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Dan Morphy (left) and Jim Julia have arranged a deal that will mean James D Julia auction house is sold to Morphy Auctions.

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Morphy takes over James D Julia firm

US auction house James D Julia is to become part of Morphy Auctions as founder Jim Julia steps down to become a consultant.

Julia decided to sell the business to founder Dan Morphy after discovering his wife Sandy had incurable cancer.

Julia said: “Selling my company to Dan is a great relief. It now has removed all of my responsibilities in regards to auctions and overseeing the management of a valued team. Now Sandy and I can focus completely on each other.”

Morphy, which operates in Pennsylvania and Las Vegas, reported annual sales of $35m in the past year and said the combined firms will become one of the largest antique auction houses in North America with combined annual sales of $78m.

Nobel Prize medal authenticity doubt

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This Nobel Prize medal said to have been awarded to Theodor Mommsen has been withdrawn by sale from Heritage.

Heritage Auctions has withdrawn from sale ‘one of the oldest Nobel Prize medals’ after doubts were expressed over its authenticity.

The gold medal, thought to be the first Nobel Prize for Literature awarded in 1902 to German historian Theodor Mommsen, had been estimated to top $400,000 at auction in New York in January.

Its appearance on the market sparked consternation from Mommsen’s descendants who had given the original medal of a quite different design to the Marbach archives 14 years ago. It is unclear if the Heritage medal, that carries Mommsen’s name, is a counterfeit or a later striking.

Heritage Auctions spokesman Eric Bradley said: “Although this piece is indeed a real Nobel Prize gold medal, Heritage Auctions has determined the award is not the one bestowed to Theodor Mommsen. We continue to look into this medal and it will be returned to the current owner.”

TEFAF cash awards go to two museums

The European Fine Art Foundation (TEFAF) has awarded a total of €50,000 to the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga (MNAA), Portugal, and the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston, US.

The award goes to support restoration and conservation projects at each institution. At the MNAA it will enable the conservation of Capela das Albertas, the oldest part of the Palácio Alvor which houses the museum.

At the MFA, the award goes towards the restoration of Portrait of a Woman with a Gold Chain by Rembrandt van Rijn, one half of a pair of oval paintings gifted to the museum in the late 19th century. The next Maastricht fair is from March 8-18.

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Iron Age torcs on show in Potteries

A collection of Iron Age gold jewellery is to go on display at Stoke-on-Trent’s Potteries Museum & Art Gallery after fundraising hit the £325,000 target.

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The Leekfrith Iron Age torcs will go on display at the Potteries Museum. Photo: Staffordshire County Council.

The group, comprising four torcs (distinctive twisted neck ornaments) and a bracelet, could date back to 400BC. They were found on farmland in Leekfrith, north Staffordshire, last year by two metal detectorists.

Dubbed the ‘Leekfrith Iron Age Torcs’, fundraising began in September and grants came from a variety of sources, such as £165,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) and £80,000 from Art Fund.

Gentileschi saint sets artist’s record

A 17th century Old Master by Artemesia Gentileschi (1593- 1652) depicting St Catherine of Alexandria has set a new auction high for the artist in Paris.

The unframed 2ft 4in (71cm) square canvas sold for a hammer price of €1.85m (£1.63m) at an auction held by Christophe Joron-Derem at Drouot on December 19.

The price surpasses the previous recorded high of €720,000 (then £626,085) paid at Sotheby’s Paris in June 2014 for Gentileschi’s portrait of Mary Magdelene.

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Old Master painting of St Catherine by Artemesia Gentileschi – €1.85m (£1.63m) at an auction held by Christophe Joron-Derem. Image copyright: Joron-Derem/Drouot.

The newly-discovered work, for which Eric Turquin was the expert specialist, is a significant addition to Gentileschi’s oeuvre.

It takes the form of a self-portrait of the artist in the role of the female saint and is similar in composition and dimensions to her rendition of St Catherine now in the Uffizi in Florence.

The work is dated to c.1614-16, corresponding to the artist’s Florentine period when her work was still influenced by that of her father, Orazio Gentileschi.

In Numbers

$4.7bn

Sotheby’s total sales in 2017 representing a 13.1% increase on 2016