Ed Dolman, Phillips’s new CEO, is in the FT today with a personal profile keyed to the firm’s posh new “game-changing” building. Georgina Adam is skeptical that Phillips can compete on its low cost structure. But there’s every chance that the Russian owners of Phillips don’t view the building itself as an investment in the auction house. Central London real estate is the preferred place to park profits earned in less stable parts of the world. There’s every chance that Mercury—which sells Rolex, Ferrari and Bentley in Russia—is doing the same with the Phillips building.
Closer to home, Dolman outlines a new strategy that treats cutting-edge and recently flipped Contemporary art as part of the “lifestyle-to-luxury segment:”
“Yes, Phillips is not making the profit we want to at the moment but the business plan is what interests me,” Dolman continues. “I think the classic model of Sotheby’s and Christie’s needs changing – it is anachronistic. Their fixed costs are very high, and they have to finance them by charging more and more commission. Our business is lean, it is focused on contemporary art and I believe that sector will continue to grow strongly.” So while the investment seems high, he claims that Phillips, compared with Sotheby’s and Christie’s, has a far lower fixed cost base.
“We are not competing in the $60m-$100m works of art market,” he notes. “Phillips has a reputation for identifying rising young artists – it can make a good and compelling case for selling in the $1m-$5m range.” And he points out that its average lot value, at $105,000, compares well with Sotheby’s and Christie’s, precisely because it is focused on far fewer specialities.
[…] “We are interested in plugging in to the contemporary lifestyle-to-luxury segment of the global market,” he explains, talking of extending watches and jewellery sales, as well as growing geographically, notably by expanding into Asia. “It is inevitable for us to have a presence in Hong Kong soon.”
In conclusion, he says: “Phillips is still in the investment and growth phase, but I believe I will see it carve out a solid share in the global contemporary art market in the coming years, have the capacity to sell in fields such as contemporary Chinese and African art … and be in profit.”
Could Phillips be a game changer? (FT.com)
Donald Judd’s ineffable stacks are one of the artist’s most effective works. They seem to capture and elevate every idea in the minimalist master’s entire artistic vocabulary. Christie’s, which has a long history with Judd dating back to its aggressive sale of the Judd Foundation’s own works in 2006, believes this stack will set a record because it is the last one the artist made. The estimate is between $7 and $9 million:
Christie’s is pleased to announce the sale of Donald Judd’s Untitled (Bernstein 93-1) as one of the highlights of the fall auction season. The fifteen foot high sculpture will be included in the Evening Sale of Post-War and Contemporary Art on Wednesday, November 12th. In scale, design, radiance, effect and simplicity, Untitled (Bernstein 93-1) is one of the most important works by the artist to be presented on the market and confirms Donald Judd’s position as a master of Minimalist art.Untitled (Bernstein 93-1) was executed a few months before the artist’s death; this magnificent sculpture, one of the artists large scale stack sculptures, has remained in the same collection since its creation in 1993.
The love affair between the fasion world and artists has grown to a fever pitch of late. Usually it is fashion trying to borrow some heat from Contemporary art. But Tory Burch showed some designs this week that took their inspiration from Picasso’s companion, Francoise Gilot (above, right), and his passion for decorating ceramics (a hot sector of the Picasso market of late):
US affordable luxury designer Tory Burch unveiled spring/summer 2015 creations in New York Tuesday inspired by the spirit of French painter and Picasso mistress Francoise Gilot.
“I love the idea of her being such a strong woman,” Burch told AFP when asked why Gilot had been such an inspiration. “She was also an incredible artist in her own right,” Burch said, adding she has always loved Picasso’s ceramics.
The Economist latches on to—and makes a chart from—the work of one of the original art price scholars, William Goetzmann, who has a new paper on the top prices paid for paintings over time. One thing you’ll notice about the chart is that record prices come in clusters going back to the turn of the 19th Century. The clusters are just getting closer together in time these days.
The chart also shows the transition from UK and Eurpean buyers to Americans to Japanese and back to Americans of late. Also, for all of the heavy breathing about art prices, the Economist reminds us that the world’s most expensive painting (when prices are adjusted for inflation) remains one bought nearly a quarter of a century ago:
William Goetzmann, Elena Mamonova and Christophe Spaenjers point out that theirs is merely “a” list of records, as opposed to “the” definitive list. It uses nominal prices that have not been adjusted for inflation, and denominates in sterling on the grounds that the global art market was based in Britain for a long time. (If you do adjust for inflation, Van Gogh’s “Portrait of Dr Gachet” becomes the most expensive painting ever sold at auction, having fetched the equivalent of £97m in 2013 prices when it was sold in 1990.) Only the highest price attained at any given auction has been considered, so records that might have been broken earlier at the same event are ignored. And the authors accept that they may have missed some early record-breakers owing to the incompleteness of the historical data.
Daily chart: Study of Money (The Economist)
The Economics of Aesthetics and Three Centuries of Art Price Records, Goetzmann, Mamonova & Spaenjers: SSRN-id2478687 (downloadable pdf)
Marketwatch discovers a little bit of the obvious as it remarks upon Sotheby’s online marketing plans. Video isn’t a new emphasis for the auction house, Sotheby’s has invested much more in video production than its rivals and featured that video content as a central focus of its online marketing since the financial crisis:
The company produced 300 videos last year, marking a 50% increase from the year before, Sotheby’s spokesman Andrew Gully said. He added that video views last year on its website saw a 58% increase with data showing that viewers gravitate toward multiple, shorter videos. To place greater focus on video, Sotheby’s in 2011 created a position that’s responsible for all of its worldwide video content. The company has also allocated more internal resources previously geared toward print marketing to videos.
“Video is incredibly powerful,” Sotheby’s Chairman and CEO William Ruprecht said in an interview. “It’s an increasingly essential tool for telling short powerful stories to a customer base that maybe doesn’t like to spend much time in any place. Just as in the newspaper you create many news stories, you watch what resonates and what gets traffic in an online environment.”
Video also is a key part of Sotheby’s agreement to host its online live-acutions on Ebay as both seek to expand their customer base.
In addition to video, Sotheby’s said it’s also designing its web pages better, including adding still imagery, slideshows and “rich text.”
Christie’s is also making a showing in Silicon Valley this week. The auction house is sending a group of works—bridging various sales from emerging Contemporary artists to Pop classics—to Los Altos at the invitation of local real estate investment concern Passarrelle Investments.
The goal of the show is the continuing effort to attract tech money to the art market. And the choice of Roy Lichtenstein’s Girl with Mirror, which will be sold in the November 12th New York auctions is interesting. Girl with Mirror is an editioned enamel with 10 examples extant. Christie’s has a $2-3m estimate on the work but that’s remarkably low. Some will remember that Girl with Mirror was the focus of a notorious lawsuit involving Gagosian Gallery that produced the phrase “cruel and offensive offer” as a Gagosian representative tried to motivate a wavering buyer in the depths of the financial crisis.
The offer and sale was for $2m, the low estimate on the work. Before and after that notorious sale, versions of Girl with Mirror have traded hands at auction for prices consistently above the estimate range. The most recent sale was in 2012 for $3.7m down from $4.9m in 2010 and $4m in 2007. This particular version has only had one owner since it was purchased from Leo Castelli.
Here is Christie’s release for the exhibition:
Christie’s is pleased to partner with Passerelle to present an important exhibition in Los Altos of Post-War and Contemporary Art works which will be offered privately and at auction this fall in New York. The exhibition will offer major works by established blue-chip artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, Richard Diebenkorn and Tracey Emin as well as examples of cutting-edge contemporary art. The exhibition will also be accompanied by an opening reception on Wednesday, September 10th and a panel discussion on Saturday, September 13th.
“While it is well known that the Bay Area is home to some of the most impressive collections in private hands, it has recently become evident that it is also one of the most robust emerging markets for art collecting with a growing group of young and new collectors. Christie’s is pleased to accept Passerelle’s invitation to come to Los Altos at the beginning of September to showcase Post-War and Contemporary Art highlights from the coming auction season as well as works of art to be offered for private sale. We are particularly excited to open a dialogue with the community and new collectors at StART Up: Beginning (and Growing) Your Art Collection, a panel discussion on Saturday September 13th,” declared Charlie Adamski, Christie’s specialist of Post-War and Contemporary Art based in San Francisco.
Colin Gleadell gets a big exclusive from Chrsitie’s. The Essl Collection, which has been seeking a bailout to keep the German DIY entrepreneur’s 7,000 work collection intact, has decided to sell 44 works through Christie’s in a pre-Frieze auction that estimates the value of the works at £60m. Gleadell points out that this makes it the most valuable single-owner Contemporary art sale. Here Gleadell gives us a preview of the works:
The backbone of the sale, to be held just before the Frieze art fair opens, are works by German artists led by a Gerhard Richter abstract, at £7 million to £10 million, followed by a realist Richter painting of clouds at £5 million to £7 million. When Essl bought them in the 1990s for roughly one tenth of these prices, not only was the market sluggish, but the realist work was far more costly than the abstract, showing how demand has changed economically and aesthetically.
Five paintings by Sigmar Polke, whose retrospective exhibition travels from New York to Tate Modern next month, constitute the best collection of Polkes ever seen at auction, says Francis Outred of Christie’s. All bought at auction between 1995 and 2003, they are now expected to make 10 or 15 times those prices, with estimates ranging from £800,000 to £3.5 million, where a new record could be in sight.
The Essls are selling four out of a dozen works they own by Georg Baselitz. A massive wooden carving of the artist as a boy wearing a new hat is likely to set a record for a sculpture by the artist at £1.5 million. Were it not for an extraordinary £11 million record price set for Martin Kippenberger in New York in May, works by him in the sale, estimated up to £3.5 million, would be record breakers too, says Outred. A vivid 1986 portrait by Maria Lassnig carries the highest estimate yet for one of her works at £120,000 to £180,000.
Of more historical interest are works from the 1960s and 1970s by the Americans Morris Louis and Frank Stella, and by France’s most valuable living artist, Pierre Soulages – all bought cheaply in the 1990s and promising to see substantial returns.
Art Sales: The most valuable auction ever (Telegraph)
Peter Loughrey’s LA Modern Auctions is selling a major Mike Kelley work from the mid-80s on October 12th:
Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA) is pleased to announce that Mike Kelley’s Nazi War Cave #1 (1985) will be a featured lot in the upcoming October 12, 2014 Modern Art & Design Auction. This exemplary work from Kelley’s Plato’s Cave, Rothko’s Chapel, Lincoln’s Profile project is being sold by the estate of the original owner and will trade hands for the first time this fall.
Nazi War Cave #1 (1985) (Estimate $400,000 – 600,000), from the Plato’s Cave, Rothko’s Chapel, Lincoln’s Profile project that Kelley worked on from 1985-86, is one of ten works that explores the eternal artistic conundrum: truth versus illusion. This work employs text and imagery that creates layers of meaning, oscillating between “jokes”, “red herrings” and real “issues.” Kelley is begging the viewer to scrutinize this work by placing text and imagery together to decipher what is “real” and what is “fake.” “My language usage in artworks is not just babble. Often there are jokes on certain critical or historical issues – and that can be seen if one reads closely,” Kelley states from an interview in 1999.
Kelley’s work marks a critical point of progression in the history of post-war conceptual art. “L.A. would not have become a great international capital of contemporary art without Mike Kelley. Of all the artists in the 1980s, he was the one who really broke out and established a new and complex identity for his generation,” says Paul Schimmel, expert on Kelley’s work and principal of Hauser Wirth & Schimmel.
Another drawing from this project, Exploring from Plato’s Cave, Rothko’s Chapel, Lincoln’s Profile (1985) is in the permanent collection of The Museum of Modern Art.
Nazi War Cave #1
Acrylic on paper
Sheet: 68.875″ x 104″
Exhibited: “Mike Kelley,” traveling exhibition, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, December 15, 2012-April 1, 2013; Centre Pompidou, Paris, May 2-August 5, 2013; MoMA PS1, New York October 13, 2013-February 4, 2014; MOCA, Los Angeles, March 31, 2014-July 28, 2014
Illustrated: Welchman, John C, Isabelle Graw, and Anthony Vidler, Mike Kelley. 2nd ed, New York: Phaidon, 2011, p 14; Meyer-Hermann, Eva, and Lisa Gabrielle Mark, eds, Mike Kelley. Munich: DelMonico/Prestel, 2013, p 76.
Estimate: $400,000 – 600,000
The brief brouhaha involving Bert Kreuk caused by news of his lawsuit against artist Danh Vo has brought out a steady stream of one-upsmanship. Each new commentator has something to say about Kreuk and the previous report. Today the high ground was seized by Abigail Esman who is concerned by “the sloppiness with which the press – and that includes the art press – has handled” the Kreuk story.
It’s not clear that Esman has added much to the story in her interview with Kreuk. But the collector does get off a couple of good lines like this one on whether he plotted to show his collection in The Hague to increase its value: “Bad art does not become good by showing it in a museum.”
The story isn’t without value because Kreuk outlines what it has taken for him to be satisfied with his collection. And that’s been buying a lot and then figuring out what’s worth keeping:
I do try to honor relationships by offering works back to the galleries that sold them, but sometimes they’re just not interested. But buying and selling around 5000 works of art in the past 20 years has enabled me to build a great collection of about 800 works of the highest quality, from the Impressionist period up to the present.
That quality is the result of my way of collecting: I first and foremost buy art because I like to live with it. But yes, of course I look to the price next; it should have benchmark and make sense. I constantly navigate between price and principle and ask myself for instance; do I buy one word painting by Christopher Wool, or 10 others on the list?
[…] Contemporary art is made every day, so as a collector I am continuously making choices.
Two and a half years ago, the Man Ray Trust hung out a shingle in the Wall Street Journal. ‘Come buy our archive,’ the story all but begged. Evidently, no buyer emerged for the 400 works because Sotheby’s has announced that the collection will be sold in 300 lots in Paris on November 15th. This will be the second largest sale of Man Ray’s works following the previous sale of estate works nearly 20 years ago:
At the core of the sale is a group of over 191 lots of vintage photographs ranging from portraiture and fashion photography, including solarisation and gauze effects, to Surrealist compositions and iconic Man Ray photographs such as Magnolia Flower (1926), Starfish (1928), Ostrich Egg (1944) and Mathematical Object (1934).
Renowned for his superb photographic portraits of the key artists, composers and writers of 1920’s and 1930’s Paris, the auction offers portraits of Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Juan Gris, Jean Cocteau, Francis Picabia, André Derain, Alberto Giacometti, Joan Miró, Erik Satie, Paul Eluard, Henry Miller in addition to a rich offering of self- portraits, many previously unpublished. A significant number of these portraits were featured in last year’s exhibition Man Ray Portraits, held at the National Portrait Gallery in London.
The sale also includes portraits of his muses: Kiki de Montparnasse, Lee Miller, Ady Fidelin and many of his wife Juliet (photographs, drawings and a painting). Also featured are portraits of stars of stage and screen, including: Ava Garner, Paulette Goddard, Leslie Caron, Juliette Gréco, Yves Montand and Catherine Deneuve. Among the paintings to be sold is an arresting portrait of Juliet, Purple Mask (1948) and Much Ado about Nothing (1949), from Man Ray’s series of Shakespearean Equations.
A number of intriguing Surrealist objects are being offered, including Man Ray’s legendary irrational and humorous object Ce que manque à nous tous, comprising a clay pipe with a glass bubble. Also included are a number of items of Jewellery including a gold broach of the lips of Lee Miller, inspired by the artist’s celebrated painting Observatory Time (A l’heure de l’observatoire – les amoureux) (1932-34) and Man Ray’s earrings in the form of unravelled lampshades, identical to those worn by Catherine Deneuve in Man photograph for the cover page of The Observer Magazine (1975), a variant of this photograph of which is also included in the sale.
The game of Chess provided tremendous inspiration to the artist throughout his career, and the sale includes two chess sets, a large scale Chess Painting and numerous photographs of his chess sets and designs.
Man Ray (press release)