals that form small hunter-gatherer units are non-kin. The results from Sunghir show that Upper Palaeolithic human groups could use sophisticated cultural systems to sustain very small group sizes by embedding them in a wide social network of other groups.
By comparison, genomic sequencing of a Neanderthal individual from the Altai Mountains who lived around 50,000 years ago indicates that inbreeding was not avoided. This leads the researchers to speculate that an early, systematic approach to preventing inbreeding may have helped anatomically modern humans to thrive, compared with other hominins.
This should be treated with caution, however:
• We don’t know why the Altai Neanderthal groups were inbred, Sikora said.
• Maybe they were isolated and that was the only option; or maybe they really did fail to develop an available network of connections. We will need more genomic data of diverse Neanderthal populations to be sure.
Willerslev also highlights a possible link with the unusual sophistication of the ornaments and cultural objects found at Sunghir. Group-specific cultural expressions may have been used to establish distinctions between bands of early humans, providing a means of identifying who to mate with and who to avoid as partners.
• The ornamentation is incredible and there is no evidence of anything like that with Neanderthals and other archaic humans, Willerslev added.
• When you put the evidence together, it seems to be speaking to us about the really big questions; what made these people who they were as a species, and who we are as a result.
http://artdaily.com/news/99495/Prehistoric-humans-are-likely-to-have-formed-mating-networks-to-avoid-inbreeding#.Wfix-WJSwnY

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Pre-Columbian Archaeology Fall 2017

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1. LIMA (AFP).- Introducing the Lady of Cao: using high-tech 3-D printing and based on the skull of an ancient mummy, scientists have reconstructed the face of a woman who governed in northern Peru 1,700 years ago.
The woman's mummified remains were discovered at the Cao Viejo adobe pyramid in 2006 in the Chicama Valley, just north of the modern city of Trujillo.
"Technology allows us to see the face of a political, religious and cultural leader of the past," Culture Minister Salvador del Solar said when he unveiled a life-like bust of the woman on Tuesday in Lima.
The woman, dubbed the Lady of Cao, belonged to the Moche culture that thrived in the northern coastal region between 100 and 800 AD.
She had been buried with metal items and wooden scepters wrapped in copper that symbolized the power she wielded when she was alive.
Archaeologists say she is the first known female governor in Peru. Before this experts did not belive that women had any governing or religious authority in pre-Hispanic Peru.
Scientists worked for 10 months to replicate the woman's face by analyzing her skull structure and comparing it with pictures of female residents of Magdalena de Cao, the town nearest to the pyramid.
Tatoos are still visible on the woman's mummy, which was also on display at the event.
http://artdaily.com/news/97285/Archaeologists-reconstruct-face-of-woman-who-ruled-northern-Peru-1-700-years-ago#.Wd-Q50qGMnY

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2. MEXICO CITY (AFP).- A giant temple to the Aztec god of the wind and a court where the Aztecs played a deadly ball game have been discovered in the heart of Mexico City.
Archaeologists unveiled the rare finds Wednesday after extensive excavations, giving journalists a tour of the semi-circular temple of Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl and nearby ball court.
Records indicate that Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes first watched the ritual Aztec ball game at the court in 1528, invited by the last Aztec emperor, Montezuma -- the man whose empire he went on to conquer.
Historians believe the game involved players using their hips to keep a ball in play -- as well as ritual human sacrifices.
Archaeologists uncovered 32 sets of human neck bones at the site, which they said were likely the remains of people who were decapitated as part of the ritual.
Only part of the structure remains -- a staircase and a portion of the stands. Archaeologists estimate the original court was about 50 meters (165 feet) long.
The temple, meanwhile, is a giant semi-circle perched atop an even larger rectangular base. The whole thing once measured some 34 meters across and four meters high, archaeologists said.
The ancient structures stand in startling contrast with the sprawling mega-city that now surrounds them, which was built atop the ruins of the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan.
They are just the latest ancient vestiges to be discovered in the historic city center, at what is known as the Great Temple site.
"The discovery we are looking at is a new chance to immerse ourselves in the splendor of the pre-Hispanic city of Tenochtitlan," Culture Minister Maria Cristina Garcia said.
A hotel formerly stood on the site of the newly discovered ruins until 1985, when it collapsed in a catastrophic earthquake that killed thousands of people.
The hotel's owners then noticed the ancient remains and alerted the National Institute of Anthropology and History.
Archaeologists believe the temple celebrated the god of the wind and was built between 1486 and 1502.
Officials said they plan to open the site to the public, although no date has been set.
http://artdaily.com/news/96548/Ancient-Aztec-temple--ball-court-found-in-the-heart-of-Mexico-City#.Wd-WQ0qGMnY

3. MEXICO CITY.- Archeologists in Mexico said Monday they have unearthed what they believe was a dwelling where upper class Aztecs who resisted the Spanish conquest tried to preserve their customs and traditions.
The structure, where Aztecs were also buried, is part of an old neighborhood in Mexico City called Colhuacatonco, famous for being a place where the Aztecs resisted the Spanish conquest in the 16th century, the National Institute of Anthropology said in a statement.
The new find buttresses the argument that Colhuacatonco put up passive resistance after the fall of Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec empire, said Maria de la Luz Escobedo, the archeologist in charge of the project.
"It is very likely that first and second generation descendants of Tenochtitlan people quietly carried out the burials of seven people (three adults and four children aged one to eight) using the traditions of their ancestors," she was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the anthropology institute.
Archeological teams found skeletons that were nearly complete and buried in the fetal position, and also many bone fragments, according to a video released by the institute.
The burials were done in the corners of the dwelling area and at the entrances, and have been dated to the time of Aztec contact with the Spaniards.
Funeral offerings were found: a small figure of a coyote, a bracelet with shells, two small knives made of obsidian and ceramics from that era.
Objects were also found that suggest a mixing of the two cultures, such as figurines of people with non-Aztec features and wearing hats.
"What we detect in the materials is 'that which is Mexican,' the blending that began to take place after the Spanish conquest was complete," said Escobedo.
The rooms of the dwelling were built with stone, suggesting they were for important Aztec people and their relatives rather than common folk.
The most striking feature is a three meter by four meter (10 foot by 13 foot) area that was probably used for ceremonial acts.
Its polished and well-preserved floors have a design in the center, showing a circle with black spokes -- possibly a representation of a shield.
http://artdaily.com/news/97262/Mexican-archaeologists-find-dwelling-for-Aztec-survivors-of-Spanish-conquest-#.Wd-S5UqGMnY

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ARCHAEOLOGY Fall 2017

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1. PARIS.- A passenger plane-sized "void" has been discovered in the middle of the Great Pyramid of Egypt, where it has lain secret and untouched for 4,500 years, scientists revealed on Thursday. The space is one of four cavities, along with the king and queen's chambers and "Grand Gallery", now known to exist inside the giant monument constructed under pharaoh Khufu of ancient Egypt. "It is big," said co-discoverer Mehdi Tayoubi of the ScanPyramids project, which has been exploring Khufu's pyramid since October 2015 with non-invasive technology using subatomic particle scans. "It's the size of a 200-seater airplane, in the heart of the pyramid," Tayoubi told AFP of the discovery, published in science journal Nature. Towering over the Giza complex on Cairo's outskirts alongside smaller pyramids for kings Menkaure and Khafre and the Great Sphinx, the Khufu's pyramid is the oldest and only surviving construction among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and one of the largest buildings ever ere ... More http://artdaily.com/news/99973/Scientists-discover-a-mysterious--plane-sized--void--in-Great-Pyramid-in-Egypt#.WgdYgohry70

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2. SAUDI ARABIA  SYDNEY (AFP).- Nearly 400 mysterious ancient stone structures have been identified in the Saudi Arabian desert by an Australian researcher using Google Earth.
David Kennedy, whose team has spent decades recording thousands of archaeological sites in the Middle East, said the man-made edifices, known as "gates", are thought to have been constructed between 2,000 to 9,000 years ago.
But their purpose and function are a mystery.
"You can't see them in any intelligible way at the ground level but once you get up a few hundred feet, or with a satellite even higher, they stand out beautifully," the University of Western Australia academic Wednesday said in a statement.
Kennedy said he was baffled when he first saw the remote and inhospitable site, in the lava fields of an ancient volcano, on satellite images, despite some 40 years working in the region.
"I refer to them as Gates because when you view them from above they look like a simple field gate lying flat, two upright posts on the sides, connected by one or more long bars," he said.
"They don't look like structures where people would have lived nor do they look like animal traps or for disposing of dead bodies. It's a mystery as to what their purpose would have been."
His findings are described in a paper published next month in the journal Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy.
He said not much was known about the people who built them, but they were believed to be ancestors of the modern-day Bedouin.
Their discovery came about by chance after a Saudi doctor who was interested in the area's history contacted him, having heard about his work in Jordan.
"He said 'I'm interested in the heritage of my country, I've spotted on Google Earth that there are some rather strange structures in the lava fields'," Kennedy told broadcaster ABC.
"He sent the coordinates of them to me and I had a look and I was bowled over by them."
Kennedy, a founding director of the Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa project, specialises in aerial archaeology.
Since 1997, he and his team have photographed tens of thousands of stone-built structures, mostly in Jordan, ranging from giant circles to animal traps and funerary monuments.
http://artdaily.com/news/99818/Mystery-ancient-stone-structures-found-in-Saudi-desert#.WgiElohry70

 

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3. TIBERIAS (AFP).- Researchers may have found the home town of Peter and two other apostles of Jesus near the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel, an archaeologist said Monday.
Israeli and American archaeologists have likely uncovered the lost Roman city of Julias near the banks of the lake, also known as Lake Tiberias, Mordechai Aviam of Kinneret Institute for Galilean Archeaology said.
First century Roman historian Flavius Josephus wrote that Julias was built around 30 AD on the ruins of Bethsaid, a fishing village where Peter was born according to the Gospel of John.
Christians recognise Saint Peter, originally a fisherman, as one of the first followers of Jesus and the leader of the early Church following the ascension.
The Catholic church also venerates him as its first pope.
Two other apostles -- Philip and Peter's brother Andrew -- are also believed to have been born or lived in Bethsaida.
Archaeologists have long sought to locate Julias, focusing their search on three different sites.
Aviam told AFP that one of the sites, the only one so far excavated, was believed to be the correct site.
"We have uncovered fragments of pottery, coins, and the remains of a public bath, which tends to prove that it was not a small village, but a town which may correspond to Julias," he said.
"Based on these findings, we believe this site is likely to be located at the site of Bethsaida."
The site, not far from the Jordan River, is a few hundred meters from Lake Tiberias.
Water levels would have been far higher during the first century.
Work is also being carried out on another site a few kilometres away, Aviam added.
He said he hoped further excavations would reveal evidence from pre-Roman times, including ancient Jewish remains, which could help verify whether the site is Bethsaida.
The site will not immediately be opened to the public, he said.
http://artdaily.com/news/98079/Archaeologists-find-birthplace-of-Apostle-Peter-near-the-Sea-of-Galilee-in-Israel-#.WdZ6i0qGMnZ

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5. OXFORD.- The origin of the symbol zero has long been one of the world’s greatest mathematical mysteries. Today, new carbon dating research commissioned by the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries into the ancient Indian Bakhshali manuscript, held at the Bodleian, has revealed it to be hundreds of years older than initially thought, making it the world’s oldest recorded origin of the zero symbol that we use today.
The surprising results of the first ever radiocarbon dating conducted on the Bakhshali manuscript, a seminal mathematical text which contains hundreds of zeroes, reveal that it dates from as early as the 3rd or 4th century – approximately five centuries older than scholars previously believed. This means that the manuscript in fact predates a 9th century inscription of zero on the wall of a temple in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, which was previously considered to be the oldest recorded example of a zero used as a placeholder in India. The findings are highly significant for the study of the early history of mathematics.
The zero symbol that we use today evolved from a dot that was used in ancient India and can be seen throughout the Bakhshali manuscript. The dot was originally used as a ‘placeholder’, meaning it was used to indicate orders of magnitude in a number system – for example, denoting 10s, 100s and 1000s.
While the use of zero as a placeholder was seen in several different ancient cultures, such as among the ancient Mayans and Babylonians, the symbol in the Bakhshali manuscript is particularly significant for two reasons. Firstly, it is this dot that evolved to have a hollow centre and became the symbol that we use as zero today. Secondly, it was only in India that this zero developed into a number in its own right, hence creating the concept and the number zero that we understand today – this happened in 628 AD, just a few centuries after the Bakhshali manuscript was produced, when the Indian astronomer and mathematician Brahmagupta wrote a text called Brahmasphutasiddhanta, which is the first document to discuss zero as a number.
Although the Bakhshali manuscript is widely acknowledged as the oldest Indian mathematical text, the exact age of the manuscript has long been the subject of academic debate. The most authoritative academic study on the manuscript, conducted by Japanese scholar Dr Hayashi Takao, asserted that it probably dated from between the 8th and the 12th century, based on factors such as the style of writing and the literary and mathematical content. The new carbon dating reveals that the reason why it was previously so difficult for scholars to pinpoint the Bakhshali manuscript’s date is because the manuscript, which consists of 70 fragile leaves of birch bark, is in fact composed of material from at least three different periods.
Marcus du Sautoy, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, said: ‘Today we take it for granted that the concept of zero is used across the globe and is a key building block of the digital world. But the creation of zero as a number in its own right, which evolved from the placeholder dot symbol found in the Bakhshali manuscript, was one of the greatest breakthroughs in the history of mathematics.
‘We now know that it was as early as the 3rd century that mathematicians in India planted the seed of the idea that would later become so fundamental to the modern world. The findings show how vibrant mathematics have been in the Indian sub-continent for centuries.’
Richard Ovenden, Bodley’s Librarian, said: ‘Determining the date of the Bakhshali manuscript is of vital importance to the history of mathematics and the study of early South Asian culture and these surprising research results testify to the subcontinent’s rich and longstanding scientific tradition. The project is an excellent example of the cutting-edge research conducted by the Bodleian’s Heritage Science team, together with colleagues across Oxford University, which uncovers new information about the treasures in our collections to help inform scholarship across disciplines.’
The Bakhshali manuscript was found in 1881, buried in a field in a village called Bakhshali, near Peshawar, in what is now a region of Pakistan. It was found by a local farmer and was acquired by the Indologist AFR Hoernle, who presented it to the Bodleian Library in 1902, where it has been kept since.
An academic paper about the results, conducted at the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, is currently being prepared for publication. A short video about the research results can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pV_gXGTuWxY&feature=youtu.be
A folio from the Bakhshali manuscript will go on public display at the Science Museum in London as a centrepiece of the major exhibition Illuminating India: 5000 Years of Science and Innovation, opening 4 October 2017. The exhibition will celebrate India’s central role in the history of science and technology by exploring its influential contributions to subjects as diverse as space exploration, mathematics, communication and engineering.
http://artdaily.com/news/98788/Carbon-dating-finds-manuscript-contains-oldest-recorded-origins-of-the-symbol--zero-#.Wd-vOkqGMnY

6.SYDNEY.- UNSW Sydney scientists have discovered the purpose of a famous 3700-year-old Babylonian clay tablet, revealing it is the world’s oldest and most accurate trigonometric table, possibly used by ancient mathematical scribes to calculate how to construct palaces and temples and build canals.
The new research shows the Babylonians, not the Greeks, were the first to study trigonometry – the study of triangles – and reveals an ancient mathematical sophistication that had been hidden until now.
Known as Plimpton 322, the small tablet was discovered in the early 1900s in what is now southern Iraq by archaeologist, academic, diplomat and antiquities dealer Edgar Banks, the person on whom the fictional character Indiana Jones was based.
It has four columns and 15 rows of numbers written on it in the cuneiform script of the time using a base 60, or sexagesimal, system.
“Plimpton 322 has puzzled mathematicians for more than 70 years, since it was realised it contains a special pattern of numbers called Pythagorean triples,” says Dr Daniel Mansfield of the School of Mathematics and Statistics in the UNSW Faculty of Science.
“The huge mystery, until now, was its purpose – why the ancient scribes carried out the complex task of generating and sorting the numbers on the tablet.
“Our research reveals that Plimpton 322 describes the shapes of right-angle triangles using a novel kind of trigonometry based on ratios, not angles and circles. It is a fascinating mathematical work that demonstrates undoubted genius.
“The tablet not only contains the world’s oldest trigonometric table; it is also the only completely accurate trigonometric table, because of the very different Babylonian approach to arithmetic and geometry."
The new study by Dr Mansfield and UNSW Associate Professor Norman Wildberger is published in Historia Mathematica, the official journal of the International Commission on the History of Mathematics.
A trigonometric table allows you to use one known ratio of the sides of a right-angle triangle to determine the other two unknown ratios.
The Greek astronomer Hipparchus, who lived about 120 years BC, has long been regarded as the father of trigonometry, with his “table of chords” on a circle considered the oldest trigonometric table.
“Plimpton 322 predates Hipparchus by more than 1,000 years,” says Dr Wildberger. “It opens up new possibilities not just for modern mathematics research, but also for mathematics education. With Plimpton 322 we see a simpler, more accurate trigonometry that has clear advantages over our own.
“A treasure-trove of Babylonian tablets exists, but only a fraction of them have been studied yet. The mathematical world is only waking up to the fact that this ancient but very sophisticated mathematical culture has much to teach us.”
Dr Mansfield read about Plimpton 322 by chance when preparing material for first-year mathematics students at UNSW. He and Dr Wildberger decided to study Babylonian mathematics and examine the different historical interpretations of the tablet’s meaning after realizing that it had parallels with the rational trigonometry of Dr Wildberger’s book Divine Proportions: Rational Trigonometry to Universal Geometry.
The 15 rows on the tablet describe a sequence of 15 right-angle triangles, which are steadily decreasing in inclination.
The left-hand edge of the tablet is broken and the UNSW researchers build on previous research to present new mathematical evidence that there were originally six columns and that the tablet was meant to be completed with 38 rows.
They also demonstrate how the ancient scribes, who used a base 60 numerical arithmetic similar to our time clock, rather than the base 10 number system we use, could have generated the numbers on the tablet using their mathematical techniques.
The UNSW Science research provides an alternative to the widely accepted view that the tablet was a teacher’s aid for checking students’ solutions of quadratic problems.
“Plimpton 322 was a powerful tool that could have been used for surveying fields or making architectural calculations to build palaces, temples or step pyramids,” says Dr Mansfield.
The tablet, which is thought to have come from the ancient Sumerian city of Larsa, has been dated to between 1822 and 1762 BC. It is now in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University in New York.
A Pythagorean triple consists of three, positive whole numbers a, b and c such that a2 + b2 = c2. The integers 3, 4 and 5 are a well-known example of a Pythagorean triple, but the values on Plimpton 322 are often considerably larger with, for example, the first row referencing the triple 119, 120 and 169.
The name is derived from Pythagoras’ theorem of right-angle triangles which states that the square of the hypotenuse (the diagonal side opposite the right angle) is the sum of the squares of the other two sides.
http://artdaily.com/news/98458/Mathematical-mystery-of-famous-3700-year-old-Babylonian-clay-tablet-solved#.WfiWFGJSwnY

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MUSEUM RENNOVATIONS Fall 2017

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1. PHILADELPHIA, PA.- The Penn Museum (University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology) in Philadelphia kicks off a major renovation that will dramatically transform its Main Entrance Hall, make its historic building fully accessible to all, add significant visitor amenities, and renovate and add air conditioning to the historic Harrison Auditorium and surrounding galleries. The construction project is a major element of the Museum’s Building Transformation campaign, to be announced next spring, that will also encompass the reinstallation of most of the 130-year-old Museum’s signature galleries and educational and public programming—to welcome visitors of all ages, from around the region and across the globe.
The announcement was made at a construction groundbreaking event with a twist—in lieu of wielding shovels, officials symbolically removed several seats from the historic Harrison Auditorium, in preparation for renovations to that public programming space.

2.Dr. Amy Gutmann, President of the University of Pennsylvania, spoke at the morning kickoff. “At the Penn Museum, we are letting in the light, in every way imaginable. A dramatic reconfiguration of the Museum—the first in nearly a century—will illuminate the story of humankind found in our galleries, while interactive technology will animate the objects which trace that narrative through our peerless archaeological and ethnographic collections. Adults and children alike will experience the thrill of discovery and gain a deeper understanding of history, and their place in it.”
http://artdaily.com/news/99960/Penn-Museum-launches-a-major-building-renovation#.WgdXaohry70

 

TRIBAL ART MUSEUMS AND EXHIBITIONS Fall 2017

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1.  KANSAS CITY, MO.- The groundbreaking exhibition Through the Eyes of Picasso explores Pablo Picasso’s life-long fascination with African and Oceanic art, uniting his paintings and sculpture with art that had a seminal impact on his own creative exploration. The exhibition opens Oct. 20 at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, the only United States venue in a limited tour. Many works in the exhibition are on view in America for the first time.
“From his initial encounter with African art in 1907, Picasso’s view of the world was fundamentally altered,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, Menefee D. and Mary Louise Blackwell CEO & Director of the Nelson-Atkins. “He became an avid collector of non-western art and lived with these masterpieces throughout his entire life in his studios. They were a constant source of exploration and inspiration, which manifested itself in the reinvention of his work throughout his career. As a result of that influence, modern art was radically transformed.”
The exhibition features 170 works of art, including more than 60 paintings, sculptures, and ceramics by Picasso alongside more than 20 works of African and Oceanic art that were part of his personal collection – pieces that he collected, lived with and kept with him in his studios, many of them featured for the first time in the Americas. Through the Eyes of Picasso also showcases the works of art – African, Oceanic, and American – that transformed his artistic vision when he encountered them at the Musée d’ Ethnographie du Trocadéro (now in the collections of the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris) during the early part of the 20th century. For Picasso, the power of these masks and sculptures was in the artists’ exploration of line, abstraction of the human body, and its constant transformation.
Through the Eyes of Picasso also features a selection of intimate, personal photographs of the artist at work and play, including images by David Douglas Duncan. The Duncan images were a recent gift to the Nelson-Atkins.
The exhibition was curated by Yves Le Fur of Quai Branly, in partnership with Musée national Picasso-Paris. Zugazagoitia is organized and adapted Through the Eyes of Picasso for the Nelson-Atkins. The exhibition is on view at the Nelson-Atkins from Oct. 20 to April 8, 2018, and in Montreal from May 7 to Sept. 16, 2018.
“Organizing this exhibition with Musée du Quai Branly allows us to see many of the masterpieces that Picasso saw as a young artist,” Zugazagoitia said. “Virtually all the works in the show come from our collaboration with Quai Branly, the Musée national Picasso-Paris, and Picasso family members.”
Picasso was a gifted artist who, as a child prodigy, mastered representation in the classic sense. While he did not formally study the African, Oceanic or American cultures, his encounters with nonwestern art influenced him tremendously and allowed him to free himself from western traditions and reinvent modern art, despite the fact that he never left Europe.
“He was working inside the tension that existed between the Classicism in which he was trained as a child and the abstraction and directness he saw in African art,” said Zugazagoitia. “He was seeking the ‘essence’ of art, which he felt in the iconic status of those works. Seeing his art side by side with the richness and complexities of African art will be a revelatory moment for our visitors.”
http://artdaily.com/news/99684/Major-exhibition-explores-dialogue-between-Picasso-and-African-works-#.WfipF2JSwnY

 

US GOVERNMENT AND THE ART WORLD Fall 2017

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NAGPRA
1. SALEM - Native American Collection Goes to Peabody Essex Museum… and Back to Tribes
Native American Collection Goes to Peabody Essex Museum… and Back to Tribes    
October 18, 2017. TROUBLED THEOLOGICAL SCHOOL TURNS OVER COLLECTION AFTER FAILURE TO FOLLOW NAGPRA
Twenty-seven years after passage of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), neither the 210 year-old Andover Newton Theological School (ANTS) nor the Peabody Essex Museum, which housed the ANTS collection of 1,100 Native American artifacts for over seventy years, had cataloged the collection under NAGPRA or notified possible tribal claimants.
According to Peabody Essex director, Dan Monroe, when he heard that the theological school’s board had voted to withdraw eighty items from the museum and sell them, he stepped up to begin the compliance process by notifying hundreds of tribes across the country about the collection. Before that time, according to Monroe, who previously served two terms on the NAGPRA Review Committee, the Peabody Essex Museum had not acted because it did not own the collection, but only stored it for ANTS. ANTS announced in September that they would transfer ownership of their entire collection to the Peabody Essex museum, which will continue the NAGPRA repatriation process.
Halibut Hook with Wolf Spirit, at.óow (sacred property) of the Tlingit Kaagwaantaan clan, now being held at the Peabody Essex Museum. From the early half of the 19th century. The Andover Newton collection at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass. Credit Peabody Essex Museum, Deposit of the Andover Newton Theological School, 1976. TOP: A Native American doll from an Alaskan tribe. Credit Peabody Essex Museum, Deposit of the Andover Newton Theological School, 1976
ANTS had earlier sought to make the sale and to find a different repository for the remaining collection due to its financial troubles. With enrollment declining in recent years, ANTS made a decision to sell its Massachusetts campus and to join with a larger institution in 2015. It finally  joined with Yale Divinity school in July 2017. Trapped by a funding deficit and facing multiple challenges, ANTS looked to its collection of Native American art as a possible source of revenue. In 2015 its board made a decision to sell select pieces from the collection and notified the Peabody Essex Museum. ANTS had assumed it fell under a NAGPRA exemption for religious institutions. But the proposed sale of a portion of its collection of Native American artifacts in 2015 prompted a deeper investigation into its responsibilities under NAGPRA. It was determined that because ANTS accepts federal funding through financial aid for student tuition, it is not actually exempt from NAGPRA. Yale Divinity School declined to house the collection, stating that the matter was “sensitive.”
The US Department of the Interior notified ANTS, which immediately halted the sale. After a second letter from The Department of the Interior, it began the process of inventorying their collection and contacting the tribes about repatriation of ceremonial and funerary objects.
Halibut crest on a Tlingit community house in Saxman, Alaska, on Revillagigedo Island, Tongass Narrows. Built about 1889. Photograph American Museum of Natural History.
Among the items in the ANTS collection are a number of objects thought to be sacred to various tribal communities. Two requests for repatriation were issued in prior years. One request in 2009 was by the Onondaga Nation for the return of a wampum belt, and another return request was made by Donovin Sprague, an archivist for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, for a lock of hair from one of the tribe’s chiefs. The claim for the lock of hair has not been resolved, although human remains are usually considered clear-cut cases for repatriation.
Perhaps the most notable piece is a Tlingit “fishhook” that caught the attention of Sealaska Heritage Institute director, Tlingit tribal member, and former chair of the NAGPRA Review Committee, Rosita Worl. Worl has been highly critical of what she saw as ANTS’ delay in repatriation. She took direct action to demand an investigation of the theological school’s failure to act under NAGPRA. But, ANTS says, “we are a school, not a museum, and so we are not equipped to properly care for and display the collection.”
ANTS has claimed that its alumni donated the objects in its Native American collection after items were acquired by individuals doing missionary work in tribal lands across the United States. However, Indian Country Media Network’s Frank Hopper suggests that the majority of the collection was originally accumulated by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM), known for “opening a number of boarding schools across the country in which Native students were taught to give up their Native culture and religious beliefs.” Hopper suggests that it was through the acculturation process that the pieces later found their way into the ANTS collection.
In the late 1940’s ANTS had transferred the care of the collection, but not its ownership, to the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. The museum’s Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Director and CEO, Bill Monroe estimated that the museum has spent over $700,000 conserving the collection. Monroe has been director of the museum since 1993.
In 1990 the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) was passed to “address the rights of lineal descendants, Indian tribes, and Native Hawaiian organizations to Native American cultural items, including human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony.” NAGPRA, 25 U.S.C.A. §§ 3001–3013, is a civil law enacted as a means of recognizing Native American interests in human remains and cultural objects found on federal lands, held by the federal government or by institutions that receive federal funding.  Repatriations under NAGPRA are intended to correct past abuses of Native American and Native Hawaiian ownership rights and to provide for the repatriation of culturally significant items. (A second US statute, 18 U.S.C.A. § 1170, makes trafficking in Native American human remains and cultural items obtained in violation of NAGPRA a criminal offense.) Museums and schools that receive federal funding are required to inventory Native American and Native Hawaiian objects in their possession, and to give notice to potential tribal claimants.
Almost three decades after passage of NAGPRA, dealers, collectors and museums are still trying to balance collectors’ rights, public interest in access, and tribal claims. The process remains challenging, in large part because of funding shortfalls and lack of a standardized procedure among museums. Concerns also remain because tribes often see what is sacred and ceremonial as proprietary knowledge and because perspectives on what should be considered sacred may change over time. https://committeeforculturalpolicy.org/native-american-collection-goes-to-peabody-essex-museum-and-back-to-tribes/

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2. WASHINGTON DC September 25, 2017.  INSTEAD OF EXPANDING US-MALI MUSEUM CO-OPERATION, STATE DEPT. BLOCKS IMPORTATION OF ART OF AFRICAN NATION FOR TOTAL OF 20 YEARS
On September 19, the State Department announced a 5-year extension of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the government of Mali. The MOU prohibits the importation of virtually all ancient art from that country – and the accompanying Mali Designated List expands the scope of earlier MOUs to include a block on imports of manuscripts dating from the 12th to the 20th century as “ethnological materials.” In renewing and expanding the MOU with Mali, for the fourth time since 2002, the Department of State has cut off US museums and cultural institutions, as well as private collectors and individuals who share a Malian heritage, from acquiring art or artifacts from that country. And it has signed these four agreements, cutting off access for a total of 20 years, without once meeting the required criteria under the Cultural Property Implementation Act (CPIA).
There is no question that the ancient manuscripts of Timbuku deserve to be preserved, and that the libraries of Timbuktu are the proper place for them. Not only the art world, but the world in general knows this. There have been multiple virtual and photographic exhibitions about the extraordinary libraries of Timbuktu in the US and Europe, and many dozens of headline news articles describing the brutal destruction of Muslim shrines by extremists in Timbuktu and the heroic efforts by the city’s traditional hereditary librarians to safeguard the thousands of ancient manuscripts under their care.
But it was neither necessary nor lawful to impose import restrictions on these manuscripts when there is no evidence that a single manuscript has been brought to the US for sale and the other circumstances that call for an agreement under the Cultural Property Implementation Act are not met. Why pass a law against something that is not happening and is not likely to happen?
The Cultural Property Implementation Act works in two ways. It makes trade in art and artifacts stolen from the inventory of an institution, museum, church, or library illegal without the necessity of imposing any trade restrictions. Second, it allows the US to impose trade restriction in certain limited situations.
A MOU can only be signed if there is current looting taking place in Mali of the types of objects on the proposed list of items restricted from import, AND if the government of Mali is working to protect archaeological sites, AND if the US is a primary market nation for art recently looted from Mali, AND if there will be a substantial benefit to Mali if the US market for the items restricted from import is stopped. (If the US is not a primary market for the items listed, then there will be no substantial benefit from imposing import restrictions.)
Finally, there must be no less drastic remedy than cutting off all imports to ameliorate the problem of looting, and signing an agreement to prohibit imports must be “in the general interest of the international community in the interchange of cultural property.”
In order to meet the legal requirements of the statute, ALL the criteria above must be met. There is no evidence showing this is true.

MORE -https://committeeforculturalpolicy.org/cpac-us-renews-mou-with-mali-to-halt-art-imports-including-19-20th-c-books-manuscripts/

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3. WASHINGTON DC US Withdraws from UNESCO
US Withdraws from UNESCO    
October 17, 2017.  NO CHANGES IN OPERATION OF CPIA OR OTHER US LAW
Since the Department of State announcement of the United States’ withdrawal from UNESCO, CCP has received several inquiries regarding the effect of the withdrawal on the Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) and any requests from UNESCO member-nations. Others have wanted to know if the withdrawal would impact other US laws. The answer to both questions is “no,” it will have no effect.
The US cited anti-Israeli bias at UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – and the need for “fundamental reform” of the organization in its October 12, 2017 notification to UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova. The US has mounting arrears in its dues of close to $550 million. The withdrawal will take effect on December 31, 2018, more than a year from now. The US is seeking to “remain engaged with UNESCO as a non-member observer state in order to contribute to U.S. views, perspectives and expertise on some of the important issues undertaken by the organization, including the protection of world heritage, advocating for press freedoms, and promoting scientific collaboration and education.”
MORE: https://committeeforculturalpolicy.org/us-withdraws-from-unesco/

 

TRIBAL ART MUSEUMS AND EXHIBITIONS
1.  KANSAS CITY, MO.- The groundbreaking exhibition Through the Eyes of Picasso explores Pablo Picasso’s life-long fascination with African and Oceanic art, uniting his paintings and sculpture with art that had a seminal impact on his own creative exploration. The exhibition opens Oct. 20 at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, the only United States venue in a limited tour. Many works in the exhibition are on view in America for the first time.
“From his initial encounter with African art in 1907, Picasso’s view of the world was fundamentally altered,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, Menefee D. and Mary Louise Blackwell CEO & Director of the Nelson-Atkins. “He became an avid collector of non-western art and lived with these masterpieces throughout his entire life in his studios. They were a constant source of exploration and inspiration, which manifested itself in the reinvention of his work throughout his career. As a result of that influence, modern art was radically transformed.”
The exhibition features 170 works of art, including more than 60 paintings, sculptures, and ceramics by Picasso alongside more than 20 works of African and Oceanic art that were part of his personal collection – pieces that he collected, lived with and kept with him in his studios, many of them featured for the first time in the Americas. Through the Eyes of Picasso also showcases the works of art – African, Oceanic, and American – that transformed his artistic vision when he encountered them at the Musée d’ Ethnographie du Trocadéro (now in the collections of the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris) during the early part of the 20th century. For Picasso, the power of these masks and sculptures was in the artists’ exploration of line, abstraction of the human body, and its constant transformation.
Through the Eyes of Picasso also features a selection of intimate, personal photographs of the artist at work and play, including images by David Douglas Duncan. The Duncan images were a recent gift to the Nelson-Atkins.
The exhibition was curated by Yves Le Fur of Quai Branly, in partnership with Musée national Picasso-Paris. Zugazagoitia is organized and adapted Through the Eyes of Picasso for the Nelson-Atkins. The exhibition is on view at the Nelson-Atkins from Oct. 20 to April 8, 2018, and in Montreal from May 7 to Sept. 16, 2018.
“Organizing this exhibition with Musée du Quai Branly allows us to see many of the masterpieces that Picasso saw as a young artist,” Zugazagoitia said. “Virtually all the works in the show come from our collaboration with Quai Branly, the Musée national Picasso-Paris, and Picasso family members.”
Picasso was a gifted artist who, as a child prodigy, mastered representation in the classic sense. While he did not formally study the African, Oceanic or American cultures, his encounters with nonwestern art influenced him tremendously and allowed him to free himself from western traditions and reinvent modern art, despite the fact that he never left Europe.
“He was working inside the tension that existed between the Classicism in which he was trained as a child and the abstraction and directness he saw in African art,” said Zugazagoitia. “He was seeking the ‘essence’ of art, which he felt in the iconic status of those works. Seeing his art side by side with the richness and complexities of African art will be a revelatory moment for our visitors.”
http://artdaily.com/news/99684/Major-exhibition-explores-dialogue-between-Picasso-and-African-works-#.WfipF2JSwnY

 

 

ART MARKET Fall 2017

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1. LONDON - Ongoing concerns about the impact of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union (EU) have prompted the organisers of Frieze to draw up a list of recommendations designed to “help maintain the best possible conditions” for the art world. In an open letter, Victoria Siddall, the director of the Frieze fairs, aired her concerns about the impact of Brexit on galleries that are based in the UK or exhibit at fairs in London. Siddall shared her proposals with the Creative Industries Federation, an arts lobbying organisation, as part of a larger discussion of how the government should respond to the needs of the cultural sector.
Representatives of Frieze have “spoken to a range of people working in galleries”, Siddall says, and have formulated a plan of action with four recommendations. These include maintaining the current rate of VAT (5%) on works imported into the UK; continuing the free circulation of works between the EU and the UK; and maintaining the temporary admission procedure, which ensures that works imported temporarily for events such as fairs and exhibitions are exempt from import duties and VAT.
A major issue, Siddall says, is continued freedom of movement. “It is critical that non-UK nationals continue to be able to work in the UK. If the visa requirements must change, one solution is a specialist category providing artists and art workers with fast-track entry for specific events,” she says.
http://theartnewspaper.com/news/frieze-draws-up-plan-to-protect-art-world-from-brexit?utm_source=daily_october7_2017&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=email_daily&utm_source=The+Art+Newspaper+Newsletters&utm_campaign=53974453e8-
EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_10_07&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c459f924d0-53974453e8-43504689

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2. NEW YORK Dealers and auction houses are scrambling to find top paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat to meet the surge in interest in the late artist’s work, following the record $100.5m auction of his untitled skull painting at Sotheby’s New York in May.
The sale, to the former Japanese rock star turned e-commerce entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa, has “significantly increased demand for Basquiat”, says Joe Nahmad of Nahmad Contemporary, which is offering a yellow canvas with anatomical renderings and text entitled Early Moses (1983) for $8.5m at Frieze Masters. “I’m getting more requests for Basquiat than I’ve ever had before,” he adds. The interest is coming from the US and Europe, but also from collectors in Asia, South America and the Middle East. “New collectors who want to buy their first major painting are looking for Basquiat.”
The artist’s bold, brightly coloured canvases, which merge elements of street art, popular culture and disparate other sources, resonate with younger generations. Basquiat has been embraced by the most influential musicians of our time, as well as taste-makers on social media. “I’m the new Jean-Michel,” declared hip-hop mogul Jay-Z in his single Picasso Baby, while Maezawa announced his $100.5m purchase on Instagram.
A strong part of the appeal is the myth of the destitute, self-made street artist who found fame through sheer talent and force of will. This version of Basquiat’s life overlooks the fact that he came from a well-off family: his father was an accountant, born in Haiti, and his mother was of Puerto Rican descent. The artist had an expensive private education and was trilingual in English, Spanish and French from the age of four.
It’s all about 1982
Works from 1981 and 1982 are particularly prized by the market: the top ten auction prices for the artist are for paintings from those two years. It was in the early 1980s that Basquiat transitioned from being a graffiti artist to a studio-based one.
“He was given space by the gallerist Annina Nosei and was able to create fully realised canvases with the same intensity and vitality as his street art,” says Katharine Arnold, the director and senior specialist in charge of post-war and contemporary art at Christie’s, which is offering the artist’s Red Skull (1982) in its evening sale this Friday 6 October. The work has a low estimate “in the region of £12m”, according to the auction house. (Proceeds from the sale will go to KIPP schools in New Jersey, a network of free, public charter schools with no entrance requirements and a record of high performance).
http://theartnewspaper.com/feature/basquiat-boom-shakes-the-(sales)room?utm_source=daily_october4_2017&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=email_daily&utm_source=The+Art+Newspaper+Newsletters&utm_campaign=efc0d9d049-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_10_04&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c459f924d0-efc0d9d049-43504689

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2. NEW YORK Ultra-rich will spend $2.7 trillion on art by 2026 says Deloitte
Art & Finance Report also predicts rising art market volatility and a need for tougher regulation to increase trust
Sarah P. Hanson
8th November 2017 12:32 GMT
Wealth managers, collectors and art professionals all voted overwhelmingly in favour of self-regulation over government controls Deloitte
The fifth Deloitte Art & Finance Report, released today at the firm’s conference in Milan, forecasts that the ultra rich will spend $2.7 trillion on art by 2026. It also raises questions over trust and transparency in the art market, as 48% of collectors say lack of standards is a major concern, yet found that collectors, wealth managers and art professionals were overwhelmingly in favour of self-regulation over government intervention.
The authors, Adriano Picinati di Torcello, the director at Deloitte Luxembourg and global art and finance coordinator, and Anders Petterson, the managing director of the research firm ArtTactic, observe an "increasing convergence between collectors, art professionals, and wealth managers on the role of art in a wealth service offering, as well as a convergence of different stakeholder initiatives when it comes to improving art market transparency.”
Alongside a global market overview, showing strong growth for African art and a slowdown in Southeast Asia, the report’s core offering is the Art & Wealth Management Survey. This year it queried 69 private banks (including 27 family offices), as well as 155 art professionals and 107 international collectors. Additional data came from auction houses, art funds, and art trusts, though in many case this is limited to publicly available information.
Not only is art increasingly viewed as an investment, the survey found, it is also considered a “lifestyle” product: 63% of collectors said that social value was their primary reason for buying art. However, unlike museum patrons of yore, just 5% intend to donate their collections to institution, while 67% will pass to their heirs.
Half year sales for 2017 at Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Phillips are up $1.08bn on 2016, yet according to ArtTactic market confidence declined Deloitte
The market's handshake-agreement economy still poses a problem as art is increasingly seen as an asset class, putting off banks and lenders from entering the market. Seventy-five percent of wealth managers decried the art market’s lack of transparency, and 65% said the unregulated nature of the market “remains a key hurdle”. Although new money-laundering rules coming into force around the world may force more disclosure, issues around risk, liquidity, and valuation remain.
Undisclosed conflicts of interest in art transactions are of concern to 65% of wealth managers and 69% of art professionals. Furthermore, questions of authenticity, provenance, and attribution vex both sides, with 83% of wealth managers and 81% of art professionals deeming these as the greatest risks to the art market.
The report identifies several trends. One is a convergence of the auction (secondary) and dealer (primary) markets in the online sphere, as platforms like Invaluable and Artsy diversify their income streams to stay competitive. In parallel, the increasingly sophisticated analytics available to parse the growing pool of data is “is an important development and could contribute toward improving transparency, valuation accuracy, and risk management of art-related wealth”, says the report.
Another section points to an apparent paradox of the 2017 art market. Although the private market is healthy and sales at Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips have picked up by $1.08 billion, compared with the same time last year, market confidence (as measured by ArtTactic’s “confidence indicator”) declined 13.4% during the first half of the year. While that skittishness was surely the product of many factors­–including geopolitical unrest and the auction houses’ renewed reliance on financial guarantees to win prime material–the report’s authors write, “the bigger question is whether we are starting to experience a shift in the way that the global art market behaves”, and ask: “Could art market volatility be set to increase as art buyers become more investment-oriented and increasingly amenable to short-term investment horizons?”
The answer may depend on the attitude of the world’s ultra rich population–those with a net worth of more than $30m—whose ranks are expected to swell by 43% in the next decade.

http://theartnewspaper.com/news/deloitte-art-and-finance-report-sees-increasing-volatility-in-art-market
https://www2.deloitte.com/lu/en/pages/art-finance/articles/art-finance-report.html

 

REPATRIATION CLAIMS Fall 2017

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1. NEW YORK The European Fine Art Fair at the Park Avenue Armory is an elegant event during which wealthy collectors browse through booths of stunning art pieces, from ancient sculptures to works by early 20th-century masters.
So it raised a few eyebrows on Friday afternoon when two prosecutors and three police officers marched into the armory at 2 p.m. with stern expressions and a search warrant, witnesses said.
A few minutes later, cursing could be heard coming from a London dealer’s booth, breaking the quiet, reverential atmosphere. To the consternation of several art dealers looking on, the police and prosecutors seized an ancient limestone bas-relief of a Persian soldier with shield and spear, which once adorned a building in the ruins of Persepolis in Iran, according to a search warrant. The relief is worth about $1.2 million and was being offered for sale by Rupert Wace, a well-known dealer in antiquities in London.
In an statement, Mr. Wace said he had bought the relief from an insurance company, who had acquired it legally from a museum in Montreal, where it had been displayed since the 1950s.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/29/arts/design/ancient-limestone-relief-seized-european-fine-art-fair.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fdesign&action=click&contentCollection=design&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=3&pgtype=sectionfront

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2. NEW YORK NY Cops Seize Panel with 70 Years Provenance
NY Cops Seize Panel with 70 Years Provenance    
October 30, 2017.   Crusade Against the Art Trade: Where Will It End?
A prosecutor from the New York County District Attorney’s office walked into the booth of English art dealer Rupert Wace at the gala opening of The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) at New York’s Park Avenue Armory on October 27. He was holding a search warrant and accompanied by uniformed police officers, who seized a limestone bas relief from Persepolis in Iran. The relief was worth $1.2 million. Wace had purchased it from an insurance company, which had acquired it from the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
The New York District Attorney’s office, under the aggressive direction of DA Cyrus Vance and dedicated anti-art trade crusader Assistant DA Matthew Bogdanos, has made two cultural property seizures in recent weeks. Neither object was recently looted; together, they had been in museums or private collections for over 115 years.
There was no evidence of wrongdoing by the collectors or dealers involved. Wace had purchased the bas relief after it was given up by the Canadian museum. The other seized object, a fragment of mosaic from Italy, was purchased in the 1960s by a journalist and his wife, an antique dealer, from an aristocratic family in Italy.  According to the couple, the deal was brokered by an Italian police official “famed for his success in recovering art work looted by the Nazis.”
These cases raise serious questions, impacting both private and museum collections in the US. When an artwork is well-known to scholars, published or exhibited, how long is too long for a country to make a claim? Will museums and collectors in the US that are second, third, or fourth generation owners be held to vague, ambiguous, and unenforced laws in foreign nations, when those nations have failed to make any claim for decades? At what point do US judges or law enforcement consider whether the evidence, or the terms of the foreign laws, actually provides a reasonable basis for a claim that an object is ‘stolen’?
The Iranian Law
There is serious doubt whether the Persepolis bas relief qualifies as stolen property under Iranian law. The seizure was ostensibly based on a 1930 Iranian law, the National Heritage Protection Act dated November 3, 1930, and the Regulation Implementing the Law dated Nov. 3, 1930 relating to the Conservation of Antiquities in Iran (3 Nov 1930) (“1930 Regulation”).
Yet this National Heritage Protection Act, along with its 1930 Regulation, does not appear to be the type of national ownership law that could enable a claim to be enforced under US law. Simply having Iranian art outside of Iran does not make it ‘stolen.’ The Iranian National Heritage Protection Act does state that all artifacts shall be considered national heritage, and shall be ‘protected,’ but does not say that all antiquities are state-owned.  In fact, the 1930 Regulations allow continuing private ownership and even sale in Iran of an “immovable antiquity with protected status” (Chapter I. Article 7). The 1930 Regulation also allow owners of movable antiquities to sell them if notice is given 10 days before to the government (Chapter II. Article 16). Indeed, the 1930 Regulation allows commercial trade even in “immovable National Monuments” when they are approved for sale by the Minister of Education (Chapter IV. Article 41.)
Legal Commercial Looting in Iran up to WW2
If claims based upon misreading this foreign law go forward, then New York’s famous archaeologically excavated collections from the Metropolitan Museum’s Nishapur expeditions – and many important collections in other museums – are vulnerable.
The Nishapur excavation’s history clearly shows how foreign archaeologists removed items from Iran legally after 1930, by buying a ‘concession.’ They also show that legal, purely commercial exploitation of archaeological sites was prevalent until at least 1947, when the Met’s concession was terminated. The operation of Iranian law, as it affected this scholarly expedition, is vividly described on pages xxiv and xxv of the Introduction to Charles K. Wilkinson, Nishapur, Pottery of the Islamic Period, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1973. The book also describes how the American archaeologists deliberately refrained from buying archaeological material from dealers who sold it openly in the bazaars, acquiring surface finds only directly from peasants at the site, in order not to confuse the record. (It is said in the archaeological community that the expedition lost its concession for Nishapur, not because the Iranian authorities were trying to preserve the site, but because the Met was outbid by commercial diggers.)

MORE.. https://committeeforculturalpolicy.org/ny-cops-seize-panel-with-70-years-provenance/

 

MUSEUMS Fall 2017

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1.  ABU DHABI (AFP).- The Louvre Abu Dhabi opened its doors to the public on Saturday, drawing thousands of visitors as cosmopolitan as the United Arab Emirates itself, a symbol of the Gulf nation’s ambitions on the global stage.
Light streamed down from the vast domed ceiling, the open-air museum reminiscent of a traditional Arabic marketplace.
Inside, Emirati teenagers in flowing black robes snapped selfies next to a towering oil painting of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Hundreds of Asian, European and Arab expatriates dressed in stylish attire roamed through the vast museum alongside Emirati couples in traditional Arabic dress.
"I’m so excited to see what’s in the Louvre. I don’t know how to pronounce it," giggled Rachel Aquino, a Filipina nurse living in Abu Dhabi.
"LOOV," her friend Ruby Fullon, a fellow nurse from the Philippines, pronounced.
Down the palatial rear steps of the open-air structure, Alex Viera and Marcelo de Paula from Brazil snapped photos on a platform jutting out over the sea, with traditional dhow wooden ships moored in the background.
"I’ve been to the Louvre in Paris three times... I think it’s very nice to see it here in a modern context,” said Viera.
Emirati, Arabic, Islamic
The Louvre Abu Dhabi, the first museum to bear the Louvre name outside France, presents around 600 pieces and has been billed as "the first universal museum in the Arab world”.
Under the 30-year agreement, France provides expertise, loans works of art and organises temporary exhibitions -- in return for one billion euros ($1.16 billion).
The Louvre in France takes a 400-million-euro share of that sum for the use of its name up to 2037.
For the next 10 years, the mother ship in Paris will lend works to its Abu Dhabi partner on a voluntary basis, for a maximum of two years.
For its permanent collection, the museum has acquired hundreds of pieces, dating from the earliest Mesopotamian civilisations to the present day.
On opening day, guided tours wound through the spacious galleries as Asian and African dance troupes performed in the open-air sections overlooking the sea.
"It is not a copy of the Louvre," said Badria al-Mazimi, an architectural engineer.
The 26-year-old Emirati said she had visited the site when the museum was still under construction and had eagerly anticipated the public opening.
"The beautiful thing is they made it not just one building, but like a little neighbourhood. When you walk around, you feel like you're walking in an old Emirati quarter," she said, beaming as her husband studied a Central Asian statuette dating from 1700 BC.
"To see all these people from different nationalities waiting in this long line to visit the Louvre — it’s something really special," she said.
"This is what you see when you travel abroad, and now it’s here, in the Emirates."
Arab madina, arabesque patterns
More than a decade in the making, a VIP inauguration was held on Wednesday, with French President Emmanuel Macron among the first visitors.
The museum design, by France's Pritzker prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel, conjures up the image of an Arab medina as seen through the eyes of a contemporary cinematographer.
A silver-toned dome with perforated arabesque patterns appears to float over the white galleries, creating what Nouvel describes as a "rain of light".
To reach the ground, each ray of light must cross eight layers of perforations, creating a constantly shifting pattern that mimics the shadows cast by palm trees or the roof of a traditional Arab market.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi is the first of three museums to open on Saadiyat Island, where the UAE plans to launch the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, designed by Frank Gehry, and Norman Foster's Zayed National Museum.
http://artdaily.com/news/100190/Louvre-Abu-Dhabi-draws-crowd-as-diverse-as-UAE#.Wgh8QYhry70

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2. BOSTON Massachusetts Appeals Court grants injunction to block Berkshire Museum sale
The successful Hail Mary pass came just before deaccessioned works, including two paintings by Norman Rockwell, were due to be auctioned at Sotheby’s on Monday
James H. Miller and Helen Stoilas
10th November 2017 22:37 GMT
Opponents of the Berkshire Museum's plan to fund an expansion and endowment by selling art protested this summer Gillian Jones/The Berkshire Eagle via AP
UPDATE: Late Friday night, a Massachusetts Appeals Court judge granted a preliminary injunction to block the Berkshire Museum from selling art from its collection at Sotheby's on Monday, 13 November. Justice Joseph Trainor found that "the risk of irreparable harm" weighed in the favour of the petitioners, including Rockwell’s sons, Berkshire Museum members and the Attorney General's Office (AGO), which recently asked to be added as a plaintiff to the cases. The injunction expires on 11 December, but the judge has given the AGO the option to extend the injunction until its investigation into the deaccessioning can be completed.
The decision comes just hours after the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office (AGO) appealed a judge’s ruling from earlier this week that would have allowed the Berkshire Museum to go forward with the sale. Sotheby's auction was due to include valuable works from the museum's collection, including a pair of canvases by Norman Rockwell, Shuffleton’s Barbershop (1950) and Blacksmith’s Boy—Heel and Toe (1940), which the artist gave to the museum. The AGO asked the Appeals Court to halt the auction, stating: “There is significant potential for irreparable harm should this sale happen before the appeal is decided. If these objects are sold, there likely will be little if any opportunity to get them back.”
The AGO’s appeal cited an “abuse of discretion through clear errors of law” in Superior Court Judge John Agostini’s earlier decision to reject two motions brought by opponents of the sale. The filing states the judge misunderstood the museum’s obligations under the laws governing charitable trusts and its “duties of care”, which the AGO says the museum violated by setting unreasonable financial goals that were inconsistent with its purpose as a public art museum. This has led to the “severance of its relationship with prominent cultural institutions and associations... inability to secure future loans of art and shared exhibitions; damage to its donor relationships; and irreparable harm to its ability to meet the art component of its mission.”
Foley Hoag, the lawyer who represents Norman Rockwell’s family in the litigation, supported the appeal in a statement, repeating that the sale must be delayed immediately or else “the works will likely vanish into private collections outside of this jurisdiction, with no apparent mechanism to recover them should the Superior Court’s order later be reversed”.
A lawyer for the Berkshire Museum, William Lee, said that he expects a “swift resolution of this matter in Appeals Court. We are disappointed that the Attorney General has decided to continue legal action that threatens the future of the Berkshire Museum," reads the lawyer's statement, "particularly after a very clear legal decision rejected the arguments the Attorney General repeats in this misguided appeal”.
Opponents of the sale, including the citizens' group Save the Art—Save the Museum, which had planned dual protests on Saturday, 11 November, in front of both the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield and Sotheby’s headquarters on 72nd Street and York Avenue in Manhattan, celebrated Justice Trainor's decision on social media.
http://theartnewspaper.com/news/massachusetts-attorney-generals-office-files-appeal-to-stop-berkshire-museum-sale

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3. PUERTO RICO - Three weeks after the category four Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico on 20 September, devastating the US Island, knocking out power and killing an as yet undetermined number of residents, local museums are back to work and helping with community relief efforts.
The Museo de Arte de Ponce—home to the British artist Frederic Leighton’s masterpiece, Flaming June (1895)—on the hard-hit southern coast of Puerto Rico, reopened to the public on 28 September and is providing free admission through 9 October, the Columbus Day holiday. “We thought we could give people a little haven of normality,” says the museum’s curator Pablo Perez d’Ors, who reached the Art Newspaper by landline. (There is still no mobile service in the southern region.) Attendance has been strong, and museum’s director Alejandra Peña Gutierrez says people have come up to museum staff on the street to tell them “you’re doing a great thing for our community”. Museum staff are so popular that some have even managed to get ahead on the gas lines, Gutierrez says. The museum is helping its staff by providing shower facilities and allowing them to store food in the museum’s freezer and refrigerator, since they are still without power.
Gutierrez says that the museum’s collections—including Frederic Leighton's Flaming June, arguably the island’s most famous work of art—are in “perfect shape” and that the building has no leaks, although staff needed to make the museum accessible to the public by clearing trees and leaves from the museum's surroundings. Staff were able to get to the museum the day after the hurricane to assess the situation—but had to leave written notes for each other on the front door, since there was no reliable means of communication. The museum had taken down a few works as a precautionary measure, and its diesel generator also kicked in even before the hurricane hit due to high winds, she says, noting that the museum has a protocol in place for tropical storms and hurricanes.
The museum is currently showing a loan exhibition organised by d’Ors, centred on Flaming June called Frederic Leighton and the Eternal Mediterranean (until 15 January 2018), which includes 18 works lent by the Leighton House Museum in London. All of the loans are “completely fine and unharmed”, the London museum confirmed to The Art Newspaper. The Frick Collection in New York, a partner institution which borrowed Flaming June for a travelling exhibition last year, reached out to the Ponce Museum last week to confirm it will carry on with its scheduled loan of works to the institution for the exhibition Small Treasures from the Frick Collection. The show is due to open at the Ponce Museum in November as planned prior to Maria (until spring 2018).
Puerto Rico’s museums had already been through Hurricane Irma, which struck the island two weeks before Maria, on 6 September. Lisa Ortega, the museum educator at the Museo de Historia, Antropología y Arte at the University of Puerto Rico in San Juan, told The Art Newspaper in an email that the museum had already closed for a week in September following Irma. “When we returned ‘to normal’, it was to prepare yet again [for a hurricane],” Ortega wrote. “We took all the precautions to protect the patrimony and equipment.” The museum’s building “suffered very little damage” during Maria, she said. The collection has not been harmed, and all of the staff are safe. The museum has mapped out a volunteer schedule for the week on its Facebook page, asking for members of the university community to help with cleanup efforts, such as clearing pathways.
The Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico (MACPR) in San Juan is serving the community through its programming, including free workshops, music and dance performances. “Today more than ever we are sure that art and culture will be important tools that will help our people cope and recover from this crisis,” the museum wrote in a Facebook post on 30 September. It is also helping in material ways, collecting water, food, medicine and other necessities in its main hall, which it will distribute to people in need.
The San Juan-based Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña—whose staff were ordered back to work on 26 September by the government—has launched an initiative for local artists to volunteer their time to run cultural programmes for those affected by the hurricane (“Culture is resilience” and “Culture is happiness”, it says on its Facebook posts), and so far has had over 50 artists sign up.
The Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico (MAPR) in San Juan remains closed, but staff are in the office working every day, says the interim director Marta Mavel Perez, who spoke with The Art Newspaper on a staff member’s mobile phone, since the landlines remain down. The museum has not suffered any major damage, nor have its collections, which are being kept in good condition since the museum has a diesel generator, although “we are trying to get [more] diesel”, she says. (Not all museums have such a generator, she notes.) But MAPR has decided to remain closed due to conditions such as the nightly blackouts—only five percent of the island currently has electricity—and communication issues, with no reopening date set. “As soon as everything comes back, we will be here for our public,” she says.
In the meantime, the museum is functioning as a hub for a communication network between cultural institutions within Puerto Rico, working with other cultural institutions such as the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña. Perez and the museum’s registrar have been visiting other institutions to help them examine their collections. Fortunately, they have not seen any major damage, she says.
As a Smithsonian affiliate institution, MAPR is in a unique position to help in recovery efforts for cultural institutions across Puerto Rico. “We are the liaison in Puerto Rico,” Perez says. The museum is working with the Smithsonian to pull together a team to eventually come to the island from Washington, DC, in order to help museums put their collections back in order after the storm, and are also working to send group of Puerto Rican conservators to DC for training. “We are working in the short-term, medium-term and long term,” she says. “We are hoping we [will be] back in shape in December.”
MAPR is planning to launch online fundraising efforts, “with the commitment that we are going to help the other museums and collections in Puerto Rico”, Perez says. “We need all the help we can get, from the US and around the world.”
This article was updated on 5 October to include information from the Ponce Museum.
http://theartnewspaper.com/news/puerto-ricos-museums-on-the-mend

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4.  LENS.- Let the crotales ring and the trumpets sound! The Louvre-Lens Museum presents the very first exhibition dedicated to the role of music in the great ancient civilisations, from the Orient to Rome via Egypt and Greece.
Music was an ever-present aspect of ancient cultures, where it served several functions. Whether played by professional musicians or amateurs, it accompanied people through the various stages of their lives, from the cradle to the grave. Just as likely to be heard on the battlefield as it was around the high tables of power, it was also a key part of religious rites and acted as an intermediary between people and their gods. Known by all and played by many, music represents an original yet universal key, with which our visitors can unlock the secrets of civilisations, which vanished long ago, and discover their social, political and religious workings.
From Mesopotamian cylinder seals to monumental Roman reliefs, taking in Egyptian papyri and Greek vases along the way, the exhibition brings together almost 400 incredibly diverse items. Some of these often-fragile pieces have never been displayed before. They are taken from the collections of the Louvre museum and around twenty other institutions, both in France and further afield, including the National Museum of Athens and the Metropolitan Museum in New York. The exhibition’s journey through time also includes new audio devices, which allow visitors to listen to reconstructions of what ancient instruments may have sounded like, as well as the oldest anthem known to mankind.
It is difficult for anyone living in the 21st century to imagine the role of music in ancient cultures, especially since no sound from Antiquity survives to this day for our listening pleasure. On the other hand, musical instruments, sound-producing objects, musical notation and many depictions of musicians have been miraculously preserved, allowing us to tune in to 3,000 years of history. From modest handcrafted creations to priceless masterpieces, the museum's abundant and diverse collection of musical scenes - statues, ceramics, mosaics, and even coins - clearly shows the importance of music in Antiquity. This is also amply demonstrated by the remains of musical instruments, which reveal the astonishing know-how of the makers and the richness of the materials used: leather, bronze, bone, ivory, wood and more.
From Iran to Gaul, and from the 3rd millennium BC to the 4th century AD: the enormous geographical and chronological range of the exhibition allows us to underline cultural traditions and peculiarities, but also to highlight the exchanges, influences and crosspollination that took place between these diff erent musical civilisations, which are often considered the foundation of our own musical heritage. As such, rattles, harps, flutes and cymbals date back several thousands of years.
By revisiting the often-reductive image of ancient music as it appears in the Western imagination - inherited from 19th century clichés and popularised by opera, comics and Hollywood epics - the exhibition and the rich cultural programme that accompany it remind us that today, just as in the past, music and sounds have the power to captivate, beguile, comfort, frighten and excite us as they soundtrack the major events of our public and private lives.
This exhibition at the Louvre-Lens museum builds on a research programme created by the French Schools Overseas titled «Sonic landscapes and urban spaces of the ancient Mediterranean», led by the French Institute for Oriental Archaeology, the French School at Athens and the French School at Rome. It therefore provides an overview of current research in the field, which is varied and extensive thanks to the work of curators, historians, archaeologists, ethnomusicologists, acousticians and archaeometrists.
http://artdaily.com/news/98852/Exhibition-focuses-on-the-role-of-music-in-the-great-ancient-civilisations#.Wd-tGUqGMnY

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5. BERLIN.- For the first time the sculptural traditions of Africa and Europe come together in a ‘conversation of the continents’ on the Museumsinsel Berlin. Over 70 major works of African sculpture from the Ethnologisches Museum (Ethnological Museum) are on display in the Bode-Museum. Art from western and central Africa meets masterpieces from Byzantium, Italy, and central Europe. Never before have the sculptural traditions of these two continents been compared so extensively.
‘The preparations for the move to the Humboldt Forum offer us a unique opportunity to place the non-European holdings of the Staatliche Museen in dialogue with other works, reaching across the boundaries that traditionally divide the collections’, says Michael Eissenhauer, Director General of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and Director of the Skulpturensammlung und Museum für Byzantinische Kunst (Sculpture Collection and Museum of Byzantine Art). Julien Chapuis, head of the Skulpturensammlung und Museum für Byzantinische Kunst, adds: ‘The stimulating interplay between the African sculptures and our own collection not only promises to be a feast for the senses, but will also lead to fundamentally new insights.’ Viola König, Director of the Ehtnologisches Museum (Ethnological Museum): ‘The exhibition's ethnological approach broadens the museum's focus on European art to include global contexts and brings the multi-perspectival displays, successfully practised by the curators in Dahlem, to the Museumsinsel.’
Some 20 juxtapositions throughout the permanent collection and a special-exhibition gallery address major themes of human experience, such as power, death, beauty, memory, aesthetics, and identity. Unexpected similarities and differences become apparent: the Renaissance sculptor Donatello’s putto with a tambourine seems to invite the Early Modern princess from the Kingdom of Benin to dance. Michel Erhart’s late Gothic Virgin of Mercy appears next to a power figure from the Congo, which, like the Madonna, was also created to protect a community. The Romanesque Christ seated in judgement from the Abbey Church of Gröningen and the large Ngil mask from the Fang region of Gabon or Cameroon both present awe-inspiring images of judges. Mythical heroes from central Africa take their place among late Gothic Christian figures and open up new perspectives on both collections.
An extensive catalogue and an app accompanies the exhibition, both providing in-depth information on specific themes.
http://artdaily.com/news/99888/Bode-Museum-presents-over-70-major-works-of-African-sculpture-#.WgiB24hry70    

 

TRIBAL ART MARKET AND AUCTIONS Fall 2017

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1. NEW YORK - Art Media Agency - The tribal art market at auction in 2016 Global  |  14 September 2017  |  AMA  
Growing sharply since 2000, tribal art has not been spared of upsets in the last three years: a dilution of the historic Sotheby’s-Christie’s duopoly, consolidation of the intermediary market, mainly in favour of African pieces whose average value is dropping. The past inertias are shifting…
If there’s one sure thing about this market – an extremely heterogeneous one as it is made up of classic African, Pacific, Pre-Colombian and North American arts –, it would be its growth. The turnover from auction sales, despite a little fluctuation, is following an upward trend, jumping up from around ten million euros in 2001 to flirt with 60 million euros in 2013, up to the excellent year in 2014 when it exceeded the symbolic bar of 100 million euros – an absolute record for the auction market. Meanwhile, the number of lots placed on sale has varied greatly, but its growth is just as indisputable. An average of around 3,100 objects has been presented every year from 2000 to 2005, compared to 5,800 in 2014, 7,050 in 2015, and over 8,300 in 2016. The evolution of the Artkhade price index makes the phenomenon all the clearer: between 2000 and 2016, the price level for classic African and Pacific objects has tripled.
However, the last three years have sent out contradictory signals, seemingly sanctioning the market’s mutations. Certain historic dealers and collectors have withdrawn, to be replaced by young buds; the market has globalised; Internet has changed the habits of both professionals and amateurs. Since 2014, the rise in the number of lots presented at sales – following a first phase of growth between 2006 and 2009, nonetheless incomparable with the current one – has been accompanied by a significant drop in the turnover of the tribal-art auction market. Following the absolute record in 2014, the market underwent clear-cut correction, falling by nearly 30 % between 2014 and 2015, before undergoing a new smaller decline between 2015 and 2016 – which recorded sales proceeds of 60.9 million euros. What can be read into this? A global drop in the intensity of the tribal-art market? A strong return of dealers? Market correction following the remarkable vintage in 2014 which notched up 15 millionaire auctions? It has to be said that 2014, whose figures would have seemed outrageous ten years previously, has taken on the air of a happy anomaly. In that year, Sotheby’s Paris sold a Rapa statue from Easter Island for 1.8 million euros – still the fourth-best adjudication for a classic Pacific art object – while the sale of a Sénoufo statue from the Côte d’Ivoire singlehandedly reaped 9.68 million euros (12 million dollars) at Sotheby’s New York in November – the record for a tribal-art object at the time and still a record for a classic African art object. In the same year, Sotheby’s sold the Frum Collection (in Paris, raising a total of 7.5 million dollars) and the Myron Kunin Collection (in New York, for a total of 37.9 million euros). Between them, these two collections represented a turnover of 45.4 million euros, in other words 63.8 % of Sotheby’s 2014 takings – and almost one-half of the tribal-art auction turnover.
The return of the intermediary market?
What can be noted is that the increase in the number of objects presented for sale between 2013 and 2016, unprecedented on the market, was not accompanied by a rise in the proportion of unsold goods. Between 2015 and 2016, even if the number of objects going on auction went up by nearly 20 %, the unsold rate fell from 45 % to 41.4 %. Clearly, the two-figured growth of lots being placed on sale was absorbed by demand. Should this be interpreted as a sign of the strengthening of the intermediary market?
It is true that the tribal-art market remains polarised. A vast majority of its volume is concentrated on pieces under 10,000 euros. In 2016, 93.8 % of lots sold came from this segment, even if they represented only 11.6 % of the turnover. At the other end of the spectrum, millionaire sales accounted for one-third of global proceeds while corresponding to only 0.1 % of lots. However, the significant – and gradual – fall of the median price (5,000 euros in 2013 as opposed to 1,000 euros in 2016) of pieces acquired at auctions implies that the upper-market strategy of Christie’s and (especially) of Sotheby’s is being increasingly diluted by that of its rivals, be it through volume or the sale of intermediary collections, as is the case of the auction houses Millon or Binoche et Giquello.
End of the Christie’s-Sotheby’s Domination?
Here lies another sign of the increasing importance of the intermediary market. In recent years, the leadership of Christie’s and Sotheby’s has loosened its grip. In 2013, the two houses still represented 40 % of lots placed on sale and 90 % of the auction turnover in the tribal-art segment. Gradually, this market share has diminished to reach, in 2016, 6.61 % of the lots placed on sale and 64 % of the turnover. Even if the duopoly still exists, it has lost a certain amount of its power to auction houses such as Zemanek-Münster, which adopts a clear volume-based strategy (17.5 % of lots placed on sale, for 1.75 % of the turnover) or else French houses, which opt for a median strategy. Binoche et Giquello (roughly 4 % of lots sold for 9.5 % of the turnover) or Millon (5 % for 6.9 %) are gradually widening their market shares by focusing on the sale of intermediary collections, a more prestigious segment than the mere accumulation of lots – and above all, far easier to promote. In this way, on 20 September, Millon will be selling the Pre-Columbian art objects of French collector Gérald Berjonneau as well as the historic collection of his father-in-law, Alvaro Guillot-Muñoz (1897-1971). Whereas on 18 October, Binoche et Giquello will be selling the collection of Giancarlo Ligabue (1931- 2015).
But the king still remains master of his castle nonetheless. In 2016, Sotheby’s still ran ahead of the pack: its 333 lots (4 %) represented 53 % of sales proceeds, in other words, 32.3 million euros. Following the leader, Christie’s came up with a paltry 2.6 % of lots sold and 12 % of the sector’s turnover (7.2 million euros). Sotheby’s is keeping its upper hand thanks to its upper-market strategy, as indicated in 2014 by its sale of the Frum and Myron Kunin collections. Over a fifteen-year period, the auction house has done no less than sell 70 % of the volume of millionaire objects, leaving its rivals to snatch at the crumbs – 9 % for Christie’s and 21 % for other auction houses. Thanks to its millionaire auction sales, Sotheby’s has yielded 103 million euros – spread out between barely 50 lots – in other words 26.2 % of its turnover over the period… and more than the 8,968 lots sold by Christie’s between 2000 and 2014.
Africa Still on Top
As for the market, at auction sales at least, Africa is still on top. In 2016, classic African pieces represented 62 % of lots exchanged on the tribal-art market, and 68 % of sales proceeds. Meanwhile, the Pacific, coming in second, represented 15.8 % of lots exchanged and 20 % of the turnover. The classic African art pieces that were the most sought after at auctions in 2016 were mainly Lega, Baoulé, Kongo or Fang ones. These four ethnicities, while accounting for only 8.5 % of the origins of classic African pieces sold at auctions, made up 35 % of takings.
A small earthquake has nonetheless upset auctions in the space of just a few years. In 2014, an African piece would sell for an average of 44,524 euros, compared with 21,764 euros for a Pacific one. While this considerable disparity can namely be explained by the great auction success scored by a handful of African-art lots, including the Sénoufo statue sold Sotheby’s, it was also observable in a year when records were sparser: in 2013, a classic African art object sold for an average of 31,613 euros, compared to 21,465 euros for Pacific tribal arts. In 2016, the trend was inversed: on average, Pacific pieces went for 9,256 euros, and African ones, for 7,979 euros. A figure boosted by the sale, at Sotheby’s in May 2016, of an Uli ancestor statue from Papua New Guinea for 4.7 million dollars – the record for a classic Pacific art object. Then came South American and Pre-Columbian pieces, sold at an average of 7,300 euros, and North American ones, at 3,730 euros.
This shakeup, which stirs up a timeworn inertia, has a simple cause: the increase in the number of pieces being placed on sale largely stems from Africa. In 2012, 1,300 pieces were placed on sale, 3,650 in 2014 and… 5.230 in 2016 – more than the total number of tribal-art lots placed on sale in 2001 and 2002. In comparison, the number of classic Pacific pieces placed on auction has increased, but to a lesser extent: 730 in 2012, 1,170 in 2014 and 1,309 in 2016.
France, an Obvious Spot for Tribal-Art Auctions
As for geography, tribal-art sales are clearly spread out between France and the United States, especially Paris and New York. Between 2000 and 2016, France sold 27,246 lots and raised a turnover of around 370 million euros. On the other hand, the United States sold 15,500 pieces for a turnover of 242 million euros. Paris is therefore the centre of this market, the city where tribal arts are the most intensively sold, even if objects sell at lower prices on average than in the United States (13,580 euros compared with 15,612 euros over the period 2000- 2015). Despite a market-correction effect, these results were confirmed in 2016 when a lot sold for an average of 9,410 euros in France, and 12,819 euros in the United States.
At auctions, the undeniable growth of the tribal-art market is not exempt from upheaval: the strong growth of classic African art pieces being placed on sale, leading to a fall in their average value, a rise of the intermediary market privileging a few auction houses that have managed to challenge the Christie’s-Sotheby’s duopoly… It will be interesting to see whether these deep modifications will be confirmed in the upcoming sales in the next few weeks.
Upcoming auctions
A positive start to the season for the auction house Millon, currently gearing up to sell pre-Columbian art objects from the collection of Frenchman Gérald Berjonneau as well as from the historic collection of his father-in-law Alvaro Guillot-Muñoz (1897-1971). A selection of 120 pieces, estimated at between 1.5 and 1 million euros, including a stone Palma representing a Morelet’s crocodile from the Veracruz culture, produced between 600 and 900 A.D., estimated at between 80,000 and 120,000 euros. Also on offer at the sale: a Mochica shaman’s cup (Peru) resting on a deer head, estimated at between 80,000 and 120,000 euros, or else an antique Chorrera shaman’s mortar (Ecuador, 1500 to 600 A.D.) in the shape of a monkey, estimated at between 40,000 and 70,000 euros.
20 September 2017. Millon
Parisian house Drouot is holding an African, Pacific and Pre-Colombian arts and archaeology sale, featuring 27 pieces from the renowned collection of Giancarlo Ligabue, an Italian collector, entrepreneur and palaeontologist who passed away in 2015. The businessman had commenced, in the 1960s, an archaeological and paleontological collection inherited by his son. Binoche et Giquello is presenting part of this collection, including a boat model produced in Egypt c. 3500-3 200 B.C. (Nagada II period). Estimated at between 20,000 and 30,000 euros, this earthenware work once belonged to the collections of Marianne Maspero dealers, then Charles Ede.
18 October. Binoche et Giquello
Always at the heart of the action, Sotheby’s will be selling the collection of Edwin & Cherie Silver, well-known collectors from Los Angeles. A sale featuring numerous Gabonese and Congolese Kota figures. A selection of works is also on display at Sotheby’s Paris (Galerie Aveline, 94 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré) throughout Parcours des Mondes, from 10 to 16 September.
10 November. Sotheby’s New York
Tags: auction, Christie's, data, Sotheby's, tribal arthttp://en.artmediaagency.com/121014/the-tribal-art-market-at-auction-in-2016/

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2.  PARIS PIASA, Paris will present works for sale by a fresh selection of artists and designers from Africa and its diaspora at the auction “Contemporary African Art + Design,” on November 29, 2017. The auction will also host an installation by artist Edwige Aplogan for the occasion.
The sale will feature works of contemporary African design by artists from West Africa and the Maghreb for the first time. The highlights include two limited-edition works by Hamed Ouattara (Burkina Faso), namely, his Indigola cabinet and Gold furniture. A number of items by Aïssa Dione, whose fabrics are much in demand among Paris decorators, will also be auctioned. Hicham Lahlou, founder of Africa Design Days in Marrakesh, will showcase a spectacular light made of copper trumpets. “Contemporary African Art + Design” will include works by established artists present in biennales, museums, exhibitions, and leading collections, alongside works by emerging artists. The sale runs to around 100 lots by African artists who take their inspiration from their roots and everyday life.
Edwige Aplogan envelops the main buildings of Benin linked to the history of African independence, covering them with flags of the African continent in a way that questions both architecture and history. The artist explains, “With the project to envelop the PIASA building, I wish to highlight its relevance to art history and cultural heritage, and how it offers visitors the chance to discover the work of African artists, many of whom live in Europe. The entrance will be draped with Abomey tapestries – another way of recounting history, featuring distinctive objects or animals evoking people’s daily lives. This is also a way to show and share, however briefly, the imagination of an entire people in a calmer climate.”

http://www.blouinartinfo.com/news/story/2597122/piasas-contemporary-african-art-design-auction-in-paris

MUSEUMS COMING AND GOING Fall 2017

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1. WASHINGTON DC Rusty Powell, director of Washington’s National Gallery of Art, to retire in 2019
The museum’s fourth and longest-serving leader says his greatest achievements are building for the future
Menachem Wecker
9th November 2017 02:38 GMT
National Gallery of Art director Rusty Powell (right) taking former US president George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush on a tour of the Gilbert Stuart exhibition in 2005 White House photo by Krisanne Johnson
At a recent preview for the exhibition Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, Earl “Rusty” Powell III, the museum’s director since 1992, reflected on another show dedicated to the artist more than 20 years earlier. A blizzard in 1995 led to government furloughs, and the federally funded National Gallery had to shut down its Johannes Vermeer blockbuster for 19 days. The two shows now serve as near-bookends for Powell’s tenure, following his announcement today that he will retire in early 2019.
Powell, 74, was born just two years after the founding of the National Gallery and is its fourth and longest-serving director. He first joined the National Gallery as a curatorial assistant for special exhibitions in 1976, and served as the director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for 12 years before returning to Washington, DC.
In a press release, the National Gallery lists some of Powell’s achievements, including exponential collection growth and welcoming more than 122 million visitors. The museum also controversially acquired the collection of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, after it closed due to financial problems.
Asked which accomplishments are most meaningful to him, Powell told The Art Newspaper that building towards the gallery’s future ranks at the top. “Renovating the gallery’s West Building—John Russell Pope’s last design—and renovating and expanding with 12,000 more sq. ft the East Building—I.M. Pei’s masterpiece—and adding the stunning 6.1-acre Sculpture Garden designed by Laurie Olin are major highlights,” he said.
Before he retires, Powell looks forward to completing an endowment fundraising challenge issued by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation last year, when it gave the gallery a $30m grant, to be matched over five years by $45m in new gifts from other donors. And in the next few months, the gallery will finalise its plans for the last renovation phases of the East Building.
Powell’s longtime colleague and friend E.A. Carmean, who was the department head and curator of 20th-century art at the gallery from 1974 to 1984, was quick to praise him. “Being a museum director today requires a wide range of skills, some ranging from international diplomacy to the steady, daily, hands-on steering of the ship. Rusty has these talents in abundance” Carmean says. “He is also a brilliant scholar of 19th-century American art. Perhaps he will now further contribute to that field.”
http://theartnewspaper.com/news/rusty-powell,-director-of-washingtons-national-gallery-of-art,-to-retire-in-2019

BITS AND PIECES Fall 2017

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1.FIGUERES (AFP).- Forensics experts exhumed Salvador Dali's remains from a tomb in his Spanish hometown on Thursday, nearly three decades after his death, in order to test a fortune teller's claims that she is the only daughter of the surrealist.
Working behind closed doors, they removed a slab weighing more than a tonne which covers the tomb of the artist at the Dali Theatre-Museum in Figueras in northeastern Spain where he was born.
"The biological specimens have been taken from Salvador Dali’s remains," Catalonia’s High Court of Justice said in a statement around 11:50 pm (2150 GMT).
It said Dali's coffin had been opened at 10:20 pm so that work could begin.
The DNA samples in the form of bone or tooth fragments will be sent to Madrid to undergo the necessary tests.
A crowd of onlookers gathered outside the elaborate museum of Dali's work to watch as police escorted the experts into the building which is topped by a huge metallic dome decorated with egg shapes. Dali designed the building himself.
The museum, a top tourist site that drew over 1.1 million visitors last year, was covered in some places with cloth to prevent drones from capturing images.
"A day like this arouses in me a great deal of feeling because it reminds me of the day of his death," Maria Lorca, who was the mayor of Figueras at the time of Dali's death in 1989 at age 84, told AFP.
The eccentric artist would have enjoyed the atmosphere outside the museum, Lorca added.
"He would feel at home, it is a day that suits his way of being," Lorca said.
A huge fortune
Pilar Abel, a 61-year-old who long worked as a psychic in Catalonia, says her mother had a relationship with the artist when she worked in Cadaques, a picturesque Spanish port where the painter lived for years.
A Madrid judge last month granted her a DNA test to find out whether her allegations are true.
If Abel is confirmed as Dali's only child, she could be entitled to 25 percent of the huge fortune and heritage of one of the most celebrated and prolific painters of the 20th century, the woman's lawyer Enrique Blanquez said.
Dali's estate, which includes properties and hundreds of paintings, is entirely in the hands of the Spanish state.
The Salvador Dali Foundation which manages the estate says it was worth nearly 400 million euros ($460 million) at the end of 2016.
The Salvador Dali Foundation is to provide details of the exhumation at a press conference on Friday at 8:00 am (0600 GMT).
Abel has already provided a saliva sample for comparison and the results are expected within a matter of weeks.
In an interview with AFP last month, just days after a court ordered the exhumation, Abel said her grandmother had told her she was Dali's daughter when she was seven or eight years old. Her mother admitted it much later.
Abel is from the city of Figueras, like Dali, and she said she would often see him in the streets.
"We wouldn't say anything, we would just look at each other. But a glance is worth a thousand words," she said.
'Known in the village'
A question has always hung over his sexuality, with some claiming he was a closet homosexual who preferred to watch others having sex rather than taking part.
But according to Abel's lawyer Blanquez, his affair was "known in the village, there are people who have testified before a notary".
Born on May 11, 1904 in Figueras to a bourgeois family, Dali developed an interest in painting from an early age.
In 1922 he began studying at the Fine Arts Academy in Madrid where he developed his first avant-garde artistic ideas in association with poet Federico Garcia Lorca and the filmmaker Luis Bunuel.
Soon he left for Paris to join the surrealist movement, giving the school his own personal twist and rocketing to fame with works such as "The Great Masturbator."
Returning to Catalonia after 12 years, he invited French poet Paul Eluard and his Russian wife Elena Ivanovna Diakonova to Cadaques.
She became his muse -- he gave her the pet name Gala -- and remained at his side for the rest of her life.
They never had children and she died in 1982, seven years before Dali's death.
http://artdaily.com/news/97635/Spanish-painter-Salvador-Dali-exhumed-to-test-if-fortune-teller-is-his-daughter#.WdZ-2UqGMnY

 

ART and TECHNOLOGY Fall 2017

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1. LONDON.- In 1888/9 in Arles in the South of France, Vincent van Gogh painted several versions of one of the most famous paintings ever made – his Sunflowers.
Today five Sunflowers paintings are located in museums across the globe and have never been united. Until now that is. On 14 August 2017, in a world first, all those Sunflowers will come together in a ‘virtual exhibition’ bringing the paintings together in a way the artist could never have imagined.
Over 95-minutes on that evening, The National Gallery (London), Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam), Philadelphia Museum of Art, Neue Pinakothek (Munich) and the Seiji Togo Memorial Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Museum of Art (Tokyo) will link up in a unique and unprecedented global collaboration to explore the Sunflowers series, live on Facebook.
Starting at 5.50pm (UK time) in London, there will be a consecutive relay of five, 15-minute Facebook Live broadcasts. Each will take place in front of a different Sunflowers painting, all will celebrate and explore Vincent van Gogh’s life and work.
This is the first time ever there has been a live Facebook ‘relay’ of this type between different institutions worldwide.
To further unite the paintings, and in such a way that would be totally impossible in the physical space of a gallery, the five galleries have worked with Facebook to create a fully immersive digital exhibition, Sunflowers 360.
Using a combination of VR technology and CGI to create an experience that will look and feel as if the five paintings were actually together in one room, viewers can interact with Sunflowers 360 on Gear VR or view as a 360 video on Facebook. Entering the gallery in VR, people can rotate around a 360 degree environment to view each of the paintings, or go on a guided tour of each painting. Willem van Gogh - the great-grandson of Van Gogh’s brother Theo – narrates the experience, sharing personal memories of the paintings. Sunflowers 360 is released today (10 August 2017) on the Facebook pages of each museum and through the Oculus store.
The inspiration for this world first collaboration came from the UK, where the National Gallery’s highly successful Sunflowers display in 2014 reunited the London and Amsterdam versions of the painting for the first time in 65-years.
National Gallery Director Dr Gabriele Finaldi says “We launched our first Facebook Live a year ago and they've been growing in popularity ever since, so we are delighted to be teaming up with galleries all over the world and Facebook for the first ever live relay focusing on Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’. This collaboration is a key step in the National Gallery’s Digital Strategy, which will see us fully explore the potential of immersive media to create new ways of experiencing art.”
Glenn Miller, Strategic Partner Manager for Facebook, said: “This iconic series of paintings have been experienced as individual pieces of art around the world. By creating this immersive experience we can now bring these masterpieces together, inspiring and bringing enjoyment to new and existing fans, no matter where they are in the world.”
Willem van Gogh said: “Rather like the ‘Mona Lisa’ and ‘The Night Watch’, Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ are works of art that continue to intrigue and inspire, perhaps into eternity. Indeed, each generation forges a fresh, highly personal bind with them. The virtual gallery and live stream now provide a novel way for art lovers, young and old, to admire these magnificent masterpieces, from all corners of the globe. I think this is fantastic!”
At the National Gallery, London the tour of Room 43 – where Sunflowers hangs - will be hosted by Christopher Riopelle, Curator of Post 1800 Paintings. He says “The excitement we saw three years ago when the London and Amsterdam ‘Sunflowers’ were shown together, especially among young visitors to the National Gallery, convinced us that there is a deep curiosity on the part of the public and scholars alike to understand how this famous series came into being, what the pictures meant to Vincent, and what they mean to us today.”
http://artdaily.com/news/98143/Five-masterpieces-on-three-continents-to-be-united-for-the-first-time-ever-on-Facebook#.WdZ3h0qGMnY

 

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2. NEW YORK - Galleries hit by cyber crime wave
Hackers are using an email scam to intercept payments between galleries, collectors and others
Cristina Ruiz, Anna Brady, Sarah P. Hanson and Julia Michalska
31st October 2017 08:21 GMT
Galleries are being targeted by cyber criminals Blake Connally
Hackers are stealing large sums of money from art galleries and their clients using a straightforward email deception. The Art Newspaper has so far identified nine galleries or individuals targeted by this scam. They include Hauser & Wirth, the London-based dealers Simon Lee, Thomas Dane, Rosenfeld Porcini and Laura Bartlett and, in the US, Tony Karman, the president of Expo Chicago.
“We know a number of galleries that have been affected. The sums lost by them or their clients range from £10,000 to £1m,” says the insurance broker Adam Prideaux of Hallett Independent. “I suspect the problem is a lot worse than we imagine.”
How it works
The fraud is relatively simple. Criminals hack into an art dealer’s email account and monitor incoming and outgoing correspondence. When the gallery sends a PDF invoice to a client via email following a sale, the conversation is hijacked. Posing as the gallery, hackers send a duplicate, fraudulent invoice from the same gallery email address, with an accompanying message instructing the client to disregard the first invoice and instead wire payment to the account listed in the fraudulent document.
Once money has been transferred to the criminals’ account, the hackers move the money to avoid detection and then disappear. The same technique is used to intercept payments made by galleries to their artists and others. Because the hackers gain access to the gallery’s email contacts, the scam can spread quickly, with fraudulent emails appearing to come from known sources.
The victims
This summer, the London-based dealer Laura Bartlett sold a group of works to a US collector. “It was quite a high-value sale for me,” she says. The transaction was negotiated entirely by email and when it was finalised, Bartlett sent the buyer an invoice via email, as she has sent all her invoices for the past 12 years. Her client received this but soon afterwards, Bartlett’s emails were intercepted. “Somebody sent out another email saying: ‘Ignore my previous invoice. I sent you old bank details; please use this invoice instead.’” The client duly wired the money to the hackers instead of to Bartlett.
“I kept checking my account to see if the money had arrived and sending more and more emails to my client to ask where the funds were,” she says. Her client responded to these emails, but “in retrospect, I realise that the tone of his emails had completely changed”, Bartlett says. What she and her client did not know at the time was that the hackers were now controlling all correspondence between them while impersonating them both. The hackers responded to Bartlett’s queries about the payment with reassurances that “everything was fine and that the delay in receiving payment was being looked into”.
It was only when Bartlett called the client a week later that they both realised what had happened. They reported the theft to the Action Fraud team at the Metropolitan Police in London but have no information about the ongoing investigation. (A spokesman for Action Fraud told The Art Newspaper that Bartlett and her client’s “reports have been reviewed and have been disseminated to the Metropolitan Police service for investigation”.)
Bartlett’s client has not recovered his money and is unlikely to do so. “His bank told him that it was not able to recompense him,” Bartlett says. In cases such as these, “the bank has not made an error for which it necessarily has to take responsibility”, says Chris Bentley, the director of underwriting at AXA Art Northern Europe, Middle East and Asia Pacific.
Some art dealers believe that banks should carry out more detailed checks on new clients before they are allowed to open accounts. Ian Rosenfeld of Rosenfeld Porcini in London has been trying to recover money stolen from one of his gallery’s clients for 18 months. As in Bartlett’s case, the theft occurred after criminals intercepted an email invoice sent to a client following the sale of a work.
“Around seven or eight hours after we had sent our invoice, the buyers got another email saying that the invoice we had sent out was in the wrong currency and that they should make payment to a different account,” Rosenfeld explains. Once again, the collectors wired the funds to an account set up by fraudsters. “We’re still in discussion with the bank a year and a half later, trying to recover the money; they have been completely useless,” Rosenfeld says.
The art world is not being specifically targeted by hackers, but the fast-paced transactions and large sums of money changing hands make it particularly lucrative. “You can’t buy a $1m condo without three weeks of paperwork and 100 checks and balances, but art dealers and their clients will wire $1m after a single conversation,” says one US dealer who asked not to be named. The same dealer, whose gallery nearly lost $500,000 when one of his clients wired money to a fraudster (the client was able to recover the funds after the bank questioned the transfer), says he knows of many more galleries targeted by hackers.
For Bartlett, the loss of income from a major sale came at a bad time. “I didn’t have the financial security to weather this kind of scenario,” she says. “If it had happened at another time of year, when I’d had a better run, it might have been OK, but this particular sale was going to pay a lot of bills.” Shortly after the cyberattack, Bartlett closed her gallery.
Other London-based dealers who have lost money through this type of fraud include Simon Lee. “Our accountant received an email and invoice from someone within our company, with a message saying ‘please pay this’,” he says. The sum lost by Lee’s gallery was small, he says, but he knows “people who have been taken for hundreds of thousands of pounds”. Lee now issues a standard warning about cyberfraud with every invoice and his accountant now “telephones and confirms banking instructions with clients over the phone”.
In the US, a similar fraud attempt targeted Expo Chicago. “Someone got into our system,” says president Tony Karman. “We have a good system, but someone got in and sent an email to our accountant from my email address with an invoice and a message that said ‘please pay this immediately’. Fortunately, our accountant checked the invoice with me and I told him ‘I didn’t send it; it wasn’t me. We immediately put extra security measures in place.”
Back in London, another victim is Thomas Dane; the gallery lost money when it inadvertently wired money to a fraudster’s account. “It was a staggered payment that got intercepted,” says François Chantala, a partner at the gallery. “It has been a wake-up call to completely overhaul our invoicing procedures,” he says, adding that the gallery now sends most of its invoices by courier.
It is not just small or mid-size galleries that have been targeted. The Swiss gallery Hauser & Wirth, which has spaces in London, Somerset, Zurich, New York and Los Angeles, has also been a victim of the scam. In response to our questions, the gallery said in a statement: “Like many others, it’s true that we were targeted by a cyberattack. Due to the systems we have in place and the vigilance of our team, as soon as the fraud attempt occurred we responded swiftly, resulting in a full recovery of the funds. We are very aware of the potential risks that digital transactions bring and have implemented additional security measures to protect our staff and contacts.”
Raising awareness
Art dealers’ associations have been trying to raise awareness of cyber-security for months. In February, the Society of London Art Dealers issued a warning to its members about the dangers of email fraud. Three months later, it sent out the warning again. In the US, the Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA) circulated its first warning on cyber-risks, including this specific type of email fraud, which it refers to as a “man-in-the-middle” scam, in 2016. Adam Sheffer of the gallery Cheim & Read, who is the president of the ADAA, says that he issued the alert after being approached by “high-profile American and European galleries”, as well as artists who had been targeted by scammers.
Taking basic precautions such as encrypting invoices and confirming bank details over the phone with clients, artists and service providers before money is transferred is critical, not least because insuring against loss from an email fraud or other hacks is difficult. Although some cyber-insurance policies do exist, these typically have a relatively low cap on the losses that can be claimed. Furthermore, if these policies are bought by galleries, they will only protect the galleries themselves, and not their clients, who are often the victims.
The insurance industry is divided about the efficacy of such products. AXA Art does not currently offer a policy that will protect against loss from this type of email fraud, Bentley says. “This is a very rapidly evolving area for the insurance market,” he says. “It’s moving so quickly that if you renewed your policy in April rather than October, you might have a different arrangement.” He believes that it is more effective for galleries to adopt “a change in practice to avoid this situation happening in the first place rather than buying what is going to be potentially quite expensive insurance. Even if an insurance solution is eventually offered, it is still likely to be both limited and expensive.”
For galleries in the UK, introducing greater security is critical. Next May, the UK will implement new EU legislation: the General Data Protection Regulations. (The legislation will be introduced in Britain regardless of Brexit.) These require every company that stores personal data, such as clients’ email addresses, to protect it adequately. So, if your gallery’s email account is hacked because of inadequate security measures, you could be fined 4% of your annual turnover or €20m, whichever is higher. “No galleries are that aware of the impending regulation,” Lee says, adding that, for galleries, “there are huge responsibilities involved and there is a lot to do in preparation”.
Five-step protection against email fraud
1 Regularly change all passwords for email, software and wifi
2 Ensure all anti-virus software is up to date
3 Only send invoices by email if they have been encrypted (password-protected)
4 After sending or receiving an invoice by email, call and/or send a text or WhatsApp message to the recipient to double-check the sort code and account number
5 Urge all staff to be extremely vigilant when opening emails and do not download any attachments or click on web links from an untrusted source. Always confirm legitimacy over the telephone with the sender if in doubt
• To contact us about cyber crime, please email londonoffice@theartnewspaper.com
• This article was amended to include details of Tony Karman’s case.
Appeared in The Art Newspaper, 295 November 2017, on November 2017
http://theartnewspaper.com/news/galleries-lose-large-sums-to-cybercrime

 

INTERNATIONAL LAW - IVORY UPDATE Fall 2017

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1. London UK could completely ban ivory trade by 2018
The government has launched an immediate consultation period with the aim of protecting African elephants
Gabriella Angeleti
6th October 2017 20:15 GMT
The UK government has announced a 12-week consultation to ban the sale and export of ivory objects entirely by 2018 with the aim of curbing the illicit trade and protecting African elephants from extinction. The surprise move is a reversal for the Conservative Party, which controversially dropped a pledge to stop the sale of ivory from its manifesto just before the June general election.
Over 20,000 African elephants are poached for their tusks each year Flickr
The current law, passed last year, allows ivory objects made before 1947 to be sold in the UK with no restrictions, but bans raw ivory. But the legislation contains some significant loopholes, wildlife advocates argue, including that carbon dating ivory objects is costly and unfeasible given the scale of the market, and that modern ivory is sometimes stained or artificially aged.
The proposed ban would exempt the trade and sale of ivory between museums, as well as musical instruments, objects of “historic, artistic or cultural value” and items containing “only a small proportion of ivory”, although the exact amount has not been defined.
UK-based antiques dealers, especially Asian art dealers, would be affected by a total ban on ivory. Rebecca Davies, the chief executive of The Association of Art and Antiques Dealers (LAPADA), told The Art Newspaper that the consultation period “provides us with the opportunity to submit clear and compelling evidence of the cultural and business impact of a ban under these terms—evidence that must be taken into account under parliamentary rules when considering the introduction of a new legislation”. Davies adds that “it is not simply a case of introducing whatever measures are passed, it is also a matter of how they are enforced, and we will discuss the options carefully to ensure that any system is effective without being draconian”.
The UK government estimates that the illegal wildlife trade generates up to £17 billion per year. Over 20,000 African elephants are poached for their tusks each year, and some of this ivory is falsely sold as mammoth ivory, which is still legal to trade in most countries, including in the UK and US. China’s State Council announced that it was banning all domestic trade in ivory by the end of this year. While ivory use for ornamental and practical purposes dates to prehistoric times, most of the modern industry uses ivory for minor objects of decorative value, furniture inlays and traditional Chinese medicine.
In an official statement, UK environment secretary Michael Gove says that “ivory should never be seen as a commodity for financial gain or a status symbol—so we want to ban its sale” and that the consultation puts “the UK front and centre of global efforts to end the insidious trade in ivory”.
http://theartnewspaper.com/news/uk-could-completely-ban-ivory-trade-by-2018?utm_source=daily_october7_2017&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=email_daily&utm_source=The+Art+Newspaper+Newsletters&utm_campaign=53974453e8-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_10_07&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c459f924d0-53974453e8-43504689

 

Trump Threatens Pullout from UNESCO

This will be important to watch for a number of reasons. UNESCO and the United Nations have clearly pursued an anti Israel policy causing the U.S. to cut off funds a number of years ago. French President Macron is attempting to advance a French candidate to head UNESCO, an effort that would easier with US support. It seems evident that a French candidate would pull UNESCO further left which could certainly negatively impactthe arts in the U.S.

"The United States plans to formally withdraw from UNESCO, the United Nations’ Paris-based cultural, scientific, and educational organization, to save money and protest what it views as the organization’s anti-Israel bias.

The move, which could be announced as early as next week, marks America’s further estrangement from an organization that it helped establish after World War II to widen access to education and ensure the free flow of ideas. The United States will maintain its presence at UNESCO as an observer state.

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U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made the decision several weeks ago and told French President Emmanuel Macron that Washington was considering leaving during a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in late September on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. Macron was seeking Trump’s support for a French candidate seeking the top job at UNESCO.

The State Department wanted to delay its departure until after UNESCO selects a new director-general this week. The two front-runners are a former French culture minister, Audrey Azoulay, and a Qatari diplomat, Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari. China’s nominee and early frontrunner, Qian Tang, has seen his candidacy crater.

France is looking for more than just U.S. support for Azoulay: It also wants continued global engagement from an administration that has been reluctant to do so.

“We hope the U.S. will take the decision to stay within UNESCO,” France’s U.N. ambassador, François Delattre, said in an interview Wednesday.

“For us, it is important to have the United States on board, including at UNESCO at this critical juncture,” he added. “We consider the U.S. must stay committed to world affairs.”

The Ronald Reagan administration decided to withdraw from the organization in 1984, at the height of the Cold War, citing corruption and what it considered an ideological tilt toward the Soviet Union against the West. President George W. Bush rejoined the organization in 2002, claiming it had gotten its books an order and expunged some of its most virulent anti-Western and anti-Israel biases.

“America will participate fully in its mission to advance human rights, tolerance, and learning,” he said at the time.

But six years ago, the United States cut off more than $80 million a year, about 22 percent of its entire budget for UNESCO, in reprisal for the organization’s acceptance of Palestine as a member. The Obama administration said it had to cut funds because a 1990s-era law prohibits U.S. funding for any U.N. agencies recognizing Palestine as a state.

Despite the funding cut, the United States remains a member of UNESCO and even has a vote on the executive board, which selects the new director-general. But the United States has and it continues to be charged tens of millions in dues each year, and it has lost its voting rights in UNESCO’s principal decision-making body, which is known as the General Conference. That body approves UNESCO’s budget and establishes a range of programs dealing with education, science, and culture around the globe.

As a result of U.S. funding cuts, U.S. arrears have been swelling each year, surpassing $500 million that’s owed to UNESCO. Tillerson wants to stop the bleeding.

But the fundamental strain is over UNESCO’s approach to Israel. Last year, Israel recalled its ambassador to UNESCO in protest after Arab governments in the organization secured support for a resolution denouncing Israel’s policies regarding religious sites in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

And in July, UNESCO declared the old city in Hebron, a West Bank town that includes the Tomb of the Patriarchs, a Palestinian World Heritage Site, a move Israel claims negates Judaism’s links to the biblical town." http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/10/11/u-s-to-pull-out-of-unesco-again

Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images