Friday, October 20, 2006

"It just adds another layer to the mystery of Billy Kingsland”

The New York Times today reports on the odd tale of William Milliken Vanderbilt Kingsland, "for decades a curmudgeonly fixture of Upper East Side society, an occasional art dealer and full-time gossip," who died intestate in March. It turns out that some of the art that crammed his Upper East Side apartment had been stolen, including two paintings that went missing from Harvard's Fogg Art Museum more than 30 years ago -- an 18th century portrait by John Singleton Copley, and a a portrait of a former Harvard president. The Times quotes "a court official familiar with the investigation" as saying a Giacometti bust Kingsland owned was also stolen, and that Christie’s had withdrawn it from a scheduled sale. Stair Galleries, an auction house in Hudson, N.Y., which recently auctioned off 250 of Kingsland’s works, is now "contacting every buyer and undoing the entire auction, which yielded $200,000."

The New York Sun, which back in April ran a lengthy obituary of Kingsland (who the Times also reports today was actually born Melvyn Kohn), has a story on this latest twist too here. They report that, "while Stair Galleries did buy some of Kingsland's art collection, Christie's bought the most valuable artwork from the estate."