In 1998, Leon Black bought a prominent David Smith sculpture to donate to MoMA. The artist’s reputation—and museum presence—has always placed him among the first rank of American artists who charted a course from Surrealism to Abstract Expressionism and beyond before his early death in 1965. But Smith’s market lags his contemporaries. In this interview recorded this month at Mnuchin Gallery, Robert Mnuchin, Sukanya Rajaratnam of Mnuchin Gallery talk with Peter Stevens of the David Smith Estate about their upcoming show David Smith: The Forgings at Frieze Masters on October 15-19.
Artprice’s 2013/2014 report on the state of the Contemporary art market has some interesting data within the study. Here’s a chart of the top 3 Western auction houses selling Contemporary art which accounts for nearly a billion Euros.
We can see that Christie’s dominates the Contemporary market with a 55% share to Sotheby’s 36% and Phillips has 9% by value. In lots, its a different story where Christie’s accounts for 44% of the lot volume, Sotheby’s 32% and Phillips takes 24%.
Spurred by sales of Gutai and Yayoi Kusama works, the Japanese art market is stirring from its long torpor, according to Reuters:
“Abenomics has had a positive impact on the art market, surprisingly rather more on the seller side due to the weakening yen,” Yasuaki Ishizaka, the president and managing director of Sotheby’s Japan, founded in 1979, told Reuters recently.
A weaker yen usually helps bolster business and investor sentiment because it boosts the exports that are a key driver in Japan’s economy. It also encourages collectors to sell their art to foreign buyers since buyers are willing to pay more because their money goes further.
Turnover in Japan’s art market for the first half of 2014 hit $30.7 million. That puts it on course to top last year’s $54 million and possibly challenge 2012′s $76 million, the highest since 2009.
“Buying is increasing in Japan, but because of the long period of stagnation, the market is still in the midst of regaining momentum,” Ishizaka said. […]
Japanese auction houses, which deal with mostly domestic clients, are also seeing better times.
“There is an increase in purchases, definitely a sign of recovery from when the art market hit rock bottom during the economic crisis in 2008,” said Hirotarou Ando, a spokesman for Japan’s largest domestic auction house, Mainichi Auction.
London Dominates Paris in Contemporary Art, French Artists Disappearing from List of Top 100 Artists
Artprice’s recently released report on the Contemporary art market contains these interesting observations on the disappearance of French artists from the market as London dominates sales:
The UK, as uncontested European leader, totalled €231.9 million, €10 million more than the previous year.
The London market represents 77% of the European market 7 and 10 times the performances of Paris (€23 million).
France, no. 4 worldwide in terms of total sales, experienced a slowdown with a total for the year down by 10% (€26.3 million, i.e. 1.75% of the global market)
Of the 100 best-performing contemporary artists in the world, 47 are Chinese, 19 American, 10 British and 9 German, but there are no French artists in the list. The leading artist is still Robert Combas, lying in 134th place. There is nothing speculative about the French market, and the best lever for increasing artists’ value is still recognition by London or New York, which favour names that are already firmly established in the history of art rather than young talent. As witness the most expensive artists in the French scene, Pierre Soulages and Martial Raysse, two visual artists who are still alive, born respectively in 1919 and 1936, and are thus not included in so-called “contemporary” rankings according to a date of birth after 1945. Pierre Soulages is now the 26th highest priced living artist in the world (with total sales of €27.3 million) and Martial Raysse the 29th (with €9.6 million). The Paris marketplace has achieved some fine auction results thanks to them, but records are made in London rather than in Paris.
Sotheby’s is doing more business out of the London so far this year than the rest of the world, including New York:
Sotheby’s United Kingdom sales have outperformed all other global regions at auction for the year to date, according to figures just released. As of September 22, Sotheby’s had posted $1.37bn (39.9% of the global total) at auction in London, compared to $1.23bn (35.9%) in the United States.
Asian sales added another $488.4m (14.2%), while continental Europe contributed $344.1m (10%), giving a global total so far in 2014 of $3.44bn.
UK auctions lead the world at Sotheby’s (Antiques trade gazette)
Page Six tells how Frederico Castelluccio, who played Furio on The Sopranos, discovered a significant Old Master painting:
Castelluccio, a painter and expert in Baroque European art, found the work at a Frankfurt dealer, but no one knew who the artist was. It was mistakenly marked as an “18th-century Italian holy painting of Saint Sebastian,” the actor told us. “They had no idea who painted this.”
After winning the work at auction, he had it authenticated by experts, who concluded it was a Guercino, circa 1632-34, by using “infrared reflectography,” X-rays and chemical testing of the pigment.
He then also took years to restore it
Press TV’s Coverage has an Iranian bent but still informative. Meanwhile, the fair has issued some sales:
The galleries which returned for second edition of the fair reported a 25% increase in sales compared to last year, highlighting the broadening depth of collectors in attendance.
Galerie Lelong Paris sold a bronze sculpture by Jaume Plensa (2014) to a Turkish collector for $298,00.
Deweer Gallery sold a sculpture by Jan Fabre to a US collector for $200,000;
Galleri Andersson/Sandström’s significant sales included two sculptures by Assa Kauppi both priced for $120,00.
Paul Kasmin Gallery reported selling its entire works by Taner Ceylan ranging from $55,00 to $150,000;
Galerie Krinzinger sold a photograph by Marina Abramovic from 2013 for$50,00.
Robert Miller Gallery placed a photograph by Robert Mapplethorpe into a private collection priced at $75,000.
Charim Galerie sold three figurative paintings by Daniel Pitin to a Qatari collector for roughly $38,00 to $50,000
Sotheby’s announced over the weekend—through the Financial Times—that it had won the consignment of one of van Gogh’s last still life pictures in private hands. The auction house gave $30m as the low estimate, an astonishing number for several reasons.
First, van Gogh’s Portrait of Dr. Gachet remains the top inflation-adjusted price ever paid for a painting when it sold in 1990 for $82.5m. Some commenters are pointing to the van Gogh sales of the late 1980s as a “ a previous art market peak fueled in no small part by demand from speculative buyers in Japan.” That’s a terrible mis-reading of the Japanese buyers, their motivations and the subsequent fate of those works.
The buyer was anything but a speculator. And the picture has disappeared from the international art market, often the subject of conjecture. More to the point, it was revealed shortly after the sale that buyer and sale were hardly a part of the normal workings of the art market. And profit was the least of the buyer’s motives. The Independent explains:
Early next morning Tokyo time, Ryoei Saito, the head of Japan’s second largest paper manufacturing company, proudly announced that the Van Gogh was his. It had, he said, cost almost double what he had expected, but added: ‘It’s my principle to get what I want, no matter how much money it costs.’
Two days later in Sotheby’s New York branch he paid another dollars 78.1m, this time for Renoir’s Au Moulin de la Galette. Neither painting had been expected to make more than dollars 40-50m. In the West, the prices were dismissed as ludicrous, unfounded, distorting the market. But for Mr Saito, that was the point.
Later he casually remarked that he wanted the Renoir and Van Gogh paintings to be put in his coffin and cremated with him when he died.
It has been well documented that works of art were used as an alternative currency in Japan during their bubble years for providing favors and repaying them in kind. It is possible that the potential buyer of this van Gogh might do something similar with the work. However, these days it is more likely to be purchased by someone who will want credit for having made the acquisition.
The second idea raised by the low estimate is that Sotheby’s—and the consignor—see a real potential for a huge price. The $3om low bar might bring many more interested parties than a substantially higher one.
Finally, it will be interesting to eventually learn whether the work has a guarantee. The low estimate is no indication. Sotheby’s could have guaranteed the work but feel quite confident in keeping estimate low. Indeed, a guarantee would allow the auction house to resist pressure from the consignor to raise estimates as is often the case. But it might also indicate a confident and sophisticated seller willing to take the risk to maximize a sale. We’ll know more on November 4th.
Alexander Zacke is the CEO of Berlin-based auction platform, Auctionata. In this conversation, Zacke talks about his excitement for the firm’s November launch of New York sales, details the company’s sweet spot and explains how his service is different from Sotheby’s and Christie’s.
The audio is not ideal. If you’re having trouble hearing or understanding Zacke, try downloading a copy of the transcript provided below.