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Sotheby’s shareholders approve sale to Patrick Drahi

Plus: LAPD detectives recover stolen artworks last seen in 1993 | Art Recovery International asks ICOM to investigate Reynolds painting in Tokyo | and recommended reading

6 September 2019

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Sotheby’s to go private as shareholders approve sale to Patrick Drahi | Ninety-one per cent of Sotheby’s shareholders have voted in favour of the auction house being acquired by French-Israeli entrepreneur Patrick Drahi’s BidFair USA, it was announced yesterday. The sale for $3.7bn was first proposed in June, with the shareholders’ vote starting in July. The merger is likely to close this year, taking Sotheby’s private after 31 years of public trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

LAPD detectives recover stolen artworks last seen in 1993 | Detectives at the Los Angeles Police Department have recovered more than 100 artworks and antiquities that were stolen from private houses in Hollywood during a series of break-ins in 1993. The discovery was made after they received a tip over the summer from an unnamed auctioneer, who is believed to have inherited the works but later recognised them on the LAPD website, which resulted in four search warrants and an ongoing investigation. The items are now being catalogued and posted online so that those targeted by the burglaries can claim them.

Art Recovery International asks ICOM to investigate Reynolds painting in Tokyo | Art Recovery International (ARI) is asking the International Council of Museums (Icom) to investigate a 1780 portrait by Reynolds on display at the Fuji Art Museum in Tokyo, believing it to have been stolen from the East Sussex home of Sir Henry Price in 1984. The painting was sold at Sotheby’s in 1988 and bought by the Tokyo museum in 1990, likely intending to act in good faith but without conducting sufficient due diligence, according to ARI chief executive Christopher Marinello. Sotheby’s says it has not been contacted by ARI but welcome further information; the Fuji Art Museum are sceptical of the claims but willing to negotiate a fair compensation with Marinello.

Recommended reading | Smithsonian secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III recounts the disappointing experience of giving soon-to-be-President Trump a private tour of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, where Bunch was formerly founding director, in his new memoir, as reported by Peggy McGlone in The Washington Post. In HyperallergicZachary Small marked Labor Day with a new series that takes an in-depth look at injuries sustained by art handlers, and reveals some of the dangers of the job.

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