Christie’s Postpones Basquiat Online Sale from Alexis Adler

Basquiat, Untitled (Olive Oyl) (400-600k) 569k USD

Apparently there’s a little housekeeping on the controversy over the Basquiat works owned by Alexis Adler that have come under dispute from the artist’s estate (which refuses to authenticate works.)

On a side note, the two authenticated works from Adler that were included in the First Open sale had mixed results with the door selling well below the estimate range and one within estimates:

After initially saying that the auction would proceed, Christie’s quietly reversed itself, posting a notice on its website: “Our goal is to allow time for all parties involved to reach an equivalent level of confidence in the validity of these items, so that the sale may resume at a later date.”

Alexis Adler, the owner of the auction items, said in an emailed statement that she was disappointed by the decision and that she “looks forward to bringing the Basquiat Estate to the same level of confidence that she and Christie’s share in the unassailable authenticity of these early and seminal works which she acquired from Jean-Michel.”

Basquiat Auction by Christie’s Is Postponed (ArtsBeat/NYTimes)

Baquiat’s Sisters Go After Former Girlfriend in Court


The Basquiat estate, which no longer authenticates work by the artist, is upset that Christie’s did not submit the Alexis Adler sale for authentication, according to the New York Post:

Out of the roughly 40-piece collection from Basquiat’s former lover Alexis Adler, the estate’s authentication committee was only presented with seven pieces for inspection, according to the Manhattan federal lawsuit filed by sisters Jeanine Basquiat Henveaux and Lisan Basquiat.

The committee rejected one of the seven works, the suit says. The members believe the $300,000 radiator with the word “Milk” painted across the middle was not done by Basquiat, according to court papers.

The suit says that, unlike with past auctions, Christie’s never bothered to submit the remaining items to the authentication committee because it knew the works were not done by the graffiti artist-turned-art world superstar.

“If the items in the catalog are not authenticated, they are virtually worthless,” the sibling executors claim in court papers filed Tuesday morning.

Update: Christie’s has released a statement concerning the Basquiat work on offer from Alexis Adler:

Christie’s have been in direct and amicable contact with Administrators of the Basquiat Estate about the Estate’s concerns regarding works by Jean-Michel Basquiat that are to be offered for sale by Christie’s on behalf of Alexis Adler.  As a result of those talks, Christie’s is moving forward with Thursday’s First Open sale as planned, with the exclusion of a single lot to allow for further review and research.  We are pleased to offer these works in celebration of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s artistic legacy and we look forward to continuing the close working relationship that Christie’s and the Estate have enjoyed for many years.

Upcoming Basquiat auction may be full of fakes: lawsuit (NYPost)

Jay Z Buys a Very New York Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Mecca ($4-6m) $4.47m

The Post’s claim that the Qatari royal family bought the record Bacon last week has already been refuted by Acquavella gallery, so this latest report has to be taken with a grain of sale. Though one would expect the NY Post to have better sources among the New York rap community than the Gulf States aristocracy:

The Brooklyn-born rap impresario was the anonymous buyer of a quirky 1982 Basquiat painting titled “Mecca’’ at Sotheby’s in Manhattan last week, a source told The Post.

Jay Z snaps up $4.5M Basquiat painting | New York Post.

Basquiat Dispute Bubbles Into Public View

Basquiat disputed by Pellizzi

The New York Post got the story of a Basquiat drawing that is being disputed by Francesco Pellizzi who claims ownership of the work he says his mother bought for him in 1988 for $8800. Pellizzi says it was stolen and he next saw it in a catalogue for Christie’s Spring sales in New York. The consignor, David Ruttenberg and his advisor, Jennifer Vorbach, got Pellizzi to agree to let the sale go through and settle the dispute after:

Francesco Pellizzi, 73, says his mother paid $8,800 for the 27-by-20-inch work in December 1988, and gave it to him as a Christmas present. […]

Pellizzi, Ruttenberg and Vorbach were unable to settle their differences on their own, so Pellizzi is asking a judge to step in and award him $520,000 of the proceeds — the amount of the winning bid.

“It changed hands a number of times, but Vorbach and Ruttenberg are not able to trace it back to anyone who obtained it from Mr. Pellizzi,” Stern said.

The Basquiat in dispute, which portrays a weird, wobbly stick figure, “has a very long history of life outside the United States where the laws are different,” Ruttenberg told The Post.

The attorney paid six figures for the piece in 2012, which Vorbach located in a Swiss gallery, he said.

They’d researched the ownership of the art going back about a decade, and found it had gone through owners in Europe and China before they came upon it.

“If it’s being sold around Europe, you’re not doing a very good job of looking for your artwork,” Ruttenberg quipped. “We bought it as an innocent buyer.”

Man claims auctioned Basquiat drawing was stolen (NYPost)

Christie’s Wants to Break Basquiat Record

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Dustheads ($25-35m)

Christie’s announces that a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting will go for the gold on May 15th:

Painted with a combustive palette, Dustheads becomes an intuitive, gestural whirlwind made during the pinnacle of the artist’s practice. With an estimate of $25-35 million, Dustheads will likely break Basquiat’s record of $26.4 million, which was just achieved last November in New York. […]

An acknowledged masterpiece from a pivotal year in the artist’s career, this 1982 painting demonstrates Basquiat’s unique ability to combine raw, unabashed expressive emotion whilst displaying a draughtmanship that was unrivalled in modern painting. Housed in the same private collection for almost 20 years,Dustheads was included in the seminal exhibition of the artist’s work organized by the Fondation Beyeler, Basel in 2010 (and which later travelled to the Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris) and is widely referenced in the artist’s monographs, including the cover of the catalogue to the 2006 Basquiat retrospective organized by the Fondazione La Triennale di Milano.

Josh Baer reminds us that he broke the news of this sale three months ago:

The Basquiat market seems to be continuing on its upwards trajectory. We hear that Christie’s will auction “Dustheads” from the collection of Tiqui Atencio in May with a guarantee of around $30 million. Other paintings have had offers even higher turned down. Now that the Nahmads seem to be in this market (bidding, guarantees maybe, see above) the momentum seems to strong .

Basquiat Market Fever Cooled by Vexed Seller

If you wondered, as we did, why Christie’s Jean-Michel Basquiat painting “Museum Security” was withdrawn from the sale, your answer lies in the Daily News. The painting became part of a title dispute. In the process, the suit reveals some interesting details about the way third-party guarantees are structured and how some sellers just can’t accept the way a market works:

The highbrow brouhaha was set in motion in September 2011 when Churchill-Spencer sold the painting to the Mugrabi family firm, Jombihis Corporation, for $6.125 million.

Shortly afterward, the Mugrabis struck a deal with a third party to sell the Brooklyn-born Basquiat’s work at auction.

Christie’s estimated that the 1983 painting, titled “Museum Security (Broadway Meltdown),” would go for anywhere from $9-$12 million.

The Mugrabis’ buyer guaranteed that he would purchase the painting for at least $8.7 million — but if it sold for more at the auction, the profit would be split with the Mugrabis.

But an enraged Spencer-Churchill intervened, saying he was duped in his original deal with the Mugrabis.

According to the suit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, Jose Mugrabi’s son, Alberto, tried to buy the painting from Spencer-Churchill for $5.5 million in early 2011.

Spencer-Churchill, whose father is a distant cousin of the legendary British leader, refused. He was so incensed by the offer he instructed his dealer to sell the painting for no less than $6 million to anyone but a member of the Mugrabi family.

The unidentified dealer ended up selling the painting to the Jombijis Corp. for $6 million — plus a commission of $125,000 and a bonus of one piece of art and an antique from the Mugrabi family collection, the suit says.

Winston Churchill relative has unjustifiable case of seller’s remorse over painting, according to lawsuit (NY Daily News)

Will Basquiat Breakout in London?

Christie’s announced the sale of a record-setting Jean-Michel Basquiat self-portrait in London early next month. Bloomberg’s Scott Reyburn has Christis’s Basquiat big wig, Brett Gorvy, confirming that the work has a third-party guarantee. Other sources say the guarantee is between $18 & 20m. So another record for Basquiat will be set one way or another:

Undertaken in 1981 and formerly owned by the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Untitled is one of the artist’s earliest masterpieces, marrying the gritty urbanism of his street graffiti with his raw and guttural symbolism. In 2007, Untitled, sold for $14.6 million, breaking the artist’s world auction record at the time, today, the estimate is within the region of $20 million, positioning it to break Basquiat’s record again, which was achieved last May in New York at $16.3 million.

Christie’s London – Basquiat June 2012

Richter Comes in Second to Picasso with $83m NY Total

Colin Gleadell is still at his sums from last week’s sales in New York. Having tallied $88m for Picasso, Gleadell comes up with Gerhard Richter as a close second:

The other pre-eminent figure was Gerhard Richter, by whom 16 works, estimated to fetch about $54 million, sold for $83 million, eclipsing even the normally dominant Andy Warhol. The largest Richter abstract painting sold for a new record $21.8 million.

The week ended at Phillips, where the most significant sale was a six-foot Jean-Michel Basquiat crucifixion figure which sold for a record $16.3 million – a price that now puts Basquiat on a par with late Picasso, which is just where his fans want him to be.

Munch, Pollock and Calder help New York’s auction houses notch up $1.42 billion (Telegraph)

Don’t Cry for Basquiat’s Authentication Committee

GalleristNY adds a little reporting to Josh Baer’s news earlier this week that the Basquiat authentication committee was following the Warhol Foundation’s authentication committee into oblivion.

Gallerist spoke to Basquiat’s first dealer, Anina Nosei about the change of heart:

“We authenticated–and sometimes did not–an enormous amount of work,” she said. “I guess Gerard Basquiat [the artist’s father and head of the estate] decided that he had it. I guess. I haven’t talked to him.”

The committee itself may turn out to be less important than Enrico Navarra’s catalogue raisonné:

“If there is a painting that isn’t in the Navarra catalogue, or a Basquiat that has never been shown, that could be dodgy,” said Christophe Van de Weghe, a dealer who has sold a number of Basquiats out of his Upper East Side gallery. “It would still be very easy to contact the people who showed a painting originally. The Navarra catalogue is very good. It’s not complete,” he said, “but it’s almost complete.”

Basquiat’s Authentication Committee to Disband in September 2012 (GalleristNY)

Basquiat Up 5x on Guarantee at PdP

The Basquiat sold at Phillips de Pury last night increased five-f0ld in price over 8 years. Unfortunately, the price was set by a third-party guarantor who won the lot:

The Basquiat, dating from 1985 and featuring a half-length self-portrait next to a wooden panel covered in bottle tops, fetched 2.1 million pounds ($3.4 million) at Phillips de Pury & Co.’s first contemporary sale at Claridge’s in Mayfair. The price was five times the $647,500 it fetched at Phillips de Pury, New York, in 2003. […] The Basquiat was one of five works with minimum bids by third party guarantors. It fell to the guarantor, bidding by phone, for slightly more than the 2-million-pound low estimate.

Basquiat’s Price Soars Fivefold as $320 Million Auctions Start in London (Bloomberg)