It’s become a go-to story idea for the New York Times during an art boom. Find a collector with an appetite for buying and publicity and follow along through an art fair. (See this version from 2007.) But don’t let that detract from Patricia Cohen’s excellent piece where she follows Steve Wilson and Laura Lee Brown, of the Brown-Forman Browns, through Miami’s fair as they go on a $250,000 shopping spree with a curator and videographer in tow:
In another aisle, they stop by a stack of bricks perched on a stripped-down bicycle. “So what’s going on here?” Mr. Wilson asks the dealer, Luciana Brito of São Paulo, Brazil. She tells him that the bike is the kind that workers ride on the streets of São Paulo.
“It’s about equilibrium,” she says.
“The class system,” Mr. Wilson adds. Ms. Brito nods in agreement.
The gallery is asking $15,000 for the work, by Héctor Zamora. There is a brief discussion. Sold.
It is 1:05.
“I like this one,” Ms. Brown says.
Mr. Heavrin, the videographer, lowers his camera: “Can I just say this is the second pile of bricks that Steve has bought today?”
A Collector Bets His Eye and His Gut (NYTimes)
James Stewart thinks the run up in art prices is over-hyped. He points to evidence that all is not well in the broader art market with evidence from David Kusin and Michael Moses. What you boil it all down, Stewart thinks its just a matter of taste:
Take the disparate results for the Bacon “Triptych” (a record) and the Warhol “Liz” (disappointing). Both feature what would seem to the untrained eye to be yellow as the dominant color. At Christie’s, that was a major selling point of the Bacon work: “The juxtaposition of radiant sunshine yellow contrasting with the brutal physicality and immediacy of the brush strokes in this celebrated life-size triptych is what makes Bacon’s art so remarkable,” the auction house said. But when I asked a major collector why the similarly hued “Liz” hadn’t fared better, he said it was the yellow. “Did you see it?” he said. “It’s the color of your urine.”
Detroit’s A Paul Schaap is stepping up to try to organize a public campaign to secure DIA’s art collection. He says he’s good for $5m and will talk to the judge who is acting as mediator between the city and creditors about organizing a broader campaign:
“I believe there are more than just a few people in the metro Detroit area who would step up and see this as something we should all try to do to save the pensions and stabilize the DIA,” Schaap said in an interview Friday. […]
“We have a passion for the city,” said Schaap, who lives next door in Grosse Pointe Park and was a Wayne State University chemistry professor before starting his own technology company. “We go to the DIA, the symphony, ballgames. We’re Detroiters. Maybe this is a way to help.”
It’s always hard to tell what quote really means when it is used by a reporter in a story. For example, CNN claims “Memories of the recession may be driving the rise in art prices.” In that, they’re quoting a brief comment from Hoffman about the trauma of asset prices collapsing during the credit crisis in 2009. But then the story starts to resemble something more like overheard conversational snippets that may or may not be directly connected:
Adding to the demand is the fact that paintings represent moveable assets in a world where security is not always assured, noted Hoffman, who said his group represents “probably 18 of the world’s top 1,000 billionaires.”
“In the case of a war, they could ship it from Lebanon to Geneva in two hours,” he said.
And some people from foreign countries may collect art because they want to keep low-maintenance assets outside their country that they think will appreciate in value.
The market is significant, with annual global volume estimated at $60 billion, he said. The investable part of that market — which he defined as pieces worth more than $1 million — represents $15 billion to $20 billion, with about half of that sold by auction houses and the rest by galleries, Hoffman said.
The whole may not be coherent but the individual comments are interesting. Is Hoffman saying that 18 billionaires are investors in his fund? Or is he referring to other services since the comments suggest these are owners of art, not investors in an art fund.
Also, with the investible threshold lying at $1m on the lower bound, what is the upper bound for investible art? In other words, at what price does a work become part of the trophy or masterpiece market where any upside will take years to be realized?
Judd Tully has the heavy hitters:
Van de Weghe Gallery: Gerhard Richter “Abstraktes Bild (595-3),” 1986, which sold in the region of the $3.2 million asking price to an American collector; a 2005 Damien Hirst spin painting embedded with two expired credit cards — “Beautiful, I Pushed the Controls and Ahead of Me Rockets Blazed, I Don’t Want to Be a Dead Artist Painting” — for $580,000; and Jean-Michel Basquiat “Head,” 1985, also sold, for approximately $580,000.
Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac old Georg Baselitz patinated bronze, “Louise Fuller,” 2013 to a private American collector for $2 million
Pace Gallery, a wind-driven Alexander Calder “Untitled” standing mobile from 1962 that went for more than a million dollars.
Sprüth Magers: Sterling Ruby’s large-scale spray painting “SP256” sold for $550,000 and Barbara Kruger’s digital print on vinyl “Untitled (Don’t Shoot),” 2013 went for $275,000. Several found-object sculptures by Cyprien Geillard, also sold, at 40,000 euros each — including “Untitled (Tooth),” 2012.
Blum & Poe gallery: “Untitled,” a five-panel dye sublimation print on linen by 25-year-old Brooklyn-based artist Hugh Scott-Douglas, sold for $90,000 to Montreal collector Francois Odermatt.
Lisson Gallery: Ai Weiwei’s beautiful “Jade Handcuffs,” 2012, which sold for 70,000 euros
Out of the Gate: What ABMB Buyers Had to Have on Day One (BLOUIN ARTINFO)
Kelly Crow got these sales:
Gagosian Gallery: ”Baroque Egg with Bow (Turquoise/Magenta),” that the gallery won at Sotheby’s for $5.4 million four years ago, under its $6 million low estimate. On Wednesday, the gallery put the egg back on the market and sold it for around $9 million.
Klaus Malonek: Kris Martin’s new series of “Helmets,” recreations of ordinary motorcycle helmets and hard-hats cast in bronze, around $44,000 apiece for six of the 10 helmets displayed.
Galeria Fortes Vilaça: Erika Verzutti’s $37,000 cemetery-like assemblage of concrete, granite and crystal slabs
Almine Rech Gallery: Mark Hagen’s salt-lick sculptures several sold for $8,000 apiece on Wednesday.
Urs Meile sold a $270,000 smaller assemblage of Ai Weiqei’s bicycles—dipped in gold plating, no less
Lisson Gallery also got around $340,000 for another bike configuration by the artist.
Luciana Brito: Héctor Zamora’s “Brasil” bike for $15,000 to 21c Museum of Louisville, Ky.
Katya Kazakina has the first rings on the register:
Sprueth Magers: Sterling Ruby abstract spray-painted canvas for $550,000 to a museum.
Mitchell-Innes & Nash sold two large spray-painted paintings by emerging artist Keltie Ferris at prices from $40,000 to $50,000.
Mary Boone Gallery sold a group of 12 Han Dynasty urns splattered in bright paint by Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei; it was priced at $350,000. Barbara Kruger’s digital print on vinyl stamped with the word “Value” went for $275,000, the New York gallery said.
White Cube gallery sold 90 percent of its booth including Damien Hirst’s 8-by-8-foot glass vitrine, “Devil’s Gate,” filled with butterflies and bugs; the asking price was 1.85 million pounds ($3 million). Theaster Gates’s 7-by-7-foot abstract piece made of wood, rubber and tar sold for $175,000.
The gallery sold out an edition of three neon signs — each spelling “The Last Great Adventure is You” — by Tracey Emin The asking price was 65,000 pounds.
Carol Vogel fingers Alice Walton as the buyer of the Warhol Coke bottle at Christie’s last month, a very substantial sale that got overshadowed by the Francis Bacon also sold that night.
Several dealers and auction-house experts said that Ms. Walton bought Warhol’s “Coca-Cola ,” for $57.2 million at Christie’s on Nov. 12. That price is more than Ms. Walton has been known to have ever spent at auction.
One of only four paintings of a single Coca-Cola bottle that Warhol made in 1961 and 1962, it was being sold by Jose Mugrabi, the New York dealer, and had been estimated to fetch between $40 million and $60 million.
That Ms. Walton would be the buyer makes sense: Her mission is to build a world-class collection of American art.
A few weeks ago we excerpted one woman’s description of Chuck Close’s art collection. Here T Magazine finishes the job with a picture and an interview (by Linda Yablonsky) with the artist himself:
Strangely, he says, “I’m not acquisitive.” Yet on either side of an interior hallway are dozens of portraits, small drawings, photographs and paintings, many by artists Close has painted. They include Willem de Kooning, Eric Fischl, Cindy Sherman, Irving Penn and Alex Katz, as well as Jacob Lawrence, Diane Arbus and Man Ray. Most were trades, though a cut-paper collage by Ray Johnson was a purchase. One section of the work is blank, removed by the artist after Close requested a 20 percent discount. “Contemporary art is the most overpriced, overvalued stuff — thank God,” he says. “But old masters are the most powerful.”
The Collections of Artists (T Magazine)
The trial over Marguerite Hoffman’s confidentiality agreement is the subject of a Wall Street Journal piece today that rightly focuses on the important effects a ruling might have on private art transactions. Hoffman is upset at the fact that a work she sold privately with a great emphasis on confidentiality came up for sale again three years later at Sotheby’s and was easily identifiable as the work she had owned.
But the fun of the story lies deeper down where various individuals are described as having almost supernatural powers over their clients to influence their market behavior:
Mrs. Hoffman’s legal complaint is replete with allegations of behind-the-scenes dealings. Mr. Mnuchin’s gallery obtained an extra $250,000 commission in the initial 2007 sale, paid by the buyer, that was hidden from the seller, her complaint says. When the painting was later consigned to Sotheby’s for auction, Mr. Mnuchin broke the news to the Hoffman camp, allegedly saying he felt “simply terrible” but had been powerless to stop the sale. He didn’t tell Mrs. Hoffman and her representatives that he allegedly had played a key role in persuading Mr. Martinez and Studio Capital to sell the Red Rothko at auction, her complaint claims.
Bill Carmody, an attorney for L&M Arts, said “anybody can throw sensationalistic things into a complaint, but there’s no support for this sort of allegation.” He said Mr. Mnuchin had no incentive to push the painting toward a Sotheby’s auction, because he only makes money from private sales, not from an auction.
Sotheby’s Mr. Meyer auctioned the painting off for Studio Capital in 2010. According to the complaint, Mr. Mnuchin told Mrs. Hoffman’s representative that Mr. Meyer had “seduced” Mr. Martinez and his associates into selling the Rothko painting at auction. Mr. Meyer declined to comment.
Bonhams has sold the highest priced Old Master painting this year with one of Fragonard’s fantasy portraits. Only 15 of those exist with two others remaining private hands:
A major work by the 18th century French artist Jean-Honoré Fragonard, The Portrait of François-Henri d’Harcourt, sold for £17,106,50 this evening (5 December) setting a world record price for the artist at auction. (The previous record was £5,300,000 for a painting sold in London in 1999).
The painting was the leading work in the sale of paintings and sculpture from the renowned collection of the German philanthropist, the late Dr Gustav Rau which raised more than £19 million. The proceeds will be used to benefit the Foundation of the German Committee for UNICEF – for the children of the world
Fragonard’s fantasy portraits – often depicting friends and acquaintances – were painted quickly with bold, fluid brush work which anticipated the Impressionists in bravura and technique. This style was referred to by some contemporaries as the artist’s, ‘swordplay of the brush’. The Portrait of François-Henri d’Harcourt is unusual among Fragonard’s fantasy portraits because the subject is identified. Many of the other portraits are personifications of the arts rather than representations of named individuals.
Also in the sale was a 15th century depiction of the Crucifixion by an unknown German artist sold for £1,082,500 ‘Le grand noyer à l’Hermitage’ by Camille Pissarro was sold for £314,500 against an estimate of £200,000-300,000.