Norman Lewis makes $389k at Swann; Jho Low’s confiscated yacht sells; Malaysia gets a Venice pavilion; Phillips Photographs = $10.5m.
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Norman Lewis, Block Island = $389k
Swann Galleries held its April African-American Art sale today. We’ll have totals and top lots from them later but Norman Lewis’s Block Island, the most valuable lot in the sale, was sold for $389,000 against a $200-300,000 estimate.
Malaysia Bootstraps Its Way Into Venice Biennale
“It has been hard, but I really think that it’s time Malaysia just did it,” Wei-ling Lim told the South China Morning Post about how she got her country, still reeling from the 1MDB scandal, to feature four artists in its first-ever national pavilion during the Venice Biennale.
“It is ridiculous that Malaysia has never had [a pavilion in Venice] and Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand are all there,” she told Enid Tsui during Art Basel Hong Kong. So she took a chance and appealed to the prime minister cleaning up the country:
- A letter from the prime minister, 93-year-old Mahathir Mohamad, arrived in December saying the government was willing to back her, but that financially she was on her own. “The government is short of money. He said, if you can raise the funds, we will back you. And that was that,” said Lim.
Malaysia Finds a Buyer for Jho Low’s Yacht
One of the revelations from the reporting on Jho Low’s art sales in the book The Billion-Dollar Whale is that the Malaysian mastermind of the 1MDB development fund was using the proceeds of the art loans he took from Sotheby’s were used to build the massive yacht, Equanimity, that Low built as a status symbol.
The new government of Malaysia seized the yacht last year. After struggling to find a buyer, the government put a low $130m asking price and finally got a $126m bid they could hit. The boat cost twice what Malaysia recovered to build but the government was spending several million dollars a year maintaining the boat.
Phillips Photographs = $10.5m
Phillips held two photography sales today, a various owners sale and a collection, that totaled $10.5m with 202 of 251 lots sold or 80%. The top lot was Helmut Newton’s famous images of walking models both dressed and nude titled Sie Kommen. It sold for $1.8m, the highest price paid for a photograph at Phillips.