Christie’s London Contemporary Fights Fatigue with Bacon, Dubuffet & Single-Owner Collections

Gorvy Christie's Sale Pic

As you can see from Brett Gorvy’s mid-sale Instagram picture from the phone bank podium, there were empty seats up front at Christie’s marquee London sale of Contemporary art. Whether this indicates fatigue among buyers after a record-breaking year of sales or simply indicates the ease of access to the online feed and telephone bidding depends upon your perspective.

Buyers were clearly excited by some of the lots and collections on offer, but the lack of headline works may have reduced the appeal of squeezing into Christie’s King St. salerooms.

Katya Kazakina had this take on the top lots:

At Christie’s, the top two lots were paintings by Francis Bacon. A 1967 canvas, “Study for Head of Isabel Rawsthorne and George Dyer,” depicting two of the artist’s favorite subjects, fetched 12.2 million pounds, just above the high estimate. A 1971 work, “Two Men Working in a Field,” sold for 10.7 million pounds, also slightly surpassing the high target. The winner was art dealer Gary Tatintsian, who said he bought it for a Russian client.

She also spoke to art adviser Todd Levin who won an Alberto Burri during the sale:

“We are at the tail end of a season,” said Todd Levin, director of Levin Art Group in New York, who advises collectors. “Some people might be a little spent out; others are exhausted.”

“Dubuffet prices are now entering a new orbit,” Levin said. “I saw a number of frustrated friends in the audience who were throwing their hands up because the prices were going above what they were comfortable with.”

The biggest news of the night was negative, the lack of buyers for works by Gerhard Richter something that confirmed signals from Phillips the night before.

Here’s Kazakina:Continue Reading

Christie’s London Contemporary Evening = £95.6m

Phillips London Contemporary = £22.8m

Phillips London Evening 615

Phillips June Contemporary Art Auctions realised a combined total of £22,826,925 / $35,838,272 / €32,185,964 selling 73% by lot

Phillips Contemporary Art Evening Auction realised £18,192,400 / $28,562,068 / €25,651,284 selling 84% by lot.

The Contemporary Art Day Sale totalled £4,634,525 / $7,276,204 / €6,534,680 selling 70% by lot

Top Ten Evening Sale Lots

23 Ai Weiwei Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads, 2010 £3,442,500 / $5,404,725 / €4,853,925 WORLD RECORD FOR THE ARTIST AT AUCTION

30 Bruce Nauman Hanging Heads # 1 (Blue Andrew, Mouth Open …), 1989 £1,762,500 / $2,767,125 / €2,485,125

27 Andy Warhol Marilyn Monroe (portfolio of 10), 1967 £1,202,500 / $1,887,925 / €1,695,525

39 Sigmar Polke Carnival, 1979 £1,142,500 / $1,793,725 / €1,610,925

35 Ed Ruscha Ship Talk, 1988 £884,500 / $1,388,665 / €1,247,145

29 Andy Warhol Flowers, 1964 £722,500 / $1,134,325 / €1,018,725

11 Raqib Shaw Arrival of the Horse King from the series Paradise Lost, 2011-2012 £722,500 / $1,134,325 / €1,018,725

10 Sherrie Levine Caribou Skull, 2006 £494,500 / $776,365 / €697,245

22 Damien Hirst Veneration, 2007 £482,500 / $757,525 / €680,325

21 Takashi Murakami Pom and Me, 2010 £482,500 / $757,525 / €680,325


Top Ten Day Sale Lots

134 Damien Hirst Beautiful, beautiful, charity childrens, spin painting (with butterflies), 2007 £290,500 / $456,085 / €409,605

148 Yves Klein La Victoire de Samothrace, (S 9), 1962 £170,500 / $267,685 / €240,405

123 Banksy Love is in the Air (AKA Flower Thrower), 2010 £134,500 / $211,165 / €189,645

264 Stanley Casselman IR-40-16, 2013 £134,500 / $211,165 / €189,645

171 Mimmo Paladino Untitled, 1995 £110,500 / $173,485 / €155,805

125 Olafur Eliasson Untitled, 2002 £104,500 / $164,065 / €147,345

128 Gavin Turk Pile, 2004 £104,500 / $164,065 / €147,345 WORLD RECORD FOR THE ARTIST AT AUCTION

132 Marc Quinn Bahia Mangroves Brazil, 2009 £104,500 / $164,065 / €147,345

124 Nigel Cooke In Da Club – Me Time, 2010 £98,500 / $154,645 / €138,885

119 Rob Pruitt White Pandas, 2003 £92,500 / $145,225 / €130,425

Phillips Brings in £18.2m ($28.6m) with Ai Weiwei, Ruscha, Polke and Nauman

Phillips continues to make progress moving itself toward a meaningful position within the Contemporary art megaplex. Last night’s £18m sale was twice the total volume of the previous year’s event. Although the auction house is still bedeviled by its own habit of estimating works on aspirations rather than on realistic expectations.

Colin Gleadell points out that Phillips as come to hold a strong position in the markets of a few painters like Carrol Dunham and Ai Weiwei:

the top two for Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei. After they sold a set of gold plated zodiac figures by him for a record £2.9 million last February to Facebook founding president, Sean Parker, they led last night’s sale with a bronze set estimated at £3 million which they knocked down for precisely that: £3.4 million or $5.4 million including premium, and a new record.

Gleadell was also keeping his eye out for profits:Continue Reading

Want Access to the Best Business Deals? Join the Global UNHW Circuit

The Australian Financial Review had a little fun a few weeks ago with this concept of the UHNW global circuit. As they say, not every one of the rich attends every event with some focusing on the gatherings that pique their interests or present the best business opportunities.

For our purposes, this is another example of the phenomenon that has driven the art market for a decade, where buying art is the price of admission for many other benefits.

Here’s Jean Pigozzi’s take on the circuit where he says lots of business is getting done:

After attending the World Economic Forum in Davos in January, he flew to the TED ideas conference in Vancouver, mingling with the likes of Yuri Milner, the tech investor, and Larry Page of Google at the “billionaires’ dinner.” Next came the art auctions in New York and the Cannes Film Festival, where he threw a pool party attended by Woody Allen, Uma Thurman and billionaire Paul Allen.

In the next few weeks, after the Art Basel fair, he will be off to the Wimbledon tennis tournament and “the Mediterranean milk run” – the summer megayacht procession leading from St. Tropez to Portofino and Capri.

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Islamic State Looting Artifacts Estimated at $300m

Bloomberg looks at ISIL’s looting and smuggling:

Islamic State acts as a supplier for a complex chain involving at least five brokers and dealers, said Michael Danti, an adviser to the U.S. State Department on plundered antiquities from Iraq and Syria. The extremists are closely linked to Turkish crime networks in the border towns of Gaziantep or Akcakale, he said.

Once the artifacts are smuggled into Turkey, a broker will cash them for resale to dealers who have pockets deep enough to pay for storage and wait up to 15 years to sell, when law enforcement is less focused on them.

Archaeologists estimate that as much as $300 million worth of antiquities are now flooding the market through Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan as part of Islamic State’s transactions.

Islamic State Is Selling Looted Art Online for Needed Cash (Bloomberg Business)

Phillips London Contemporary Sale Highlights

Marina Picasso’s Ceramics 100% Sold at Sotheby’s


Marina Picasso's Pitcher

Marina Picasso’s collection of unique ceramics by her grandfather were 100% sold at Sotheby’s today for an estimate beating £12.3m ($19.3m.) Here’s some of Sotheby’s press release on the sale:

The ‘White Glove’, 100% sold, auction saw 87% of lots achieving prices above their high estimates.

James Mackie, Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art specialist, said: “Today’s auction of unique Picasso ceramics was a landmark moment for sales of the artist’s work, setting a new benchmark for this medium. […] Unlike Picasso’s editioned ceramics, each work is truly a one-off and this is why we saw such a fevered demand from collectors.”

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