Entries in Art (8)


Woman Who Botched "Ecce Homo" Restoration Now Potential Art Star

Centro de Estudios Borjanos(NEW YORK) -- Cecilia Gímenez, the notorious octogenarian painter now credited with “the worst restoration in history” after she botched a 19th-century Christ fresco, may now become an art star in her own right, as demand for her original work online is growing.

Gímenez, 80, became world-famous in August when she attempted a restoration of the one-of-a-kind 19th century Ecce Homo fresco by the Spanish painter Elias Garcia Martinez with what looked like a few crude brushstrokes.

A member of the Santuario de Misericodia church in Borja, in northeastern Spain, Gímenez is a religious woman, and now she plans to donate the proceeds from the sale of one of her originals to the Roman Catholic charity Caritas, according to the eBay listing.

Interest in what is listed as her 2000 portrait of a local building, “The Bodegas de Borja” (“Borja’s Wine Cellar”), peaked early, shooting from €300 to €600 in 12 hours.  With three-and-a-half days left in bidding, the painting has now climbed to €807, or $1,060.

The 12.5 x 8.5 inch oil-on-canvas painting also comes signed by the artist in the lower right corner.

The auction appears to be a first step in Gímenez’s attempt to step out of the shadows since her work on the Ecce Homo caused a sensation this summer.  Globedia reports that she will appear on Spanish television channel Neox’s New Year’s Eve celebration.

The Santuario de Misericordia church is also reportedly making the best of the botched painting, and has started charging visitors to see it.  The Guardian reports it raised €2,000 -- or $2,620 -- in the first week.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Art Thieves in South Africa Toss Most Valuable Piece

Comstock/Thinkstock(PRETORIA, South Africa) -- Art thieves who apparently weren’t art lovers robbed the Pretoria Art Museum of five paintings worth more than $2 million.  But they tossed a sixth work -- the most valuable piece in their haul -- on the ground and left it behind.

“My first reaction was, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe that somebody just walked in and walked out with a whole lot of artworks,’” said Imre Lamprecht, head of the art department at South African art auction house Stephan Welz & Co.

Museum management told the Beeld newspaper that the robbers pretended to be museum visitors before they pulled out guns and a “shopping list” of paintings, which they forced an employee to help them find.  They left with five paintings by prominent South African artists, including works by Irma Stern and Gerard Sekoto, each worth about $1 million.

“All the artists they took are artists who are doing brilliantly in South Africa and internationally,” said Lamprecht.  “These works are some of the best works they would have produced.”

As the thieves made their escape, they tossed a sixth painting on the ground outside the museum, possibly because it did not fit into their getaway car.  Stern’s “Two Malay Musicians,” worth about $1.4 million, was recovered.

“Obviously these thieves didn’t know anything about art because that is not the painting whoever hired them would want them to leave behind,” said Lamprecht.

She said the late Stern is probably the most famous of the artists whose work is on display at the museum.  Her expressionism masterpiece “Arab Priest” sold for nearly $5 million last year.

Lamprecht said even though the value of South African art has risen since the end of apartheid, security at public museums is severely lacking.  Many museums have outdated security systems and no guards.

“I hope the government learns a lesson and puts in security structures that keep our art and heritage safe,” said Lamprecht.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Video Released of Daring Rotterdam Art Heist

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ROTTERDAM, Netherlands) -- Dutch police have released security footage from a daring art heist in which thieves broke into Rotterdam’s Kunsthal museum and stole seven paintings by famous modern artists including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Claude Monet.

In the video, the two black-hooded thieves can be seen rushing in to the museum through what appears to be a side door, leaving the door swinging open while they gather the paintings. Less than two minutes later, they return with large parcels on their backs and run outside.

Moments later, one of the burglars returns and runs back in, but is back out the door in about 15 seconds. It is unclear what he or she was doing. There is some movement in the dark, but within seconds, the door is closed and the robbers are gone.

Police arrived at the museum less than five minutes after alarms started ringing, but it was too late. The thieves were gone.

Authorities are hoping that the release of the video could help them gather more tips.


It is being called one of the most dramatic and daring art heists in recent years. The masterpieces that were stolen have been valued at $100 million or more.

But Christopher Marinello of The Art Loss Register told ABC News’ Jeffrey Kofman that the value doesn’t mean much because the works are so well known.

“They are worthless, they can’t sell them,” he said. “However, to thieves they can trade for weapons, guns, they can use them for a get-out-of-jail-free card. They can try to make some demands for a reward from some insurance company or try and get some sort of a ransom out of them.”

At a press conference on Oct. 16, the museum described the theft as a “nightmare for the museum, and a real bombshell.”

The director of the Kunsthal museum says all the paintings are registered in special databases and that the museum works closely with at the Art Loss Register in England, the world’s largest database of stolen art.  Marinello said it was clear some of the most valuable pieces in the collection were targeted and that “those thieves got one hell of a haul.”

Ton Cremers, who founded the Museum Security Network, said he believes the “paintings will remain in the crime scene for many years. Maybe because they can’t sell them they might destroy them, but again it’s impossible to sell them.”

Dutch police are reviewing the surveillance camera footage. A Rotterdam TV station reports that police have already taken plaster casts outside the museum, possibly to discern what kind of vehicle was used as a getaway car. Police have said they believe the thieves entered the museum from the back.

According to Cremers, there is a “very modern security system in this museum and the alarm response was very quick, so the thieves were not able to steal many paintings, but unfortunately they managed to get out with a few paintings.”

On a radio program, the former director of the museum said that the priceless paintings might mean the theft was commissioned -- or that the works were “kidnapped” so that that the burglars could ask for a ransom.

The museum had just opened a new exhibition a few days earlier to celebrate its 20th anniversary, showing different genres such as impressionism, expressionism, and other modern art movements. More than 150 paintings were on display in the exhibit and came from the privately owned Triton Foundation collection.

The stolen paintings listed on the Dutch police website include:

  •     Pablo Picasso: “Tête d’Arlequin”
  •     Henri Matisse: “la Liseuse en Blanc et Jaune”
  •     Claude Monet: “Waterloo Bridge, London”
  •     Claude Monet: “Charing Cross Bridge, London”
  •     Paul Gauguin: “Femme devant une fenêtre ouverte, dite la Fiancée”
  •     Meyer de Haan: “Autoportrait” (c. 1889 – ’91)
  •     Lucian Freud: “Woman with Eyes Closed” (2002).

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Ukrainian Art Exhibit Offers Real-Life 'Sleeping Beauty' Fairy Tale

National Art Museum of Ukraine(KIEV, Ukraine) -- Naysayers who believe fairy-tale dreams don't come true should take a look at a new art installation in the Ukraine that features sleeping beauties.

They should, however, think twice before actually entering the exhibit. Any man who enters the exhibit and kisses one of the rotating sleeping beauties on the lips and sees her eyes open is required to marry her.

"Everybody, any viewer, will have to sign the contract, which says -- this is very important, because nobody has to -- 'if I kiss the beauty and she opens her eyes while being kissed, I marry her,'" Taras Polataiko, the Ukrainian-Canadian artist behind the exhibit, told the U.K.'s The Telegraph.

In the modern take on the classic fairy tale popularized by Disney, each "sleeping beauty" lies on an elevated bed in the exhibit, housed at the National Art Museum of Ukraine, in Kiev. Five women have so far signed up to be beauties and will rotate "sleeping," dressed in an all-white gown, in the museum for two hours at a time daily through the exhibit's end Sept. 9.

Like their potential Prince Charmings, the beauties also had to sign contracts, putting in writing that, "If I open my eyes while being kissed, I agree to marry the kisser."

Besides being willing to commit their lives, the men and women who participate also have to be older than 18 and, importantly, not married.

"I hope they [men] come, so it will be more interesting for the beauties," Polataiko said. "But I really don't know. It's a really serious thing. It's marriage."

The exhibit opened Aug. 22 but, so far, has not resulted in a love match, contractual or otherwise.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


$109M Cezanne Masterpiece Recovered

Hemera/Thinkstock(BELGRADE, Serbia) -- A Cezanne masterpiece worth at least $109 million that was yanked from the wall of a Zurich art gallery in 2008 has been recovered, Serbian police sources said Thursday.

Three arrests were made in connection with the theft, which was one of the biggest art heists in recent history.

Authorities have not identified the painting, but Serbian media reports that it is "Boy In A Red Waistcoat" by Paul Cezanne. The masterpiece was taken from Zurich gallery Emil Georg Buehrle, a private collection founded by a World War II arms dealer and businessman.

A police source told ABC News that investigators are bringing in an art expert from Switzerland to verify that the painting is genuine.

Masked thieves rushed in just before the private museum closed, drew weapons and ordered frightened patrons to lie on the ground. They stole "Boy" and three other paintings during the heist.

Two works by Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh were recovered a few days later, but the Cezanne and another work by Edgar Degas had not been retrieved.

"There is reason for Swiss to open champagne tonight," Nikola Kusovac, a leading art expert in Serbia, told ABC News. "This is a cult masterpiece, one of Switzerland's most treasured artworks."

The work, painted around 1888, depicts a young boy in a traditional Italian waistcoat with a blue handkerchief and belt.

Police said the recent arrests in Belgrade and Cacak were conducted in coordination with police from several European countries.

Degas' "Ludovic Lepic and his Daughter," worth about $11 million, is still missing.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Man Buys Warhol Sketch for $5

Andy Warhol (1928 - 1987). Nancy R. Schiff/Hulton Archive/Getty Images(LONDON) -- A British businessman made the best deal of his life when he unknowingly purchased an early Andy Warhol drawing for $5 at a Las Vegas garage sale.

Andy Fields bought five paintings in 2010 from a man who had abused drugs and whose aunt had cared for Warhol in his youth, Fields told  the U.K.’s Sun. It was only when Fields decided to have one of the paintings reframed that he learned that the forgotten Warhol could fetch $2 million at auction.

“I was reframing one of the pictures and took the backing off and saw a picture looking back at me and recognized the bright red lips of an Andy Warhol,” Fields told the BBC.

The signed drawing on tattered paper is believed to be of Rudy Vallee, a well-known singer in the 1930s. Warhol would have been about 10 years old at the time he completed the sketch, which reflects the beginning of Warhol’s pop art style.

Fields said he had no plans to sell the drawing just yet and would like to put in on display.

Warhol’s paintings have gone for millions on the auction block.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Adolf Hitler’s Lost Paintings On Display Collection/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Seven of Adolf Hitler’s lost paintings are on now display after they were discovered tucked away in a monastery in the Czech Republic.

Many of the paintings have political themes. “The Memory of Stalingrad” by Franz Eichorst depicts injured German soldiers huddled in a trench during battle.

Hitler became an avid art collector during World War II, but sent his collection away for safekeeping in 1943.

The paintings were unearthed after some sleuthing by Jiri Kuchar, a historian who has written about Hitler’s art collection. It wasn’t clear how or when the monastery acquired the paintings, which can be seen at the chateau in Doksany in the Czech Republic.

Kuchar said nine more paintings are still missing from the collection.

“I’ve got a feeling that many places will be reluctant to admit their favorite works of art have this unfortunate historical blemish,” he told The Telegraph.

The paintings could be worth $2.7 million at auction, Agence France-Presse reported, though the monastery said it plans to keep them.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Picasso Piece Stolen from Greece’s Largest Art Museum

LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images(ATHENS, Greece) -- Thieves executed a brazen early-morning burglary of Greece’s largest art museum on Monday, making off with three works, including one by the 20th-century master Pablo Picasso.

The burglars were able to take advantage of the National Art Gallery’s soft security, which was short-staffed because of striking workers, officials said.

Greece, beset by riots, strikes and economic pressure, has had to make numerous cuts in the public sector, including museum security.

The heist was successful thanks to a combination of planning, patience and timing, officials said. Alarms were intentionally set off numerous times on Sunday, leading the guards to disable at least one of the alarms, providing the thieves easy entrance through a balcony door.

With the alarm disabled, the thieves entered the museum and worked quickly, stripping paintings from their frames and absconding with the cubist female bust by Picasso -- a 1949 gift to Greece in memory of World War II.

They also took an oil painting by 20th-century master Piet Mondrian and a pen-and-ink drawing by Italian 16th-century painter Guglielmo Caccia, officials said.

An attempt to steal a fourth work -- also by Mondrian -- was abandoned after a sensor was triggered in an exhibition space, bringing the attention of the guard.  The guard saw only the back of a man running away, with no further identification or clues on the thieves.

The heist reportedly took only a matter of minutes.  Museum officials were unable to estimate the total cost of the stolen works.

Greek police are continuing their investigation.  The museum will remain closed for refurbishment; it is unclear whether the security will be upgraded as well.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio