Archive for Tuesday, January 18, 2005

City to keep closer tabs on artwork after sculpture accidentally sold

January 18, 2005

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— The accidental sale at auction of a city-owned sculpture, resulting a court fight with the buyer, had led Wichita officials to keep closer tabs on the city's artwork.

It also has officials taking greater care with artwork that's in storage and awaiting display. Officials are building a large cage inside a warehouse where municipal pieces and artwork awaiting repairs will be kept.

"It will be a secure facility within a secure facility," said John D'Angelo, director of the city's public art agency.

Ten sculptures are currently being stored by the city.

D'Angelo said all of the city's art is monitored closely.

Last fall, four pieces of a James Rosati sculpture owned by the city ended up at an October auction alongside surplus office equipment and dated Christmas decorations.

Wichita resident Matthew Cuellar won one of the pieces of "Upright Form V" for $20. He bought a second piece from a winning bidder for $25. He cast the winning $233 bid for the other two pieces, but when he went to pay for them, auction workers realized they were dealing with more than scrap metal.

The workers wouldn't take his money and refused to turn over the pieces of the sculpture.

"Upright Form V," which was donated to the city, hasn't been appraised, but estimates have placed the 9-foot-tall sculpture's value in the thousands, perhaps as high as $30,000.

Rosati, who died in 1988, was known for sculptures that combined cubism with minimalism.

Cuellar and a partner have sued the city, demanding that officials hand over the remaining pieces. In its countersuit, the city argues Cuellar was never entitled to those pieces and demands he return the pieces he does have.

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