Art News - Worldwide

Collection of German Artworks Worth $331.9 M. Disappears, Leaving Artist Markus Lüpertz Distraught: Report

ArtNews News Feed - Wed, 11/20/2019 - 14:21

What happened to a group of works by Anselm Kiefer, Renate Graf, and Markus Lüpertz that’s said to be worth €300 million (about $331.9 million)? According to a new report, the pieces have disappeared somewhere in China.

On Monday, Lüpertz held a press conference in Beijing to lament his vanished paintings—152 of them, to be exact, in addition to 87 paintings by Kiefer and 103 works by Graf. According to Süddeutsche Zeitung, the artist feared for his works’ well-being. “I used a special glue color in my early paintings” that is very sensitive to water, he said. If the paintings were now stored in a damp location, he continued, they could be ruined.

Maria Chen-Tu, a Taiwanese-born art collector with a German passport, is reportedly the person at the center of the art’s disappearance. According to Süddeutsche Zeitung, the works were acquired for her private holdings, the Map Collection; exhibitions of the collection were organized through Bell Art, the company of her partner since 2016, Chinese businessman Ma Yue.

“This is unique to the art market,” Wenzel Jacob, curator and former artistic director of the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn, who worked with both, told the German outlet. “I have not encountered such a criminal case in my career.”

According to the report, the works’ disappearance is part of a larger pattern. Chinese painter Zhang Xi told Süddeutsche Zeitung that she had lent 27 paintings to Bell Art for exhibitions in Germany and never saw the works again or received any money for them. Ma Yue claims that his company never received the paintings. Meanwhile, German artist Uwe Esser also lent four of his artworks to Ma for an exhibition in Nanjing in 2015. The works were never reportedly returned, though Esser told the German paper that Ma’s employees offered him payment in cash, to be collected in person at Dusseldorf Airport without an invoice. Esser filed a complaint in response, and Ma will stand trial for embezzlement on January 24, 2020, in Krefeld, Germany.

Chen-Tu said in the Süddeutsche Zeitung report that the blame should rest with Ma, whose company has since been liquidated. Ma has denied all the allegations against him. The works, Ma claims, are accessible in Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong, but he did not provide the German publication with exact details about their location.

Expelled LSU Student Sentenced to Five Years in Fraternity Hazing Death

Yahoo - Art News - Wed, 11/20/2019 - 14:21

REUTERS/Sean GardnerThe former Louisiana State University student who was found guilty of negligent homicide for the hazing death of 18-year-old Phi Delta Theta pledge Max Gruver was sentenced to five years in prison on Wednesday.Jurors reportedly took just one hour to convict Matthew Naquin in July. The 21-year-old Texas native was also sentenced to three years of probation and 1,000 hours of community service. The judge ordered Naquin to write a letter of apology to the Gruver family, and for every year he is on probation he must go to three separate high schools and give a one-hour talk about hazing, according to WVLA-TV.He was expelled from LSU in the weeks following Gruver’s death.Gruver died of alcohol poisoning and aspiration—choking on his own vomit—after a hazing ritual called “Bible Study” at the fraternity house on Sept. 13, 2017. During the ritual, prosecutors said Naquin and other fraternity members ordered pledges to stand in a dark hallway facing a wall while loud music played; they were told to chug 190-proof liquor if they could not correctly answer questions about Phi Delta Theta, The Advocate reported.Witnesses reportedly testified during the trial that Naquin, whom authorities have said was a ringleader of the hazing ritual, targeted Gruver that night because he didn’t want him to join the fraternity. Just two days before Gruver’s death, fraternity brothers said they warned Naquin to tone down his extreme and dangerous interactions with pledges, according to court documents and testimony during the trial.When he died, Gruver’s blood-alcohol level was 0.495 percent—more than six times the state’s legal limit to drive, according to the local newspaper. Another pledge had testified during trial that he believed Gruver “had not had much experience with drinking.” A toxicology expert said on the stand that Gruver’s high blood-alcohol concentration led to “sleep, coma and death.” “There was no way his body could get through this,” said the expert, Patricia Williams. “He was a dead man walking at midnight.”Naquin’s attorney, John McLindon, argued during the trial that he was unfairly singled out by the prosecution and that Gruver continued to drink on his own after the hazing event.“It was a hazing event, but there were probably 10 other active members up there that night and at least five of them were handing out alcohol,” McLindon told The New York Times. “Matthew didn’t do anything differently from those boys, but he got picked out because he is very loud.”But East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III countered, in a separate interview with The Times, that Naquin “stood out” through the ferocity with which he tormented pledges that night.“Everyone kept saying he was the one who led everything, who made people drink more, who asked questions,” Moore said. “This is grain alcohol—this is 180-proof or 190-proof alcohol. It is what they put tissue samples in to study them in a lab, when you have to wear a hood.”Moore added: “We have never alleged that the defendant wanted him dead or wanted to kill him, but his actions led to this young man’s death.”Naquin has been separately charged with obstruction of justice after federal agents say he deleted nearly 700 files from his phone minutes after he learned from his attorney that a search warrant had been issued for his device. The FBI never successfully recovered the files. He has not been tried yet on that charge.After the trial, Max’s mother, Rae Ann Gruver, called the guilty verdict “justice for our son and for the man who caused his death.” Gruver was from Roswell, a suburb of Atlanta.“We want this to send a message to the country that hazing should not exist,” Stephen Gruver, Max's father, told The Advocate after the conviction. “It’s dangerous and we have to all work together to bring an end to hazing.”Three other fraternity brothers face misdemeanor hazing charges in the case, two of which have pleaded no contest. Phi Delta Theta has been banned from LSU’s campus until 2033. The school also reportedly convened a task force to study Greek life on campus in the aftermath of Gruver’s death.“Hazing is an irresponsible and dangerous activity that we do not tolerate at LSU,” a spokesman for the school said after the trial. “These tragedies, and the penalties that follow, can be prevented, and we have been working diligently to put more safeguards, education and reporting outlets in place for our students regarding hazing.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

American Airlines admits a midair accident that knocked out 2 flight crew was not caused by spilled soap

Yahoo - Art News - Wed, 11/20/2019 - 14:19

American Airlines admitted Tuesday the powerful fumes that knocked two flight attendants unconscious and forced a flight to make an emergency landing were not caused by spilled soap, as the airline had previously claimed.

Rudy Giuliani is now demanding an apology from the Republican counsel

Yahoo - Art News - Wed, 11/20/2019 - 14:08

President Trump's personal lawyer and fixer, Rudy Giuliani, found himself at the heart of the impeachment hearing on Wednesday after the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, implicated him in allegedly setting up a quid pro quo between the White House and Ukraine. Giuliani, needless to say, was not having it, going as far as to demand an apology from the GOP's own attorney.Republicans had attempted to dismiss Giuliani's activities in Ukraine as nothing but self-interested meddling, as to distance Trump from the possible scheme to pressure Ukraine into investigating the Bidens. That was the line of questioning the GOP counsel, Steve Castor, pursued on Wednesday: "Granted, Mr. Giuliani had business interests in Ukraine," Castor suggested, prompting Sondland to answer "now I understand he did; I didn't know that at the time."> GOP counsel Steve Castor now advances the argument that Giuliani was acting on his own, and invokes his two indicted associates. Of course, throughout all of this Giuliani was Trump's lawyer and clearly acting on his behalf.> > -- Oliver Willis (@owillis) November 20, 2019Giuliani hit back on Twitter: "Republican lawyer doesn't do his own research and preparation, and is instead picking up Democrat lies, shame," he tweeted. "Allow me to inform him: I have NO financial interests in Ukraine, NONE! I would appreciate his apology."Giuliani spent the day on the defensive on social media, tweeting earlier that "I never met with [Sondland]" and that there was "no quid pro quo." He later deleted that tweet. Read more about Giuliani's alleged interests in Ukraine here.More stories from Trump tries to discredit diplomat's impeachment testimony moments before it begins Republicans are throwing Rudy Giuliani under the bus Ken Starr on the Sondland testimony: 'It's over'

Diane Simpson, Elia Alba, Torkwase Dyson Among 2019 Anonymous Was a Woman Grantees

ArtNews News Feed - Wed, 11/20/2019 - 14:06

Last year, artist Susan Unterberg revealed herself as the benefactor of the Anonymous Was a Woman award, which she established anonymously to support the careers of women artists over 40 years old. Now the organization behind the award has named the 10 women who will receive this year’s set of grants, which comes with $25,000 each.

Among the grantees are Diane Simpson, Elia Alba, Nona Faustine, Amie Siegel, and Torkwase Dyson, who also recently won the Studio Museum in Harlem’s 2019 Wein Prize.

“It’s a grant for women, which I think is really important, but it’s also an acknowledgment of your career,” Alba, who is best known for her convenings of artists of color, which she photographs for an ongoing series called “The Supper Club,” told ARTnews. “It’s looking at what you’ve done—in my case, from the mid-’90s until now.”

Unterberg said that, for this year’s list, the organization went further afield and sought out nominators from various institutions and elsewhere that hadn’t submitted before. (All the nominators and the members of the award’s five-person jury are kept anonymous, though it is known that nominators include past grantees.)

“It was a very hard decision this year for the jury,” said Unterberg, who herself is not involved in the selection process. “Many of these names might not be that well-known, but that’s the whole point”—to support women artists who have not received the recognition that they deserve. She added that this year’s list includes more artists whose work encompasses experimental mediums like performance than in prior years.

Since its founding in 1996, Anonymous Was a Woman has given out over $6 million to 240 artists, many of whom are among the world’s top contemporary artists, including Carrie Mae Weems, Laura Aguilar, Cecilia Vicuña, Howardena Pindell, Amalia Mesa-Bains, Andrea Fraser, and Lynn Hershman Leeson.

“You become part of this legacy once you’re granted,” Alba said, likening it to the Studio Museum’s artist residency, which she did in 1998–99. “I got emotional when I got the call, understanding that it’s been given to the top female artists in the country.”

Elia Alba, La Joya (Yelanie Rodriguez), 2019.

The grant can also serve as a much-needed windfall when artists at a critical point in their lives and careers, as is the case with Simpson, who is 84. Simpson, who appeared in the 2019 Whitney Biennial and has two solo museum shows on deck next year, said she already has plans for how to spend the money when she receives it and called it an “encouraging boost.” With the prize money, she is looking into purchasing perforated aluminum to create new sculptures, and now she has the means to hire an assistant. She added, “The award has given me a new mindset.”

The full list follows below:

Elia Alba, 57
Marsha Cottrell, 55
Torkwase Dyson, 46
Heide Fasnacht, 68
Nona Faustine, 50
Rhodessa Jones, 70
Jennifer Wen Ma, 46
Amie Siegel, 45
Diane Simpson, 84
Karina Aguilera Skvirsky, 52

Muses: Flying Lotus on David Lynch, Renaissance Paintings, and Ralph Steadman’s ‘Weird Bug-Out’ Art

ArtNews News Feed - Wed, 11/20/2019 - 14:06

Muses” is a column for which creators from different disciplines reveal sources of artistic inspiration and instigation. 

Flying Lotus has been making expansive electronic music with a basis in hip-hop beats since 2006, when his debut album led the way for a discography that has touched on elements of spiritual ambience and astral jazz. He’s the nephew of the great pianist and harpist Alice Coltrane, and from his home base in Los Angeles—where he founded the record label Brainfeeder—he has collaborated with a long list of artists including George Clinton, Thundercat, Solange, and Kendrick Lamar. His latest album is Flamagra, which includes a track featuring spoken-word by David Lynch.

Flying Lotus’s Flamagra.

Mati Klarwein
I’m a big art collector, and one artist I love is Mati Klarwein. He did a lot of album covers, like Bitches Brew for Miles Davis and one for Santana [Abraxas, from 1970]. His paintings are really amazing—some Surrealist kind of mishmash with religious and semi-religious imagery in there. I’m really into old Renaissance art. I like the kind of ancient feeling of imagery of the heavens and the angels. Mati has that in the way he uses color and fluidity.

David Lynch
David Lynch has been an inspiration in most mediums. I’ve been a fan since I was a teenager and when I was in film school. He inspired me first as a filmmaker, and when I saw his cool animations, I got into his paintings. That is how we started: he doesn’t see himself as a filmmaker, I guess because he spends all day painting. Something I like about his work is it very much handmade. He gets dirty with stuff—he uses mixed-media and will paint weird toys and weird objects and figure out how to throw them into the paintings. He is just an all-around madman in all respects. I have a print of his called Ant Bee Tarantula.

Meredith Dittmar
I collect things I’m into. I don’t have a look that I go for. For a while I was buying up stuff that was really dark and scary. Then I got some things that are happier, funnier. I have a beautiful diorama from this artist named Meredith Dittmar. She makes these beautiful clay sculptures with a cool style that feels like mandalas. She is in Portland, and I bought a couple of things from her. She’s just so awesome.

Joan Cornellà
Joan Cornellà is a weird old Spanish dude who does freaky stuff. I have a work by him in my dining room. I was really into lots of stuff in the early days and then, when I made some cash, I was able to afford some. The Joan Cornellà was one of those. I love it. Yeah.

Flying Lotus performing in Sydney, Australia, in 2015.

Ralph Steadman
I have a print by him in my house. The thing I love about his work is how mad everything feels. It also feels within my reach as an artist—I feel like he is a better version of me when I am drawing. The stuff that I like to draw, he’s got that style dialed. I draw and my stuff is really loose like his, and when I see his stuff, I feel encouraged in a way. But he’s got that runny-ink thing—that’s all him. I wouldn’t even try that. I like his interpretation of people and obviously the stuff that he did with Hunter S. Thompson. It’s super-inspiring weird bug-out shit that I love. I have a print of the iconic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas image of Hunter and the doctor driving. I have another one titled Let’s Party that’s right at the bottom of my staircase too. When it’s time to start the day and I’m walking downstairs, I can go, “OK! Let’s party!!”

Israel Nears Unprecedented Third Vote as Gantz Coalition Bid Fails

Yahoo - Art News - Wed, 11/20/2019 - 14:03

(Bloomberg) -- Former military chief Benny Gantz failed to muster enough support in parliament to form a government and dislodge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, bringing Israel closer to its third election in a year and prolonging its drawn-out political gridlock.Four weeks after Netanyahu fell short in that same task, political newcomer Gantz -- the only politician to present a serious challenge to the prime minister over the past decade -- informed Israeli President Reuven Rivlin that he couldn’t cobble together a governing coalition.Gantz, in a televised address, said he was “willing to make far-reaching concessions” to form a broad-based government uniting his Blue and White faction and the legally embattled Netanyahu’s Likud, but was confronted by “a bloc that insisted on putting the interests of one man before the interests of the country.”Now, in a development that has never happened before in Israel’s 71-year history, the ball goes to parliament’s court.If a majority of Israel’s 120 lawmakers can line up behind a member of parliament -- including Netanyahu or Gantz -- they can ask Rivlin to give that person 21 days to take a crack. But that appears to be a long shot, potentially paving the way for another vote early next year.“Short of one or both of the leaders coming down a little bit further from their tree, or perhaps a game-changing decision from the attorney general,” who will soon decide whether to indict Netanyahu on corruption charges, “we’re going to third elections,” said political strategist Ashley Perry.Political ParalysisWhile Netanyahu and Gantz stare each other down, the country has been run by caretaker governments with limited ability to fix urgent problems like the budget deficit, an antiquated transportation system and overcrowded hospitals -- let alone the country’s intractable conflict with the Palestinians.“It could really hurt the economy,” said Alex Zabezhinsky, chief economist for Meitav Dash Investments Ltd. “If you don’t have a government for a long period of time, like about a year, you feel substantially the impact of this on investment, infrastructure, in many industries.”The stalemate has already frustrated the Trump administration’s efforts to introduce its long-delayed play for Middle East peace.“For the sake of Israel’s security, for the sake of the will of the nation, for the sake of national reconciliation, we have to form a unity government,” Netanyahu said. “We have historic opportunities, but we also have tremendous challenges, and we can’t lose any time.”Polls suggest a third round of balloting would produce another deadlock. But the cards could be shuffled if Attorney General Avihai Mandelblit decides before the election to charge Netanyahu with bribery and fraud, as he’s signaled he intends to do. An indictment would ratchet up calls for the prime minister’s immediate resignation and could weaken him and his Likud party ahead of the vote. If cases are dropped, or he’s charged with less serious offenses, his prospects would improve.Israeli TV stations have reported that the attorney general aims to render a decision by mid-December at the latest.Although Netanyahu denies wrongdoing, he’s angling to change Israeli law to grant sitting prime ministers immunity from prosecution. For this reason, he’s been less willing to compromise than Gantz, analysts say.Options ClosedGantz, who promised a respite from the divisiveness and corruption scandals that tarnished Netanyahu’s tenure, started the day with a midnight deadline and two problematic routes to a coalition government that would send the prime minister packing. By mid-day, both seemed closed.Talks with Netanyahu on Tuesday night on teaming up their parties in government broke down, in part due to disputes over allowing Netanyahu to remain in office if indicted. His other alternative -- forming a minority government -- was shot down by political kingmaker Avigdor Liberman, whose party he would have needed to get there.“There’s no option other than a unity government,” Liberman said.(Updates with Netanyahu comment in eleventh paragraph)To contact the reporter on this story: Yaacov Benmeleh in Tel Aviv at ybenmeleh@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Alaa Shahine at, Mark Williams, Amy TeibelFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Zimbabwean police beat opposition supporters after rally ban

Yahoo - Art News - Wed, 11/20/2019 - 13:53

Zimbabwean riot police fired tear gas and beat opposition supporters on Wednesday after barring a planned address by the main opposition leader, Nelson Chamisa, AFP journalists said. Hundreds of supporters had gathered outside the Harare headquarters of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) after the party was denied permission to hold a rally in the city's Africa Unity Square. Chamisa had been expected to make the address from the office balcony instead, but he later spoke to a few party members in a room inside the offices.

Pentagon discovers $81 million of U.S. Navy gear during audit

Yahoo - Art News - Wed, 11/20/2019 - 13:41

The Pentagon found $81 million of military equipment at a U.S. Navy facility that had not been inventoried, a top Pentagon official said on Wednesday as he described the Department of Defense second straight failed audit. The Pentagon says that it has made progress toward fixing accounting discrepancies, but that it will take years to eventually pass a full audit, Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist told a U.S. Senate panel.

Photos capture Trump’s notes following Sondland testimony

Yahoo - Art News - Wed, 11/20/2019 - 13:40

Photos captured President Trump’s notes as he made his first public appearance following impeachment testimony from Ambassador Gordon Sondland. Appearing on the White House lawn as he prepared for a visit to Texas, Trump had jotted down notes in marker on an Air Force One pad.

Man caught with 6 human trafficking victims at NC traffic stop: Highway Patrol

Yahoo - Art News - Wed, 11/20/2019 - 13:34

A man believed to have been driving with human trafficking victims in an SUV in western North Carolina has been charged.

Wisconsin poll shows only 40% support removing Trump

Yahoo - Art News - Wed, 11/20/2019 - 13:26

The support for impeaching and removing President Donald Trump from office is at just 40% in the key swing state of Wisconsin, as Republicans rally around the embattled president, a poll released Wednesday showed. “You’ve got Republicans coming home to Trump,” said Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette University Law School poll. The poll showed 40% of respondents support impeaching and removing Trump.

Robert Morris’s ‘Para-Architectural’ Drawings Envision a Fantasy Complex that Prioritizes Movement over Static Form

ArtNews News Feed - Wed, 11/20/2019 - 13:06

With “Robert Morris: Para-Architectural Projects,” Hunter College’s Leubsdorf Gallery spotlighted a seldom-seen portfolio by a postwar artist whose sculpture and writings helped define the Minimalist idiom of the 1960s and its eventual unmaking in “process art.” Illustrating Morris’s turn toward environmental scales, the show collected seven large-format drawings from 1971 that offer glimpses of what the late artist termed a “fantasy complex” of walkways, observatories, aqueducts, and courtyards. These ink-on-paper renderings chart a vast landscape of open-air structures that sit suspended between architecture and sculpture, movement and stasis.

Robert Morris: Morning Observatory – Exercise Complex, 1971, ink on paper, 42 by 82 1/2 inches; at Bertha and Karl Leubsdorf Gallery, Hunter College Art Galleries.

The works belong to a larger series of twenty such drawings that debuted in Morris’s 1971 solo exhibition at Tate Gallery (now Tate Britain). There, the drawings were overshadowed by the main attraction: an assortment of “interactive” sculptures intended to be rolled, pushed, and climbed and balanced on by museumgoers. The show closed after four days on account of visitor injuries.

In the Hunter exhibition, only Morning Observatory—Exercise Complex, depicting a large space filled with pools, ball courts, and climbing walls, seemed to nod to the physically interactive playground at Tate Gallery; the rest favored more abstract patterns of use and movement by human walkers, swimmers, and loungers. With most of the drawings foregrounding platforms variously torqued, staggered, and zigzagging, and a couple (such as the serpentine Section of an Aqueduct) featuring flowing courses of water, Morris’s “para-architectural” works would seem to emphasize forward motion—the choreography of pure passage—over and against a sense of built structures as volumetric containers or monolithic forms.

Robert Morris: Observatory Markers – Equinox Sunrise – Sunset, 1971, ink on paper, 42 by 82 1/2 inches; at Bertha and Karl Leubsdorf Gallery, Hunter College Art Galleries.

The drawings portray only portions and details of the architecture, and thus withhold a sense of the overall size and shape of the “fantasy complex.” How, then, might we place that complex, cryptic as the images are? One can better grasp the artist’s intentions by looking at Observatory, an outdoor circular structure that he first constructed in 1971 for the exhibition Sonsbeek 71, in Arnhem, Netherlands, and that incorporates a component—a pairing of two canted steel plates—featured in the drawing Observatory Markers, Equinox Sunrise–Sunset. (The Sonsbeek iteration of Observatory was temporary, but was followed, six years later, by a permanent version elsewhere in the Netherlands.) Observatory courts comparison to earthworks by artists including Nancy Holt and Mary Miss. But while it is tempting to understand Morris’s para-architecture as a species of Land art, the artist deflected such characterization. He held his work at a peerless distance, asserting in the Sonsbeek brochure, for instance, that Observatory was “different from any art being made today.”

In interviews and essays from the 1970s, Morris suggested that he achieved his needed measure of distance by looking at the landscapes and architecture of South America, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. His article “The Present Tense of Space,” published in Art in America’s January–February 1978 issue, proves a most effective skeleton key for the works in the Hunter exhibition. In that article, Morris praises a “temporal-kinesthetic” model of experience cultivated less by what he terms “normal architectural space” (meaning, perhaps, Western architectural space) than by the “Mayan ball courts, temple platforms, and various observatory-type constructions” of Central and South America.

Robert Morris: Section of a Walled Courtyard, 1971, ink on paper, 42 by 84 inches; at Bertha and Karl Leubsdorf Gallery, Hunter College Art Galleries.

The “para-” that positions Morris’s structures at the edge of “normal architectural space,” and (in his estimation) at a remove from the work of his early-’70s contemporaries, thus denotes a distancing more cultural and historical than strictly formal. In a text accompanying the show, curator Sarah Watson bids us to acknowledge the romanticizing gaze that one might detect in these framing operations, and indeed, Morris’s works rehearse the classic trope of the European or American artist finding egress from formal strictures by reaching beyond the West. Regardless, the drawings here find Morris, like the imagined user of his fantasy complex, in a curious but compelling place of passage: roving, winding, and feeling out the boundaries of a space with no clear terminus.


This article appears under the title “Robert Morris” in the December 2019 issue, pp. 97–98.

Scientists detected the brightest light in the universe for the first time, following a mysterious explosion in space

Yahoo - Art News - Wed, 11/20/2019 - 13:00

Astronomers had 50 seconds to turn their telescopes toward a violent explosion in a galaxy 4 billion light-years away.

Jussie Smollett Files Suit against City of Chicago for ‘Malicious Prosecution’

Yahoo - Art News - Wed, 11/20/2019 - 12:56

Jussie Smollett filed a countersuit on Tuesday in response to a lawsuit brought by the city of Chicago, alleging the city engaged in "malicious prosecution" that caused the actor "humiliation, mental anguish and extreme emotional distress," the Chicago Sun Times reported Monday.Smollett was alleged to have staged a racist, homophobic crime against himself in January with the help of two friends, who themselves are brothers of Nigerian origin.A grand jury indicted Smollett in March, but Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx dropped the charges against the actor, citing the technically victimless nature of the hoax and his record of service to the community.The city of Chicago had filed a lawsuit against Smollett attempting to recover $130,106 from the Empire actor after investigating the staged crime. Smollett's lawyers assert in the counterclaim that because he has already paid $10,000 to the city "as payment in full in connection with the dismissal of the charges against him" he should be exempt from any further penalties.The counterclaim also alleges the two brothers made "false, self-serving, and unreliable statements" that the police nevertheless used "in order to close the investigation into the attack on Mr. Smollett."Foxx, who is running for reelection, admitted in a campaign video on Tuesday that she mishandled Smollett's case. In June the state appointed a special prosecutor to look into her actions regarding the case.After Foxx dropped charges against Smollett, an anonymous prosecutor in her office slammed her handling of the affair."This case was handled markedly different from any other case at 26th Street," the prosecutor wrote. "No one knows why, and more importantly, no one can explain why our boss, the head prosecutor of all of Cook County, has decided to so demean and debase both our hard work, and our already tenuous relationship with the Chicago Police Department."

Devin Nunes claimed Democrats would smear Sondland. He was smeared by the Republican counsel instead.

Yahoo - Art News - Wed, 11/20/2019 - 12:56

The U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, is a key witness in the ongoing House impeachment hearings, and before he testified Wednesday, both Democrats and Republicans were well aware he could make or break their cases. Ranking House Intelligence Committee member Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) nevertheless appeared confident in his opening remarks, noting that he anticipated Sondland would have his reputation "smeared" by the Democrats over the course of the next several hours.The GOP's tone swiftly changed when Sondland was given his turn to speak. The ambassador confirmed a quid pro quo between the Trump administration and Ukraine, and said he was following orders from the president to pressure Kyiv into opening an investigation into the Bidens. Clinton impeachment prosecutor Ken Starr went as far as to call Wednesday a "bombshell day" due to Sondland's dramatic flip.Republicans, naturally, didn't feel so peachy about Sondland by the time it was their turn to speak. Steve Castor, the Republican attorney, went as far as to -- yep -- smear Sondland's credibility. "You don't have records, you don't have notes because you don't take notes, you don't have recollections," he bashed. "This is a trifecta of unreliability."It didn't matter that the smear was coming from his own party; Sondland wasn't having any of it. Watch below. > Republican Counsel Castor: "You don't have records. You don't have your notes because you didn't take notes. You don't have a lot of recollections. This is like the trifecta of unreliability. Isn't that true? > > Ambassador Gordon Sondland: "I think I filled in a lot of blanks."> > -- CSPAN (@cspan) November 20, 2019More stories from Ken Starr on the Sondland testimony: 'It's over' Republicans are throwing Rudy Giuliani under the bus India is entering a new dark age

How Leo Castelli, MoMA, and Two Wealthy Collectors Charted Today’s Rocket-Fueled Art Market

ArtNews News Feed - Wed, 11/20/2019 - 12:56

We might never have known about it, if it weren’t for the boast. Just as collectors brag about their acquisitions, art dealers have been known to brag about their sales, even the legendarily genteel Leo Castelli, widely considered the most important contemporary art dealer of all time. He was interviewed in 1969 by Paul Cummings from the Smithsonian, for an oral history. Knowing the interview would be sealed for years, Castelli felt at ease confiding his heroic tale from six years back.

In 1963 Castelli was in a jam: two of his biggest clients, the Sculls and the Tremaines, wanted the same painting by the 32-year-old Jasper Johns, Castelli’s breakout star. It was new money versus old: Ethel and Robert Scull’s money came from a fleet of taxis in the Bronx, Emily and Burton Tremaine’s from inheritances and General Electric. For five years both couples had been demanding first pick of the best Johnses, and, Castelli said, they both wanted Map (1961). It was a trophy: an expressionistic painting of the map of the United States that, at a whopping 10 feet across, was the largest Johns had ever made.

“[T]o cut the Gordian knot,” Castelli told Cummings, “Jasper said nobody could have it. It has to go to a museum, and whoever offers better conditions will get [to live with] it during their lifetime.” The Tremaines were famously planning to donate their collection to the National Gallery of Art—someday, and on their terms. The Sculls won by wasting no time: they donated Map to the Museum of Modern Art right away, as a fractional gift—even before they had finished paying for it.1

The Sculls’ enthusiasm may have been fueled by more than mere philanthropy. That transaction—and the tax deductions behind it—recently became the subject of a paper on tax policy in the Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts. Art historian Michael Maizels and University of Arkansas School of Law associate dean William Foster argue that the previously unexamined financial manipulations by Castelli and the Sculls around Map and its donation to MoMA were as material to the story of postwar art’s growing market as the painting itself. I recently used their paper as a jumping-off point for a deep dive into the Castelli archives, held by the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art. What I found was that the Sculls’ purchase and gift of Map stands as a singular transactional masterpiece, an exemplary product of the remarkable relationship between Castelli, Johns, the Sculls (and their heated competition with the Tremaines), and MoMA, that shaped the course of art and the market for it over decades.

Jasper Johns’s Map (1961): The Sculls likely made a profit by donating the painting to the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

If we are to believe Robert Scull, the origins of the Map transaction trace back to a brash offer he made at the opening for Johns’s first solo show at Castelli’s New York gallery, in January 1958, and what happened afterward. It was then that all the constituents were coalescing to embrace Johns, and launch his market: the dealer, the museum, the collectors, the press. And Scull tried to horn in on it all.

Castelli had offered the 27-year-old Johns a show less than a year before—the first artist at his fledgling gallery, along with Robert Rauschenberg. Johns was the first to take off. Leo included Johns’s 1954 Flag in a group show in May 1957, two months after signing him, and he sold a few works to adventurous young collectors that year, including a number painting and a flag drawing to Donald and Harriet Peters, and a flag drawing to Wynn Kramarsky.

Johns was poised for liftoff, and the art press was fueling him. In December, less than a month before Johns’s solo debut, Thomas B. Hess, then managing editor of this magazine, stopped by the fourth-floor apartment on the Upper East Side that the Castellis—Leo and his wife, Ileana, whose family money was bankrolling the venture—had converted into Leo’s gallery; Hess had come to borrow Johns’s Target with Four Faces, so he could photograph it. There is no persuasive account of how it ended up on the cover of the January 1958 issue of ARTnews, or how Fairfield Porter reviewed the show weeks before it opened, but there it was.

ARTnews’s January 1958 cover anointed Japser Johns a star.

Robert Scull, with signature bombast, would later claim that at that opening he offered to buy every single work. Castelli said that would be vulgar, and refused. As it happened, he had a more important customer to whom, over the next few days, he would sell half the show. Johns’s first solo show was a revelation for the Museum of Modern Art’s director, Alfred Barr. In a 1997 interview for MoMA’s archives, Ileana said, “The first time I saw Barr really excited was at Jasper’s opening . . . I thought, oh well, he does have blood like the rest of us.”

The way Leo told it to Paul Cummings, Barr saw the show only after it opened, when he promptly summoned Dorothy Miller, his assistant curator, to join him and select works to acquire. Other retellings involve intense discussions with Johns, who either just happened to be in the back room or who was summoned uptown to meet Barr and Miller on a weekend.

One thing various accounts share is Barr’s determination to guide Johns’s shocking work into MoMA. He worried that conservative trustees or political groups concerned about Johns’s patriotism in the Cold War environment might interpret Flag negatively. Another thing poking at him was a sculpted penis in his favorite work of them all, Target with Plaster Casts (1955). Johns’s refusal of the curator’s demand to hide the penis by closing the small door on a compartment that housed it had kept the painting out of a 1957 group show at the Jewish Museum in New York. Barr was more diplomatic, asking Johns whether closing the little door would go against his intentions for the work. “Well, if it’s entirely casually closed, I really don’t mind,” Johns replied, “but I do not want it to be programmatically closed. . . . I would rather prefer that you . . . not take the painting.” (Leo ended up buying the work for himself. Years later, the dealer recalled how Barr and his colleagues feared that “this limply hanging green penis would excite peoples’ susceptibilities.” There remains much work to be done to understand how Jasper Johns’s penis unsettled the men of New York’s art establishment.)

But Barr would not let a painted penis or the Cold War stop him. Johns’s symbols and figures showed painting an exit out of the roundabout of Abstract Expressionism. He made the unprecedented decision to acquire for MoMA four works from the debut show of an unknown painter. Castelli’s February 17, 1958, invoice for Flag (1954), Target with Four Faces (1955), Green Target (1955), and White Numbers (1957) came to $2,835 (a 10 percent discount on $3,150). The latter two were purchased using acquisition funds created by trustees Richard Zeisler and Elizabeth Bliss Parkinson, respectively.

As one of two paintings priced at $1,000, Flag would have required trustee approval; instead, Barr got architect, collector, former curator, and museum trustee Philip Johnson to buy it for himself, with the understanding he’d give it to the museum. Target with Four Faces, the first of the works to be formally accessioned, was purchased through a gift of $630 from Ethel and Robert Scull.

Barr was not alone in his admiration; the buzz about Johns traveled quickly within the MoMA family. More than half the works in the 1958 show ended up with MoMA, museum employees, or their affiliates. In addition to Barr and Miller, who both bought 1957 paintings for themselves (Book and Gray Numbers, respectively), trustee and acquisitions committee head James Thrall Soby bought White Target (also 1957). Drawings curator William Lieberman bought a flag drawing that Castelli made available through the Modern’s popular Art Lending Service, a rental/consignment program run by museum volunteers to encourage collecting. Ben Heller, Mrs. Thomas Watson, and John and Barbara Jakobson, all either trustees or members of MoMA’s International Council or Junior Council, bought works from the show.

Ileana bought Flag on Orange Field (1957), and the last available work, Tango (1956), an encaustic monochrome with a tweaked music box embedded in it, went to Emily and Burton Tremaine, members of the International Council who also later bought White Flag (1955–58) and Three Flags (1958), the latter while it was still unfinished in Johns’s studio.

Despite Robert’s brazen opening offer, and their funding of MoMA’s Target acquisition, the Sculls themselves got nothing. They would soon make up for lost time.

Robert and Ethel Scull set out to build a social life through art collecting.

The Castelli Gallery Ledger Books for the Sculls are more tangled than any Pollock drip painting. Scull was an active client even before Leo opened the gallery, when he was sourcing and brokering deals on paintings from European modernists like Kandinsky, Dubuffet, and Arp. The Sculls, whose outer borough crassness and taxi-cab fortune didn’t exactly endear them to Manhattan’s condescending classes, used art to fuel a social life and to improve their standing. Between 1958 and 1962 they bought dozens of works from Castelli, including many Johns paintings, drawings, and prints. At least two were listed as commissions, including Double Flag from 1962.

During this period, Johns, a young art star, was the recipient of the Sculls’ intense attention, gifts, and invitations to dinner parties at Scull’s Folly, their home on the North Shore of Long Island. When Johns refused the Sculls’ requests for additional commissions or invitations, they solicited Leo’s help to plead their case. Such aggressive wooing was surely a factor—along with the end of his and Rauschenberg’s relationship—in Johns’s decision to escape for part of the year to the remote South Carolina island town of Edisto, beginning in early 1961.

The Sculls courted publicity for their collecting and were aggrieved when they didn’t get it. They turn out to be involved in a classic tale about the 1960 sculpture Painted Bronze (Ale Cans) that Johns made after hearing Willem de Kooning joke about Castelli: “That son-of-a-bitch, you could give him two beer cans and he could sell them.” Castelli did sell them: to the Sculls. “A keen disappointment to see our beer cans in Art International [Magazine] without our name,” Robert wrote to Leo in 1960. “Ethel and I are nonplussed. . . . Ethel suggested we change our name to Tremaine, and things would go O.K. (She’s probably right!).”

The Tremaines, for whom art served less as a means to enhance their social standing, than as an affirmation of it, vexed the Sculls—and vice versa. Robert and Ethel complained repeatedly to Castelli that he was slighting them and giving preferential treatment to the Tremaines. In one excoriating letter to Leo from Paris in October 1962, Robert Scull wrote: “I just spoke to Ethel on the telephone and for some reason she seems completely angry about something far more complicated than you not making our son’s bar mitzvah. Of course I was hoping to hear from her that you might have asked her over for dinner during my absence, but instead when I asked something about something related to the sale of one of our works, she became furious at the mention of your name.

“The point I’m trying to make,” Scull continues, “is that sometimes even aside from friendship, one should make some little concessions, even if it hurts, to treat a customer like Ethel with the same degree of respect and care as you would the Tremaines or some other customer that you have on occasion asked me to vacate your back room for. Please hold off on any transactions concerning the Pollock until I can get some more coherent facts from Ethel when I mention your name.”

The Tremaines, for their part, did not correspond with Castelli about their apparent disdain for the Sculls, though they wrote to him constantly about the conservation of Tango which, like all of Johns’s early encaustic and newsprint works, was immediately discovered to be terrifyingly fragile. Emily Tremaine’s biographer, Kathleen L. Housley, characterizes the relationship between the two couples as “frosty competition,” adding that, “if a dealer had the audacity to show a work to the Sculls before showing to the Tremaines (or vice versa), he ran the risk of jeopardizing all future sales.”

In an undated interview transcript in the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation archives, Tremaine contrasts the callow “opportunism” of her unnamed rival collectors for Johns and subsequent Pop artists with her own connoisseurship and intellectual engagement with art history: “The very boldness of the work attracted early publicity,” Tremaine said, “and I think that some people who did not really think too deeply were attracted to it because it was new.”

If, as Scull imagined, Castelli treated his two biggest clients differently, perhaps it was because only one of them brought chaotic churn and drama that repeatedly put his business at risk of insolvency. (Scull did this elsewhere, too: Castelli makes no mention of it in any interview or archival correspondence, but he surely knew that beginning in 1960 Scull was the secret financial backer of the Green Gallery, which closed abruptly in 1965 after Scull cut off his support.)

Besides the perceived disrespect it mentions, Robert’s letter from Paris is notable for its reference to a sale—and its cancellation. The Sculls were as likely to pay for their art with art as with cash. They traded or consigned to the Castelli Gallery Pollocks, Klines, and Giacomettis they had purchased only a year or two earlier. A flurry of invoices for gallery artists’ works would go out, only to be canceled en masse a few months later. The transactions generated an immense amount of bookkeeping, but they must also have put intense strain on Castelli’s cash flow. This was particularly acute for a new gallery whose innovation was to free emerging artists from the vagaries of sales pressure by paying them a monthly stipend, and one capitalized with funding from the wife’s family—a wife who divorced Leo and remarried in 1959, decamping to Europe while retaining joint custody of the gallery’s artists and real estate.

If Scull was a cause of the gallery’s liquidity challenges, he was also their occasional solution. Castelli left it out of his self-congratulatory account of the Map deal in the Cummings interview but, in June 1963, a week before he issued the invoice to the Sculls, he repaid a $20,000 loan Scull had extended a year before, for which Castelli had pledged several Johns paintings as collateral. Further exploration of Castelli’s archive reveals that in 1965, he would take another one-year loan from Scull, this time for $45,000, secured by a giant James Rosenquist painting.

Leo’s complicated relationship with Scull, and Scull’s competition with the Tremaines, came to a head with Map. In contrast to the Tremaines’ reluctance, the Sculls’ funding of MoMA’s acquisition of Johns’s Target with Four Faces back in 1958 showed they were sanguine, even eager, to make high-profile donations to the museum. With a fractional gift, the Sculls could live with and show off Map—while reaping the benefits of a substantial tax break. The key to it all would be the appraisal.

In June 1963, the Sculls agreed to pay $15,000 for Map in three quarterly installments. According to Castelli’s ledger, the invoice went to East Hampton, where the Sculls were summering. Before he paid the second installment in September, and before the Modern formally accessioned Map into the collection, Robert Scull obtained an appraisal through the Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA), prepared by the association’s leading Johns experts: Castelli himself and his gallery director Ivan Karp.

Castelli and Karp set the value of Map at $150,000—a full ten times the purchase price. When fellow board members at the ADAA suggested this might be ambitious, Castelli got second opinions from, as he put it in the 1969 interview with Cummings, “some independent sources, maybe the German dealers who handle [Johns] and perhaps a Swiss dealer who has a real sense of value, is well informed. So we did that, and we got replies back. One said 120, and another said 140. So we decided to have it registered at 130.”

According to Maizels and Foster in their Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts paper, here’s what that $130,000 appraisal meant for Scull’s taxes: At the 77 percent marginal rate in place at the time, his donation of Map to MoMA would have generated more than $100,000 in tax reductions, netting $85,000 after the original purchase.

Though the museum registered Map as a 1963 accession, its earliest known appearance at MoMA2 was not until 1971—in a show of so-called recent acquisitions. And though it was ultimately included in Johns’s 1964 survey at the Jewish Museum, and credited to MoMA as a fractional gift of the Sculls on the exhibition checklist, it was very much in the Sculls’ possession and control. (According to a 1994 Johns interview at MoMA, the temperamental Sculls threatened to withhold their works from the Jewish Museum show for so long, the artist remade some key paintings as potential replacements.)

In the five-volume catalogue raisonné of Jasper Johns paintings and sculpture, Roberta Bernstein sheds light on how the Sculls’ fractional gift was structured: they donated 25 percent of Map to the Modern in 1963, and the remaining 75 percent in 1970. It is likely that, thanks to Castelli’s appraisal, buying and donating Map netted the Sculls at least $10,000 in 1963.

Castelli’s archive shows he was a prolific and aggressive appraiser for the ADAA, but nothing approaches Map for rapid appreciation and financial impact. As Maizels and Foster note, however, change was coming. Castelli issued his extraordinary appraisal a few months after the IRS approached the ADAA for comments on new regulations being devised for valuing charitable donations; apparently there had been some abuse. The ADAA’s self-managed system remained in place for a couple of years, but in 1968 the IRS established its own panels of experts for independent appraisals of charitable donations.

Collectors Burton and Emily Hall Tremaine: the avant-garde’s golden umbilical cord.

This tale is not just art history. What becomes clear in retrospect is how this competitive swirl around Johns, this relentless pursuit of the new, and even the audacious accounting of Map’s appraisal, presaged the burgeoning market for contemporary art that continues into the present. As some of the first stewards of Johns’s key paintings, the Sculls and the Tremaines would set them on trajectories that would see them establish important critical and market milestones in the 1970s and 1980s and beyond.

In 1973, on the front edge of a divorce, the Sculls cashed out a large chunk of their collection at Sotheby’s/Parke-Bernet. This was the first major auction of contemporary art, and the first single-collector sale, and it was highly controversial. Works purchased for a few hundred or a couple thousand dollars from then emerging stars brought the Sculls hundreds of thousands in profits. Johns’s Double White Map, purchased in 1965 from Castelli for $10,000, sold for $240,000, a record price for the artist, and almost double Scull’s 10-year-old appraisal for Map. In 1986, after eleven years of lawsuits against her ex-husband, and then his estate, Ethel Scull was awarded first pick from what remained of the art they’d collected together. She took the best work remaining: Johns’s 1959 painting Out the Window.

As for the Tremaines, after being courted by museums who wanted them to donate their collection, they spent years trying to craft a deal that would leave their art on permanent display, not in storage, presaging deals that powerful collectors like Doris and Donald Fisher and Stefan T. Edlis would reach decades later with, respectively, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Art Institute of Chicago. The Tremaines pressured the National Gallery to manage a Tremaine Collection lending service for museums across the country, but the gallery balked at their demands.

Meanwhile, Emily Tremaine proved not to be immune to the attention the market brought. In 1980 Jasper Johns became the first living artist whose work sold for $1 million after dealer Arne Glimcher, founder of Pace Gallery, brokered the sale of the Tremaines’ Three Flags to the Whitney Museum. Whitney director Thomas Armstrong checked first with Castelli, who had not been aware the painting was for sale, but who envisioned selling it to the Japanese. “I was sort of hurt because he didn’t think I could accomplish the purchase,” Armstrong told Tremaine biographer Housley. “His attitude was sort of, ‘forget it, whippersnapper, I’ve got other plans for this picture.’ ” Eager for the attention the sale would bring to the museum, Armstrong rallied his board (led by Leonard Lauder), which paid the $1 million over three years.

Next, the Tremaines anointed a younger dealer, a hustler who worked with Castelli. In 1985 the Los Angeles–based Larry Gagosian, then less than a decade into his art-dealing career, convinced the Tremaines to let him exhibit a selection of works from their collection, apparently by cold-calling them in Connecticut. Gagosian told the journalist Deborah Gimelson in 1989, “I looked up their phone number from Connecticut information. I offered them a lot of money for a Brice Marden painting. Mrs. Tremaine liked me on the phone; she thought I was funny. Or maybe she liked the money I offered for the painting.” As Gimelson put it, “The exhibition of work from the Tremaine collection was almost more important than a single sale from it, since it proclaimed Gagosian’s association with the collectors. . . . [T]he result of the Tremaine show was instant credibility.”

Neither were the Sculls done. In 1986 Ethel sold her Johns Out the Window for $3.63 million at Sotheby’s, setting new records for both a work by a living artist and for a postwar painting. The Tremaines went on to reset those records again two years later when they sold White Flag at Christie’s for $7 million on November 9, 1988. A few days later, another Johns broke the living-artist record yet again. Sotheby’s sold his 1959 painting False Start for $17 million, the second-highest price ever paid at auction for any artwork. The winning bidder was Gagosian, buying for Condé Nast owner S. I. Newhouse, who sat at his side.

Newhouse would sell False Start in the early 1990s to entertainment mogul David Geffen, who would in turn sell it in 2006 to hedge fund manager Kenneth Griffin, for $80 million. In 2010 Leo Castelli’s son, Jean-Christophe, sold a 1958 Johns Flag to another hedge-funder, Steven A. Cohen, for $110 million. In 2015 Jasper Johns sold Painted Bronze, a 1960 sculpture of paintbrushes in a coffee can that had been on loan from the artist to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for more than three decades, for an undisclosed sum to MoMA president Marie-Josée Kravis and her private equity fund manager husband, Henry, on the condition that they donate it to the museum upon their deaths.

J. Carter Brown, director of the National Gallery for more than 20 years, until 1992, who talked to Housley about letting the Tremaine collection with all its entanglements go elsewhere, said that the collectors had been “mesmerized” by the rising market value of the artworks Emily Tremaine had found. “When it got expensive, it was a justification that she was right and they were wrong. But without selling it, she couldn’t establish the degree to which this monetary value was indexed and how right she was,” Brown said. “She was asking for applause, and she was bound and determined that she was going to get a number that would prove her correct.”

Whether the currency is attention and applause or auction results, the marketplace incentives end up influencing everyone involved, from artists and dealers to collectors and institutions. Explaining the aftermath of that momentous $1 million sale of Three Flags in 1980, Housley wrote, “The irony is that by selling it, Emily got the recognition for which she longed at the same time she fueled the very market she detested.” What could be more American than that?

1. This past May, Johns confirmed Castelli’s account via email.
2. MoMA did not respond to multiple inquiries about the Sculls’ donation, and the museum’s archives are inaccessible to researchers during its current construction.

A version of this story originally appeared in the Fall 2019 issue of ARTnews under the title “Treasure Map.”

Reeling progressives meet behind closed doors after 'Medicare for All' barrage

Yahoo - Art News - Wed, 11/20/2019 - 12:45

"Medicare for All" has taken a beating lately. Its two biggest proponents in the presidential field, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, have come under sustained attack from centrist Democrats over the issue. The health care industry is spending millions to sow opposition.

Pence Denies Discussing Ukraine Investigations with Sondland or Zelensky

Yahoo - Art News - Wed, 11/20/2019 - 12:32

Vice President Mike Pence denied that Gordon Sondland ever voiced concerns about a potential quid pro quo with Ukraine on Tuesday morning after Sondland claimed otherwise in his Tuesday morning testimony.Sondland, who serves as ambassador to the E.U., testified that he told Pence that he had “concerns that the delay in aid had become tied to the issue of investigations” ahead of a September 1 meeting between Pence and Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelensky.Pence's office issued a statement contradicting Sondland's testimony in response.“The Vice President never had a conversation with Gordon Sondland about investigating the Bidens, Burisma, or the conditional release of financial aid to Ukraine based upon potential investigations,” a statement from Marc Short, Pence’s chief of staff, read. “Ambassador Gordon Sondland was never alone with Vice President Pence on the September 1 trip to Poland. This alleged discussion recalled by Ambassador Sondland never happened.”In his testimony, Sondland recounted a meeting between Pence and Zelensky, in which Zelensky “raised the issue of security assistance directly with Vice President Pence.” Sondland said that Pence told the Ukrainian president that he would ask President Trump about it. In his statement, Short does not deny that the pair discussed military aid, but does say that “multiple witnesses have testified under oath” that no investigations were ever brought up during the September meeting between Pence and Zelensky.“Multiple witnesses have testified under oath that Vice President Pence never raised Hunter Biden, former Vice President Joe Biden, Crowdstrike, Burisma, or investigations in any conversation with Ukrainians or President Zelensky before, during, or after the September 1 meeting in Poland,” Short's statement concludes.Sondland also testified that he pulled top Ukrainian aide Andriy Yermak aside during the September meeting to say that “he believed that the resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine took some kind of action on the public statement that we had been discussing for many weeks.” He added that he relayed this message at Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's behest.

Pence says he has no recollection of Ukraine aid concerns

Yahoo - Art News - Wed, 11/20/2019 - 12:07

Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday he has no recollection of a conversation described by Gordon Sondland about a link between military aid for Ukraine and investigations sought by President Donald Trump — a slight departure from an aide’s earlier statement. “I don’t recall any discussions with Ambassador Sondland before my meeting with President Zelenskiy that had to do with investigations,” Pence said, referring to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.


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