The Nightly Business Report does a feature on the upcoming Rockefeller sale at Christie’s slated for this May. David Rockefeller Jr. talks about the sale and his family’s emphasis on using the proceeds to support social institutions.
Waddington Custot Takes on Jedd Novatt: Waddington Custot has just announced their representation of American sculptor Jedd Novatt, and a solo exhibition of new works that will open in London in November 2018. …
Liverpool Biennial Turns 20: The UK’s largest festival of contemporary art in the UK marks its 20th anniversary Beautiful world, where are you?, running from 14 July – 28 October 2018. More than 40 artists from 22 countries will participate in the programme announced today, responding to the theme set by lead curators, Kitty Scott, Carol and Morton Rapp Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at Art Gallery of Ontario, and Sally Tallant, Director of Liverpool Biennial. …
Nicolas Chow Elevated at Sotheby’s: The newest chairman of Sotheby’s Asia is a descendant of the legendary Shanghai collector and dealer Edward T. Chow and has led Sotheby’s to a leading position in the market for Chinese Works of Art.
Swann will hold its African American art sale on April 5th featuring works by Jacob Lawrence, Charles White, Beauford Delaney, Sam Gilliam. Here’s what Swann says about the sale:
- Tension on the High Seas from Jacob Lawrence’s 1954-56 series Struggle . . . From the History of the American People. Until now, the whereabouts of five of the 30 panels from the series were lost. The rediscovery and auction debut of 19. Tension on the High Seas is expected to reinvigorate the search for the remaining four panels; it is estimated at $75,000 to $100,000.
- A stunning, larger-than-life charcoal portrait by Charles White, O Freedom, 1956, depicts a young man framed against the sky in an open and uplifting gesture of hope. It leads the sale at $200,000 to $300,000–the first time the drawing has been exhibited publicly in 60 years.
- Vibrant paintings by modernist New York artists include Beauford Delaney’s large Untitled (Village Street Scene), 1948, (above) which depicts a Greenwich Village corner in bold citrine impasto and carries an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000. An untitled mid-career abstraction by Norman Lewis, 1956, explores a city crowd surrounded by thin veils of pulsating color ($150,000 to $250,000). Sam Gilliam is represented with a selection led by an arresting purple and orange beveled-edge canvas from 1972, at the height of his experimental “soak stain” approach to color field painting ($40,000 to $60,000).
- the second oil painting by Elizabeth Catlett ever to come to market, Head of a Woman (Woman), 1943-44, carrying an estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. Also superlative is the largest work by Ed Clark ever to come to auction, Untitled, 1990, a dynamic composition in four colors, with an estimate of $60,000 to $90,000. Jack Whitten. Primordial Landscape, 1967, is an excellent example of Hale Woodruff’s postwar painting, in which he describes landscape and natural phenomena within the idiom of Abstract Expressionism ($80,000 to $120,000).
The LA Times doubles down on the LA MoCA story with a broader look at the reaction to Helen Molesworth’s departure. The second-day story continues the framing presented by Christopher Knight, who broke the news, that pits Molesworth against director Philippe Vergne in an supposed battle for inclusion:
“I can’t help but feel like there’s something else behind this and that she’s taking the fall for bigger problems in the institution,” Hammer Museum chief curator Connie Butler said. “I don’t think it has only to do with Helen’s curatorial agenda.”
Readers of Christopher Knight’s story also believe there is “something else behind this” but they suggest the problem is located in Molesworth’s behavior. If that is indeed the case, the fault here is in Vergne’s inability to make the dismissal in a manner that would not blow up in his face as it undoubtedly has:
- “she was extremely disliked for good reasons. now she is desperately trying to co-opt the whole “diversity” movement as the reason she was canned. Philippe Vergne is actually the one i have the most compassion for through all of this. he has been the true champion of diversity since his career began. remember, even the director has people to answer to. firing her was something he should have done over a year ago but he was too nice. Christopher Knight is a disgrace to journalism. doing NO investigative reporting, he simply parroted the mouthing of ONE board member sycophant of Molesworth who used the most juvenile, unfounded, baseless accusation of “non-diversity” as the grounds for her termination. are you serious?? how about “non-likability” or “genuinely undermining the vision of the DIRECTOR of the museum?” she is a curator…nothing more.”
- “Christopher Knight SHAME on YOU and everyone else reading this. For believing such one sided garbage and not knowing all of the facts. Three Cheers for Phiippe Vergne for firing someone he should of fired along time ago. Helen Molesworth made peoples lives at the museum a living hell. In the long run MOCA will be a better museum without her. She might of had some good exhibitions but she was true poison to the Museum.”
- “Just getting the chance to sit down and read through all the news about the director of MOCA’s decision to fire it’s chief curator and I couldn’t agree more with his decision. Christopher Knight, if you wanted a real story you should’ve done your research because there’s a long list of former employees that could tell you the REAL reason as to why she was fired. Helen Molesworth was a tyrant who made it her goal to ruin the lives and careers of people at MOCA, some who were employed there for 20+years.”
- “Molesworth is widely known for her torture of employees and controlling behavior. Just a few more phone calls needed to get that scoop. Take a gander at who disengaged from the ranks in the past 3 years, or was fired by her. All approved by the director. Could this be a career pattern? More importantly, we need to talk about toning down righteousness and think about the real legacy they leave behind by their actions with other humans. And the Director Vergne clearly let this go on and on and on. If he felt he was bulllied by the board directors, then why not take a stand himself and step down. But no. Weakness and ego abounds in the contemporary platform on all fronts, and the place still is dead. Third rate events, galleries, and press handling. What a waste of a most wonderful collection.”
Despite Capital Controls, Chinese Spending Overseas Continues to be Strong: The Financial Times has an interesting story with real bearing on the art market because art can be used as a store of value in the same way that real estate can be used. Focusing on the Chinese interest in buying real estate overseas, the FT visited the Luxury Property Showcase that brings brokers for foreign real estate to various Chinese cities.
- “The Beijing fair has doubled in size in the past three years, according to its founder Olivier de Treglode — yet during that period China has made it harder to take money out of the country. […] Yet Chinese households spent about $40bn on residential property overseas in 2017, according to Juwai.com, one of the country’s biggest international property platforms. Despite that figure being 25 per cent lower than the year before, it still makes 2017 one of China’s top three years for such investment.” …
Philippe Vergne Has Fired LA MoCA’s Helen Molesworth: Christopher Knight broke the news in the LA Times late yesterday that Helen Molesworth had been fired from her job as Chief Curator by director Philippe Vergne for “undermining the museum.” Knight frames the conflict as an issue of representation and identity that came to a head after Mark Grotjahn declined to be honored by the museum at its fundraising gala this year:
- “The gala was quietly shelved on Friday, according to a museum insider not authorized to discuss the matter, with $1.4 million in pledges set to be returned to donors. The dust-up reflected a similar distinction between Vergne’s high-profile exhibitions for two white male artists and Molesworth’s for an African American male artist and a Latin American female artist.” …
Two Markets Divided by $1m: The Art Newspaper’s Anny Shaw tries to find some meaning in Clare McAndrew’s annual market report. There’s no single headline from the report declaring the art market rose 12% in 2017 to $63.7bn with a 53/47 split between gallery sales and auctions. The gallery sales are an estimate based upon McAndrew’s having received 910 responses to a questionnaire she sends to galleries every year. That voluntary reporting from a handful of dealers suggests the top of the market is growing and the bottom falling which prompted this response to Shaw’s polling the trade:
- Tom Mayou, the director of operations at the London art advisory, Beaumont Nathan, says, “[w]hat we are seeing is that there is not one art market but two.There’s the very very top and then there’s the rest.”
Perhaps there is another way to phrase this: what we’re seeing is not two markets but one where the “price of admission” to the market is getting across the $1m barrier. In other words, anything sold below $1m may or may not eventually be something that can be resold again in the future. The report tells us that $50k is the real breaking point. 89.8% of the lots sold at auction were priced under $50k. That’s the part of the market that may or may not have resale value, even though those items are being sold on the secondary market. …
A Word of Caution: It will take a little time to digest the 175 page report. But there are some rhetorical sleights of hand that should be flagged. Here’s Shaw describing how McAndrew references that $1m price point and the diverging fortunes of large dealers and small. Notice how we’re mixing public auction data with private self-reported information, price points on objects and gallery revenues. These are not comparable variables.:
- “At auction, growth only occurred for works that sold for over $1m. Works sold at this level accounted for 64% of sales, while representing just 1% of transactions. Meanwhile, dealers with annual turnover above $50m saw 10% growth, but gallerists with turnover below $500,000 saw revenues fall by 4%.”
It isn’t really news that the biggest dealers like Zwirner, Hauser + Wirth, Pace, Thaddaeus Ropac, LévyGorvy, Lehmann Maupin and the like who have all recently opened or announced more gallery spaces around the world are growing. What’s surprising here is that a gallery that only makes $500,000 in sales (that’s 100 transactions at $5k) have only lost 4% (again, with the caveat that the questionnaire responses for galleries with $500k turnover could not be more than a handful.) …
Pace Says They Have 15,000 Collectors: Here’s an interesting tidbit you don’t see every day, a major global gallery quantifying their client base. Assume that Glimcher is being honest but skewing his estimate toward the long-standing gallery’s entire customer base and that active buyers are a fraction of this number, Bettina Zilkha reports in Forbes:
- “Contemporary Art has become important to millions of people,” said Pace’s Marc Glimcher. “We have 15,000 collectors. The idea of being able to own art has grown widely around the world, and it’s worked it’s magic. We don’t have enough artists to supply the growing amount of collectors.” …
Will the Rockefeller Sale Catch a Wave of Interest in Dinnerware? Christie’s is putting out the word that they’ve seen recent sales of dinnerware “soar above their estimates” and lots of interest in the 67 Rockefeller sets:
- “Jody Wilkie, co-chairman of decorative arts, said a trend for mixing plates of different colours and patterns had also boosted a modern fascination in services, with buyers no longer so worried about pieces of centuries’-old sets being missing.” […] “Wilkie pointed out that the number of people requiring a full service for 40 is now much smaller than in years gone by, adding modern buyers are much more willing to buy dinner services with the intention of “mixing and matching ” them.” …
Kenny Says Oscar Englebert Was a Big Seller in London: Kenny Schachter points out a big seller in last week’s sales in London:
- “For a collector, the downside of a high-profile Architectural Digest feature is that when one’s finances become unhinged, and the art on the walls wends its way swiftly back to market, everyone will know. Such was the case of Oscar Englebert, a Swedish investor whose company lost two-thirds of its share price in an insider-trading scandal last September. Engelbert was the seller of Sotheby’s Mike Kelley, Martin Kippenberger, Rosemary Trockel, and Sherrie Levine as well as other works privately.” …
Why Hong Kong Is a Center of Illicit Antiquities Trade: The South China Morning Post says Hong Kong needs to shut down its dark trade before it “can emerge as a global art hub.” Although the government denies there is a problem in the autonomous province, there is a straightforward fix:
- “The key to the illegal trade is a provision originating in medieval English law known as “market overt”, which protects unscrupulous collectors. The rule gives buyers who have inadvertently acquired stolen objects “good title” over them, i.e. ownership free of any possible claims against it from previous owners. The rule was scrapped in the UK in the 1990s, but in Hong Kong, the measure is still in place. […] The result is that some dealers are willing to buy looted or stolen pieces regardless of their provenance, and forge certificates establishing a new provenance for the object, designed to predate international conventions against the theft of cultural property. […] Some experts are now worried that the Belt and Road Initiative might lead to a new wave of pieces arriving in Hong Kong from territories with poor law enforcement in Central Asia and the Middle East.”
Clare McAndrew’s art market report has been released (click on image above or go here to download) with these highlights. McAndrew says the market continues to concentrate value at the top with sales below $1m contracting while those above $10m are expanding. McAndrew estimates the global art market is $63.7 billion with dealers holding a slight edge over auction houses 53/47 in terms of market share by value. However, galleries are closing at a greater rate than new ones are opening.
McAndrew’s report has suffered in the past from relying upon questionnaires sent to dealers. Working with Art Basel and UBS, there’s some reason to believe she has better access to dealer and collector information. Nonetheless, much of her information comes from private sources and is voluntarily given without verification which should be taken into account when relying upon these numbers.
Here are some of the highlights from the report:
- Global Sales: Following two years of declining sales, in 2017 the market turned a corner with increasing sales in both the dealer and auction sector. The art market achieved total sales of an estimated $63.7 billion in 2017, an increase of 12% on 2016. The volume of sales (number of transactions) grew more moderately than values, at 8% year-on-year. In 2017, aggregate sales by dealers accounted for a larger share of the market, at 53% by value, with total auction sales accounting for 47%.
- Dealer Figures: Sales in the dealer sector increased 4% year-on-year to an estimated $33.7 billion, compared to an estimated $32.5 billion in 2016.
- Art Fairs: Art fairs continue to be a central part of the global art market, with aggregate sales estimated to reach $15.5 billion in 2017, up 17% year-on-year. Art fairs accounted for estimated 46% of dealer sales in 2017, up 5% year-on-year – with on average five fairs attended in 2017.
- Online Sales: The online art market reached an estimated new high of $5.4 billion in 2017. This represents 8% of the value of global sales – a 10% year-on-year increase, and up 72% over the last five years. Online sales have been a key method to access new buyers, with dealers reported that 45% of their online buyers were new to their businesses in 2017. Auction houses also view online sales as key way to generate new buyers, with 41% of those buying online at second tier auction houses were new buyers, while in top-tier houses they averaged over 40%.
- Gallery Openings and Closures: The ratio of gallery openings to closures in 2007 was over 5:1 and has declined rapidly since then, dropping to 0.9:1 in 2017, that is, more closures than openings. Gallery openings have declined steadily over the last decade, with the number of new galleries established in 2017 around 87% less than in 2007.
- Auction Figures: Sales at public auction of fine and decorative art and antiques reached $28.5 billion in 2017, up 27% year-on-year. From 2007 to 2017, besides the very lowest end of the market (works sold for less than $1,000), all segments up to $1 million have shown negative annual growth rates and declined in value. In contrast, the market over $1 million has grown, with the biggest increases at the very highest end, with the total value of works sold for over $10 million increasing by 148% over ten years, and by 125% year-on-year in 2017.
- Auction Figures by Collecting Category: Sales of Post War and Contemporary art reached a total of $6.2 billion in 2017, increasing 12% year-on-year. The Modern art sector increased 39% to reach $3.6 billion. Values in the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist sector rose 71% to $2.3 billion, while sales in the wider Old Master market reached under $1.3 billion. Sales in the European Old Masters sector rose 64% year-on-year to reach $977 million, exceeding their previous peak of ten years ago in 2007 (at $906 million). However, this uplift was due to the sale of the Leonardo da Vinci painting ‘Salvator Mundi’ for $450 million at Christie’s in the United States, without which sales would have actually fallen 11%.
- Leading Markets: The top three markets – United States, China and United Kingdom – further cemented their position in the market in 2017, accounting for 83% of total sales by value, up 2% from 2016. The United States was again the largest market by value with an estimated market share of 42%. China overtook the United Kingdom in 2017 at 21% of total sales with the United Kingdom falling to 20%.
Sotheby’s announced the $75m collection of Cleveland auto parts billionaires Morton and Barbara Mandel will be offered in their May sales in New York to benefit the Mandel family’s foundation. The lead lot is a Joan Miró late work estimated at $10-15m, a Barnett Newman work on paper estimated at $800k to $1.2m; a Mark Rothko late work on paper with a $7-10m estimate; a de Kooning from 1978 with an $8-12m estimate; Roy Lichtenstein’s work from the 1970s with a $7-10m estimate; a Donald Judd stack with a $8-12m estimate and a 1964 Warhol flowers painting with a $2-3m estimate.
Here’s Sotheby’s release on the collection:
As Mr. Mandel has said, he and his wife “collected to enrich their lives” and the result is a powerful and personal collection that has remained largely unseen by the public until now. Inspired by the legendary Leo Castelli, who encouraged the couple to focus on a core group of artists, and Arne Glimcher of Pace Gallery, the Mandels carefully assembled their collection over decades. The works have been thoughtfully installed in their homes – creating dynamic juxtapositions of Joan Miró with David Smith, and Roy Lichtenstein with Willem deKooning – and enjoyed each and every day.
Sotheby’s specialist Edward Gibbs was interviewed by an Indian magazine about the house’s upcoming sale of Modern and Contemporary art. The art world is accustomed to hearing about active bidding from Chinese buyers but Indian collectors are less visible. Gibbs offers a little more color on the subject;
How large a market is India for Sotheby’s? Do you have a number of resident Indians who buy from Sotheby’s?
If you look at the last five years the number of Indian buyers of Sotheby’s has doubled. In that same period those Indian clients of ours have spent at Sotheby’s globally in the range of $250 million. That figure is drawn from all different categories. Indian buyers are collecting jewellery, impressionists, international contemporaries, furniture, 19th century paintings. Jewellery is probably the most significant.
Indians Have Spent 250 Million In The Last 5 Years At Sotheby s Edward Gibbs (BW Businessworld)
Dresden State Collection Gets Hoffmann Donation: With works from Warhol, Basquiat and Nancy Spero, the Hoffmann collection has been donated to a German museum:
- “The Dresden State Art Collections said Friday that the Erika and Rolf Hoffmann collection comprising some 1,200 paintings, photographs, sculptures and other works is being donated to its museums. The Hoffmanns began collecting art in the 1960s, focusing on works in which artistic rules are broken.” …
Touring the Armory Show via Insta: W Magazine has compiled its favorite Instagram posts from the Armory Show last week in case you want to re-live your own experience of the fair or walk the aisles at leisure from your smartphone. …
Glenstone Expansion Slated to Open October 4th: The Washington Post announces the date for Mitchell Rales’s private museum’s re-opening:
- “Designed by architecture firm Thomas Phifer and Partners, the new building, called the Pavilions, features 204,000 square feet of galleries, a central water court, contemplative rooms, office space and a library.” …
Zeng Fanzhi Joins Hauser + Wirth: The South China Morning Post shares the news that Hauser + Wirth has added Zeng Fanzhi to the gallery’s roster of artists:
- “I will continue to have a relationship with Gagosian Gallery, and in China, I will keep cooperating with ShanghART Gallery. Both of them have travelled with me along the lonely art journey and I appreciate their efforts very much!” he says.