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Degas worked primarily in wax, so the pieces couldn't be cast into bronze. These pieces, Arseneau says, were cast from re-creations of the original sculptures after Degas died. Arseneau says Degas' heirs have been trying to cash in on his name since his death in 1917. Curators, who may not know better, have helped by displaying collections like the one in Boca.
"Any transfer into new material, unless specifically condoned by the artist, is considered counterfeit and should not be exhibited or displayed as works of art," Arseneau says. "Well, he was dead. That's just common sense. It's not his work, period."
The museum issued a statement from Executive Director George Bolge, who acknowledged that the bronzes were posthumously cast. They were presented as "providing insight into the artist's working method," the statement said. "We are confident that our curatorial handling of the works will stand the scrutiny of art historical scholarship as well as ethical museum practices."
Admission for special exhibits at the museum is $20. "That's what they're charging the public to see a bronze copy of a bronze copy of a plaster wax copy of a reconstructed model," Arseneau says. "They forged Degas' signature on every work to create the illusion that he created or approved the work. If they told people these were second- or third-generation copies of the originals, maybe the public would still pay 20 bucks for it, but I doubt it."
Even American citizens who don't attend the exhibit are being defrauded, according to Arseneau, because the National Endowment for the Arts has indemnified the collection, essentially insuring the display in case of disaster.
New Times art critic Michael Mills found the show underwhelming, noting that Degas himself had "significant misgivings" about his work as a sculptor. Tailpipe, having seen them himself, concurs: He came out singing, "I get no kick from bron-zay."
A Northfield, New Jersey, plastic surgeon and ear, nose, and throat doctor is looking to make that last, high-end swap through Craigslist, the internet hub where just about anything goes.
For the adventurous and creative (and those with beaucoup resources), real estate deals continue to percolate — at least outside the Hollywood condo market.
Dr. Ira Trocki, a big-time real estate investor in the Northeast, is advertising other trades on Craigslist, like Philadelphia condos for places in Miami or Fort Lauderdale. Such trades aren't all that uncommon, real estate agents say. But a boat?
"People in hell want ice water," said Andy Weiser, a local Coldwell Banker agent. "It sounds very funny to me."
Weiser wonders how such a swap might go down. Do you bring in an appraiser? How do you allow for the appreciation of the real estate and the inevitable depreciation of the yacht?
Trocki says it's a little simpler than all that. He sells his boat to the homeowner. The other guy — or gal — sells the house. By mutual agreement, they each buy the other's merchandise. It's like bartering on a grandiose scale but very legal.
Meantime, old-school bartering is apparently making a comeback. Just be careful not to step in the bullshit. One trader on Craigslist advertises a private (or, as it's spelled, "privet") island off Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, with a "$2,500-square-foot house" in exchange for "anything of value," including "cars, boats, planes, jewelry."
Trocki's proposed swap is straightforward enough: No middle man. A house for a yacht.
The doctor himself is a man of many interests. He actually owns the company that built the yacht — Buddy Davis Yachts and another, Egg Harbor Yachts, a once-floundering boat maker he bought in 1999 and infused with $10 million in improvements, according to the company's website. He bought the advertised boat for his wife who, after going for a cruise in it, said she'd never step foot on it again. She said she'd rather have a house in Florida, so here we are.
He's the principal of the Trocki Hebrew Academy as well and has worked as a cut man for Mike Tyson for 12 years. An accidental head-butting with one of his sparring partners at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City left Tyson with a gash over his right eye that extended to his upper eyelid. He was taken to Trocki's nearby practice in Margate, New Jersey, where the doctor closed the wound with 48 stitches. So began a friendship. Tyson attended his children's weddings and bar mitzvahs.
"He's a fun guy," Trocki says.
Meanwhile, the 'Pipe, who has always harbored secret fantasies of the yachting life, wants to know if Trocki might be interested in a quaint old family garage, only slightly spattered with motor oil.