Former Sotheby’s Chairman Al Taubman Dies at ’91

Alfred Taubman
Alfred Taubman

The man who bought Sotheby’s as a White Knight only to demand the firm change its forbidding manner and make itself more accessible to luxury buyers has died. Al Taubman deserves a lot of credit for creating the conditions that spawned the current unprecedented expansion of the art market. Here’s how his hometown paper started his obituary:

A. Alfred Taubman’s self-made wealth — as a pioneer who helped revolutionize how America shops — fueled a lifetime of varied philanthropy and support for civic institution and the arts, including his deep commitment to the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Taubman, the Pontiac native who helped bring malls to America and who became one of Michigan’s most important donors to museums and universities, died Friday of a heart attack in his home in Bloomfield Hills. He was 91.

Taubman’s impact on Detroit and Michigan is broad and deep. He made direct donations of money and gifts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the Detroit Institute of Arts, University of Michigan, Lawrence Technological University and others.

“Al Taubman changed the way America shops. But his greatest legacy will be how he used his fortune to help people in Michigan and beyond,” Gov. Rick Snyder said in a written statement. “He will be long remembered not just for his retail genius, but for the lives he touched through his kindness.”

Taubman: ‘His loss leaves a huge hole in our community’ (Detroit Free Press)

Blue Period Picasso In Rybolovlev’s €1.9bn Collection

Picasso’s ‘Les Noces de Pierrette’

Georgina Adam noticed something in an inventory of the works Dimitri Rybolovlev bought from Yves Bouvier, a lost Picasso. We noticed this bit of simple math: Rybolovlev bought 37 works for €1.9bn or an average price of €51m per work of art.

one forgotten painting to emerge in the Bouvier case is Picasso’s “Les Noces de Pierrette” (1905). According to an article in Le Monde, it is one of 37 works of art in the €1.9bn art collection that Rybolovlev bought from Bouvier. The rather washed-out Blue Period painting last appeared in public in Paris in 1989, at the height of the “Japan boom”, and was sold via a telephone link to Tokyo, to Tomonori Tsurumaki, a Japanese developer, for $51.3m. At the time it was the highest price paid for a work of art at auction. The following year, the Japanese bubble burst and the painting was repossessed by the Lake Credit Company and then went to GE Capital — and all trace of it disappeared. Now we know where it ended up.

The Art Market: Blue Period Picasso emerges  (

A Bipolar Market: Manic Prices, Depressed Values

Art Cologne

This talk was presented by Todd Levin at Art Cologne as part of a panel discussion with Harald Falkenberg + Andreas Rumbler titled “Development of the International Art Market from the viewpoint of top players.”
Art Congress Cologne – 17 April 2015

I am delighted to be back in Cologne, and I would like to thank Daniel Hug for the generous invitation he extended to me to attend this year’s Art Congress Cologne and share some thoughts with you here on this dry and lovely morning.

Pascal called the imagination “…the mistress of the world, the superb power…it disposes all things….it creates beauty, justice, and happiness…” If we accept Pascal’s premise – that the imagination is the power of the mind over things, then we immediately realize that the Artist’s role is not to lead us out of the havoc that we find ourselves in the midst of everyday. Nor is the role of the Artist and their imagination to comfort us while we are constantly barraged with an onslaught of information from myriad sources. I think that the role of the Artist is to make their imagination ours, to gradually watch their imagination spark in our mind. The role of the Artist, in short, is to help us live our lives. The Artist does this by creating a world to which we can turn to, again and again, so that we eventually are unable to conceive of our lives without that Artist’s imagination and feeling. Art is the crucial interface between the imagination and reality, the thing that makes life deeper and broader than what it might be without such insight.

Art, therefore, is fundamentally about generating new ideas and new forms through the creation of the Artist’s personal language. As a creator of language (rather than a packager of language), Artists do not belong to a social group already molded by culture, but to a culture which they are themselves building up here and now, at this very present moment in time. In order to create a personal language, every great Artist continually breaks with the past by refracting the entire historical and cultural range of earlier ideas and forms.

The Art market, on the other hand, is only about the packaging of the Artist’s personal language, and the marketplace where that language can be branded, bought, and sold. The Art market, therefore, is simply an apparatus through which the Artist is threaded into the Art world. The recent vertiginous rise in demand for contemporary Art is already well documented, will be repeatedly discussed here today ad nauseam, and requires no additional proof. But one must logically ask the question “what is responsible for this exponential growth curve?”Continue Reading

Why Liu Yiqian Can Flaunt His Wealth in China

Liu Yiqian

Bloomberg tries to mock Liu Yiqian for his attention-seeking art buying but reveals in the process why the self-made man is free from China’s corruption crackdown:

“I’m not nervous at all, because all my wealth is out in the open and there is nothing to worry about,” Liu says in an interview in one of his Shanghai museums. “Every country has experienced an anti-corruption campaign at some time.” […]

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Lost Pollock Among 31 Works in New Dallas Museum Show

Marx Pollock Black Painting

Gavin Delahunty of Dallas Museum of Art discovered a lost Jackson Pollock “black painting” (example above) while putting together a show Wade Guyton and Julie Mehretu inspired him to curate

Mr. Delahunty has secured 31 black paintings between the two museums. (The largest previous museum grouping was 17 in William Lieberman’s 1967 Pollock retrospective at MoMA.) “Number 24, 1951,” classified as missing in the 1978 Pollock catalogue raisonné, was found in a private American collection and will be one of several works on view for the first time since the early 1950s. Mr. Delahunty will also show five of Pollock’s six existing sculptures, including a terra-cotta piece painted black that resembles a Medusa’s head and looks like a three-dimensional black painting.

Two Museums to Host Pollock ‘Black Pourings’  (

Rothko Seagram’s Mural No. 10 at Christie’s