This commentary by Marion Maneker is available to AMMpro subscribers. (The first month of AMMpro is free and subscribers are welcome to sign up for the first month and cancel before they are billed.)
Katya Kazakina previews the Warhol retrospective that opens at the Whitney on November 12. If you can believe it, the show is the first major US exhibition of Warhol in almost 30 years. With 350 works, including loans from Peter Brant, José Mugrabi and Larry Gagosian (the three pillars of the Warhol market), the show ought to have been driving sales for the last 8 months leading up to the show. That’s what normally happens when a major artist gets a major show originating at a major New York museum and traveling to the Art Institute of Chicago and SFMoMA.
Instead, as Kazakina points out, the offerings in the Contemporary art evening sales are spare and lackluster (though the Gun is striking and impressive.) Here’s her description in Bloomberg:
- “Collectors at auctions in New York next month won’t have the chance to bid on paintings of that caliber. The most expensive Warhol on offer is “Gun" (1981-82), estimated at $7 million to $10 million at Phillips. Christie’s lists “Birth of Venus (After Botticelli)" from 1984 at $2.5 million to $3.5 million. The same work failed to sell in London in March when it was estimated at 4.5 million pounds ($6.2 million) to 6.5 million pounds.”
So, what happened to the Warhol market? No one involved in Contemporary art has lost respect for Warhol. And the private sale of S.I. Newhouse’s Orange Marilyn for a rumored $250m late last year both validates that and provides evidence that the Warhol market is quite weak. Elsewhere, we’ve argued that $200m or more for Orange Marilyn is a relatively soft price. One can make an argument that gets the price close to $320m. Just as a telling, the Newhouse family’s agent chose not to make the rounds with Orange Marilyn (or sell it auction even though other works from the Newhouse estate are coming to auction now under the same advisor’s hand.) A legendary work with a long list of potential buyers, Orange Marilyn probably didn’t need an auction to get some competition going. That never happened because Kenneth Griffin is said to have made an exclusive deal.
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