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Berkeley Loses 22-foot Long Redwood Carving From The Harlem Renaissance – Michael Jackson’s Chimp Bubbles Involved

from the LA Times

Berkeley’s Artwork Loss Is a Museum’s Gain

Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

By CAROL POGASH

BERKELEY, Calif. — Everybody misplaces something sometime. But it is not easy for the University of California, Berkeley, to explain how it lost a 22-foot-long carved panel by a celebrated African-American sculptor, or how, three years ago, it mistakenly sold this work, valued at more than a million dollars, for $150 plus tax.

The university’s embarrassing loss eventually enabled the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, a large museum and research center in San Marino, Calif., to acquire its first major work by an African-American artist.

The circuitous tale of Sargent Johnson’s huge redwood relief involves error, chance and a partnership of unlikely art-world figures, including an art and furniture dealer who stumbled upon the panels at the university’s surplus store; an antiques dealer who was on a first-name basis with Michael Jackson and his chimp Bubbles; and a lawyer whose hobby is buying lighthouses and who convinced the government that even though the art was commissioned bythe Works Progress Administration, it could still be sold publicly.

[ click to continue reading at LATimes.com ]

Posted on February 20, 2012 by Editor

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