Thea & Ethan Are OK in Jerry Saltz’s Book


You have to hand it to Jerry Saltz. At least he’s honest about who he thinks is a worthy collector and who isn’t. Bending over backwards to find something worthwhile to say about the Thea Westreich/Ethan Wagner donation show at the Whitney, he calls the show a sign of the Whitney’s new role as an important alternative to MoMA and the Met.

But Saltz also can’t help himself. He has to bring up the issue that animates him most: rich people buying art. But wait, that describes Westreich and Wagner. Worse, Westreich is an art advisor. Those people are evil.

Fear not. Turns out Jerry makes exceptions for those he considers in the club:

In a time of art flippers and dick-wagging trophy hunters who buy art alphabetically, by numbers and big names, with no personal taste whatsoever, assembling cookie-cutter collections, and using art as a placeholder, Westreich and Wagner are from another planet; call it Old School. I know them both a bit; I have seen them in galleries, at openings, and in the art world for 30 years. Each had been a collector before they met in 1991 and married soon thereafter. He’d been a Democratic Party organizer in California and collected ceramics and outsider art (in fact, giving a great Bill Traylor drawing to MoMA). She moved from Washington, D.C., to New York in 1988 and started an art-advisory business. Before you think, Ohhh, I get it; they’re icky art advisers, these two aren’t those kinds of wheeler-dealers. Both are extremely opinionated, speak their minds, can argue most people — including me — under the table, have been way out in front of different curves, and have highly individual taste. If you’re still cynically thinking, Yeah, but they’re still just more rich people buying famous art, as much as I loathe reducing art to prices, they paid $50 for their first Cindy Sherman, $7,500 for their first Christopher Wool, and $5,600 for their first Jeff Koons, a vacuum-cleaner sculpture they saw in the same Maiden Lane studio I saw it in — and still regret not keeping the ballpoint-pen drawing of an inflatable bunny he drew for me during that visit. They buy early and in depth, and stop collecting an artist when the work becomes too expensive. (It’s always been a mystery to me why artists like these, who’ve been supported early and often, don’t just gift works regularly to the same collectors.)

Can a Show This Dreary Be Good for a Museum?  (Vulture)

Keno Brothers Debut in Classic Car Market with $8.3m Sale


Keno Brothers

The Keno Brothers held their first sale of classic cars late last week in New York city bringing in $8.3m. The event had bidders and buyers from around the world with one Ferrari sold to Switzerland via the internet. The brothers next sale will be in June of 2016 at Hershey, PA.

  1. 1968 Bizzarrini Strada 5300 $1,010,800.00
  2. 1969 Lamborghini Miura P400 S $974,400.00
  3. 1965 Aston Martin DB5 $950,000.00
  4. 1968 Toyota 2000GT $683,200.00
  5. 1999 Lamborghini Diablo GT $616,000.00
  6. 1983 Porsche / March 83G-4 IMSA Racecar ‘Kreepy Krawly’$509,600.00
  7. 2013 Lamborghini Aventador 50th Anniversary $504,000.00
  8. 1929 Bugatti T40 $464,800.00
  9. 1997 Porsche Turbo 993 S Coupe $442,400.00
  10. 1961 Jaguar E Type Roadster Outside Bonnet Latch $380,800.00

Keno Brothers Fine Automobile Auctions

Serious Bidder at Sotheby’s Lights Up British Paintings Market

Colin Gleadell gets granular on the British paintings market. His revelation that Sotheby’s has guaranteed a lead work for this sale in London shows that while guarantees seem to be pulling back from the top end of the market, they are increasingly (this is anecdotal) appearing in middle-market sales which may or may not be a good thing:

At Sotheby’s, it was L.S Lowry who captured the headlines with a record £1.6 million for a portrait by the artist. Father and Two Sons was a grim image quite unlike his matchstick-men northern industrial landscapes, which Manchester collector Frank Cohen had bought in 1999 when it failed to sell at Christie’s with a £400,000 estimate. There wasn’t much bidding this time round either but Cohen didn’t need to worry because Sotheby’s had given him a guarantee before the sale somewhere in the region of its new £1.5 million estimate.

Gleadell also noticed that one bidder was very active in the market:Continue Reading

ArtList’s 5 Art World Updates: A Future Museum of Electronic Music & MoMA Plans for Expansion

Weekly post from ArtList, the online marketplace for private sales.


1. MoMA Plans for Major Expansion

This week the Museum of Modern Art in New York City officially filed plans for its rumored $93 million expansion to the institution’s existing building.

A rendering of the planned MoMA expansion (Curbed)

The addition, to be designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfrom, will be built over the property that was once the American Folk Art Museum, before MoMA purchased and demolished the building over a year ago. While the inclusion of apartment complexesin the museum’s expansion has garnered a great deal of attention, the plan also looks to turn the museum into a more dynamic gathering place, with theaters, more exhibition space, lounges, gardens and a library.

2. France Proposes Cultural Asylum Program in Face of Terrorism

After reopening in the face of terrorist attacks, France’s museums are now emerging at the forefront of an international effort to protect cultural treasures all over the world from the threat of terrorism.

An ISIS militant attacks a 7th century Assyrian statue in Mosul, Iraq (Getty Images)

Jean-Luc Martinez, president of Paris’ Musée du Louvre, has released a plan that would include France providing “asylum” to artifacts threatened or targeted by acts of terrorism and a new European committee to monitor possibly illicit art trades. France’s government is debating the plan but Martinez hopes that some version of its protectional efforts would be adapted by both the nation and UNESCO. More than protecting ancient culture, the proposed plan may be a way to combat terrorism itself, as Martinez estimates that around 20% of ISIS’ funding comes from the illicit sale of cultural objects they have looted.

3. Major Heist at Verona Museum

This past Thursday, three masked robbers entered the Castelvecchio Museum in Verona, Italy and made off with 15 artworks, worth a total of $16 million.

Jacopo Tintoretto’s “The Judgement of Solomon,” one of the works stolen from the museum (top) and the exterior of the Castelvecchio Museum in Verona ( artnet News & Telegraph)

The thieves entered the museum during the evening changing of its guards and took a guard and cashier hostage before stealing artworks by such Old Masters as Peter Paul Rubens, Andrea Mantegna, Giovanni Francesco Caroto and Hans de Jode. The robbers, taking part in a rising trend of museum robberies across Europe, were incredibly knowledgeable about both the structure of the museum and the artworks they were looking for. Authorities even speculated to The Telegraph that the robbery may have been executed at the order of a collector.

4. Mu Xin Subject of New Museum in China

While he was jailed by Chinese authorities during his lifetime for his intellectual role as an artist, writer and poet, the late Mu Xin has now received his own museum in his hometown of Wuzhen.

The new Museum in Wuzhen, China (left) and an example of Xin’s painting style that influenced the building’s design (artnet News & Yale)

The Mu Xin Art Museum, located an hour outside Shanghai, was designed by American firm OLI Architecture and is overseen by artist Chen Danqing, who studied with Xin in New York. The building itself, comprised of eight floating galleries, was influenced by the minimalistic, fluid style of Xin’s paintings. The galleries are filled with both permanent and temporary exhibitions including Prison Notes, a showcase of the art Xin created behind bars. Notes is iconic both in its recognition of Xin’s persevering dedication to create art and in its recognition of Xin’s dissident, criminal status. That such an artist could be honored with his own museum truly marks a new era in the relationship between China’s government and artists.

5. Electronic Music Museum Coming to Berlin

This week also posed the question: “Well, why shouldn’t techno music get its own museum?” As founder of club Tresor, a legendary Berlin club for techno and house music, Dimitri Hegemann is wondering just that.

Dimitri Hegemann (artnet News)

Hegemann is planing to open the Living Archive of Electronica in Berlin to recognize both the genre of music and Berlin’s key role in its cultural development. He has announced that the archive will open in the fall of 2016, marking the 25th anniversary of the Tresor club and directly competing with Frankfurt’s Museum of Modern Electronic Music that is set to open in 2017. Hegemann explained: “I will call it the Living Archive of Electronica because techno here in Berlin is still a living, inspiring and vivid movement.”

The Football Player Who Missed Being an Artist

Sean McGrath

Sean McGrath is a professional football player in the US. He quit playing last year to concentrate on his art but found he missed Football too:

McGrath, who graduated from Henderson State with a degree in art, used the time away from football to rediscover his creative side.

The native of Mundelein, Ill., began putting together a portfolio and attending lectures while living in Chicago with a goal of pursing a master’s degree in art.

“When I was living in the city, I was mostly working with paint and charcoal,” McGrath said. “I was pretty much living at the Art Institute (of Chicago), kind of just absorbing what was going on there. The art scene in the city, it’s just great.”

Continue Reading

Do Guarantees Mask Weakness In the Market?

Jussi at Christie's London 1015

Scott Reyburn’s excellent take on the New York sales that ran in the International New York Times over the weekend contains quote that suggests the use of guarantees somehow props up the art market.

The logic there just doesn’t hold together. Guarantees transfer risk from the seller to the auction house. But the risk remains that the market will not buy the works on offer. No guarantee can force a buyer to pay for the works. The use of third-guarantees in the form of a bid that must be made during the sale merely allows the work to be pre-sold. A work guaranteed directly by the auction house that fails to sell does not get recorded in the over all sales statistics.

The only place where the auction house can “inflate” the market is when it guarantees a lot for a price higher than it sells to the buyer. In those cases, the guarantor is subsidizing the sale. And it happens, as it did with Christie’s lead lot of Andy Warhol’s Four Marilyns.

The use of guarantees is meant to tap into the auction house’s superior knowledge of potential buyers. So when the houses pull back on their guarantee book, we can infer that the auction house sees weaker demand.Continue Reading

The Warhol Market Really Is Cooling Off

Warhol Paintings Total Vol Chart 00-15

Jonathan Yee at Artnet put together this data on Warhol’s painting sales in public auctions over the last 15 years. The resulting charts are fascinating. When you remember that Warhol is a central component of the Contemporary art market, the numbers may be important to pay attention to as well. The first chart shows the total sales volume for Warhol paintings over the last 15 years. These are works on canvas, not prints or other works. When Christie’s announced in 2012 that it would sell the contents of the Warhol estate with its thousands of polaroids and other prepatory material, there was a knee-jerk reaction that these items would somehow “flood” the Warhol market and depress prices.

For all of the massive amount of Waholiana out there, the market for paintings by Andy Warhol remains much smaller. At its peak in 2007, 226 Warhol paintings were sold. Since the financial crisis, the number of paintings auctioned peaked again in 2012 at 187 works. Last year, there were 139 paintings sold, including the two works owned by a German casino that brought $150m.

This year, 108 Warhols were sold publicly. The only time there were fewer works by the artist sold in public was during the depths of the financial crisis in 2009.Continue Reading

Rybolovlev Bought Four Modigliani Nudes?

Modigliani, Nude on a Blue Cushion
Modigliani, Nude on a Blue Cushion

Georgina Adam is reporting on the latest flurry lawsuits involving Dmitry Rybolovlev and his erstwhile art advisors Tania Rappo and Yves Bouvier. And the end of her item, she reveals this interesting detail about Rybolovlev’s acquisitions. The unravelling of Rybolovlev’s relations with Bouvier was over the price paid for Modigliani’s Nude with Blue Cushion. But it appears that Rybolovlev had purchased three more of the celebrated series:

Bouvier’s side was quick to point out that, in the light of last week’s Modigliani record sale of $170.4m, “Thanks to Yves Bouvier, Dmitry Rybolovlev possesses a set of four nudes [acquired for about $200m] . . . today the most conservative estimate for the nudes would be $500m.”

The Art Market: Feathers fly in Monaco (

The Mayor of Verona Thinks Dr. No Ordered An Art Heist of 17 Works at Castelvecchio

Art theft is a needlessly destructive and pointless crime because few of the works are ever salable after they’ve been stolen. The myth immortalized in the James Bond movie, Dr. No, has evil billionaires paying thieves to acquire priceless works that mere money cannot buy.

To date, there are no known cases of this having happened. Nonetheless, there was a terrible theft of 17 works at the Castelvecchio Museum last night which has caused one local official to revive the canard:

“They were professionals; they knew what to take and they knew the museum”, commented the mayor of Verona, Flavio Tosi, who stayed at the scene until late in the night. “Eleven masterpieces were stolen, along with other minor works”, Tosi said, stressing that “it must have been on commission, because they acted professionally, and knew what they were looking for”. “Among the paintings stolen,” he concluded, “there are masterpieces by Mantegna, Rubens and Pisanello; basically the most valuable works on display”.

Castelvecchio: 17 Major Artworks Stolen  (