Last year was filled with news stories from the fascinating world of art and antiques. Here are my favorites from the fabulous to the phony.
While spring cleaning, Queen Elizabeth II discovered two works by the Italian Baroque master, Caravaggio (Italian, 1571-1610) titled “Boy Peeling Fruit” and “The Calling of Saint Peter and Andrew” that were reported to jointly have an estimated value of $134 million. My problem with this story is that I find it hard to believe that the Queen herself is wielding a mop!
Elton John wins suit
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A Paris court ordered a French antiques dealer to pay Sir Elton John $500,000 after selling the singer four fake sculptures. In 1996, John bought the four sculptures representing Olympic gods and, accordingly, the seller had misrepresented the sculptures as 18th-century Italian carvings by Luigi di Giuseppe Grossi (1729-95). An independent art appraisal determined the sculptures to be fakes made in China.
Olympic logo a loser
Introduced last year, the 2012 London Olympic logo sparked international controversy. Many people did not like the design and thought it was a waste of money. Calling it difficult to read and boring in its presentation, people worldwide became upset when they learned that the Pop Art-inspired logo cost an exorbitant $797,640. Similar to evaluating fine art and antiques, taste does not always equate to value.
Anna Nicole Smith’s diary
Heritage Auction Galleries, of Dallas, tried on numerous occasions to sell items associated with the model turned reality TV star, but Anna Nicole’s personal property didn’t sell all that well on the open market despite the publicity after her untimely death. Many of her once coveted pieces including a self-portrait have yet to bring significant money at auction. Most of us only heard about sky-high and largely unsupported pre-auction estimates. We never heard about what was left unsold after the actual auctions.
O.J. Simpson v. grandma?
The latest installment in the O.J. Simpson saga has the football star associating with some far from reputable characters as a result of a sports memorabilia deal gone awry. The ongoing story has Simpson engaged in an alleged kidnapping with a deadly weapon, not to mention other criminal charges. Seems to me that Simpson’s associates in the court case — both auctioneers and collectibles dealers — are not the type of folks that you would want to bring home to mother or want settling grandmother’s estate. This high-profile case asks the age-old question of “Who is reputable?” Starting in April, the court hearing this new O.J. trial will ask the same question.
Pollock matters less
While the McMullen Museum at Boston College sure made a lot of noise about its exhibition of purported Pollock paintings found in a Long Island, N.Y., storage locker owned by late artist Herbert Matter, the results remain inconclusive as to whether or not the paintings are true Jackson Pollock’s. Art historians and conservators, myself included, have weighed in on the debate.
While there has been an abundance of press coverage and discussion over authenticity, the real story is how this little college art museum got everyone talking when it didn’t do anything more than ask exhibition visitors decide whether or not the paintings on display were Pollocks. The museum staff let the public do the work when it came to authentication and they let the press do the rest.
I think before a work of art makes it to a museum wall, it should be authenticated as the real thing. Next, the public will be responsible for detecting the presence of lead paint on toys.
As seen on Comcast CN8 TV, Dr. Lori is an art and antiques appraiser, author and museum curator with a doctorate in art history. For information, visit www.DrLoriV.com or call 888-431-1010.