May 29, 1998
We survived a taxi strike here in New York City this week. Actually, most of us didn't even notice there was one. Well, we noticed that traffic was a lot more bearable than it usually is, and that there was a lot less horn-honking!
FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF ALL BIDDERS MUST KEEP THEIR HANDS IN FULL VIEW
Remember the episode of "Seinfeld" entitled "The Contest"? It was the one where the four friends anted up money in a competition to see who could - um - refrain the longest. It all took place as a result of George's mother walking in on him while he was having a tete-a-tete with a copy of Glamour Magazine. For many fans, this stands out as the quintessential and most hilarious of all Seinfelds. And it won an Emmy for Larry David, who wrote it. Well, on June 18 it goes on the auction block as part of Christie's East's annual sale of film and television memorabilia. The pre-sale estimate for the bound script, which has been autographed by all four cast members, is $1,500 to $2,000. I think the estimate is a sly joke by Christie's. They have to know it will sell for several times that amount.
THIS SOUNDS LIKE A GOOD PLOT FOR A MOVIE DEPARTMENT
Okay, try to follow this: A sixteenth century German nobleman had a prayer book with seven original paintings in it. Four are by the Flemish master, Simon Bening. The paintings were ripped from the book (no, I don't know whodunit) and somehow wound up in the collection of the University of Kassel Library in Germany. During the Second World War, the University hid the paintings in a mine shaft to protect them from bombing. After the war, an American civilian employee of Republic Aircraft named William Braemer was sent to Germany to get information about the German aircraft company Messerschmidt. Messerschmidt had records stored in the mine shaft and Braemer discovered the paintings there. He kept them in storage for thirty years, and then sold them in his Connecticut frame shop for - get this - $100. Whoever bought them from Braemer sold them to a rug dealer named Thomas Chatalbash for $200 (no art experts, these guys. The actual value of the paintings is $500,000) and he hung three of them on his office wall, where they were spotted by a museum official. Once Chatalbash was apprised of their value he was determined to keep them, but the University of Kassel Library filed suit for their return. There was a little negotiating, the suit was withdrawn, Chatalbash was given an undisclosed amount as an "award", and the paintings went back to Germany. If canvas could talk!
WHY YOU SHOULD NEVER BUY AN ITALIAN-MADE SECURITY SYSTEM
If you can stand one more art story: three thieves in masks and stocking feet stole Italy's only two Van Goghs and a Cezanne on May 19 from The National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome. The Italian art world was caught off guard, possibly because they were busy bragging about a renaissance of their nation's art museums. The shoeless trio simply walked in, tied up and gagged the three security guards, locked them in a bathroom, and walked off with the paintings. Police are now waiting for a ransom demand to surface.
If you love architectural artifacts and want to buy some for your lawn, deal only with a reputable dealer. And make sure you secure what you display. Thefts of iron lawn furniture and other outdoor artifacts is on the rise, and some thieves are even robbing cemeteries. If a stolen artifact is discovered in your possession it must be returned, and you will lose whatever you paid for it.
Well, Accumulators, it is hot and sticky here in NYC, and we're in the
middle of a thunderstorm. Artie and I are headed up to the country to try
to cool off, to escape the evening news, which is full of people shooting
other people, and to shop - of course! Have a safe and enjoyable weekend.
© 1998 Judith Katz-Schwartz. All rights reserved.
Antiques and Collectibles Newsletter #44
U.S. Library of Congress
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