Marion Maneker0September 02, 2014

The Andersons Were Smart Collectors, They Bought from the Best Curators

William Rubin

Another nice tidbit from Art + Auction’s profile of Harry and Mary Magaret Anderson is this story of how the couple bought a group of paintings from legendary MoMA curator William Rubin.

Imagine the furor today if this same transaction took place at current prices:

In the early 1970s, Rubin sold the couple five major works from his own collection—a sculpture by David Smith and canvases by Willem de Kooning, Adolph Gottlieb, Rothko, and Clyfford Still. The collectors acquired two 70 other canvases by Still at the time, the largest of which they donated to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1974. The gift caught the attention of the notoriously cantankerous and controlling artist. “He was very curious to know who, all of a sudden, had three paintings,” remembers Moo, who received a call from Still’s wife that year saying they were visiting San Francisco and wanted to see the Andersons if they would send a car. “Of course, I was the car,” says Moo, who still motors around Palo Alto in her 1979 Porsche 911.

Collector Profile: Harry and Mary Margaret Anderson (BLOUIN ARTINFO)

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Marion Maneker0September 02, 2014

Detroit’s Art Doesn’t Hang In the Balance This Month in Court

The Detroit Institute of Arts

There’s been some heavy breathing about the Detroit bankruptcy trial that opens today. The assumption that the Grand Bargain securing Detroit’s art from sale is at risk comes from the tactics of the bond insurers who have begun to attack the very Federal judges overseeing the process as mediators and sitting on the bench in this trial.

Although there are very real and untested legal issues as stake in Detroit’s bankruptcy, the presiding judge has already signaled his strong preference that solutions not focus on one-time asset sales like the one contemplated with Detroit’s art.

Last week, Syncora leaked an appraisal of Detroit’s art that was twice the previous high mark and ten times the value of the Grand Bargain. Earlier, the firm accused the mediator, Judge Gerald Rosen of being biased in favor of the retirees. That’s not usually the smartest move, as the New York Times explains:

“It’s going from hardball to really hardball,” said David Skeel, a bankruptcy law professor at the University of Pennsylvania. “It sure seems like Syncora has concluded that they will not get what they want either out of the mediator or the bankruptcy judge, and they’re using a scorched-earth policy to see if they can win on some kind of appeal.”

Last week, Judge Rhodes called Syncora’s accusations “manifestly improper and false” and ordered them stricken from the court record.

So whatever happens during this month’s trial, any decision that would result in Detroit being forced to sell art would be far off:

But even after Detroit leaves bankruptcy court, its issues will by no means be over. Legal appeals of the city’s blueprint are likely. The city can expect years of financial oversight from a commission that includes representatives of the state as part of the deal struck to send state money to help spare pension cuts. And the city’s larger questions will still loom: Can it actually begin rebuilding its tax base, financial stability and population, which has fallen below 700,000 and some demographers predict will drop still more?

One Judge to Decide the Future of Detroit  (

Auction Results
Marion Maneker0September 02, 2014

Jeffrey Smart Leads Sotheby’s Australia’s Mid-Winter Sale to $6.26m Showing

Jeffrey Smart, The Red Warehouse 878k AUSD

Three of four works by Jeffrey Smart, the South African artist who died last year, made 1.49m AUS last night at Sotheby’s in Australia. The entire sale made $6.26m with 75 % of the 95 lots offer finding buyers:

Smart’s 2003 painting The Red Warehouse sold for $878,400, more than double its $400,000 low estimate. The price included Sotheby’s 22 cent buyers’ premium, the auctioneer’s charge on top of the winning bid. Smart, who died last year, was represented at the auction with four paintings. Radial Road, 1972, achieved the second-highest result, fetching $610,000. The estimate was $500,000 to $700,000. Radial Road had been in the same family since it was bought from a Melbourne gallery the year Smart painted it. San Cataldo II, 1964, sold for $268,400, and the estimate was $220,000 to $280,000.

The fourth work by Smart was passed in.

Meanwhile, a new auction record was set for a painting by Dorrit Black. The Pink House, 1928, sold for $73,200, almost double its $40,000 lowest estimate and her 1944 painting, A Dorset Farmyard, sold for $54,900, also almost double what was expected. It was the first time either painting had ever been auctioned, or publicly viewed in decades. The previous record for a Black painting at auction was set in 2002 when Nude with Cigarette sold for $33,400. The artist’s overall auction record is $84,493 for a linocut, The Eruption, sold in London.

SA artist Jeffrey Smart painting sells for $878,400 at Sotheby’s Important Australian & International Art auction in Sydney

Marion Maneker0September 02, 2014

Classic Car Prices Make Asset Watchers Nervous

Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta 38m Bonhams 2014

James B. Stewart gets worried about the classic car market in the New York Times because Bonhams sold a Ferrari 250 for $38m. What’s interesting about Stewart’s take is how it repeatedly uses the art market as a foil to the car market’s advantage and detriment. There is also the knee-jerk tendency to locate the rise in all asset prices in the Federal Reserve policies.  the latter is noteworthy here because the car market has been running on a different track from the art market with a pronounced rise later and, now, lasting longer than the rise in art market prices that ran from 2010-2013:

“I’m becoming increasingly uneasy,” Scott Grundfor recently wrote in his newsletter for car collectors. (Mr. Grundfor’s company also restores and consults on classic cars.) “I’ve firmly believed at least 50 percent of the dramatic rise in car values can be attributed to the printing of money and the manipulation of interest rates by central banks.” […]

“I’d like to see a leveling off” of prices, said Keith Martin, a car collector and founder of Sports Car Market magazine. “This can’t go on forever.”

But others dispute the idea that classic cars are in a bubble. Mr. Hagerty, for one, said he saw none of the leverage or uninformed speculative buying that characterized the surge in prices during the late 1980s. Mr. Martin, too, said he saw few signs of excess. “The people who are buying are very discreet,” he said. “You don’t see any of the exuberant buying that you see at the art auctions.” […]

“The $38 million raised eyebrows, but it’s less than a third the price of the most expensive painting,” said Eric Y. Minoff, a car specialist at Bonhams, which also sells fine art. “And cars are also usable objects. A few collectors keep them locked up in climate-controlled garages, but most drive them.”

With $38 Million Ferrari, Classic Car Market Revs Up (

Art Fairs
Marion Maneker0September 01, 2014

Pearl Lam Stars at Melbourne Art Fair but Sales Still Lag

Melbourne Art Fair 2014

Fragmentary reports from the Melbourne Art Fair have photography sales down and galleries still organizing sales reports. The Biannual event peaked in 2008 with a$12.1m. 2010 saw a brisk recovery to A$11m but a slow taper to 2010′s A$8m which is the projected tally for this year too:

An official attendance numbers puts 2014 at 19,800 (paid) visitors compared to about 22,000 in 2012, although Pappas said that a new counting method was introduced this year so that that a repeat visitor was only counted once. […] Pappas said photography did not do so well this year. “Sales could have been better,  but photography is not very expensive so you have to sell high volume.” […]

Pappas said getting the Hong Kong based, international dealer Pearl Lam to sell at the Fair this year was important.

Earlier this Summer, Artnet’s news site had these sales:

  • Sullivan+Strumpf: Large paintings by Sam Leach sold for just under AUD$50,000, with smaller pieces between AUD$20,000 and $30,000.
  • Sophie Gannon also sold four pieces by Cressida Campbell, the largest at AUD$55,000
  • Beaver Galleries sold Thornton Walker’s chillingly beautiful painting Three figures in a glade for AUD$28,000.
  • Watters Gallery: Ken Whisson’s 1975 work Two Aeroplanes and One or Two Birds sold for AUD$55,000
  • William Mora Galleries had huge success with Brian Martin’s Methexical Countryscapes, selling seven of the large-scale charcoal drawings of trees for just under AUD$11,000 each.
  • Greenaway Art Gallery in Adelaide and GAGPROJECTS in Berlin, placed an impressive large-scale Juz Kitson installation with a new collector for AUD$11,000.
  • Martin Browne Contemporary’s exhibition of Peter Cooley’s earthenware kangaroos have been immensely popular. At the end of the first day, the Sydney dealer had sold all but one of the 16 pieces, with the larger works selling around the AUD$8,500 mark; Fiona Lowry, two large canvases, one for AUD$28,000. Baden Pailthorpe, the young video artist in the Browne stable, sold a double-channel work for AUD$18,000
  • Gallerysmith sold seven of Lucas Grogan’s nine circular, spinning paintings, each AUD$4,500.

A ‘happy’ Melbourne Art Fair but still waiting for final figures (Daily Review)

Melbourne Art Fair Delivers Buoyant Sales and Attendance (artnet News)

Marion Maneker0September 01, 2014

Learning from Hunk: One Museum Leader’s Debt to a Collector

Neal Benezra

Since we opened the can of worms on collectors (below), let’s look at the rarely mentioned flip-side where collectors mentor the museums. Here, in Art & Auction’s excellent piece on Harry and Mary Margaret Anderson’s collecting, we hear from SFMoMA’s Neal Benezra who learned a lot from Harry:

From early on, they have regularly opened both their house and the office to groups and students. In 1975 they initiated an intern program, giving Stanford Ph.D. candidates the opportunity to work with the collection, which continues today. More than 30 graduate students have participated, including Neal Benezra, now director at SFMOMA, who was one of the first interns to work with the couple in their home. “I don’t think mentor is too strong a word,” the director says of his relationship with Hunk. Unlike many students pursuing doctoral degrees, Benezra was not pulled toward a career in academia. “The opportunity to work with such important collectors gave me direct exposure to works of art and, ultimately, museums,” he says. “It’s a different kind of art history. Working with Hunk every day, I learned about the real world of art.”

Collector Profile: Harry and Mary Margaret Anderson  (BLOUIN ARTINFO)

Marion Maneker0September 01, 2014

For Vedovi, A ‘Competitive Differentiator’ Became an ‘Absolute Necessity’

Vedovi Brothers

The Vedovi brothers (Paolo, left, and Willem, right) are fixtures on the international gallery circuit. So when Willem does a little PR, it’s worth hearing his views on the way the market has changed during their 20-year tenure selling art:

You are known as a multilingual man and the gallery Vedovi seems to have been internationally-focused from the very beginning. Does globalization really change something to the way art galleries work?

Willem Vedovi: You are right, the art market has long been international. But now it is becoming global and that is a game-changing trend. My brother and I have been running the gallery Vedovi for nearly 20 years, and today’s art market has little to do with what it was when we founded the gallery. Globalization is responsible for most of this change. With the emergence of new countries interested in art, we have had to adapt to new types of artists and collectors from Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, to understand and meet their expectations, to develop the recognition of our gallery in the new art capitals etc. It is a whole new level of ‘international’.

It definitely changes how the gallery Vedovi operates. I was lucky enough to have lived in different countries and develop both language skills and a certain proclivity for the international, and it has always been beneficial to the gallery… But what was then a competitive differentiator is now an absolute necessity. And we work hard to expand our international reach: this is why we attend more and more international art events such as the SP-Arte Sao Paulo.

Willem Vedovi: the Challenges of the Art Market

Marion Maneker0September 01, 2014

Lost in Translation: Should Directionless Private Collections, Driven by Enthusiasm and Sociability, Become Museums

Robert and Karen Duncan

Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal took a look at Karen and Robert Duncan’s 2,000-work collection of Contemporary art ranging from Louise Bourgeois and Bruce Nauman to Yinka Shonibare and Kiki Smith. The Duncans have taken over a Carnegie library in their hometown of Clarinda, Iowa. They’re turning it into another private museum of Contemporary art. That may be a really good thing:

“We tend to be so focused on the two coasts and a place like Chicago,” says Lisa Corrin, director of Northwestern University’s Block Museum of Art in Evanston, Ill. “But there are extraordinary people who are very serious about contemporary art—acquiring great works, putting together collections—far away from the usual centers. I think [the Duncans] are some of the most interesting people doing this that I’ve met in a long time.”

But there’s also something to worry about when you read that the collector’s primary motivation is hanging around with artists:

“We love the connection to artists,” said Mr. Duncan, who is chairman emeritus of Duncan Aviation, his family’s aircraft-service firm, as well as a director of the International Sculpture Center, the American Craft Council and other groups. “There is nothing we would rather do than have dinner with an artist or a group of artists. We thrive on that.”

And even their fans in the museum community strive to come up with positive ways to characterize a collection that lacks discipline or a defining principal. Those traits are surely what should animate a private collection but does that justify creating a museum?

The couple hasn’t pursued a particular direction in their collecting, preferring to buy whatever appeals. The result is a collection that ranges across many mediums, styles and geographical origins. “I think that’s what brings energy to it,” says Mr. Neubert, who later served as director of the San Antonio Museum of Art in Texas. “You’re going to encounter the unexpected. It reflects them as individuals.”

That said, the Duncans lean toward figurative and narrative art, as well as works by women including Georgia O’Keeffe, Beverly Pepper, Niki de Saint Phalle and Judith Shea. They also are committed to big outdoor sculptures by Dennis Oppenheim, Sophie Ryder and others, which dot the 40 acres around their Nebraska home.

Duncans Build World-Class Art Collection  (WSJ)

Marion Maneker0August 29, 2014

What’s Hot in Singapore? SouthEast Asian Painting, Chinese Contemporary & Lutes

Lee Man Fung Sold for S$387,200

Here’s a quick look at what sells in Singapore

Ms Rebecca Wei, President of Christie’s in Asia: “Singapore ranks (in the) top 10. Christie’s launched the online-only auctions two years ago and we see new growth, a new wave of buyers coming in. They are the new buyers with a lower-threshold entry point, but very interested in online trading. Singaporeans naturally go for Southeast Asia contemporary oil painting. That’s the number one category. Number two would be Chinese lutes, and Chinese painting and contemporary art.

The owners of 20-year-old Opera Gallery in Singapore say they have seen a 10 per cent increase in the average price per piece of art in the last one to two years, but that isn’t something that fazes art enthusiasts.

Said the gallery’s Asia Pacific Director Stephane Le Pelletier: “We have all kinds of buyers. Some like to buy (work by) young contemporary artists, and I would say the trend was and is for Pop art and contemporary art. If we are talking about established artists, whose work you can find in museums, usually the price is already at a high level, so these pieces are for genuine collectors and people with knowledge.”

More in Singapore venture into art-collecting  (Channel NewsAsia)

Marion Maneker0August 29, 2014

Miami Give Beatriz Milhazes Her Place in the Sun

Beatriz Milhazes, 'São Cosme e Damião,' (Saints Cosmas and Damian), 2014

Miami’s Perez Art Museum debuts its first major retrospective of Brazilian painter Beatriz Milhazes work this September. The show marks Tobias Ostrander’s coming out:

Mr. Ostrander said he chose Ms. Milhazes because her Spirograph-like paintings of overlapping blossoms, stripes and unfurling leaves will likely resonate with audiences in Miami’s climate—particularly the city’s growing Brazilian diaspora.

The 50-work show also comes at a time when the artist appears to be moving away from her signature bouquets toward compositions that feature more geometric shapes and straight lines. “Beatriz’s art was always sensual and dizzying, just sensory overload,” Mr. Ostrander said. “She’s moving more and more toward purely geometric forms.”

From a market standpoint, her decision could be a risk. Over the past decade, major collectors have gravitated toward her more-is-more arrangements—in part because the cheeriness of her canvases seemed to match Brazil’s economic rise. In May 2008, Buenos Aires collector Eduardo Costantini paid Sotheby’s $1 million for her rainbow-hued “Magic” from 2001, tripling its high estimate. That painting will be part of the PAMM show, along with flowery pieces lent by heavyweights like German publisher Benedikt Taschen, Austrian philanthropist Francesca von Habsburg and Washington lobbyist Tony Podesta.

via Brazilian Artist Beatriz Milhazes Takes Center Stage in the U.S. – WSJ.