A Week of Richter to Assess the Abstract Market

Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild (15-20m)

Colin Gleadell makes an excellent point about the Richter market this week. With a major work at Sotheby’s tonight and four at Christie’s tomorrow, we’ll see some significant markers toward a better understanding the momentum surrounding these works:

The October sales in London saw a question mark posed over the market for Gerhard Richter abstracts as two top lots from Christie’s and Phillips went unsold. There are 12 Richters coming up this week and they are all abstracts, so that should resolve things one way or another. Sotheby’s has an all-red one, estimated at $15–20 million, but it is guaranteed. Christie’s has a larger example, a myriad of different colors, which has no guarantee at $20–30 million, so that’s the one to watch.

What Are the Best Bargains at This Week’s Postwar and Contemporary Sales?  (artnet News)

Sotheby’s (BID) Gets Its Catalyst in Mrs. Mellon

BID 117 to 1111

The lingering question about Sotheby’s stock (BID) has been whether it can find a catalyst that allows the share price to break the crucial $40 ceiling/floor that has characterized the stock for several years. Yesterday, anticipation of the Mellon sale (or simply the coming week of sales of Contemporary art) has launched the stock. Now let’s see if it can stay there. The p/e on the stock remains a very expensive 22 against historic averages of 15 and little in the way of a transformative strategy. ($40 ceiling/floor illustrated below with a dotted green line.)Continue Reading

As the Guarantee Game Turns

Sotheby's 1114 NY IM Eve

For years, David Nash was one of the two regular go-to quotes for the press on the evils of chandelier bidding. Now, the former auction house department head moves on to decrying another evil that it turns out he was instrumental in creating, the guarantee.

In Dan Duray’s ArtNews profile of Christie’s Loic Gouzer, the guarantee issue plays a central role because of Gouzer’s aggressive use of guarantees.

Indeed, when Josh Baer can estimate the total value of guarantees in place this week at nearly $600m, it would certainly seem that there’s a potential problem brewing in the system even if it isn’t the problem that Nash imagines:Continue Reading

Bunny Mellon’s Taste Validated (or Just Her Name?)

Nicolas de Stael
Nicolas de Stael, Paysage Bord de La Mer

The $158m sale of works from Mrs. Paul Mellon’s estate at Sotheby’s last night was a surprise success to many but each for different reasons. Some were concerned that the legendary Mellon name, now eclipsed by time, might not appeal to the new “global” buyers populating the art market. Others deemed Mrs. Mellon’s taste too personal and eclectic, not driven by the names in fashion among today’s buyers. For others, the Rothkos just weren’t that big.

Last night, none of that mattered as Sotheby’s conducted a masterly “white glove” sale. Everything sold. The vast majority of lots sold above the estimates suggesting, in many cases, that the Mellon name was still something powerful to conjure with. But not all of the works lived up to expectations.Continue Reading

Sotheby’s Mellon Sale = $158,737,250

103N09245_4CF46SALE TOTAL: $158,737,250

100% SOLD
Selections from the Collection of Mrs. Paul Mellon totaled $158,737,250, exceeding its high estimate of $121 million

  • Global bidding from 32 countries spanning 4 continents

The auction was led by two paintings by Mark Rothko that both exceeded expectations: Untitled from 1970, which achieved $39,925,000 (est. $15/20 million), and Untitled (Yellow, Orange, Yellow, Light Orange) from 1955, which fetched $36,565,000 (est. $20/30 million)Continue Reading

Sotheby’s Paid $20m to Settle Loeb War

Daniel LoebRobert Frank discovers that the Sotheby’s board fight was substantially more expensive for the auction house than previously revealed:

The auction company said during a conference call last week that took a special charge of $20.1 million in the first nine months of 2014 for fees associated with its defensive campaign against Loeb, founder of hedge fund Third Point. That equals nearly half of Sotheby’s net income for during that period.

In May, Sotheby’s put the cost at $15.7 million.

Sotheby’s spent $20 million to wage war against Dan Loeb (CNBC)