Friday, Jan. 4, 2008 | midnight
The case of the stolen Norman Rockwell has been an ongoing game of he sues, she sues, gaining international attention and draining pocketbooks.
But now local businessman Jack Solomon, who claims ownership of the painting, could be days away from viewing the work that was purchased by filmmaker Steven Spielberg in 1989.
According to Solomon, Diana Judson of Global Art Transport has headed to California in a climate-controlled van to retrieve Rockwell's “Russian Schoolroom.”
The oil-on-canvas painting was stolen in 1973 from the Clayton Art Gallery in Clayton, Mo. Solomon owned the painting and had lent it to the gallery, which he also owned, during an exhibit of Rockwell lithographs. A buyer offered $25,000 for the painting but agreed to keep it at the gallery through the show.
“Then it disappeared for years,” Solomon says.
In 1988 the painting turned up at an auction in New Orleans, where it was purchased for $70,000 by Rhode Island art dealer Judy Goffman Cutler, who sold it the following year to Spielberg for $200,000.
Spielberg reportedly contacted the FBI last year when he learned the painting had been stolen. The FBI allowed Spielberg to keep the painting until the case is resolved, but a series of lawsuits ensued, including Goffman Cutler's $25 million suit against Solomon alleging the tarnishing of her reputation and defamation of character after Solomon was quoted in a newspaper as saying she should have known better.
Solomon and Art Loss Register, a database service of lost and stolen art that is assisting Solomon, have filed suit against Spielberg and the FBI for not returning the painting “to its rightful owner.”
Solomon says Global Art Transport was brought in as an independent party that will hold the painting until the case is closed. Visitation is allowed, he says, “but we have to notify each other before going to see it so nobody can do anything naughty to it.
“I'd very much like to just get my painting back. And when I do, I'm going to have a big party at my house to celebrate getting my painting back after 32 years.”
Mark Huff anyone?
In a city of lounge acts, production shows and no mercy for a local music scene, singer-songwriter Mark Huff became a local hero with his original folk-rock sound, performing solo acts and opening for touring musicians (including Bob Dylan) who made stops in Las Vegas.
In 2003 Huff headed for Nashville to continue his career.
Home for the holidays last weekend and at a party of a longtime friend, the 46-year-old reminisced about growing up in Las Vegas and his life in Nashville, a move that landed him a touring gig with Allison Moorer and a new CD, “Gravity,” produced by Adam Landry.
The CD is a rich blend of pop, blues, folk, rock and bluegrass with catchy melodies in “Easy to Love You” and the soulful “Digging a Hole” with Huff's lyrics: “Smoking cigarette butts in a dirty ashtray/ it's too hot outside so we're sleepin' all day/ my only goal was a good pot of tea/ I drank two cups for my headache and me.” Inspired by Dylan and a big fan of Paul Westerberg, Huff, with his soft and gritty vocals, gives us bragging rights beyond the Killers.
Though his departure may have been a huge loss for Las Vegas, you can still buy the CD and have him in your living room. And with his local ties, you never know when or where he'll show up.
It might be a little chilly to rummage the tabletops and tents of First Friday, but if you're looking to make a couple of quick stops tonight, the CAC and the Fallout Gallery might be your best choices.
The Contemporary Arts Collective inside the Arts Factory features the paintings and drawings of Zak Ostrowski, Grayson Ronk and Barret Thomson in “extra.ordinary.”
Joe Clark's cleverly outlandish art lamps blew our socks off two years ago at his show at the Funk House. He's returned this month with “So Rare II,” an exhibit of vintage mannequin-head lamps, at the Fallout Gallery on Commerce Street that is definitely worth checking out.
Details: Contemporary Arts Collective, 101 E. Charleston Blvd., Suite 101, 382-3886; The Fallout, 1551 S. Commerce St., 269-3111.
Kristen Peterson can be reached at 259-2317 or at [email protected]