Auctioneer's Hitler Sale Goes Awry, Ensor Heist in Brussels, and More

Auctioneer's Hitler Sale Goes Awry, Ensor Heist in Brussels, and More

Auction House Won't Pay for Hitler Watercolor: Who would have thought that the sale of a painting by Adolf Hitler could bring out the worst in people? Alexander Historical Auctions and its chief Basil Panagopulos are being sued by Lorraine Meyer, the trustee of the William C. Blynn Irrevocable Trust. The Trust sold some 20 items through the auction house — including an $11,000 watercolor by the 20th century's most infamous dictator — for a total of $89,690.10, but says it never received funds from the sale. "Despite demand the defendant has failed, refused and/or otherwise neglected to pay the plaintiff anything for the items it auctioned," Meyer's court complaint states. [Courthouse News]

Ensor Heist in Brussels: In the dead of night, thieves broke through the front door of the small Van Buuren Museum in Brussels, making off with estimated €1.5 million worth of artworks. The dozen stolen works include "Shrimps and Shells" by James Ensor and "The Thinker" by Kees van Dongen. [InSerbia]

Florida Dealer Jailed Over Fake Picassos: Coral Springs art dealer Jerome Bengis has been sentenced to a year in prison and a $300,000 fine for selling fake prints that he claimed were the work of Chagall, Picasso, and other artists. The prints, which bore fake signatures, were sold to art dealers in Illinois, Indiana, New York, Virginia, and Australia, as well as directly to customers according to the 2008 indictment. Despite the fact that Benglis pleaded guilty to fraud, his wife, Brenda Bengis, claims he did nothing wrong. "There is not a single piece of evidence that the artwork isn't genuine," she said. "There are only allegations. The court didn't name any victims, they can only assume there are victims." [Sun Sentinel]

After War, Peace for Russian Museums: "War and Peace" author Leo Tolstoy's great-great-grandson Vladimir Tolstoy, who is a cultural advisor to Vladimir Putin, played an integral role in defusing the dispute between the State Hermitage Museum and the State Pushkin Museum over the possibility of splitting their collections to recreate the State Museum of New Western Art. [TAN]


Cypriot Loot Returned: Germany has returned 173 artifacts that were seized from Turkish art dealer Aydin Dikmen's apartment in Munich 16 years ago to Cyprus after the objects — which included mosaics, frescoes, paintings, and icons valued at over $15 million — were found to have been looted from Cypriot churches during Turkey's invasion of the island nation in 1974. [Bloomberg]

Rauschenberg Foundation Teams With Ballroom Marfa to Bring Climate-Change Talks to NYC: The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation has teamed with Texas's Ballroom Marfa and the New York organization Public Concern Foundation to bring the Marfa Dialogues series of public talks to New York, with climate change-themed programs slated to launch in the fall in partnership with 18 organizations including groups at Cooper Union and Columbia University, and Socrates Sculpture Park. [WSJ]

– Artist and provocateur Jonathan Meese will face a German court on Thursday after doing the Nazi salute during a public appearance. [Artforum]

– The UK has placed a temporary export ban on "Laughing Rembrandt" in hopes of raising the £16.5 million necessary to keep it in Britain. [Telegraph, BBC]

– The Sheboygan Project is bringing a slate of international street artists — including Gaia, Other, and Chris Stain — to Wisconsin for the summer. [Artdaily]


A previous Marfa Dialogue on "Art and Environmental Activism," moderated by Rebecca Solnit

"Art and Environmental Activism," moderated by Rebecca Solnit at the Crowley Theater, September 1, 2012 from Ballroom Marfa on Vimeo.


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