South Africa’s Strauss & Co. breaks 100m Rand barrier; Gaitonde tests Indian market at Saffronart; YBA’s mostly up at George Michael sale; Enwezor remembered; Ashley Longshore wants a LVMH collab.
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Irma Stern Helps South Africa’s Strauss Sell $7.3m
Strauss & Co broke a record for a South African auction with a 106m ZAR ($7.3m) total this week. As often is the case with South African art, five works by Irma Stern were among the top 10 lots and accounted for 39m ZAR ($2.7m) of the sale’s value. Alexis Preller’s Collected Images (Orchestration of Themes) also sold for just over 10m ZAR ($700k), a new record for the artist.
- The top-selling lot at Strauss & Co’s sale was a previously unrecorded Stern portrait of an Omani nobleman from the court of the Sultanate of Zanzibar. Painted during Stern’s second visit to Zanzibar in 1945 and acquired directly from the artist by the late collector Sol Munitz, Stern’s painting Arab sold to a telephone bidder for R20 484 000 ($1.4m).The Munitz Collection consigned 15 lots to the sale, including Stern’s The Mauve Sari from 1946, which sold for R14 794 000 ($1.02m), and Gerard Sekoto’s Saturday Afternoon, a bucolic street scene from his esteemed Eastwood period, which sold for R3 072 600 ($210k)
- Paintings consigned from the Shill Collection included the world-record Preller work, as well as Stern’s 1939 portrait of a young woman wearing a yellow headscarf, Meditation, Zanzibar, which sold for R17 070 000 ($1.175m) attracting the attention of a first-time Stern buyer.
Gaitonde Tests the Market for Indian Fugitive’s Art?
The Financial Times is keenly interested in whether Saffronart’s sale of a few high-value paintings owned by Indian jeweler and financial fugitive, Nirav Modi, will be successful. On the plus side, Modi left behind a V.S. Gaitonde painting (above) that is to be sold on March 26th along with 67 other works to help the government reclaim some of the losses from the bank fraud he is accused of pulling off. According to the FT, the question is whether this avenue will ultimately help the government clawback some of the fraudulent gains:
- India’s rich are “also superstitious in some way — nobody wants to touch the belongings of a fallen hero,” Mr Sinha says. “There is a stigma attached to it. It will not add to your social status.”Even so, art experts say the auction of Mr Modi’s art is likely to be successful, as the pieces’ intrinsic worth overrides other concerns. Peter Nagy, founder and co-director of New Delhi’s Nature Morte Gallery, says mediocre artworks can have their value enhanced if owned by “an illustrious highly respected person” — but it is unlikely to work in reverse.“People don’t want to buy houses where criminals have lived and crimes have been committed but that does not hold true for objects,” Mr Nagy says. “If you have something like a Gaitonde, where there are very few of them and very few come up for auction, the market is very precise. People in the market for a Gaitonde aren’t going to care who owned it.”
Colin Gleadell did a deeper dive on Modi’s art-buying habits and holdings. He suggests the collection may be as numerous as 500 pieces. If this sale goes well for the government, there may be more to come:
- Other valuable works owned by Modi but not in the auction are by Amrita Sher-Gil (knowns as India’s Frida Kahlo), whose work is restricted from export, a six-foot fibreglass baby elephant covered in bindi beads like diamonds by Barthi Kher, and a sculpture by leading British artist Anish Kapoor.
YBA’s Validated in George Michael Sale
Colin Gleadell brought the receipts—the past sales, at least—to his report in the Telegraph on the George Michael sale late last week. After remarking that Tracey Emin’s work needed no support from her dealers to maintain her prices, Gleadell made this observation about Damien Hirst:
- “Everyone knows his market has been off the boil since his Beautiful Inside My Head Forever sale in 2008. Three of his works had to be guaranteed before the Michael sale because presale interest had been weak.One of those sold below estimate to his dealer, White Cube. Even so, a sculpture of a bull’s heart in formaldehyde, bought by Michael at the 2008 sale for £313,250, sold for £323,250 – the first time a Hirst work from that sale has recovered its price at auction.”
How much George Michael’s fame added to prices in this sale is hard to know. Gleadell cites a few editioned works that sold on-line for outrageous prices. But there was also bidding like this:
- “Also among the record-breakers was Harland Miller, best known for his giant canvases of Penguin book covers. Both White Cube and Maddox galleries were outbid by a young man in a grey hoodie who paid a quadruple estimate £237,500 for Miller’s 7ft painting, Incurable Romantic. An almost identical work of the same title, with a differently shaded background, held the previous record for Miller at £85,000 – but it hadn’t belonged to George Michael.”
Okwui Enwezor Remembered
The New York Times’s Jason Farago wrote an obituary of Okwui Enwezor, the curator and museum director who died late last week at 55 from cancer, that contains this brief quotation from Enwezor:
- “Coming from Nigeria, I felt I owed no one an explanation for my existence, nor did I harbor any sign of paralyzing inferiority complex,” he told the Nigerian art historian Chika Okeke-Agulu in 2013.That sense was reinforced after he had moved to the United States to study in the 1980s.“What was apparent was that most Americans I knew and met were actually not worldly at all, but utter provincials in a very affluent but unjust society,” he said. “And when this became clear, I saw no reason why I could not have an opinion or a point of view.”
Artists Who Dream of Working with LVMH: Israel and Longshore
Ashley Longford is an outsider artist, in the sense that she’s not gallery represented, who has been making a splash (and living) through Instagram and Bergdorf Goodman. That footprint has led to a collaboration with Dianne von Furstenberg who will display 37 of Longshore’s works, portraits of women von Furstenberg admires according to Vanity Fair, at her Manhattan Meatpacking District store.
But what Longshore really aspires to do is a Louis Vuitton collaboration, according to the NY Post:
- “It’s been on my goal list for about 20 years to do a collaboration with Louis Vuitton,” says Longshore, who owns roughly 15 LV special-edition bags, including two from the coveted Jeff Koons collab.
Alex Israel just debuted a special-edition Rimowa bag for LVMH. He’s also been working on a fragrance for the luxury firm. Actually, according to Vogue.com, he’s been working on packaging miniatures of some of his works with the LVMH scents but its more fun to think of the perfume as the work of art:
- “Fragrance is really similar to making art. Hopefully it sticks in someone’s memory, and the way they think about it, and the wayit makes them think about everything else, evolves as a result.”