On July 31st, Abbey House in Poland made what they claim is a record sale for a young Polish artist. Though many Polish art advisors have never heard of her, Abbey House says they sold Agata Kleczkowska’s untitled painting (above) for $57,000. Abbey House is on an aggressive PR campaign that includes some outlandish claims:
Abbey House SA operates in the very niche market of works of art, currently estimated at 300 million zlotys. In a few years’ time, however, it may grow up to 6 billion zlotys. The total figures related to sales of paintings in Q1 2011 in Poland raise optimism. Works of art worth over 10 million zlotys have been sold, which makes it possible to predict a year-end result of 40–50 million zlotys, i.e. 40 per cent higher than last year.
There’s some ambiguity in the quote above. Does the 300 million refer to the Polish art market or Abbey House’s holdings of Polish art which is described somewhat below.
The strategy of Abbey House SA consists in the close collaboration with a group of selected artists with which the company signs agreements for several years. The company promotes the artists and their work and earns money selling it. Only one painting is put up for sale each month, however, while the others remain in the Abbey House safe and their value grows. The company’s operation is based on a model that is innovative from the point of view of the Polish market, i.e. the combination of an auction house and a gallery. Abbey House plans to participate in auctions organised jointly with the most prestigious auction houses in the world, such as Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillip de Pury & Co.
Either way, the numbers don’t really add up. Certainly, there’s no reason given for the 20-fold increase in value from 300 million zlotys to 6 billion.
For more on the Polish market, an astute reader points out Artbazar, a blog covering the Polish market.