Jakarta’s Museum MACAN: No damaged Yayoi Kusama artworks, or special treatment for influencers



Jakarta’s Museum MACAN: No damaged Yayoi Kusama artworks, or special treatment for influencers

Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s exhibition ‘Life Is the Heart of a Rainbow’ is currently on display at Museum MACAN in West Jakarta and will be open to the public until September 9. — Jakarta Globe pic

A director at Jakarta’s Museum MACAN said none of Yayoi Kusama’s artworks were damaged by visitors touching, moving or taking selfies with them, despite someone partially rubbing out one of her famous polka dots.

The Jakarta Globe previously ran an article that sparked a lot of debate about selfie-taking and damaged artworks at Museum MACAN.

However, during a meeting with museum director Aaron Seeto on May 24, he confirmed that no artworks had been damaged.

“I can confirm that no artworks had been damaged by visitors to the museum. What was reported was actually inaccurate and the images were posted by a volunteer, not a staff member,” he said.

He added that the photos, which he described as inaccurate and out of context, were not authorized by the museum.

The previous story, published on May 18, was based on a series of photos Amanda Aulia, a part-time staff member at Museum MACAN, posted on her Instagram account @amansaulia on May 17, showing damage to Kusama’s artworks.

“Unfortunately, I am not going to respond to the motives of another person, especially in distributing something that was not authorized by the museum,” Seeto said.

He went through some photos and explained the condition of the artworks.

Seeto said the partially erased polka dot was actually a replaceable sticker and that the museum had expected a huge turnout, so there was scheduled maintenance to replace those stickers.

“So the stickers in the image that was reported were actually replaceable, and that image was taken before our maintenance teams were able to go through,” he said.

Regarding one of the silver balls in Narcissus Garden, Seeto said it had been “dislodged” but that the artwork was not damaged.

Entang Wiharso’s plexiglass paintings in the Children’s Artspace, on the other hand, are allowed to be touched.

“In the children’s art space, Entang’s artwork is actually designed for young children to understand how artists create. So there are components kids may touch and again, from time to time we have to maintain the artwork. They are allowed to touch that work, so from time to time, we only need to change it,” he said.

He reiterated that the images that went viral on social media were taken and distributed by the volunteer before the scheduled maintenance could take place.

“I have a conservator on board. We do a daily review of the exhibition. We all have the planning in place, the planning is part of the design of the exhibition and the images you have seen are all of the works that have interactive elements. And we know that we have processes to maintain the artworks and these images were taken before our team was able to maintain the artwork.”

Museum director Aaron Seeto confirmed that no artworks had been damaged. — Jakarta Globe pic

Did influencers cause trouble?

The Jakarta Globe’s article originally featured two photos of Instagram influencers seen mistreating the artwork.


One was seen sitting on the kitchen counter in Obliteration Room. When writing the article, Museum MACAN communications officer Nina Hidayat told the Globe that sitting is only allowed in the chairs, because going to the room “is like visiting someone’s house.”

Seeto expressed a similar sentiment.

“They are able to sit on certain parts of the installation. We prefer people not to sit on the counters, but again, the artwork was not damaged.”

The other photo depicted a man leaning on one of Kusama’s pieces titled Dots Obsessions. The owner of the photo, who goes by the name Abi Shihab, clarified that he was not leaning on the artwork, as it is made from soft material and cannot support his weight.

He said he used his feet to support his body, and the lighting made it look like there was no distance between him and the artwork.

However, Seeto declined to specifically comment on this picture.

“Of course, there are things people can’t do and they are instructed not to do. Touching a certain element is not permitted and from time to time, people touch it and we prefer that they don’t. From time to time, people do touch artwork and we prefer that they do not and there are rules and guidelines in place for people to not to touch the works.

“I can’t comment on the picture and I think my response is very clear that no artworks were damaged here. Our team and visitors are also instructed on how to behave inside the museum but I am not commenting on the image,” he said.

Seeto said influencers do not get preferential treatment but prior to the public opening of the exhibition, there had been several previews to which members of the media, sponsors, influencers and MACAN Society members were invited. However, there are no different rules regarding their interaction with the artworks.

“During the preview days, we had all kinds of interested people coming to the exhibition. There were artists — young artists, established artists — curators, architects, fashion designers, media people so that the assumption that only influencers attended the exhibition is not actually the full picture,” he said.

He added that after an exhibition opened to the public, the museum welcomed people from all backgrounds. On weekends, they mostly dealt with families. The museum also hosted a sponsored school visit on the day of the interview.


Since the museum is open to everyone of any age, Seeto said there are protocols in place to protect artworks, such as selling timed tickets to limit visitor traffic, having 24-hour security, making sure that children are accompanied by adults, and only allowing phone cameras, except for accredited media.

“All of the exhibition design has been thought through very carefully to ensure that the flow of the audience past the artworks that allow participation is managed in a particular way,” Seeto said. — The Jakarta Globe

LOST MASTERPIECES – He Stole Priceless Old Masters. His Mom Destroyed Them—And Him



LOST MASTERPIECES – He Stole Priceless Old Masters. His Mom Destroyed Them—And Him


Stéphane Breitwieser

Stéphane Breitwieser stole over $1 billion-worth of art, one of the most prolific art thieves of modern times. He loved what he stole. His mother Mireille, disastrously, did not.

It was a rare, 16th-century bugle that finally took him down.

Stéphane Breitwieser was visiting the Richard Wagner Museum in Switzerland and was captivated by the magnificent brass piece that was one of only three that existed in the world. So he did what came naturally to him after nearly seven years of indulging his love of art—he stole it.

But this time, unlike hundreds of times before, his brazen actions did him in. When he decided to return to the museum two days later to see what else might catch his eye, a security guard recognized him and called the police. Breitwieser’s crime spree had come to an end.

For over six years, Breitwieser, an ordinary Frenchman with an extraordinary love of art, trolled museums and private collections across Europe, helping himself to the pieces that caught his eye. He amassed a private collection of his own, to the tune of 239 pieces of art and priceless artifacts from 172 institutions totaling over a billion dollars. He was one of the most prolific art thieves in modern history.

His crimes against the European art world were bad enough. But Breitwieser committed one other unforgivable sin—he entrusted much of his hoard to his mom.

When the law eventually caught up to him in late 2001, his dear mamanMireille destroyed over 100 pieces of art and precious artifacts that were residing in her home and that were ultimately thought to be worth $30 to $40 million.

It all started when Breitwieser was a young lad in his early twenties. He had embarked on a career as a waiter, working mostly across the border from his hometown of Mulhouse, France, in Switzerland. While that may have been his day job, Breitwieser professed to be a “self-taught art lover.”

In 1994, according to a 2005 article in Forbes, he was visiting the Musée des Amis de Thann in Alsace, France, when he became enraptured by an 18th-century pistol.

It was the lax security around the piece that spurred him to make a move that would eventually define his life. Noticing that the case was unlocked, Breitwieser decided to relieve the museum of their antique firearm.

“The pistol fascinated me. My heart was going 100 miles an hour, I was terrified, but I was driven by passion. I asked myself, ‘What’s holding me back?’” Breitwieser said. “Afterwards, I slept with the pistol beside me—I cleaned the wood, removed the rust; I treated it like a baby I was nursing. But I was still very frightened. Each day for a month I bought the newspaper, but the museum said nothing about the theft—a lot of museums prefer to smother these affairs. Eventually I calmed down.”

In his own memoir and to other journalists, he claimed that his spree began a year later, in 1995, when he and his girlfriend were visiting a castle in Switzerland.

There, he saw an 18th-century painting that wasn’t that valuable, but that reminded him of a Rembrandt.

“I was fascinated by her beauty, by the qualities of the woman in the portrait and by her eyes,” he told The Guardian in 2003. “I thought it was an imitation of Rembrandt.”

So, while his girlfriend played lookout—a role she would embrace for the remainder of his criminal career—he relieved the canvas of its frame, stuffed it under his jacket, and took it home.

He has maintained that his criminal inclination stemmed purely from a passion for the objects that fell victim to his sticky fingers. “I did it because I loved these things, because I simply had to possess them,” he told a writer for Forbes who also noted that he showed “not a shred of remorse.”

But it seems he may have been equally tempted by the lax security that plagues many smaller museums. “There was often no watchman or anything—all you had to do was bend down and pick something up,” he said.

Whether it was the antique pistol or the Rembrandt look-alike who proved his gateway drug, stealing art became an almost instant addiction. Until he was caught in November 2001, the waiter continued to travel around France, Switzerland, and other European countries and filch the treasures that caught his eye.

Particularly early on, these treasures were Old Master paintings. He took Pieter Brueghel’s “Cheat Profiting from His Master,” François Boucher’s “Sleeping Shepherd,” Corneille de Lyon’s “Mary, Queen of Scots,” and Antoine Watteau’s drawing “Two Men.” The most famous Old Master he stole was Lucas Cranach the Elder’s “Sybille, Princess of Cleves.”

But in addition to the Old Master paintings, Breitwieser increasingly helped himself to antique objects and artifacts of value. They ranged from ceramic pieces, vases, jewelry, priceless musical instruments, antique weapons, and much more.

“Looking back on this case, there was a pattern of just one or two objects being taken from different museums. But we thought it was the work of a gang. What happened here was simply unimaginable,” Alexandra Smith, operations manager at the Art Loss Register, told The New York Times.

The art thief wasn’t just exceptional for his audacity—according to experts in the field, serial thieves of fine art are very unusual; he was also unique in what he did with his spoils. Breitwieser wasn’t interested in profiting from his hobby, and he never attempted to sell a single piece. He truly wanted the pieces he took for his own enjoyment.

He stored most of his loot in his bedroom at his mom’s house in Mulhouse, France, and he took the utmost care with each treasure.

He often reframed the canvases before arranging them in his makeshift bedroom gallery in which, according to Anthony M. Amore and Tom Mashberg in Stealing Rembrandts: The Untold Stories of Notorious Art Heists, he “kept the lights dim and the shades drawn to protect the paintings from fading.”

He did everything he could to care for the art. Everything, that is, except pass his “handle with care” mantra on to his mother.

After Breitwieser was arrested, his girlfriend-cum-accomplice informed his mom of what had happened.

Mireille freaked out. While she initially claimed that she had no idea the value of the works and that she destroyed them out of anger toward her son, many of the authorities involved have suspected that she did what she did out of loyalty.

And what she did turned what could have been an intriguing art theft caper into a tragedy.

Mireille got to work destroying all traces of evidence. She shredded 60 Old Master canvases, putting some of the pieces down the garbage disposal and throwing others out in the trash along with the broken frames.

Then, she rounded up 109 of the artifacts, statues, and antiques her son had collected and she unceremoniously dumped them in the Rhône-Rhine Canal. It is thought that she destroyed around two-thirds of Breitwieser’s entire haul.

Though utterly disastrous, her actions were initially effective. Unfortunately, she and her son were not on the same page.

Once in custody, Breitwieser hoped that the evidence of his crime would help get him out of his bind. He quickly confessed all, told the authorities where they could find his loot, and even, according to Guardian reporter Jon Henley, hoped his cooperation might help him win brownie points that would result in his being asked to advise some of the very same institutions he had robbed.

But when the authorities arrived at his mother’s home a week later, all traces of that evidence he had pointed them to were gone. It was only after ancient artifacts began washing up on the banks of the river that they started to suspect the true depth of the crime. It would take them several more months to get Mireille to confess to her role in the crime.

Given the extent of the destruction to cultural artifacts and priceless works of art, the parties involved got off with relatively light punishments.

Mireille served 18 months in prison, Breitwieser’s girlfriend did six months for her role, and the serial art lover-turned-thief served several years in Switzerland before being sentenced to 26 months in jail in France. In 2006, Breitwieser wrote a memoir titled Confessions of an Art Thief.

Perhaps Breitwieser’s punishment was worse than it seemed. After all, the “eccentric kleptomaniac,” as Smith called him, never stopped claiming he acted out of a love for the art. And in the end, that love was what led to their destruction.

While awaiting his sentencing in a jail in France, Breitwieser attempted suicide. Some reports claimed he did so after learning the fate of his precious treasures.

Man attacks ‘Ivan the Terrible’ painting with a pole in Moscow



Man attacks ‘Ivan the Terrible’ painting with a pole in Moscow

Rory Smith & Nathan Hodge – May 28, 2018
http_cdn.cnn.comcnnnextdamassets180527070753-ivan-the-terrible-painting-restricted (1)
UNSPECIFIED – CIRCA 1754: In 1581, Ivan beat his son, Ivan in a heated argument causing his son’s death. Depicted in the painting by Ilya Repin, ‘Ivan the Terrible killing his son’ by Ilya Repin. Ivan IV ‘the Terrible’ (1530 – 1584) Tsar of Russia 1533 – 1584. (Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images) Credit: UIG/Getty Images

Drunk on vodka, a man attacked one of Russia’s most famous paintings with a pole, badly damaging the artwork.

The painting, “Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan on November 16, 1581,” was created by Ilya Repin, one of Russia’s most famous 19th-century artists, and housed at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. Painted in 1885, the piece depicts Ivan the Terrible — czar of Russia from 1547 to 1584 — consoling his son after having dealt him a mortal blow in a fit of rage.

The 37-year-old man — one of the last visitors to the museum — entered just before the museum closed, according to a statement by the Tretyakov Gallery. Armed with a pole from one of the painting’s barriers, the man struck the glass case protecting the piece several times.

“The picture is badly damaged. The canvas was broken in three places in the central part of the image on the figure of the prince. The artist’s original frame was badly damaged by falling glass,” the museum said in a statement.

The painting may have been badly damaged, but the face and hands of Ivan and his son were left untouched. Museum employees detained the man before he was able to cause any more damage to the art piece and handed him over to the police, according to the Tretyakov Gallery.

Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs spokeswoman Irina Volk confirmed the incident in a statement, saying “a man had been arrested in connection with the defacing of the painting. He has been charged with damage or destruction of an object of cultural heritage.”

Museum curators and restorers arrived shortly after the incident to evaluate the painting’s damage. With the help of leading Russian specialists, the museum hopes to restore the piece.

State television showed police footage of the unnamed suspect, who said he decided to attack the painting after downing vodka in the gallery’s buffet.

“I wanted to leave, but then dropped into the buffet and drank 100 grams of vodka,” he said. “I don’t drink vodka and became overwhelmed by something.”

Fire at Walnut Studios leaves dozens of Toronto artists devastated



Fire at Walnut Studios leaves dozens of Toronto artists devastated

Thousands of dollars worth of art destroyed as shared studio space goes up in flames

Dozens of Toronto artists have lost thousands of dollars of artwork after an early morning weekend fire severely damaged a west end studio, but they are hoping to find a temporary space in which to regroup. ( Christopher Mulligan/CBC)

Dozens of Toronto artists have lost thousands of dollars worth of work after a weekend fire gutted a well-known west end studio.

Ilene Sova, the artistic director of Walnut Studios, says she sobbed when she heard the news about the fire, which broke out early on Saturday. The studios, located in a large warehouse at 83 Walnut Ave. that was once a canning factory, were home to a “family” of some 45 artists, Sova said.

“I’m inconsolable,” Sova told CBC Toronto on Monday.

“For me, it was just horrifying to think about these artists and what they have lost, the amount of hours, the amount of work, the materials, their equipment. How do you replace that?”

Nobody was injured in the blaze, and Toronto Fire says there’s no evidence to suggest it was suspicious. The affected artists are now looking for a new space to work.

“For the past few days, what we’ve been trying to do mentally is really focus on the fact that it happened at a time when no one was in the building, which is very lucky,” Sova said.

walnut-studios-fire (1)
This artwork by Jamie Macrae was destroyed in the fire. (Jamie Macrae )

Painters, sculptors, fashion designers, jewelry makers, photographers and installation artists used the building, which had two main studios connected by a hallway and loft space. The studios are also home to Blank Canvases, an in-school arts program in which artists teach Toronto District School Board and Toronto Catholic District School Board students, and smoke severely damaged its office space, Sova said.

Some artists had between 20 and 30 artworks still in the space, many of which were damaged. Many art supplies, pieces of equipment and the workspaces themselves were also badly damaged.

Sova said she can’t put a dollar figure on what went up in flames, but the artists have launched a GoFundMe campaign so they can keep making art.

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Here is a view of damage from inside the building. (Facebook)

She said many artists had been storing artwork there in preparation for numerous upcoming events, including the Toronto Outdoor Art Fair, Riverdale Art Walk, and Queen West Art Crawl.

“They were building a huge body of work in their spaces and it was all destroyed,” she added.

More than 50 firefighters needed to tame the blaze

Sova said Jason Martins, the building owner who lives near the studios, told her he woke to the smell of smoke. Martins called 911, but by the time fire crews arrived they had to go through the roof to tackle the blaze.

walnut-studios-fire (3)
A few windows were knocked out by the fire. Toronto firefighters were called to the scene at 6: 21 a.m. on Saturday. They arrived two minutes later and the fire was brought under control by 8: 20 a.m. (Christopher Mulligan/CBC)

Firefighters were called to the scene at 6:21 a.m. by a report of smoke coming from front windows, according to Toronto Fire District Chief Stephan Powell. Firefighters arrived two minutes later and part of the one-story building was already engulfed in flames.

“When we got there, there was thick yellow smoke at the corner of King and Niagara Streets,” he said on Monday.

The majority of the fire was quickly knocked down and it was brought under control by 8:20 a.m., but firefighters remained on the scene until nearly 3 p.m. to monitor hotspots.

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Fire, smoke, and water damaged artwork, art supplies, equipment and workspaces in the building. (Facebook)

About 50 to 60 firefighters worked on the fire with the help of about 15 trucks. The cause is not known, and investigators are trying to determine where exactly it began and how it started.

“There was extensive smoke damage and considerable fire damage to a portion of the building,” Powell said.

Community helping out

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These artists are affected by the Walnut Studios fire. Left to right, Ursula McDonnell, portrait and abstract painter; Johana Cordero, textile and fashion designer; Rob Croxford, painter; Katrina Schaman, abstract landscape artist; and Kristyn Watterworth, painter. (Jasmin Seputis/CBC)

Sova says there’s been an outpouring of support from Toronto’s arts community.

Coun. Mike Layton has been trying to find new temporary spaces for the group to keep the community together, she said, while a schedule will be created to allow the artists back into the building when possible to retrieve belongings.

“Throughout the day, we were just managing the crisis in terms of communicating with the artists, letting them know what was going on and figuring out what our next steps are,” Sova said.

Walnut Studios@WalnutStudios

“We’re feeling really positive and comforted by the community and the city of Toronto that has kind of gathered around us in the past 24 hours,” she said.

“It’s really touched us and made us feel like we can come out of this and not be so desolate, that we have resources, and the broader Toronto family is going to help us kind of rise like a Phoenix out of the ashes.”

Seven Priceless Historical Artifacts Destroyed by Humansry



Seven Priceless Historical Artifacts Destroyed by Humans

Vandals, terrorists, and people just making dumb decisions all affected the way we see history

Rebecca Gibian – May 19, 2018

All around the world, historical artifacts teach us about our past. But sometimes, on purpose or by accident, those relics are destroyed. We take a look at some of the most important treasures that were cut, toppled or hammered.

The Star-Spangled Banner Flag


The Star-Spangled Banner flag, which was cut up and given away


One of the most treasured possessions of the Smithsonian Museum is the Star-Spangled Banner, which was one of the very first American flags to be made during the Revolutionary War. It was made with 15 stars, but now you will only find 14. After the war, Lt. Col. George Armistead took the huge 30-foot-by-42-foot flag home as a keepsake. When he and his wife died, it was passed down to their daughter, Georgiana Armistead. People asked her for fragments of the flag, so she cut it up with scissors and mailed it to whoever she thought was worthy. More than 200 square feet of the flag was removed before Smithsonian conservationists got to it in 1907.

Jewelry Heist


A glittering array of evidence appears before the court-martial board in Frankfurt, Germany, where the three officers were tried in 1946. (National Archives)


For centuries, soldiers have helped themselves to the riches of their foes. In World War II, three U.S. Army officers pulled off one of the most lucrative wartime thefts in history. In October 1944, princes Wolfgang and Richard of Germany’s illustrious House of Hesse buried about $2.5 million (about $31 million today) worth of treasure. But then Frankfurt fell to U.S. forces and the Hesse family was moved into cottages outside the Kronberg Castle. Three officers found the stash and pried out all the precious stones and kept the gold and silver mountings as scrap. They mailed the loot back to the U.S. and then pawned some of the smaller pieces in Switzerland and the United Kingdom. They were caught, and court-martialed on charges of larceny, dereliction of duty, and “conduct unbecoming U.S. military officers.” All three served time in federal prison. More than half the jewels they stole are still lost.

8,000-Year-Old Aboriginal Artworks


One of the destroyed handprints. (Courtesy of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Center)



Another destroyed stencil scratched out with a rock. (Courtesy of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Center)


In Tasmania’s Nirmena Nala rock shelter, you will find a preserved set of stenciled handprints made by the ancestors of Australia’s Aboriginal people. The handprints withstood the test of time, but vandals destroyed them in mere minutes. Someone went into the shelters and scratched away the images with a rock to try and deface them.

Ancient Pyramid in Belize


A backhoe in Belize destroyed one of the country’s largest Maya pyramids.


Belize has extensive Maya ruins, but a construction company destroyed one of the largest. The company was scooping stone out of the major pyramid at the site of Nohmul, one of only 15 ancient Maya sites important enough to be noted on the National Geographic World Atlas. Almost the entire pyramid, once over 60 feet tall, was destroyed by road building crews.

Looters Destroy Mummies


Mideast Egypt Protest Antiquities
In this photo taken early Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011, and made available Monday, Jan. 31, parts of unidentified mummies are seen damaged on the floor of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt. Early Saturday morning, looters entered from the glass dome on the roof of the museum with ropes with the intention to loot antiquities. (AP Photo)


On Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011, looters entered the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt with the hope of finding gold. The nine men broke into ten cases to take figurines. But none of them contained gold, so the looters dropped them and broke the items. They then took two skulls fo the 2,000-year-old mummies and fled. Several of the looters were detained but many irreplaceable artifacts were destroyed.

ISIS in Mosul


A member of the Iraqi forces inspects the damage inside the destroyed museum of Mosul on April 2, 2017, after they recaptured it from Islamic State (IS) group fighters.
Iraqi forces seized the museum from IS on March 7 as they pushed into west Mosul as part of a vast offensive to oust the jihadists from the northern city. (AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images)


Islamic State militants completely ransacked Mosul’s central museum and destroyed priceless artifacts, some of which dated back thousands of years. Some of the statues and artifacts dated back to the Assyrian and Akkadian empires. The terrorist group published a video of the destruction. In the video, an Isis representative condemns Assyrians and Akkadians as polytheists. The militants smashed the statues in the museum with hammers and pushed the remains to the ground so they shattered even more. ISIS has not just destroyed the museum, however, they have caused irreparable damage across Syria and Iraq since 2010.

The Amber Room 


The Amber Chamber, a full-size room made of Baltic amber cut into 20-odd panels of ornate baroque & rococo designs; the chamber was a gift for King Fredrick William I of Prussia to Russia’s Czar Peter the Great in the early 18th century but was stolen and hidden by Nazi Gov. of Prussia Erich Koch


The Amber Chamber, a full-size room made of Baltic amber cut into 20-odd panels of ornate baroque & rococo designs; the chamber was a gift for King Fredrick William I of Prussia to Russia’s Czar Peter the Great in the early 18th century but was stolen and hidden by Nazi Gov. of Prussia Erich Koch

The Amber Room was built for Peter the Great in 1717 and was literally a room made out of amber. It was considered to be the eighth wonder of the world. It was dismantled by Nazis in 1941, shipped to Germany and reinstalled in the Konigsberg Castle. But when the war was over, it was dismantled and never seen again. Recently, documents revealed that it was in the Knights’ Hall at Konigsberg Castle when it was burned down by Soviet soldiers.


How to Restore a Damaged Painting



How to Restore a Damaged Painting

Detail of Pablo Picasso’s “Le Marin,” 1943, oil on canvas. ILLUSTRATION: COURTESY OF CHRISTIE’S

Collectors who learned through news reports that a painting owned by Steve Wynn was damaged before it was to be auctioned at Christie’s evening sale of impressionist and modern art on Tuesday likely took in a collective gasp.

The painting, Pablo Picasso’s 1943 self-portrait, Le Marin (The Sailor), was examined after the accident by outside conservators who “have made recommendations for the successful restoration of the painting,” Christie’s said in a May 13 statement. Wynn withdrew Le Marin as well as Picasso’s 1964 painting, Femme au chat assise dans un fauteuil, from the sale.

The two paintings, as well as a third, were intended as a “kickoff sale” for Sierra Fine Art LLC, an art business Wynn created after stepping down from Wynn Resorts in February in the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct.

But just how do you restore a masterpiece? And what does “successful restoration” mean? Can a work ever be restored to its original value?

Christie’s statement was optimistic on the outcome, but the answers will depend on how badly the work was damaged, where it was damaged, the quality of the restoration and, of course, the dynamics of the art market, experts say.

“Of course damage is damage, there’s a certain amount of loss of value,” says Larry Shar, president of Julius Lowy Frame and Restoring Co. in New York.

Steve Wynn reportedly sold Picasso’s Le Reve for US$155 million in 2013, seven years after he had damaged the painting with his elbow. The price he received was about US$16 million more than he had expected to sell it at for before the accident.

Whether Wynn can achieve a similar result with Le Marin isn’t clear. The accident happened at Christie’s Rockefeller Plaza galleries on Friday, May 11, when an extension pole used for painting with a roller slid from a wall where it was leaning and fell, according to Michael Kosnitzky, a partner in the private wealth practice at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman in New York, and an outside counsel for Wynn and his family. The pole was leaning against a wall in a “viewing area,” Kosnitzky says.

The attorney argues the accident was a “flagrant act of gross negligence,” arguing that a workman’s painting pole should not have been in an area where “multi-million dollar” paintings were unprotected. In the May 13 statement, Christie’s said Le Marin “was accidentally damaged Friday (May 11) during the final stages of preparation for Christie’s May 12-15 exhibition.” The auction house did not comment on Kosnitzky’s description of “gross negligence.”

Le Marin was to be a featured work of Christie’s evening sale of impressionist and modern art, carrying an “estimate on request” of US$70 million, according to the auction house. Christie’s estimated Picasso’s Femme au chat to sell between US$25 million and US$35 million.

Kosnitzky says the US$70 million estimate was a “floor, not a ceiling” on the work’s market value. “We believe it could have sold in excess of US$100 million,” he says, citing the fact  Picasso’s Rose Period Fillette a corbeille fleurie, 1905, sold during Peggy and David Rockefeller sale of 19th and 20th-century art at Christie’s on May 8 for US$115 million, with fees.

How to restore a painting

Collectors consigning their works to auction should take comfort from the fact that conservators like Lowy see very few accidents like the one Wynn just experienced, according to Shar.

“It happens on occasion, but only on occasion,” he says. “More often than not if you entrust a work to an auction house, particularly a work with a high value, it gets handled pretty carefully.”

Conservator Rustin Levinson, president of ArtCare Conservation, agrees, saying such incidents at auction houses are rare, but, she says, “accidents do happen.”

One factor in the potential repair of Le Marin could be the condition of the canvas, given the work was painted in 1943, Levinson says. Canvases become brittle and can tear more easily as they age. “The threads stretch and unravel,” Levinson says. If something went through it, she adds, the tear could be significant.

But if it’s a neat tear, “you can join it right up,” Levinson says.

How easily that’s done will depend on whether the canvas was “lined”—meaning a second canvas had been added to the back—or not. If a lining does exist, it will have to be removed before the painting can be repaired, a process that begins by stabilizing the paint with a “facing” that protects the paint, she says.

To replace or reweave a lining, though, is a major undertaking that could result in a “large loss of value,” Skar says.

Also important will be the success of “in-painting” or retouching the surface to restore color and detail. A plain surface can be more difficult to restore because the pigment has to be “right on the money,” he says. But, Skar adds, “if done very well and a buyer is not that particular, and not that much of a purist, (the painting) may be worth more” than it was before.

It’s unclear how much damage Le Marin suffered, what the loss of potential value in the work might be, and what would be involved in a repair. “All I can say is the adjuster is working on that,” Kosnitzky says.

Of course, a collector is unlikely to take a painting to a restorer unless it’s covered by insurance.

Auction houses often insure works “while in their care, custody, and control,” coverage that precludes a consignor’s own art insurance policy, says Sarah Johnson Court, managing director at VF GLobal Insurance Brokerage.

Christie’s consignment contracts have insurance provisions to cover damage and other contingencies.

While Kosnitzky can’t speak to how Le Marin was insured, he noted that Wynn, “having gone through this before in terms of damage, in terms of insurance issues and repairs, is a sophisticated business person and he made sure he was properly protected when he entered into his contract with Christie’s.”

Art in peril: Accidents happen, and Naples galleries and conservators have seen them all



Art in peril: Accidents happen, and Naples galleries and conservators have seen them all

Harriet Howard Heithaus – May 18, 2018


(Photo: Olivia Vanni/Naples Daily News)



William Meek remembers the day a forklift accidentally rammed the crate holding a $20,000 painting in an exhibition he had organized — and went right through the painting.

It was the kind of nightmare galleries and curators dread but that happens in a physical world: “Great art isn’t necessarily immortal art,” observed Meek, curator emeritus at Harmon-Meek and Harmon-Meek Contemporary galleries.

He and other curators and art conservators had heard  — as anyone who reads weekly gossip magazines has — about the 1943 Picasso, “Le Marin,” that was damaged at Christie’s auction house just days before it was to be sold for an estimated $70 million.


Wagner points out some of the pieces he has recently restored at his work studio in Naples, Fla. on Thursday, May 16, 2018.  (Photo: Olivia Vanni/Naples Daily News)


According to several stories, an errant paint roller extension rod leaning against a wall slipped and went through the lower right corner of the painting owned by casino billionaire Steve Wynn. Christie’s has remained silent on the type and extent of the damage.

Of course, any repair work is going to affect art’s value Meek said. “The painting in our exhibition eventually sold for $7,000,” he recalled.

That was after extensive work had gone into repair with restoration experts at the University of Minnesota.

“The painting was oil on Masonite panel and it was cracked in half,” he recalled of the 24- by 36-inch work by Aaron Bohrod, who was known for his trompe d’ oeil and landscape paintings.

Compounding the misfortune was Bohrod’s insistence that the insurance company pays him what he considered full value for his painting. “Full value” can be its own stumbling block, depending on the economy and the reputation of the artist.


The early cleaning process of the 1680’s painting Wagner recently finished restoring at his work studio in Naples, Fla. (Photo: Photo courtesy of Tom Wagner)


The early cleaning process of the 1680’s painting Wagner recently finished restoring at his work studio in Naples, Fla. (Photo: Photo courtesy of Tom Wagner)

Damage from Day 1

The vast amount of damage Morley Greenberg, director at the Marianne Friedland Gallery in Naples, has seen done to paintings isn’t in such freak accidents. Many people in Florida, especially, do their own damage by where they hang the art.

Florida sunlight is especially brutal on prints and watercolors, he said. “It fades your drapes. It fades your carpet. It’s going to fade your art,” he said.

Greenberg and every other person contacted said faded prints generally are a lost cause. Even torn paper can be repaired by a good expert; faded inks cannot.

“I always ask people, ‘Where are you thinking of hanging this?’ ” Greenberg said, warning every customer that direct sunlight is damaging. Even with ultra-violet filtering glass, limited exposure, if any, is best.

Greenberg has another worry for Florida art lovers: power outages. After Hurricane Irma, some art sat for weeks in hot, humid rooms, where humidity can bring out brown mold known as “foxing” on paper and can mold oils and acrylics as well. To avoid the expense of having them removed, Greenberg said all important art should be stored in an air-conditioned room with guaranteed power from a generator or taken with the owner to an air-conditioned location.


An 18th Century painting that was recently restored sits in Tom Wagner’s work studio in Naples, Fla. on Thursday, May 16, 2018.  (Photo: Olivia Vanni/Naples Daily News)


Beware the bubble wrap

Just don’t wrap them directly in bubble wrap, warned Tom Wagner, an art restorer in Naples who has worked with everything from 17th-century pieces, art painted over other art, and damaged paper works in his 30-plus years.

“If the work is exposed to any heat that wrap can melt into it. Some of the worst work I’ve had to do is from bubble wrap,” he said. Wagner suggested putting waxed paper between the wrap and the work to catch any melting.

Wagner has worked as an art conservator for more than 30 years, and he’s faced paintings with significant damage. He’s worked with two paintings that had been rammed by forklifts during a move. He’s the official restorer for the “Highwaymen” paintings by itinerant black artists that are a Southern art legacy. Those, he said, take special care. “They generally used regular house paint,” he explained,  and it could have been nearly any brand, any composition, and quality when it was applied.

The one he has printed on his business card, however, is an 1890 painting of a child holding a cat. A triangular tear had left it without a center, and the torn area was missing. Wagner, who is an artist himself, had to create part of the cat’s face, its neck and the tips of the holder’s fingers. It was a full month of work.

More often, he said, humidity damage and smoke damage are the problems. Even a house with a fireplace can leave your art yellowed. Cracks in the paint aren’t necessarily a problem, he said:

“That’s a sign that it’s an old painting. If someone brought me a painting with hairline cracks, I’d say leave it alone. But if it’s started to peel or flake off it needs attention.”

Both Wagner and Viviana Dominguez, with Art Conservators Lab LLC, emphasize that true conservators make their work completely reversible.

It serves the needs of forensics: If someone needs to take the painting down to the original piece, it can be done, Dominguez explained.


A severely damaged painting before being restored at Tom Wagner’s work studio in Naples, Fla.  (Photo: Photo courtesy of Tom Wagner)


“The materials conservators use age, too,” she said. ” In a hundred years, the technology may change and they may want to restore the paintings with these new materials. So you have to be able to go back to the original.”

Art Conservators Lab has offices in Naples and Fort Lauderdale and works extensively with Florida museums. But Dominguez, who is a qualified National Heritage Responder, has worked directly with badly damaged works from museums in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake there, helping to dig out art from under the rubble.

Closer to home, one of her concerns is amateur restoration: “People say, ‘Oh, I can fix that,’ but they don’t know what they’re doing with the kinds of glue they use and what they do to the paint,” she said.

On the practical level

On a practical level, Jack O’Brien, curator for the Naples Art Association, said he learned one of his best maxims in art preservation from the late Sandy Nash, former art curator for what is now The Baker Museum.

“Two hands for the artwork. That helps you concentrate on what you’re doing with it,” he said. He has two other maxims: Don’t pick up a painting by its top frame bar or the hanger wire.

“Some things are framed loosely and you pick up by the top bar, it can come off,” he said.

He’s a firm believer in using clean gloves to carry art as well. “You have oils in your hands. That is being transferred to the art and it’s going to stay there until it’s cleaned off.”

Art ‘damaged’ at interactive exhibit at Museum Macan



Art ‘damaged’ at interactive exhibit at Museum Macan

ASMARA WREKSONO – May 19, 2018
Multiple screenshots of Instagram Stories by user @amansaulia went viral Thursday night, depicting a seemingly disorderly state of several works of art from renowned artist Yayoi Kusama at Museum Macan in Jakarta. Netizens were quick to react on social media, deriding museum-goers over their preference to take selfies over immersing themselves in Kusama’s legendary work. (JP/Dhoni Setiawan)

Multiple screenshots of Instagram Stories by user @amansaulia went viral Thursday night, depicting a seemingly disorderly state of several works of art from renowned artist Yayoi Kusama at Museum Macan in Jakarta. Netizens were quick to react on social media, criticizing museum-goers for taking selfies instead of immersing themselves in Kusama’s legendary work.





The screenshots show a misplaced object not attached to its fitting, a visitor hugging a spherical sculpture, a torn sticker missing one of its halves, and artwork on the ground, as opposed to on the wall.

However, according to the museum, this was all expected.

Museum Macan communications officer Nina Hidayat told The Jakarta Post on Friday that the torn sticker was a result of the exhibit’s interactive nature.

“We would like to clarify that the sticker captured in the Instagram Story was the one in the Obliteration Room. It’s a paper sticker and for it to be torn is expected. We don’t see it as damage to the artwork, rather as a consequence of visitors interacting with it,” she said.

The museum educated the public on museum etiquette before the exhibition opened. “In a talk show at the preview event with the museum’s chairwoman, Fenessa Adikoesoemo, we announced why this exhibition is important, [talked about] etiquette and explained why we invited influencers,” said Nina.

Signs with museum rules were installed at the museum’s entrance, while security guards and museum assistants were tasked with actively reminding visitors about the rules. Reminders were also announced through a PA system.

When asked about whether the museum had a specific age restriction, Nina said it was and always would be open to people of all ages.

“The museum has always been open to all ages, even parents who bring their babies in strollers, and visitors in wheelchairs,” she said.

Nina encouraged visitors to experience Yayoi Kusama’s art, while also adhering to its rules.

“When you visit the Obliteration Room, it’s more or less the same as visiting someone’s home. When you’re a guest, you normally sit on the sofa and chair, not the tables or counters. It’s the same in the Obliteration Room.”

The Yayoi Kusama: Life is the Heart of a Rainbow exhibition runs from May 12 to Sept. 9 on Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., with final entry at 7 p.m. The line to the Infinity Room closes at 7 p.m. Tickets are available online. For detailed information on museum etiquette, visit Museum Macan’s Instagram account @museummacan.

Scots outlaw gets face-lift as damaged Banff painting is restored



Scots outlaw gets face-lift as damaged Banff painting is restored


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An iconic painting damaged during an alleged break-in at a Banff cafe has been restored to its former glory.


Steve Wynn furious at Christie’s for damaging his Picasso masterpiece



Steve Wynn furious at Christie’s for damaging his Picasso masterpiece



Former casino mogul Steve Wynn is incandescent after Christie’s staff allegedly allowed a metal rod to pierce through a priceless Picasso masterpiece he planned to sell for $100 million.

Sources say Wynn’s 1943 Picasso self-portrait, “Le Marin,” was severely damaged while stored at the auction house, as a metal extension pole for a wall paint roller allegedly fell on the canvas, creating a “significant hole” in the masterpiece.

The catastrophe uncoiled as Christie’s staff prepared to exhibit the artwork ahead of the auction.

This comes years after Wynn put his elbow through another Picasso masterpiece, “Le Rêve,” in 2006, leaving a silver-dollar-size hole. It was repaired and sold in 2013 for $155 million.

Wynn, 76, fears “Le Marin” is so badly damaged that it may be beyond repair. He also believes Christie’s may be low-balling him by valuing it at $70 million, while he insists it could have fetched more than $100 million at the May 15 auction.

Wynn’s adviser, private-wealth lawyer, and Pillsbury partner Michael Kosnitzky told Page Six, “To say that Mr. Wynn is upset is an extreme understatement. This was clearly an act of gross negligence on the part of Christie’s employees.”

Picasso’s “Le Marin” – Getty Images

Wynn is represented by litigators from his firm, while restorers and loss adjusters survey the damage.

Kosnitzky added, “We hope and anticipate that the painting can be properly restored. We also hope this matter can be amicably resolved with Christie’s. The other issue is the value they ascribe to the work — $70 million. We strongly disagree with it. Mr. Wynn contends it would have sold for over $100 million and would have been the most significant work in the show.

“There may be a debate among art and insurance experts for some time, but Mr. Wynn’s new art dealership expects to be fully compensated for the cost and time to repair the painting, and the diminution in its value, following this flagrant act of gross negligence by Christie’s staff.”

Wynn stepped down from his casino empire in February in the wake of multiple allegations of sexual harassment spanning decades, but strongly denied any wrongdoing. The Picasso was one of three works going under the hammer to launch his new business Sierra Fine Art, LLC, through which the experienced collector intends to become the world’s most prominent art dealer to the wealthy, despite his eyesight problems.

Christie’s did not comment on how decorating equipment allegedly came into contact with valuable artwork, reiterating their statement that the Picasso was “accidentally damaged.”