Marion Maneker0July 24, 2014

Picasso Leads Artnet’s Top 10 Artists of 2014 (So Far)


Artnet seems to have released a report based upon its price database, though the news story on artnet provides no link to where one might acquire the report, that says sales in 2014 are up 19% over the same period in 2013.

The US, in this period, had the highest portion of the art market’s value (33%) on a smaller portion of sales volume (19%.) The numbers show little increase in sales volume while the value of works shot up a dramatic 27% in the US.

Here are Artnet’s top 10 artists for the first half of 2014:

  1. Picasso ($345.8 million)
  2. Andy Warhol ($299.2 million)
  3. Francis Bacon ($236.5 million)
  4. Monet ($177.6 million)
  5. Qi Baishi ($168.9 million)
  6. Gerhard Richter ($159.2 million)
  7. Mark Rothko ($146.4 million)
  8. Jean-Michel Basquiat ($131.9 million)
  9. Alberto Giacometti ($115.7 million)
  10. Zhang Daqian ($115.5 million).

artnet Data Shows Global Art Market Boom Continues  (artnet News)

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Marion Maneker0July 24, 2014

Artelligence Podcast: Loretta Würtenberger

Loretta Wurtenberger for Podcast

Loretta Würtenberger, together with Daniel Tuempel, runs Fine Art Partners in Germany. The firm advises artists’ estates and provides financing to dealers for both the fabrication of primary works and the acquisition of works for  secondary market deals.

This conversation ranges over the challenges of financing art deals, how works are bought and sold in this new market environment as well as a discussion of guarantees and auction strategies. The interview also addresses the challenges facing artists’ estates.

You can download a transcript of the interview here: Loretta Würtenberger Artelligence 2014 transcript.

Marion Maneker0July 23, 2014

Bloomberg Takes a Poke at Felix Salmon But Ends Up Proving Salmon’s Point

Top Living Artists 2003-13

James Tarmy on Bloomberg tries to take a bite out of Felix Salmon by supposedly showing the persistence of big names at the top of the art market. And though there is a strong persistence over relatively short periods—read, a decade or two—Tarmy doesn’t address why he chose to focus only on living artists. The argument Felix Salmon makes is that art indices conveniently drop poor performers and gain strong replacements. Tarmy counters by saying, look at the number of artists who are still in the top ten a decade or two later.

But when you look at these lists from 1993 and 2003, you see that only four artists carry over (several drop out because they died.) It isn’t clear what the charts or lists really tell us because the comparisons still suffer from the selection bias Salmon was deriding.

(We know, however, that artists who achieve substantial value tend to retain that value over these periods but not necessarily over much longer periods:)

Hoping to quantify the chance of making money in the art market, I requested a report from Artnet that compiled the top 10 living artists in 1993 and 2003 and followed their sales through 2013, expecting to see a story of booms and busts. Surprisingly, almost all the artists at the top of the rankings maintained or expanded their market value.

Let’s go back about 10 years. It’s impossible to track all the ways that art is sold, but there are databases of auction sales that give us a rough idea of According to Artnet, the top 10 living artists of 2003, ranked by total auction sales, were:

Gerhard Richter: $32,127,829

Cy Twombly: $10,716,969

Jasper Johns: $8,625,096

Frank Stella: $8,392,128

Ed Ruscha: $7,335,674

Agnes Martin: $6,037,900

Tom Wesselmann: $5,880,799

David Hockney: $5,135,596

Zao Wou-Ki: $5,133,200

Damien Hirst: $5,084,114

And here’s what their growth looks like:

Total sales for every one of these artists grew. For eight out of 10, the increase was more than 200 percent in a decade. Most had not only seen an increase from 2003 but (with the glaring exception of Damien Hirst) have now exceeded their sales in 2008, the last art market peak.

Maybe 10 years is too short a period to see the bust. How about 20 years back? Here are the sales of the top 10 artists in 1993:

Roy Lichtenstein: $3,898,219

Fernando Botero: $3,624,240

Sam Francis: $3,186,429

Gerhard Richter: $3,041,133

David Hockney: $2,887,245

Willem de Kooning: $2,802,658

Frank Stella: $2,723,597

Cy Twombly: $2,652,662

Karel Appel: $2,567,574

Roberto Matta: $2,102,424

Not too shabby. Even if, like Karel Appel or Frank Stella, their prices haven’t gone gangbusters like Gerhard Richter’s — and no living artist has gone gangbusters quite like Gerhard Richter, whose auction sales have exceeded $100 million for six of the last seven years– everyone’s sales are solid. There’s certainly no evidence that their work is unsellable. Sales for four out of 10 went up more than 2,700 percent over that period, an astonishing number for any asset category.

In Art the Safest Bet is the Biggest Bet (Bloomberg)

Marion Maneker0July 23, 2014

Making Barbara Hepworth (and Other Brit Artists) Hip to the Rest of the World

Barbara Hepworth, Figure for a Landscape (4.17m GBP)

There’s been a lot of talk over the past few years about expanding the art market beyond the same top names. Supply of the best work has been dwindling and prices for the select few artists have been going through the roof. The logical response would be for demand to spread among the numerous very talented artists whose work is undervalued. Some new businesses emerged trying to map a genome of artists and their work but without having a significant impact upon the market, at least, yet.

Meanwhile, Colin Gleadell delves into the auction houses’ own efforts to attract new clients to under-appreciated selling categories. After all, Francis Bacon was once a star of the British art market, not the global Contemporary market. With that in mind, Christie’s moved its Modern British sales to quickly follow the marquee Contemporary sales in London in the hopes of catching interest from global collectors:

One such client, an overseas property developer, viewed the Impressionist sales and was struck by an abstract sculpture by Barbara Hepworth that was in the Modern British sale. The eight and-a-half foot tall bronze, Figure for a Landscape, was being sold by the Kunsthall Stavanger in Norway, a public gallery that was on the brink of closure due to lack of funds.

After the piece swiftly reached its £1 million estimate, the saleroom then witnessed a prolonged battle between two determined bidders. Matthew Bradbury, the head of Bonhams’ Modern British art department, was on his mobile phone and believed to be taking bids on behalf of billionaire Yorkshire businessman Graham Kirkham, who paid a record £2.4 million for a sculpture by Yorkshire-born Hepworth last winter. Standing behind him in the doorway was the London dealer Stephen Ongpin, bidding for the overseas property developer. As the price edged up over £2 million, Bradbury began looking anxiously over his shoulder to see who the opposition was, only throwing in the towel after Ongpin bid £3.65 million – or £4.17 million after auction charges had been added.

The price confirmed Hepworth’s position as the second most expensive female sculptor of all time, after Louise Bourgeois, and Ongpin tells me the buyer will put the work on public display at one of his developments in London.

Other international buying came from a US collector bidding through the Eykyn MacLean gallery, who bought a Stanley Spencer painting of a scarecrow hung in crucifixion mode for £2.9 million, an Indian collector chasing sculptures by Henry Moore and Lynn Chadwick, and a French Impressionist art collector pursuing one of the Scottish Colourists.

Art Sales: big beasts square up over best of British  (Telegraph)

Marion Maneker0July 23, 2014

Rachel Lehmann Never Travels with More than 3 Pairs of Shoes

Rachel Lehmann

The Wall Street Journal asked Rachel Lehmann a few questions about her travel habits:

How often are you on the road?

About half of the year. It’s business-related 99% of the time.

Where do you go most?

I make a point to be in Asia four to five times a year. I go to Hong Kong, Korea, mainland China, Singapore and Indonesia. I also go to Europe because we have a large base of artists there.

What are your packing essentials?

I try to pack light. I always make sure I have earplugs and an eye mask. The one thing that keeps me sane is working out. So I pack gym clothes, which my husband sometimes laughs about. He says it’s half my suitcase, which is true, but they are essential.

How many pairs of shoes do you take?

That’s the best question. Never more than three. Very often, it will be just two. I’ll be traveling in my workout shoes, and I’ll have one pair of comfortable shoes with a small heel, which I can wear with everything. That’s the best scenario. Now, if I have very extensive art fairs, I’ll have a spare pair with me, which are more dressy flats.

Which city has an interesting art scene?

Cluj-Napoca, Romania, which totally surprised me. It has a very rich cultural history, but everything stopped in the 1970s and ’80s with the Ceaușescu dictatorship. Now there is a big hunger to re-establish the importance of the area as a cultural center. You have two or three factory-style buildings where a lot of artists live. The experience is amazing—it’s very pure and new.

Road Warrior Travel Tips: In Seoul, Go for the Last-Minute Massage Before Boarding  (WSJ)

Marion Maneker0July 23, 2014

Can’t Afford A Basquiat? Buy the Album

Basquiat Beat Bop Album Cover

Want a Basquiat but can’t afford an painting or work on paper? Ron Kosa is selling copies of albums whose cover art Basquiat designed:

Our Basquiat beat bop will run in the neighborhood of $1,750 for the 1984 pressing. With the 2001 limited edition re-issue of 500 pressings priced at $650. Basquiat’s other notable cover The Off’s is likewise avail along with a rotating exhibit of original Andy Warhol & Damien Hirst covers.

Here’s the press release explaining the exhibition:

Collector, art enthusiast and private dealer Ron Kosa presents LOT 180 –  a carefully curated exhibition and sale, featuring an exciting compilation of rare and unseen Vintage Art, Signed Limited Edition Photographs, Vinyl Art, Poster Art and Ephemera that focus on mid-1970s and early 1980s New York City and capture the creative whirlwind which so radically influenced the face of American art and culture.

The six-week long exhibition features remarkable imagery by a line-up of artists whose collective archives immortalize the cultural and social landscape of New York City during the period which so highly influenced the popular culture movement.

Highlights of the exhibition include selections from:

Robert Herman’s stunning portfolio of photography, which captured “the color and movements of daily life on the streets of New York City”. His monograph “The New Yorkers”, prominently featured at the International Center of Photography has been described as an “astounding collection of photographs of New York City, shot between 1978-2005 on Kodachrome. The book immortalizes the transformation of Soho, Little Italy, Greenwich Village and the Lower East Side. These photos tell an authentic story of New York City: real New Yorkers living and working in their own neighborhoods”.  Herman’s body of work represents a notable cache of street photography as well as visual commentary on New Yorkers everyday life during the period;

Alex Harsley’s rich, historic archives.  Whitney Biennial exhibited visual artist and New York Times featured photographer, Alex Harsley’s interest in life on New York City streets resulted in an extraordinarg time capsule of a city in flux.  His discerning eye produced shots of life in Harlem in the 1950s to velvety black-and-white images of downtown, late at night and silent, under snow in the 1990s.  It is said that Harsley’s graceful portraits of a young Muhammad Ali, John Coltrane and Jean-Michel Basquiat adds to a body of work that will continue to grow in historical significance. In 1971, Harsley founded Minority Photographers, Inc. to mentor and support aspiring and professional artists, including some of today’s most celebrated photographers;

Fernando Natalici’s iconic photography of the East Village art scene in the late 70′s and early 80′s includes sought after images of a young Jean-Michel Basquiat, Patti Smith, Talking Heads, Keith Haring, Blondie, The Ramones and more. In 1976 and 1977 Natalici was hired as Art Director and Still photographer of Amos Poe’s two seminal, underground Manhattan art films, “Unmade Beds” & “The Foreigner; and  

Leni Sinclair of MC5 fame, whose portfolio of of vintage photography documents Detroit’s counter-cultural movement and the City’s important place in Rock history. Sinclair’s works have appeared in countless newspapers, magazines, books, LP and CD covers over the years.  The exhibition will also feature: Prints from designer Mike Joyce’s critically acclaimed series Swissted.

LOT 180 launches in New York City at 52 Kenmare Street on Thursday July 24 at 6:30 p.m. and runs through September 1st.   Visit a preview of the exhibition at;  Instagram  @LOT180; Twitter @LOT180 and Facebook.

[Read more...]

Fraud, Theft & Restitution
Marion Maneker0July 22, 2014

Art Theft Is NOT the 3rd ‘Biggest Criminal Enterprise in the World’

Rembrandt Storm on the Lake of Galilee

Newsweek has had a story about art theft out for about a week that was recently updated. The editors didn’t choose to clarify this mis-leading characterization of art theft as the third “highest grossing criminal trade.” That’s just plain nonsense.

Art theft might cause monetary damage or loss at a level that puts it nominally behind selling drugs and weapons but no one who steals art is “grossing” or even netting value anywhere near the $6-8bn a year level. That’s because most art crime is a crime of opportunity where the thieves soon discover it is hard to sell a work of stolen art for anywhere near its value.

Think of it this way, bronze statues have recently been stolen from public spaces and sold for scrap metal. The work of art might have a high nominal value but the thieves are not receiving any money that is commensurate with the damage they’re causing. Nor did whomever stole Rembrandt’s Storm on the Sea of Galilee (above) from the Gardner museum.

With that in mind, read this from Newsweek:

If it seems hard to imagine that art crime is, according to the US Department of Justice and Unesco, the third highest-grossing criminal trade over the past 40 years (just behind drugs and weapons) […] The amount of criminal income generated by art crime each year is thought to be $6-8 billion, according to the FBI. In the UK, the value of art and antiques stolen each year is around £300m, second only to drug dealing and more costly than the theft of stolen vehicles. These figures are woefully inaccurate simply because we can’t possibly know about every single illegal trade that takes place, with some stolen, looted or forged pieces being sold multiple times. Worldwide, some 50,000-100,000 works of art are stolen each year. Not surprisingly only about 10% of stolen art is recovered, and successful prosecution occurs even less frequently.

After Drugs and Guns, Art Theft Is the Biggest Criminal Enterprise in the World  (Newsweek)

Marion Maneker0July 22, 2014

You Thought Today’s Art Prices Were Crazy? China Is No Stranger to a Hot Art Market

Huang Gongwang, Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains

The South China Morning Post offers this reminder that Chinese spending on art has often reached dizzying levels. This pocket history is a strong reminder of the persistence of an appetite for art:

art collecting is a Chinese passion as old as China itself. The first documented collection was that of the Emperor Wu of Han, who assembled a staggering ensemble of treasures in his Shanglin garden more than 2,000 years ago. Ming scholars and literati competed for artworks and wrote treatises on the art of collecting “superfluous things”.

As the country got richer during the Qing dynasty, art collecting became a desirable habit for those aspiring to social cachet. The art market boomed and numerous works of exquisite craftsmanship were produced. Contemporary collectors are part of this prestigious lineage of scholars and passionate collectors.

Given these economic and sociological factors, observers of the current art market craze might find it difficult to define what the right price should be for Chinese antiques. If history can teach us anything, it is that top-quality Chinese artworks have always been highly sought after and expensive.

Interestingly, records show that during the Ming dynasty, the highest price paid for any work of art was 1,000 ounces of silver for a painting by Yuan dynasty artist Huang Gongwang (Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains, currently in the National Palace Museum’s collections in Taiwan) in a transaction in 1630. As a matter of comparison, at that time, the price of a reasonably large city house was 200 ounces of silver, and a hectare of prime agricultural land was worth between 28 and 40 ounces, which makes this painting a worthy forebear to the record prices witnessed today.

Boom in Chinese art has roots in traditional passion for collecting | South China Morning Post.

Marion Maneker0July 22, 2014

Canada Holds a Stolen Indian Statue That No One Knows Is Missing

An interesting side note to the story of stolen cultural heritage items, especially from India. The Economic Times reveals that Canadian authorities are in possession of a statue that is clearly from India. Unfortunately, no one has reported the statue missing or stolen. No one, in fact, claims ownership:

The Department of Canadian Heritage has had an item in storage for the past three years that’s decidedly not North American in origin. It’s a life-size, red sandstone statue of a woman with a parrot on her bare shoulder. The voluptuous nature of the figure and various other unmistakable features clearly declare it to be a 12th century Khajuraho sculpture.

The Canadians have no problem returning the work but they’re apparently unable to do so because no theft was ever reported and therefore India can’t prove ownership.

Sculpture mystery: Stolen Indian artwork in Canadian custody raises minor diplomatic storm  (The Economic Times)

Marion Maneker0July 22, 2014

Australian Fake Trial Reveals Art-as-Investment Shenanigans

Louise McBride

Louise McBride’s lawyers got a lot of attention yesterday claiming that 30% of the art on Australia’s secondary market is fake. But what’s more striking about the Australian art market is the prevalence of using art as an investment asset for self-administered retirement funds. That fact brings us to the more interesting aspects of McBride’s case which include her having sold work to her retirement fund to gain access to much-needed cash:

Christie’s is fighting the claim on the basis that Ms McBride was not the owner of the artwork and therefore not the plaintiff, but rather it was either her husband’s company Laurentine, which made some of the payments on the loan, or the superannuation fund. No one had yet contended the artwork was in fact genuine.

Ms McBride was also questioned about a transaction in 2009 involving another artwork raised in the case, a Bronwyn Oliver sculpture, titled Tracery, estimated to be worth between $350,000 and $450,000, which she sold into her personal superannuation fund.

The Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act prevents related party transactions. As the beneficiary of the superannuation fund, Ms McBride was restricted from transferring assets she owned to the super fund.

Ms McBride admitted that, at that time, she and her former husband Greg Daniel, an advertising executive, were facing financial pressures. In email correspondence tendered in court, Westpac told Ms McBride her application for credit  “would not be looked at favourably” as her overdraft and credit cards were close to their limits.

Ms McBride wrote back that, in the worst-case scenario, she could sell down shares in her superannuation fund and use the cash to buy some of her art.

Christie’s questions ownership of painting and financing (Sydney Morning Herald)