Courtesy of Sotheby’s

Left to Right: Detective Comics No. 27, the first appearance of Batman, May 1939; Action Comics No. 1, the first appearance of Superman, June 1938; Sensation Comics No. 1, the first appearance of Wonder Woman, January 1942.

New York – Sotheby’s is pleased to announce that we will offer DC Complete: The Ian Levine Collection, an exclusive private sale offering of every comic book released by American publisher DC Comics from 1935 – 2016, including complete runs of Superman, Batman, Action Comics, and Detective Comics. The more than 40,000 comics in the collection also features superhero icons Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Hornet and Aquaman, as well as the Justice League series. Available now and on view on Sothebys.com, the sale marks the 81st anniversary of the release of Detective Comics #27 on March 30, 1939, which featured the debut of The Batman. For a comprehensive overview of the collection or to inquire about its purchase, visit here.
 
The Ian Levine Collection of DC Comics - the most comprehensive in the 80 year span - was amassed over half a century that spans the birth and development of superhero comics as cheap forms of entertainment to pop culture juggernauts. From New Fun #1, the very first DC comic book published in 1934, to complete collections of Superman and Batman, the collections also includes first appearances of Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, the Flash, Martian Manhunter, Plastic Man and more; superhero teams such as the Justice League of America and the Teen Titans; and supervillains Lex Luthor, the Joker, Two Face, the Penguin, General Zod, and more.
 
Richard Austin, Head of Sotheby’s Books & Manuscripts Department in New York, commented: “The Ian Levine Collection is the holy grail for comics collectors. Amassed over decades of hunting, Levine’s collection embodies the passion and fandom that has defined comics culture for generations, which today is best encapsulated not through printed issues but popular superhero films that regularly break box office records. Featuring some of the most valuable individual books as well as extremely rare promotional issues, the Levine Collection includes all the DC heroes that are among the most recognizable and versatile pop culture touchstones in the world.”
 
A  significant figure in modern pop culture himself, Levine is a DJ and producer, early popularizer of the Northern Soul movement, and one of the originators of Hi-NRG music. He was first introduced to DC when he began reading The Justice League of America as an eight-year-old in 1960. Upon discovering London comic shops Dark They Were and Golden Eyed in 1972, Levine realized it was possible to find long-out-of-print issues and discontinued titles such as The Justice Society of America, a Golden Age forerunner of his beloved Justice League, thus sparking his half-century of comic book collecting.
 
For a decade, Levine purchased a new copy of every DC issue he could find, while trying to fill in earlier issues. However, in pre-internet 1987, Levine despaired of finding many Golden Age comics he lacked, and decided to sell many of his best issues in order to fund his collection of Northern Soul records and Doctor Who film prints. However, reviewing his stacks of comic books with the purchaser reawakened his passion for this pop art form, and Levine bought his comics back from the dealer he had sold them to—at a 50% premium. Amassing about half of the comics DC had ever published, Levine determined to form a complete collection. Sacrificing his incomparable collection of Northern Soul records and Doctor Who prints, along with the assistance of the nascent internet (including the discussion forums of Certified Guaranty Comic, a comic book grading service) and dealer, advisor, and author of The Comic Book Paul Sassienie, he achieved this ambition, which would essentially be impossible to replicate. In 2010, Levine’s paramount, unique collection was utilized to supply the illustrations for Taschen’s monumental publication 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Mythmaking by Paul Levitz, the former president and publisher of DC.
 
The collection spans the nine decades tracing the trajectory of the effect of comics on popular culture, from the target of a congressional investigation of their corrupting influence to the topic of doctoral dissertations addressing issues like war propaganda, environmentalism, and gender identity. Every comic genre published by DC is included, such as humor, parody, romance, crime, science fiction, and adaptations of classic and popular works of literature and film. The work of successive generations of the greatest comic book artists and writers are preserved in the collection, from pioneers such as Jerry Siegel, Joseph Schuster and Jack “King” Kirby; to those who maintained the quality and passion of the books through the Silver Age including C. C. Beck, William Moulton Marston, and Sheldon Mayer; to those who carried on the tradition through the Bronze Age and into the twenty-first century such as Neal Adams and Curt Swan.
 
Although National Allied Publications, DC’s predecessor firm, had been publishing comics since autumn 1934 with New Fun: The Big Comic Magazine #1, Superman’s debut in Action Comics #1 (June 1938), sparked a new era not only in comic books but in global pop culture, with superheroes exerting enormous influence on film, television, and fashion. Superman was soon joined by a radically different superhero than the alien man of steel, but equally as significant and influential: Batman (originally, the Bat-Man), who first appeared in Detective Comics #27 (May 1939). Shortly after, National Allied Publications adopted the initials of this popular title for the company brand that is still recognized the world over: DC. Representing the pinnacle of the Golden Age of comics, these two seminal characters would soon be joined by an expanding roster of several hundred celebrated superheroes and serialized stories.
 
The Levine Collection is highlighted further by hundreds of rare promotional comics by DC artists and writers, featuring various DC (or DC-inspired) characters endorsing various consumer goods and corporate entities; a number of “ashcan” issues (intended to establish copyright but not available for sale), as well as many foreign (non–United States) reprints, British comic books featuring appearances by DC characters, and anthology reprints in proper book form.
 
The auction record for a comic was achieved in 2014 when Action Comics #1 sold for $3.2 million. The record for an issue of Detective Comics #27 was reached in 2010 for $1.075 million.

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Dallas, TX – Results from the first-ever auction dedicated to CGC-certified magazines yielded results well above pre-auction estimates when Heritage Auctions’ CGC-Certified Magazines Online Auction realized $118,224 in total sales.

The sale enjoyed enormous popularity among collectors, resulting in sell-through rates of 100% by value and by lots sold.

“Nobody has ever done an entire auction devoted to certified magazines before, but the results showed there’s demand for this niche,” Heritage Auctions Vice President Barry Sandoval said. “Many of these are harder to find in the highest grades than comics from the same era, since the larger size made them harder to store.”

Nearly two dozen bidders made a play for Vampirella #1 (Warren, 1969) CGC NM 9.4 White pages before it sold for $7,200 to lead the sale. With a cover and frontispiece by Frank Frazetta, art by Neal Adams and Reed Crandall and a story by Forrest J. Ackerman, the issue includes the origin and first appearance of Vampirella. According to the February 2020 CGC census, there are 21 copies carrying a grade of 9.4, and only four graded higher.

Playboy #1 Red Star Copy (HMH Publishing, 1953) CGC FN/VF 7.0 White pages was enormously popular, pulling in bids from 34 collectors before finishing at $6,600. The “Red Star” variant of the first issue is much more rare than the “regular” and “Page # Copy” versions, a measurement made clear in CGC’s census. To date, the census has certified 2,667 copies of the regular version, 69 copies of the “Page 3” version and just 23 copies of the “Red Star Copy” version. This copy was just the fifth sold through Heritage Auctions.

Eerie #2 (Warren, 1966) CGC NM/MT 9.8 White pages brought $3,600 after prompting bids from 15 collectors. The first magazine-sized newsstand issue includes the first appearance of Cousin Eerie behind a cover by Frank Frazetta. According to the February 2020 census, this pristine copy is one of just two boasting a CGC grade of 9.8, with none higher.

More than a dozen collectors went after Vampirella 1972 Annual (Warren, 1972) CGC NM/MT 9.8 White pages until it finished at $3,360. The only known copy carrying a grade of 9.8, with none higher, this issue with the notorious Asian skull cover and art by Jose Gonzalez includes the retelling of the origin of Vampirella.

More than two dozen bidders chased the final price for MAD #66 Pacific Coast Pedigree (EC, 1961) CGC NM 9.4 Off-white to white pages all the way up to $3,120. The issue with the “JFK cover” by Kelly Freas includes art by Mort Drucker, Joe Orlando, Antonio Prohias and Dave Berg, and is one of just two copies with a grade of 9.4, with none higher, according to the February 2020 CGC census.

Other top lots in the sale included, but were not limited to:
MAD #58 Pacific Coast Pedigree (EC, 1960) CGC NM+ 9.6 Off-white pages: $2,880
Spectacular Spider-Man #1 (Marvel, 1968) CGC NM/MT 9.8 Off-white to white pages: $2,880
Playboy #1 Signed by Hugh Hefner (HMH Publishing, 1953) CGC GD+ 2.5 Off-white to white pages: $2,640
Playboy #1 (HMH Publishing, 1953) CGC GD/VG 3.0 Off-white to white pages: $2,280
Playboy #2 (HMH Publishing, 1954) CGC VF/NM 9.0 White pages: $2,160
 
Sandoval said that even the discontinuation of some popular titles has not hurt the demand among collectors for magazines from years past.

“While both Playboy and MAD have recently ceased publication, it’s pretty clear that the classic 1950s/1960s issues of both are much sought-after in collectible condition,” he said.

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Courtesy of Nate D. Sanders Auctions

Los Angeles – Jessie Willcox Smith’s original cover art for the November 1920 issue of ''Good Housekeeping,' entitled ''We Give Thee Thanks” sold tonight for $82,500 at Nate D. Sanders Auctions.

The November 1920 issue of ''Good Housekeeping'' shows two children praying before their meal and is signed ''Jessie Willcox Smith'' at the lower right. The artwork is one of Willcox Smith's most memorable pieces, with limited edition lithographs even being made of it.

Jessie Willcox Smith was the exclusive cover artist for ''Good Housekeeping'' from 1917-1933, and was the second woman inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame, followed shortly thereafter by Elizabeth Shippen Green and Violet Oakley, fellow members of the Red Rose Girls, a group of female artists who flourished during the Golden Age of Illustration. The artwork was given to Anne Champe Orr, the needlework editor for ''Good Housekeeping'', and then by descent to the consignor.

Bidding for the art began at $60,000.

Additional information on the cover art can be found at: https://natedsanders.com/Jessie_Willcox_Smith_Original_Cover_Art_for___Good-LOT57672.aspx

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Albert Einstein Autograph Letter Signed “A.E.” (estimate: $70,000+) was sent to Einstein’s friend, Michele Besso, shortly after Einstein’s article “On the Generalized Theory of Gravitation,” appeared in Scientific American.

Dallas, TX – A range of important signed letters, including several from Albert Einstein, will be among the top attractions in Heritage Auctions’ Historical Manuscripts Auction April 23 in Dallas, Texas.

“This sale includes numerous signed letters, including several from Albert Einstein, who many view as one of the most important scientists of all time,” Heritage Auctions Historical Manuscripts Director Sandra Palomino said. “To have hand-written notes in which he discussed some of his most significant scientific accomplishments represents an extremely rare opportunity for collectors of historical manuscripts.”

Albert Einstein Autograph Letter Signed “A.E.” (estimate: $70,000+) was sent to Einstein’s friend, Michele Besso, shortly after Einstein’s article “On the Generalized Theory of Gravitation,” appeared in Scientific American. Written in German, the letter includes some of Einstein’s thoughts about a wide range of topics, ranging from religion to his Unified Field Theory, complete with equations written by Einstein himself. At the age of 71, Einstein was seeking to augment his Unified Field Theory, creating an umbrella theory for Special Relativity and Gravity, but experienced frustration over the fact that “contemporary physicists” seemed content with theoretical abstractions without proving the underpinning equations.

In a Feb. 3, 1950 Albert Einstein Autograph Letter Signed “A. Einstein” (estimate: $25,000+) from the renowned theoretical physicist to his assistant, Ernst Strauss, Einstein discusses the confirmation of his Generalized Theory of Gravitation, which broadened the application of his General Theory of Relativity. Complete with handwritten equations, Einstein confirms his appreciation for the “excellent generalization of the gravitational equations” and even includes an indicator of their personal friendship when he signs off by offering “Cordial greetings to both of you and the cat.”

In a three-page Albert Einstein Autograph Letter Signed “Albert” to Michele Besso (estimate: $25,000+) from Besso’s published letters, the author predicts his “hypothetical Nobel Prize” in 1918 – four years before he actually won the award for his Special Theory of Relativity. He also hails the intelligence of fellow physicist Hermann Weyl but discounts Weyl’s understanding of electricity, acknowledges that he (Einstein) “would not have the patience” to write a book on statistical mechanics and even discusses the difficulty of communicating under the censorship that was prevalent during World War I.

John F. Kennedy Uncensored Campaign Notes Made While Suffering from Laryngitis (estimate: $40,000+) is an extraordinary trove of 78 separate pages on which the 35th American president personally wrote by hand on a number of topics, including his philosophies, campaign plans and his frustration with asking and answering questions with his staff. He acknowledges that he “got into the blonde[s]} and reveals his concern about his marital infidelity becoming public knowledge. He refers to specific events, such as his Sept. 12, 1960 speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association at the Rice Hotel, a performance that was important to his campaign and is widely considered one of his best speeches. He also alludes to specific people and reveals thoughts about the campaign, such as in his suggestion that it might be better not publicly debate Minnesota Senator Hubert Humphrey, because of the impact laryngitis had had on his voice, and the fact that Humphrey is “pretty good with a crowd.”

In a short letter to Major General Benjamin Lincoln, the first American president encouraged the inclusion of and support for the combat engineers who were the forerunners to what now is the Corps of Engineers. George Washington Autograph Letter Signed “Go: Washington” (estimate: $25,000+) reads, in its entirety, “Let the Corps of Sappers & Miners be part of the hoop, which compose the first Embarkation of our Army. I am sincerely & affectionately yrs.” Lincoln played a significant role at Yorktown and accepted the surrender of British General Charles Cornwallis’ sword from British General O’Hara on Oct. 19, 1781.

Other top lots include, but are not limited to:
Thomas Jefferson Foreign Service Act Signed “Th: Jefferson” as Secretary of State (estimate: $20,000+)
Albert Einstein Typed Letter Signed “A. Einstein” (estimate: $20,000+)
William Henry Harrison Letter Signed “Willm Henry Harrison” (estimate: $20,000+)
Thomas Jefferson Circular Letter Signed “Th: Jefferson” (estimate: $20,000+)
Meriwether Lewis Autograph Letter Signed “Meriwether Lewis” (estimate: $18,000+)
Joshua Chamberlain Signed Carte de Visite (estimate: $10,000+)

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Credit: Hendrik Conscience Heritage Library

The Hendrik Conscience Heritage Library in Antwerp, Belgium.

Antwerp, Belgium — The City of Antwerp and Google signed an agreement to digitise a large portion of the collections of the Hendrik Conscience Heritage Library and the Plantin-Moretus Museum. This entails more than 100,000 works from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century that will be made freely accessible in the coming years via Google Books and the library catalogues of both institutions. The books to be scanned are no longer subject to copyright.

"The collection of the Heritage Library is composed of a total of roughly 1.5 million volumes, and is consulted daily in our reading hall by many scientists, students and enthusiasts. The fact that Google will digitise around 85,000 works will greatly increase the findability of our collection and encourage more to consult it. The whole world will quite literally gain access. Of the 85,000 selected books in the Heritage Library, approximately 40,000 were printed abroad: many thousands of books come from France, the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom. It not only illustrates the national but also the international dimension of our collection", says An Renard, director of the Heritage Library.

About 22,500 works have been selected for digitisation from the Plantin-Moretus Museum collection. The Plantin-Moretus Museum is the home and printing-publishing house of the Plantin-Moretus printing family. The museum is listed on the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage Sites list and houses an exceptional art collection, including portraits by Rubens and an ancient print shop. More than 25,000 old prints are kept in the historical libraries and the new depots. "Our venerable library contains not only the most complete collection of Plantin and Moretus prints in the world, but also many rare old European prints. Our collection is therefore invaluable for scientific research. The digitisation will give this research a phenomenal boost. The scanned books will be made full-text searchable: Researchers can search them easily, quickly and specifically. Google will scan both old and modern prints until 1894. Doing so, we are realizing a major catch-up in the digitisation of our collection, one of our major policy objectives", says director Iris Kockelbergh of the Plantin-Moretus Museum.

Antwerp's Alderwoman for Culture Nabilla Ait Daoud acknowledges the importance of this project for the city. "Antwerp has always been a true city of books. As early as the sixteenth century, many printers were active here, with Christophe Plantin at the very pinnacle. He succeeded in becoming the largest publisher in the world. But even throughout the subsequent centuries until today, Antwerp still lives and breathes literature. Consider the many writers, publishers and bookshops that were and still are active in the city. The collaboration with Google Books is a fantastic way to grant the products of all their efforts, our printed heritage, a second digital life."

Google digitises only publications that are no longer subject to copyright. with the exception of everything that has already been digitised in other libraries. "We are the third partner in the Low Countries with which Google collaborates, after the Ghent University Library and the Royal Library of the Netherlands. Across the world, Google has digitised numerous collections, including the university libraries of Stanford, Harvard and Oxford, among others. It is therefore remarkable that tens of thousands of books from our collections can still be added to Google Books", says Renard.

Ben Bunnell, manager of the Google Books project, is delighted with the collaboration. "Google Books was launched 15 years ago, with the ambition to make all books from around the world digitally available and searchable for everyone.  We are pleased that the City of Antwerp supports this great ambition. This collaboration adds an incredibly rich collection from the Dutch-speaking world to our corpus, and brings us a crucial step closer to achieving our mission."

In September 2020, he first 5000 selected books will be transported from Antwerp to Google's European digitisation centre in batches and at regular intervals by secure transport. After the scanning work is complete, Google immediately places the digital copies online. The Hendrik Conscience Heritage Library and the Plantin-Moretus Museum will also receive a digital copy which will be incorporated into their own catalogue. With thousands of books leaving Antwerp and coming back, it is expected that the last book will be scanned within three years.

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Berkeley, California — PBA Galleries announced the postponement of upcoming auctions as part of the ongoing efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19. Seven Bay Area counties and the City of Berkeley have issued a shelter-in-your-residence order which has resulted in PBA Galleries suspending operations until at least April 7 . The auctions specifically affected are the “Art & Archaeology of Asia” auction on March 19, PBA’s inaugural “Comics” auction on March 26, and the “Americana – Travel & Exploration” sale on April 2. This period marks only the second time PBA Galleries has postponed one or more sales in its long history of proud service to collectors of rare and collectible books.

“In accordance with the three-week shelter-in-your-residence policy instituted on Monday, and currently set to last until April 7, PBA Galleries has postponed all business March 16 operations,” said company president Sharon Gee. “Auctions will not resume until the order has been lifted.”

PBA anticipates resuming to normal biweekly auctions, but until then, staff will be asked to work remotely if possible. All customer email inquiries will be answered. The public is welcome to continue to browse upcoming auction catalogs on the PBA Galleries website, place online absentee bids, follow the PBA Galleries social media pages for content and information relating to rare books, art & illustration, and Americana and to contact the PBA team via email with questions about consignments or their own collections.

“PBA Galleries is committed to the health and safety of not only our staff, but our clients, neighbors, and the rest of the community,” notes Gee. “We will be actively following all recommendations from our public health authorities to prevent the transmission and spread of COVID-19. We thank everyone for their support and understanding during these trying times.”

PBA Galleries was founded under the name California Book Auction Galleries in 1955. After 35 years of successful book auctions, founder Maurice Powers passed away and his heirs placed the company into voluntary bankruptcy. Butterfield’s acquired the name and mailing list, but not the people or the spirit of the company. The current iteration of the company, Pacific Book Auction Galleries, was founded in 1992 by the core members of the original auction house, including current Senior Vice President Bruce MacMakin. The company changed its name to PBA Galleries in October of 2001 to reflect its increasingly global presence in the marketplace as well as its diversified offerings. We are proud to have buyers and sellers from all over the world participating in our auctions.

Updates will be provided regularly as this situation is continually changing.

Dallas, TX – A rare movie poster for the 1933 classic film, The Invisible Man, disappeared Saturday night for $182,400 at public auction. The sale coincided with the 2020 remake, starring Elisabeth Moss, which became among Hollywood’s first to go the route of video on demand.
 
Expectations that it could reach $125,000 were shattered quickly during the bidding at Heritage Auctions. The vintage poster for the famous Universal monster movie is one of just a small handful of examples to exist. Heritage Auctions’ movie poster sale cleared $2.64 million by Sunday evening.
 
H.G. Wells’ concept for a crazed scientist turned invisible is holding well with today’s viewers. The 2020 remake of The Invisible Man is popular with fans and critics with Rotten Tomato scores of 92 percent with critics and 88 percent with viewers.
 
“Even in these troubled economic and uncertain times, this was a big success,” said Grey Smith, Director of Posters at Heritage Auctions.

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Courtesy of Nate D. Sanders Auctions

Los Angeles – Jessie Willcox Smith’s original cover art for the November 1920 issue of ''Good Housekeeping'' as well as the April 1922 issue of the UK edition, entitled ''We Give Thee Thanks” will be auctioned by Nate D. Sanders Auctions on March 26, 2020.

The November 1920 issue of ''Good Housekeeping'' shows two children praying before their meal and is signed ''Jessie Willcox Smith'' at the lower right. The artwork is one of Willcox Smith's most memorable pieces, with limited edition lithographs even being made of it.

Jessie Willcox Smith was the exclusive cover artist for ''Good Housekeeping'' from 1917-1933, and was the second woman inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame, followed shortly thereafter by Elizabeth Shippen Green and Violet Oakley, fellow members of the Red Rose Girls, a group of female artists who flourished during the Golden Age of Illustration. The artwork was given to Anne Champe Orr, the needlework editor for ''Good Housekeeping'', and then by descent to the consignor.

Bidding for the art begins at $60,000.

Additional information on the cover art can be found at: https://natedsanders.com/Jessie_Willcox_Smith_Original_Cover_Art_for___Good-LOT57672.aspx

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Courtesy of the Folio Society

London — Published to mark the 250th anniversary of Wordsworth’s birth, this new edition includes 49 of the poet’s major works, curated and thoughtfully introduced by Nobel Prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney. The poems sit alongside a series of atmospheric woodcuts by renowned engraver Peter Reddick.

The greatest of the Romantic poets and a founder of modern verse, William Wordsworth is also the most relatable major poet of his period. Despite more than two centuries passing since he first penned his poems, they remain fresh and joyful to read. Many of his best-loved poems, such as ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’ and ‘Lines Composed
a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey...’ are instantly recognisable, their popularity borne out of Wordsworth’s enduring appeal.

Selected by Heaney, this compact and portable edition includes the majority of Wordsworth’s most celebrated verse. Those familiar with Wordsworth’s work can revisit favourite poems, while those less well acquainted can enjoy an introduction to one of the great names in English poetry, making this is a must-have volume for every classic poetry library.

Wordsworth’s romantic depictions of the natural world are complemented by 29 exquisite wood engravings which were created by the late Peter Reddick. One of the great engravers of his era, Reddick interpreted Wordsworth’s verse with sensitivity and insight.

The edition is finished with a translucent dust jacket, in series with Folio’s beautiful edition of Selected Poems by Emily Dickinson.

Product information
Bound in printed cloth. Set in Bembo Book. 30 integrated b&w wood engravings. 176 pages. Printed endpapers. Printed translucent dust jacket. 83/4 ̋x 51/2. ̋
UK £24.95 US $37.95 Can $49.95 Aus $55.00

 

Credit: Mark Niedermann

New York — TEFAF New York postpones the upcoming TEFAF New York Spring 2020 fair, with a focus on Modern and Contemporary Art & Design, originally planned at the Park Avenue Armory May 8-11 2020. The new dates for this fair will be 31 Oct - 4 Nov 2020, with a preview day on October 30. As a consequence, TEFAF New York Fall 2020, with a focus on Fine and Decorative Art from antiquity to the beginning of the Post-War period, will not take place this year.

Sofie Scheerlinck, Managing Director at TEFAF said: ”In light of the global coronavirus pandemic and the recently introduced travel restrictions we are all truly facing a unique situation. These unprecedented times are new to us all. While we cannot physically meet in these tough times, it is beautiful to see how our art community stands united. We would like to thank all our exhibitors, visitors, sponsors and partners for their understanding and support. Now is the time for us all to remain safe and healthy.”

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