Artsy’s data breach; What’s the attraction in Los Angeles?; Why Robert Ryman’s art is for anyone but just not everyone; theOld Master buyer who didn’t do his diligence.
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.)
Artsy Had a Data Breach
Artsy’s CTO Daniel Doubrovkine sent out an email late on Wednesday informing users, “On February 11, 2019, we became aware that account information for some of our users was made available on the internet. We are still investigating the precise causes of the incident, and together with our engineering team, we are working with a leading cyber forensics firm to assist us.”
What data was exposed? “While the investigation is ongoing, we believe that the compromised information includes some users’ first and last names, emails, IP addresses, and password hashes.”
Artsy asks users to change their account password but re-assures us that, “We have no evidence that commercial or financial information was involved, and to date we have not received reports from Artsy users of actual or attempted fraud as a result of this incident.”
LA is Where the Artists and New Collectors Live
Kelly Crow leads the way in The Wall Street Journal previewing the opening of Frieze LA with some interesting details. The first is that the auction houses are pointing to Southern California as a growth market:
- “The purchasing clout of Los Angeles’s collectors is also climbing. Marc Porter, chairman of Christie’s Americas, said the West Coast and particularly Los Angeles has been the house’s third-biggest source of new clients—after mainland China—for the past three years running. Sotheby’s West Coast chairman Thomas Bompard said twice as many $5 million-plus artworks were sold to Los Angeles collectors last year compared with the previous one. Buyers there, he said, are getting more comfortable competing in the ‘big game.’”
The second comes from a conversation with Hamza Walker who runs a local not-for-profit:
- “When museums have galas, Hollywood is in the house,” Mr. Walker said. “But we need the fleet of producers, directors and lawyers buying contemporary art—they’re the real money in this town.”
Finally, several observers have pointed out that the appeal of Los Angeles for many attending the fair this week is getting access to a number of artists’ studios. Art Basel was attracted to Miami because of the number of large-scale collectors willing to open their homes and storehouses to fair attendees. In the case of LA, it seems critical mass is coming from the presence of so many artists.
Robert Ryman’s Paintings of Paint
Say what you will about Jerry Saltz but there a times when his writing about art can be indispensable such as this paragraph in his encomium to Robert Ryman:
- “It can take decades to understand why Ryman’s paintings are art at all. It’s worth it though and helps open you to art in ways you mightn’t expect. Ryman’s work has always been the subject of cartoons of vexed viewers scowling at this latest art sham. Yet as with all art, even Ryman’s seemingly obscure abstract paintings are for anyone; they’re just not for everyone.”
- “Ryman said he made “paintings of paint” and used white “so that everything will be visible.” He called his work “absolute” and “realist” because he was uninterested in creating an illusion. Set doubt aside for a minute and grapple with Ryman’s full emptiness, the physicality and luminescence of his paint, the flatness, brushstrokes, scale, formats, processes, surfaces, touches, tonalities, degrees of opacity and viscosity, how the painting hangs on or relates to a wall.”
The Buyer Who Didn’t Due Diligence
The Art Newspaper’s Georgina Adam reports on a court filing in London against Old Master dealer Richard Green. Green’s client, Gary Klesch apparently did no research of his own before buying two pictures at TEFAF for €5m. A year later, without raising the issue directly with the dealer, Klesch filed a suit.
- “Gary Klesch, an Anglo-American entrepreneur and investor, bought the two works of art at Tefaf Maastricht last year. He paid €3m for River Landscape with Fishers and a Cart (around 1600-1610) by Jan Brueghel the Elder, and €2m for Winter Landscape with Figures Skating and Sleigh-Riding Outside a Town, with the Utrecht Dom and Huis Groenwoude at Right, (165(8?)) by Salomon van Ruysdael.But now Klesch has filed a claim in the London High Court, saying that the Ruysdael had been sold for $882,500 at Sotheby’s New York in June 2017, and that the Breughel was sold by Lempertz Cologne in November 2017 for €1.45m. The claim says that Richard Green Fine Paintings had not given this information and that had Klesch known of it, he would not have paid the prices he did.”
What’s interesting about the suit isn’t so much Klesch’s embarrassment at discovering the works were purchased for about half of what he paid but that Klesch thinks Richard Green is behaving any differently from any other dealer.