Artcurial’s red-hot €16.7m Alfa Romeo; LA’s art institutions grow up; 1st Dibs moves to Chelsea; Art litigation gets more complex; An advisor says clarifies third-party guarantees.
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.)
Artcurial Sells €16.7m Alfa Romeo in €42m Classic Car Sale
An American collector paid $18.9m for a 1939 Alfa Roméo 8C 2900 B Touring Berlinetta which was the top lot in Artcurial’s Paris classic car sale. The €42m event posted a total 31% higher than the previous year. Another American buyer took the second most valuable lot in the sale, a 1966 Serenissima Spyder that sold for €4.2m, a record price for the model.
The Art Institutions of Los Angeles Hit Their Stride
Jori Finkel has her usual smart take on Los Angeles and its maturing art ecosystem in W. The story is pegged to the opening of Frieze LA which is one of the missing links in LA’s art structure. That link can only become strong if it is bringing together the effects of local institutions:
- “All the people calling L.A. ‘the new art center’ keep getting it wrong,” said Ali Subotnick, the former Hammer curator who is commissioning artist projects for the first Los Angeles edition of the Frieze art fair, to be held in February at the Paramount Pictures Studios. “L.A. has always been a place for creative production, with important art schools and a major artist community. That’s not new. What’s new is what’s happening with the institutions.”
1st Dibs Opens Co-op Retail Space in New York’s Chelsea
1st Dibs is opening a new and larger gallery space tomorrow in the Terminal Stores building, a former warehouse on 11th Avenue and 28th Street in Chelsea. The move is illustrative of several important trends ranging from the continuing gravitational pull of Chelsea for the art and decorative arts trades, the response to real estate pressures that has material culture retailers seeking alternatives to maintaining their own spaces, and the essential need for a hybrid physical-online solution to retailing.
The New York Times offers this point of view from one of 1st Dibs vendors who already dealt with the platform’s move toward charging commissions and masking the dealer’s identity on the site:
- “We didn’t end up raising prices,” said Kiel Wuellner, president of Newel Gallery, in business since 1939, and with a capacious booth in the Terminal Stores building and 7,000 pieces on the site. “What happened is that we are no longer able to pass along our standard trade or discount pricing. But the reason we have invested in 1stdibs is the amount of business it brings us. We’re the largest antiques shop in New York City for the past 80 years, and this makes us global.” There are now 4,000 dealers from 28 countries (more than half of which are outside the United States) on 1stdibs, according to the company; last year, e-commerce sales reached over $250 million, up from zero in 2016.
That last number, $250m, offers a clue toward some other trends in the art market, especially Sotheby’s initiatives on developing a low-touch selling model. Sotheby’s Home initiative is clearly aimed at that market and gives us a clue to the size of the opportunity.
Art Litigation Becoming More Like Fashion and Luxury Suits
Bloomberg’s Legal coverage alighted on notoriously aggressive litigation firm Quinn Emmanuel’s new-ish Art Law practice led by Lukas Nikas, who represented disgraced dealer Ann Freedman as she fought off the inevitable settlement over the notorious Knoedler forgeries, and Maaren Shah, who rose through the ranks at Quinn, Emmanuel:
- “Nikas, who worked on art litigation at Boies Schiller Flexner, left that firm in 2017 to join Quinn Emanuel in New York, bringing all his cases and clients with him. He and Shah, also in New York, lead the firm’s art litigation practice group and are assisted by several associates. Shah told Bloomberg Law there’s a greater demand now in the art world for attorneys with complex litigation skills because the market has changed over the past 20 to 30 years. The players are different and “there’s a lot more money flowing through the market, changing the incentives to litigate and what’s at stake,” she said. […] What’s critical to art disputes is for attorneys to be skilled not only at complex litigation because cases can implicate fraud, copyright, antitrust, First Amendment, and contract issues, he said, but also for them to have a “deep understanding of the art market.” These are issues common to the creative industries like fashion and luxury brands, Nikas said. The firm has a broad client base in these areas so that art litigation is a natural fit, he said.”
Advisors: Don’t Blame Us for those Third-Party Guarantees
In response to yesterday’s newsletter about Christie’s 2018 results and our comments on the use of third-party guarantees being driven by outside advisors as much as auction houses, we received a response from Mitchell Zuckerman of Art Market Advisors:
- “I’d like to comment on the assertion that auction house alumni push for third party guarantees. As market advisors for the last three years, we have guided clients in auction and private sales in excess of $500 million. While we often ask auction houses to include guarantee options in their sale proposals, we always request that they not seek irrevocable bids but limit any guarantee offer to an in-house guarantee. We want to avoid exposing property to potential price rejection and market rumor creation. We don’t try to prevent the prevailing auction house, if it offers a guarantee, from seeking third party risk mitigation once the contract with the seller is signed but ask that they limit inquiry to one client at a time and report back to us.”