Paintings Linked to Corruption Charges on Two Continents

Renato Duque
Renato Duque

Troves of art work are being uncovered in two separate corruption cases continents away from each other. The Petrobras bribery scandal that may bring down Brazil’s president has unearthed more than 200 works of art that prosecutors believe are the fruits of corruption:

A Brazilian museum Thursday received 139 works of art, including a painting by Joan Miro, seized from individuals involved in the corruption scandal rocking state oil giant Petrobras. Works by Brazilian artists Djanira and Heitor dos Prazeres were among the trove that police delivered to the Oscar Niemeyer Museum in the city of Curitiba. Local media reported that the majority of artwork was seized from Petrobras’ former director of services Renato Duque, who was arrested Monday. He was detained in connection with a kickbacks and political payoffs scheme that allegedly siphoned off $3.8 billion from Petrobras. Another 64 seized works had already been given to the museum, including pieces by Salvador Dali and Vik Muniz.

Meanwhile, the case of the Romanian Finance Minister who resigned has come to include a greater number of works than reported last week:Continue Reading

Auctionata Raises Another $45m In Demonstration of the Power of Live Auctions


Techcrunch says that Auctionata has gone back to the VCs for another $45m making the total capital raised close to $100m. Most of the appeal seems to be in lower-priced objects and the home shopping aspect of selling art through live auctions:

The tide is rising for live streaming services, and just as this is lifting apps, other kinds of streaming startups are seeing a boost as well. Today, Auctionata, a Berlin startup that broadcasts online live auctions for fine art and collectibles, announced that it raised €42 million ($45 million) in a Series C round of funding from a group investors led by MCI Management and including Hearst Ventures.

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Loeb’s Endorsement of New Sotheby’s CEO Smith Raises More Questions


Tad Smith takes over at Sotheby’s tomorrow and Bloomberg ties to make some sense of his hiring. Although the story swings wildly from odd assertions that the board has purposefully installed an “interim” CEO to anodyne endorsements from activist shareholder Daniel Loeb:

“His track record is impressive — from creating value to developing strategy to inspiring teams to leading technological innovation and growing global brands,” Dan Loeb, the activist investor who won a Sotheby’s board seat last May after a bitter proxy fight, said in an e-mail.

Within the story, however, there is a clue that suggests the board may be embarking upon a radical and very risky strategy for Sotheby’s:Continue Reading

Two Sales Show Strength Returning to Aboriginal Art Market

Tiger Palpatja, Wanampi Tjukurpa (A$24.4k)

Two recent sales in the Australian indigenous art market suggest Aboriginal art may be making a comeback, especially with works from established collections:

Mossgreen’s head of Australian indigenous art, D’lan Davidson, fresh from last week’s Melbourne sale of the collection of Canberra academic Alan Boxer, which sold 100 per cent of lots and raised a total of $1.04 million, is greatly encouraged by recent trends. Alongside Mossgreen’s solid sale, Deutscher and Hackett achieved a 99 per cent sold rate at its $3.4 million sale of the Colin and Liz Laverty collection of Aboriginal art in Sydney, on March 8.

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Tide Turning Toward Bouvier in Rybolovlev Conflict?

The embarrassing spat between eager buyer Dimitri Rybolovlev and sharp operator Yves Bouvier seems to be turning toward Bouvier. After the public spectacle of Bouvier’s arrest in Monaco and the freezing of some of his assets in Singapore, closer examination seems to reveal that Rybolovlev is simply not a sophisticated art buyer. Bouvier was very visible at TEFAF and happy to explain his role as a principal in the transactions. That means Bouvier bought works from willing sellers and then sold them to Rybolovlev at whatever price the Russian was willing to pay.

The additional 2% invoices that Rybolovlev produced, Bouvier told anyone who was curious, were out of pocket expenses related to buying the works including shipping, storage and insurance.

Sotheby’s Brings $40m Stone Collection to May

9340 Léger, La Roue Bleue, État Définitif

Sotheby’s has another strong Modern collection from Jerome H. Stone’s estate. Stone was a trustee of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and founder of the Stone Container Corporation. The $40m collection includes 30 works some by Giacometti, Miró and this Léger, La Roue Bleue, État Définitif, estimated at $8 to $12m.

Mr. Stone and his wife assembled their collection mainly in the 1950s from major dealers, including Pierre Matisse and Sidney Janis. “Jerome Stone was one of a generation who was buying these when they were contemporary art — the paint was still wet,” [Simon] Shaw said. “These are the latest things from the European avant-garde. As such, this is a particularly rich window on a generation of collecting.”

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