So much for greedy artists abandoning their mid-sized dealers for the blandishments of mega-dealers. Speaking at the Talking Galleries conference, dealer Ed Winkleman revealed the results of his survey of artists, dealers and collectors (the basis of is fort-coming book):
Winkleman opened the conference with an analysis that turned the issue of artists’ loyalty to their galleries on its head by instead asking how loyal the dealers are to their artists. Winkleman has collected evidence (through surveys, interviews and independent research in preparation for a book due out next year) that shows that, contrary to the common perception, galleries in New York were letting go of their artists more than vice versa.
His findings were emphatically backed by Rainer Ganahl, the Austrian-born, New York-based artist, who was not shy in coming forward about his previous relationships with the dealers Philomene Magers (now the co-founder of Sprüth Magers), Timothy Blum (the co-founder of Blum & Poe), Per Skarstedt and the Milan and London dealer Massimo di Carlo. “They all kicked me out,” Ganahl said.
Without having heard Winkleman or seen his data, it should be commented that dealers dropping artists may simply be the obverse side of sales crowding into fewer successful names making it difficult for dealers to support their artists.
Update: The talk is now available on video so you can get past the hyperbole of this post’s title and hear what Winkleman has to say.
Loyalty is a two-way street (The Art Newspaper)
Iris Halmshaw is a British girl who is autistic. She’s also an accomplished painter who is funding her therapy through her parents sales of her artwork:
“From the first painting, she filled the paper with color and it wasn’t random — it was considered and thought out,” says her mother, Arabella Carter-Johnson. “She was so excited and happy I knew that we had found a key into her world and a way of interacting with her.”
Fast forward two years, and Iris’ paintings are in high demand, and are starting to be worth a lot of money. […] Due to the high level of demand for Iris’ art, her mother has set up a website to sell both originals and prints. It was a runaway success, quickly attracting over a million pageviews from more than 200 countries. “All profits from the originals go into Iris’s savings account,” says Carter-Johnson. “We also sell cards and prints, and the profits from those go towards her speech therapy, occupational therapy, music and yoga.” The money generated from sales of the prints has had profoundly beneficial effects on Iris’ day-to-day life. According to Carter-Johnson, systems like Gemiini speech therapy, for instance, have made an immeasurable difference to her ability to communicate.
Willem de Kooning’s heirs are selling one of his very few sculptures, and one of his most famous, at Christie’s this November. The work carries what is quickly becoming the new price point for a classic piece of 20th Century art: $25-35m:
When “Clamdigger,” one of his best-known bronze sculptures, comes up for sale at Christie’s on Nov. 12, it will be a test of whether that freshness has endured.
Executed in 1972, while he was living and working in the Springs on the eastern end of Long Island, the work was inspired by the clam diggers he would see working on the beach every day. And this sculpture — one of 25 he created from 1969 to 1974 — is his only full-size male figure. […] What makes this particular “Clamdigger” special is that the artist had kept it for himself, placing it at the entrance to his studio as if it were a mirror into his soul.
When he died in 1997, his daughter, Lisa de Kooning, inherited the sculpture. She died two years ago, and it became part of a trust for the benefit of her three daughters, who decided to sell “Clamdigger” to pay taxes on their mother’s estate.
For Sale: The First Artwork de Kooning Saw Every Workday (NYTimes.com)
Christie’s has just too many major works to sell this November, the PR department is doling the announcements out all around the media. Today was Kelly Crow’s turn:
Christie’s Nov. 12 sale of contemporary art will also include another recent market outlier, Martin Kippenberger. The house aims to ask between $15 million and $20 million for his untitled 1988 self-portrait that nods to a famous 1957 photograph by David Douglas Duncan that shows Pablo Picasso standing proud, wearing nothing but white underpants.
Kippenberger (1953-1997), a German punk painter who dazzled his contemporaries with his eclectic paintings and installations, depicts himself in the role of Picasso only bearded. He is paunchy and stands in similar attire against a watery blue background. Kippenberger’s market isn’t as deep as Picasso’s—he has fewer American buyers, at least—so this work will represent a test of his market. Another work from the same series sold in May for a record $18.6 million.
Christie’s announces a Twombly blackboard painting straight from the artist through his former assitant:
The seller of Twombly’s untitled work is Nicola Del Roscio, the artist’s former assistant and archivist. Mr. Del Roscio is now president of the Cy Twombly Foundation. Mr. Del Roscio, reached through his lawyer David Baum, declined to discuss the artwork. […]
Mr. Del Roscio’s version is one of several dozen paintings that Twombly did between 1966 and 1971 as part of his so-called “Blackboard” series, named because the artist painted white wax crayon loops atop gray backgrounds. The result evoked a naughty schoolboy writing seemingly endless rows of “I will behave” on a chalkboard. The later versions are somewhat smaller and contain fewer rows of script, which dealers say appeal to minimalist collectors because the works appear clean and rhythmic.
Brett Gorvy, a Christie’s expert, said similar “Blackboard” versions have traded hands privately for more than $50 million recently.
Newsweek’s John Elliot has ever right to point out the drop in Subodh Gupta’s market. But he goes about it in a bizarre way in this report on Sotheby’s Modern and Contemporary South Asian art sale held this week in London.
His first trend is the old auction house saw of well-estimated works from great collections that are fresh to the market do well. (Though he complains about a 76% sell-through rate as if that’s not an average or competent sale.)
The second trend is that the slump in prices for contemporary works that were fashionable a few years ago is worsening. An oil on canvas painting of an airport luggage trolley by Delhi-based Subodh Gupta went for just $187,000 including buyers’ premium. That was just above the top estimate but, allowing for inflation, it was far less than 10 percent of a record $1.2m achieved for a similar work in the heady days of 2008. It was also less than half a $250,000 sale in 2010 immediately after the initial crash. Gupta is more famous for his installations of shiny pots and pans. Two paintings by his wife, Bharti Kher, failed to find buyers this week.
The bit where he compares the Gupta to another work from the series that sold for $1.2m is a little unfair but you get his point. And its odd that he tells us $187,000 is less than $250,000 when comparing the sale to yet another painting from the series. But what’s really strange is that the very painting he cites was sold at Sotheby’s in May of 2008 for £264,500. It’s noted in the painting’s provenance and Sotheby’s provides a record of their previous sales to anyone who wants to look.
Here’s how the two sales differed:
2008 = £264,500
2014 = £116,500
That’s a decline of almost 56%. Don’t you think that makes his point better?
The final volume—number 6—of the Rembrandt Research Project came out this week capping the life’s work of Ernst van der Wetering and allowing him to right what he perceived to be as wrongs made early on. One work owned by the Met, The Auctioneer, above, is restored as a Rembrandt even though the museum remains unconvinced:
In the volume, Mr. van de Wetering revisits previous conclusions by the project, which began in 1968. In its early decades, a team of experts including Mr. van de Wetering made group decisions that “deattributed” many Rembrandts, advocating removal of the artist’s authorship. Among the 70 attribution changes in Volume 6, Mr. van de Wetering, now making the decisions himself, restores 44 of those deattributions to Rembrandt. He now describes the project’s “democratic” decisions as “unjust.” […]
The number of accepted Rembrandts has fluctuated dramatically over the last century, peaking at 714 in the 1920s, according to Rembrandt scholar Gary Schwartz. The number fell below 300 in the 1980s thanks to the deattributions of the early volumes of the Rembrandt Research Project. Mr. van de Wetering sees his recent work as a reaction against the “reductionist” tendencies of the Rembrandt project in its earlier days as well as decisions made by experts at leading museums, like the Met.
Mr. van de Wetering is both a trained artist and an art historian. An occasional dissenting voice in the early decades of the Rembrandt project, he took over as head in 1992. While still relying on advice from a field of experts, he turned the project into a vehicle for his own opinions in volumes 4 and 5, which covered thematic aspects of Rembrandt’s work. He is widely regarded as one of the world’s most respected authorities on Rembrandt. Funders of the project have included the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research and the University of Amsterdam.
James Tarmy has an epic story in BusinessWeek detailing the ownership of Christopher Wool’s Apocalypse Now, a painting that made a splash at Christie’s last year for many reasons. First, it established an extraordinary $26m price for Wool. Second, there was—and remains—the mystery of who owned the work as it turned on Christie’s podium. David Ganek had sold it out from under the Guggenheim retrospective to an unnamed buyer who immediately consigned it to Christie’s where it was bought by another anonymous buyer who then lent the work to the Wool retrospective in time to be included when the show was mounted at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Think that sounds complicated? It’s nothing compared to the full history of this work which was owned by such central collectors as Francois Pinault, Donald Bryant, David Ganek and others. It first appeared in 1988 at the 303 Gallery in a joint show with Robert Gober (the subject of a current retrospective at MoMA) that was purchased entirely by Werner and Elaine Dannheisser:
Werner died in 1992, and in 1996 Elaine offered MoMA most of her collection. Valued at more than $5 million, the donation allowed Dannheisser to join the museum’s board. There was a twist: MoMA refused to take Apocalypse Now.
“They already had a Christopher Wool, and they thought they didn’t need two,” says art dealer Philippe Ségalot. In 1999, he says, Dannheisser approached him about selling the work at auction. Ségalot was then head of Christie’s postwar and contemporary art department in New York. “Of course I took the picture,” he says.
A few days after Dannheisser signed the contract to auction Apocalypse Now at Christie’s, Ségalot mentioned the pending sale to Per Skarstedt, one of the most established contemporary art dealers in New York. A lanky Swede, he today owns Skarstedt Fine Art, which has a town house on the Upper East Side, a warehouse-style space in Chelsea, and space in a town house near Buckingham Palace in London’s Mayfair district. Skarstedt implored Ségalot to sell Apocalypse Now to him, offering up an alternate Wool—titled Fool—that could be auctioned instead. Christie’s agreed. Skarstedt paid Dannheisser between $100,000 and $150,000 for Apocalypse Now, nearly double the $60,000 to $80,000 it was expected to fetch at the auction.
Within days it became clear that Skarstedt had gotten a steal. At the Christie’s auction on May 19, 1999, Wool’s Fool was estimated to sell for as little as $40,000. With Dannheisser in the room, a bidding war erupted. As a shocked audience looked on, Westreich, the art adviser, placed a winning bid of $420,500 for the lesser Wool.
“Elaine almost died in the auction room,” Ségalot says. “I wanted to hide behind the podium.” He says Dannheisser didn’t speak to him for six months.
James Tarmy’s epic story of one painting and the Contemporary art market in Businessweek reveals some very interesting details about art as an asset for those with 10- and 11-figure net worths. (Worth noting, David Geffen, above, was significant seller of art even before the dramatic run up in prices during this last decade):
At these levels, art has become a significant slice of the net worth of some of the planet’s richest inhabitants, a portfolio-diversifying store of value for anyone who already has enough homes, bonds, stocks, or airplanes. Financier Ronald Perelman’s fortune includes $3 billion in art—more than a fifth of his $14.8 billion total—according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Artwork valued at $2.3 billion is the single biggest chunk of music mogul David Geffen’s total $6.6 billion, and Los Angeles philanthropist Eli Broad’s $7 billion includes $2.2 billion of art. The Bloomberg index counts $1 billion of art each in the fortunes of hedge fund manager Steven Cohen, publishing baron Si Newhouse, and Pinault, who owns Christie’s.
Of course, holding art doesn’t require the owner to be illiquid as these details about David Ganek reveal:
In the same way a homeowner can take out a home-equity loan, a collector can borrow against a painting, and in 2006,Apocalypse Now became collateral with Bank of America, and then, a year later, with JPMorgan. According to loan documents, the painting was pledged to JPMorgan for almost the entire time Ganek and his wife owned it.
While the collateral documents filed with the state of New York don’t give loan amounts, they detail the breadth of the Ganeks’ collecting and borrowing. From 2007 through 2014 they list loans against 26 works by contemporary artists: paintings by Richard Prince, Cy Twombly, and Takashi Murakami; sculptures by Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, and Maurizio Cattelan. A filing dated April 1, 2010, shows an additional 18 Ganek pieces—including an untitled 1997 Wool and a Koons comprising two Spalding basketballs floating in a glass tank—became collateral with Sotheby’s Financial Services.
Sotheby’s announces a Rosetti for their British and Irish art sale. Meanwhile, Sotheby’s specialist Simon Troll connects the picture, which caused a rift between the artist and John Ruskin, to a new film opening in London this week.:
Sotheby’s will sell Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s watercolour version of Venus Verticordia in London on 10 December 2014. The Pre-Raphaelite artist’s obsession with luscious sensuality and female allure reached its zenith in his only major nude subject, and the picture led to the breaking of Rossetti’s friendship with John Ruskin, Victorian Britain’s leading art critic. Painted in 1868, Venus Verticordia is the epitome of Pre-Raphaelite glamour, a powerful and radical image of confident female sexuality from an age when women were supposed to be reserved and demure. Ruskin had become increasingly concerned by what he perceived to be sensuousness in Rossetti’s art. His prudishness and ambivalence towards the naked female form has been well-documented and features in the film Effie Gray, which opens this week.
Last sold at auction in 1886, the painting will be the centrepiece of Sotheby’s British & Irish Art sale, carrying an estimate of £1,000,000-1,500,000.