Chanos Is Short Sotheby’s But Long White Cube and ‘Super Dealers’

Chanos Living Room

Bloomberg went on a tour of ArtBasel Miami Beach with short seller Jim Chanos. During their stroll, Chanos expressed his view that the auction houses are under pressure from the big global galleries like White Cube:

Chanos also told Ruhle that he thinks the two main auction houses, Christie’s and Sotheby’s, are facing serious challenges from large international art dealers. These so-called ‘super dealers’ increasingly “have galleries all around the world in all different capitals, have huge inventories, have relationships with all the best artists, can offer financing, and in effect are doing some of the same things that the auction houses had as their complete sinecure,” he said, but they’re doing it themselves.

After their tour of the ABMB exhibition space, Chanos took Ruhle on a tour of his home, where he showcased some of his legendary art collection.

Jim Chanos Tours Art Basel, Shows Off Favorite Piece of Art in His Home  (Bloomberg)

Make Glenn Ligon’s Studio Museum of Harlem Tote a Thing This Christmas

MZ Wallace Glenn Ligon


A Collaboration in Support of The Studio Museum in Harlem

MZ Wallace is proud to partner with artist Glenn Ligon in support
of The Studio Museum in Harlem. Ligon has lent the print from his piece Untitled (I Am Somebody) to a limited run of Metro Totes.

All proceeds from the sale of the tote will benefit The Studio Museum in Harlem’s art education programs.

Buy One Now

Bloomberg: Pinault Considering Restructuring Christie’s

Patricia Barbizet

The editors at Bloomberg seem to be fixated on the future of Christie’s to an extent even greater than the art market. Yesterday they ran another story on the auction house. This time their sources say Patricia Barbizet has been installed to restructure the company. That move would make some sense given the background of the executive and the story of how Steven Murphy came to be CEO.

Christie’s International Plc’s Patricia Barbizet, who was named chief executive officer last week after the surprise exit of Steven Murphy, will review options that may include a restructuring of the world’s largest auction house, said people familiar with the company’s plans.

French billionaire Francois Pinault brought in longtime adviser Barbizet, 59, to evaluate the future strategy of the company he took private for $1.2 billion in 1998, said one of the people, who asked not to be named as the matter is private. Pinault doesn’t plan to sell Christie’s, a spokeswoman for his holding company said.

Pinault has had previous opportunities to sell Christie’s at a good valuation that he has declined. That history with the Al-Thani family, where the Emir took the extraordinary measure of publicly stating his interest in buying the firm to the Financial Times as a way to bring Pinault to the bargaining table. M. Pinault declined, instead he chose to install Murphy to remake the firm.

One way to see the change of leadership at Christie’s is that time simply ran out on that four-year project.

Christie’s Abrupt CEO Exit to Prompt Auction House Review  (Bloomberg)

Goodbye to All That? The Auction Houses’ Changing Leadership

Ruprecht & Murphy

There’s a lot to think about in John Gapper’s excellent Financial Times piece on the curious state of the auction houses as they face a future with new CEOS and potentially new strategies:

Executives and specialists believe that Mr Murphy’s departure will ease the intense competition and allow the margins to expand at the top end. But that may be an idle hope. Not only could Sotheby’s itself become more aggressive under a new leader, with a more ambitious board, but the auction houses do not operate in a hermetically sealed world. They have to keep proving themselves against the new breed of contemporary art “superdealers”, such as Larry Gagosian and David Zwirner.

Gapper doesn’t say it. But the issue of guarantees is bound up in this competition between auction houses and dealers for market share. Direct guarantees from the auction house are a way to take sales away from secondary market dealers.Continue Reading

Chinese Buyers Now a Factor in Miami Real Estate

Jingjing Lu of Beijing Commune
Jingjing Lu of Beijing Commune

Chinese buyers are showing up in Miami for seaside condos—and art:

“The new and younger generation of Chinese collectors is bilingual, educated in North America or Europe — they’re very international.”

The Chinese art boom has been fueled by the country’s new prosperity. China’s growing cadre of ultra-wealthy (more than 10,000 people worth at least $30million, for a total of $1.51trillion in 2013, according to a report by UBS and financial research firm Wealth-X) have invested significantly in real estate and art, says Christopher Tsai, a Chinese-American New York investment manager.

In Miami, Chinese nationals have spent $25million at the Related Group’s luxurious new tower ONE Paraiso and are also buying multimillion-dollar apartments at One Thousand Museum by Zaha Hadid. Not only can high-end condos and artworks rise in value quickly, they often seem like safe havens for Chinese wary of political or economic upheaval.

“There’s a fear you need to be protective of what you own,” says Tsai, who travels frequently to China and began collecting contemporary Chinese art in 2003. He has focused on Ai Weiwei, acquiring more than 40 pieces, one of which, Bowls of Pearls, he lent to the Pérez Art Museum Miami for last year’s show of the dissident Chinese superstar.

Such investment-oriented spending has fueled speculation from Chinese and Westerners, Tsai says. “You see people coming in just wanting to buy quickly, be the first, then you see the work appear at auction in a year or less. That wasn’t the case five years ago.”

China becoming a major player in international art world  (The Miami Herald)

Luxury Marketing Looks to Art for Access to Global Rich


The art market continues to be an alluring entry point for luxury marketers:

“Anyone who is a serious member of the creative class who’s in town is going to come into our fair. We’re getting a lot of request from CEOs and CMOs (chief marketing officers) who’ve never come to the fair,” said Art Basel director Marc Spiegler.

Miami’s billion-dollar art fair becomes platform for selling everything  (Reuters)

Sotheby’s Paris Contemporary = €22.2m

Sotheby's Paris Cont Eve 1214

Sotheby's Paris Cont Day 1214