ArtPrice’s Top 50 Contemporary Artists

ArtPrice Top 10 Cont 15

Artprice has released their annual list of Contemporary artists by annual sales. This year Jean-Michel Basquiat comes out on top again but at a much lower level than last year. (This list does not include artists like Andy Warhol and Gerhard Richter who are generally referred to as Contemporary artists but don’t fit Artprice’s cutoff based on their birth year.)Continue Reading

Sotheby’s Hong Kong Golden Week Cycle = 2.66bn HKD ($342m); Equals Spring Cycle, ↓ 10% from 2014

Sotheby's HK Infographic 1015
Sotheby’s HK Infographic 1015

Sotheby’s wraps up its Hong Kong sales cycle coinciding with Golden Week in China. Once again, the Saturday night Evening sale of Modern and Contemporary Asian painting was the highest grossing sale in the cycle. That’s a recent shift from porcelains and Chinese works of art:

The top lot was an 18th century portrait of the consort of emperor Qianlong painted by Italian court artist Giuseppe Castiglione that sold to an anonymous telephone bidder for HK$137.4 million, more than double its low estimate of HK$60 million, a record for imperial portraiture.

Other auction highlights included a Kashmir sapphire and diamond ring that sold for HK$52.3 million and a vintage Patek Philippe watch for HK$7.8 million, the auction house said.

[Sohteby’s Nicholas] Chow said the Castiglione painting failed to sell at auction in 2003 during the SARS epidemic in Hong Kong, when the top bid of HK$12 million didn’t achieve the reserve price. On Wednesday, the bidding lasted for about 20 minutes.

Chinese Painting Leads $344 Million Sotheby’s Asia Sale  (Bloomberg Business)

Artelligence Podcast: Mathias Rastorfer, Galerie Gmurzynska’s Joan Miró Show

Mathias Rastorfer, CEO and Co-owner of Galerie Gmurzynksa, talks about the survey of Joan Miro’s work the gallery has mounted for its 50th Anniversary. The exhibition comprises early, radically abstract-surrealist museum-works such as the 1925 “Circus Horse” or the beautifully-hued 1927 “Peinture;” rarely seen mixed-media “Collage-Drawings” of the 1930s;  a suite of large drawings picturing fantastic biomorphic interpretations on the female figure and on the theme of lovers; and a distinct group of Miró’s commanding anthropomorphic bronze sculptures from the 1960s to 1970s.Continue Reading

Athena Art Finance Debuts with Backing from Carlyle and Pictet

Olivier Sarkozy
Olivier Sarkozy

The Financial Times has important news that may mark a turning point in the art market. Carlyle’s Olivier Sarkozy is launching an art financing firm, Athena, that will offer loans against art as an asset. This will be the first firm to provide loans in the art market that is founded by two mainstream financial firms, Carlyle and Switzerland’s Pictet.

Many private banks provide loans against art but they combine those loans with security from borrowers other assets. So Athena offers the potential for greater liquidity in the art market:

Carlyle and its partners hope that wealthy families, pension funds and sovereign wealth funds will be attracted by yields that are potentially higher than those in the fixed income market. Many private banks advise clients to keep a portion of their wealth in art, claiming that art can hold its value at times of economic dislocation. While the value of art in the world amounts to trillions of dollars, the size of the art lending market is only about $7bn, according to data Carlyle has collected.

“We will drive the institutionalisation of this huge market. By introducing more liquidity to the market, we think the cost of capital for these assets will go down and the value will go up,” said Oliver Sarkozy, who is in charge of Carlyle’s latest $1bn Global Financial Services Fund, which is making the investment in Athena. “Leverage generally means asset prices inflate.”

Update: Athena has now issued their press release:Continue Reading

When Global Artists Act Like Western Artists, Angst and Confusion Can Follow

The Financial Times has an interesting story about the limitations in thinking about cultural works as rooted in parochial nations. The essay begins with the example of African writers who had been huge international sellers in the 18th Century. Then it moves to art:

An expectation that art should express nationhood can even act as a straitjacket. Frank Bowling, the Guyanese-born artist who won the silver medal to David Hockney’s gold at London’s Royal College of Art in 1962, uses a vibrant palette in his abstract work, sometimes touched by memory and history. His early “Map Paintings”, revealing the contours of an enlarged South America through layers of colour, reimagined a decolonised world, around the time that Jasper Johns and other US artists were deploying maps and flags to question US power.

But the hostility Bowling met as a Caribbean-born painter daring to venture into abstraction sent him to the psychoanalyst’s couch. As he told me in 2007: “People had a locked-in view of what I should be doing as an artist; that my role was to represent a certain viewpoint.” His huge map canvases languished in storage for three decades until they emerged to cause a stir at the 2003 Venice Biennale.

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What’s Christie’s Got for November?

Wool, Untitled (1990)

Brett Gorvy dropped a big hint on Instagram this morning. There’s been plenty of chatter in the art market that Christie’s has revealed very little of its Contemporary line up for November’s auctions. Some say the sellers are just clamming up this year with no good reason to go to cash and nowhere to put that cash if they sell. Consequently, a number of works bought in the last five years have begun to return to the market due to the lack of supply.

Then again, Gorvy may just be holding his cards very close to his vest.

Steve Martin Loves Art Collecting, Won’t Get Roped Into Talking About the Money

The LA Times gets Steve Martin to open up about his art collecting during the press tour for the Lawren Harris show at the Hammer. Of course, the newspaper frames the issue in terms of art prices. Martin, who sold earlier in the 21st Century some paintings that have recently traded hands for very substantial sums, parries the issue and keeps the focus where it should be: on the art.

Art prices are stratospheric. What does that mean for artists, for small collectors, for public museums?

I always say that art prices are very, very high unless you’re trying to sell. No one knows about the art market except the inner circle, and I’m definitely not in that. This show is so beyond the art market; these pictures are in museums and would never be for sale.

Isn’t it a paradox that some of the works you’ve owned for a while — Harris’ among them — you couldn’t afford today?

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Phillips Brings Back a Twombly for an Upgrade

Cy Twombly, Untitled (8-12m GBP)
Cy Twombly, Untitled (8-12m GBP)

This late Twombly from 2006 was sold by Phillips in 2011 for $9m, a hefty sum for a late work when before the artist’s prices began to rise dramatically. Now, after a public and private sale of early blackboard paintings for $60+m and the appearance of another blackboard in the same range this Fall at Sotheby’s in New York, Phillips has gone back to the buyer and procured the painting for its Frieze sale with an estimate of  £8-12m (effectively priced at 50% more in four years.)

Cy Twombly, Untitled (8-12m GBP)

Brazil’s New Collectors Can Afford the Best Works in the World but Prefer Collecting as a Calling

Andrea e José Olympio Pereira
Andrea and José Olympio Pereira

The Financial Times looks at three Brazilian collectors with very different strategies, including focusing on the country’s own rich history of art:

Though today Brazil’s wealthy can afford as much art as European or New York buyers, collectors prefer to treat art as a higher calling rather than an investment, frowning upon speculative buying. They value the history of Brazilian and Latin American art, but also battle import taxes and bureaucracy to add North American and European works to their homes, offices, storage and exhibition spaces. […]

José Olympio Pereira, president and chief executive of Credit Suisse Brazil and his wife Andrea have hundreds of works spread throughout three homes and the Credit Suisse Rio and São Paulo branches. He took an early interest in works from the concrete and neo-concrete movements — both strong in Brazil — before moving on to contemporary masters such as Tunga and Cildo Meireles. The couple were early investors in Beatriz Milhazes’ work, now one of the most expensive artists on the contemporary Brazilian market.

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Sotheby’s Mod & Cont Southeast Asian Art = 63m HKD ($8.1m)


Sotheby’s day sale of Southeast Asian art was a surprising success at 63m HKD. The bulk of the top ten lots were sold substantial multiples of their high estimates suggesting the market has a great deal of un-anticipated demand. At 63m, the sale was equal the Fine Chinese Painting sale that took place in the same cycle.