Christie’s HK Sales Down Again for Third November in a Row

Bloomberg is throwing a few sales totals at the wall of public opinion and hoping some sort of impression sticks. Frederik Balfour reports on this weekend’s sales at Christie’s. Focusing solely on the Saturday night sales, the financial news outlet sees a distinct downward trend. That didn’t stop the Sanyu painting “Vase of Chrysanthemums on a Yellow Table” (above) from making HK$46 million or three times the high estimate.:

The London-based auction house sold HK$507.9 million ($66 million) worth of art at its Asian 20th Century and Contemporary auction, compared with HK$636 million at a similar event a year ago, and HK$935 million in November 2013. Saturday’s sale is the marquee event of Christie’s six-day Hong Kong autumn auction marathon.

“It’s softer this season for sure,” said Hong Kong-based adviser Jehan Chu, who runs Vermillion Art Collections. “There is uncertainty, especially over the economic and political outlook in China, that has made people skittish.”

The slowdown could also reflect a shift in buying patterns by wealthy Chinese clients who are spending larger sums in New York and Europe as they embrace more western works.

Christie’s Hong Kong Art Auction Feels China’s Economic Chill  (Bloomberg Business)

How Much of a Public Good Is That Private Museum? Senator Wants to Know

Credit: Billy Farrell Agency

The New York Times reports of rumblings around the tax exempt status of private museums ranging from the open-by-appointment to the civic centerpiece:

Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, the committee’s Republican chairman, sent letters this month to small galleries like the Brant Foundation Art Study Center in Greenwich, Conn., and Glenstone museum in Potomac, Md., as well as Eli and Edythe Broad’s new $140 million art museum in Los Angeles, asking for information about visiting hours, donations, trustees, valuations and art loans.

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ArtBasel Panel on Art In Times of Volatility

ArtBasel Panel Image.001

I will be moderating a panel at ArtBasel Miami Beach on Friday December 4th at 5pm in the Convention Center to discuss the art asset values against the backdrop of global economic volatility. The idea behind the panel is to have two prominent collectors whose professional lives give them insight into the global macro-economic environment and one art world professional with global clients and a keen sense of the market examine a wide range of topics within the current market. Come join us.

Hauser + Wirth Takes Over David Smith Estate with Plans to ‘Revist and re-contextualize the work’

David Smith

The New York Times had the announcement that the David Smith Foundation has moved to Hauser + Wirth. Peter Stevens, the artist’s son-in-law and head of the foundation, spoke to Robin Pogrebin:

“Hauser & Wirth strikes me as a gallery that has a new approach,” Mr. Stevens said.

It will include bringing the work of Mr. Smith — the sculptor perhaps most closely linked with Abstract Expressionism, who died in 1965 — to places like Asia and South America, “where there are very few of his works, if any,” Mr. Stevens said. “He’s known just from history books.”

Marc Payot, Hauser & Wirth’s partner and vice president, said the gallery would approach the work of Mr. Smith — who, he said, ranked with Giacometti and Brancusi — much as it did art by the sculptor Eva Hesse; it was not about establishing her historical importance so much as rediscovery.

“We focused on a lesser known body of work, brought in curators,” Mr. Payot said. “That’s what we are planning with Smith — to revisit and recontextualize the work.”

Art Basel Miami Beach: A Focus on Female Artists  (The New York Times)

Heffel Canadian Art = $23.4m

Lawren Harris, Tom Thomson, Alex Colville and Jean-Paul Riopelle drove Heffel’s Fall auction to new records for artists and Canadian art. Here are some bullet points from Heffel’s post-sale release. (All figures are in Canadian dollars.)

  • The leading lot in the fall sale was the extraordinary Lawren Harris canvas Mountain and Glacier, which outperformed its estimate of $1,000,000 to 1,500,000 and sold for a record $4,602,000.
  • Three outstanding works by Lawren Harris sold for a combined total of $9,499,000. Winter Landscape sold for an incredible $3,658,000 (est. $1,200,000 – 1,600,000) and Winter in the Ward for $1,121,000 (est. $500,000 – 700,000).
  • Spirited bidding drove Alex Colville’s Harbour past the million dollar mark to realize a final price of $1,888,000, exceeding its estimate and setting a new record for a Colville work at auction (est. $500,000 – 700,000).
  • Works by Jean Paul Riopelle saw major interest from bidders in the room and on the phones. The highly sought-after 1950s canvas Sans titre surpassed its presale estimate and achieved $1,239,000 (est. $500,000 – 700,000). Jour de fêtes also bested its estimate and sold for a noteworthy $531,000 (est. 150,000 – 250,000).
  • Tom Thomson’s historically significant After the Storm, believed by experts to be the last work he produced before his mysterious death, achieved $1,298,000 (est. $500,000 – 700,000).
  • Roy Lichtenstein’s Modern Room sold for a notable $141,600 (est. $60,000 – 80,000), setting a new world record for this print at auction and Barbara Hepworth’s sculpture, Three Forms (Three Horizontal Curves) sold for $342,000 (est. $200,000 – 300,000). Proceeds from the sale of the sculpture will benefit the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation.
  • A vibrant work by Guido Molinari from the artist’s estate, Mutation rythmique rouge-orange, sold for $247,800, setting a new auction record for a Molinari work (est. $100,000 – 150,000).
  • Libellules égarées by Paul-Émile Borduas, founding member of the Automatist movement, sold for a notable $507,400. The canvas was painted during Borduas’s sought-after New York period (est. $200,000 – 300,000).
  • A total of 13 artist records were broken in the fall auction including the sale of Our Carolers in Western Canada by William Kurelek for $383,500 (est. $90,000 – 120,000), Ivan Eyre’s Red Rough for $354,000 (est. $60,000 – 80,000) and Alfred Pellan’s La tour de Babel for $118,000 (est. $90,000 – 120,000).

Thea & Ethan Are OK in Jerry Saltz’s Book


You have to hand it to Jerry Saltz. At least he’s honest about who he thinks is a worthy collector and who isn’t. Bending over backwards to find something worthwhile to say about the Thea Westreich/Ethan Wagner donation show at the Whitney, he calls the show a sign of the Whitney’s new role as an important alternative to MoMA and the Met.

But Saltz also can’t help himself. He has to bring up the issue that animates him most: rich people buying art. But wait, that describes Westreich and Wagner. Worse, Westreich is an art advisor. Those people are evil.

Fear not. Turns out Jerry makes exceptions for those he considers in the club:

In a time of art flippers and dick-wagging trophy hunters who buy art alphabetically, by numbers and big names, with no personal taste whatsoever, assembling cookie-cutter collections, and using art as a placeholder, Westreich and Wagner are from another planet; call it Old School. I know them both a bit; I have seen them in galleries, at openings, and in the art world for 30 years. Each had been a collector before they met in 1991 and married soon thereafter. He’d been a Democratic Party organizer in California and collected ceramics and outsider art (in fact, giving a great Bill Traylor drawing to MoMA). She moved from Washington, D.C., to New York in 1988 and started an art-advisory business. Before you think, Ohhh, I get it; they’re icky art advisers, these two aren’t those kinds of wheeler-dealers. Both are extremely opinionated, speak their minds, can argue most people — including me — under the table, have been way out in front of different curves, and have highly individual taste. If you’re still cynically thinking, Yeah, but they’re still just more rich people buying famous art, as much as I loathe reducing art to prices, they paid $50 for their first Cindy Sherman, $7,500 for their first Christopher Wool, and $5,600 for their first Jeff Koons, a vacuum-cleaner sculpture they saw in the same Maiden Lane studio I saw it in — and still regret not keeping the ballpoint-pen drawing of an inflatable bunny he drew for me during that visit. They buy early and in depth, and stop collecting an artist when the work becomes too expensive. (It’s always been a mystery to me why artists like these, who’ve been supported early and often, don’t just gift works regularly to the same collectors.)

Can a Show This Dreary Be Good for a Museum?  (Vulture)

Keno Brothers Debut in Classic Car Market with $8.3m Sale


Keno Brothers

The Keno Brothers held their first sale of classic cars late last week in New York city bringing in $8.3m. The event had bidders and buyers from around the world with one Ferrari sold to Switzerland via the internet. The brothers next sale will be in June of 2016 at Hershey, PA.

  1. 1968 Bizzarrini Strada 5300 $1,010,800.00
  2. 1969 Lamborghini Miura P400 S $974,400.00
  3. 1965 Aston Martin DB5 $950,000.00
  4. 1968 Toyota 2000GT $683,200.00
  5. 1999 Lamborghini Diablo GT $616,000.00
  6. 1983 Porsche / March 83G-4 IMSA Racecar ‘Kreepy Krawly’$509,600.00
  7. 2013 Lamborghini Aventador 50th Anniversary $504,000.00
  8. 1929 Bugatti T40 $464,800.00
  9. 1997 Porsche Turbo 993 S Coupe $442,400.00
  10. 1961 Jaguar E Type Roadster Outside Bonnet Latch $380,800.00

Keno Brothers Fine Automobile Auctions

Serious Bidder at Sotheby’s Lights Up British Paintings Market

Colin Gleadell gets granular on the British paintings market. His revelation that Sotheby’s has guaranteed a lead work for this sale in London shows that while guarantees seem to be pulling back from the top end of the market, they are increasingly (this is anecdotal) appearing in middle-market sales which may or may not be a good thing:

At Sotheby’s, it was L.S Lowry who captured the headlines with a record £1.6 million for a portrait by the artist. Father and Two Sons was a grim image quite unlike his matchstick-men northern industrial landscapes, which Manchester collector Frank Cohen had bought in 1999 when it failed to sell at Christie’s with a £400,000 estimate. There wasn’t much bidding this time round either but Cohen didn’t need to worry because Sotheby’s had given him a guarantee before the sale somewhere in the region of its new £1.5 million estimate.

Gleadell also noticed that one bidder was very active in the market:Continue Reading

ArtList’s 5 Art World Updates: A Future Museum of Electronic Music & MoMA Plans for Expansion

Weekly post from ArtList, the online marketplace for private sales.


1. MoMA Plans for Major Expansion

This week the Museum of Modern Art in New York City officially filed plans for its rumored $93 million expansion to the institution’s existing building.

A rendering of the planned MoMA expansion (Curbed)

The addition, to be designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfrom, will be built over the property that was once the American Folk Art Museum, before MoMA purchased and demolished the building over a year ago. While the inclusion of apartment complexesin the museum’s expansion has garnered a great deal of attention, the plan also looks to turn the museum into a more dynamic gathering place, with theaters, more exhibition space, lounges, gardens and a library.

2. France Proposes Cultural Asylum Program in Face of Terrorism

After reopening in the face of terrorist attacks, France’s museums are now emerging at the forefront of an international effort to protect cultural treasures all over the world from the threat of terrorism.

An ISIS militant attacks a 7th century Assyrian statue in Mosul, Iraq (Getty Images)

Jean-Luc Martinez, president of Paris’ Musée du Louvre, has released a plan that would include France providing “asylum” to artifacts threatened or targeted by acts of terrorism and a new European committee to monitor possibly illicit art trades. France’s government is debating the plan but Martinez hopes that some version of its protectional efforts would be adapted by both the nation and UNESCO. More than protecting ancient culture, the proposed plan may be a way to combat terrorism itself, as Martinez estimates that around 20% of ISIS’ funding comes from the illicit sale of cultural objects they have looted.

3. Major Heist at Verona Museum

This past Thursday, three masked robbers entered the Castelvecchio Museum in Verona, Italy and made off with 15 artworks, worth a total of $16 million.

Jacopo Tintoretto’s “The Judgement of Solomon,” one of the works stolen from the museum (top) and the exterior of the Castelvecchio Museum in Verona ( artnet News & Telegraph)

The thieves entered the museum during the evening changing of its guards and took a guard and cashier hostage before stealing artworks by such Old Masters as Peter Paul Rubens, Andrea Mantegna, Giovanni Francesco Caroto and Hans de Jode. The robbers, taking part in a rising trend of museum robberies across Europe, were incredibly knowledgeable about both the structure of the museum and the artworks they were looking for. Authorities even speculated to The Telegraph that the robbery may have been executed at the order of a collector.

4. Mu Xin Subject of New Museum in China

While he was jailed by Chinese authorities during his lifetime for his intellectual role as an artist, writer and poet, the late Mu Xin has now received his own museum in his hometown of Wuzhen.

The new Museum in Wuzhen, China (left) and an example of Xin’s painting style that influenced the building’s design (artnet News & Yale)

The Mu Xin Art Museum, located an hour outside Shanghai, was designed by American firm OLI Architecture and is overseen by artist Chen Danqing, who studied with Xin in New York. The building itself, comprised of eight floating galleries, was influenced by the minimalistic, fluid style of Xin’s paintings. The galleries are filled with both permanent and temporary exhibitions including Prison Notes, a showcase of the art Xin created behind bars. Notes is iconic both in its recognition of Xin’s persevering dedication to create art and in its recognition of Xin’s dissident, criminal status. That such an artist could be honored with his own museum truly marks a new era in the relationship between China’s government and artists.

5. Electronic Music Museum Coming to Berlin

This week also posed the question: “Well, why shouldn’t techno music get its own museum?” As founder of club Tresor, a legendary Berlin club for techno and house music, Dimitri Hegemann is wondering just that.

Dimitri Hegemann (artnet News)

Hegemann is planing to open the Living Archive of Electronica in Berlin to recognize both the genre of music and Berlin’s key role in its cultural development. He has announced that the archive will open in the fall of 2016, marking the 25th anniversary of the Tresor club and directly competing with Frankfurt’s Museum of Modern Electronic Music that is set to open in 2017. Hegemann explained: “I will call it the Living Archive of Electronica because techno here in Berlin is still a living, inspiring and vivid movement.”

The Football Player Who Missed Being an Artist

Sean McGrath

Sean McGrath is a professional football player in the US. He quit playing last year to concentrate on his art but found he missed Football too:

McGrath, who graduated from Henderson State with a degree in art, used the time away from football to rediscover his creative side.

The native of Mundelein, Ill., began putting together a portfolio and attending lectures while living in Chicago with a goal of pursing a master’s degree in art.

“When I was living in the city, I was mostly working with paint and charcoal,” McGrath said. “I was pretty much living at the Art Institute (of Chicago), kind of just absorbing what was going on there. The art scene in the city, it’s just great.”

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