Melikian’s Asian Adventure
The International Herald Tribune‘s Art market reporter, Souren Melikian, vents on estimates and mythic speculative buyers but declares Asia Week a happy hunting ground for the worthy connoisseur.
Boom Market for Russian Fakes
ArtInfo runs a fascinating story on the thriving market for fake Russian works of art. There is now a website for searching out fakes too (link included in the story.) What’s fascinating is how the fakes are made: “Many of the fraudulent works are authentic 19th-century paintings by minor Western artists that have been doctored to look Russian, thus making them more appealing to the new collectors. Forgers comb European salesrooms for cheap but passable canvases to transform. “Buy an old Dutch painting, add a birch tree, take a cow off, and you have a Shishkin and a 1,000 percent profit,” jokes the Guggenheim’s Europe-based consultant, Nic Iljine” With the growing importance of Russian art to the entire art trade–has anyone noticed that Russian art features prominently in the upcoming New York Impressionist and Modern categories?–the fakes may blossom for some time to come.
Monster Mash Note
The Independent ran this parody of the thinking of London’s rich hedge fund managers. “They’re all on to contemporary art now – it’s an important global asset class after all – but he was there 10 years ago and more. You just had to listen to those Sensation people or meet Jay Jopling to know they could sell anything. They could beat most young City recruits, class of ’96 like him, for sheer ambition and pretty naked aggression. Wonderful. Now it’s moving at three times the speed, with the Chinese and Indian contemporary sales making big numbers and people talking up the Koreans. It’s starting to look dangerously over-subscribed. All those Notting Hill American bankers wanting “wall-power” – huge, knock-’em-dead stunners from big branded artists so they can say “it’s a Baselitz” or whatever.” The raging gale of redemptions hitting the hedge fund business may make this bit of satire a historical documentary momentarily.
The AP has a story about the dramatic increase in smuggling of antiquities through US ports. “This whole market is driven by the demand for all kinds of antiquities, and the demand is constantly increasing,” explained Robert Sharer, curator of the Americas section of the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia. Adding to the problem, too often people who live in poor areas of Latin America, the Middle East and Africa are willing to loot ancient graves for cash. “A lot of pieces are disappearing,” said Edouard Planche, an assistant program specialist for UNESCO in France. “And these poorer countries have less capacity to control the illegal smuggling.”
We dawdled on posting this profile of Marc Quinn’s work and the exhibition at Chatsworth last month. But our negligence shouldn’t be your loss. It’s still well worth reading. Larger than Life
Okay, it’s a lousy headline but blame the editors at The Independent where this summary of Russian art buying habits appeared. The story suggests that we’ve seen this movie before: “At the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, one of its curators, Alexis Leporc, tells me that some of the new money is indeed spent indiscriminately, buying up job lots of art. But there’s precedent for it. Catherine the Great put together the massive collection that’s at the heart of the Hermitage in much the same way, as part of a scheme to make Russia an imperial power”