Roubini’s Regulation of Art Market Would Be More Transparency

Nouriel Roubini

In the past we’ve complained that economist Nouriel Roubini has talked about the need for regulation in the art market without providing specifics. We’d love to tell you that his recent post about art as an asset class addresses this omission but as you can see from points 9 & 10, below, we don’t get much more than confidence. It would be interesting and valuable to learn more about Roubini’s idea of regulation. From the comments he seems to equate regulation with transparency. Other than that, there are few clues:Continue Reading

Mapping Gauguin

Northwestern Mapping Gauguin

Gauguin’s prints were mapped by an interdisciplinary team to determine their secret process:

A team of scientists and art conservators from Northwestern University and the Art Institute of Chicago has used a simple light bulb, an SLR camera and computational power to uncover new details of Paul Gauguin’s highly experimental printmaking process.

Gauguin Movie (VIDEO)

What Would Regulation in the Art Market Be Like?

432-Park-Avenue
432 Park Avenue, New York

Inspired by the New York Times’s series on luxury real estate transactions at the buildings targeting non-domiciled buyers, Quartz addresses the money laundering loophole created by the numerous shell corporations used to buy real estate and the agents who deal with them. Art transactions have many similarities to real estate transactions, especially now that many works of art can be priced equivalent to a home. The exception with art is that the valuable object is more portable than real estate adding to its appeal for those looking to shield or disguise assets.

Following Quartz’s logic, which begins with the fact that nearly 70% of the transactions by international buyers in New York’s luxury real estate market are paid for in cash, the place where art market regulation might truly take place is in the realm of Anti-Money Laundering protocols:Continue Reading

The Zombies Go to London and Thrive, Formalism by 80s Generation Still Selling Well

Korakrit Arunanondchai, Untitled (History Painting) (2012) 114,330 USD
Korakrit Arunanondchai, Untitled (History Painting) (2012) 114,330 USD

James Tarmy discovers that the Zombies are very much alive and thriving:

Phillips, which specializes in bringing just this type of young artist to auction, dominated the field, which had 29 lots by artists under 1980, not including buy-ins and withdrawn lots.

At Sotheby’s, 20 works by artists born after 1980 went up for sale. A decent 14 of those sold, with 10 selling above their high estimate.

Christie’s numbers were slightly smaller, with 12 works by artists in the category. Astonishingly, all of them sold, with eight selling well above their high estimates.

The Babies of the 1980s Are Taking Over the Art Market  (Bloomberg Business)

Phillips Steps Up with Solid Sale

Mark Bradford, Biting the Book (1-1.5m) 2.54m GBP
Mark Bradford, Biting the Book (1-1.5m) 2.54m GBP

The news of the week that passed almost subtly is that Phillips showed new form and ran a reasonably strong £17m sale without excessive direct guarantees and with most lots selling close to their estimates (which has been a perennial problem at Phillips under the previous management.) Judd Tully captured this in a quote from dealer Inigo Philbrick:

“I was all set for it to be a debacle,” said London dealer Inigo Philbrick, “but it felt like a successful sale and seemed like a lot of the prices were strong.”

Indeed, Colin Gleadell points out that the new building, new additions to the staff and new management are doing wonders for Phillips’s credibility:

Phillips also achieved a landmark price for the American artist Mark Bradford, when his very large mixed-media canvas Biting the Book (2013), bought from a show at London’s White Cube that closed only a year ago, attracted multiple telephone bids before selling to a client speaking to Philips’s New York–based president Michael McGinnis, for a record £2.5 million ($3.9 million), double the estimate and four times the gallery retail price for such a work. The fact that Phillips could attract such a major contemporary work for sale—the only one by Bradford in the London auction series—and fetch such a price, spoke volumes about Phillips’s advancing credibility.

Summing up the entire week, Katya Kazakina had this in her Bloomberg story about Phillips:Continue Reading

Sotheby’s to Sell 100ct ‘Perfect’ Diamond in New York

9331 100C Purple Front

Sotheby’s is talking about their 100ct diamond, estimated in the $19-25m range, as an asset class all its own. Mined by DeBeers in southern Africa, the stone was 200cts rough and the firm spent a year having it polished and cut. According to Lisa Hubbard:

“The rarest object of natural beauty on the market right now, this 100-carat diamond could be considered the ultimate acquisition. Simply put, it has everything you could ever want from a diamond: the classic shape begs to be worn, while the quality puts it in an asset class of its own.”

Just to give you a sense of what a big deal this is, there have only been five other “perfect” 100ct diamonds auctioned before. As you can see from the list, the prices have been moving steadily upward:

  • ‘The Mouawad Splendour’ 101.84 carats Modified Pear-shape, D color, Internally Flawless Sold for US$12.7 million / US$125,295 per carat Sotheby’s Geneva, 1990
  • ‘The Star of Happiness’ 100.36 carats Rectangular modified brilliant-cut, D color, Internally Flawless Sold for US$11.9 million / US$118,397 per carat Sotheby’s Geneva, 1993
  • ‘The Star of the Season’ 100.10 carats Pear-shape, D color, Internally Flawless Sold for US$16.5 million / US$165,322 per carat Sotheby’s Geneva, 1995
  • ‘The Winston Legacy’ 101.73 carats Pear-shape, D color, Flawless Sold for US$26.7 million / US$262,830 per carat Christie’s Geneva, 2013
  • Spectacular Oval Diamond 118.28 carats Oval Brilliant-cut, D color, Flawless Sold for US$30.6 million / US$258,708 per carat

100C Emerald-Cut – Magnificent Jewels – NY, 21 April 2015

London Top Lot Has ‘Ripped-From-The-Headlines’ Backstory

Richter, Abstraktes Bild (599) (17-20m) 30.3m GBP
Richter, Abstraktes Bild (599) (17-20m) 30.3m GBP

Scott Reyburn has some interesting statistics from the week of Contemporary sales in London. These numbers show a very strong market even though there were few stand out masterpiece sales:

The London sale nights weren’t exactly studded with masterpieces, but the presence of desirable paintings by international names like Gerhard Richter and Cy Twombly helped the two auction houses raise 240.6 million pounds, or about $367 million. Thanks to ever-expanding global participation — Christie’s said it had 327 bidders from 40 countries — the total was 13 percent higher than last February (albeit from 30 percent more material), and both houses sold more than 86 percent of their lots.

The one case of a record-setting eight-figure sale turns out to have an up-to-the-minute backstory. Reyburn identifies the seller as the Malaysian financier Jho Low who recently did a star turn in the New York Times’s investigative piece on hot money in the New York luxury real estate market, particularly the Time Warner Center.Continue Reading

Phillips London Contemporary Evening = £17.6m