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IT IS A BIG MOMENT FOR ART BY CELEBRITIES. That David Bowie painting of a ghostly head, purchased for about $4 at a Goodwill in Ontario, sold on Thursday for some $87,900 via Cowley Abbott Auction in Toronto. That was more than 10 times its low estimate, and a new record for an artwork by Bowie, according to DW. (The old high mark: $27,500, set at Christie’s three years ago.) The buyer was from the United States. Meanwhile, a 1921 Winston Churchill landscape painting with a $1.5 million–$2 million estimate finished at $1.85 million at Phillips New York. The former prime minister gave it in 1961 to the shipping maven Aristotle Onassis (whose heirs were parting with it). As the AFP notes, the result was far below the $11.6 million that actress Angelina Jolie got for her Churchill back in March, but the result is certainly nothing to scoff at.
SLOWLY BUT SURELY, WORK IS GETTING UNDERWAY to rebuild the fire-damaged Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. In March, hundreds of mighty oak trees—some well more than a century old—were felled for the project. Now the first four trees, in the Berce forest, near Le Mans, France, are on their way to a sawmill, more than 60 miles away. Given their size (the longest is 85 feet long), it was a complicated transport job, involving two cranes and a special trailer, Reuters reports. “We’re lucky to be working with these exceptional specimens,” Mickael Durand, who runs the sawmill, told the AFP. “We’re working with 15 tons and you can’t make any mistakes.” France hopes to reopen the site by April of 2024, in time for the Olympics in the capital city.
Arturo Schwarz, a prodigious collector and scholar of Marcel Duchamp’s art, died at the age of 97 in Genoa, Italy. The author of The Complete Works of Marcel Duchamp, Schwarz advanced some theories about the artist’s work that have been contested by other researchers. [ARTnews]
Art that was stolen from the late art collector Anne Spivak, of Grosse Pointe, Michigan, some five years ago was returned to her estate after an investigation by the FBI and local police. The recovered pieces—prints by Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, and others—are reportedly valued at $100,000. No arrests have been made and some stolen pieces are still missing. [Detroit Free Press]
Los Angeles is getting a gallery weekend. The inaugural edition will run July 28 through August 1 this year, with more than 70 galleries on board. It’s been organized by the Gallery Association Los Angeles, which was started last year amid the pandemic. [Artforum]
Archaeologists in Gloucester, England, are digging at a recently rediscovered 13th-century friary, hoping to find Roman artifacts. The work is part of an £85 million ($118.2 million) redevelopment project in the city. [BBC News]
The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, is aiming to restore its Jeff Koons Puppy (1992) through a €100,000 (about $119,000) crowdfunding effort. [The Art Newspaper]
Berlin will open a remarkable-looking new subway station next month that was designed by the Swiss architect Max Dudler and inspired by the stage designs of the German architect and painter Karl Friedrich Schinkel. [Bloomberg CityLab]
MORE FBI BUSINESS. A bizarre story about the United States government reportedly hunting in rural Pennsylvania for many tons of gold (which may or may or not exist) just keeps getting more bizarre. The Associated Press has been on the case, and has a freshly unsealed 2018 affidavit in which an FBI agent in its art crime division writes, “I have probable cause to believe that a significant cache of gold is secreted in the underground cave” in an area called Dent’s Run. There is a lot to this ordeal, but apparently there is a legend that many tons of gold were stolen or lost in the area during the Civil War, and people have been on the hunt for the treasure, which would be worth hundreds of million dollars. The FBI conducted excavation work, and has said it did not find whatever it was looking for. Others are not so sure about that. [AP]
Thank you for reading. We’ll see you on Monday.