$269.6 Million Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Sale Led by Record-Breaking Chagall

This will be my paintings soon hehe 🙂  Watch out Sotheby’s, here I come!

Tuesday evening’s sale of Impressionist and Modern art at Sotheby’s brought in $269.6 million, a 71% rise from the prior year’s sale but well short of rival Christie’s $479 million Monday night haul.

Nearly all of the 64 works at Sotheby’s found a buyer (often in Asia), for a 92% sell-through rate by lot. But many of the works sold after just a few bids and for below their low estimates, including some of the bigger-ticket items.

“[Sotheby’s] bidding is a lot more thin than last night,” said Morgan Long, senior director at The Fine Art Group, referring to Impressionist and Modern evening sale at Christie’s on Monday. “A lot of works are being sold to their guarantors or one bid above.”

The total before the buyer’s fees, which both Sotheby’s and Christie’s increased this fall, came to $232.1 million. The result still marks a substantial rise from the $157.7 million notched in the fall of 2016 on a 42-lot sale, and suggests the market is loosening up. Both buyers and sellers are more comfortable trotting out their wallets or their merchandise and rolling the dice than they have been in the past few sales cycles…..d7hftxdivxxvm.cloudfront.net

Read on $269.6 Million Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Sale Led by Record-Breaking Chagall

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Damien Hirst is rewriting the rules of the market

“Beautiful Inside My Head Forever” sounds like the name of a new work by Damien Hirst, but it’s actually the title of his solo sale at Sotheby’s. The ambiguity is appropriate because Hirst’s rank as an artist is inextricably linked to his status as a headline commanding businessman who wields considerable power over the buying and selling of his own work.

The “Beautiful” auction raises many questions, including: Is Hirst sabotaging his own market? On several stands at Art Basel last month, new and vintage Hirst works remained unsold. Hirst’s studios are not only extremely efficient in keeping his official dealers well stocked with a good range of spot, spin, and butterfly paintings, but in making direct sales themselves. At a time when some gallerists are experiencing a minor slowdown, one dealer suspected the artist of orchestrating an “end-of-boom fire sale” to accommodate his alleged over-production.

True believers, however, see Hirst’s abundant serial output as essential to his oeuvre. Harry Blain, director of Haunch of Venison, whose back room is busy in the trade of Hirst works, explained: “Just as Warhol and Picasso were highly productive, it is an important aspect of Damien’s market that he is prolific. There need to be enough works in circulation to sustain the growing global demand.”

Are primary dealers becoming cuckolds? Sotheby’s Senior International Specialist Oliver Barker claims that the sale has “the wholehearted support of Damien’s dealers…who recognise his rulebreaking charisma.”

However, Jay Jopling, owner of White Cube, sounds a tad ambivalent. “8,601 flawless diamonds notwithstanding, ours has never been a traditional marriage,” he said in Sotheby’s press release, evoking the financial sacrifice his gallery made to coown Hirst’s diamond skull when it didn’t sell outright. One collector close to both Jopling and Gagosian told me, “I love Damien’s work, but his treatment of his business partners is abusive and selfish.”

Certainly many gallerists believe the auction is “a horrible precedent”. However, some view the sale as an almost philosophical event. As dealer-collector David Mugrabi explains, “It seems to be a game for Damien. He’s seeing if he can get away with murder, just as Duchamp did with his urinal.”

What are the strategies of the auction houses with regard to the primary market? Whilst Sotheby’s goes public with a straight-fromthe-studio sale and is rumoured to be courting Takashi Murakami, Christie’s buys the multi-location primary gallery Haunch of Venison.

According to Haunch’s director, “The two auction houses have entirely different approaches and relationships. Christie’s vision is more considered. It recognises the best interests of artists themselves. Damien is one of the few who could pull this off.”

Interestingly, Phillips de Pury aligns itself with Sotheby’s move as senior partner, Michaela Neumeister, asserts, “This Hirst sale would have been a perfect project for Phillips. It’s so fast-forward. We have been the crossover pioneers of morphing business models. Art is all about transforming and border testing, but the dealer logic has been very conservative.”

However, when artists become their own dealers, Dr Neumeister says, “I worry for their freedom and their peace of mind. It’s time consuming and distracting. That’s why it’s great Damien has his alter ego. Frank Dunphy [the artist’s business manager] is a genius.”

What will the auction contain? The answer to this question is the key to the success or failure of this high-risk event. With its solid gold eighteen-carat hooves and horns, The Golden Calf is either a decadent masterpiece or a derivative work targeting a nouveau billionaire. In the end, it is important to note that the sale is not guaranteed and to remember that Hirst’s personal collection is called “Murder Me”.

So, one must agree with Sotheby’s Oliver Barker when he declares, “Damien is totally fearless. He’s not just an outstanding artist, he’s a cultural phenomenon.”

The Art Newspaper

Wanted: buyer for Hitler’s statue

A sculpture by Fritz Röll, once owned by the Führer, was rejected by Sotheby’s but is now being offered by a private dealer

A sculpture bought by Hitler in 1939 was offered for sale by London dealer Simon Wingett for £150,000 ($233,000) last month. The marble work, by Fritz Röll (1879-1956), was to have been sold at Sotheby’s in 2004, but was withdrawn when the auction house discovered it had been owned by Hitler.

Hitler visited the pro-Nazi Great German Art Exhibition in Munich in 1939, and decided to buy the idealised, near-life size naked figure tying its sandals. The work, made sometime between 1910 and 1914, is regarded as Röll’s masterpiece. What happened to the sculpture after Hitler’s death is un­known.

The sculpture was recently consigned to Sotheby’s, and was offered at their Sussex saleroom in a sale of garden statuary on 28 September 2004 (lot 287).

Although identified in the catalogue as a Röll, the work’s original title (Sandalenbind­er) was not given and it was described simply as a Naked Classical Athlete. The estimate was £8,000-£12,000.

Shortly before the sale, Sotheby’s was contacted by a descendant of the sculptor in Germany, who pointed out that it was the long-lost work which had once belonged to Hitler. The auctioneers decided that it would be unwise to sell the piece and it was withdrawn on the eve of the auction.

Sotheby’s then put several potential bidders in touch with the consignor, a minor dealer in the Czech Republic. Shortly afterwards the Röll was bought by UK conservator and part-time dealer Imogen Paine, along with two colleagues. Earlier this year they asked Wrexham dealer Simon Wingett to sell it, and it was the highlight of his stand at the Olympia International Art & Antiques fair in June and the Lapada fair the previous month. The work was priced at around £150,000 ($295,000) and did not sell at Olympia.

The post-war whereabouts of the sculpture remain a mystery. All that is known is that the Czech dealer had acquired it from a fellow countryman who had lived in Vienna.

The statue’s status is not entirely clear. At the time of Hitler’s suicide in Berlin in 1945, his official place of residence was Munich. Arguably this means that his estate passed to the government of Bavaria. Nevertheless, there has been no claim on the Röll, so it can presumably be sold freely on the open market. The sculpture was bought by the UK owners in good faith, after due diligence.

The Art Newspaper

Revealed: $72.8m Rockefeller Rothko has gone to Qatar

I absolutely love Rothko, so simple yet so emotional.  When I visit Teh Tate Modern in London I always spend hours in the Rothko Room, gazing at his masterpieces.

I just came across this in The Art Newspaper, obviously another great admirer.  If you like Emir of Qatar, I will sell you acouple of my paintings and discount price.  Maybe $50m.

The Emir of Qatar and his wife have also spent $52.7m on a Francis Bacon and £9.7m on a Damien Hirst

Qatar’s ruling Al-Thani family is the mystery buyer of Mark Rothko’s White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose), 1950, which sold at Sotheby’s New York on 15 May 2007 for $72.8m—setting a record for the highest price ever paid for a work of post-war art at auction. The painting was consigned by David Rockefeller.

A well placed source in Qatar has revealed that the Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, and his wife, Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al-Missned, also purchased Francis Bacon’s Study from Innocent X for $52.7m at the same Sotheby’s sale. Although Sotheby’s does not disclose information about its clients, both purchases have been independently confirmed by The Art Newspaper.

The Al-Thani family has been a major collector of Islamic art for several years but it has not previously been known to buy European and American work at this level.

We can also reveal that other recent purchases include Damien Hirst’s Lullaby Spring for which the Qataris paid £9.7m at Sotheby’s London in June 2007, setting an auction record for a work by a living European artist. The 2002 sculpture, which consists of painted and cast pills displayed in a steel and glass cabinet, is now installed in Doha amid a growing collection of modern and contemporary art.

The entry of the Al-Thanis into this market is part of a global movement of high-end works of art from West to East as American and European collectors—encouraged by the resilience of the top end of the market in the face of uncertainty in the financial sectors—consign works to auction which are increasingly going to new collectors in the Gulf region, the ex-Soviet republics and China.

In a statement released in February which describes its results for 2007, Sotheby’s president and chief executive officer Bill Ruprecht said: “In 2003 our top buyers—purchasing lots of $500,000 and above—came from 36 countries; in 2007 they came from 58 countries.”

Another factor is the construction of an outpost of the Guggenheim on an island adjacent to Abu Dhabi. This is scheduled to open in 2012. Zaki Nusseibeh, culture advisor to the Emirate, says the museum has a “potentially unlimited” budget for acquisitions. A branch of the Louvre is also under construction.

As part of an investigation into record auction prices for living artists, we also reveal in our May issue that Jeff Koons’s Hanging Heart (Magenta/ Gold), 1994-2006, which currently holds the record for the most expensive work by a living artist to sell at auction, was purchased for $23.6m by Ukrainian collector Victor Pinchuk. It was consigned to auction by New York collector Adam Lindemann. The Peter Doig painting, White Canoe, 1990-91, sold by British collector Charles Saatchi in February 2007 went to Georgian mining magnate, Boris Ivanishvili.