Among the interesting nuggets in Kelly Crow’s WSJ story on how both auction houses are reaching out to new collectors is this gem:
A third of Sotheby’s 1,550 employees are assigned to look after at least 9,000 top collectors, a job that entails everything from researching bidders’ financial standing to digging through catalogs for objects that might intrigue them.
Christie’s contemporary specialist Brett Gorvy keeps a revolving list of at least 141 collectors who can afford to spend $50 million or more on art trophies. At least 16 of those names were added to the roster in the past year alone. Mr. Gorvy, who declined to reveal the names on his list, said he started it 15 years ago using information from Christie’s client database. He shuffles his rankings regularly to reflect changes in their bidding activity. At the outset, he said most of the collectors on his list were at least 70 years old and worked for major corporations. Today, a majority are in their 40s and 50s and run their own companies.
Some 26 people on the list are from Asia, including four who were “completely new to us” last fall when they separately placed bids above $80 million for a Francis Bacon triptych that Christie’s offered for sale.
The Anatomy of a Xin-sation: How Christie’s Brought Chinese Buyers to Its Record-Making Contemporary Sale
In May, Christie’s Xin Li stunned the audience at the record Contemporary art sales with a string of Chinese clients bidding aggressively on major lots. Now, Kelly Crow reveals the anatomy of Christie’s efforts to cultivate these new buyers:
In early May, Christie’s invited a group of 18 new collectors from China to visit New York. The auction house escorted the guests on guided tours through the Museum of Modern Art, arranged VIP tickets to a local art fair and threw a lavish dinner in the Rockefeller Center ballroom of Christie’s. Auctioneers also reserved two discreet skyboxes overlooking the house’s saleroom so the group could watch its major spring sales of Impressionist, modern and contemporary art.
Christie’s efforts paid off: During its May 13 contemporary art sale, members of the group placed bids on at least half the top 10 priciest pieces in what became an historic, $745 million auction. The group, mostly women, used telephones in their skybox to call a Christie’s specialist standing in the saleroom, Xin Li, a former actress and model in China. She often had to toggle three telephones at a time in order to field their overlapping bids. By sale’s end, members of the group bid on or won a gallery’s worth of masterpieces—including a $66.2 million Mark Rothko abstract, a $33.7 million Jeff Koons sculpture of a train, a $29.2 million Gerhard Richter squeegee abstract and a $26 million Alexander Calder sculpture of a “Fish,” a Chinese symbol of prosperity.
Carol Vogel announces Christie’s big get for the fall Impressionist and Modern sales. This Manet has been in the Payne family for a century after the Cleveland financier, Oliver Hazard Payne, bought it from Paul Durand-Ruel. The picture had been on loan to the National Gallery in Washington:
Édouard Manet’s 1881 portrait of the actress Jeanne Demarsy in a flowery dress and bonnet was intended as an evocation of spring. Painted in profile, her model-perfect silhouette, with a lacy parasol resting on her shoulder, is likely to be blown up and displayed in Christie’s Rockefeller Center windows as a teaser to the auction house’s big fall auctions. “Le Printemps,” as the painting is titled, is viewed as a star of the Nov. 5 Impressionist and Modern art sale, where it is expected to sell for $25 million to $35 million.
Before an important painting or sculpture like this one comes to auction, experts often try to sell it privately first. According to several dealers, Christie’s officials offered it to several mega-rich collectors for around $55 million over the last six months. When no one bit, Christie’s decided to offer it at auction at a far lower price.
Summer Treats in the Met’s European Galleries (NYTimes.com)
The incomparable Jori Finkel tells the story of the original, and possibly only truly successful, art fund in The Art Newspaper. In 1904, André Level created an art fund that liquidated 10 years later for nearly four times the initial outlay. Although this early fund is often referred to, Finkel gives us great detail that reveals the fund to be more of a buying club than an art fund.
It also seems to have pioneered a form of artist’s guarantee whereby Picasso was paid a 300 franc deposit on his Family of Saltimbanques, the fund’s most successful purchase, and given the opportunity to improve upon the 1000 franc purchase price by finding another buyer.
Here Finkel lays out the terms:
Level laid out the basic principles in a contract signed in February 1904. Each investor would contribute FF250 a year towards art purchases for the collection, to be dissolved after ten years. Should the enterprise prove profitable, they would receive their money back, plus 3.5% interest. Any further profits would be distributed to Level (20%) and the artists (20%) before going to the investors. In the meantime, investors would have access to the works to decorate their homes. Level would serve as the director and would decide on each acquisition, with the help of a two-person advisory committee that had the power of veto. The group was young (most members were under the age of 30), and most were bankers and businessmen who played cards together.
The story of the original and greatest art fund (The Art Newspaper)
The Guardian announces the Tate’s 2015 program of major sculpture retrospectives. Calder’s already powerful market will get international recognition on a major scale at Tate Modern and Barbara Hepworth will receive a Summer survey at Tate Britain:
Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture will trace the works of the groundbreaking sculptor, born in 1898, from his initial years entertaining the artistic bohemia of interwar Paris with works such as Calder’s Circus, to his later life when he gained renown for his mobile and stabile sculptures.
The exhibition, which opens at Tate Modern in November and will run till spring 2016, will include a wide selection of Calder’s motorised constructions and figurative wire portraits, often inspired by the circus or cabaret, alongside his suspended kinetic sculptures of vividly coloured shapes. It was these works of wire and sheet metal that are now seen as the invention of the mobile, a termed first coined by dada artist Marcel Duchamp.
The Tate Britain’s summer show will also be dedicated to sculpture, with the first major exhibition of Cornish artist Barbara Hepworth for almost 50 years. Hepworth, born in 1903, was one of the most successful artists in the world during the 1950s and 60s. The Tate will chart her progress from small carvings made as an emerging artist to the magnificent bronzes that were celebrated across North America and the far east as well as in the UK. Among the 70 pieces on show will be rarely seen works by Hepworth, including textiles, drawings, collages and photograms.
Vernissage TV goes to the Richard Prince show in Austria:
The American artist Richard Prince is mainly known for his photographs of iconic pictures from pop culture and his text images of chauvinist jokes. The exhibitionIt’s a Free Concert at Kunsthaus Bregenz is the first large-scale solo show by Richard Prince in an Austrian institution. On display are works that revolve around rock and pop music, sex, and American car culture. In this video, we attend the opening reception of the exhibition on July 18, 2014.
Sarasota magazine takes a leisurely tour of the concept of art collecting with smattering of local residents. Each one has a different story to tell. Keith Monda, who collects toys and Contemporary art is a good example of how every collector tells a different story:
Keith Monda, philanthropist and former corporate executive, jokes that he has the “collector’s gene.” As a child, he amassed comic books, toys, marbles and even matchbook covers. Now his focus is on antique toys and modern and contemporary art.
His home overlooking the Gulf of Mexico contains what likely is one of the most stunning private displays of modern and contemporary works in Sarasota, epitomized by a large aluminum sculpture, on a rise between his pool and the beach, by Chattanooga-based John Henry, known in the U.S. and Europe for creating monumental works out of metal. Inside the house, impressive pieces include a series of color-splotched paintings by Bauhaus artist Josef Albers, who emigrated to the U.S. from Nazi Germany, and a 10-foot-by-10 foot painting by the versatile Spaniard Teo González, filled with thousands of individual sea-bluish squares so painstakingly drawn that, at initial glance, it appears to be a textured tapestry. There’s also a tall and striking work by British sculptor Julian Opie, in which a woman’s painted silhouette is sandwiched between two pieces of clear glass. It exerts a siren call on a visitor seeing it for the first time.
Inside the Fascinating, Frenzied World of Art Collecting (Sarasota Magazine)
Per Skarstadt just bought a five-story townhouse, at 115 East 73rd Street between Park and Lexington Avenues:
“Per really wanted it,” said Wiggins. “We spoke like every two weeks for like two and a half years. Then the broker called me and said it was back on.” […]
Wiggins said the 10,000-square-foot mansion would be gut renovated. “It needs everything,” she said. She said the house was designed by architects Buchman & Fox, who also designed the Sherry-Netherland Hotel. It has 12-foot ceilings on each floor, floor-to-ceiling windows on the second floor and a garden in the back.
Wiggins said Skarstedt plans to use the townhouse as a residence. His eponymous gallery has three locations — 20 E. 79th Street, 550 West 21st Street and 23 Old Bond Street in London.
Art dealer pays $17M for Burkina Faso’s former UN residence (The Real Deal)
Dealbook covered the announcement of Asher Edelman’s new project, Artemus which will “lease works by well-known artists like Andy Warhol and Frank Stella under leases of five years or longer for annual fees he estimated might be 6 percent to 12 percent of the artworks’ market value. Some of the leases may also include an option to purchase.”
“A lot of tenants are interested in fine art but may not have the time or money to get involved to acquire the art or to finance the art,” said David Neil, chief administrative officer of the leasing and marketing division of the Durst Organization. “We believe this venture will be a tremendous amenity and benefit for tenants not only in our buildings but elsewhere.”
A Wall Street raider in the 1980s, Mr. Edelman, 74, said the leasing business would be called Artemus, which he described as a male variation on Artemis, the Greek goddess of the hunt. Another partner in the venture is David Storper, a distressed-investing expert who worked for 16 years with Wilbur Ross, leaving W.L. Ross & Company in 2012.
Mr. Neil said Mr. Edelman proposed the art-leasing venture after Durst’s chairman, Douglas Durst, visited his East Side gallery, Edelman Arts, about a year ago. Mr. Edelman has since advised Mr. Durst on art for one of his office buildings. His main business, ArtAssure Ltd., offers art-related loans, sale guarantees and the purchase of large collections.
Among Durst-owned Manhattan properties are One Bryant Park, the Manhattan flagship office of Bank of America; 4 Times Square, headquarters of Conde Nast; four buildings on Third Avenue; and three more on the Avenue of the Americas. Durst is also an effective co-developer of One World Trade Center with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Michael Fox writes a letter to the Australian Financial Review suggesting that the Australian government is letting a prime opportunity to regulate the local art market lapse. The resale royalties program has never caught on in Australia. Dealers find it an imposition of tiresome paperwork. But Fox suggests raising the threshold on which sales are reported to the royalty scheme would relieve the pressure of paperwork and alert the government to larger transactions:
For just as the federal government is watering down the finance advisory laws, it is also allowing the art market integrity measures implicit in the resale royalty scheme – where artists receive a payment if their work is sold by others – to either die a natural death or be repealed.
No new funds were allocated to the resale royalty scheme in this year’s budget. […] But there is definitely a case for retention of the scheme if the threshold was lifted to the same level as for the reporting of cash transactions to AUSTRAC.
A threshold of $10,000 would mean only valuable art trades are reported. It would also create a disincentive for the peddling of dubious art works.
Art resale royalties laws dealt harsh hand (Australian Financial Review)