November 25, 2000
I can hear you burping and sighing! Too much turkey and stuffing, pumpkin
pie and cranberry sauce, eh? Likewise here. Our family celebrates
Thanksgiving at a restaurant, and our dear friends the Nachowitzes hosted
another Thanksgiving extravaganza on Friday. I don't want to think about
the caloric total!
FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF HOW CRUEL THOU ART
Two art-related stories here. The first, covered in this week's AntiqueWeek, regards a court decision to which we should all pay attention. The media have been filled, in the past few years, with articles about dealers or collectors who made "good buys", only to be sued by the seller, after the item turned out to be worth far more than the purchaser paid for it. This is a scary thing for dealers. Is it our responsibility to educate every potential seller regarding the worth of his item? And if we pay the asking price, does that constitute taking unfair advantage of the seller? In Sheridan, Wyoming, a dealer bought a painting at a Salvation Army store for $25. It turned out to be by a local artist named Bill Gollings, whose work sells for up to $30,000 a painting. The painting had come from the estate of a woman whose nephew had boxed up several items, and marked them with different destinations. Apparently, the box containing the painting was intended for delivery to the nephew's home in Idaho. When the boxes arrived and the nephew noted there was one missing, and that it contained his painting, he began to scout around and eventually found that the Salvation Army had mistakenly picked it up with some others. He obtained the name of the person who had purchased the painting, a dealer who owns a consignment shop, but the dealer refused to give up the painting. So, into court they went, but first, gentlemen that they are, they agreed to leave the Salvation Army out of the suit. The court decided that the painting must go back to the nephew, as he never intended to give it to the Salvation Army, and therefore they didn't own the title to it, and couldn't sell it. I hope they're good enough to refund the dealer's $25.
In the second story, we're presented with a true picture of the way crimes
are solved. Matthew Modine, the actor, is also, apparently, a painter.
No, I don't know whether he's a good painter or a bad one. I just know that
seven of his paintings were stolen, along with his wedding album, family
photo album and record collection, more than ten years ago. According to
the New York Daily News, it was during the renovation of Modine's Greenwich
Village townhouse that the items disappeared. But, since he was away from
home at the time, and couldn't remember whether he'd sent the items to
storage, he couldn't be absolutely sure from where or when they were taken.
So, he never filed a police report. This week, a man was arrested in the
case. Here's how it happened: Several years ago the man, a resident of
Chinatown, boasted to a woman that he was a friend of Modine's and showed
off the paintings and personal photographs. This fall, the woman saw
Modine, and tipped him off to the whereabouts of his property (as for the
identity of the woman, her connection to Modine, or why the heck she waited
all these years to speak up, the cops aren't saying). Modine finally filed
a complaint in September. Enter our hero, New York Police Detective Scott
Dillin. He climbed up the fire escape to the suspect's apartment, peered
in the window and spotted a painting by Modine, a depiction of himself
(Modine, not Detective Dillin!) with Nicholas Cage. With his eyewitness
evidence, he was able to obtain a search warrant, and in the police went.
Once inside the apartment, they discovered six other Modine paintings and
the family photo album. They haven't recovered the record collection or
the wedding album. The suspect has not yet been charged, but the
investigation continues. I know, Dear Accumulators, you can draw many
lessons from this story (don't steal, don't brag about it if you do, don't
leave your window shades up), but for me the most fascinating aspect of
this case is its revelation of the art of crime detection. Informants are
VIPs in the crime-solving world. A good snitch is worth her weight in gold.
GAG ME DEPARTMENT
Dayton's is determined to have a great Christmas shopping season. Now, how to draw attention to its prize children's (and silly women's) collectibles, Miss Bear and Santa Bear, while getting various companies with advertising characters to help foot the bill? I know, let's have a wedding! Which is exactly what they did on Thanksgiving night at their flagship store in Minneapolis. Presiding over the ceremony was Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles-Belton (and you thought politicians were noble statesmen!). The guest list included Count Chocula, the Honey Nut Cheerios BuzzBee, the Trix Rabbit, The Jolly Green Giant and the Pillsbury Doughboy (I am not making this up). The bride wore a couture dress designed by the same person who created Princess Diana's wedding dress (and who is trying hard as heck to remain anonymous), and the groom wore a tuxedo and top hat. The master of ceremonies? Santa Claus. Of course. Honeymoon plans? North Pole - but after the holiday season. Nothing worse than a crowded honeymoon resort!
Off to the country house, Accumulators. We must shop - it's in our blood
(well in mine, anyway). And work continues on the first floor of the
house. Have a great week, Accumulators. Happy hunting!
© 2000 Judith Katz-Schwartz. All rights reserved.
Antiques and Collectibles Newsletter #133
U.S. Library of Congress
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