SOTHEBY'S TRIES TO SETTLE ANOTHER ANTITRUST ACTION, ISSUES ANNUAL REPORT, WHILE LARGE STOCKHOLDER CUTS BACK PERCENT OF HOLDINGS; CHRISTIE'S REPORTS SIMILAR AUCTION SALES TO SOTHEBY'S FOR 2002; SLOAN'S DECLARES BANKRUPTCY AND SELLS OFF ASSETS; MARY DILLWYN ALBUM ACQUIRED FOR WALES; UBU GALLERY REOPENS WITH NEW PARTNERSHIP; V&A DOWNSIZES PHOTOGRAPHY GALLERY; HENRI CARTIER-BRESSON FOUNDATION OPENS THIS MONTH; NYC ARMORY PHOTOGRAPHY SHOW CANCELLED; ADDITIONAL PHOTOS POSTED UP ON I PHOTO CENTRAL SITE; NIGEL RUSSELL NAMED AS CONSULTANT/SALES REPRESENTATIVE; HOWARD GREENBERG GALLERIES MAKES CHANGES; COLLECTORS' ROUNDTABLE; NEW BOOKS; NEW CATALOGUES
CONTINUED NEWS FROM SOTHEBY'S, WHICH TRIES TO SETTLE
ANOTHER ANTITRUST ACTION, ISSUES ANNUAL REPORT,
WHILE LARGE STOCKHOLDER CUTS BACK PERCENT OF HOLDINGS
It has not been a good two years for the auction business. Sotheby's announced two weeks ago that, together with Christie's, it had entered into an agreement, subject to court approval, to settle the Kruman case, an antitrust class action seeking damages through the United States Courts for auctions that took place between 1993 and 2000 outside the United States. The Kruman Litigation includes all buyers participating at auctions outside the United States between January 1,1993 and February 7, 2000 and all sellers participating at auctions outside the United States between September 1, 1995 and February 7, 2000.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Sotheby's and Christie's will each pay $20 million. The settlement agreement also provides that the threatened claim in England by a law firm on behalf of certain sellers at auctions held by the Company and Christie's in England will not be pursued, and that a purported class action commenced against Sotheby's and Christie's in Canada will be dismissed because those claimants and potential claimants will be compensated through the Kruman settlement. Moreover, buyers and sellers who participate in the Kruman settlement must agree not to pursue similar claims against Sotheby's and Christie's in jurisdictions outside the United States.
The $20 million settlement will be recorded within special charges in Sotheby's results of operations for the year ended December 31, 2002 and will be funded in two payments of $10 million each upon preliminary and final court approval.
So on the financial front, Sotheby's continues to struggle despite seeing some decent sales. In its recent annual report, total auction sales (hammer price plus buyer's premium) increased 10% to $1.8 billion for the year ended December 31, 2002. Auction sales in North America increased 7% to $866.1 million. In Europe, auction sales increased 13% to $814.2 million, principally due to the impact of foreign currency translations.
Unfortunately, the company reported a second straight year of losses due largely to the problems surrounding the legal findings of price-fixing. The company reported a net loss in FY 2002 of $54,755,000 compared to the net loss of $41,696,000 during FY 2001, although it did show some improvement in the last quarter, according to unaudited documents released by the company. Revenues were actually up marginally by nearly $9 million from the year previous, but the annual report came as a sober reminder that Sotheby's still has major financial headaches.
The company now reports that it will let go an additional 50 employees in Europe on top of the 60 it has already let go in New York.
Sotheby's also noted in papers filed with the SEC that former majority stockholder of Class A stock Ronald Baron has continued to cut his holdings in the company, as the stock rose recently at least partly due to the general stock market surge. Six million of those shares were sold through Goldman Sachs in a private transaction--all at a price substantially below the recent peak of the market, which has since dropped and rose again along with the stock market roller coaster.
In advance of the closing of Sotheby's on-line auctions, the number of photographs offered has dropped precipitously--now down to under 50 lots at last look. This puts an end to Sotheby's fore ray into the world of Internet auctions, leaving the field to the more democratic (from a lot price standpoint only) eBay.
Meanwhile, more "good" news for Sotheby's: the former Sotheby's chairman, A. Alfred Taubman, is scheduled to be released early from prison because of good behavior, according to prison officials.
Taubman, 79, was serving a sentence of a year and a day at the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, MN, for his part in the price-fixing conspiracy. He was due to be released at the beginning of August, but now it looks like he will get out of jail somewhat earlier. Only in February, both Taubman and Sotheby's called a halt to the search for a buyer of Taubman's company stock. Taubman continues to hold a majority of the voting stock at the company despite being in jail for his involvement in the Sotheby's-Christie's price fixing scandal.
CHRISTIE'S REPORTS SIMILAR AUCTION SALES TO SOTHEBY'S FOR 2002
Christie's International reported worldwide sales totaling $1.9 billion for 2002. This figure represents auction sales of $1.8 billion and private sales of $120 million. While it is unclear whether Sotheby's matching auction figures of the same $1.8 billion in auction sales include any private sales or not, it looks like both houses were in a virtual tie during the 2002 FY.
Various news reports also indicate similar problems at Christie's, although perhaps not as severe, due to the company's quicker cooperation with authorities in the price-fixing scandal. Christie's is privately held and has only reported sales not profits, which many observers consider to be non-existent at the moment.
SLOAN'S DECLARES BANKRUPTCY AND SELLS OFF ASSETS
The auction business continues to be in rough territory. In December, the 153-year old Sloan's Auction House filed for bankruptcy protection. In February, Andre Sassoon, Stephanie Kenyon and David Wilt purchased Sloan's assets. They say they will incorporate them into a new auction house, Sloans & Kenyon.
The new venture will be housed in the Cornerstone Building in Bethesda, MD and will hold its first catalog auction in May 2003.
A new web site, at www.SloansandKenyon.com , is reportedly under development now and is expected to be operational within a few weeks. Sloan's had run photography auctions in the past.
MARY DILLWYN ALBUM ACQUIRED FOR WALES
The National Library of Wales has purchased an early album from the 1840/50s by Mary Dillwyn for Wales following the refusal of an export license after it sold at auction at Christie's London. The £48,000 album was bought by the library from the original purchaser and will now undergo conservation work before being shown to the public.
Gwyn Jenkins, Director of Collection Services at the National Library of Wales, said, "The National Library is delighted to have acquired this wonderful album of early photographs and is grateful for the support given to it by several organizations who contributed funding towards its purchase. It will be a fine addition to our national collection of over a million photographs dating from the dawn of photography to the new digital age."
As I noted at the time (May 2002), the auction of the very sweet and unusual album of miniature images by Mary Dillwyn, which were only 2-3/8 x 1-3/4 in. (6 x 4.5 cm.), became a race between dealer Hans Kraus and Lee Marks, who was bidding for collector Howard Stein. With Stein's deep pockets, Marks took home the prize--albeit only temporarily--at 47,800 pounds, which was the second highest priced lot of the auction. The album of 42 salt and one albumen print was in a fragile paper format and contained family portraits, still lifes and studies of fowl. The latter images were the most interesting of the group
Iwan Jones, the library's head of collections care, said the album was a "testimony to the early development of an aesthetic application to a new scientific and technical process. It reflects the significant contribution of Wales to the pioneering of photography."
UBU GALLERY REOPENS WITH NEW PARTNERSHIP
Adam Boxer and Hendrik Berinson have formed a new partnership and have reopened Ubu Galleries at 416 E 59th St, New York, NY 10022. The new phone is 1-212-753-4444 and the fax is 1-212-753-4470.
The inaugural show has just opened with Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948), Collages, Paintings, Drawings, Objects and Ephemera.
Jack and Irene Banning, formerly of the old UBU gallery, have opened their own gallery at Banning, 64 N. Moore St, New York, NY 10013. Their phone is 1-212-966-4144 and the fax is 1-212-966-4111.
V&A DOWNSIZES PHOTOGRAPHY GALLERY
The British Journal of Photography has reported that the Victoria and Albert Museum will downsize and move its photography gallery after the end of Canon's five-year sponsorship program.
The Canon Photography Gallery will be replaced by a smaller space within the museum, which will house a permanent display on the history of photography. The department will stage one major photography exhibition each year.
The first exhibition will be sponsored by Canon and is a retrospective of the work of French fashion photographer Guy Bourdin. Retrospectives of the work of Bill Brandt and Diane Arbus will follow in 2004 and 2005.
The Canon galley has been phenomenally successful since its opening and transformed the profile of photography within the museum and to a wider public.
HENRI CARTIER-BRESSON FOUNDATION OPENS THIS MONTH
The Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation opens in late April at 2 Impasse Lebouis, Paris in the 14th arrondissement. The five-story atelier of glass and steel will house the Cartier-Bresson archive. In the planning stages for three years, the foundation was given state approval in March 2002.
Two floors will be devoted solely to exhibition space. The shows will focus on the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson, including his drawings, paintings and writings, as well as his photographs. Open to researchers, the foundation will also run a program of conferences, debates and lectures.
The foundation's board of trustees has appointed Robert Delpire as director and Agnes Sire as assistant director of the foundation until the end of this year.
In conjunction with the foundation's opening, the new Bibliotheque Nationale will feature a major retrospective on Henri Cartier-Bresson's work and the man himself. Delpire was the exhibition's organizer. The show will open April 29 and run through July 27. The European tour has been organized by Magnum Photos, and the next confirmed venue will be at Caixa Forum, Barcelona from September 14 to January 5, 2004.
The foundation receives support from the Old Broad Street Charity Trust, a U.K. registered charity.
NYC ARMORY PHOTOGRAPHY SHOW CANCELLED
The NY Armory Photography Show that was originally scheduled for October 16-20 at the North Pavilion of the Javets Center has now been cancelled. Sources at the exhibit company told me that they wanted to focus their limited staff resources on the Armory Show, which has been a successful contemporary art venue held in March.
ADDITIONAL PHOTOS POSTED UP ON I PHOTO CENTRAL SITE;
NIGEL RUSSELL NAMED AS SALES REPRESENTATIVE/CONSULTANT
Over 150 new photographs have just been posted up on I Photo Central. Some of the highlights include:
--Modern daguerreotypes of flowers by Mike Robinson.
--A large group of New York City views from the 1920s and 1930s.
--A number of early daguerreotypes, including some signed portraits from 1843c and a wonderful stereo dag.
--Lewis Hine's Woman at Loom.
--Images of the dance company of Jeanne Ronsay at St. Cloud.
--A large number of vintage Gone with the Wind images, including some of the most important scenes in the movie.
--Plus photos from Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Diego Rivera, Eugene Smith, Percy Loomis Sperr, Jose Alemany, Todd Webb, Andre Kertesz, Laure Albin-Guillot, Ben Heller, Roger Parry and many others.
You can search for these images at http://www.iphotocentral.com/search/search.php
. Just use the "Time Frame of Posting" drop-down menu and select "Past Month".
I am also pleased to announce that Nigel Russell has come aboard for I Photo Central. He will bring his considerable consulting experience to help with our expansion and constant improvement of I Photo Central. He will also begin our formal sales efforts to add other photography dealers and galleries to the I Photo Central website, as well as to sell advertising. Nigel recently headed up Sotheby.com's photography sales. Before Sotheby's, he worked for Swann Galleries photography and equipment auctions.
If you are interested in joining the site as a photography gallery or dealer, you can contact Nigel at 516 364-5371 and by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
With nearly 3,000 images for sale and over 50,000 visitors per month, I Photo Central has become the most important website devoted to photography collecting.
HOWARD GREENBERG GALLERY GOES THROUGH CHANGES
Howard Greenberg has decided to consolidate his two galleries and move to 57th Street in mid-town Manhattan late this summer. At the moment the leading candidate for the new space is the Fuller Building at the corner of Madison and 57th St.
In addition, Greenberg has hired Rick Wester, formerly of Christie's and Gagosian Galleries, to help consult on this task, including bringing all inventory systems up to date.
At the same time, long-time associate Tom Gitterman has left to start his own venture and will reportedly open his own gallery in NYC in September. The transition had been in the works for some months now to insure a smooth transition. Greenberg said in a letter to some of his resources, "While we will all miss him at the gallery, I expect as a business ally and friend he will be very much a part of the future."
COLLECTORS' ROUND TABLE
There will be a photography collectors' roundtable on Tuesday, April 22, 2003, at 7 p.m. at the Travis Gallery on Rt. 202 in Lahaska, PA. Photographers Michael Smith and Paula Chamlee; Katherine Ware, curator of photography at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; Bill Clark, contemporary photography collector; and photography dealer Alex Novak of Vintage Works (your newsletter editor) will discuss the current state of fine art photography collecting. This program is free and open to the public, but reservations are highly recommended due to space constraints. For reservations, please call the Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce at 215-348-3913 to register.
The roundtable is part of the 17th Annual Byers Bucks Fever Art Exhibition, which this year is entitled "Michael A. Smith & Paula Chamlee: Alone and Together."
This year's Art Exhibition will focus on the latest works of Bucks County photographers, Michael A. Smith and Paula Chamlee, husband and wife, who live, work, and travel together. The exhibition will include their individual images from a recent trip to Tuscany, as well as their collaborative work of Bonsai from Longwood Gardens. The exhibition opens today and runs through April 24 at the Travis Gallery, 6089 Rt. 202, New Hope, PA.
On Thursday, April 10, 2003, 7 p.m. at the Travis Gallery, Michael A. Smith and Paula Chamlee will conduct an intimate conversation about their work and lives with special attention given to the work in the exhibition.
NEW BOOKS: JULIA M. CAMERON--THE COMPLETE PHOTOGRAPHS
There has been a cornucopia of photography research book riches lately. First we had the over 20-pound, two-volume Alfred Stieglitz: The Key Set, then the new books on Le Gray and the Mission Heliographique. And now Julia Margaret Cameron: The Complete Photographs--a monster research project that has been in the works for years, which has just been published by the J. Paul Getty Museum in association with the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television, Bradford, England.
Written and researched by Julian Cox and Colin Ford with contributions by Joanne Lukitsh and Philippa Wright, this 560-page catalogue raisonné is a must for any collector, curator or lover of the art of photography. Many of the images, including 1,222 by Cameron herself, have never been published anywhere before and the research and accompanying text adds much to our understanding of one of the artistic giants of early photography.
The seed for the book began over 25 years earlier with Ford's early research and the germ of an idea. In 1995 while visiting the Getty during the preparation of a Cameron exhibit and another book on her work by Cox, Ford managed to infect Cox with his mad virus. The two joined forces and convinced their respective institutions to provide the resources for this important but certainly daunting project.
As with any such project, so much of the emphasis is on the pictures themselves. Well printed and thoroughly documented, the book's photographs will provide rich fodder for researchers, curators and collectors for years to come.
But please don't give short shrift to the accompanying articles, which are well researched and entertainingly written by the four authors. While all four are excellent writers and their articles are very good reads, I particularly liked Cox's go-for-the-jugular style. He portrays Cameron not only as a formidable woman, which by all accounts she certainly was, but also as "a woman of unexpected contradictions." The directness of Cox's prose left me craving for the next sentence, the next paragraph and so on. This is a good book indeed.
Even the sidebars and appendixes were interesting and useful. For instance, I found to my own chagrin that Cameron's carbon prints were indeed made from the original negatives (into positive transparencies) under her direction, and not after she died from copies of her prints, as I had always heard. She, in fact, had a major dispute with Autotype Company, which made her carbon prints. This is well documented under Appendix B "Inscriptions, Stamps, and the Business of Photography."
As you may realize by now, I am very enthusiastic about this book and can recommend it hardily, even at the $150 asking price.
BOOK: FROM KASHMIR TO KABUL--THE PHOTOGRAPHS
OF JOHN BURKE AND WILLIAM BAKER, 1860-1900
I have always been a fan of John Burke's and William Baker's early images from the areas that still cause the Western world fits. While there have been a few examples of their images and snippets of information in other books and publications, these short passages only provided a taste of the real thing. Finally, Omar Khan has built a comprehensive picture of this important duo's work and the story behind the images in his new book, From Kashmir to Kabul--The Photographs of John Burke and William Baker, 1860-1900.
Clark Worswick, author of The Last Empire: Photography in British India, calls this book, "a monumental body of work," noting that "For over 15 years the historian Omar Khan has spent a considerable treasure--of both physical capital and his own resources--on gathering what is surely the greatest celebration of the work of John Burke...that will ever be assembled. Extraordinary!" And indeed it is an extraordinary piece of work.
Khan has done much new and detailed research for this fine book. I am frankly in awe of his ability to find so much information about these relatively obscure (but no longer) photographers and the particular images that they made on their, at times, quite dangerous travels.
From Kashmir to Kabul is much more than a well-researched book. While it is an important resource for any student of photography, it is also a vital history of this area. This geography has long been contended by many factions--viciously at times. From what is now Kashmir in northern India through Pakistan and finally Afghanistan, this area has laid a trap for all who coveted it. The early skirmishes and participants are all well documented in Burke's imagery and in Khan's skilled writing.
The story Khan weaves is an important one that also provides a balanced historical context to today's difficulties in these areas. As the famous saying runs, "He who does not know his history is doomed to repeat it." Burke and Baker documented an area replete with historical lessons for all of us, and Khan gives us the background details to these fine images. The combination of words and imagery tell a tale of deceit and long antagonism towards foreign occupiers. It would be a book that I would recommend to those in the Bush administration and others with an interest in learning about such encounters here. It appears to me that many right now are a little light on their cultural knowledge and history of this territory. Such a lack of understanding has resulted in many previous and disastrous pitfalls for foreign forces. Would it surprise you to learn that a world war was almost sparked with an event called the Panjdeh incident in 1885? This was a potentially devastating war prevented through a last-minute diplomatic meeting between the amir of Afghanistan and the British viceroy of India. This meeting, by the way, was photographed by Burke.
This 208-page book with 136 photographs is available from Pestel Press and Mapin Publishing, and at $65 (discounted down to $45) is a very worthwhile investment for any library. But please read Khan's historical context to gain a better insight into today's headlines than what is currently provided on television. And while you don't have to read the book with this intent to benefit from it as pure photo history, it seems to me that we all need to gain a better understanding of what is happening around us lest we repeat history once again.
DEALER CATALOGUES: 19TH-CENTURY PHOTOGRAPHY BOOKS
Charles B. Woods, III, Inc. has just published its latest catalogue on 19th-century books relating to photography. Catalogue 114 lists 221 illustrated books, albums, catalogues and technical manuals. The catalogue is available for $10 and will be sent first class in the US and surface mail to other parts of the world.
Some of my long-time readers (and those of you that read my article on Books for a Basic Photography Collecting Library on I Photo Central at ( http://www.iphotocentral.com/collecting/collecting.php
) know that I feel that Woods has long published some of the most important such catalogues in the world.
You can reach Woods to order your catalogue by phone at 1-617-868-1711 or by email at email@example.com
, or just send your checks or money orders (drawn on US banks, of course) to Charles B. Woods, Inc., P.O. Box 2369, Cambridge, MA 02238 USA.
CATALOGUE: ART PHOTOGRAPHY IN JAPAN, 1920-1940
Art Photography In Japan, 1920-1940--what a tasty little catalogue! This 64-page publication covers photographic territory that is virtually unexplored.
While a "dealer" catalogue published by Howard Greenberg Gallery and Charles Schwartz, Ltd., this booklet is considerably more than that. Essays by Christian Peterson and Kerry Ross, and a biographical reference from Torin Boyd and Naomi Izakura make this an important reference work. All do an admirable job trying to fill in the blanks of this area of photography history.
For a copy of the catalogue, you can contact Howard Greenberg at 1-212-334-0010 or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
, or Charles Schwartz at 1-212-534-4496 or by email at: email@example.com
. The price is $20, plus shipping.
The catalogue was published in conjunction with two exhibitions of the work. Now on display until May 3rd at the Howard Greenberg Gallery at 120 Wooster St., New York City, the show moves on to Staton Greenberg Gallery, (phone: 1-805-962-9876) 15 West Anapamu St., Santa Barbara, CA on May 24th and closes July 12th.
CATALOGUE: EDMUND TESKE
Stephen Daiter Gallery and Barry Singer Gallery have jointly published a first-rate catalogue on the underrated Edmund Teske--yet one more photographic light that burned a little brighter because of the New Bauhaus/Chicago School of Design, even if that influence was somewhat indirect.
Teske was a long-time friend of Nathan Lerner, who was a teacher at the New Bauhaus and who introduced Teske to many top photographers who taught or visited the school. Perhaps the key point that Teske took away was his lifetime sense of experiment.
Daiter is currently presenting an exhibition on Teske's early years in Chicago, which runs until April 26 at his gallery in Chicago, IL. Singer will present an exhibition of Teske's California work entitled "Edmund Teske: Remembrances" from April 5-June 21 at his gallery in Petaluma, CA.
You can order a catalogue through either Stephen Daiter (1-312-787-3350; email firstname.lastname@example.org
) or Barry Singer (1-707-781-3200; email email@example.com