By: The Editors
Parade of piranesis: David Tunick spent more than 20 years assembling Giovanni Battista Piranesi 1720–78, an exhibition of the Venetian artist’s etchings that opened in May and will remain on display through the summer at Tunick’s Manhattan gallery. It includes the last available intact set of Magnificenze di Roma, a 1751 group of 34 views of Rome.
Ancestor Worship: At Sotheby’s New York’s May 15 sale of African and Oceanic art from the Renee and Chaim Gross Foundation, a much-coveted Ngbaka male ancestor figure fetched $1.2 million, a record for Ngbaka sculpture and more than double the high estimate.
American Records: At Christie’s American paintings sale in New York on May 20, a record was set for Milton Avery when his 1944 canvas Sketching by the Sea earned $2.2 million (est. $600,000–800,000). The following day at Sotheby’s, a large-scale 1923 casting of Harriet Whitney Frishmuth’s bronze The Vine (est. $400,000–600,000) set a record of $962,500.
Crossing the Finish Line: A 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa became the most expensive car at auction when it fetched $12.1 million on May 17 at Ferrari Leggenda e Passione, an annual vintage Ferrari sale held in Maranello, Italy, cosponsored by Sotheby’s and RM Auctions. The Testa Rossa dethroned a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder that earned $10.8 million at the 2008 edition of the auction.
Warhol Suit Proceeds: Joe Simon-Whelan, London-based owner of a disputed Andy Warhol self-portrait, won the right to another day in court on May 27 when a federal judge in Manhattan allowed a portion of his case against the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board and related entities to proceed. Simon-Whelan filed suit two years ago, after his portrait was twice denied authenticity by the board.
Michelangelo, Boy Wonder: In May the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, acquired a painting that some scholars believe is the earliest known work by Michelangelo; it would have been completed when he was 12 or 13. The Torment of St. Anthony (1487–88) had previously been catalogued as “Workshop of Domenico Ghirlandaio,” where Michelangelo had apprenticed.
The Mother of Us All: An excavation in Germany has yielded up what is likely the oldest work of art yet found. At 35,000 years of age, the 2.4-inch-tall voluptuous, headless Venus predates other Paleolithic examples by at least 5,000 years.
New Deals: Cynthia Volk, formerly of the Chinese Porcelain Company and Berwald Oriental Art, has opened Cynthia Volk LLC in the new 57th Street space of Iliad Gallery. Private dealer Gavin Spanierman, a former director of Spanierman Gallery, has opened his own space on East 82nd Street, near the Met. And Bernard Goldberg Fine Arts of Manhattan has a new gallery on Newtown Lane in East Hampton.