Late last week, the CCBB Sao Paulo exhibition center played host to a show of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s paintings from the Mugrabi family collection. The show is a canny way for the art collecting family to introduce the artist to a new audience with aggressive collecting culture.
The Wall Street Journal has a good report on Brazil’s plans to realize cash from the 95 works of art the US Attorney was able to seize recently in one of the very few international money-laundering cases to involve art works. Convicted Brazilian money-launderer Edemar Cid Ferreira’s Jean-Michel Basquiat painting, Hannibal, was the first work seized and returned to the government of Brazil to help satisfy Ferreira’s obligations. That painting had a rocky auction expierience but the ultimate sale was a healthy $13m. These new works are valued closer to $10m but every bit helps.
The WSJ says that Sotheby’s is in the process of evaluating some of the 95 works for sale:
Major pieces include Henry Moore’s “Woman,” a life-size bronze figure that had been stored in France, as well as Rufino Tamayo’s abstract view of a couple, “Casal de Marcianos 1975 (Two Figures),” which was stored in Florida. There also is a Lucite cube sculpture by Anish Kapoor and works by Brazilian mainstays Adriana Varejão, Vik Muniz and Jac Leirner. Among the older works is an etching by Eugène Delacroix.
The fate of Helen Frankenthaler’s 1965 blue-and-gold abstract, “Sea Strip,” offers a glimpse into the circuitous path of some of the art. Mr. Ferreira paid Christie’s $197,900 for “Sea Strip” in late 2004—a year before his bank failed and a time when authorities said he was starting to ship crates of art to warehouses in Europe for safekeeping. Later, a friend of his wife sold “Sea Strip” to Edward Tyler Nahem Fine Art in New York for an undisclosed sum. John Cahill, a lawyer for the gallery, said Mr. Nahem had been told that the painting was from a corporate collection.
Sotheby’s has announced that it will offer Yoko Ono’s painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat called Cabra from 1981-82. The work has an estimate from between $9 to $12m and will be sold on November 16th in New York:
Acquired from Tony Shafrazi Gallery in New York in 1993, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Cabra has been publically exhibited only twice prior to the unveiling in Hong Kong: in Basel at the Fondation Beyeler and Paris at the Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris. In fact, the bold and vibrant work is best known from an image of Basquiat’s studio, in which it is staged immediately to the right of the artist’s easel.
At first glance, it is the striking crimson hue of Cabra that sets this painting apart from other works of Jean-Michel Basquiat. However, upon closer inspection, the brilliant mind of this contemporary artist comes into full view. Executed at a time when Basquiat was exploring his Haitian and Puerto Rican roots, and becoming increasingly interested in the power and scrutiny of black athletes, the
present work belongs to a group of paintings inspired by boxing icons including Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Jersey Joe Walcott and more. Cabra is unique in its articulation of a historic evening in 1970 when Muhammad Ali – the greatest of all time – knocked out revered heavy-weight fighter Oscar Bonavena, also known as ‘The Bull’. The iconic boxing ring, the hieroglyphic ‘TKO’ above the bull’s skull and, finally, the clever play on words – Cabra is Spanish for ‘goat’ or GOAT, shorthand for the Greatest of All Time, Muhammad Ali – all add to this physiologically searing and visually-moving painting of one of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s long-time heroes.
Christie’s is making its big push to convert the auction calendar with this year’s Frieze sales. First the February auctions moved to March. Now the Frieze comes quite early in the month of October and the sales are being pushed as part of a huge travel and art opportunity:
The art fairs, museums, galleries and auction houses together attract a huge global audience. This year the exhibitions in London’s museums and galleries are of the highest calibre: Jasper Johns at the Royal Academy, Jean-Michel Basquiat at Barbican, Rachel Whiteread at Tate and Brice Marden at Gagosian Gallery all stand out as highlights. Christie’s presentation this year is unlike anything we have ever seen before in October. When I began in this business, eighteen years ago, October was a mid-season auction with a value of around one million pounds and now we will have five auctions and one exhibition that cross all aspects of creative visual production in the 20th and 21st centuries. I am particularly excited by the ‘Masterpieces of Design and Photography’ auction since these two fields have huge potential
The cycle will include five auctions: Post-War & Contemporary and Italian Evening sales, the design and photography cross-category sale, a day sale and Christie’s own version of Sotheby’s ill-fated small works sale. Among the highlights are:
- Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Red Skull (above), one of around five known major skull paintings executed during the pivotal year of 1982
- Lucio Fontana’s Concetto spaziale, In piazza San Marco di notte con Teresita (1961, estimate on request)
- Alighiero Boetti che guarda un negativo (1967, estimate: £2,500,000 – 3,500,000)
- Gerhard Richter’s Abstraktes Bild(1986, estimate: £2,200,000-2,800,000)
- Andy Warhol, Coke Bottle
There seems to be a rush in the press to declare a Basquiat effect from last month’s record sale. First, Artnet got all hot an bothered about the number of works on offer at the fair. Now Bloomberg is repeating dealer’s sales pitches as if they were fact:
“People realize this is a moment to cash in on Basquiat,” said Phyllis Hattis, a New York private dealer who attended the fair. She noted that many Basquiat works were “placed conspicuously to be a drawing card for a booth.”
One work, “Three Delegates,” depicting three heads surrounded by scribbles, sold in the first hour on Tuesday at Acquavella Galleries. The work had an asking price of $18 million. While the gallery declined to reveal the sale price, the canvas last sold for $6.7 million at auction in 2015, according to Artnet.
The most expensive of the bunch, “Baby Boom” from 1982, had the asking price of $32 million at Levy Gorvy gallery. Its seller, newsprint magnate Peter Brant, acquired it for $1.2 million in 2001. The gallery was in negotiations with a potential buyer, according to Brett Gorvy, a co-founder.
A closer look at the markets show there is a rush to “cash in” mostly coming from the supply side. Demand has not appreciably picked up. The same dynamic can be seen in the auction history for Basquiat. May’s $110m price will need confirmation in the market. The perception of strong demand has not been helped by the buyer of the two top works revealing himself as the same person which adds to the need for more market confirmation.
Have we seen that at Art Basel? Well, not exactly. Of the numerous works on offer, the only reported sales have been from Acquavella and Richard Gray who Bloomberg reports sold Untitled (Solanamum) (1984) which was priced at $14m.Continue Reading