Doig Work Shows Strong Demand for Some Contemporary Artists

Doig, Architect's Home in the Ravine

You are already a lot of chatter about how the Contemporary art market is in a swoon and buyers are fleeing the top end. You wouldn’t know it from looking at Christie’s top lot in the London Post-War and Contemporary Art sale next month. Peter Doig’s The Architect’s Home in the Ravine may be one of the painter’s most frequently traded works.

If first sold in 2002 at Sotheby’s in London where it made an impressive, for the time, £314,650 during the June Evening sale of Contemporary art. That was before the explosion in Doig’s market caused by a bidding war in February of 2007 where the artist’s White Canoe made £5.7m against a pre-sale high estimate of £1.2m.Continue Reading

Art Institute of Chicago Promotes New Director

News from Chicago:

The Art Institute of Chicago’s search for a new leader was deemed “international.” Its choice, announced Thursday, was hyper-regional, a man who had been in the building all along.

James Rondeau, the highly regarded chair of the museum’s department of modern and contemporary art, will take over as president and Eloise W. Martin director Feb. 16, after a Thursday morning vote affirming his appointment by the institution’s board.

James Rondeau named new Art Institute of Chicago director  (Chicago Tribune)

Who Bought the Brody Picasso for $106m?

Ever since the Brody sale in 2010, when the famed collectors’ Picasso, Nude, Green Leaves and Bust set a then-record for the most expensive work at auction, there’s been speculation about the buyer. The painting was exhibited in London at the Tate Modern after the sale in 2011.

Yesterday, an Instagram post suggested the owner is Len Blavatnik whose holdings include Warner Music. (The post seems to be a photograph of an issue of Architectural Digest which has a spread on the London home of “the owner of #warnerrecords.)

Blavatnick is also an investor in the Faena development in Miami Beach where his Damien Hirst’s “Gone But Not Forgotten” is on display.

Zwirner Sees ‘Complicated’ Market in 2016

Hirst BIMHF auction shot 2

You know we’re in an art boom when the dealers start complaining that too much money is chasing bad art. That’s a phrase we heard a lot in 2007. The subtext was almost always Damien Hirst and his astonishing success. This, of course, was before Hirst’s incredibly popular 2012 retrospective at the Tate Modern, which curiously came after Hirst’s market was pummeled by the dual body blows of the massive Beautiful Inside My Head Forever sale and the global credit crisis.

In the South China Morning Post, David Zwirner echoes the market from nearly a decade ago. This time, however, it is not immediately apparent which artist or artists he feels are drawing too much money:Continue Reading

De Sole Testifies About Knoedler Rothko Purchase

Yesterday’s testimony in the de Sole-Knoedler trial focused on a long-term Knoedler gallery employee, Melissa de Meideros. de Meideros handled a variety of tasks there, mostly doing research. However, for two years she served as Ann Freedman’s administrative assistant. In that capacity, she memorialized conversations and meetings. The plaintiff’s attorney put into evidence two memos that showed Rosales first told Freedman the anonymous collector she represented had 7-8 works. In the first memo, there is no mention of a Jackson Pollock in the collection but Freedman asks if the heirs have a Pollock or a Smith.

Two months later, Freedman has a phone call with Rosales who is now in Spain. Many of the works mentioned in the first memo are mentioned again. There’s also now a Pollock mentioned. These two issues, the limited number of works first mentioned from a collection that would eventually “produce” a few dozen works and the way that a Pollock was introduced to the inventory, are likely to be key issues for the plaintiffs.

Eileen Kinsella recounts in Artnet News how Judge Gardephe began to lose patience with de Meideros’s testimony around the subject of her research on Rosales’s shifting story of the collection’s history which started by using Alphonso Ossorio, the painter, but eventually switched to David Herbert:Continue Reading

Zwirner Wants to Open Gallery in Hong Kong ASAP, or, As Soon As Rents Come Down


The South China Morning Post has a breathless report that David Zwirner is eager to open a space in Hong Kong:

“A couple of years ago, we thought we would just come to the art fair. Now, I’m convinced we need a gallery here,” said the founder of the eponymous New York and London gallery during a whirlwind visit to meet local clients.

Christopher D’Amelio, senior partner in the gallery, said it wanted to have a permanent presence in Hong Kong “as soon as possible” after witnessing a steady growth in its Asian business.

But the interview goes on to say that Zwirner is wary of having to pay up in a declining real estate market:

He said he had yet to find a suitable space and was prepared to wait for Hong Kong’s retail rents to fall further.

Top art dealer David Zwirner looking to open gallery in Hong Kong (South China Morning Post)

Sotheby’s Finally Gets Some Good Taubman News

de Boulogne, The Crowning with Thorns (1.5-2m) 5.17m USD

Robin Pogrebin is keeping a close watch on the Taubman tally over at the Times:

In its final auction devoted wholly to its former chairman’s collection, Sotheby’s sold $24,128,750 worth of Old Master artworks on Wednesday night, right in the middle of the $21 million to $30 million it had projected.

The auction house said that brought the estimated shortfall from its record-setting $515 million guarantee to the heirs of the onetime executive, A. Alfred Taubman, to $3 million. On Friday, it had projected a $6 million loss in a call with investors and analysts.

Tad Smith, the president and chief executive of Sotheby’s, said in that call that Sotheby’s also expected to incur an additional loss of $6 million in expenses associated with the sale of art belonging to Mr. Taubman, who died last year.

Although the running total for the Taubman collection is now $462 million, Sotheby’s still has 200 lots to be grouped with art belonging to other collectors in coming auctions. And some of the works that were auctioned remain unsold.

Sotheby’s Narrows Its Loss in Final All-Taubman Sale (The New York Times)

Is an Indictment Coming in the Knoedler Case?


This morning Judge Paul Gardephe spent a little time with the lawyers in the de Sole-Freedman case discussing matters related to the US Attorney’s delayed sentencing of Glafira Rosales, the admitted contact point of the forgery ring.

Judge Gardephe opined that the lack of a sentence in the case was a strong indication that the US Attorney was still making criminal case and needed Rosales cooperation. The comment is surprising given the long period of time that has elapsed since Rosales’s arrest.

Another indictment may be coming from the feds but Gardephe’s comments are undercut by this unpersuasive story in The Art Newspaper suggesting the recent case against Nicolas Cage over a dinosaur skeleton indicates

a larger push by Preet Bharara, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, to police the art and antiquities market.

Bharara’s office has overseen at least 15 high-profile art-related forfeiture cases—as the office refers to them—in the past five years.

But when one reads through the story and the list of cases, it quickly becomes apparent that the headline,”Top US Prosecutor Has Art Market in His Sights,” is more hopeful than descriptive. The 15 cases are a random collection of unrelated events involving the US Attorney for the Southern District. One, the prosecution of Helly Nahmad for his involvement in an illegal gambling ring has nothing to do with art.

Top US prosecutor has art market in his sights (The Art Newspaper)

BADA to Build Online Auction With No Buyer’s Premium

Sotheby's Contemporary Auction London

The Australian Financial Review summarizes a British Antiques Gazette story announcing that BADA is launching an online auction platform that will not charge a buyer’s premium:

The scheme is the brainchild of the respected British Antique Dealers Association, which has about 330 members.

Under the dealer scheme, there will be no buyer’s premium – in contrast to the auctioneers which charge buyers 25 per cent or more. Sellers will pay a 15 per cent commission.

The move is a first for an antique dealer body and a radical initiative for BADA as it approaches its 100th anniversary in 2018. It plans to host three to four sales a year initially.

[D]ealers would be identified as sellers and be in direct contact with buyers to complete a sale.

Disruption in art market: Dealers turn auctioneers (

Diebenkorn Heirs Dispute Freedman’s Authentication Account

Disputed Diebenkorn
Disputed Diebenkorn

The de Sole-Knoedler trial continued yesterday with a strong opening argument by Ann Freedman’s lawyer, Luke Nikas. The detailed account reinforced the idea that Freedman had ample support from scholars and connoisseurs about the works Glafira Rosales brought to her.

What became quickly apparent is that this trial will leave no one involved looking good. In several pre-emptive strikes, Nikas warned that some of the experts would testify differently from the documents he adduced because they were trying to protect their reputations.

The plaintiffs will need to show that Freedman was craven and aggressive in exploiting the reticence of those with doubts. The New York Times’s Colin Moynihan captured some of that nuance in this first testimony of the trial:Continue Reading