In the tooth and claw battle for Sotheby’s board seats, the company needs every bit of good news. So today they gave a peek at their first quarter results which are scheduled to be released after the May 6th annual meeting:
For the first quarter of 2014, Sotheby’s expects to report that Net Auction Sales have increased by 40% from the prior year to approximately $730 million. This substantial improvement is primarily due to a $113 million, or 34%, increase in sales of Impressionist Art and Contemporary Art over the prior year. Notably, Sotheby’s record setting Impressionist Art sales in London achieved the highest-ever total for any sales series held anywhere in London. Reflecting this sales growth, Sotheby’s expects to report that pre-tax loss for the first quarter improved by 81% to approximately ($6) million, as compared to Sotheby’s pre-tax loss of ($32) million in the first quarter of 2013.
The original post from 2011 appears further below but because of the popularity of this post, we wanted to give viewers an up-to-date list of the top Andy Warhol works. Among the many interesting features is the number of new works on the list that have been sold in recent years:
1) Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster) (1963) $105.4m In November of 2013, Sotheby’s sold this painting as the capstone to Tobias Meyer’s career at the auction house. He left shortly after.
2) Eight Elvises (1963) – $100m In October 2008, Warhol’s Eight Elvises painting was sold in a private sale via French art consultant Philippe Ségalot for a price of $100 million, a record for Warhol’s work.
3) Turquoise Marilyn (1964) – $80m In May 2007 the painting, one of Warhol’s several portraits of Marilyn Monroe, was purchased by art collector Stephen A. Cohen in a private sale from Dtefan Edlis via Larry Gagosian for a price believed to be $80 million.
4) Green car Crash (Burning Green Car 1) (1963) – $71.7m Also in May 2007, this painting was sold at a Christie’s auction in New York for a then-record auction price of $71.7 million to art collector Philip Niarchos, son of the Greek shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos.
5) Men In Her Life (1962) – $63.4m In 2010 the black and white portrait of Elizabeth Taylor, pictured with both her third husband Mike Todd and future husband Eddie Fisher, sold to an anonymous buyer at a New York Phillips de Pury & Co auction for $63.4 million. The work was consigned by the Mugrabi family.
6) 200 One Dollar Bills (1962) – $43.8m In November 2009 the painting was sold at a Sotheby’s auction to an anonymous buyer for $43.8 million. It was sold by London-based art collector Pauline Karpidas, who had purchased the work in 1986 for a mere $385,000.
7) Statue of Liberty (1962) — $43.8m Christie’s sold this 3D version of the Statue of Liberty in November of 2012.
8) Four Marilyns (1962) — $38.245m Phillips scored with this Mugrabi work in the Spring of 2013 which was bought by a dealer who works for Gagosian Gallery.
9) Double Elvis (Ferus Type) — $37m This Sotheby’s lot sold in the Spring of 2012 but the second registration of the image was so faint that one wag called it Elvis 1.1
10) Coca Cola  (Large Coca Cola) – $35.36m The painting sold in November 2010 at a Sotheby’s auction in New York for a price of $35.36 million to Steven Cohen who seemed to have gotten a bargain at the time.
This list of the top prices paid for works by Andy Warhol was compiled in honor of the anniversary of the artist’s death. But the interesting detail on the list is that 7 of the top ten prices have been achieved after the financial crisis began.
The top price on the list came just after the crash, in October of 2008. Half of the other top 10 prices were achieved in the past year:
1. Eight Elvises (1963) – $100m
In October 2008, Warhol’s Eight Elvises painting was sold in a private sale via French art consultant Philippe Ségalot for a price of $100 million, a record for Warhol’s work.
2. Turquoise Marilyn (1964) – $80m
In May 2007 the painting, one of Warhol’s several portraits of Marilyn Monroe, was purchased by art collector Stephen A. Cohen in a private sale via Larry Gagosian for a price believed to be $80 million.
3. Green car Crash (Burning Green Car 1) (1963) – $71.7m
Also in May 2007, this painting was sold at a Christie’s auction in New York for a then-record auction price of $71.7 million to art collector Philip Niarchos, son of the Greek shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos.
4. Men In Her Life (1962) – $63.4m
In 2010 the black and white portrait of Elizabeth Taylor, pictured with both her third husband Mike Todd and future husband Eddie Fisher, sold to an anonymous buyer at a New York Phillips de Pury & Co auction for $63.4 million.
5. 200 One Dollar Bills (1962) – $43.8m
In November 2009 the painting was sold at a Sotheby’s auction to an anonymous buyer for $43.8 million. It was sold by London-based art collector Pauline Karpidas, who had purchased the work in 1986 for a mere $385,000.
6. Coca Cola  (Large Coca Cola) – $35.36m
The painting sold in November 2010 at a Sotheby’s auction in New York for a price of $35.36 million.
7. Self Portrait (1986) – $32.5m
In May 2010 the large self-portrait by Warhol, painted in 1986 just a year before his death, was sold in a Sotheby’s sale in New York for $32.56 million.
7. Superman (1960) – $30m
Felix Stenert rightly points out that Wikicollection’s list leaves out CarolVogel’s 2004 report that Steven Cohen had set a then-record price for Warhol when he bought Superman from 1960. The list also neglects reports that Cohen was the buyer of the Coke Bottle at Sotheby’s in 2010 which would give the collector three of the top ten works.
8. Big Campbell’s Soup Can with Can Opener (Vegetable) (1962) – $23.8m
In November 2010 the painting, featuring one of Warhol’s favourite and most iconic subjects, sold at a Christie’s auction in New York for $23.88 million.
9. Silver Liz (1963) – $18.3m
In May 2010 Warhol’s portrait of Elizabeth Taylor sold at a Christie’s auction in New York for a price of $18.33 million.
10. Mao (1972) – $17.4m
In November 2006 the portrait of Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong was sold to Hong Kong art collector Joseph Lau for a price of $17.4 million. The sale, at a Christie’s auction in New York, was a record auction price for Warhol’s work at the time.
Top Ten Most Expensive Andy Warhol Works (Wikicollecting.org)
As part of the pre-sentencing memo in Helly Nahmad’s gambling case, we are given a glimpse into the gallery’s annual turnover:
Helly claims he didn’t get into the operation for money, since he was working six days a week at his gallery, which pulled in $70 million in sales last year, according to the memo.
As part of his sentencing, Helly Nahmad’s lawyers submitted a memo to the court that proposes the art dealer provide community service. But the document includes a fascinating account of the Nahmad family’s interest in gambling as a tool for training its members for a life as traders:
“Since I was young, gambling was part of my family’s recreational life. It was acceptable in the culture I was raised in,” he wrote. […]
At 5, Helly was scoping out antiques at Sotheby’s auctions, according to a letter his dad wrote to the judge on his behalf. At 12, Helly stared in awe at an exhibit coordinated by his dad of 11 paintings of the Rouen Cathedral by Claude Monet, according to the memo.
After high school, Helly joined the family business, and at 21, he managed a small family gallery, becoming a power player in the art world over the past 15 years.
David Nahmad said in his letter that he also exposed his son at an early age to playing poker, gin and backgammon, noting that gambling is a part of his Lebanese culture.
“Helly watched me gamble, sometimes for high stakes, and it became part of his life too,” David recalled. “When he lost, he sometimes turned to me to pay his debts, and I did.”
At 14, Helly was betting on Knicks games through a bookie and even lost in a ping-pong match a watch he received as a Bar Mitzvah gift, according to the memo. A year later, he was thrown out of a Monaco casino while playing its slot machines.
“He bet on everything from who could throw a baseball further to whether a friend could score a basket on an NBA player,” the memo says.
The path into the illegal betting operation began in Helly’s 20s, when he was losing heavily at poker and sports bets, the memo says. It was then, in 2006, that he met Noah Siegel, a chess-playing Connecticut College dropout who developed a computer algorithm that found weaknesses in a bookie’s odds-making, according to the memo.
Helly supplied the cash, while Siegel provided the mathematical wizardry. Bets of $100,000 were the norm.
“Soon, Helly joined up with Noah and went from being a loser to a winner overnight,” the memo says.
CNBC looks at some new proposals made by Massimo Sterpi to help lessen the country’s laws on export of art and antiquities. Pointing to the vibrant health of the market for 20th Century Italian art, critics say the laws that require approval for any work over 50 years of age to be exported whether it qualifies as a “national treasure” or not.
“I have studied the art trade in Europe very closely for the last 15 years, and whenever I’m describing what not to do to have a successful and healthy art market, I use the case of Italy and its regulatory system,” [Clare] McAndrew told CNBC via email.
[Philip] Hoffman said the market for Italian work over 50 years of age currently stood at “practically zero,” with the total Italian market worth just under 390 million euros ($538 million) in 2013. He forecast that the liberalization of export rules could see Italy’s art industry explode to over $10 billion per year [….]
“I’m totally surprised that Italy made so much harm to itself by passing these kind of laws and making everything so complex, rather than being the natural top art market in the world,” Sterpi told CNBC over the phone.
Artnet’s news service discovers the long-standing trend in Picasso’s ceramics. For the sake of the broader art market, it would be gratifying to see the Picasso Ceramics as an alternative to the very high prices in his painting and sculpture market that brings in a different set of collectors. Alas, that doesn’t seem to be the case:
“It is the most important masterpiece collectors in modern and contemporary art who are driving the higher prices you see,” Michelle McMullan, head of sales for Impressionist and modern art at Christie’s, told artnet News over email. “So many of the important collections we see now have ceramics. Someone who is into 1960s Picasso paintings will pair it with a few ceramics [the artist] made on the same day, even.” […]
The buoyancy of Picasso’s ceramics market is partly attributable to the broad global profile of interested buyers, though they tend to be concentrated in the US and Western Europe. The versatility of the objects accentuates their broad appeal. “Collectors of Picasso ceramics are not necessarily collectors of Picasso prints or paintings, but they do tend to be aesthetically oriented and collectors of some sort,” said Lucy Rosenburgh, a specialist in prints and multiples at Sotheby’s London, who says she’s seen beautiful collections of ceramics coexisting harmoniously with extensive art collections in varied media and periods, as well as displayed among trophies, photographs, and other more personal mementos.
Buy, Sell, Hold: Picasso Ceramics (Artnet News)
The FT is asking whether sanctions on wealthy Russians will effect London’s Summer sales of Impresionist, Modern and Russian art:
“London in June will be the one to watch,” said Melanie Gerlis, an editor at The Art Newspaper, an industry publication.
Morton & Eden, specialist London auctioneers, will be selling Russian coins and medals, for which buyers are often Ukrainian.
Russian collectors have been crucial to rising prices, with Christie’s alone reporting that Russian-speaking buyers had spent more than £1bn on works since 2008.
One market observer said it was “too early to tell” whether appetite would be reduced, while another said buyers would be unlikely to pass on works that might not return to auction for several decades.
Ukraine tensions cast shadow over art world (Financial Times)
Mnuchin Gallery is holding a show based upon David Ekserdjian’s Bronze held at the Royal Academy in London in 2012. This version is focused on the 20th Century but no less compelling with a chance to see some exquisite works by Arp, Bourgeois, Calder, de Kooning, Johns, Koons, Laurens, Matisse, Miró, Moore, Naumann, Picasso, Richier, and Smith:
“When we saw the show Bronze at the Royal Academy in London two years ago, we were struck by the breadth of inventiveness and the range of visual effects at play in the five centuries of bronze objects that the show brought together. When we learned the exhibition would not be traveling outside London, we decided that the experience of Bronze was one that New York audiences simply should not miss,” states Owner Robert Mnuchin.
“From the outset, we decided to deepen our investigation into the twentieth century, when bronze was subject to tremendous transformation,” states Partner Sukanya Rajaratnam. “And in the process we made discoveries that suggested how time and time again, this most traditional medium was used in the advancement of modernity.”
To see the Royal Academy version of Bronze, click on the image below:
NPR takes us through the government’s efforts to recover lost works of art made for the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project that involved as many as 10,000 artists. Over time, the art was lost or given away as in this story:
Take, for instance, the seascape Gulls at Monhegan, painted by Maine artist Andrew Winter. “It hung in the [American] embassy in Costa Rica for years,” Miller says. “And the ambassador loved it so much that when he left, his staff gave it to him as kind of an unofficial gift. And so it remained in his family and then his granddaughter eventually tried to sell it up in Portland, Maine.”
John Sloan’s New York City street scene, Fourteenth Street at Sixth Avenue, was also recovered by the GSA. It had hung in a U.S. senator’s office and apparently went home with a staffer after that senator’s death.
“It’s a busy street and there’s I guess an [elevated train] that goes over top, and a bustling street with people walking and cars parked and people in all sorts of dress,” Miller says. “And this really captures life in New York City”
The painting — appraised at $750,000 — was recovered in 2003 and is now on loan to the Detroit Institute of Arts. Other pieces have been found at yard sales, antique malls and on eBay. Many are identifiable by tags that say “Federal Arts Program” or “Treasury Department Art Project.”