Imp-Mod sales saw Chinese bid upon, but not win, new artists; Glenn Lowry won’t leave MoMA; The Met’s new Contemporary strategy; Iran’s Contemporary art market suffers; NY AG settles with collector over taxes; Leonardo produces jobs and revenue
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Chinese Bidding Half-Hearted in NY Imp-Mod Sales
The Telegraph’s Colin Gleadell kept tabs on the Chinese bidding and buying in the New York Impressionist and Modern sales last week. Chinese buyers have become an important swing vote in the Imp-Mod market, especially toward the top. Auction houses give them credit for reviving the category. So they’re bidding behavior is crucial to watch. Here’s Gleadell:
- “In the opening sales they had guaranteed two of the top lots by Monet and, as there was no competition, ended up buying them below estimates for $16 million (£12.5 million) and $32 million. Elsewhere, they were bidding for modern artists not previously associated with Chinese taste such as Jean Arp, René Magritte, Egon Schiele and Wassily Kandinsky, but pulled out early.”
Glenn Lowry Not Leaving MoMA Anytime Soon
There’s been a guessing game going on about the short list for the next Director of MoMA in New York as Glenn Lowry approaches the museum’s manadatory retirement age. Several folks have been eyeing the Studio Museum of Harlem’s Thelma Golden as the ideal candidate. Last week, Lowry sent a message that he isn’t willing to abide by that policy and the board has announced Lowry will stay in his post until 2025, his 30th anniversary as Director. The New York Times had the news and faint suggestion that MoMA may be having problems keeping talent:
- “While Mr. Lowry, 64, was already on board to pilot the museum through 2020, just past the opening of its expanded facility next fall, he may now remain in the director’s office until his early 70s. The extension comes as a surprise, since MoMA had long had a policy that “chief curators and other senior managers” should retire at 65.”
- The retention of Mr. Lowry seems to offer a measure of stability at a moment of considerable turnover among MoMA’s senior staff. Kathy Halbreich, its associate director, left this year, followed by Klaus Biesenbach, the director of MoMA PS1, and Laura Hoptman, a curator of painting and sculpture. Quentin Bajac, the chief curator of the museum’s photography department, has announced plans to take a new position.
How Can the Met Compete in Contemporary Art? Go Global
Robin Pogrebin brought down Thomas Campbell with her New York Times stories on the Met’s financial deficits. Now that the new management team of Daniel Weiss and Max Hollein have righted the ship’s finances, the museum’s CEO and new Director sat down to talk through their future plans with the journalist. Among the essential topics was the state of the museum’s plans to build a massive new wing for its Contemporary art collection. The wing’s plans have been scaled down from $800m to $600m, according to the interview. But what of the Met’s curatorial strategy now that it has given up the Breuer building? Won’t the Met simply compete with downtown rivals MoMA and the Whitney? Not if they take a global perspective, Weiss and Hollein say:
- “While the new wing will juxtapose works from after 1900 with the museum’s historic holdings, as the Breuer has, Mr. Hollein said the museum will also broaden the definition of what constitutes Modern and contemporary art, taking a global perspective from 1880 onwards. “What was happening in the 1950s in Egypt? What was happening in the ’60s and ’70s in Asia?” Mr. Hollein said. “If you think of Modern and contemporary art not just in terms of the Western canon, that’s something we want to make sure people better understand and appreciate.” The Met has been expanding its collection with global acquisitions from India, Egypt, Brazil, Mexico and more, according to a spokesman. One recent acquisition is a piece purchased at auction two weeks ago by the postwar Egyptian artist Abdel Hadi El-Gazzar.”
Iran’s Link to the Wider World Through Art Suffers Under End of Normalized Relations
James Tarmy has an interesting story on the travails of Iran’s art galleries which were benefiting from JCPOA agreement that normalized relations between Iran and the global economy. All that has reversed course now that the Trump Administration has scrapped the agreement and Iranians have seen their currency slide dramatically. The subsequent rise in costs for dealers like Hormoz Hematian, who provided Tarmy a window into the Iran’s still primarily domestic art trade, has cut off access to global engagement.
- “People in the West might have a perception of Iran as repressive, but in the aftermath of the 1979 revolution, many Iranians inside and outside the country maintained (and amassed) significant collections of Iranian art. One of the most famous is that of Mohammed Afkhami, who was born in Switzerland to Iranian parents; it includes more than 400 works by modern and contemporary Iranian artists. ‘Basically, contemporary and modern art in Iran started in the 1960s and gained momentum until it came to a complete halt after the revolution and the eight-year war,’ Hematian says. ‘But then it restarted several years later.’
NY Atty General Goes After Art Tax Avoider
The New York State Attorney General has reached a $10.75m settlement agreement with the sole owner of Porsal Equities Ltd who used the off-shore company’s resale certificate to buy $50m worth of art and avoid sales and use taxes. New York State has been pursuing art dealers, advisors, real estate developers and others who have used re-sale certificates to avoid taxes. The AG’s office did not respond to requests to identify the owner of Porsal Equities Ltd.:
- “From 2010 through 2015, Porsal Equities Ltd., a company based in the British Virgin Islands, certified it was exempt from paying sales tax on the basis that the art was purchased for resale. In reality, Porsal Equities purchased the artwork for personal use, including for display at New York City apartments belonging to the company’s sole director. Porsal Equities also failed to pay use tax on artwork purchased outside New York and shipped into New York for display at the same apartments.”
Leonardo’s Mona Lisa as a Revenue Producing Asset
In her Vanity Fair story on the tourist value of major art works, Cristina Ruiz produces some figures from a French government report which estimates more than eight jobs are produced by every 10,000 visitors to the Louvre. That’s one job in the museum and seven in the surrounding tourism economy.
- “Removing Leonardo’s portrait from the museum’s walls for just three months, the report claimed, would cost the institution a staggering €35m. Of this, €2m would be to insure the painting on its travels; up to €3m to create a new, mobile climate-controlled display case for the work; and €5m for packaging and transport. Most revelatory of all, though, was the disclosure that, without the Mona Lisa on display for three months, the Louvre stood to lose €13m in entrance fees and a further €7.5m in spending in its shops and restaurant—approximately €228,000 a day—because nine out of 10 visitors apparently come to the museum to see Leonardo’s portrait, the Louvre informed the government. It is not clear where the final €4.5m loss would be incurred; the French press which reported the leaked figures did not shed light on this.”