Attention turns to Tad Smith’s future at Sotheby’s and gathering lots for the Fall; Sotheby’s Hong Kong sale to feature Tomoo Gokita; John Currin thinks he would look stupid in a Ferrari.
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.)
Shareholders Vote for Drahi to Buy Sotheby’s
That huge sigh of relief you heard emanate from the Upper East Side of Manhattan yesterday morning came shortly after 91% of Sotheby’s shareholders voted to accept French telecom tycoon Patrick Drahi’s $57-a-share offer to take Sotheby’s private. Folks at Sotheby’s were holding their breath to see if the auction house’s largest shareholder Taikang Life Insurance Company would top Drahi’s bid. During the negotiations between Sotheby’s and several interested parties, Taikang’s independent representative on Sotheby’s board had abstained from voting to accept Drahi’s offer after previously expressing the belief the stock was work nearly twice as much or $100.
The obvious implication for Sotheby’s was that Taikang might make a serious strategic bid to own all of Sotheby’s, the massive insurance company also owns China Guardian auction house that operates on the mainland. Sotheby’s shareholders surely would have been happy for a higher offer. But specialists and executives at the auctioneer were also eager to get clarity from the sale’s approval.
Now that the shareholders have expressed themselves in a resoundingly clear way, Sotheby’s is looking forward to regulators checking off the remaining boxes which Sotheby’s hopes will happen before the next big round of sales this November in New York or soon thereafter.
Now that shareholders have given the thumbs up, specialists and business getters can join the rest of their peers in the back-to-work spirit of this first post-Summer Holiday week at work. August is traditionally a month when auction folks start putting out feelers for property to vend. The uncertainty around Sotheby’s ownership could not have been helping the effort to pry valuable works off walls, especially since the recent long run in major and minor estates had come to a fairly abrupt end this Summer.
What Drahi hopes to do with Sotheby’s remains a mystery. We’re not likely to learn more about that until after the deal closes, probably some time in early to mid-2020. Before that, we’re likely to find out whether Sotheby’s current CEO Tad Smith will stay at the helm. When announcing the deal, Drahi’s team expressed the hope that Smith would stay on. But until today’s vote, there was no way for Drahi to negotiate with Smith.
Resolving that situation will give everyone involved a reason to exhale.
Sotheby’s Has “Best Gokita Ever to Come to Auction Block”
Sotheby’s Yuki Terase hasn’t been sitting on her hands waiting for the shareholder vote. Stirring interest for a Beijing showing of art works that will be sold in Hong Kong on October 6th, Terase has been previewing works by Nicolas Party, Ed Ruscha and KAWS on Instagram. Yesterday, she posted a Tomoo Gokita work that she describes as the “best Gokita work ever to come to the auction block.”
Gokita’s market has been on a sustained tear for more than a year with each new sale punctuated by a major sale. The 2009 work, Solid State Survivor , is a hefty 76 by 63 inches by carries a relatively contained estimate range of HK$ 2,500,000-3,500,000
($320-448k) when you remember that Phillips was able to get slightly more than a $1m for a Gokita in New York this May. Hong Kong remains the main venue for Gokita, though.
John Currin Isn’t Comfortable with His Masculinity
Rachel Tashjian really wants to explore the idea of masculinity in John Currin’s art in her profile of the artist recently published in GQ. Of course, there’s a good reason to do this with Alison Gingeras having just curated a show on the subject at Dallas Contemporary called “My Life As a Man.”
Currin obsessively thinks about the masculine idea the art world believes he embodies, but that in his mind forever eludes him. He is haunted by the idea of being inauthentic. He’s got a Porsche, sure—but it’s because he like, can’t have a Ferrari. “I may very well look stupid in a Porsche, but I’d look really stupid in a Ferrari.”