'The Destruction of Pharaoh’s Host' by John Martin, which is now subject to a temporary export bar.

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Export bar placed on Martin painting

A £1.5m watercolour by British artist John Martin has been barred from export in the hope a buyer can be found to keep it in the UK.

The owner of The Destruction of Pharaoh’s Host by Martin (1789-1854) had applied for an export licence but the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has temporarily issued an export bar.

Although Martin is best known for his oil paintings and mezzotints illustrating John Milton’s Paradise Lost and the Bible, he also created a series of large-scale ‘exhibition watercolours’.

A decision on the export licence will be reviewed in May and could be extended until September 21.

The picture previously sold at Christie’s in July 2012 for £758,050 but its current owner has not been disclosed.

Frieze to stage LA contemporary

Frieze will add a new fair to the contemporary art calendar in 2019. Frieze LA will be held at the Paramount Pictures Studios in Los Angeles on February 14-17, 2019.

LA native Bettina Korek has been appointed executive director of the 60-dealer fair, working with director Victoria Siddall.

Jewellery taken in Harrogate burglary

Police are investigating the theft of more than £100,000 worth of stock taken from a Harrogate antiques shop.

The thieves are believed to have cut a hole in the roof to access the jewellery on February 13, taking more than 200 objects from 27 West Park. Between 8.50-9.50pm, they broke into a number of cabinets, probably using a jemmy, and emptied them.

Images of the more distinctive items have been released “in the hope that members of the public, people who work with antique and precious metal dealers may recognise them,” a police spokesman said. (See antiquestradegazette. com for more.)

Police are asking anyone who has any information about the incident to contact North Yorkshire Police on 101. Reference number is 12180026050.

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3 Byzantine scholar’s entire collection stolen after break-in

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Handbags dispute over appointments

A dispute between Dallasbased Heritage Auctions and Christie’s over the employment of Matthew Rubinger and two colleagues, all handbags experts, is heading to a US court.

Heritage sued Christie’s in late 2014 over breach of contract and theft of trade secrets after it hired Rubinger, Rachel Koffsky and Caitlin Donovan.

Heritage claimed Christie’s induced the three to “breach their respective employment contracts and engage in unfair business practices”.

According to artnet news, a New York State Supreme Court judge rejected Heritage’s $40m request for summary judgment, but allowed certain claims to proceed to trial. The judge said Rubinger may have violated the non-compete clause in his contract but ruled he did not breach a ‘non-solicitation’ covenant in his contract when he brought Koffsky and Donovan with him.

A pre-trial conference has been scheduled for March 8.

Scholar’s coin collection stolen

The entire coin collection of Byzantine scholar Simon Bendall was stolen from his home in south London during a break-in last month.

As well as losing his extensive collection of Byzantine coins (which he had carefully built up as an important reference for late Byzantine coins in particular), the academic and writer also lost a large number of medals, tokens and antiquities.

Another item taken was the gold fob seal of John Winthrop (1588-1649), who emigrated to America in 1630 and became the first governor of Massachusetts.

Many of the items stolen have appeared in Bendall’s books and articles published in academic journals.

City of Westminster Police are investigating and anyone with information should contact PC Swift (ID 2109CW), quoting the crime reference number: CAD 5902/12Feb18, or David Guest of Classical Numismatic Group at

Attenborough to open book fair

The ABA Rare Book Fair will be opened by Sir David Attenborough this year as it launches in its new Battersea venue.


Sir David Attenborough. Image copyright: Mikedixson via Wikimedia Commons.

The naturalist and television presenter will kick off proceedings at the 61st ABA fair at noon on May 24.

For the past 20 years the event has taken place at Olympia, but the organiser announced the move last year. Other fairs held at the venue include the Decorative Antiques and Textiles Fair and the London Antique Rug & Textile Art Fair.

Hornby owner takes Gibbons stake

Stamp and coin dealership Stanley Gibbons Group has sold a stake to the owner of model railway and collectibles retailer Hornby.

Phoenix UK Fund has bought a 58% stake and taken on the company’s debt from Royal Bank of Scotland.

In Numbers


The number of dinner services included in Christie’s New York sale of the collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller in May. Highlights are on view at Christie’s King Street in London until March 8 – including a remarkable pair of Chelsea Red Anchor period sauce tureens, covers and spoons c.1755 modelled as plaice. Each 10in (26cm) long, they carry an estimate of $80,000-120,000.


The pair of Chelsea Red Anchor period sauce tureens, covers and spoons c.1755 modelled as plaice, estimated at $80,000-120,000 at the Christie’s New York sale of the collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller in May. Image courtesy of Christie’s.