Marion Maneker0July 11, 2014

Today is Decision Day in Detroit, DIA Deal Will Be Determined

The Detroit Institute of Arts

The latest report on the value of DIA’s art seems to be causing a great deal of confusion. Although the report was commissioned by the City and the museum, the headlines focus on the significantly higher valuation (as much as $4.6m) for the entire collection but only mention the caveats in the body of the stories.

Why DIA and the city felt compelled to spend $112,500 remains something of a mystery. The judge in the bankruptcy case has extraordinary powers to decide how assets of the city should be treated. He’s made it clear that one-time sales are of limited value toward solving the city’s problems. The Grand Bargain engineered by another Federal judge has the broad support of a wide swath of interested parties. All that remains is for the pensioners to vote, today, for accepting their part of the broader bankruptcy deal.

Since the new report was released this week, one might view it as aimed toward answering questions the pensioners might have about shared sacrifices or why the city doesn’t just sell some pictures to keep their pensions where they are. If that’s the case, the report would seem to be sending the wrong message even as it tries to validate the deal in place.

But the pensioners are not the audience for the report. It would appear to be a pre-emptive measure toward the creditors who complained that Christie’s appraisal was only examined a portion of the collection and undervalued those that it did. Let’s let the Wall Street Journal pick up the tale:

The 72-page report prepared by Michael Plummer, a principal at Artvest, an art-market advisory firm, argues that any effort to liquidate Detroit’s collection likely would put downward pressure on the art’s sales price and also draw potential challenges by museum donors, among other issues. Some pieces such as the museum’s rare Diego Rivera murals “are frescos applied directly to the walls,” meaning they couldn’t be removed without “cutting them off the wall and inflicting serious damage, and incurring significant cost,” wrote Mr. Plummer, who may testify as an expert in bankruptcy court for the city.

Mr. Plummer also critiqued the viability of the earlier effort by Christie’s to explore possible ways to monetize the collection. Separately, he cast doubt on an effort by some bond insurers to solicit interest in the artwork by private potential buyers.

The city supports a proposal by private donors to provide the equivalent of more than $815 million to shore up the city’s public employee pensions while making sure the institute of art remains whole. But the issue is far from settled. City pension holders must vote in favor of the plan for the funding to come through from foundations and others, including nearly $200 million approved by the state legislature. Ballots are due by Friday.

Detroit Art Valued at Up to $4.6 Billion (WSJ)

email newsletter

Market reports in your inbox.

Art Fairs
Marion Maneker0July 11, 2014

Masterpiece London Sales Report


Colin Gleadell gathers the sales from last week’s Masterpiece in London:

◊ Symbolic & Chase, sold a 1912 Cartier corsage for $20 million.

◊ Private dealer Richard Philp sold a set of Lombardy Renaissance marriage portraits to an English collector for £240,000

◊ Osborne Samuel sold a Lynn Chadwick sculpture for £250,000.

◊ Antiquities dealers Charles Ede sold an Egyptian limestone ushabti for Yahu for £190,000

◊ Robert Bowman sold a small bronze of Rodin’s The Kiss for £580,000.

◊ Adrian Sassoon, who sold more than 60 examples of modestly priced contemporary design

◊ Sladmore Contemporary, which meticulously recreated equine sculptor Nic Fiddian Green’s studio and reported 40 sales ranging from £8,000 to £250,000.

◊ Folk-art dealer Robert Young, who sold nearly 40 pieces for between £5,000 and £50,000 each.  His first clients were Americans who bought a pair of felt collage pictures by George Smart, a Victorian tailor from Frant near Tunbridge Wells, for £12,500 after seeing the show.

Market News: Masterpiece a big seller (Telegraph)

Marion Maneker0July 10, 2014

The Defense Lawyer Who Accepts Art as Payment


The New York Times profiles defense lawyer and former Federal prosecutor Dan Gitner who just won the first insider trading case against the US government in a long time. It turns out that Shepard Fairey was  previous client of Gitner’s and the high-priced, high-power lawyer took some of his payment in kind:

In Mr. Gitner’s recently renovated Midtown Manhattan office, fat case files line the floor and framed posters lean unhung against a wall.

One poster of the “Obey” design from Shepard Fairey came from the artist himself, after Mr. Gitner successfully kept him out of jail in 2012. Mr. Fairey was accused of destroying evidence relating to a civil case involving his use of an Associated Press photograph to create the “Hope” poster from Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.

“I got on the phone, and he was pleasant, but he was immediately trying to feel out every aspect of the situation,” Mr. Fairey recalled of their first interaction. “More or less, I felt like I was on the stand from the very beginning.”

The case, too, required Mr. Gitner and his team to sort through mountains of information — taking so much time, in fact, that Mr. Fairey bartered some of his original artwork to help ease his legal fees.

“It was very expensive for me to retain him,” Mr. Fairey said. “It was definitely worth it.”

Daniel Gitner, the Defender Who Ended Prosecutors’ Winning Streak in Trading Cases  (

Marion Maneker0July 10, 2014

Sotheby’s Sets Record for Botticelli Drawing

Lot 27, Botticelli - Study for a seated St. Joseph, cropped

Sotheby’s has a lot to crow about from tonight’s Old Master sale that was the highest Evening sale total ever:

Moments ago in Sotheby’s London salesroom, the only drawing by Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510) to have come to auction since the 19th century, Study for a Seated St. Joseph, his head resting on his right hand sold for a record £1,314,500 ($2,252,922 / €1,652,332) (est. £1-1.5 million / $1.7-2.5 million / €1.2-1.8 million). This is the highest price ever paid for a work on paper by the great Renaissance Master at auction.


Marion Maneker0July 10, 2014

Ito, Smith and Murillo Spike Prices—Not Their Own

Antoni Tapies, Large Ochre with IncisionsColin Gleadell offers a potential lesson in how art history affects the prices of some historical artists. Taking his cue from Christie’s who connected the current craze for the so-called process painters like Lucien Smith, Parker Ito, Oscar Murillo and more with the record price achieved by a Antoni Tapies work in London suggesting that collectors were revaluing Tapies work in the light of the emergence of the current crop:

The craze for young “process” painters is having a knock-on effect on the market for older-generation works. At Christie’s, a record was set for the Spanish artist Antoni Tapies, when his mixed-media painting Large Ochre Incisions (1961), resembling rough wall graffiti, sold for a record £1.65 million.

Market News: Masterpiece a big seller (Telegraph)

Auction Results
Marion Maneker0July 09, 2014

Sotheby’s London Old Master Evening = £68.3m ($117m)

Sotheby's London OM 714


◊ 81% sold by lot

◊ 95% of works sold achieved prices within or above their high estimate

◊ Record level of participation for an Old Master evening sale in London: 280 participants from 32 countries, with buyers from Asia, Russia, the Middle East, India and Latin America

◊ Russian Bidding: 20% of the lots in the sale attracted bids from Russian buyers

◊ 17 Auction records for Giovanni da Rimini (lot 17), Jan Brueghel the Elder (lot 19), Raffaellino Del Garbo (lot 25), Bartolomeo Cavarozzi (lot 30), Benedetto Gennari (lot 35), Jan Sanders Van Hemessen (lot 41), Jacob Huysmans (lot 42), George Romney (lot 43), Willem Kalf (lot 46), The Master of the Female Half- Lengths (lot 52), Willem van Nieulandt the Younger (lot 56), Hieronymus Francken II (lot 57), Dominic Serres (lot 60), Michele Marieschi (lot 61), a collaboration between Jan Brueghel the Younger and Hendrik van Balen the Elder (lot 2), and a work from the workshop of Albrecht Bouts (lot 7)


Auction Results
Marion Maneker0July 09, 2014

Sotheby’s London Old Master Highlights

Marion Maneker0July 09, 2014

It’s Like Driving a $50m Painting at 100mph

Kenny at LeMansKenny Schachter knows where the heat is in the markets. That’s in rare and historic car world where prices are rising in ways that would make even the most audacious art dealer blush. But there’s a difference between art and cars that makes the rapidly rising value of classic cars even more surprising:

What I find so touching about the car world is that these sometimes-priceless objects get used in anger like they were meant to be, which is akin to an old-school collector choosing to actually hang and live with their art (rather than stuffing it away in a freeport). I couldn’t begrudge my friend for having his rare car thrashed around the track in the same manner it had originally been intended to do so in the 1950s. It’s rare to find someone who can avoid the urge to hoard nowadays. But speaking of hoarding, a 1964 Ferrari 250 GTO, one of only 36 in existence, is coming up for auction in August, and has previously sold privately for $52 million. Look for it to make between $50 million and $100 million; it won’t be long before we see a $100 million car and a $1 billion work of art

Flaming Wades on Wheels: Kenny Schachter at the Le Mans Classic (Gallerist)

Auction Results
Marion Maneker0July 09, 2014

Christie’s Old Master Highlights

Auction Results
Marion Maneker0July 09, 2014

Christie’s London Old Master = £44.9m

Christie's London OM 714 TT