Scottsdale Classic Car Sales =$292.8m; Avg Price Up 8%

$7.3m worth of classics, $4m Future Liner Bus and $3.3 Pontiac Bonneville Special sold at Barrett-Jackson
$7.3m worth of classics, $4m Future Liner Bus and $3.3 Pontiac Bonneville Special sold at Barrett-Jackson

Just to catch up on the classic car market, Scottsdale’s totals are in and the average price for a classic car sold in Scottsdale was up a very strong 8%:

The final hammer has fallen at the 2015 Scottsdale collector car auctions, and the results are in: With $292.8 million in sales from six different auctions, it’s been another record January in Arizona.

That’s a significant increase over 2014’s $248.6 million. But the overall total wasn’t the only thing that was up. Hagerty’s auction-watchers, who follow each and every sale as it happens, report that 2,532 lots were sold of 2,939 lots offered — an 86-percent sell-through rate, compared to last year’s 82 percent. Average prices were up, too: last year, the average lot price was $107,096. This year, it was $115,729.

With $292.8 million in sales, another record year for the Scottsdale collector car auctions | Autoweek.

NYTimes Art Market Reporter Bows Out with Bubbles on Her Lips

vogelCarol Vogel bows out of the New York Times with a long valedictory essay that probably should have been avoided. At a newspaper where reporters and editors regularly change beats both for their own good and the paper’s, Vogel has had a remarkably long tenure in the art market job.

Whatever other reasons there were for Vogel to remain in the position, one thing her final column reminded us of is her penchant for predicting an imminent market crash:

At both Sotheby’s and Christie’s in November, during the last round of big auctions, bidding at the top was noticeably thin. How soon before the bubble bursts?

The comment neatly echoes this one from November 2007:Continue Reading

Can Get Vettriano Off the ‘Road to Nowhere’?

Vettriano, The Road to Nowhere

A decade after Scottish self-taught painter Jack Vettriano’s breakthrough year, Bonhams over sees a very different sale. In April of 2004, Vettriano’s most famous image, The Singing Butler, was auctioned in his native Scotland for $1.3m. A few months later, according to Artnet’s auction database, there was a flurry of other strong sales. Eventually, his Bluebird at Bonneville re-tested the market highs at around $940k. Then the market for his work disappeared.

Now Bonhams is offering a dozen of the artist’s works, including The Road to Nowhere (above):Continue Reading

Artsy Math

Artsy Math

Artsy, the five-year-old startup that raised $26m and has 90 employees, released some numbers early this year on their site. Fortune magazine picked them up and made a story out of it. The story tries to answer the question, what’s the future for a company like Artsy.

They quote CEO Carter Cleveland who says galleries pay between $375 and $1400 annually. “We’re consciously leaving a lot of money on the table,” he says.

Artsy currently makes money two ways. First, it charges the galleries and art fairs a monthly subscription fee to access to the platform. (Thirty-seven art fairs used Artsy in 2014, including Art Basel, the Armory Show, and Frieze.) Second, it takes a small commission on benefit auctions, such as the Whitney Art Party and Brooklyn Museum Artists Ball.

In the best case scenario, following Artsy’s own numbers, the site would have revenue of $3.5m, (or $38k per employee) based on the numbers provided below:Continue Reading

The FT Gets Worked Up at Davos About the Art Market


With all of the turmoil in global markets and the problems with money laundering, The Financial Times focuses its efforts in Davos on … the art market. On a panel about the global art market, economist Nouriel Roubini makes some bold claims about the art market, including money laundering. But when he tries to back them up, we get very little in way of real facts. (The money laundering issue is surely a real and serious one but it always mentioned in passing and with no discussion of controls.

Instead, Roubini trots out the usual silliness that guarantees are price manipulation:

“Whether we like it or not, art is used for tax avoidance and evasion,” said Prof Roubini, himself an art collector. “It can be used for money laundering. You can buy something for half a million, not show a passport, and ship it. Plenty of people are using it for laundering.”

Prof Roubini argued that the art market had a series of characteristics that needed regulation. “While art looks as if it is all about beauty, as a business it is full of shady stuff,” he said. “We should correct it or it will be undermined over time.”

He said these weaknesses included routine trading on inside information, price manipulation through guarantees offered by dealers on auctioned work, and tax avoidance by the transfer of paintings within families. One reason why the art market was so strong in the US was favourable tax treatment, he said.

There’s more in a second story in the FT:Continue Reading

Supreme Court Won’t Hear Norton Simon Appeal Over Goudstikker Cranachs


The Norton Simon Museum has run out of appeals on its attempt to stop the lawsuit of Marei Von Saher over their Cranach, Adam and Eve paintings which were once owned by von Saher’s father Jacques Goudstikker:

Federal courts twice dismissed her suits on various grounds, including that they conflicted with U.S. policy leaving it up to the countries the art was turned over to to determine who should have it. Last year, however, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the suit involved a dispute “between private parties” and the policy did not apply.

That prompted the Norton Simon to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court won’t take up looted art at Norton Simon  (The Denver Post)

Independent Dealers Achilles Heel: Empty Expensive Retail Galleries


William Cash is writing about BRAFA in Spear’s but he touches upon what is becoming a recurring theme in the art market. Can dealers survive and support both a high value retail location and the endless round of international fairs? More to the point, are some dealers, as Cash suggests, captive to precious few “whale” clients?

one prominent old master Mayfair dealer said to me recently that he wasn’t sure why he bothered to rent a gallery space in London when the art market had become so fluid and art fair-centric.

‘You can’t pay rent for a highly visible London gallery and be at every major art fair. It’s just too expensive. You can spend £100,000 on a stand at an art fair like Masterpiece – while your gallery in Mayfair is empty. You need to sell two pictures to even break even. My clients enjoy travelling to Maastricht or Frieze Masters.’

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Carabinieri Seize $58m in Antiquities; Dealer Free

Italian Antiquities Siezed

The Italian national military police announced the seizure of a huge trove of stolen antiquities from Gianfranco Becchina:

Police estimated the value of the 5,361 vases, kraters, bronze statues and frescoes at $58 million.

The works, from the 8th century B.C. to the 3rd century, were laid out Wednesday at the Terme di Diocleziano National Roman Museum and may go on public display before being returned to museums in southern Italy, from where they originated. […]

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Adam Lindemann Is A Little Frustrated with the Art Market

Adam Lindemann

Adam Lindemann returns to print with some weary words on the challenges of getting collectors to focus on under-appreciated artists. Even taste-making collectors can feel outgunned by a “name brand” gallery:

In this money frenzy, new art drowns out the old. At the gallery (Venus Over Manhattan) we’ve shown Walter Dahn, William Copley and the great Jack Goldstein in an attempt to focus some well-deserved attention on overlooked or under-esteemed artists, but the market doesn’t appreciate piss in the wind, it would rather see more Shiraga or other flavors du jour.

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Gilbert & George Take Singapore

Gilbert & George

Gilbert & George are making a big push in Singapore this weekend with a major gallery show and strong representation at Art Stage Singapore. Local media in Singapore is swooning over the septuagenarian pair.

Winners of the 1986 Turner Prize, Gilbert & George — who describe themselves as “two people, one artist” — are in town for their first exhibition in Singapore at ARNDT Gallery in Gillman Barracks and will also be presenting a new work at Art Stage Singapore, which runs from tomorrow to Sunday.

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