Trade bid for rise in ARR threshold
Thur 23 May
The Antique Trade Gazette 13 May 2013 Written by Ivan Macquisten
Art dealer Niall Fairhead is leading a new campaign to persuade the Government to raise the Artist’s Resale Right threshold from €1000 to the €3000 stipulated by the European Commission.
Mr Fairhead, who spearheaded a similar campaign this time last year by setting up an online petition and persuading thousands of people to send specially designed postcards to then culture secretary Jeremy Hunt, says recent surveys by the leading trade associations show how badly the industry is being affected.
The costs and administrative burden for both dealers and the collecting societies far outweigh any benefits to artists below the €3000 threshold, he says. And he added that the latest survey figures show just how "grossly inaccurate" the Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS) were in underestimating these costs when persuading the then Labour government to lower the anticipated threshold from the €3000 stipulated by the EC Directive to €1000 in 2006.
This 'gold-plating' of the Directive also went directly against Government policy.
In 2005, in the run-up to the levy's introduction, DACS submitted evidence to the Government claiming the administrative costs to the trade per transaction for collecting and paying ARR would be about £1, but even then industry figures estimated that they would be around £30-40. The latest set of surveys put it at around £50 - and that is without factoring in DACS' own costs related to the transactions and payments.
Now Mr Fairhead and fellow dealers have drawn up a report showing these effects, which they have submitted to Viscount Younger of Leckie, parliamentary under secretary of state for intellectual property, in the hope of a change of heart.
This impact assessment study is being considered by the Intellectual Property Office, who are keen for interested parties to contribute their thoughts and evidence before the Government assesses the claims further.
A survey of around 20 members of The Association of Art & Antiques Dealers (LAPADA), The British Antique Dealers' Association (BADA) and the Society of London Art Dealers (SLAD) compiled in December 2012 showed it takes an average of just under an hour and 20 minutes to complete the task of administering a single transaction involving ARR payment, with the overall cost averaging £50.85. Earlier surveys showed similar results.
When it comes to costs incurred by DACS, their 2010 Westminster Briefing reveals that they made around 29,160 individual payments to beneficiaries, at an average of £360 each.
DACS stress that they are a not-for-profit organisation, so their 15% fee can be presumed to reflect the costs of administering the ARR payments. If that is so, in order to pay out £360, they must have collected £423.50, putting their collection and distribution costs per transaction at an average of £63.50.
Together with dealer costs, this makes an average overall cost per transaction fulfilment of £114.35, equivalent to more than 30% of the average payment.
This indicates that DACS must be losing money on lower-end transactions - the sale of a picture at €1000 generates €40 (around £28) in ARR, for instance - with the costs far outweighing actual payments to artists.
"The extension of ARR to the work of deceased artists in 2012 has added to the cost burden, as four times the number of sales are now liable to ARR than was the case before," states Mr Fairhead and his colleagues' submission to the minister.
"Small businesses in the art market were disproportionately affected by the decision to introduce a lower threshold, since they are most active in the market at lower values."
He further advises: "There is no requirement in the Directive to apply ARR to art sales below €3000 and therefore the British Government is free to restore the threshold without recourse to the European Commission. Doing so would bring UK law in line with the precise requirements of the EC Directive."
Mixed results but ground-breaking sale finds a market for some Western antiques in China
Thur 23 May
The Antiques Trade Gazette 03 May 2013 Written by Roland Arkell
Twenty-something UK regional auctioneers and four container loads of Western antiques en route to south-east China. What could possibly go wrong?
There were stomach bugs. There were the taxi and teahouse scams. And large swathes of the cargo will soon be coming home.
But if the intention of this unlikely odyssey - its protagonists the 21 members of the recently-formed Association of Accredited Auctioneers (Triple-A) - was to establish whether or not the Chinese could become a force in the market for traditional European chattels, then the project yielded valuable data. And the answer to that question first posed around a Beijing boardroom table last June was an unequivocal yes.
China's First Free Port Auction of Western Artworks held in Xiamen in Fujian province last month was not a success in the traditional sense.
More than three-quarters of the 360 lots failed to find buyers in the saleroom (there was some after-sale business to be done) and the total just shy of £1m was way short of the headline figure of £8m mooted when the project was launched in early spring.
The revenues from the sale were sufficient for the dozen underwriters - here on a win-together, lose-together basis - to hope to break even on the project, but no one got rich here.
But there are many other ways in judging the success of a pioneering event such as this.
As a marketing exercise designed to promote both British standards of practice and European works of art within the Chinese market it attracted plenty of media attention. As a fact-finding mission for Triple-A and their Beijing-based partners, Huachen Auctions, and the online bidding portal Epailive, it was probably second-to-none. "Our members participated in the sale to gauge the appetite Chinese collectors have for Western antiques and works of art", said Triple-A chairman Chris Ewbank. "Now we know what is wanted and what is not."
It had been a huge effort. The timescale, designed to catch the start of the auction season in Beijing, was verging on the ludicrous and the logistics immense.
Six weeks from the get-go in January to put together a sale. Another month to send the contents via Alban Shipping on a slow boat to China and see it through customs. And just two weeks to promote the sale in Mainland China, first at the British Ambassador's residence in Beijing where a selection of 50 objects (officially exported into China for a pre-sale viewing) were on display from Friday, April 12, and then 1308 miles south at the Xangyu Bonded Logistics Park in Xiamen where most of the consignments for a 360-lot sale could be imported 'duty-free' prior to sale.
It was ambitious at best, but viewing in a standfitted warehouse opened as planned at 9am on Friday, April 19 and an audience of 100-150 were in attendance when the sale began at around 2.30pm on Sunday, April 21.
Win, lose or draw, it was always going to be an education.
What, and what not, to bring to economically vibrant China had always required a leap of faith, but a selection process of sorts had been carried out prior to shipment via a blizzard of emails and digital images between Triple-A members and their partners in Beijing.
(To avoid red tape, the Triple-A sale was conducted in partnership with the Beijing-based Huachen Auctions, with all consignments imported 'duty-free' to the Xiamen Free Port until they were sold. This display board in the saleroom gave an idea of taxes that apply in China when importing works of art. In addition to the buyer's premium of 15%, all items in this report were subject to import duty of 17% and additional taxes should they be under 100 years old.)
Based on piecemeal buying reports from the last 24 months, it was clear that clocks, bronzes and French furniture, in particular, had already gained some traction in mainland China.
Accordingly, the core of the sale was provided by a well-known London dealer in 19th century French furniture - precisely the type of client who could provide the calibre of merchandise, the quick turnaround and the sense of adventure the project required. Vendors were charged what Mr Ewbank termed "a relatively modest administration fee" that primarily reflected the cost of shipping.
This demanded that estimates were set close to retail levels, but punchy guidelines served a kind of purpose. After all, the underwriters were not moving items half-way round the world to replicate prices easily achievable in the UK.
This central consignment, a cache of recognised brand names from Paul Sormani to François Linke, provided the sale with its financial muscle and did claim its highest prices - a pair of Louis XVI-style gilt-bronze and amboyna centre tables by Linke c.1910 sold at RMB2m (£212,750) and an extraordinary Louis XV-style kingwood and marquetry writing desk and cartonnier c.1880 at RMB1.2m (£127,650).
There were plenty of failures, too - "pieces in the £10,000 to £40,000 range were possibly too expensive for what is very much an emerging market" commented Chris Ewbank - but it was enough to suggest that the Chinese could become a major force in the market for blue-chip 19th century French furniture.
But if these were the heavyweight entries then the real headlines were to be found lower down the pecking order among a far more regulation selection of European chattels - items such as the RMB35,000 (£3725) Edwardian painted mahogany centre table.
All three pieces of Victorian burr walnut (none of them would have been expected to break £1000 in the UK) found buyers between RMB25,000 (£2650) and RMB40,000 (£4255), as did half a dozen pieces of Dutch furniture.
Only time will tell if these results represent a trend. But decent English and Continental cabinetmaking certainly represents an improvement on the mediocre-quality, European-style domestic and boardroom furniture that is being manufactured here for an ever-growing number of Western-style apartments.
It was encouraging news for the regional auctioneer that the strength of the sale was the appetite for mid-market pieces in this £500 to £5000 range.
Supported by a lecture programme, English silver was something of a revelation and there were some surprisingly high prices for 19th century bronzes typified by a pair of late 19th century Marly horses after the model by Guillaume Coustou sold to a telephone bidder against plenty of competition in the room at RMB82,000 (£8725).
An early 19th century equestrian model of Louis XIV in classical garb riding a rearing horse by Baron François Joseph Bosio (1768-1845) was a London trade consignment with an estimate of RMB100,000-120,000. It sold to a gentleman in the room who bid strongly for all the bronzes, at RMB160,000 (£17,020).
Precise figures regarding the number of buyers at the sale (and those who had registered to bid with a not inconsiderable deposit of RMB200,000) were not made available.
With no tradition of precision timekeeping in China, there is a long history of importing clocks from the West (the Forbidden City has an extraordinary display of gilt-bronze clocks made for export by London makers such James Cox and Joseph Williamson or copied by the Imperial workshop).
The array of ormolu and gilt-metal clocks offered here (mostly French and dating from the late 18th century to the late 19th centuries) were another strong section but the auctioneers were particularly encouraged to get away a George III mahogany longcase clock at very decent money. A typical London clock with an eight-day movement by John Williams, it took RMB120,000 (£12,750).
It is equally important to record what, at this very early stage, did not sell.
None of the three dining tables sold. Ormolu objects incorporating porcelain with European figural decoration were much less popular than those without. Austere furniture from the second quarter of the 19th century was ignored, while 50 lots of coins, banknotes and stamps, all established markets in Hong Kong, met with no interest here (in China stamps are subject to an additional 8% import tax).
The same was true of all but a small handful of pictures, including a group of 52 canvases consigned by Russian art specialists MacDougalls. The surprising news a day before the sale that a 1921 oil by Vitaly Tikhov with an estimate of RMB1.5m had received by far the highest number of online views had ultimately proved something of a false dawn.
In a country where such material is not easily available online, the subject matter, a full-length reclining nude, had appealed far beyond the art-collecting community.
It's all now part of a little piece of auction history.
Formal dining in the European style is increasingly popular in China and the 17 lots of silver and electroplate were the strongest performing section of the sale. Robert Stones' brief introduction to English silver had provided the best attended and the most animated moments of the lecture series held in Xiamen.
It was elementary stuff - "if I'd given it to my local WI there would have been complaints," quipped the proprietor of Nantwich's Peter Wilson - but the benefits of the English hallmarking system were not lost on an audience eager for any form of consumer protection and the proof that the item they buy is over 100 years old and hence devoid of tax.
Standard English tea and coffee wares were avidly sought with buyers in the room paying RMB30,000 (£3190) for a typical 62oz four-piece service with embossed decoration by Marples & Co of Birmingham, 1903, and RMB11,000 (£1170) for a William IV melon-form teapot by William Barrett II, London 1834.
Most remarkable was the RMB35,000 (£3725) required to secure a baluster three-piece tea service with floral swag decoration by James Deakin & Sons of Sheffield. The price was all the more impressive given its date: at 1917 it was subject to import duties over and above the standard 17%.
At those prices, a flood of English silver tea and coffee services could be heading East quite soon.
Xiamen Art Centre
China is full of places the size of Birmingham that you have never heard of. And Xiamen, the old European port city of Amoy, in Fujian province in the tropical south west, is one of those.
A treaty port in the 19th century, it was among the four original Special Economic Zones opened to foreign investment and deep-water container traffic when China began its economic reforms in the early 1980s.
Although it is fair to ask whether or not this was the right place to hold this sale (there are five free ports in China including those in Beijing and Shanghai), there were many good reasons for holding the sale in the city.
While there is currently no serious art market to speak of here (discounting the 5000-plus artists employed to produce pictures for export from two 'oil painting villages'), the regional authorities are keen to push the area as a destination for art and antiques with the purpose-built Xiamen International Art Centre currently on the drawing board.
That the local government proved amenable to an idea that might have encountered more red tape elsewhere certainly helped with bureaucracy, but had it really gone so smoothly?
Huachen president, the affable Gan Xuejun, who was a veteran of China's first sale of Western art a decade ago, admitted to hitting the occasional administrative brick wall, but his attitude is a refreshing one: the laws regarding the importing of works of art into the People's Republic are famously restrictive but change will only happen when they are shown to be outdated.
"This is not a toilet. It was made to store clothes."
In his lecture Paris Furniture 1850-1900 A Luxury Market given toaudiences in Beijing and Xiamen,the furniture historian and advisor Christopher Payne tells an anecdote regarding the publication of the first Chinese book on French furniture in the 1990s. It was most unfortunate that the word commode was translated throughout as toilet.
Two decades later and Christopher (who was first asked to lecture in China two years ago) has his first book coming out in Chinese next month - a reworking of his 1981 'bible' European Furniture of the 19th Century.
Although there are fundamental differences between European and Chinese furniture - the use of veneers over a carcass and marquetry inlay as a decorative treatment are both alien to Chinese cabinetmaking - French furniture in particular chimes well with the Chinese love of display (there is a parallel to be drawn here with the aesthetic of the Qing dynasty) and their respect for royal associations.
Christopher predicts good quality French 19th century furniture, which has appealed in emerging markets from the Middle East to South America, will become highly desirable in China over the next decade. Although, with estimates set close to retail, the Linke furniture did not really perform in Xiamen there was enough evidence at the sale to suggest he might be right.
£1 = RMB9.4
New York law change aims to protect artists when galleries go bust
Thur 23 May
The Antiques Trade Gazette 20 May 2013 Written by ATG Reporter
Dealers in New York can no longer use works consigned to them for sale by artists – or monies raised from their sale, beyond their own commissions – as debt collateral.
The change in law comes in a bid to prevent galleries' creditors claiming works or funds in settlement from dealers that in reality belong to artists.
Under amendments to the New York Arts and Cultural Affairs Law (NYACAL) introduced in November last year, consigned works or ensuing payments due to be paid out to consignors must be treated as being held in trust and kept entirely separate from galleries' own assets.
Those who fail to follow the new rules risk criminal prosecution as well as having to pay costs and damages to successful aggrieved parties in the event of being sued.
Withers Worldwide, the international law firm, highlight the changes in their latest Art and Cultural Assets newsletter, explaining how New York State followed 32 other states across the US in making the changes after two high-profile gallery bankruptcy cases, Berry-Hill Galleries in 2005 and Salander-O'Reilly Galleries two years later.
NYACAL already held provision for consignment protection when the two galleries went out of business, explained Withers, but as dealers traditionally did not keep separate client accounts, the galleries' creditors laid claim to works on consignment and payments due to artists.
Matters were further complicated when some creditors questioned whether the children of artists qualified as heirs under the statute, where an artist had died and not left their estate directly to their children.
"Unable to afford the legal firepower required to refute this and other creative arguments, many of the artists' children were impelled to buy back their artwork from the Salander-O'Reilly Galleries bankruptcy estate," the law firm explained.
The amendments now also make provision for claims from artists' children to stop this happening again.
New scam guide targets unwitting dealers over VAT
Thur 23 May
The Antiques Trade Gazette 20 May 2013 Written by Ivan Macquisten
A new and alarming scam guide is targeting the trade with demands linked to European Union regulations and focusing on VAT.
Sent on the sort of light grey paper often associated with genuine VAT correspondence, the letter asks companies to check and update their details.
However, as the small print at the bottom of the accompanying information sheet reveals, what businesses are actually signing is an order form for expensive advertising at an annual charge of £797.
The order form, almost identical to those used in previous scams, states that German law applies, and further explains that the order applies for the next three years with subsequent extensions if not cancelled by a stated deadline.
As countless previous ATG reports have explained, experience tells us that any attempt to cancel the order is ignored and followed by further demands for money and the paid-for listings all but useless.
The organisation listed at the bottom of the order form, TW Tele Verzeivhnis Verlag GmbH, operate from the same building in Hamburg as TVV Verlag, the subject of previous complaints over similar letters linked to a Fax directory.
It is the same organisation linked earlier this year to another scam.
Other web alerts show that businesses in the Netherlands have also been targeted.
German galleries block VAT increase
Thur 23 May
Dealers and even the country’s culture minister oppose a 12% tax rise on the purchase of original works of art
By Isabelle Spicer and Ermanno Rivetti. Web only
The Art Newspaper -Published online: 15 May 2013
Even the German minister of culture, Bernd Neumann, opposed a rise in VAT on original works of art
The German federal association of galleries and dealers (Bundesverband Deutscher Galerien und Kunsthändler—BDGV) has, for the moment, won a major battle to keep VAT rates down on the purchase of original works of art.
The European Commission has been trying to raise German VAT tax on original works of art from 7% to 19% to bring it in line with higher VAT rates in the rest of Europe. The move is widely opposed by the art world as well as the German minister of culture, Bernd Neumann. The BDGV, working with cultural and economic policy experts as well as institutions, has been campaigning against this and recently blocked the approval process, making it unlikely that there will be a rise in the VAT this year.
The next federal assembly meeting is scheduled for 4 June, and members will again discuss the potential increase in VAT. If the members can’t agree then, it is likely that Germany will keep the reduced tax for another year. “We still can’t predict anything concrete,” says Thea Dymke, from the BDGV, “but this is what we are hoping for.”
The tax would not affect imports, which will still be subject to a reduced VAT rate of 7% if they are “original” and a full rate if they are editioned works, such as photographs or video. Primary market sales, between artists and buyers, will still benefit from the reduced rate of 7%, meaning that a collector would pay 19% for a work from a gallery, but only 7% for the same work bought directly from the artist. According to Sturm, “gallerists are worried about this point because the difference in price is notable. However, they hope the artists will show solidarity. Moreover, collectors usually buy from galleries because they are guarantees of quality, value and the importance of the artists on the market.”
Nina Koldi, the co-director of the Campagne Première in Berlin, however, points out that there will always be a difference in VAT rates between countries. During the most recent edition of the Arco contemporary art fair in Madrid, the gallery sold a sculpture that was hit by a 21% VAT tax. If the buyer had bought the same piece in the gallery in Berlin, it would have only incurred a 7% tax rate. Koldi says the tax rise will have a worse effect on smaller galleries, which are already suffering because of the financial crisis.
High rates of VAT, especially on art, is a real disincentive to purchasing works. A 7% rate seems fair (if you accept the necessity of VAT in the first place on art sales). But 19 or 21% VAT could actually deter a sale, where a collector of limited means was planning to buy a work for say 1000 -2000 euros of a young or not too well-known artist, and to have nearly 200-400 euros added to the cost, could make the difference between a sale or no sale. I think it would be better if all EU countries came down in their rates on art to 7% instead of wanting Germany to increase their rates! And Germany's art market is fairly healthy compared to other countries in the EU where the higher rates apply. At the very top end, obviously, high VAT or "buyer's premiums" at auctions do not deter, but at the low and middling range, where most art is sold, then such a high rate of VAT becomes a severely depressive influence upon sales.
Online art buying soars as almost three-quarters of collectors go online- Hiscox and Art Tactic Online Art Trade Report
Thur 25 Apr
...text taken from the introduction .
"Hiscox has worked with ArtTactic to survey a broad cross section of international collectors and galleries to test our view. These findings validate and further expand upon our own observations and highlight the opportunities and risks facing the art market as it embraces a more digitalised and internationalised world. By the necessity of focus and brevity, we have chosen to concentrate this report on the contemporary end of the market. ....
In recent years, technology has disrupted businesses in the music, film and book industry, and it is likely to have a significant impact on the art market too. While several of these industries have seen dramatic change as a result of the digitisation of the content, the art market transaction will still predominantly be based on the exchange of the physical object. Hence the challenge is not that art as we know it today will suddenly
change its nature (like we have seen with music, books and films). The real challenge is how the traditional art market engages both with their existing client base and a potential new audience that increasingly wants the option to conduct their business online.
We wanted to look more closely at the risks and opportunities that this poses to the idea of ‘traditional’ relationships between the trade and collectors. Galleries and auctioneers now have far greater reach than before, and with that, the number of direct relationships with any one collector is multiplying. In this report, we look to debunk some prejudices associated with the online art market and throw light on emerging trends, providing some idea of how the future might look for the sector."
To read more please go to the link provided above.
From Tate to the Louvre, the world's best museums and galleries online
Tue 9 Apr
From Tate to the Louvre, the world's best museums and galleries online
Many gallery websites now offer a rich, behind-the-scenes look at their vast collections. Here, we take a virtual tour of the most (and least) innovative museums. Download article or go to link above.
Laura Barnett, The Guardian, Tuesday 9 April 2013
Best for audio guides
Best for sheer beauty
Gagosian galleries, worldwide
National Palace Museum, Taipei
Most deceptive "free" app
The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg
Least digitally savvy
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin
Most lost in translation
Uffizi Gallery, Florence
Best for accessibility
Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest
Best interactive sites
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh
• This article was amended on 9 April 2013 to remove the assertion that the Uffizi is the home of Michelangelo's David. The original statue is actually housed in the Galleria dell' Accademia.
Christie's is Bullish on Buyers
Sun 24 Feb
Kathryn Tully - February 23, 2013
The news that Christie’s is raising its buyer’s premium as of March 11 is clearly bad news for collectors, as Georgina Adam reports in the Financial Times. It’s pretty great news, though, for the Artemis Group that owns Christie’s. After all, this is the first time that the auction house has raised the commission it charges buyers since 2008. Whatever the potential impact to its bottom line, it must be confident for the first time since the wobbly years for the art market following the 2008 financial crisis that buyers will swallow the increased commissions and still show up. Sotheby’s, Bonhams and Phillips have not matched the increases yet, but the expectation is that they probably will.
This vote of confidence in the market is significant, because last year, the results from auction houses were rather mixed. Christie’s reported global annual sales of $6.27 billion in 2012, up 10% on 2011, but as a private company, did not release how much of that was profit. Sotheby’s is reporting its full year results for 2012 next week, but its sales results for the first half of last year were down over 16% and net income down 42% compared to the same period a year before.
In case you missed it, the changes to the buyer’s premium at Christie’s for most collectibles are as follows. Where buyers used to pay 25% commission on the first $50,ooo of any purchase made at auction at Christie’s, 20% on the rest of the purchase up to $1 million and 12% on any amount above that, now they will pay 25% commission up to $75,000, 2o% up to $1.5m and 12% on the rest.
Wine buyers, who pay the same percentage of the hammer price whatever the value of the sale, will see their commission go up to 22% in New York and Hong Kong and to 17% in London, Paris and Geneva.
I’ve written before about the auction house practice of tacking the buyer’s premium onto the published final sale results, but not the published sales estimates, which make auction results appear rather better than they are to those unaware of this fact and meaningful comparisons way more complicated than they need to be for everyone else. Now those premiums are going to be a little bit higher for everyone.
The main beneficiaries of this latest burst of art market confidence are clearly not the buyers. Look to the auction house duopoly, and in particular Christie’s, with its increasing dominance over the global art business, to see who really prospers.
Move over galleries: artists sign with agents
Thur 21 Feb
As Stuart Semple joins an agency that also represents models and musicians, is there a new way to sell art?
By Cristina Ruiz. Art Market, Issue 243, February 2013
Published online: 14 February 2013
Stuart Semple has joined Next Management
The British artist Stuart Semple has signed a contract for worldwide representation with the fashion agency Next Management, a move that highlights again how the traditional artist-gallery relationship is changing. Several artists, including Damien Hirst and Keith Tyson, have agents or managers who provide financial advice and handle their business dealings with galleries, but Semple says his collaboration with Next Management will more closely resemble relationships in the music industry, where managers act as a buffer between their acts and the outside world, helping to promote their work and negotiate their projects.
Next Management, which represents hundreds of models as well as actresses such as Jessica Alba and musicians including Lana Del Rey and Jessie J, says it will help Semple to negotiate deals in the luxury goods industry, an area of increasing importance to artists.
Semple says that the task of selling his art and cultivating relationships with collectors will still be done by the galleries that exhibit his work—Anna Kustera in New York and the Fine Art Society Contemporary in London. However, Semple adds, there is room for another intermediary. “You won’t find a decent musician without a manager in this day and age. Yes, they have a record label that makes their work available, maybe advances them money to make it, but their manager stands between the artist and the label. Same with… artist, gallery and manager. There’s no real difference.”
The key question is whether or not managers can develop artists’ careers in the same way as dealers, who build reputations through years of curated shows and by successfully placing their artists’ work in museums and prestigious private collections.
“It’s a model that indicates that art belongs to a much bigger picture than it ever did,” says Andrew Renton, the director of Marlborough Contemporary in London. “I’m wary [of dismissing] new models because they come up all the time. However, the gallery is still the place for a more sophisticated expertise and a longer-term focus on the artist. Art thrives on context. The reason you work with a gallery is because you want to be involved in a particular context that allows your work to be part of a wider artistic dialogue. The question is, what conversation do you want to be in?” he asks.
Semple, who regularly releases artwork on iTunes, says that Next Management will help him to extend his reach far beyond the confines of the art world. The agency has a “vision of how art can be extended in a digital age and for a new generation like mine”, he says.
Early pioneers of this type of collaboration are the California music managers Pat Magnarella and Roger Klein, who have represented the US rock band Green Day for more than 12 years, helping them to sell 75 million albums. Around four years ago, the pair started to sign visual artists. They now work with half a dozen, including the street art couple Miss Bugs, the British painter Charming Baker, the graffiti artist D*Face, New York-based Logan Hicks, and Chris Levine, whose portrait of the Queen is on the £100 note issued in Jersey to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee.
“I’m not interested in getting the art world to know about my artists; I’m interested in getting the world to know about them,” Magnarella told The Art Newspaper in 2009, explaining how cross-promotional projects could help to raise awareness of the artists on his roster.
One such endeavour was the display of high-resolution reproductions of works commissioned by Hicks in the venues where Green Day performed on their 2009 US tour. The band’s fans were able to download the images to their mobile phones, thanks to a deal with Verizon.
Next month, Magnarella and Klein will host a show of paintings and sculptures by Charming Baker in a 15,000 sq. ft hangar at the Milk Studio in Los Angeles (21-24 March)—and will “promote the hell out of it”, in Klein’s words.
Four years ago, the duo were selling Baker’s work for around £1,500. After a sell-out show in 2010 in New York, where his paintings were bought in bulk by Damien Hirst, Alberto Mugrabi and Frank Cohen, the artist’s canvases now go for between £70,000 and £90,000.
Klein acknowledges that fashion collaborations, pop-up shows, iTunes releases and a successful commercial career won’t get you an exhibition at Tate Modern. He says Charming Baker will be ready to join a “major commercial gallery like Gagosian, Pace or Hauser & Wirth within two years”. If he does, “we’ll be negotiating his entry there from a position of power”, Klein says.
China debates droit de suite
Thur 21 Feb
Some say it will stifle the market, others think it could stop fakes at auction
By Katie Hunt. Art Market, Issue 243, February 2013
Published online: 18 February 2013
Artists such as Yue Minjun could be laughing if the law is passed
China is considering introducing legislation that means artists will receive royalty payments when their work is resold at auction. The droit de suite (artists’ resale right) clause is contained in the draft of a new copyright law soon to be submitted to China’s State Council, the country’s cabinet.
According to the draft, the resale right would apply to original works of fine art and photography, as well as literary and musical manuscripts. It says that creators or their heirs have a right to share in any profit if the owner of the original piece sells it via auction.
China’s first copyright law took effect in 1991, and the latest draft brings the country closer into line with prevailing European standards. More than 60 countries have droit de suite legislation, although the introduction of a resale fee has often proved controversial, as it is not universally applied.
Limiting the market
The debate in China over the resale clause has also proved heated. Gan Xuejun, the chairman and general manager of Huachen Auction, says the move is “absurd”, “unfair” and “unwise”. “It will limit the trading interest and enthusiasm of collectors and artists,” he says in his post on the popular microblogging site Sina Weibo (China’s equivalent of Twitter). China’s two biggest auction houses—China Guardian and Beijing Poly—declined to comment.
It is not clear how many artists or their descendants might benefit from the proposal, but given that 20th-century Chinese painting and calligraphy have comprised one of the most active categories at auction in recent years, observers say it could have a negative impact on the market.
“Droit de suite may stifle the development of the market,” wrote Ji Tao, an auction industry expert, in the China Culture Daily newspaper in December. However, he added: “From the point of view of the artists and authors, droit de suite is a good thing, because every transaction means gains.”
Eugene Low, a Hong Kong-based intellectual property lawyer at Mayer Brown JSM, says that the legislation could address the problem of fake works coming up for auction in China. “The auction companies will have to trace the original creator or their next of kin. In doing so, they will have to check that the work is genuine,” he says.
Rogier Creemers, an expert on Chinese copyright law at the University of Oxford’s Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, says that increased protection for artists reflects China’s desire to move up the value chain, away from mass-produced goods. “[China] wants to foster an ‘advanced cultural market’,” he says.
The draft law does not give details on how the resale right will work, saying only that rules will be drawn up separately by the State Council. It does not give the length of time for which an artist’s descendant would retain the right to profit from a resale, but China usually extends copyright for 50 years after an artist’s death. Guo He, a professor at Renmin University’s Law School in Beijing, says that the new law is subject to further changes and is still some way from entering the statute book. If the draft is approved by the State Council, it will be presented to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, China’s top ruling body, for consideration, before it is enacted, he says.
Droit de suite legislation elsewhere gives artists or their heirs a percentage of the resale, ranging from around 1% to 5%.
Sales halve at China’s leading auction houses Demand plummets as economic growth slows, but business picks up in the US
Tue 5 Feb
The Art Newspaper
By Melanie Gerlis. News, Issue 243, February 2013
Published online: 04 February 2013
Total sales at China’s two dominant auction houses—Poly Auction and China Guardian—more than halved during 2012. Sales at Sotheby’s and Christie’s in Hong Kong also fell, wiping $2.4bn off the country’s art market, which by some calculations was the world’s largest at the beginning of 2012.
At China’s largest auctioneer, Poly Auction, sales halved from Rmb12.1bn ($1.9bn) in 2011 to Rmb6.1bn ($965m) in 2012. The fall at China Guardian was greater, with sales down from Rmb11.2bn ($1.8bn) at the end of 2011 to Rmb5.2bn ($820m) at the end of 2012. The volume of sales was also down at China Guardian, from 29,700 lots in 2011 to around 20,000 in 2012. At Sotheby’s Hong Kong, sales dropped sharply, from $959.2m in 2011 to $592.9m in 2012. Christie’s had the least dramatic fall: sales were down by 16%, from $835.7m in 2011 to $705.4m at the end of last year.
The value of works sold at auction in China had been rising rapidly since 2009—although doubts remain about the accuracy of the mainland Chinese auction houses’ figures. Both the Chinese auction houses attributed the reversal of this upward sales trend to the weaker economic environment in the country in 2012. While booming by Western standards, the world’s second largest economy developed at its slowest rate since 1999, with growth of 7.8%, down from 9.3% in 2011. Meanwhile, the Shanghai Composite index of shares fell 6% in 2012 and hit a four-year low in December. China’s transition of leadership within the ruling Communist Party had an additional dampening effect.
“Certain factors, including political uncertainty, did see buyers press the pause button. This had an effect on the supply to the Asian art market,” says Steven Murphy, the chief executive of Christie’s. However, he adds: “Selling rates remained relatively strong, and the market remains a lot more robust than it was even three years ago.”
A slowdown in China is bad news for the art market because, since 2008, demand from Asia has helped to mask the impact of reduced Western buying. Auction houses and big-name galleries have invested heavily in Hong Kong and mainland China since then.
The art economist Clare McAndrew, who in 2011 was one of the first to quantify China’s position as the largest art and antiques market worldwide, says the slowdown could work in the market’s favour. “A lot of art funds and speculative investors stopped buying in China last year, so it has taken the crazy escalation out of the prices,” she says. “It’s much better for the longevity of [China’s] market for it to cool down and get a bit of breadth [in terms of its collector base].”
Elsewhere, the Mei Moses World All Art Index, which tracks auction resales worldwide, fell 3.28% in 2012. At Sotheby’s, where auction sales worldwide fell from $4.9bn to $4.4bn, the market in the UK fell 20% (from $1.5bn to $1.2bn) and sales in continental Europe fell 11% (from $526.9m to $466.9m). Christie’s worldwide auction sales were up 7% to $5.3bn, but sales in Paris fell 11%.
Brighter spots included the US, where sales at the leading auction houses grew from a combined $3.6bn to $4.3bn (helped by record sales at the prime end of the market). Christie’s lower-end branch in London’s South Kensington, in which the firm is investing heavily, reported a 20% increase in sales to $223.1m in 2012, after a 16% rise in 2011. There were modest gains for the European auctioneer Dorotheum: its total auction revenue for 2012 was €152m, up from €144m.
The figures exclude private sales, a growing area for auction houses.
Haunch of Venison to Close London Gallery and Stop Representing Artists
Mon 4 Feb
Bloomberg’s Katya Kazakina reports that Christie’s Haunch of Venison will close its New York space at the end of its current exhibition, “How to Tell the Future from the Past,” in March. Its London site—the Yard—will be converted into a permanent sales and exhibition space for Christie’s. Haunch of Venison will also no longer represent artists.
“The proposal is for Haunch of Venison to evolve into Christie’s private sales,” said Emilio Steinberger, the gallery’s senior international director. “Private sales at Christie’s have been growing exponentially and the decision was made [that] that’s where the focus should be.”
Christie’s recognized that the decision would “affect a number of employees at Haunch of Venison, as well as some artists represented by the gallery.”
Lawyers Fight to Keep Auction Sellers Anonymous
Mon 4 Feb
By TOM MASHBERG New York Times
Published: February 3, 2013
New York’s highest court has decided to review a recent ruling that could force the state’s auction industry to end its longstanding practice of keeping sellers’ names anonymous.
Most sellers in the New York auction market remain anonymous, and auction catalogs typically reveal little more than that a work is from a “private collection.” The court did not rule that auction houses had to publicize widely the name of a seller, only that buyers are entitled to know it. Buyers — themselves often people who anonymously sell items at auction — have seldom complained about the practice, while sellers have come to expect their identities to be shielded.
But in October, in a dispute over the sale of a 19th-century silver-and-enamel Russian box, a four-judge appellate-court panel unanimously ruled that state law has long required that buyers be given the names of sellers in postauction paperwork for the deal to become binding.
Many art-law experts say the decision, if upheld, could significantly change the way the auction business is conducted in New York State.
“As of now you can back out of any transaction where the name of the seller is not provided,” said Peter R. Stern of McLaughlin & Stern, a Manhattan lawyer who represents dealers, collectors and auction houses and was an outside counsel to Sotheby’s.
The lawyer for the auctioneer in the case said Christie’s had inquired about submitting a brief when the New York Court of Appeals, which last month announced its intention to review the case, takes it up this spring. The auction house declined to comment.
Jonathan A. Olsoff, director of worldwide litigation for Sotheby’s, said that auction house viewed the decision as “narrow and technical” and that others were overstating its impact. Although fine-arts sales are the highest-profile auctions in the state, the ruling would also affect the sale of other items, like heirlooms, vehicles and livestock, which are also typically auctioned anonymously by hundreds of companies every week.
Anonymity is often prized because it protects personal privacy and allows institutions quietly to sell items from their collections that they no longer need. In some cases it can also cloak the embarrassment of debt or help sellers avoid setting off family conflicts over the disposition of inherited assets.
“Anonymity should not be seen as an abuse of the law,” said Christine Steiner of Sheppard Mullin, a Los Angeles law firm. She is a former Maryland prosecutor who has represented sellers from all income levels.
The ruling came in a case involving an auctioneer in Chester, N.Y., William J. Jenack, who sold a Russian antique in 2008 for $460,000. The piece, a czarist box made by I. P. Khlebnikov, a Fabergé contemporary, depicted aristocrats feasting on a roasted swan. Mr. Jenack said the top bidder, Albert Rabizadeh of Long Island, refused to pay after “grumbling about the price.”
Mr. Jenack sued for payment and won, but the decision was overturned by the appellate court when Mr. Rabizadeh challenged the transaction because the seller had not been identified in the postsale documentation.
In arguments last year before the appellate court lawyers for the auctioneer said that revealing the seller would overturn centuries of commercial practice and badly burden the industry. But the appellate panel, citing New York’s anti-fraud statutes, was unmoved.
“While it may be true that auction houses commonly withhold the names of consignors,” Justice Peter B. Skelos of the appellate division said in his ruling, “this court is governed not by the practice in the trade, but by the relevant statute.” He said the law “clearly and unambiguously requires that the name of the person” selling the item be included in documents provided to the buyer.
If the ruling stands, some experts say, a buyer denied a seller’s name would have the right to walk away from any purchase, as happened in Mr. Jenack’s case.
Through his lawyer, Daniel R. Wotman of Great Neck, N.Y., Mr. Rabizadeh declined to comment, but Mr. Wotman said, “Auction houses and consignors need to comply with the law.”
Benjamin Ostrer of Chester, the lawyer for Mr. Jenack, said the ruling represented “a wholesale invitation to have people renege.”
Mr. Olsoff of Sotheby’s disagreed however. “The decision,” he said, “deals only with the evidence that is required if an auction purchaser defaults in paying and is sued by the auction house.”
Several lawyers said auctioneers could try to resolve issues by having buyers agree to anonymity in writing before bidding. But Leila A. Amineddoleh, an expert on art law at Lombard & Geliebter, said she would discourage buyers from signing such a waiver, especially because the seller’s identity can aid with provenance questions and enhance the future value of an item.
She predicted that if the ruling is upheld, some auctioneers would lobby in Albany for legislation to exempt them from disclosing the seller.
Nicholas M. O’Donnell, a lawyer with Sullivan & Worcester in Boston who writes that firm’s Art Law Report, said the ruling also allowed winning bidders to sue auction houses for sellers’ names. “Once the gavel falls there is a binding agreement that cuts both ways,” he said. “The implications are very far-reaching.”
Mr. Jenack said fellow auctioneers worry that their clients would sell in other states where privacy is protected.
Lawyers said they had not heard of court rulings in other states that appeared to restrict the granting of anonymity to sellers at auction.
One person with a strong interest in the case is the box’s seller, Jonathan A. Thompson, 70, of Greenwich, Conn. He said anonymity was the last thing he cared about when he put the family heirloom up for sale in 2008.
He ended up with $50,000, he said, when the box was resold at auction in 2010, not the money he once stood to make, but far more than the $5,000 value first put on the box when Mr. Jenack originally advertised it.
“I didn’t ask to be anonymous,” he said. “I didn’t think at all about it.”
Thur 31 Jan
published January 29 2013 at 06:32pm
By Jo-Marie Rabe
This article was first published in the fourth-quarter 2012 edition of Personal Finance magazine.
The global aggregate sales of art and antiques amounted to about 46.1 billion euros last year. That was a seven-percent growth from the previous year and a 63-percent growth since 2009, the year the international economic crisis hit this particular market.
The sales were achieved in an antiques and art market that consists of two sectors: private dealers and auction houses. Market share is divided 50:50 between the two players.
Strong, confident figures reflecting a strong, balanced market? Not so, many argue.
According to industry insiders, these sales figures do not reflect the true state of affairs in an industry that has been hit hard and has seen enormous change during the past decade or two.
Statistics do not reflect the fact that although there are more than 25 000 auction houses listed worldwide, a small handful of big firms such as Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Bonhams dominate all the important sales categories. Neither do they reflect the fact that half the sales by value are done by only between two and five percent of the estimated 375 000 to 400 000 internationally listed private antiques and art dealers.
This is an industry in which the majority of those with interests are not thriving but are fighting for professional survival. Many of the smaller businesses have already closed shop, and most of those that are still in business are battling to understand a market they thought they knew so well.
One of the most pertinent concerns is the ever-changing competitive landscape: power has not only been redistributed geographically; there has also been a major redistribution of power among market players over the past couple of decades.
It is the latter issue – the redistribution of power within the industry – that is put under the spotlight in a recent report from dealer association Cinoa (see “Industry network”, below).
In an attempt to make sure that specialist antiques and art dealers do not, like the rare and important things they sell, become relics from the past, Cinoa commissioned cultural economist Dr Clare McAndrew to find out how and why things are changing and what implications the change holds for the association’s members and the trade as a whole.
McAndrew is the founder of Arts Economics, a research and consulting firm that focuses exclusively on the art economy (visit her website at www.artseconomics.com).
According to her research, one of the most recurring themes cited by dealers is that auction houses are gaining market power all the time. With multi-million-dollar marketing budgets, the auction industry can afford to maintain a high media profile.
“News headlines and front-page articles do not reflect the reality that art and antique dealers today account for 50 percent of global art world sales.
“This important group of dealers consists largely of discreet, low-profile individuals and small businesses preferring to focus on finding great art to match with the right client rather than publishing high-flying sales prices,” Jan de Maere, president of Cinoa, wrote in the introduction to McAndrew’s report.
As president of Cinoa, De Maere is the spokesperson for the many individual dealers he represents. His statement leaves one feeling queasy, with a sense that behind his words is a reality filled with disappointment and frustration caused by being negated.
It is no wonder.
In today’s world there is a dangerous misconception that anybody can be a “specialist” (courtesy of Google, art indices and sales results), and that discretion is nothing but a lost opportunity.
So what is the future role of the specialist antiques and art dealer? What do they offer that is unique, and how can dealers maintain a competitive edge?
According to McAndrew, specialist knowledge and dealers’ willingness to keep all details relating to a transaction (be it a sale or a purchase) out of the public sphere are still two of the most attractive attributes of this sector of the market. The challenge is not to change that, but to convince the public that offering real expertise and a modicum of discretion is an advantage, after all.
But if the world is littered with people who consider themselves “experts”, how can the prospective buyer be sure that the specialist dealer is indeed an expert?
In an industry that is largely unregulated, this is an important point. The answer is to look for accreditation – preferably by a local and an international organisation such as Cinoa.
Cinoa is a member-based organisation, which means that membership is peer judged and driven. Prospective members have to earn the respect of their fellows and are constantly monitored by each other. Its aim is to encourage high ethical standards in the trade, to disseminate practical information on the art market and to facilitate legitimate circulation of artworks throughout the world. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CINOA) Cinoa members are also legally obliged to stand by the description of the items they sell. They have no right to the “voetstoots” clause.
The local organisation affiliated to Cinoa is the South African Antique Dealers’ Association (Saada).
Saada’s code of conduct is a seven-page document that is signed by each member once his or her application for membership had been ratified.
The official website (www.saada.co.za) expounds the benefits of buying from a Saada member. These include the regulation of members’ trading activities by the code.
Member dealers are not merely expected to have specialist expertise; they are also expected to maintain a reputation of integrity and honourable trade ethics.
In order to address the needs of the ever-changing market, dealers have expanded the channels through which they sell. Instead of sitting in a gallery waiting for a prospective buyer, dealers have been forced to think out of the box and consider ways of taking their stock to the buyer.
This is done in two ways: through internet marketing and trade fairs.
Many of the world’s most successful dealers have comprehensive websites with articles, information and stock lists. Most still find that the medium of the internet is one eminently suited as a marketing tool, not necessarily as a selling one.
Yet, this is one of the areas that is expected to expand rapidly. According to McAndrew’s findings, e-retailing is expected to grow at five times the rate of traditional retail and to overtake its value by 2020.
One of her most interesting postulations concerns the expansion of the so-called event-driven marketplace. In recent years there has been an enormous growth in the number of successful international and local fairs.
She compares these fairs with the “one-room” excitement of attending a large and well-catalogued auction.
Fairs have become so successful and popular that many private dealers are reconsidering the traditional gallery system in favour of selling exclusively at fairs. The costs of running a brick-and-mortar space are but one of the considerations. Tapping into the modern client’s need to be entertained is another. This seems to be an international as well as a local trend.
CINOA is the acronym for the Confédération Internationale des Négociants en Oeuvres d’Art (or International Confederation of Art and Antiques Dealers’ Associations).
It is a Brussels-based, non-profit dealer organisation representing about 5 000 of the top individual art and antique dealers from 32 affiliated art and antiques associations in 22 countries. It was founded in 1935.
The report compiled by Dr Clare McAndrew for Cinoa is entitled The Role of the Art and Antiques Dealer – An Added Value: Historical and Future Perspectives.
* Jo-Marie Rabe is a cultural historian and she co-owns Piér Rabe Antiques in Stellenbosch.
Memo From Miami | What to Do at the Fair
Wed 5 Dec
By KEVIN MCGARRY DECEMBER 4, 2012
Jet-set snowbirds, unite: it’s that time again, the week that promises to occupy every inch of Miami — well, a few relatively small affluent neighborhoods, at least — with steroidal event planning, loco brand collaborations and a bona fide smorgasbord of art. It’s Art Basel Miami Beach, and anticipation for 2012’s slate of trade fairs and revelry may only be matched by a universal desire not to hear the question “are you going to Miami?” again until this time next year.
Though there are 19 art fairs in total by popular count, “the fair” refers to only one: Art Basel Miami Beach, the 11th edition of which previews on Wednesday at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Then, a day later, the most consistent alternative to ABMB, the NADA Art Fair, will celebrate its 10th anniversary, at the Deauville Hotel. Shaking up the margins is Untitled, and like an errant 2008 presidential primary cutting ahead of Iowa and New Hampshire, this tent-based upstart on the beach at 13th Street held its V.I.P. vernissage yesterday. With names like Pulse, Seven, Scope, Aqua, Pool and Ink, taken together, some of the remaining fairs could be confused for nightclub listings, and maybe this is fitting given that velvet rope law is absolute in Miami Beach.
Of course there are also parties on the docket. While he may not have much to celebrate as of late, Jeffrey Deitch’s Wednesday shindig, co-hosted by Vanity Fair at the Raleigh (an event that predates his tenure as director of LA MOCA), will happen again, with music provided by the Swedish singer-songwriter Lykke Li, among others. Having made a splash last year in the dunes behind Soho Beach House, with a barbecue fit not only for royalty but for venture capitalists, Art.sy will host its sophomore party that same night, this year presented by Chanel. While invites to Visionaire’s Thursday bash at the new SLS Hotel, with Net-a-Porter, should be as hard to come by as ever, the core entertainment will suspend the restrictions of capitalism; it’s a “Free Store” organized by the artist Jonathan Horowitz, where guests can donate and/or pick up personal objects at will. Rounding off the week, MoMA PS1 and Volkswagen may have come up with an ingenious solution to crowding as well as to karma — their event on Friday at the Delano, with D.J. sets by Chromeo and Animal Collective, is a benefit for those affected by Hurricane Sandy, with $100 tickets and $1,000 V.I.P. passes benefiting the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance. (With the exception of the Sandy benefit, all of these happenings are strictly invite only.)
If you bemoan a lack of commerce-free substance during the Miami art fairs, well, don’t. Area museums are opening a new season of exhibitions: Bill Viola at MOCA North Miami; Josiah McElheny at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens; and six solo projects at the Bass Museum of Art. Today in the Design District, the artist-run nonprofit Bas Fisher Invitational inaugurates a show touting the cyber chic work of (mostly European) young artists like Simon Denny, Timur Si-Qin, Anne de Vries and Absolute Vitality Inc. (Keller/Kosmas). The fifth and final “It Ain’t Fair,” organized by the Los Angeles gallery OHWOW, moves to a warehouse on the beach; from Thursday evening on it will be filled with art made by flashy bad boys and girls: Nate Lowman, Laurel Nakadate, Terry Richardson and James Franco, to name a few. In addition, the gallery’s pirate radio station Know Wave Radio will be enlisting special guests, from Mykki Blanco to Cat Power. Then there is ABMB’s roster of extra-curatorial programming, which includes ample talks, films and performances, among them “Bliss,” an outdoor dusk-to-dawn screening (beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday) of the Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson’s 12-hour re-creation of the final scene of “The Marriage of Figaro.” And overhead all week will be Plane Text, a collaboration between Morgans Hotel Group and Van Wagner Communications to fly artist-authored aphorisms — by the likes of Jenny Holzer, Ed Ruscha, Sol LeWitt and a dozen others — over the beach, dragged by the sorts of small planes that typically advertise bottle service and cruises.
While Jennifer Rubell’s popular breakfast installation held at her family’s collection in the Design District seems to have gone AWOL this year, the kooky culinary collaborative outfit Kreëmart will be on hand at the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation collection Saturday morning, presenting Carlos Garaicoa’s “Sweet and Safe”: a trenchant, chocolate-fueled pantomime of banking (open to the public with limited capacity). As ever, excess as entertainment is expected.
An Aid Program for Hard-Hit New York Galleries
Wed 7 Nov
By ALLAN KOZINN
As art galleries and museums on the East Coast come to terms with loss and damage to their collections by Hurricane Sandy, a trade group, the Art Dealers Association of America, has assembled an aid program that will help New York City galleries that have been hardest hit by the flooding. The group, which was founded in 1962 and has 175 members in 25 cities, announced on Tuesday that it would provide grants and loans to galleries in Zone A – including those that are not members of the organization – that have been unable to conduct business since the hurricane.
The association’s guidelines say that to be considered galleries must show that they have had “catastrophic damage that prohibits gallery business, drastically impaired cash flow and demonstrated risk of a business’s permanent closure.”
An oversight committee will administer the grants and loans from an initial fund of $250,000. The association is planning a fund-raising campaign to increase that amount. Sara Fitzmaurice, a spokeswoman for the association, said that the first of the disbursements could be made this week. More information will be made available on the association’s Web site, artdealers.org, or by contacting the organization by e-mail at email@example.com, or by telephone, (212) 488-5550.
In a statement, the association said it hopes “that this injection of resources will speed the recovery and assist the entire gallery community in restoring this vital component of cultural life in New York City.”
ARTISTS RESALE ROYALTIES ADAPTED AND ADOPTED IN AUSTRALIA
Wed 7 Nov
(An edited version of this article which was published in the Antiques Trade Gazette Nov. 2012 can be downloaded)
Nov 2012 written by Jolyon Warwick James
Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973) is credited with saying :- “Good artists copy, great artists steal”. We can assume he was referring to what people do on canvass, in metalwork, with dead sharks, and used underwear etc. But would he have been aware how applicable his words might be, not just to artists, but to politicians as “art sale regulators”? Are Australian politicians, in this regard, good or great? Did they copy or steal ARR (a term most find easier to pronounce than “Droit de Suite”). Is the Australian model of ARR effective or not?
Given that the Australian Government has already embraced ARR and it is already in place (since 2010), let us look at how successfully it has been adapted to local circumstances. These certainly differ from those in Europe, in particular Britain, in a number of ways. Firstly, art works do not reach the intergalactic levels found in Europe, the US and increasingly in China. Secondly, Australia is not competing with other centres as a world clearing house for works of art. Thirdly there is the issue that ARR was introduced largely on the back of the belief that indigenous artists did not receive a fair share of the benefits of the work they created, and more generally that many artists, often described as “struggling” to make a living, were inadequately rewarded. The rewards (profits) accruing to the art dealers, traders and auction houses were often touted as disproportionate to the returns to the creator of the artworks themselves.
Let’s look at the first issue of the values of Art works. In Australia, ARR is paid to living artists and to the heirs up to 70 years after an artist’s death. It is only levied from the second sale. It is not charged on the first transaction which takes the work out of the hands of the artist. This differs from Europe where a first sale charge occurs, but where an exemption can be obtained on sales less than € 10,000. In Australia, there is no cap or sliding scale on the royalties which run at 5% of the sale price, the collection agency taking 10% of what is collected. This only applies to sales where an art market professional (dealer, auctioneer etc) is involved. Sales between two private individuals do not attract ARR. As art works in Australia do not regularly go for more than € 1 million (approximately A$ 1.25 million), royalties applicable would rarely exceed € 45,000 (a bit over A$ 56,000). The Australian Government does not have to ponder a heady “Picasso situation” where, say, an € 80 million work would reap the heirs a € 3.6 million windfall. (No doubt the Picasso heirs would wish they lived under an Australian model of ARR). Thus the “moderating factor” of a cap and a sliding scale on ARR, deemed appropriate in Europe, appears less necessary under current circumstances in Australia. It is a country that accepts the notion of inheritances so, it is argued, why not get something out of the artistic labours of grandad or grandma? In this regard the Australian model of ARR is “Fit for purpose” you might argue (at least for the present).
The second difference Australia experiences, is that it is not competing with other centres as a world clearing house for art works. Theoretically business is not, therefore, driven elsewhere or lost to others not applying ARR. However it has been noted that some art works were shipped from Australia to New Zealand for a while (and this may still be going on) in order to somehow avoid ARR which has yet to be implemented in New Zealand. This activity is unlikely to have a major economic impact or create ripples on the clearing of art works around the world.
It is the third issue that presents problems. Collection and distribution in Australia is by a single agency, CAL - a “not for profit company limited by guarantee”. The company tendered for the five year contract which will be reviewed in due course. Collection is effectively compulsory. It is possible for beneficiaries to “opt out” on a case by case basis provided they know that a relevant art work has been sold somewhere. Here in lies the first problem. An art work is sold, ARR collected then the agency has to find to whom it is to be paid. Apart from the problem of unsigned works there is the issue of the indigenous artist. He or she is often on a reserve or in a community, frequently with a very different demographic to other artists who leave a much larger foot print for being traced (telephone numbers, street addresses, business registration etc). In the case of heirs this is further complicated by very different indigenous family and community social structures. It is to be remembered that these were the very people for whom ARR was primarily introduced to benefit. Clearly making ARR an “opt in” scheme vastly reduces costly and time consuming search-and-locate missions by the collection agency. Government money would be well spent encouraging artists to register (“opt in”); rather than its agency using resources often chasing shadows.
What happens when an artist cannot be traced and collected funds are undistributable? After six years of diligent searching by the agency, the money is returned to the payer less the 10% administration fee but, interestingly, with interest (another difference from Britain)! One hopes the money is keenly invested and the interest is compound!. If the original payer of six years ago is then not found the money may be retained by the agency for administration purposes. It seems most likely that this will be an undesirably and unnecessarily large sum, for reasons outlined above. It would be almost zero if the scheme were “opt in”. This seriously questions the existing system’s efficiency.
Finally there is the issue of the threshold for payment. This stands at sales of A $ 1000 or more. This means sums as low as around € 36 will be payable to beneficiaries (agency commission € 4). This is hardly an economic proposition or good business practice in terms of collection costs. With regard to an A$1000 threshold, it would seem the system is not efficient or effective.
The Australian Antiques and Art Market Federation (AAAMF) has lobbied on both issues. It seeks an “opt in” system and a threshold of $ 10,000 (approx € 8,000, commission € 40). It remains to be seen if the Australian government’s review in mid 2013 will take this on board. One thing claimed is that because the Australian collection agency is accountable to government, there will be more transparency than there apparently is in Britain. We are promised all facts and figures. We await with interest – compound of course. .
What might Picasso say to all this? He is also quoted as saying. “I'd like to live as a poor man with lots of money”. So would he have cared about ARR? Presumably his heirs do – very much.
Jolyon Warwick James runs an Antique Silver Business in Australia, is President of the AAADA (NSW Chapter), Board member of CINOA and Chairman of AAAMF . tel 61 2 93261319 e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Chelsea, Art Epicenter, Drowns in Hurricane’s Floodwaters
Wed 31 Oct
By Katya Kazakina on October 31, 2012
Art dealer Marc Jancou, his jeans soaked to the knees, stood outside his gallery on West 24th Street in Chelsea supervising a clean-up brigade wielding mops and buckets.
A walk through New York’s epicenter of contemporary art on Tuesday afternoon revealed wide-spread damage. The floodwaters of Hurricane Sandy smashed walls, ravaged office spaces and destroyed artworks.
Next door to Jancou, the water rose some three feet at Susan Inglett Gallery, puddling into a large pond.
With power out all over Chelsea, galleries resorted to flashlights for illumination.
“This is like a disaster zone,” said Jancou. “Everyone was flooded. Everyone has lost so much art.”
Art dealers and handlers scrambled to move artworks into dry areas. People scooped water by buckets and large garbage bins.
“It’s bad,” said Rachel Churner, who opened Churner and Churner gallery on Tenth Avenue a year-and-a-half ago. Wet cardboard and paintings in bubble wrap piled up on the sidewalk in front of the entrance.
“I’ve probably lost $100,000 worth of art. Our basement is wet all the way to the ceiling,” she said. Churner said the gallery is insured. But she feared “that there’s some act of God or hurricane clause.”
On West 19th Street, Klemens Gasser & Tanja Grunert gallery, which has an exhibition space on the basement level, was completely flooded.
“It’s all under water,” said Erika Burgos, who has been with the gallery for 10 years, pointing her flashlight at the flooded staircase leading downstairs. She said she managed to save a few pictures.
Across the street, at David Zwirner, art handlers were moving paintings to dry ground. The watermark from flooding was visible on the doors and walls several feet from the ground. It was the same story at Paula Cooper and Gagosian galleries on West 21st Street, where a giant Henry Moore sculpture, in protective wrapping, could be seen through the window.
The true damage will take “a long time to shake out,” said art dealer Leo Koenig. “It brings tears to my eyes. I don’t care about the damage to the gallery. That’s fixable. The irreplaceable art that has been lost -- that’s the worst of it.”
Art dealer Margaret Thatcher, who operates a gallery on West 23rd Street, pointed to a folder of approximately 40 drawings for an upcoming exhibition. Priced at $5,000 each, all were soaked.
“They are all destroyed,” she said. “We need federal funding, this is a devastated area.”
New York Auction Houses Must Reveal Consignor's Name to Buyer
Thur 25 Oct
by David Hewett
The opinion rendered by the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department on September 19 was explicit and to the point: “While it may be true that auction houses commonly withhold the names of consignors..., this Court is governed not by the practice in the trade, but by the relevant statute....”
The ruling had the immediate effect of reversing the New York State Supreme Court decision that awarded a $402,398 sum to William J. Jenack Estate Appraisers & Auctioneers. The decision was delivered by Justice Peter B. Skelos; Justices John M. Leventhal, Ariel E. Belen, and Sheri S. Roman concurred.
Its long-term effect, if it is not overturned by the highest court in New York’s legal system, the court of appeals, could be monumental. Auction houses could no longer keep the names of consignors secret. That element of the auction industry has been an integral part of the business for as long as anyone now living can recall.
Consignors welcome anonymity for a variety of reasons. Some consignors do not want relatives and/or debtors to know they sold the family valuables. Museums and historical societies dread the fact that it may become public knowledge they’ve had to sell assets to survive. Dealers don’t want it known that they’re dumping dead stock.
The event that led to the decision began four years ago. The William J. Jenack auction house in Chester, New York, had some pretty valuable collectibles in its September 21, 2008, sale. One of them was described in ads as a “Fine Russian Silver/Enamel Covered Box with Gilt Interior, Signed I.P. Khlebnikov, 19th Century. Height 1½"; Top 2½" x 3 5/8".” It had a $4000/6000 estimate, but specialist dealers and collectors recognized the rarity of the small box made by master silversmith Ivan Petrovich Khlebnikov and jumped in with a ton of bids. When the bidding stopped, the winner at $460,000 (including buyer’s premium) was a dealer who bid by telephone and had signed an auction house form requesting that service. He was assigned bidder number 305. That man was Albert Rabizadeh of New Hyde Park, New York.
There was a problem, however. Rabizadeh, a Long Island, New York, dealer in Imperial Russian works of art, declined to pay his bill. Jenack sued Rabizadeh and won. The case was appealed, but the judgment was verified. Rabizadeh was ordered to pay $497,398. But that price wasn’t firm because the final figure would be determined by the amount the box brought when Jenack offered it at a second sale. When the box was reoffered, it sold for $109,250. (See the report in M.A.D., May 2010, p. 11-A.)
Jenack sought to recover $402,398 from Rabizadeh, who appealed the second court’s decision to the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division.
For those not familiar with the steps involved in paying for auction purchases, the following is a short recap. When a buyer goes to cash out with the auction clerk, he or she is presented with an invoice, memorandum, or statement of charges by the cashier. The details entered on those documents include the date of sale, bidder’s name and bidding number, a short description of the purchases and their lot number or numbers, the amount entered by a clerk as the winning bid (on a form called a “clerking sheet” in court papers), buyer’s premiums and any relevant taxes, and the total owed. Some auction houses even include a consignor’s number on the purchaser’s invoice.
If the winner is a telephone or absentee bidder, the above details are entered on the invoice that is mailed to the bidders or waiting for them when they appear at the auction gallery to pick up their purchase. On the invoice Rabizadeh was given by the Jenack firm, the consignor of the Russian box was noted as consignor #428.
According to the decision issued by the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, that invoice is not a legally recognized contract between buyer and seller under New York state law, and therefore is null and void. The appellate court decision stated that the supreme court justice who had upheld the first decision should have recognized that fact.
Rabizadeh could legally walk away from that purchase, and here’s why.
The General Obligations Law § 5-701(a)(6), covering contracts made between buyer and seller in New York, states, “Every agreement, promise or undertaking is void, unless it or some note or memorandum thereof be in writing, and subscribed by the party to be charged therewith, or his lawful agent....” (The document stating his wish to bid by telephone, signed by Rabizadeh and accepted by Jenack’s staff, satisfied that element of the General Obligations Law.)
The General Obligations Law also states: “[I]f the goods be sold at public auction, and the auctioneer at the time of sale, enters in a sale book, a memorandum specifying the nature and price of the property sold, the terms of the sale, the name of the purchaser, and the name of the person on whose account the sale was made [judges’ emphasis], such memorandum is equivalent in effect to a note of the contract or sale, subscribed by the party to be charged therewith.”
William Jenack’s attorneys, Benjamin Ostrer and Cynthia Dolan, argued that the requirement specifying the name of the person for whom they were selling was “satisfied solely by inclusion of the consignor’s assigned number on the clerking sheets.”
Wrong, the Appellate Division ruled:
“The plaintiff [Jenack] claims that it is common practice for auction houses not to disclose the names of their consignors, and that such disclosure is ‘unnecessary.’ While it may be true that auction houses commonly withhold the names of consignors..., this Court is governed not by the practice in the trade, but by the relevant statute, which it is bound to apply in accordance with the foregoing rules of construction. In that regard, the statute clearly and unambiguously requires that the ‘name of the person on whose account the sale was made’... [emphasis added by the justices] be provided in the memorandum, which plainly means that the memorandum must contain information revealing the identity of that party.”
In common-day parlance, the justices’ decision meant that for the sale to be binding on the buyer, the name of the seller must be included in some part of the invoice, memorandum, bill of sale, clerking sheet, or other document given to the buyer at point of sale. Numbers alone weren’t enough. Indeed, the decision ruled in succinct terms: “A number placed upon the clerking sheets by the auctioneer cannot constitute a valid signature.”
The previous court decisions validating Jenack’s attempts to recover damages from Rabizadeh were therefore overturned by the appellate court decision of September 19. It’s obvious that the appellate court decision, if left uncontested, could cause havoc in the New York auction community.
There is one higher court in the New York state legal system, the court of appeals, to which the appellate decision will be appealed, William Jenack told us on October 2. The court of appeals consists of seven justices, who are appointed by the governor to 14-year terms. The court at this level generally focuses on broad issues of law as distinguished from individual disputes.
When we spoke with Jenack, he confirmed that he and his attorney had made the decision to appeal the ruling. “It’s such an unusual ruling, even bizarre, that the decision to take it to a higher court was not difficult,” he said.
The potential effects of the ruling on the auction scene in New York led Christie’s to join Jenack in the appeal process. When asked how Christie’s became involved, Jenack replied, “They contacted us. It’s that important an issue.”
Some of those issues include the following. If the New York state law regulating contracts between buyer and seller required the auctioneer to identify the consignor of a lot to its purchaser at the point of sale, would consignors flee to out-of-state auction firms? Could an unhappy buyer return a purchase and demand his or her money back because the consignor’s name was missing from the invoice?
Has the decision caused the Jenack firm to change its invoice system and to include the consignors’ names on invoices? “Oh, no,” Jenack replied, “we still don’t do that. The privacy of our consignors is very important to us.”
The justices of the appellate court appeared aware of the situation their ruling placed on the auction industry in New York state and included the following paragraph in their decision:
“To the extent that the requirement in General Obligations Law § 5-701(a)(6) that the memorandum contain the name of, rather than an assigned number for, ‘the person on whose account the sale was made’ may be at odds with the general industry practice, and may be burdensome to consignors or auction houses or both, a change in the law to eliminate that requirement may be warranted. However, consideration of the propriety of that change is not for the courts, but rests with the Legislature.”
The ball is in your court, the justices appear to have told the trade. If the auction houses of New York state do not like the burden of informing every buyer at auction of the name of the consignor, then the law must be changed.
Originally published in the November 2012 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2012 Maine Antique Digest
Battle for private selling shows
Thur 25 Oct
Auction houses are vying for supremacy with art dealers by holding more exhibitions, and adjusting their business models accordingly
By Georgina Adam. Market, Issue 239, October 2012
Published online: 17 October 2012
Zadok Ben-David, Midnight Dance, 2012, in Singapore’s Botanic Gardens
For years now, the major auction houses have been going head to head with art dealers as part of their ongoing battle for supremacy. They have increasingly been throwing their considerable weight behind private treaty sales, in direct competition with galleries, and this part of their business has been growing strongly. Now they are ratcheting up the competition with another foray into dealer territory: private selling shows.
These are very much like what you would see in a gallery, and their number and global scope is increasing fast. Sotheby’s inaugurated what it calls a “dedicated private sale exhibition gallery”, called S|2, in its York Avenue headquarters in New York last year, and has held six exhibitions there since. In September, the art adviser Josh Baer, who runs the Baer Faxt newsletter, organised a show of 26 works by Californian artists at S|2. This month, in its Rockefeller premises, Christie’s unveils a show of paintings by artists working in New York in the 1970s. It has been organised by Robert Pincus-Witten and includes work by Susan Rothenberg, Richard Artschwager and Jo Baer—coincidentally, the mother of Josh Baer.
The increasing importance of all of this is illustrated by the announcement earlier this year that Christie’s chairman of post-war and contemporary art, Amy Cappellazzo, is taking on an “expanded role” in private sales; she says that “other top people in the firm are also focusing more on this aspect of the business”.
If the auction houses are putting more emphasis on this source of revenue, it is because income from classic auctioneering has fallen—at least at Sotheby’s, which reported a decrease of 42% in net income in the first half of 2012, and perhaps also at Christie’s (which is not a publicly quoted company like Sotheby’s so does not have to disclose its accounts). Both houses are constantly exploring new ways of making money, and Christie’s is also bolstering its online-only platform, with a sales gallery on the web. Last December, part of the Elizabeth Taylor sale was conducted online, and some of the works from the $100m sell-off by the Warhol Foundation will also be treated this way.
Christie’s notes that it has always hosted art exhibitions—even as far back as 1761, when members of the Society of Arts showed at “Mr Christie’s” in London. Phillips de Pury has held 25 selling exhibitions since 2005. But the number of selling shows at all auction houses has stepped up since 2011. According to Caroline Sayan, the international managing director of private sales at Christie’s: “We see them as an opportunity to use our space, which is not always busy with auctions, and as a way to engage clients throughout the year.”
As for online sales, she says they are a “marketing platform” used as a way to “reach a larger audience”. Christie’s is keen to connect with a younger demographic, which is more comfortable buying online, particularly in the contemporary art field. Its “private sales online gallery” this season offers works in the $250,000 to $1m range. Sotheby’s does not have a comparable venture, but Alex Platon, its head of private sales, says: “We are working towards this.”
Sotheby’s and Christie’s are clam-like about how much they are earning from these selling shows, refusing to separate them from their private sales totals. Sotheby’s reported $513m in private sales in the first half of 2012, making commission revenues of $41.5m on them. Christie’s says private treaty sales made £413.4m ($665m) in the first half of 2012, an increase of 53% on the same period last year. In both firms, private sales now represent more than 18% of turnover.
Platon says that private selling shows are “growing fast”. “We are putting more resources and more time into them, and this is bearing fruit,” he says. “We will continue to invest in this area.” Asked why the firm is so reluctant to give prices, he says: “In these shows, we operate along the same guidelines as dealers”—and it must be admitted that art galleries are often as tight-lipped. And, Platon says, “we have more flexibility on commission when working in the private sales arena”.
One question that could be asked is whether these new selling platforms will eviscerate the core business of auctioneering. Sayan says that the material offered online is “fresh, well-priced and attractive”. So why not put it into auction? “Our clients have differing needs; we discuss it with them, they make the choice,” she says. Platon defends the shift in platforms. “It’s absolutely not true that they cannibalise the market. The market is big enough.” Asked what will happen if the market shrinks, he says: “We will readjust.”
Art dealers are resigned if by no means thrilled by all of this. James Roundell, the chairman of the Society of London Art Dealers, says: “This does cause a lot of disquiet, but the art market is not static, and this is all part of how the auction houses have diversified over the past 15 years. What is confusing for buyers is a lack of transparency over who they are actually dealing with when they buy from an auction house today—is it acting as an auctioneer, an agent, an owner of a work of art or a dealer?”
Lucy Mitchell-Innes, the president of the American Art Dealers’ Association, notes: “The auction houses still have had no impact in the primary market, which continues to be about the relationship between artists and their gallerists, who nurture the careers of their artists and service their needs. An auction house may have a broad reach, but it is certainly not as deep.”
“The market has been expanding so much, and some of the major dealers have expanded as well. The art market is an industry like others; it’s a competitive situation,” Amy Cappellazzo says. “The internet has transformed it. I realised some time ago that we are not an auction house, we’re an art business: being just an auction house is old-fashioned.”
Fine Art Asia 2012 - Post Fair report
Thur 25 Oct
Held from 4-7 October, Hong Kong Convention & Expo Centre
Sales up by 10% on last year, and a 25% increase in attendance, make the
most successful edition yet of Asia’s premier international Art & Antiques
Over 90 of the world’s most renowned galleries, a sophisticated new layout,
and an affluent crowd eager to view and buy, contributed to Fine Art Asia
2012 being voted the best edition yet of the fair.
The 8th edition saw the highest quality of exhibits ever seen under one roof
anywhere in Asia. Fine Art Asia 2012 showcased a total of over 6,000
exquisite works of art, and was attended by 24,750 visitors from all over
the world, an increase of 25% over last year.
Total sales at the fair were a robust HK$410 million (US$52.6 million), up
10% from last year. Asian antiques such as bronzes, Chinese furniture,
porcelain, jades and scholar’s objects attracted the usual high buying
level, with many major pieces sold, including a set of four Tathagatas
paintings from Tibet, dating from around 1300, which were sold by London
gallery Rossi & Rossi for a price in excess of US$2,000,000. (Only one other
group from this period are known.)
As usual, Fine Art Asia 2012 was staged at the peak of the important art
season in October in Hong Kong and coincided with Sotheby’s auctions in the
same venue. The fair attracted a sophisticated and appreciative audience of
major dealers, collectors, curators, connoisseurs and art enthusiasts from
throughout Asia as well as from all over the world.
In the Modern Art section, a display of works by Monet, Sisley, Miró,
Picasso and contemporary artists at Gladwell & Company, London proved a
major draw for visitors to the fair, with encouraging sales reported.
Galerie L’Angélus, France, showing a delightful exhibition of Barbizon
School paintings for the first time at Fine Art Asia, sold five paintings;
while Albermarle Gallery, London sold seven oil paintings by the
hyper-realist Italian artist, Luciano Ventrone. Over in the jewellery
section, Symbolic & Chase, London reported a six-figure sale in US dollars
to a Hong Kong client; while there was tremendous interest at Siegleson, New
York, showing antique estate jewellery pieces made by the most renowned
designers for royalty and Hollywood stars.
Floris van der Ven, Director, Vanderven Oriental Art,The Netherlands,
exhibiting Chinese antiques said: “Exhibiting here for the second time, I am
pleasantly surprised by the huge improvement in the layout of the fair. The
level of exhibitors is again higher than last year…Hong Kong is the most
important platform in Asia for doing business in antiques. Fine Art Asia
plays a vital role here, because this is the fair that has the highest
quality of dealers in Asia.”
Andy Hei, founder and director of Fine Art Asia, said: “Hong Kong has now
entered a new era in the buying and selling of fine art and antiques. This
year’s fair represents an unrivalled concentration of specialist and
prestigious dealers who can cater to the rapidly expanding number of
knowledgeable and appreciative collectors we now see in Asia.”
“Hong Kong is the centre of the art market in Asia and plays a vital role in
the global art market. Fine Art Asia provides the perfect platform for
international galleries to do business with collectors from all over Asia.
Western galleries exhibiting for the first time had a chance to meet new
clients, while those returning strengthened their existing client
relationships and met more potential buyers.”
FULL EDITION OF THE RELEASE IS ATTACHED.
Romanee-Conti $24,580 Bottles Lead Mixed Hong Kong Auctions
Mon 8 Oct
By Frederik Balfour on October 08, 2012
Sotheby’s (BID) five-day autumn sale got off to a mixed start during the weekend, setting a record for a Southeast Asian work and pulling another lot whose ownership was contested by a Buddhist nun.
A painting by Indonesian artist Lee Man Fong sold yesterday for HK$34.3 million ($4.4 million), the most paid for a Southeast Asian artist at auction, earning nearly three times its estimate of HK$12 million.
The work also commanded more than the most expensive Chinese contemporary painting on the same day, a work by Zhang Xiaogang that fetched HK$20.8 million, while three other of his works went unsold, as did paintings by Zeng Fanzhi and Yue Minjun.
“The results of this sale are showing some cracks in the market, with a large number of cornerstone artists’ works going unsold,” Jehan Chu, a Hong Kong adviser who runs Vermillion Art Collections, said in an interview.
The contemporary Asian sale, normally the marquis auction, raised HK$117 million with 42 out of 153 lots, making less than its presale estimate of HK$130 million. In contrast, the Southeast Asian contemporary sale earned HK$121 million, more than twice its presale estimate.
“The contemporary Chinese art market bubble has burst,” said Amalia Wirjono, sales director of Gagosian Hong Kong. “Now it’s survival of the fittest.”
Sotheby’s withdrew a painting from today’s sale by Chinese master Zhang Daqian with a high estimate of HK$12.8 million, after a Taiwanese Buddhist nun contested its ownership, saying it was originally given to her as a wedding present and didn’t belong to the seller.
“Sotheby’s takes issues of title seriously,” Kevin Ching, Sotheby’s Asia chief executive officer said. “We will not sell anything that we cannot be sure that we can pass good title to.”
Demand for wine proved resilient, with 96 percent of lots purchased in the two-day sale, raising HK$73.6 million, compared with a high estimate of HK$73 million (excluding buyer’s premium of 22.5 percent.)
The top lot of nine bottles of Romanee Conti Domaine de La Romanee-Conti 1990 sold for HK$1.7 million, or $24,580 per bottle.
Sotheby’s watch sale also takes place today, led by a Patek Philippe Sky Moon Tourbillon with a high estimate of HK$12 million.
Across town, Beijing-based China Guardian’s inaugural Hong Kong sale yesterday of Chinese painting and calligraphy, and Ming and Qing dynasty furniture earned HK$455 million, more than doubling its presale estimate of HK$185 million, with 90 percent of lots sold.
In a sale dominated by mainland Chinese buyers, the top lot was a landscape series of colored ink paintings by Chinese artist Qi Baishi painted in 1922 that sold for HK$46 million compared with a high estimate of HK$26 million.
An absence of deep-pocketed Chinese buyers was evident at Fine Art Asia, which concluded yesterday after four days.
“What’s missing is that crazy buying from coal mine owners from Shanxi and Inner Mongolia and businessmen from Wenzhou, we don’t see them this year,” said fair director Andy Hei.
(Frederik Balfour is a reporter-at-large for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)
Muse highlights include Warwick Thompson on London stage, Scott Reyburn on the art market and Elin McCoy on wine.
To contact the writer on the story: Frederik Balfour in Hong Kong at email@example.com or on Twitter @frederikbalfour.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
US art dealers make London scene a battleground
Mon 8 Oct
New York galleries are moving to the capital to attract business from wealthy 'non-doms' bringing a more corporate edge to the market
• David Batty
• The Observer, Sunday 7 October 2012
Pace gallery opened a new space in London recently. Photograph: Chris Jackson/Getty Images for Pace London
London's art scene is becoming a "battleground", with major US galleries opening new and bigger spaces in the city as they vie to attract the capital's growing numbers of ultra-rich "non-doms".
Art experts said the arrival and expansion of four New York galleries in London ahead of the Frieze Art Fair, which opens on Thursday, reflects the competition at the top end of the art market, with American dealers needing to move here to gain business from wealthy Russian, Asian and Middle Eastern collectors.
The Manhattan dealer David Zwirner, whose eponymous gallery represents 40 artists, including Dan Flavin and Thomas Ruff, has now opened a 10,000 sq ft gallery in a Georgian townhouse in Grafton Street, Mayfair, its first outside the US.
Pace gallery, which represents 70 artists, including the estate of Mark Rothko, has opened a second, 9,000 sq ft London space in the Royal Academy's 6 Burlington Gardens, in addition to its existing outpost in Soho. Skarstedt Gallery, which has artists including George Condo and Keith Haring, will open a 2,500 sq ft space on Old Bond Street on Wednesday.
The Michael Werner gallery, which represents artists including Georg Baselitz and Peter Doig, opened last month on two floors of a Mayfair townhouse in Upper Brook Street. Its London director, Kadee Robbins, said the move reflected that the capital has "a very wealthy, very savvy international community" of collectors.
As the gallerists feared in 2010, when Pace announced its intention to expand into London and Hauser & Wirth opened a new gallery in Savile Row, the established London galleries selling contemporary art now face a big challenge from foreign rivals on their own doorstep.
Judd Tully, a New York-based writer for Art+Auction magazine, said: "Essentially, what the richer galleries are doing is establishing new beachheads in London to find new collectors from Russia, Asia and the Middle East who are more comfortable there than in New York."
Nearly a third of London's 5,955 inhabitants who have a net worth of more than $30m (£18.5m) are non-doms, according to Wealth-X, a company that compiles data on the super-rich. Billionaire art collectors with homes in the capital include Lakshmi Mittal (net worth: £9.8bn), Roman Abramovich (£7.5bn) and Victor Pinchuk (£2.6bn).
Tully said the globalisation of the art market meant that New York galleries were no longer as likely to limit their expansion to the west coast of America. Big-name artists now want a global audience for their work and would jump ship to rival galleries to gain it.
He added that major US galleries also hoped to emulate the success of Larry Gagosian, considered the most powerful art dealer in the world, who has 12 galleries worldwide, including two in London. Pace has seven locations worldwide, including a space in Beijing, while Werner also has two galleries in Germany and one in New York.
Tully said: "Dealers don't want to lose artists because another dealer has opened a gallery in London. It's a major threat to Zwirner; he absolutely needs to expand to Europe because of the danger of his artists being poached. He's not lost an artist to another dealer except Franz West to Gagosian. Pace is a much older blue-chip gallery, but they're also forced to open [in London] because Gagosian would eat up a bunch of their artists."
Gagosian's latest addition is a 17,760 sq ft space in a former factory redesigned by French "starchitect" Jean Nouvel in Le Bourget near Paris. It opens this month with an exhibition by Anselm Kiefer – in competition with Austrian dealer Thaddaeus Ropac, who announced six months earlier that his new gallery would open at the same time with a show by the German painter and sculptor.
Several of the artists whom Zwirner represents, including Marlene Dumas and Chris Ofili, already have London galleries. Its London director, Angela Choon, said they will respect the relationships those artists already have with London galleries and focus on exhibiting other artists. Their opening exhibition is new work by Luc Tuymans, who has not shown in London since 2004.
Michael Werner opens with an exhibition of new paintings by Peter Doig, who is already represented here by Victoria Miro. Kadee Robbins said: "I hope we just leave it to the artists to see the best resolution for them."
New York-based art adviser Wendy Cromwell predicted that some of the larger London galleries may be upgrading their real estate. "The art world has become very event driven. There's a certain class of collector whom these galleries are going after who like to be seen at openings, at the Frieze Art Fair, who think bigger is better and more is more," she said.
Tully added: "It will be good for the London market to wake up, because the Americans are invading."
Several London galleries have recently moved to bigger spaces. Blain Southern is moving this week from Dering Street to a larger Mayfair space on Hanover Square. The not-for-profit David Roberts Art Foundation last month opened its new 12,000 sq ft space in Camden.
However, smaller Modern and impressionist galleries, such as those already under threat from two major property redevelopments on Cork Street, could find themselves squeezed as the competition among contemporary galleries intensifies.
Bernard Jacobson, whose eponymous gallery is one of the 11 under threat on the Mayfair street, said the developers' heads had been turned by the US galleries and that they planned to build fewer but larger art spaces in an attempt to attract big names. "They think they're going to sell 10,000 sq ft units to the likes of the Gagosian."
Cromwell said: "I could see them being forced out. Few if any of those galleries have street-level space in New York and what's happened here is really an indication of what is happening in London."
Harry Blain, co-owner of Blain Southern, who is considered one of Britain's most powerful art dealers, said the New York galleries' London expansion would enhance the city's reputation as a global art destination.
Curator and academic Andrew Renton, the director of Marlborough Contemporary, a new gallery opened on the second floor of long-established Marlborough Fine Art in Mayfair, said: "It confirms where we are as the central location in the world for contemporary and modern art. London has had a dynamic art scene for 20 years, but not necessarily a dynamic art market. Now we've got both."
• This article was amended on 7 October 2012. The original piece conflated David Zwirner's and Pace's roster of artists. Zwirner represents 40 artists. Pace represents 70 artists, including the estate of Mark Rothkohttp://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2012/oct/07/us-art-dealers-london-scene
The World’s Best Booksellers Meet in Switzerland at the 24th ILAB International Antiquarian Book Fair
Wed 5 Sept
The 24th ILAB International Antiquarian Book Fair presents the best of the trade: from manuscripts and incunabula to avant-garde, from Erasmus, Philipp Melanchthon and Charles Darwin to Leonardo da Vinci, Pablo Picasso, DADA and the Bauhaus artists. Together with the
Fine Art Zurich, this most important event, supported by the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB), will change Zurich into the international market place for everything rare, extravagant and beautiful....
To read more download document
How the West can look East
Mon 23 July
25 June 2012 - Written by Antique Trade Gazette Reporter
On the rostrum with him were Bonhams' deputy chairman and Global Head of Asian Art, Colin Sheaf, IP specialist lawyer Ben Goodger, of Edwards Wildman, Director of Hong Kong Fair Fine Art Asia, Andy Hei and Kate Bryan, Head of Contemporary Art at The Fine Art Society.
All have extensive experience working in Hong Kong and China and gave some valuable insights into how to go about business there, as well as what to expect in future. Fuller biographical details for each appear at the bottom of this article.
The audience at the event on June 12 heard how China should not be considered as a single nation with a single people, but as a civilisation comprised of a large number of different groups. Mainlanders, Hong Kong Chinese, Western-based Chinese and Taiwanese all have different views and attitudes, advised the panel.
Key considerations also included 'Guanxi', the system of building business relationships, what motivates buyers, how they see the market and cultural differences evident in attitudes to what the West may see as fakes, but the Chinese as tribute pieces.
Colin Sheaf noted that Guanxi can be a mixed blessing. "It's an extremely tight relationship and if you're not within that circle, it will give somebody else an advantage that you don't enjoy. It's not a way of doing business that we understand in quite the same way in the West."
Kate Bryan emphasised that the West often suffered under the misconception that there was a lack of knowledge about Western art and culture in China. "There is a great risk in not understanding that there are quite a few collectors who are highly knowledgeable," she told the audience. This can be especially important when it comes to the vital question of face. "You can unwittingly insult someone's intelligence, which can then become a matter of saving face," she said.
Clarity of Contracts
On the sensitive matter of contracts and business deals, Ben Goodger thought that simple buying and selling contracts were generally fairly straightforward, but what is particularly important is clarity of terms. "Keep it very, very clear," he advised, and "discuss some 'what if' scenarios."
Contracts should always be written down rather than verbal, he also said. It doesn't have to be a long contract, just clear with, importantly, an accurate translation into Chinese.
As for enforcement of contracts, he confirmed it is a real problem. The Chinese tend to avoid litigation because it risks confrontation and loss of face. Mediation is key to resolving disputes, he concluded.
Colin Sheaf, meanwhile, looked at jurisdiction. Enforcing English law in China is difficult but can be done, he said, although it can be very expensive to do so. In reality, Western businesses need to be realistic, he advised. The best thing to do is ensure a sound business relationship to start with rather than trying to solve problems after a deal has gone wrong. "There have to be fairly robust safeguards in place right from the beginning," he told the audience.
Andy Hei focused on trades between dealers and clients and advised against taking deposits on deals "because Chinese customers will then think they own the object and it can take months to conclude the deal".
There were different shades of opinion in how Chinese tastes may develop and whether or not the future would see a demand for mainstream Western fine and decorative arts.
Chinese Contemporary art is greatly sought after, and there is some evidence of demand for other Contemporary art, but it is not clear whether this is for collecting or investment purposes.
As Colin Sheaf noted, however, there was still little demand in the East for Chinese Export wares. With this in mind, it was difficult to see how taste would spread to European furniture and ceramics, for instance, in the short term.
Andy Hei, while agreeing with this, thought that as new generations of collectors emerged, they might be more open to acquiring a wider range of art and antiques.
The panellists also gave some insight into what the key considerations are in developing business contacts in Hong Kong or mainland China, or even setting up a business there.
Business in Hong Kong
What became clear is that all speakers considered doing business in and from Hong Kong was the way ahead. Tax, bureaucracy, culture and market sophistication make it a far more attractive option than setting up in mainland China, it seems.
Ben Goodger gave some detail on the options for setting up a business in mainland China and talked about the 'WOFE' or wholly owned foreign enterprise. These limited liability vehicles allow businesses to operate subsidiaries in China while protecting IP and technology, and they can enjoy less stringent currency controls than domestic firms.
Colin Sheaf explained that setting up mainland China operations for auction houses such as Bonhams, Sotheby's and Christie's, was 'intimidating' because, apart from other considerations, any joint venture could compromise an auction house's ability to guarantee the lots that they offered.
Kate Bryan added that developing institutional links should be at the centre of any business plan for galleries setting up in the Far East. "In 2012 there will be more than 200 new museums opening in mainland China," she revealed. "Developing relationships with curators and those institutions will be essential if you intend to be there for the long term."
In summary, building close relationships with clients, developing knowledge of the culture and language, understanding the issue of 'face' and being clear and respectful in all dealings are the vital components of succeeding in business in Hong Kong and China.
Colin Sheaf, an authority on Asian ceramics and Asian art and head of Asian art at Bonhams and chairman of Bonhams Asia, directs teams in London, Hong Kong, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Having developed Christie's business in Hong Kong during the 1980s, he played a leading role in the great shipwreck sales of the 1980s and '90s. In November 2011, he achieved the highest price during the London Asian art auction series when he sold a Qianlong vase for £8m hammer, as well as seeing Bonhams pass both Christie's and Sotheby's for the total amount taken in the series for the first time.
Outside Bonhams, Colin has been most excited by his involvement as one of the two trustees of the Percival David Foundation, the greatest collection in private hands in the western world of Imperial Chinese ceramics. (www.bonhams.com)
Andy Hei is the second generation of the Hong Kong Chinese H.L. Hei family, dealers in huanghuali and zitan furniture from the Ming and Qing dynasties for over 50 years. He established his own classical Chinese furniture gallery, Andy Hei Ltd, in Hollywood Road, Hong Kong, in 1999.
Andy's years of experience of participating in several art fairs in London and New York led him to launch the first annual Hong Kong International Asian Antiques and Arts Fair in 2006. He has developed an active fairs programme since then, culminating in Fine Art Asia, which runs each October.
A collector of Chinese paintings and works of art, as well as Asian contemporary art, he writes a special column for ATG, sharing his view on the Asian and Hong Kong art market. (www.fineartasia.com)
Kate Bryan joined the Fine Art Society in London's Bond Street as head of contemporary in 2011, having previously been gallery director of The Cat Street Gallery in Hong Kong.
During her four years in Hong Kong, Kate was responsible for bringing important international names to the HK art world, including solo shows for Sir Peter Blake, Gavin Turk, David Mach, Debbie Han and a collaboration between David Lynch and the shoe designer Christian Louboutin. She was the Hong Kong Contributing Editor for Asian Art News and World Sculpture News, as well as a regular contributor of arts and travel features for Kee Magazine, Sentinel Magazine and The South China Morning Post.
Prior to moving to Asia, Kate worked at the British Museum for five years. (www.faslondon.com)
Ben Goodger is a partner with international law firm Edwards Wildman, which has 14 offices including London, Boston, New York and Hong Kong. An intellectual property (IP) practitioner, he has over 20 years experience in advising companies on the strategic management, commercialisation and protection of their valuable IP. Ben's clients include multinational corporations, SMEs, lenders, and academic institutions. He spent two years in Shanghai, where he managed his previous firm's China business and Asia commercial IP groups, and has internationally-recognised expertise in advising on strategies for the protection, commercialisation and management of IP assets in China and Asia. Intellectual Asset Management magazine listed him in its IAM Strategy 250 - The World's Leading IP Strategists in 2009, 2010 and 2011. (www.edwardswildman.com)
The Curse of the Outcast Artifact
Mon 23 July
By RALPH BLUMENTHAL and TOM MASHBERG
Published: July 12, 2012 in the New York Times
IN the three decades since David Dewey of Minneapolis began collecting Chinese antiquities he has donated dozens to favored museums, enriching the Institute of Arts in his hometown as well as Middlebury College in Vermont, where he studied Mandarin.
But his giving days are largely over, he said, pre-empted by guidelines that most museums now follow on what objects they can accept.
“They just won’t take them — can’t take them,” Mr. Dewey said.
Alan M. Dershowitz, the Harvard law professor, is in a similar bind. An antiquities collector, he is eager to sell an Egyptian sarcophagus he bought from Sotheby’s in the early 1990s. But he is stymied, he said, because auction houses are applying tighter policies to the items they accept for consignment.
“I can’t get proof of when it came out of Egypt,” Mr. Dershowitz said.
Across the country measures taken to curb the trade in looted artifacts are making it more difficult for collectors of antiquities to donate, or sell, the cultural treasures that fill their homes, display cases and storage units.
Museums typically no longer want artifacts that do not have a documented history stretching back past 1970, a date set by the Association of Art Museum Directors, whose guidelines most institutions have adopted. Drawn up in 2008, the rules have been applauded by countries seeking to recover their artifacts and by archaeologists looking to study objects in their natural settings.
But the sweeping shift in attitudes has left collectors stuck with items they say they purchased in good faith many years ago from reputable dealers. One study found that as many as 100,000 privately owned ancient Greek, Roman and related Classical objects in the United States would be unable to pass muster with most museums.
“Objects are guilty until proven innocent,” said James J. Lally, a Manhattan dealer in Chinese art and antiquities.
Collectors and their advocates predict that museums, cultural scholarship and the items themselves will suffer as important gifts are disallowed. Kate Fitz Gibbon, a lawyer with the Cultural Policy Research Institute, warned at a March forum that museums, long reliant on the generosity of collectors, may come to regard the guidelines as a “self-administered slow poison.” “This may sound like an exaggeration,” she said. “But if we continue on this path, there may not be a next generation of collectors, donors and patrons of ancient art, not in the United States of America anyway.” There are many on the other side of the question who view Ms. Fitz Gibbon’s perspective as hyperbolic.
“Antiquities collecting destroys far more than it saves,” said Ricardo J. Elia, an archaeology professor at Boston University who specializes in the global art market. “Looting is driven by the art market, by supply and demand.”
For centuries collectors have helped define artistic taste, and their collections, whether assembled for vanity, beauty, profit or some combination thereof, have been the backbone of museums. But the antiquities trade begins, at its source, with an act of appropriation: the removal of artifacts from a native site to one where, in the case of museums, they can be more accessible to scholars and the public.
Whatever air of nobility once attached to that effort has dissipated recently as antiquities collectors are increasingly depicted as the beneficiaries of a villainous trade.
Collectors and their advocates insist the depiction is unfair, particularly when it recasts acquisitions made decades ago, when cultural sensibilities were different, as the illicit booty of indifferent rascals.
“Even objects that entirely lack history are also not necessarily smuggled or looted,” said William G. Pearlstein, a New York lawyer who advises collectors and dealers in the antiquities trade. “Many owners simply failed to keep records of their objects, which they treated like other household possessions.”
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Archaeologists scoff at the suggestion of naïveté, since collectors are typically educated, wealthy people who understand the relationship between provenance and value and are not likely to let important documents fall behind the couch.
This Olmec-era statuette owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art has a provenance dating to 1972 — not early enough for current guidelines for donations.
Amid the artifacts with undisputed provenance in the home of Alan M. Dershowitz, there is a sarcophagus for which there is no proof of when and how it left Egypt.
“Collectors know that without provenance it is impossible to know whether an object was first acquired by illegal or destructive means,” said Neil J. Brodie, an archaeologist and former director of the Illicit Antiquities Research Centre at the University of Cambridge.
Momentum for stricter guidelines has been building since a United Nations convention on looted antiquities in 1970 led to international protocols. It accelerated several years ago in the aftermath of major acquisition scandals at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and other institutions that ultimately led to the new policies drawn up by the museum directors. They strongly discourage museums from buying or accepting objects that cannot pass the 1970 test or lack an export permit from the country of origin.
On the auction side collectors and their advocates say the nation’s two largest houses, Sotheby’s and Christie’s, have tightened their policies in recent years, though Sotheby’s is currently embroiled in a dispute with Cambodia over a 10th-century Khmer statue.
Antiquities dealers say their clients feel boxed in. Randall Hixenbaugh, a Manhattan gallery owner and appraiser, said he knew a donor with good paperwork who was turned away by a museum because his dossier lacked a pre-1970 photograph showing the item in the United States. “The intention is good,” he said. “Museums are not buying objects of dubious provenance. But there are unintended consequences for objects that were here for 150 years but not documented as such.”
Several years ago the Cultural Policy Research Institute, based in Santa Fe, N.M., surveyed American collectors and museums and estimated that as many as 111,900 ancient objects from Greek, Roman, Etruscan and related cultures are in private American hands and “unprovenanced.”
Arthur A. Houghton III, president of the institute, said that if rejected by museums, these “orphaned” items will likely end up in private hands outside the country.
Mr. Houghton is a former acting curator of the Getty who resigned his post there in 1986 after accusing the museum of willfully accepting illegally excavated antiquities. Now he says the pendulum has swung too far back in a way that places significant objects “at risk of damage or destruction.”
Professor Elia dismisses talk of “orphaning” as patronizing “mythology.”
“It ignores the fact that dealing and collecting are causing looting in the first place,” he said from Spain, where he is overseeing a field study. “For every object ‘rescued’ by looters, dealers and collectors, there is a trail of destroyed sites, lost knowledge, broken artifacts and broken laws.”
Lawrence Rothfield, founder of the Cultural Policy Center at the University of Chicago and a member of Saving Antiquities for Everyone, said the study wrongly suggests the entire lot of privately owned, unprovenanced artifacts are museum worthy. “Even if the objects in question were not excluded from acquisition,” he said, “most of them would not be acquired anyway.”
What is clear is that collectors are uneasy. They worry that placing undocumented items for auction exposes them to litigation from foreign nations or perhaps a seizure effort from United States authorities acting as their agent. Many expressed their concerns at a forum in March, hosted by the Asia Society in New York and titled “The Future of the Past: Collecting Ancient Art in the 21st Century,” where collectors spoke of a “climate of fear.”
Mr. Dewey, the antiquities collector, said in an interview that he contemplated giving the Minneapolis museum an eighth-century ceramic horse from the Tang dynasty that he had bought from a Hong Kong dealer 20 years ago. But he decided not to do it because even with the paperwork from the sale, he said, he knew he would run up against the museum directors’ guidelines. “Everybody just got scared,” he said of the museum world.
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One former museum director suggested that when a museum declines a gift, it can strain relations with a longstanding benefactor. Marc F. Wilson, who oversaw the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo., from 1982 to 2010, said museums must be more careful but ought not leave benefactors feeling, in effect: “You can’t take my items? So you can’t take my $30 million either?”
Dougald O’Reilly, founder and director of Heritage Watch, a nonprofit that focuses on preserving Southeast Asian cultural heritage, sees it differently.
“In many cases collectors donate antiquities to museums for a tax break, hardly a completely altruistic act,” he said. “Why would it be objectionable to return the items to their country of origin? The oft-quoted reason is the ‘inability’ of developing countries to care for their antiquities. Surely it is time people stopped using this condescending argument.”
Despite the rhetoric, professionals on both sides are exploring ways to bridge the gulf. At the Asia Society forum Julian Raby, director of the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, urged a system under which American museums might provide funds for archaeological excavations and benefit by sharing the discoveries with host nations.
Mr. Houghton suggests creating an amnesty of sorts for collectors who post facts and photos about potentially contested artifacts on a “credible and neutral” database. If the item is not claimed after some number of years, he said, its ownership could no longer be contested.
The museum directors’ association actually hosts such a Web site and asks that museums taking in an undocumented artifact post photos and other data that can be reviewed around the world.
Patty Gerstenblith, director of the Center for Art, Museum and Cultural Heritage Law at DePaul University in Chicago, said that four years after the Web site went up the number of items posted, more than 550 this week, seems small. (Two museums account for 418 of the items.) “This raises a serious question as to whether museums are failing to post their acquisitions on the registry,” she said.
Mr. O’Reilly said he did not believe that heightened scrutiny by museums or dealers threatens to orphan a large set of objects that were lovingly collected by people with a passion for antiquity. “That implies the collectors no longer want them if they can’t give them away, which surely is not the case,” he said.
Mr. Dershowitz said that while he is disappointed, he is not distraught about his inability to sell the wooden Egyptian sarcophagus he purchased from Sotheby’s. He had sent it to Christie’s several months ago for auction, but Christie’s demurred.
“They told me it was perfectly legal to keep or sell it,” he said, “but it was not their policy to sell it unless it was absolutely documented that it left Egypt before 1970,” something he and both auction houses are unable to establish. So for now it’s in limbo.
Meanwhile, he said, he had another Egyptian sarcophagus at home in Cambridge, this one of granite, that he bought for about $35,000 from Christie’s about the same time. He isn’t even trying to sell that one. “I’m keeping that in the house,” he said, “in the hall.”
Chinese art funds on a risky road to maturity
Mon 23 July
A glut of investment products has mirrored the rise of the Chinese art market, but caution is advised
By Katie Hunt. Market, Issue 237, July-August 2012
Published online: 18 July 2012 in The Art Newspaper
The strength of the Chinese art market, the world’s leading economy for art and antiques, has spawned a parallel boom in art funds and other art-investment vehicles worth more than Rmb5.77bn ($900m), according to the Chinese-language publication Eastmoney.
There are billions more held in art-related products offered by investment trusts and art exchanges that enable people to buy and sell shares in individual works. These have been embraced by Chinese buyers keen to broaden their portfolios at a time when traditional investments are performing poorly and are increasingly subject to government restrictions.
Experts caution that many of these vehicles are loosely regulated, that they lack a legal framework and that their managers have no experience of a down market—a pressing concern, given that the World Bank is forecasting the weakest growth in 12 years, and a slowdown in China’s economy could signal leaner times for the art trade. “Art investment in China is new, and it’s very much ‘make the rules up as you go along’,” says Bobby Mohseni, the Hong Kong-based director of the art advisers MFA Asia. “It lacks a lot in terms of clarity and compliance, and it’s hard to gauge whether the level of professionalism is there.”
The explosion of art-investment vehicles has sparked concerns because they are thought to comprise a much greater percentage of the art market in China than in the US or Europe, and a run of redemptions would force the sale of a huge amount of art. Most funds operate with short maturities of around two years, which means that investors could soon be clamouring to withdraw their funds. “Eventually, [these funds] will need to sell their art to realise a return for investors, and whether they will be able to sell their art at a higher price in two or three years’ time is a very big risk,” says Ivan Shi, an analyst at the Chinese fund specialist Z-Ben Advisors in Shanghai. He says that most of the funds available focus on modern Chinese painting and calligraphy, which has enjoyed the steepest price increases in recent years.
Funds are said to be active at auctions in China and Hong Kong, and are rumoured to be behind recent records including the sale of a work by the Chinese master Qi Baishi for $65m at China Guardian in May last year.
Works bought at auction are also being sold on to art exchanges, which offer fractional ownership to individual investors. Ac¬cord¬ing to local news reports, Ren Chunxia, a woman from Jinan in eastern China, bought two oil paintings by Wu Guanzhong for HK$18.6m ($2.4m) and HK$26.4m at a Hong Kong auction held by Sotheby’s in October last year. She quickly sold the works to a new owner, who then listed them on the Taishan art exchange at prices 30% higher than those originally paid at auction, the reports say. The Chinese government recently closed down dozens of these exchanges amid fears that they were growing too fast, and it is not clear whether they will reopen.
Smoke and mirrors
A wide array of institutions offers art-related investment products, including mainstream banks, such as Minsheng Banking Corporation and China Merchants Bank, that promote art funds (as does Beijing Poly Art Investment Management, part of the auction house conglomerate). But many of China’s art-investment vehicles are operated by lightly regulated trust companies—financial institutions unique to China that combine elements of private equity, asset management and banking. In the past year, 18 domestic trust companies rolled out 45 art-trust products—more than four times the number launched in 2010. According to Ivan Shi, some of these are actually a form of loan: companies that have struggled to obtain bank loans will buy art to use as collateral. This is then packaged as an art-trust product to be sold on to rich investors with cash to spare. “It’s an easy way to get loans,” Shi says. He adds that the industry regulator, the China Banking Regulatory Commission, has, so far, not paid much attention to art-related products issued by trusts. A clamp¬down cannot be ruled out, however, and if this were the case, China could easily experience the kind of boom and bust situation that unfolded in India between 2005 and 2008 when regulators shut unregistered art funds.
Of course, there are a growing number of wealthy Chinese who are not buying art purely for speculation. But it would be unwise to ignore the role that art-investment vehicles have played in the rise of China’s art market and their potential to turbocharge any correction.
Private Sales Surge at Christie's — Will the Auction House Crowd Out Dealers?
Mon 23 July
by Shane Ferro
Published: July 18, 2012 on artinfo.com
Christie's released its global sales numbers for the first six months of the year yesterday and, perhaps unsurprisingly, reported huge increases. The auction house, increasingly looking like the big-box store of the art market, reported that it sold £2.2 billion ($3.5 million) between January and June — a 13 percent bump over the same period last year and the best first-six months for any auction house. But it's not all being driven by $87 million Rothkos. A full 20 percent of that total, £413.4 million ($661.5 million), came from behind-the-scenes private sales, including those from the Christie's-owned Haunch of Venison gallery*. The figure represents a 53 percent jump from the first six months of 2011.
The rise in auction house private sales is nothing new, but seems to be really taking off in the last couple of years, as the houses devote more and more resources to it. Just last month in London auction-goers were shocked when the top-priced Renoir at Christie's Impressionist and modern art sale was withdrawn from the sale, having been sold privately before the auction began. The house reported that the work sold for a price between its £12-18 million pre-sale estimate.
Christie's CEO Steven Murphy has stated openly that he is focused on boosting the private part of the business, as well as increasing the company's Web presence (there was also a 15 percent increase in bidders coming from the online platform Christie's Live). But as sales decrease in Asia and the market below $1 million falters, big-ticket private sales are clearly the company's cash cow. It showed as much when it announced in May it was hiring formerGagosian director John Good and that post-war and contemporary art chairman Amy Cappellazzo would be taking a more active role in the realm of private sales.
What does this mean for the rest of the art market? It's a threat to secondary market dealers, for sure, as well as the rest of us that rely on public auction house data to gauge the state of the market. And what about Christie's big rival? Sotheby's has not yet released their first-half sales, but a Wall Street Journal article published Tuesday notes the house sold only $2.44 billion, down almost 16 percent from last year. Despite that, Sotheby's is also focused on selling privately, and opened its own gallery, S2, last year to rival Christie's Haunch. The competition for private sales is likely to continue heating up.
* UPDATE: Haunch of Venison operates independently from Christie's private sales, which are done directly through the auction house. However, the revenues of the two operations are tallied together for the reported "private sales" total.
Two Arrests in China Unnerve Art World
Mon 23 July
By ANDREW JACOBS and CLARE PENNINGTON
Published: July 16, 2012 in the New York Times
BEIJING — The frothy contemporary-art scene here has lost some of its ebullience in the three and a half months since a German art handler and a Chinese associate were detained on charges that they undervalued imported art to avoid customs duties.
Gallery openings are a bit more subdued, anxious art dealers have been keeping a low profile, and several wealthy collectors have been barred from leaving China while the investigation continues. Auction house giants like Sotheby’s and Christie’s have been asked to cooperate with the authorities in what has become a wide-ranging investigation.
“Lots of people here are not going into work, or they are only using junior staff at their offices and galleries,” said a Beijing gallery director who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the tension surrounding the issue. “They can’t arrest everybody, but everyone is still nervous.”
In the meantime Nils Jennrich and Lydia Chu, employees of the art-handling company Integrated Fine Art Solutions, languish in a Beijing jail on suspicion of smuggling, a crime normally associated with the illegal importation of drugs or arms. The charges carry a maximum of a life sentence.
Mr. Jennrich, 31, the company’s general manager and a German citizen, was taken away on the evening of March 30 during a raid of the business’s Beijing offices; hours later Ms. Chu, 29, its operations manager, was summoned for questioning. Mr. Jennrich’s family and colleagues have expressed concern for his health, saying he has been forced to share a cell with 11 others. During the first days of his detention, they added, he was interrogated for 36 hours straight, a violation of Chinese law.
“It’s a living nightmare,” said Mr. Jennrich’s fiancée, Jenny Dam, who said the couple had planned to marry in May.
No trial date has been set.
The detentions have put a spotlight on the mercurial Chinese legal system and raised questions among collectors and industry executives about the potential pitfalls of China’s fast-growing art and antiques market, which last year surpassed the United States to become the world’s largest, according to the European Fine Art Foundation. The crackdown, industry professionals have warned, could dissuade Chinese collectors from bringing home art purchased abroad.
Some have privately questioned the government’s motivation, noting that Integrated Fine Art Solutions has handled the work of Ai Weiwei, the maverick artist who has earned the government’s wrath for his criticism of the ruling Communist Party. Others have suggested that the case is aimed at taking down a foreign-owned company to clear the way for a well-connected domestic player that recently began lavishly investing in the art-handling business.
“China is supposed to be a lot more integrated with the world economy,” said Jonathan Schwartz, chief executive of Atelier 4, an art logistics company based in New York. “The decision to throw someone in jail tells you that China is not really playing by similar rules as the other large nations that are dealing with culture and transit.”
The Foreign Ministry has declined to comment on the case.
Speaking from Hong Kong, the chief executive of Integrated Fine Art Solutions, Torsten Hendricks, dismissed the allegations — that the accused tried to help buyers avoid $1.6 million in import duties — saying his company does not get involved in art valuation.
“We forward, store and install artwork, that is all,” said Mr. Hendricks, who was also questioned in Beijing by the authorities but was later allowed to leave the mainland. “Determination of value, the statement of this value, is not our responsibility.”
Legal experts said that art handling firms simply work with the values provided by their clients, but that Chinese law is murky on whether individuals employed by shipping companies can be held liable for undervaluing a work.
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Nancy M. Murphy, a lawyer at the Beijing firm Jincheng, Tongda & Neal, who is advising Mr. Jennrich’s family, said she hoped that the authorities would take into consideration whether the accused personally profited from undervaluing the work in question.
Ms. Chu’s fiancé, Benoit Granier, said he found the accusations hard to fathom, given Ms. Chu’s modest life, including sharing an apartment with five others. “She’s just trying to find a way in her life,” he said.
Setting aside questions of Mr. Jennrich’s and Ms. Chu’s culpability, several industry experts say the practice of undervaluing art and antiques on Chinese customs forms is widespread. The International Convention of Exhibition and Fine Art Transporters, a trade organization, noted the problem last year in a newsletter and suggested that the practice was harmful to all involved. “There is no way around these regulations without breaking the law,” it wrote.
In China imported art is often levied with duties that can reach 35 percent of an object’s value. Many industry veterans complain of a customs process that is notoriously onerous.
International art experts acknowledge the difficulty of valuing contemporary art, noting that a wild jump in price at auction after a piece passes through customs does not necessarily suggest undervaluing at the border.
Ms. Murphy, the lawyer, said it took an experienced appraiser to know the difference between fraud and the vagaries of a white-hot art market.
She suggested that the arrests were aimed at sending a message to bigger players in the international art scene. “Kill the chicken to scare the monkey,” as she put it.
The crackdown has touched other companies and individuals. Officials have detained three Chinese citizens, including the editor of an art magazine and the chairman of an art investment company. A Chinese transport company, Noah Fine Art Shipping Agency, was forced to turn over a list of its clients, according to The Oriental Morning Post.
Given how lucrative the art market has become, Chinese authorities have a keen interest in reducing tax dodging. Last year China accounted for 41 percent of worldwide auction revenues and about 30 percent of the overall art and antiques market, according toartprice.com and the European Fine Art Foundation.
Karen Sanig, the head of art law at Mishcon de Reya, a firm based in London, said that customs authorities around the world often impose fines after accusations of undervaluing art but that they rarely use their full powers to detain suspects. “It is unusual for two agents from a shipping firm to be arrested,” she said.
Integrated Fine Art Solutions is a relatively small player in art shipping but it has high-profile clients, including the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art — one of China’s best-known museums — and it handles major international art fairs in Hong Kong and Shanghai.
A number of art professionals, speaking on the condition of anonymity out of fear of drawing unwanted attention from the authorities, have suggested that the government may simply be trying to remove the competition as it prepares to enter the lucrative art-handling business.
Two weeks before the detentions, the state-owned Beijing Gehua Cultural Development Group presided over the groundbreaking for a free-trade zone in the capital that will include an advanced art-handling warehouse. According to the state news media, Gehua is investing $785 million in the venture.
There is little precedent for the case against Ms. Chu and Mr. Jennrich, although if the recent prosecution of a Belgian Sinologist accused of smuggling an ancient sarcophagus out of China is any indication, the punishment may be stiff. In 2008 the Belgian, Kurt de Raedemaeker, was convicted of illegally exporting the relic, despite his insistence that he had obtained the necessary government permits.
He received a life sentence, but after spending some time in prison he was allowed to serve his sentence in a Beijing hotel. The former Belgian ambassador, citing Mr. de Raedemaeker’s heart problems, called the punishment a “slow death sentence.” Mr. Raedemaeker, who was 48, died in March in his hotel room.
In Art, Freedom of Expression Doesn’t Extend to ‘Is It Real?’
Mon 25 June
By PATRICIA COHEN, New York Times,
Published on the front page: June 19, 2012
John Elderfield, former chief curator of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, remembers the days when scholars spoke freely about whether a particular work was genuine.
They were connoisseurs, this was their field of expertise, and a curator like Kirk Varnedoe, Mr. Elderfield’s predecessor at the Modern, would think nothing of offering his view of a drawing attributed to Rodin, his specialty.
“He was qualified to do it and felt he had a moral obligation to do it,” Mr. Elderfield said.
But when the owner of a painting attributed to Henri Matisse recently asked Mr. Elderfield for his opinion, he demurred. He worried he could be sued if he said the painting was not a real Matisse.
Mr. Elderfield is hardly alone in feeling that art’s celebrated freedom of expression no longer extends to expert opinions on authenticity. As spectacular sums flow through the art market and an expert verdict can make or destroy a fortune, several high-profile legal cases have pushed scholars to censor themselves for fear of becoming entangled in lawsuits.
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation and the Noguchi Museum have all stopped authenticating works to avoid litigation. In January the Courtauld Institute of Art in London cited “the possibility of legal action” when it canceled a forum discussing a controversial set of some 600 drawings attributed to Francis Bacon. And the leading experts on Degas have avoided publicly saying whether 74 plasters attributed to him are a stupendous new find or an elaborate hoax.
The anxiety has even touched the supreme arbiter of the genuine and fake: the catalogue raisonné, the definitive, scholarly compendium of an artist’s work. Inclusion has been called the difference between “great wealth and the gutter,” and auction houses sometimes refuse to handle unlisted works. As a result catalogue raisonné authors have been the targets of lawsuits, not to mention bribes and even death threats.
“Legal cage rattling was always part of the process,” said Nancy Mowll Mathews, president of the Catalogue Raisonné Scholars Association. But the staggering rise in art prices has transformed the cost-benefit analysis of suing at the same time that fraud has become more profitable, she said.
While some argue the fear is overblown, others warn the growing reluctance to speak publicly about authenticity could keep forgeries and misattributed works in circulation while permitting newly discovered works to go unrecognized.
The perceived crisis has prompted a pointed ethical debate: Do you speak out if you spot a suspicious work or keep quiet as lawyers recommend?
Art experts have been getting sued over their opinions since at least the days of Joseph Duveen, the flamboyant dealer who found himself in court in the 1920s after declaring “La Belle Ferronnière,” a supposed Leonardo painting for sale, to be a fake. Duveen’s judgment caused the Kansas City Art Institute to withdraw its offer of $250,000, and in the end Duveen settled by agreeing to pay the owner $60,000. (The painting is now considered to be by a follower of Leonardo.)
As prices have risen, so have risks. In 2005, after watching other organizations fend off lawsuits, the Lichtenstein foundation bought $5 million worth of liability insurance and made its authentication process more rigorous and transparent, its executive director, Jack Cowart, said. Then in 2011 the Warhol foundation revealed it had spent $7 million defending itself against a lawsuit involving a silk-screen it had rejected for the catalogue raisonné. Mr. Cowart called his insurance company to find out if the Lichtenstein foundation would be protected if faced with a similar suit. The agent said it was impossible to predict. “That was a very sobering moment,” Mr. Cowart said.
The board had always felt an obligation to guard Lichtenstein’s legacy in this way, he explained. But now, figuring it was only a matter of time before the law of averages would throw a lawsuit their way, board members decided the benefits of authenticating did not outweigh the risks.
“Why should we go stand in front of a speeding car?” Mr. Cowart said. “We decided it’s not the role of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation to deal with the art market’s authenticity issues.”
That view disturbs Jack Flam, president of the Dedalus Foundation, which is publishing Robert Motherwell’s catalogue raisonné and was sued last year for changing its opinion about a painting’s authenticity. “If experts stop speaking up, you’re going to get more fakes surfacing,” he said.
Mr. Cowart counters that the authentication committee’s pronouncements were not driving fakes out of the market. The majority of works inspected during the panel’s six years, he said, were third-rate fakes that would reappear as soon as the owners sold them to other unsuspecting dupes.
So what would the Lichtenstein foundation do if it became aware that a major forgery was being auctioned for millions of dollars?
“We don’t know what we would say if we were asked formally or informally,” Mr. Cowart said. “We don’t deal in hypotheticals.”
Sharon Flescher, executive director of the International Foundation for Art Research, said she doubts the number of lawsuits challenging expert opinions has gone up. Nonetheless she conceded that the perception is having “a chilling effect.” Even though few plaintiffs win, experts are deterred by the time and legal expense. That’s why the College Art Association recently began offering affordable liability insurance to its members who authenticate art, she noted.
Peter R. Stern, an art lawyer in New York, tells clients never to volunteer an opinion unless formally asked by the owners, and even then to make sure the owners sign a waiver promising not to sue. If they don’t ask, don’t tell. “Art scholarship is fighting a losing battle against commerce,” he said.
Fears of being sued may even lead to changes in the nature of catalogues raisonnés, Ms. Flescher added. She pointed to recent decisions by the Calder and Lichtenstein foundations and the Noguchi Museum to move their cataloging efforts online and label them as “works in progress.”
“What we are presenting is a combination of completed research and research pending,” said Shaina D. Larrivee, project manager of the Isamu Noguchi catalogue raisonné. “We are very clear that ‘research pending’ does not guarantee inclusion in the final catalogue raisonné, and that we have the ability to remove artworks if new information comes to light.”
Alexander Rower, Alexander Calder’s grandson and the chairman of the Calder Foundation, said he decided to forgo a catalogue raisonné in favor of an online guide to Calder’s development and history. “You determine if your work is fake or not with the data we present,” he said.
The Web site, scheduled to begin operation this summer, will feature 4,000 to 6,000 works, roughly one-quarter of Calder’s total output. Although the foundation does not authenticate, Mr. Rower said, it will register and examine a supposed Calder at an owner’s request and release any information it has about the piece. The foundation does, however, keep a watchful eye on the market. Mr. Rower traveled to the Basel art fair in Switzerland last week to photograph every Calder for further research, he said.
And if he were to find a forgery? “You can’t just go out there in the world and say, ‘That’s fake,’ “ Mr. Rower said. “But it is a fair thing for me to say to an art dealer, ‘Have your presented this work to the Calder Foundation?’ And if he says no, I say, ‘You really should.’ “
As for scholars who are dragged into court, they do occasionally come out ahead. The art expert Steve Seltzer was sued after declaring that a watercolor of cowboys was not painted by the revered Western artist Charles M. Russell but by his own grandfather the artist O. C. Seltzer. After the suit was thrown out, Mr. Seltzer turned around and countersued the painting’s owner, Steve Morton, and his lawyers. In 2007 the Montana Supreme Court awarded Mr. Seltzer $11 million in damages. As the judges put it, using a lawsuit to coerce an expert to give a particular opinion is “legal thuggery.”
Fair or foul: more art fairs and bigger brand galleries, but is the model sustainable?
Mon 25 June
Many galleries acknowledge that supply is a problem, with artists under pressure to produce more work
By Georgina Adam. Market, Issue 236, June 2012 The Art Newspaper
Dealers are increasingly calling it “the fair marathon”: a six-week epic that started with Frieze New York (4-7 May), continued two weeks later in Hong Kong with ArtHK (17-20 May) and will reach its apogee with Art Basel, the one fair the art world really, really can’t miss (14-17 June). Some brave souls, including Tim Marlow, the director of exhibitions at White Cube gallery, even slotted São Paulo’s Sp-Arte (9-13 May) between New York and Hong Kong, withstanding a two-night journey by air from Brazil to Asia.
The explosion in the number of art fairs is the most significant change in the market since the turn of the century. The numbers tell the story: in 1970, there were just three main events (Cologne, Basel and the Brussels-based Art Actuel). But the number has mushroomed in the past decade: from 68 in 2005 to 189 in 2011. This year, the Frieze brand unveils two new fairs: the New York edition last month, and the Masters fair, which debuts alongside the London event in October (11-14).
While some fairs have disappeared (notably Art Forum Berlin last year and Art Chicago in February), others have taken their place. And, notes the economic historian Stefano Baia Curioni, to these must be added more than 100 biennials which, while ostensibly not commercial, are also engaged in the market and need a rich supply of art. Indeed, so overwhelmingly important have art fairs become that the general consensus is that they are beginning to replace the gallery sales model.
The reasons for the proliferation of fairs have been often cited: the need to offer a buy-it-or-you’ll-lose-it situation to challenge the auction houses; a way of extending a gallery’s global reach; a way of making contacts with both artists and buyers around the world; and the need to be part of today’s event-driven culture.
This brings in its wake the need for more inventory. The art market is currently growing: based on art sold at auction, turnover last year was the highest ever, at $11.8bn, according to Artprice. But the market is supply-driven and ultimately rests on the artists’ ability to produce enough material. With more fairs on the horizon, is the current model sustainable?
“The pressure that this growth has put on artists cannot be underestimated,” says Victor Gisler of Zurich’s Mai 36. “They just can’t produce enough.” And even if they do, the danger is that a significant portion becomes “art fair art”: pieces that are moderate in size so they fit in a booth, and are “in tune with dominant market trends”, according to the author Olav Velthuis in a recent essay, “Contemporary Art and Its Commercial Markets: a Report on Current Conditions and Future Scenarios”.
Many galleries acknowledge that supply is a problem. “We try to steer away from pushing artists to make fair-related pieces,” says Andreas Gegner, the director of the London branch of Sprüth Magers, while Olivier Bélot, a co-director of Paris’s Yvon Lambert gallery, says bluntly: “No artist worth his salt can decently produce a great deal of work every year.” During Frieze New York, many dealers remarked that work had already been shipped to Hong Kong—and that the best work, anyway, was being kept for Art Basel, the one fair nobody can put in second place.
As well as putting pressure on artists, the fair phenomenon is putting galleries on the spot. “It’s definitely a juggling act,” says Andrew Kreps, the owner of the eponymous gallery. “I don’t think anyone was dying to add yet another fair to the calendar.”
“The pressure to participate in fairs is very high,” Gisler says. He segments the market into three. At the top are the major dealers such as White Cube, Gagosian and Hauser & Wirth, who participate in all the main fairs. David Zwirner, for example, is taking part in 15 this year—more than one a month, with many clustered in the prime selling seasons of spring and autumn. “They have no problems. In fact, they need the fairs to generate sales. Their brand is in the art fair market,” Gisler says. “They have large staffs to administer the logistics.”
Alongside the fair explosion, there has been a parallel increase in the size, both physical and global, of the biggest art galleries. Gagosian has 11 outlets worldwide; Hauser & Wirth has five; Zwirner has corralled a chunk of 19th Street in New York, with a new space in 20th Street, and plans to open a gallery in London this year; White Cube has four, counting its new Hong Kong outlet; Pace is in New York and Beijing; Ropac has a vast new Parisian space; Perrotin is about to open a gallery in Hong Kong.
Indeed, some of the big galleries say they could use even more space. “We work with more than 50 artists and even with four spaces, our problem is programming them regularly enough,” Tim Marlow says. “You can save work from the gallery to show at a fair—you’re not necessarily stretching the artist.” In the case of David Zwirner, supply for fairs is boosted by a big chunk of the gallery’s secondary market dealing and its management of some major estates. Julia Joern, a director of the gallery, estimates that approximately 50% of its turnover comes from this source. White Cube, Ropac and other big galleries often make about 20% of their sales in the secondary market as well: Hauser has been sharing part of the renowned collection of Helga and Walther Lauffs with Zwirner.
The difficulties, Gisler says, are at the level of the mid-sized and smaller galleries. “Here things are far more problematic. The mid-sized galleries, with perhaps five to 15 people, feel they must participate in the main fairs. It’s worse still for the small galleries, whose price points are not over $50,000—they don’t have many works at that level and doing a fair, if it doesn’t work out commercially, can be a killer.”
Galleries feel obliged to do fairs because they fear being seen as rejected by the selectors, but the Catch-22 situation is that they are selected on the basis of their gallery programme. If this falters because they are overstretched, then they might not be admitted to the most prestigious events. But everyone I spoke to was clear: the gallery comes first. The programme “is the most important part”, Kreps says, while Thaddaeus Ropac asks: “What sort of gallery does its main business at fairs?”
This year, Gisler decided against doing Frieze New York and Hong Kong. “It’s just too much. You have to put your gallery space first, and concentrate on the shows you are doing there. And in spite of globalisation, it is important as well to stay in your national context, to serve your local community,” he concludes.
Federal judge finds California Resale Royalty Act unconstitutional
Tue 22 May
Los Angeles Times By Jori Finkel
May 21, 2012,
You can almost hear the sighs of relief coming from art galleries and auction houses up and down California: Federal Judge Jacqueline Nguyen has declared the California Resale Royalty Act unconstitutional.
The highly controversial, widely misunderstood and little enforced state law that took effect in 1977 was designed to provide artists with 5% of their resale prices under certain conditions. As written, the law would apply to a resale of an original work of art provided this sale takes place in California or the seller resides in California.
Nguyen of Central District Court in California found this last provision, which would allow for royalties to be collected on sales that take place in other states, overreaching in a way that invalidates the entire law. In granting a motion by Christie's and Sotheby's to dismiss a class-action suit brought against them by artists Chuck Close and Laddie John Dill and the estates of artists Robert Graham and Sam Francis, Nguyen wrote that the law “explicitly regulates applicable sales of fine art occurring wholly outside California” and thus violates the U.S. Constitution's Interstate Commerce Clause.
Artists have very rarely gone to court over this law before, but Nguyen had some experience with it. She was the judge who sent artist Mark Grotjahn's resale royalty suit against collector Dean Valentine back to state court in 2011, after Valentine had removed it to federal court arguing that the law interferes with the Copyright Act of 1976. (At the time she found that the Royalty Act “does not infringe on the exclusive rights delineated in the Copyright Act,” providing a “qualitatively different” right than copyright holders receive.)
Sotheby’s lawyers at Weil, Gotshal & Manges called this month's decision “a major victory.”
L.A. attorney Eric George of Browne George Ross, who represents the plaintiffs in the class-action suit against the auction houses and has also led suits against nine California art galleries, said the matter isn’t over: “For a single federal judge to invalidate the law, more than 35 years later and without allowing any evidence to be taken, marks a departure from established constitutional law. We are confident, as both sides have always believed, this case will ultimately be resolved by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which already upheld this very statute in 1981.”
Federal Judge Strikes Down California’s Art Royalties Law
Tue 22 May
The New York Times
May 21, 2012, 3:23 PM
By PATRICIA COHEN
A federal district judge has struck down as unconstitutional a California law that gave artists a part of the profits when their work is resold.
The artists Chuck Close and Laddie John Dill and the estate of the artist Robert Graham brought a class-action suit in November against the auction giants Sotheby’s and Christie’s, and against eBay, arguing they had failed to pay them money owed under the California Resale Royalties Act. That act, which took effect in 1977, was the first of its kind passed in the United States. It required state residents who resold a work of art, even out of state, to pay the creating artist 5 percent of the price over $1,000; anyone selling art in California was also subject to the law.
Artists in most of the United States have long complained that unlike composers, filmmakers or writers, they do not receive a share of any future sales — known by the French expression droit de suite — under copyright law.
In her ruling on Thursday, Judge Jacqueline H. Nguyen did more than simply find against Mr. Close and his colleagues: Because the law has the effect of controlling sales “wholly outside the boundaries” of California, she ruled that it violates the commerce clause of the Constitution and that therefore “the entire statute must fall.”
Eric George, the lawyer who brought the suit, said he would appeal. “The artist protection law was properly enacted by California’s legislative and executive processes, pursuant to powers the U.S. Constitution reserves to the states,” he said. “We are confident, as both sides have always believed, this case will ultimately be resolved by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which already upheld this very statute in 1981.” As it turns out, Judge Nguyen was appointed two weeks ago to that court.
Spokespeople for Christie’s and Sotheby’s said they were very pleased with the decision.
A bill to institute a national resale royalty law has been introduced in Congress. “A federal law is ultimately the solution,” said Robert Panzer, executive director of VAGA, a company that represents the copyright interests of artists.
What Chinese collectors are really buying
Tue 22 May
Buyers are still overwhelmingly focused on domestic art, ranging from archaic bronzes to "wet paint" works by contemporary Chinese artists
The Art Newspaper By Georgina Adam. Market, Issue 235, May 2012
Published online: 17 May 2012
Interest is growing in jadeite carvings. This pendant sold for $1.9m at Sotheby’s Hong Kong last month
China is the world’s largest art market—even if the figures are disputed (see above). The numbers vary according to whose research you read, but the French site Artprice claims that in 2011, China represented 41.4% of the fine art auction market. The art economist Clare McAndrew, in her latest report (“The International Art Market in 2011”), puts China’s share, taking both auction and dealer sales into account, at 30%, and both sets of figures put China ahead of the US and Europe.
Even if Chinese figures are subject to caution, there is no denying the importance of China in the market today. But it is still predominantly domestic, with the Chinese mainly buying in segments of the market ranging from archaic bronzes to “wet paint” works by the brand names of Chinese contemporary art, such as Yue Minjun and Zeng Fanzhi, jade, ceramics, furniture and traditional brush painting as well as modern painting in the Western style by Chinese artists.
Chinese buyers are not just based in the mainland and Hong Kong. “There are quite significant differences between what people in Taiwan, Hong Kong, the mainland, Indonesia or Singapore will buy,” says Kate Bryan of London’s Fine Art Society, who previously worked at the Cat Street Gallery in Hong Kong. “Because Taiwan did not have a cultural revolution as in the mainland, and because its industrialists travel more widely, buyers are more informed about Western art, and more adventurous,” she says, pointing to the £1.75m sale, to a Taiwanese collector, of Damien Hirst’s The Inescapable Truth, 2005, showing a pickled dove. It was the first Hirst formaldehyde piece to be shown in China and was sold at Art HK in 2010 by White Cube. But these sales are the exception. “There is no tradition of conceptual art in China,” says the art dealer Pearl Lam, who is opening a new space in the Pedder Building in her native Hong Kong on 15 May. “Basically, the Chinese like painting,” she says.
Chinese collectors also love traditional art, both in the fine and applied fields. “Ceramics and other decorative arts made up a substantial 24% of the market by value [of the Chinese art and antiques auction market] in 2011,” reports McAndrew. As newly wealthy Chinese entered the market over the past decade, their focus was mainly on the Qing period (1644-1911), with an emphasis on the reign of the great Qianlong emperor (1735–96). This is where some of the most stunning prices have been made, such as the famille-rose double-gourd vase that sold to the Hong Kong-based collector Alice Cheng in 2010 at Sotheby’s, for $32.4m.
“For Chinese looking for investment potential, this market [the Qing] offers volume, and the fact that these pieces have age, and were difficult to make adds to their appeal,” says Patti Wong, the chairman of Sotheby’s Asia. “Until recently Chinese investors felt that contemporary Chinese painting was too ‘new’ to have as much value.”
The word “investment” is crucial among mainlanders. “With people from Hong Kong, you can talk about the art, but with mainlanders the conversation is all about the investment potential,” Kate Bryan says.
Chinese buyers also tend to shun earlier works and particularly grave goods, but this, according to many in the trade, is changing. “Buyers in the region are taking a great deal of interest in Ming and Song works, and in the past 18 months we have seen a growing interest in archaic bronzes, jadeite carvings and both huanghuali and zitan [a very dark wood like ebony] furniture, as well as textiles and Buddhist sculpture,” says Pola Antebi, the head of Chinese ceramics and works of art at Christie’s Hong Kong.
Last month, Sotheby’s celebrated a new record for a Song ceramic with $26.6m paid for a Ruyao brushwasher from the Northern Song dynasty (960-1127) at its Hong Kong sale. It went to Wong on the telephone, who was bidding on behalf of an unidentified buyer thought to be a Hong Kong or mainland Chinese. “Pieces from the Ru Kiln are so rare that there couldn’t be a market for them,” Wong says. “The last one we sold was 20 years ago.”
“To an extent Chinese buying in the earlier periods has also been caused by the rise in prices elsewhere; when a Qianlong vase goes from $10,000 to $1m, buyers start looking at other sectors,” says the foremost Asian art dealer, James Lally of New York. “But what is interesting about China is that people collect in absolutely every field, so the market is very deep.”
20th and 21st century
As for modern and contemporary Chinese art, this splits into a number of sectors. Chinese buyers are prepared to pay huge prices for brush works on paper by artists such as Zhang Daqian, Qi Baishi, Xu Beihong, or Fu Baoshi— names Westerners do not necessarily recognise. Last year in Beijing, China Guardian sold Qi Baishi’s Eagle Standing on Pine Tree, Four-Character Couplet in Seal Script, 1964, for $57.2m, which stands as the record for a modern Chinese painting. With a prolific supply, the sale of works by Qi and Zhang were each worth well over $500m in 2011, according to Artprice. Enthusiasm also falls on 20th-century Chinese artists working in oil on canvas: Zao Wou-ki, Chu Teh-Chun or Lin Fengmian. Zao stood in the 14th place of highest-grossing artists in 2011 according to Artprice, and in Sotheby’s 2 April sale in Hong Kong, six of the top ten lots were by him. Also in this segment are hyperrealist artists such as Ai Xuan, Chen Danqing or Liu Xiaodong, popular in mainland China and again, not well known in the West.
According to the New York and Beijing collector Richard Chang, until five years ago mainland Chinese collectors were less interested in artists such as Zhang Xiaogang, Zeng Fanzhi or Wang Guangyi, who are better known in the West. Pioneers in this field included the curator and dealer Johnson Chang of Hong Kong’s Hanart gallery, who put together Hong Kong grandee David Tang’s collection. Western collectors such as the Swiss diplomat Uli Sigg and the Belgian food baron Guy Ullens were also significant early buyers in this field.
Now, Chang says, “Chinese collectors are replacing Western collectors in the contemporary Chinese sector.” The Hong Kong-based dealer Jean-Marc Decrop says that the percentage of mainland buyers of contemporary Chinese art in Hong Kong has gone from 15% three years ago to around 85% today. “Chinese buyers are very keen on the investment aspect, and also they saw other people interested in these Chinese artists, this gave them pride and the desire to buy these works as well,” he says.
Sotheby’s and Christie’s say that the percentage of sales of non-Asian art to Chinese buyers is growing, although the actual figure is quite difficult to define—and, anecdotally, low.
Wong says that “travel plays a big part” in interest in Western art among collectors in Taiwan. “They see the landscapes that inspired the impressionists, and they have been slowly moving to these artists over the past ten years, and good works by Monet, Cézanne, Sisley and Pissarro have gone into Taiwanese collections,” she says. As for Hong Kong, Singapore and Indonesia, she says there is interest in Western contemporary art, but “Picasso is inevitably the most favoured artist”. His Femme Lisant (Deux Personnages), 1934, went for $21.3m (est $25m-$35m) to an Asian bidder in the room at Sotheby’s New York last May.
In Taiwan and Indonesia, Wong says, Chinese buyers of Western contemporary art initially looked to the US, but now are taking more interest in British artists such as Hirst, Gormley and Kapoor. “But this is not the situation in the mainland where the buying of contemporary Western art, at least at auction, is still in its infancy,” she says.
Last year’s autumn sales in Hong Kong saw a weakening after years of uninterrupted, rapid growth, leading to fears that the Chinese boom was ending.
Last year Sotheby’s spring series, held in Hong Kong in early April, clocked up $447m for almost 3,400 lots sold, whereas this year it only made $244m for 2,780 lots (Christie’s sales are 25-30 May). Asked whether the smaller volume and value was down to a lack of supply, Wong says: “Sourcing was definitely more difficult this year. There was less ‘hot money’ coming from the mainland. But when an exceptional piece came up, there was a great result, as with the Ruyao piece. Zhang Xiaogang’s Bloodline-Big Family: Family No. 2, 1993, went for twice its estimate at $6.7m to a private museum in Shanghai. But prices have softened for the more average material.” The private museum was reported as being built by the Indonesian-Chinese collector Budi Tek. Wong adds: “People are anxious about the end of this year, because of the poor economic news.”
Christie’s Asia president François Curiel says he sees “no sign of slowing down, and no less enthusiasm” in the Chinese market, pointing to the number of foreign dealers setting up in Hong Kong and the bumper number of applications (630) to Art HK as evidence of the continuing confidence in the market there.
Nevertheless, the consensus is that Chinese buyers are still overwhelmingly focused on their own art. An attempt to interest them at Tefaf Maastricht in March did not lead to many sales, even if one Asian buyer bought a 19th-century Anglo-Indian armchair from Mallett (asking price €95,000). The Hong Kong-based art dealer Anna Ning says she sees some wealthy Chinese interested in “European aristocratic taste”, and the buyer of Lord Raby’s 18th-century wine cooler, which sold at Sotheby’s in July 2010 for £2.5m, was Hong Kong-based. (The cooler was finally export stopped.) But, Curiel says: “I don’t see Chinese buyers moving much into Western art.”
“Western art galleries are deluded in thinking how much they can persuade Chinese buyers to take an interest in Western art right now,” Bryan says. “On the other hand, because of the sheer numbers and money in China, the percentage going into Western art will grow over time as knowledge and information develops.”
Tax-relief cap will curtail major gifts British government’s proposal to close tax loopholes upsets museums and their biggest donors
Thur 10 May
By Martin Bailey. Museums, Issue 235, May 2012
Published online: 26 April 2012
The artist Kaya Mar shows what he thinks of Osborne’s budget
Major projects planned by the UK’s leading arts organisations and museums are threatened by tax changes that the British government is proposing in an attempt to close loopholes enjoyed by the super-rich. In his March budget, the chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne announced a tax-relief cap on annual donations to charity above £50,000 or a quarter of an individual’s income, whichever is greater. Critics argue that this will discourage very large charitable gifts, and pressure to force a U-turn was mounting as we went to press.
The cap could have a particularly serious impact on large museum building projects, which are highly reliant on £1m-plus donations from private individuals and trusts. These include the extension to Tate Modern (a £215m project, which still needs £54m), the British Museum extension (£135m, needing £15m), the development of the Design Museum in Kensington (£80m, needing £18m), upgrading Tate Britain (£45m, needing £10m), the Victoria and Albert Museum’s (V&A) project in Dundee (£45m, needing £30m) and the V&A extension in Exhibition Road (£40m, needing £25m).
Donations at risk
Growing pressure from the charities, including those raising money for health, education and the elderly, may force the British government to rethink the proposals. In the cultural sector, Arts Council England warns that donors are already considering pulling out of important projects. A council spokeswoman says that major donors have contacted some of the arts organisations it helps fund to say that if this cap is introduced, “they will not be able to support them at previous levels”. As a result, “at least £80m of regular donations to several of our largest organisations could be at risk”.
The chancellor announced a limit on all uncapped tax reliefs to ensure that the very wealthy pay a higher proportion of tax. This affects several forms of relief, including donations to charities. A Treasury spokesman suggested that a few people are abusing the system by using foreign charities set up by themselves to reduce their tax liabilities.
Critics of the cap say that it will be a major disincentive to philanthropy at a time of government cuts. They say there is little evidence of abuse, and, where it exists, it should be tackled directly. The new system is likely to be devastating for charities because it will hit the big donors. A survey by the Charities Aid Foundation estimates that of the £11bn donated in the UK in 2009/10, 45% came from 7% of donors.
The National Council for Voluntary Organisations gives an example of the impact that the new system could have on a very wealthy arts patron who earns £800,000 a year and responds to an appeal by donating £1m.
Under the current Gift Aid concession, this would result in £1,250,000 for the recipient. The individual also gets personal tax relief of £312,500. It effectively costs the donor £687,500 to give £1,250,000 to charity. Under the new proposals, the donor would only be able to claim tax relief on 25% of their income, or £200,000. This means the same gift will effectively cost them £950,000. Most donors would therefore respond to an appeal with a considerably lower contribution (or possibly decide against giving at all).
Stephen Deuchar, the director of the Art Fund, says the new cap could have a “devastating impact”. A fund spokeswoman adds that it will have “a disproportionate impact on the arts, museums and cultural charities, which are often dependent on a small pool of larger-value donors”.
Mark Getty, the chairman of London’s National Gallery, says there is “no question the gallery and many other organisations will suffer”. Martin Roth, the director of the V&A, says the change will “adversely impact” potential donors.
Michael Dixon, the chairman of the National Museums Directors’ Conference, is “deeply concerned” about the tax-relief cap. A spokeswoman for the organisation points out that the proposal comes at a time when the government wants museums to get “a greater contribution from philanthropy in running the nation’s great cultural institutions”. The conference is preparing a detailed submission to the government on the possible effects of the proposed tax change.
The Museums Association is equally worried. Mark Taylor, its director, says: “It seems bizarre that the government is restricting tax relief on large donations at precisely the time they want to increase philanthropy.”
The government has stressed the importance of private support for the arts. The March budget introduced the Cultural Gifts Scheme, which offers tax benefits to those who donate pre-eminent objects to museums and galleries (it is a parallel system to Acceptance in Lieu, which covers inheritance tax).
The new £100m Catalyst scheme matches private donations to cultural organisations with Lottery and government money, with the first awards due to be made later this month. The budget also included a concession allowing those who leave more than 10% of their bequests to charity to have their estates subjected to a lower rate of inheritance tax.
Critics of the proposed cap say the government has often drawn parallels with the situation in the US, where, partly because of greater tax incentives, wealthy donors give a much higher proportion of their income to charity. In America those earning more than £150,000 a year give eight times more to charity than those in Britain.
The tax-relief cap is due to come into effect in April 2013. But after the storm of protest from charities and donors, the Treasury was having second thoughts. A spokesman says it will “explore with philanthropists ways to ensure that this measure will not impact significantly on charities that depend on large donations”. The Treasury minister David Gauke says: “There will be a proper consultation over the summer and then draft legislation produced in the autumn.”
Schiele case could damage NY business, say dealers
Thur 10 May
Ruling in long-standing restitution battle may threaten defence that a purchase was made in good faith
By Gareth Harris. Market, Issue 235, May 2012
Published online: 10 May 2012
Dealer Richard Nagy has filed court papers in the case around Egon Schiele’s "Seated Woman with a Bent Left Leg (Torso)", 1917, above
International dealers have joined forces to lobby against potential US legislation that could have a “significant and negative impact on the art market in New York”. The Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA), the Society of London Art Dealers (Slad) and the UK dealer Richard Nagy are unhappy about moves in a US court that could “dramatically limit the application of the laches doctrine”, which is a defence procedure commonly used in disputes over titles to works of art.
The trio has filed an amici curiae statement (a “friends of the court” supporting brief) relating to the long-standing legal row over ownership of an Egon Schiele drawing, Seated Woman With a Bent Left Leg (Torso), 1917, which once belonged to the Austrian art collector Franz Friedrich “Fritz” Grünbaum. Two New York collectors, Charles Katzenstein and Nelson Blitz, have also contributed to the brief, according to the court documents; Katzenstein declined to comment.
The legal battle dates back to 2005, when the case was first heard in the US district court. It involves various parties including the US collector David Bakalar and Grünbaum’s heirs, the Czech citizen Milos Vavra, and the New York resident Leon Fischer.
Vavra and Fischer claim that the Nazis stole the drawing from their family (Grünbaum fled Vienna in 1938 and died at the Dachau concentration camp in 1941). Bakalar disputes this, claiming instead that Grünbaum’s sister-in-law, Mathilde Lukacs, sold the drawing to the Swiss dealer Eberhard Kornfeld of the Galerie Gutekunst in 1956. Later that year, Kornfeld sold the piece to the Galerie St Etienne in New York. In 1963, Bakalar bought the work from the Manhattan dealer in “good faith”, he says.
The case was first heard in the US district court in New York in 2005. Three years later, the court applied Swiss law and ruled in Bakalar’s favour. But, in 2010, the US court of appeals reversed this decision, saying that New York law should apply. A district court ruled again in Bakalar’s favour in 2011. The case is now going through a second hearing in the appeals court.
The laches doctrine, which forms a major part of Bakalar’s defence, is now in jeopardy, according to the group. “For the past 25 years, good-faith purchasers of art have relied on the laches doctrine to protect themselves from stale or frivolous claims to ownership,” state the court papers, that were filed at the end of March by the lawyers Jon Dean and Julian André of McDermott Will & Emery LLP, which represents Nagy, the ADAA and Slad.
The trio is particularly alarmed over two specific changes that Vavra and Fischer are seeking. Firstly, that the “duties of diligence relevant to a laches defence inquiry trigger only after the true owner learns of the location of the stolen chattel”. Secondly, that the “knowledge or actions of a claimant’s ancestors cannot be imputed to the claimants when determining if laches should apply”. The group argues that Vavra and Fischer are seeking “to eliminate the laches doctrine’s protections and make the time for claimants or their heirs to file a [recovery] action virtually limitless”—which means that each new generation of alleged heirs could potentially challenge title to works of art.
Without such protection, buyers would “have to think twice about doing business in New York”. The group argues that collectors may even avoid lending works to New York-based museums, and might take their business to other US states where “the laws are more favourable to good-faith purchasers”.
“The laches doctrine is really the only defence a good-faith purchaser has against a claim,” says Gilbert Edelson, of law firm Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, representing the ADAA. “A good faith purchase must establish that a claimant delayed unreasonably in pursuing a claim.” Edelson gives a theoretical example of a claimant who does not sue immediately because he or she is aware of witnesses who might hurt his or her case. If those witnesses die, the claimant could choose to file a suit within the 20-year statute. Although the buyer could not assert a defence under the statute of limitations, they could seek protection under the laches defence “because the claimant did not assert the claim promptly, and the death of witnesses prejudiced the defendant”.
But Raymond Dowd of Dunnington, Bartholow and Miller LLP, representing Vavra and Fischer, dismisses these arguments, calling the laches doctrine a “classic ‘sit on your hands’ defence [which] has traditionally been a very heavy burden [for claimants]”. He says that his clients do not want to eliminate the procedure, and are not arguing to “re-set” the clock for successive claims, but emphasises that the onus should be on “purchasers to show that they have exercised due diligence. Bakalar has not demonstrated this.” Dowd adds: “Bakalar argues on this appeal that the whereabouts of Grünbaum’s art collection… remains a mystery. The reason why any ‘mystery’ remains is because Bakalar and certain art dealers have succeeded in blocking discovery in this proceeding.” Meanwhile, “Nagy has a direct financial interest in, and probable possession of [Schiele’s] Woman in Black Pinafore, 1911, which was stolen from Fritz Grünbaum,” states the declaration filed by Dowd in opposition to the amici curiae.
But a later opposing motion disputes that the piece was stolen, saying that “while Nagy previously purchased an ownership interest in Woman in Black Pinafore, Nagy voided the purchase in October 2011 and no longer possesses [the work]”. The documents add that the London dealer has never handled any Schiele works with provenance relating to Mathilde Lukacs. Bakalar’s lawyer, William Charron of Pryor Cashman, says: “Dowd’s perspective is not rooted in the evidence or in reality."
The Gunter Sachs appeal – life and legacy of the playboy art collector
Tue 8 May
Sotheby's to auction off trove of art treasures and memorabilia owned by the renowned playboy. Mark Brown, meets his son Rolf
• Mark Brown, arts correspondent
• guardian.co.uk, Monday 7 May 2012
Gunter Sachs married Brigitte Bardot in Las Vegas in 1966, and divorced as friends in 1969; just one part of Sachs' eclectic life. Photograph: Sipahioglu/Rex Features
Picture the scene. A ruggedly handsome, impeccably dressed man is enjoying a snack with his superstar wife, Brigitte Bardot, in St Tropez's Gorilla bar in the late spring of 1967. A pale, odd-looking white-haired man with a large entourage notices him and marches straight over, complaining that the Cannes film festival, of all places, has refused to screen his film because of its nudity. The man agrees to see the film,Chelsea Girls, and everyone bundles into speedboats and heads for the Carlton Hotel on La Croisette.
That chance meeting between the millionaire playboy Gunter Sachs and artist Andy Warhol had a profound effect on both men. For Sachs, a serious collector, it led to a sea change in his art buying; for Warhol it marked a vital first foothold in Europe.
Sachs became an assiduous collector of pop art and in 1972 opened a gallery in Hamburg. The Warhol exhibition he staged there was one of the first in Europe, although as Sachs's son Rolf recalls: "Nothing sold. My father was highly embarrassed, and he bought most of the exhibition himself – which was of course the best investment he ever made."
Rolf Sachs spoke to the Guardian ahead of a dazzling auction of artworks and objects that belonged to his late father. The Sachs family is selling following Gunter's death last year when, at 78, he turned a shotgun on himself.
Over two days, Sotheby's will sell a collection estimated to be worth more than £20m that includes art spanning surrealism, new realism and pop art, as well as furniture and personal objects. They shine an often fascinating light on a man who liked, perhaps more than anything, to enjoy himself.
"He had a great creativity for life, combined with a joie de vivre and an ability to live it," says Rolf. "He was interested in the zeitgeist."
Categorising Gunter Sachs is tricky. Sotheby's describes him in the catalogue as a "playboy, businessman, gallerist, museum director, art collector, film-maker, celebrity, photographer, astrologer, director and sportsman".
Certainly he was the man of a thousand stories. He created the Dracula Club, an exclusive private members' club in St Moritz; he was vice-president of the Cresta Run, an epic skeleton bob run also in St Moritz; he encouraged Salvador Dalí to shoot a gun in his penthouse and, of course, he married one of the most famous women in the world. He proposed to Bardot by dropping hundreds of roses on her villa from a helicopter before diving into the Mediterranean and emerging from the sea.
Was it really like that? "I wasn't there," says Rolf, smiling. "It gets embellished every time, but so what? It has something beautiful about it. Stories should have a poetic, dreaming effect." The couple married in Vegas, honeymooned in Tahiti and divorced as friends in 1969, both of them having had affairs.
Born in Germany in 1932, Gunter Sachs inherited fortunes from his mother's side of the family – she was daughter of Wilhelm von Opel of the car-making dynasty – and his father, who owned Fichtel Sachs, one of Germany's largest automobile suppliers.
He located to France in 1958 which in itself was a brave move, says Rolf. "It took a special character to go and live in Paris in 1958 – which was 13 years after the war – as a German. It probably was quite difficult."
At the time, Sachs did not have huge amounts of disposable cash so he would spend his afternoons playing cards – at which he was extremely good. "He wasn't that wealthy then. Father would play ecarté with friends in the afternoon and he would invest his profits in art. At the time nobody was really buying art, people were building up their businesses, everything had been shattered."
Sachs began buying works by the likes of Yves Klein, Jean Fautrier, César and Arman, who are far better known today than they were at the time. "He bought it for the love of the art."
Sachs collected with passion and skill; he was an aesthete, says Rolf, who is a professional artist and designer himself partly as a result of his upbringing. "I was very much aware of the art in the house and as an eight-year-old I knew every painter, I knew every painting. I had a very strong relationship with all the art we had."
Sachs is mentioned in Warhol's memoirs as one of the young Europeans who went to New York and had the whole Studio 54 experience. "At the time you didn't think much of it, but it was fun. You don't appreciate those moments enough because you don't realise."
Sotheby's has described the sale as "among the most desirable single-owner collections ever to come to market", but it is only part of what was an extraordinary collection. Sachs collected surrealist work by the likes of Dalí, Yves Tanguy, René Magritte and Max Ernst. He owned important pieces from the new realism school including Klein, Jean Tinguely, Arman and Martial Raysse. And there were works that could be described as art informel, including pieces by his friend Fautrier whose studio in the early years of the war was a refuge for intellectuals and artists associated with the Resistance.
Sachs decorated his homes and hotel penthouse suites with the most fabulous art and furniture. He had Lichtensteins in his bathroom, a Warhol Campbell's Soup in his kitchen, a Mel Ramos Banana Split in the guest bedroom. He commissioned a table direct from the sculptor and designer Diego Giacometti and was a big fan of Allen Jones, a star of 1960s British pop art, and had a set of his furniture that used fetishistic female mannequins.
Jones once recalled staying in Sachs' St Moritz Palace Hotel penthouse. "It was the most ritzy place I had ever been in. One wall of the apartment seemed to be entirely glass, with a breathtaking view of the Alps. There were Lichtenstein panels around the bathroom, a flock of Lalanne sheep on the carpet and the set of my sculptures."
If he had stayed at another time he would have seen Warhol's 1974 portrait of Bardot taking pride of place in a kind of pop art concept apartment. One of the last Warhol's Sachs bought was in 1998 – Self-Portrait (Fright Wig) which Warhol produced in 1986, a year before his death – and it is being sold for between £2m-£3m.
Another talking point in his penthouse suite was a bulletproof glass panel which Sachs would cheerfully stand behind and ask guests – Dalí was one – to shoot.
Works in the sale include Les Feux de L'Enfer, a piece Klein made using an industrial blowtorch at a state-owned gas research facility near Paris; pieces by Max Ernst, Magritte and Dalí; and a thickly painted gold canvas by Lucio Fontana, Concetto Spaziale (1961), estimated up to £900,000.
"There was never a thought of it being an investment," says Rolf. "In fact, he stopped collecting in the 1970s because he was disillusioned with the art market – it became so aggressive. It had a strong business component."
Not that he entirely lost his love for it. "He always wanted to find the new, and even at 72, he started collecting graffiti art. We have tons of it," says Rolf. "It shows a curious mind, a young mind, looking for what is the next thing and what is the next trend."
Speaking of his father's death, Rolf says: "It came as a big shock to us all, but as a family we are not bitter towards him … I admire the courage."
It has been suggested that he feared the onset of Alzheimer's: "Perhaps in his mind it was speculation. Whenever something like this happens, obviously, there is chemistry involved. Chemical imbalances, which do things to your mind."
The decision to sell the works was taken as a family, and Rolf stresses they are keeping the items that hold the most importance for them. "People have said, 'Oh my god, you're selling the collection,' but the real core of his collection is staying in the family." He adds that they want to do a museum exhibition at the Villa Stuck in Munich in October.
Rolf Sachs has many fond memories of growing up. He remembers Bardot as his step-mum – "she was very kind to me, very sweet. I have only the fondest memories of her." He remembers one of Sachs' girlfriends, the Swiss biscuit heiress and champion water-skier Marina Doria going back and forward, back and forward in front of the house, pulled by Riva, a speedboat that is also in the sale.
He remembers the parties his dad would organise. "He made some of the most spectacular parties. Everyone would dress up, there was always wonderful music. Once he did a party where he played as if there was a hold up and everyone was surrounded [laughing] and people were getting frightened.
"A lot of fun people surrounded him, people who were spirited, who were good laughs."
Rolf Sachs has taken on some of the responsibilities his father had such as being vice-president of the Cresta Run and on the day the Guardian talked to Rolf he was beaming with pride at a purchase he had made at auction that day: a vampire killing set from around 1900 which he can't wait to show fellow members of the the Dracula Club. It is meant to be the most select club in St Moritz but Rolf says it is full of fun-loving. "Father created it and it is a very nice group of friends. Every member loves being part of bloodlessness."
Gunter Sachs was also interested in astrology, publishing a bestselling book on the subject and creating the grandly titled Institute for the Empirical and Mathematical Examination of the Possible Truth of Astrology in Relation to Human Behaviour.
Two months ago Rolf floated 3,500 candles on the lake in St Moritz in the shape of Scorpio in memory of his father.
There are clearly things going into the sale tinged with regret but Rolf says the family tried to create a rounded sale that was also fun, so there are pieces of art estimated in the hundreds of pounds up to one of Warhol's Brigitte Bardot canvases, estimated at £3m to £4m.
The auction will be held at Sotheby's on 22 and 23 May. Highlights go on show in London from 18-22 May and in New York from 5-9 May.
Mere Society Paintings? Look Again Vuillard Works at Jewish Museum and Jill Newhouse Gallery
Mon 7 May
New York Times - ART REVIEW - (Jill Newhouse is a CINOA affiliated dealers)
By KEN JOHNSON
Published: May 3, 2012
If, by some fluke of metaphysics, the last four decades of Édouard Vuillard’s long, prolific and rewarding career were erased from collective memory, he still would not be forgotten. Before the age of 30 he made some of the most beguiling paintings of fin de siècle Paris: intimate, compact, brushy pictures of his mother and sister in the apartment he shared with them and the dressmaking shop they worked in. Painting with special attention to wallpaper and fabric patterns, he made people almost dissolve into atomized, flattened surfaces, anticipating a century that would pulverize into air everything once taken for solid.
After 1900 Vuillard (1868-1940) turned back his own clock. Reverting to a more conventionally naturalistic style and often using his own photographs as references, he painted portraits of well-to-do people and decorative murals for their homes. In the eyes of many critics he became a mere society painter. But Vuillard’s later work has its supporters too, and they are having their say, convincingly, in a pair of exhibitions: “Édouard Vuillard: A Painter and His Muses, 1890-1940” at the Jewish Museum and, at Jill Newhouse gallery, a complementary show featuring major late works as well as some small early paintings and a selection of drawings.
Organized by the museum’s assistant curator, Stephen Brown, the Jewish Museum show includes more than 40 paintings, and 15 from the 1890s convey the hothouse interiority at which Vuillard excelled early. “Woman in a Striped Dress” (1895) is a dreamily blurry picture compressed into an approximately two-foot square. A young woman engulfed in billowing red-and-white fabric tends to flowers on a table in the foreground as an older woman looks on over her shoulder. Domestic routine becomes mystic ritual.
A late painting from the opposite end of the psychic spectrum is the portrait of David David-Weill (1925), which pictures a past chairman of the bank Lazard Frères wearing a business suit and tie and standing in a palatial chamber filled with antique furniture, gleaming decorative objects and a dozen gold-framed paintings on the background wall. As is typical of his late work, Vuillard here decompresses interior space, giving its rich and powerful subject a distinctive, commanding presence and making room for his expensive and well-pedigreed possessions, which Vuillard describes in sensuous detail.
In “Madame Louis Kapferer” (1918), a large portrait of an elderly woman in a black dress sitting in a dark armchair and gazing into space, with a sparkling clutter of decorative glassware on a mantel behind her, Vuillard combines sharp-eyed realism and a subtly comical sympathy. But, as in the portrait of David-Weill, you sense a willingness to flatter and a desire to please.
Part of the exhibition’s mission is to shed light on Vuillard’s social circles, which, as it happened, included numerous assimilated, cosmopolitan Jews throughout his lifetime. With some of these he was quite intimate. He had a romance with Misia Natanson, wife of his friend and first dealer, Thadée Natanson; and a 40-year affair with Lucy Hessel, the wife of one of his later dealers, Jos Hessel.
But it remains hard to say in what way the Jewishness of his relations influenced Vuillard as an artist. What seems more obviously consequential was his move from the avant-gardist circles of his youth, when he belonged to an upstart group of painters who called themselves the Nabis, to a more conservative milieu governed more by money and haut-bourgeois taste.
But Vuillard was not just another John Singer Sargent knocking out suave portraits of the rich and indolent for lunch money. The exhibition at Jill Newhouse reveals how intensely and eccentrically Vuillard labored over his most ambitious late works. Using glue-based distemper paint that he built up into crusty, granular surfaces, he devoted years to some. “Misia Sert and Her Niece Mimi Godebska” (1925), an eerily dark and gloomy, mostly gray canvas measuring more than 4 ½ by 5 ½ feet, took two years. It depicts two women — the elder one the remarried Misia — in a cavernous room, one standing and one sitting at a dinner table whose glassy surface reflects white-striped black teacups sitting on it. A shadowy haze fills the space, rendering the women indistinct and giving the scene a spectral feeling.
An even larger portrait at about six feet square, “Madame Jean Bloch and Her Children” (1927-9), took so long that Madame Bloch had had a fourth child by the time he finished it. So he made another one, reproducing the original image but adding a toddler into the lower left corner at her mother’s elbow. (The second version is in the Jewish Museum show.) As a composition it has the stiffness of an official family portrait. But it compels close scrutiny because of the excruciatingly slow and self-aware technique that he brought to it.
The most surprising as well as the biggest piece in either show is “Garden in Winter With Peacock” at the museum, a wintry picture, 6 foot 9 ½ inches by 4 foot 9 ½ inches, of a fenced-in garden with leafless trees and the bird in question in the foreground. Painted in broad strokes and drawn into with brusquely gestural lines, it is more suggestive of a prison’s exercise yard than of a fancy aviary. Completed in 1940, the year he died, it seems a landscape of despair, which, oddly, calls to mind the allegorical landscapes of postwar grief that Anselm Kiefer would create 40 years later.
These shows are unlikely to change minds about which Vuillard was better — the pre- or the post-1900 model — but they make a convincing case for looking more thoughtfully at what the late one did.
“Édouard Vuillard: A Painter and His Muses, 1890-1940” runs through Sept. 23 at the Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Avenue, at 92nd Street; (212) 423-3200, thejewishmuseum.org. The Vuillard exhibition “Paintings and Works on Paper” runs through May 25 at Jill Newhouse, 4 East 81st Street, Manhattan; (212) 249-9216, jillnewhouse.com.
A clean-up but no shave as Mould outs first cross-dresser
Tue 24 Apr
Antique Trade Gazette
The rediscovered portrait of the Chevalier D’Eon which Philip Mould spotted at auction in New York. Its whereabouts had been unknown since 1926 and the Dover Street dealer is said to be in serious negotiations with the National Portrait Gallery.
23 April 2012
IT was the five o’clock shadow that gave it away. When London dealer Philip Mould spotted this 18th century portrait in a general paintings sale at the New York auctioneers Thomas Cornell Galleries in November last year, he thought it to be of a rather masculine middle-aged lady.
So did the auctioneers, who catalogued the oil on canvas, which was part of the collection of Ruth Stone, daughter of Samuel Klein of Klein's Department Stores, as 'Portrait of a Woman with a Feather in her hat' and attributed it to Gilbert Stuart.
Having done some research before the sale, which suggested all was not as it seemed, Mr Mould bought the painting and, upon cleaning it, found definite hints of stubble around the face.
"This fuelled further investigation that resulted in the astonishing discovery that the portrait is of the legendary spy, diplomat and transvestite Chevalier D'Eon that has been lost since 1926," he explained.
The French-born D'Eon (1728-1810) is known as the "Patron Saint of Transvestites" and the term "eonism", meaning cross-dressing and cross-sexuality, derives from him.
This is thought to be the earliest surviving formal portrait of a male transvestite, and research undertaken since by the gallery has attributed the work to the theatrical artist Thomas Stewart (b.1766), who specialised in painting actors and theatrical scenes in London in the 1790s – the same time as D'Eon was performing on stage as a fencer in drag.
The painting was almost certainly commissioned by the Earl of Moira, an 18th century Irish soldier, playwright and patron of the arts, and passed through his family till the 1850s when it was given to George III's ex-doctor – possibly as a mark of its medical curiosity. Descendants of the doctor sold it to an American collector at the beginning of last century, after which it apparently vanished.
According to Mr Mould, it is now "under serious consideration" by the National Portrait Gallery in London for an undisclosed price. Should they decide to purchase the work, it will represent the gallery's first oil painting of a cross-dresser in guise.
By Anna Brady
Christie’s and Sotheby’s galleries raise the stakes in Hong Kong
Mon 23 Apr
The Antique Trade Gazette
10 April 2012
LARGE new gallery spaces in Hong Kong look set to provide the battleground in the competition for private treaty sales between Sotheby’s and Christie’s.
Christie's opened a 15,000 sq ft gallery and saleroom space in the heart of Hong Kong early in 2010. Now Sotheby's are to launch a similar venture, which is virtually the same size.
The new facilities will allow the two auction houses to showcase major artworks to wealthy Asian buyers on their doorstep all year round. They will also free them from the limitations of their time slots at the main convention centre where they continue to hold their major sales.
Christie's are already using their space for wine sales and previews, and both houses have mentioned future sales on their premises, but neither will yet give details of what these will entail.
However, the facilities will certainly give them a more visible presence in an increasingly important market beyond the biannual auction series they currently hold.
Christie's Asia president François Curiel told ATG: "It can be used for any kind of auction, and if we find we need to have additional auctions in addition to the big two auctions at the convention centre every year then yes, why not, but at the moment there is nothing on the calendar."
Meanwhile, Patti Wong, chairman of Sotheby's Asia, said: "It has been very clear for the last couple of years that our clients want to transact with us outside of our current twice-yearly schedule, and that there is eager anticipation for the launch next month of our Hong Kong gallery space where we will mount auctions and selling exhibitions, show upcoming sale highlights from our other international centres and hold other events."
The Sotheby's HK gallery includes a permanent salon for Sotheby's Diamonds, "a unique partnership" with Steinmetz Diamond Group, "allowing clients to purchase from the collection throughout the year".
On top of previews in May for June sales in London, Sotheby's have announced two selling exhibitions for their new gallery space, from May 19-31.
One covers 30 'important works' by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama and the other is Modern Masters: Corot to Monet – French Landscape Painting in the 19th and 20th Centuries.
The latter appears to be, at least in part, an exercise in taste-making, the key to broadening demand for Western art and antiques among Asian buyers.
Sotheby's president and CEO Bill Ruprecht added: "This transformative space will increase the level of activity and the range of objects we will offer to clients in Asia on a regular basis."
The results of Sotheby's five-day Hong Kong spring series of sales, which ended on April 4, illustrated why competition is becoming ever more heated in this market. Sotheby's Asia chief executive Kevin Ching announced "more than 2780 lots sourced from nearly 30 countries around the world were sold to buyers primarily from across Asia, but with substantial worldwide competition", and achieved over US$316m, "solidly over" pre-sale estimates of over US$244m.
By Tom Derbyshire
Hidden from the Revolution: Russian treasure unearthed
Mon 23 Apr
Antique Trade Gazette
WORKERS restoring an 18th century house in St Petersburg have unearthed an extraordinary cache of Tsarist-era artefacts once owned by one of Russia’s most prominent noble families.
The opening of a walled-up niche between the second and the third floor of the Trubetskoi-Naryshkin mansion on Ulitsa Chaikovskogo in the city centre revealed more than 40 sacks of predominately late 19th century and early 20th century silver, jewellery, orders, coinage and stacks of documents. The value of the find, announced on March 28, is likely to run into millions of dollars.
To this day, Russia's former imperial capital St Petersburg is alive with rumours of untold treasures hidden by Russian aristocrats and business tycoons as Russia careered towards Bolshevism – and discoveries are not unheard of.
But this cache, found in a previously undetected storage space between two floors, ranks as spectacular. It includes three silver dinner sets of over 1000 pieces each from 1872, 1914 and 1915, most carrying the crest of the Naryshkins, descendents of Nataliya Naryshkina, the second wife of Tsar Alexis and the mother of Peter the Great.
The family lived in the house from 1875, when Duke Vasily Naryshkin acquired the two connected 18th century properties, but fled Russia on the eve of the October Revolution. Many of the objects were wrapped carefully in newspapers dated from March, June and September of 1917. Some of the larger items, including a group of silver and gilt samovars, were wrapped in cloth soaked in vinegar to prevent oxidisation.
Members of the city's Committee for State Control, Use and Protection of Historical and Cultural Monuments are currently taking an inventory of the hoard while local police, who were informed of the discovery more than 24 hours after it was made, may also seek to prosecute workers who had attempted to hide some of the treasure from the authorities.
Three parcel-gilt trays and flatware engraved with Naryshkin crest were reportedly found hidden in sacks of construction rubble outside the building.
Documents accompanying the find may shed light on who might have secreted the treasure at the time of the Revolution. A 1908 student card from the Imperial College and a certificate of the White Eagle Order from 1915 carry the name of family member First Lieutenant Sergey Somov who fled to Paris in 1917.
After the Bolsheviks nationalised private property, the Naryshkin home was turned into a stolovaya, a canteen serving simple meals to city workers. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the building became private apartments but was recently purchased for conversion into a conference and cultural centre. The new facility has been suggested as a fitting place for the hoard to be displayed but the issue of proper title is yet to be resolved.
According to Russian law, that operates something equivalent to the Treasure Trove law, the find should be divided into equal parts between the owner of the property on which it was found and the person or people who found it.
However, if the objects discovered are identified as having cultural or historical value, they will be given to the state and the owner and those who found them will receive a monetary value of the treasure.
It has been reported that the last members of the Naryshkin dynasty died in France in the mid 20th century.
By Roland Arkell
Collecting for Love or Money? That is the question
Wed 4 Apr
The TEFAF closed its doors and a successful jubilee it was. With 72,000 visitors crossing the threshold - of which 238 museum curators, 360 private jets flying in and an encouraging number of buyers from Russia, China and Hong Kong, the hope is that it was also a commercial success for exhibiting dealers.
To celebrate the 25 TEFAF Jubilee the fair organiser had organised an number of activities of which one was the TEFAF Art Symposium, titled “Collecting for Love or Money?“, held on the day the fair opened for the general public.
The opening talk was by Dr. Clare McAndrew, art economist who for the last three years compiled the renowned TEFAF art market report and the proprietor of ArtsEconomics. She presented a compilation of her report, covered market trends over the last 25 years and gave an outlook of what the art and antique trade may expect and the impact this could have. In 2011, 80% of gallery sales were € 50,000 and less and only 3% of art sales exceeding € 500,000, the USA is no longer the major stakeholder in the art market and has been surpassed by China that now has a 30% share. An impressive accomplishment because in 2006 China only had a share of 5%. The Chinese market is predominantly a domestic market of which a staggering 70% of the total sales are generated by the auction houses.
The last 25 years have shown an immense increase in size and sales volume, this is due to the globalisation of supply and demand and, of course, the development of internet. The market has furthermore developed into an event-driven market were art fairs are growing in numbers and thus playing a more important role as a point of sales for art and antiques, substituting more and more the physical shop front, which is now in decline.
Other changes are that auction houses have adopted new business models and besides auctioning also function as retailers. Parallel to these developments are art consultants acting as up and rising sales mediators.
As will be confirmed further on during the symposium, Dr. McAndrew states that there is an increasing demand for art as it is considered a valid investment alternative.
The report ‘Observations on the art trade over 25 years’ is basically an essential read for the serious collector and aficionado with an above average interest in the arts. The report can be ordered through the webshop of www.tefaf.com.
Prof. Rachel Pownall, Associate Professor of Finance at Tilburg University, gave us insight in the emotional values. An example, which caused a grin amongst the public, was the positive effects the weather had on stock prices. Through academic research, the effects of weather conditions were proven to effect people in their decision making. Gloomy weather in a negative sense and sun flooded days positively. In a nutshell, the message of the lecture was that positive emotions affect our optimistic judgement.
Fabien Bocart, Quantitative Research Director at Tutela Capital, a company specialised in producing analytical tools and investment strategies in the art market, presented some interesting observations. Based on the historical volatility of the market they can predict to a certain extent the possible gains and losses a collector is subject to. Two examples are the analysis of Canaletto and Andy Warhol.
Example: Canaletto (Yearly volatility of returns of an investment in Canaletto: ~21% )
Sources: Tutela Capital SA
Example: Andy Warhol (Yearly volatility of returns of an investment in Warhol: ~34% )
Sources: Tutela Capital SA
For collectors and investors the question is how to minimize risks and maximize returns. The road to follow is compare and analyse relevant data, be it on a professional level through quantitative tools or good old fashioned pen and paper. The second step, a great difficulty for passionate collectors, is to diversify, as diversification leads to fewer risks. The pie charts here below are illustrative.
Sources: Tutela Capital SA
Sources: Tutela Capital SA
Wrapping up his lecture, Fabien Bocart concluded financial risks and rewards are to a certain extent manageable. One of the very few certainties, as he announced in his opening is the ‘discovery’ that price in the art market goes up and down! More controllable are operational hazards which can be covered by, for example, insurance policies. Financial risks can be managed by a market analysis, diversifying and selling at the right moment in order to manage any liquidity risks. Finally, he stated that the art market is the only market that is immune against bankruptcy!
After a short coffee break there was a panel discussion on the subject of the symposium’s title, moderated by Annabelle Birnie, participating attendees were J. Patrice Marandel (Curator at the LACMA), George Kremer (private collector), Phillip Hoffman (Chief Executive of The Fine Art Fund Group), Fabien Bocart and Xavier Auerbach (tax partner PwC).
Phillip Hoffman had an interesting statement in which he claimed that the arts is the only commodity which actually does not devaluate, which is confirmed to a certain extent through Fabien Bocart’s previous presentation. To be noted is that a clear distinction was made between investing and speculating. Speculating being the financial gamble commonly seen when art bubbles are created, especially with contemporary art. To top it off, George Kremer was more than convinced that a great number of contemporary artists will be completely forgotten in the 50 years to come. In 2009, Ben Lewis, art critic and filmmaker, made an interesting documentary title ‘The Great Contemporary Art Bubble’, which gives an excellent insight how art bubbles are created.
One should not buy art when one wants to establish a collection, according to J. Patrice Marandel and George Kremer. J. Patrice Marandel strongly advises to start off with collecting books about the art one has a soft spot for before purchasing the first work of art. George Kremer stresses that educating once self is the all essential start of every collection. Books, lectures, museums, collectors and of course the trade, are the sources to consult before compiling a serious collection.
The overall conclusion to the question whether to collect for love or money can be none other than that it depends on personal motivations. Phillip Hoffman, the only non-collector amongst the panel members, states he is in it for the money in order to give his clients the best return on their investment and that the emotional value is nonexistent. J. Patrice Marandel and George Kremer obviously have different motivations and value the art they acquire on a more emotional level.
The symposium presented some very interesting insights, was more than worthwhile attending and will hopefully be a reoccurring event. Establishing a collection should require a bit more than just financial funds, whether ascertained for emotional reasons or from an investment perspective. Prior to developing a collection, one should be informed of market trends, price developments and obtain knowhow of the discipline(s) one wants to focus on. From a pure rational point of view, if collecting is ever a rational occupation, diversifying is financially the safest way to go, according to Fabien Bocart.
China has overtaken the United States as the world’s biggest market for art and antiques
Tue 20 Mar
TEFAF 16 March 2012
China has overtaken the United States as the world’s biggest market for art and antiques ending decades of American domination. This historic turning point, which is also an important indicator of seismic shifts in the wider global economy, is revealed in a new report published on Friday 16 March 2012. The International Art Market in 2011: Observations on the Art Trade over 25 Years has been commissioned by TEFAF Maastricht, the world’s best art and antiques fair.
China’s share of the global art market rose from 23% in 2010 to 30% last year, pushing the United States, with 29%, into second place. The report, compiled by Dr Clare McAndrew, a cultural economist specialising in the fine and decorative art market and founder of Arts Economics, called the development “perhaps one of the most fundamental and important changes in the last 50 years”. The United Kingdom, which was overtaken by China in 2010, remained third with a 22% market share while France was a distant fourth with 6%.
The powerful surge by China combined with a rise in fine art sales, particularly in the Modern and Contemporary sectors, led to a continuing strengthening in the art and antiques market worldwide. Sales in 2011 rose by 7% to €46.1 billion, an increase of 63% from the market crisis of 2009. Although not quite back to its 2007 pre-recession high of €48.1 billion, the market has staged a significant recovery over the past two years.
The principal findings of the report, the first TEFAF study of the market to be translated into Chinese, are:
∎ China overtook the US for the first time in 2011 to become the largest art and antiques market worldwide with a share of 30% based on both auction and dealer sales.
∎ The US share dropped by 5 percentage points to 29% while the combined total for the 27 European Union countries was also down by 3 percentage points to 34%. Among the EU nations, the largest markets were the UK with 22% of the global total and France with 6%, both unchanged.
∎ The Chinese art and antiques auction sector was the strongest growing market worldwide with a dramatic rise of 177% in 2010 and a further 64% in 2011.
∎ The global art market continued to recover in 2011, increasing by 7% to €46.1 billion, an increase of 63% since the market crisis of 2009. The volume of transactions also increased by 5% to 36.8 million.
∎ The driving forces behind the recovery were strong sales in the Chinese auction market and the rise of fine art sales (over decorative art).
∎ The Modern and Contemporary sectors combined to account for nearly 70% of the fine art market. Both continued a strong recovery in 2011, leading them to levels in excess of the boom of 2007-2008.
∎ The art market took nearly a decade to recover from the recession of the 1990s whereas the contraction in 2009 has been relatively short-lived. This is due, in part, to its increasingly global nature.
∎ The art market has more than doubled in size in the 25 years since TEFAF Maastricht was founded and grew over 575% from its lowest point in 1991 (just under US$10 billion) to its highest in 2007 (US$66 billion/€48.1 billion).
“Apart from its rapid increase in size, the last decade has witnessed significant changes in the art market’s geographical distribution of sales,” writes Dr McAndrew in the report. “The next decade will be the first period when emerging market countries contribute more to global economic growth than developed ones.”
“The dominance of the Chinese market has been driven by expanding wealth, strong domestic supply and the investive drive of Chinese art buyers. Although recent economic turmoil has created a more cautious buying climate in the rest of the world, growing domestic difficulties in Chinese property and stock markets and the lack of other alternatives appear to have led to a significant amount of substitution into art as an investment by Chinese consumers.”
“However all regions will be facing challenges in 2012 and beyond: the Chinese art market in how to cope with an overheated market and promote more stable, long-term growth; Europe, with how to maintain its competitiveness in the face of continued regulatory and cost burdens: and the US, with the challenge of losing its supremacy during the recent past as the centre for demand and supply in the market.”
Antique Ivory Sales Banned in California, Consignments Seized
Mon 19 Mar
Maine Antique Digest April 2012 Issue
by David Hewett
California recently began to strictly enforce a much-amended state law, and it has already caused dealers and auctioneers much grief.
On Sunday, February 5, a dealer couple in their 60's set up at an outdoor flea market. A visitor to their booth picked up an item and asked, "What's this made of?" "It's ivory," the man answered.
Wrong answer. The customer flashed his badge and identified himself as an agent with the California Department of Fish and Game. He then proceeded to seize all eight of the pieces in the booth that contained ivory. He cited the couple for committing a misdemeanor and gave them a court appearance date of April 12. The man estimated his loss at between $1500 and $2000. He told M.A.D. that another dealer had lost upward of $10,000 worth of material.
That dealer, like others who spoke with us, was afraid of publicity. He said he'd heard we were working on a report about the seizures, and that's why he'd made the cold call to us. He refused to give his name or even the location of the seizure. The reason? "People are saying if you make a stink about it or get your name in the papers, they could sic the IRS on you or make it a federal case," he said. "My wife is a schoolteacher. They could change the misdemeanor charge to a felony, and then she'd be out of a job."
That couple's loss is but a fraction compared to what the owners of Slawinski Auction Company suffered. The Scotts Valley, California, firm was raided on February 18 by agents enforcing the new law. When the agents left, they took all the ivory lots with them—ivory worth approximately $150,000.
Some in the auction trade learned about that event through a February 20 e-mail warning sent out by Rosie DeStories, co-owner of Fairfield Auction in Monroe, Connecticut.
DeStories wrote: "The State of California Department of Fish and Game is ACTIVELY raiding auction houses and antique shows, confiscating ivory. It is now illegal to sell or have the intent to sell ANY IVORY within the State of California or to sell it to any bidders within the State of California REGARDLESS OF THE AGE of the ivory. The fine is a minimum of $1000 per violation and a maximum up to $5000 per violation."
DeStories's message continued: "Two days ago during an auction preview approximately 25 uniformed and armed State of California Department of Fish and Game officers stormed into my brother's auction preview. They confiscated approximately 40 lots of antique ivory that was scheduled to be auctioned yesterday on February 19."
DeStories's brother is Robert "Rob" Slawinski. He and their father, Robert "Bob" Slawinski, run the Slawinski Auction Company. We spoke with the elder Slawinski on March 6.
"This was a screw-up that didn't have to happen," he said. "We checked with Fish and Wildlife well before the auction. We have always worked with the idea that ivory has to be genuinely antique in order to sell it; I mean older than one hundred years. I've been very careful about that. We even refused a couple of pieces for that sale because we couldn't prove they were that old."
Slawinski went on to say that he had called the Department of Fish and Game and spoken to a woman there. "I explained I had an auction coming up in a few days and needed to know if there was something going on. We had heard there might be changes relating to ivory. I said I was selling antique ivory and needed to know if I was doing everything I needed to, legally, and was told they'd get back to me. She called me back a couple of hours later and said she wasn't able to talk to anybody.
"The night they showed up, they covered the parking lot. We had probably twenty armed agents here. There was no reason for that level of intimidation. They were uniformed and armed to the teeth. I have some young girls working here, and those kids were just shaking.
"I tried to work with them. About midway through the evening I told the chief, 'Look, this whole thing could have been resolved if you'd just had somebody in the office to give me the information I needed.'
"I pulled out my iPhone and showed him and said, 'What's your number?' Then I scrolled down and went to Friday and 10:41, and said, 'Here's when I called you.' He took the phone out of my hand and said, 'That's my number, and you were on the phone for five minutes.'
"I said, 'Somebody in your office answered the phone and told me no one was available,' and he said, 'No, that's not true. I was in the office all day.' He said he knew some calls came in, but 'she didn't say anything to me, and her desk is twenty feet from my desk.'
"They gave me a receipt [for what they took], but what they didn't give me was any kind of a summons. I think at that time they realized I'd done everything humanly possible. But apparently that's not enough."
Slawinski said his record was spotless, he'd been involved with the local community for 40 years, had run numerous charity auctions, and had actually received an award for saving the life of the local sheriff.
"This is impacting far more than my business," Bob Slawinski said. "One of my consignors brought me a collection that had been in the family for years and years with things going back to 1800. They needed to raise money for medical bills.
"I've called most of my consignors, and they'll be taken care of," Slawinski said. "They'll be paid whether we get the ivory back or not. My reputation is important to me. Integrity is everything in the auction business."
Slawinski said he'd learned from those conducting the raid that they had sent in two undercover agents that afternoon.
When California Department of Fish and Game law enforcement spokesman Patrick Foy heard about the raid, he laughed. "I doubt we're able to get twenty-five 'uniformed and armed' officers together in this state at any one time," he said. "That's a little over the top."
"It is illegal to sell any ivory or other material from any animal on the endangered species list in California," he pointed out. "It's legal to possess it, but you cannot sell it. Possession with intent to sell is illegal. It's a misdemeanor level crime."
We asked where they got their leads. Foy said, "If I'm at a trade show or something like that kind of event, and I find someone with elephant ivory, that's illegal. It is not legal to sell elephant ivory in California. It doesn't matter if it's antique. There is no provision in the law for how long it has been possessed or when it was made. It's still illegal to possess ivory with intent to sell in California," Foy said. "It's important to know that we are not in the business to put antique dealers out of business; that's not what we're after. Our intent is to prohibit the business of selling wildlife parts."
The portion of the law identifying the species covered lists more than just elephants, though. Whales, dolphins, porpoises, and polar bears are also included. Here's the first full paragraph of the relevant criminal code:
California Penal Code Section 653o:
(a) It is unlawful to import into this state for commercial purposes, to possess with intent to sell, or to sell within the state, the dead body, or any part or product thereof, of any polar bear, leopard, ocelot, tiger, cheetah, jaguar, sable antelope, wolf (Canis lupus), zebra, whale, cobra, python, sea turtle, colobus monkey, kangaroo, vicuna, sea otter, free-roaming feral horse, dolphin or porpoise (Delphinidae), Spanish lynx, or elephant.
Crocodiles, alligators, and seals are covered in subsequent paragraphs.
The next section, Penal Code Section 653p, repeats some of 653o, makes possession illegal, and identifies the root source of the law:
It is unlawful to possess with the intent to sell, or to sell, within the state, the dead body, or any part or product thereof, of any species or subspecies of any fish, bird, mammal, amphibian, reptile, mollusk, invertebrate, or plant, the importation of which is illegal under the Federal Endangered Species Act of 1973 (Title 16, United States Code Sec. 1531 et seq.) and subsequent amendments, or under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 (Title 16, United States Code Sec. 1361 et seq.), or which is listed in the Federal Register by the Secretary of the Interior pursuant to the above acts. The violation of any federal regulations adopted pursuant to the above acts shall also be deemed a violation of this section.
There are thousands of objects that may contain ivory from the teeth of endangered species. All whales, including beluga, blue, bowhead, finback, humpback, killer, North Atlantic right, sei, and sperm, are listed as endangered in the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Similarly, all elephants are listed on the endangered species list. Since almost all ivory found on antique objects comes from elephants and/or whales, anything containing ivory is illegal to offer to sell in California.
Antique pianos often have ivory key veneers. Some antique silver or plated tableware may have an ivory ring between the handle and knife blade. Federal and country-made furniture sometimes has bone or ivory key escutcheons, and then there is the vast amount of carved ivory Orientalia that makes up whole subsections of auction offerings and is found in countless gift and curio shops throughout California.
Bonhams' March 13 Asian decorative arts sale in San Francisco included well over 125 lots that contained ivory. On March 9 and 10, all of those lots were abruptly withdrawn. Many of those lots contained multiple objects (some with as many as eight pieces), and most were described as 20th century in origin.
The law's strict enforcement is going to have an impact on those who make a number of objects, such as knives and pool cues, and repairers of antique musical instruments. Custom knife maker Al Warren of Roseville, California (who uses several types of ivory on his knives), thought he was operating legally when he wrote on his Web site: "In 1987 I secured a good supply of elephant tusk and have the 1975 bill of lading for its entry into the USA. Copies are available upon request with purchase of a knife with elephant ivory."
Warren is well aware of the pitfalls involving selling objects containing whale products. "I have a very limited number of registered teeth that belong to me that I can use for knife handles, but due to a stipulation in the law, I cannot ship them to any address outside the state of California [his emphasis]."
Warren said, when told about the California law being strictly enforced, "I guess I better get to my Web site and change some things."
The penal code banning the sale of ivory isn't the only law affecting the sale of animal parts. "If an animal exists in the wild in California," Patrick Foy said, "it's illegal to sell parts from that animal. As an example, if you hold a valid hunting license and shoot a nice big buck and have the head mounted, it's illegal to sell that head to another person. You can give it to your buddy, you can transport it somewhere, but you can't sell it."
eBay, based in California, already has made its decision about how to handle ivory. It placed a global ban on the sale of all types of ivory, stating: "This global ban will be effective January 1, 2009."
California's law will have no effect on the root cause. The demand for ivory from Asia is driving the mass murder of elephants in Africa. Poachers in Cameroon's Bouba Ndjida National Park, using modern automatic weapons, slaughtered up to 450 elephants for their tusks in just one bloody raid in mid-February.
According to TRAFFIC, a conservation group that tracks trends in wildlife trading, a record number of large-scale ivory seizures happened around the globe in 2011. TRAFFIC estimated that over 23 tons of ivory was seized in raids by authorities last year.
"I'll get beyond this," auctioneer Bob Slawinski said. "This will not affect my reputation because everybody knows me, but some homeowner who sells a used piano with ivory keys who gets busted will be liable for six months of jail time and a fine.
"They are not interested in sending people to jail; California wants the money, one to five thousand dollars fine per item."
Agents Charge the Real Traffickers in Endangered Species Parts
On January 6, 2011, a California task force working under the name Operation Cyberwild announced it had brought charges against 12 people who allegedly sold clothing, footwear, and rugs made from parts of endangered species, plus live birds and fish that appear on the endangered species list.
The arrests were announced in Los Angeles by several Assistant U.S. Attorneys, by Scott Flaherty of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and by Patrick Foy of the California Department of Fish and Game (see his comments in the main story).
The accused allegedly offered the prohibited material on two Internet services, Craigslist and eBay. Those who face federal charges were said to have sold a pair of boots made from loggerhead sea turtle leather, a leopard skin coat, a pair of sea turtle leather shoes, a tiger skin rug, and a hawksbill sea turtle shell.
The two defendants facing California charges were said to have sold an elephant foot, a bearskin rug, and mounted hawks and birds.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announcement of the arrests reported that they were aided by "[f]ive volunteers from the Humane Society of the United States who searched the Internet for suspicious items and referred the listings to investigators."
Originally published in the April 2012 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2012 Maine Antique Digest
Gerhard Richter, Henry Moore and Rubens at Maastricht Fair
Mon 19 Mar
You Need a Rubens? Sorry, Sold
The New York Times
By CAROL VOGEL
Published: March 18, 2012
MAASTRICHT, the Netherlands — There’s nothing unusual about hearing French, Italian, German or even Russian spoken at the European Fine Art Fair. But this year, as the doors to the cavernous convention center here opened for the invitation-only preview on Thursday, Chinese was also a noticeable part of the mix.
Keenly aware that Asia is the fastest-growing segment of the art market right now, a group of the fair’s dealers and organizers made a visit to Beijing and Shanghai in September to meet with collectors’ clubs and private museums and to talk up the fair. As a result of that trip alone, officials here said, about 100 visas were issued to Chinese collectors for visits to the Netherlands. And by the time the 10-day fair ends, on Sunday, they expect that 250 to 500 collectors, dealers and other art world figures will have made a trip here from China.
For first-time visitors the variety of things to see is dizzying: “This is the only place you can buy something that is 1,000 years old and something that is still wet,” said Matt Carey-Williams, international director of the London gallery Haunch of Venison.
Some $1.3 billion worth of art and objects from many categories are on view. Among this year’s highlights: a monumental black marble sculpture by Henry Moore from 1977, priced at $35 million; an early Rubens oil painting on a panel that was sold, for perhaps as much as $3.9 million; a ruby and pearl brooch by Salvador Dalí in the form of Marilyn Monroe’s lips, for $45,000; and an ancient Chinese caldron for $3 million.
The influx of Chinese collectors is a boon for dealers in Asian art. Gisele Croes, a Brussels dealer, said she had had a blockbuster fair so far, selling many works of Chinese art on the opening day, including a scholar’s rock priced at $180,000. Three Asian collectors, she added, are all seriously considering buying a bronze caldron from the Eastern Zhou period (770-221 B.C.), apparently undaunted by the $3 million price. “I’ve met a lot of new Chinese collectors this year,” Ms. Croes said.
Over all about 70,000 visitors are expected to flock to this small Dutch city, about an hour and a half east of Brussels, over the course of the fair. During the opening weekend many recognizable faces could be spotted perusing booths here, including Calvin Klein; Sheik Saud al-Thani of Qatar; and American collectors like J. Tomilson Hill, and his wife, Janine, and Donald L. Bryant Jr. and his wife, Bettina. Timothy Potts, the new director of the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, is also here, as is Adam D. Weinberg, director of the Whitney Museum of American Art, who is making his first visit to Maastricht, with a group of museum trustees and supporters. “It’s really refreshing to see the way people here are really looking at the art,” Mr. Weinberg said.
Before the fair opened there was a good deal of anxiety among the dealers about how much business they would do given the financial turmoil in Europe. And though a true measure of business at any fair is difficult to gauge, as of Sunday business was slow for some, while others had made impressive sales. “It seems more active than last year,” said Richard L. Feigen, the New York dealer, whose booth was filled with an impressive array of old master paintings. “People are frightened of various currencies, and art is a good repository for their money.”
Among the star attractions this year is that early Rubens painting, a particularly dramatic Crucifixion scene dating from around 1618-20. Konrad O. Bernheimer, the Munich dealer who was selling it, said the painting came from a Spanish family that had owned it since the 1970s. It sold within the first hour of the fair to Eijk van Otterloo, a financier and collector, and his wife, Rose-Marie, who live in Boston.
Old master paintings, often by artists who are far from household names, have long been the heart and soul of this fair. Some are discoveries that dealers wait to show off here for the first time. Richard Green gallery in London has an immaculately detailed still life of exotic plants by the 17th- and 18th-century Dutch flower painter Rachel Ruysch, who — as both one of the most skilled painters of her time and a woman in a male-dominated profession — was something of a star in her day.
This canvas, from 1700, was discovered by Jonathan Green, the gallery’s deputy executive chairman, in a small auction in upstate New York. “It hadn’t been seen for 100 years,” Mr. Green said. He paid about $2 million for the painting, which has now been cleaned and researched and has an asking price of $4.3 million. As of Sunday morning it was still unsold.
A few years ago several major American modern and contemporary dealers began exhibiting here, making for some competition with fairs that specialize in newer art like Art Basel, in Switzerland. But many left and still haven’t been replaced. Still, those who have stayed — Sperone Westwater, Anthony Meier and Christophe Van der Weghe to name a few — value the fair for the mix of serious collectors it draws. “I see people here that I don’t see at any other fairs,” Mr. Van der Weghe said.
Their booths feature good examples of exactly what collectors want right now. Both Mr. Meier, of San Francisco, and Mr. Van der Weghe, of New York, have been showing paintings by Gerhard Richter for years, but a retrospective that was at the Tate Modern in London and has now traveled to the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin is contributing to a new level of interest in Mr. Richter. Mr. Meyer’s stand has 28 works by Mr. Richter from every style and period of his career, including “Kleine Strasse,” a 1987 landscape Mr. Meyer bought at a Christie’s auction in London in 2008 for $4.5 million. It was for sale here for $5.6 million and sold on Thursday.
Mr. Van der Weghe has a 1984 abstract canvas by Mr. Richter that he is hoping to sell for $5.5 million. “This is an artist who appeals to new collectors and hardcore ones who want a piece of art history,” he said.
It wouldn’t be a 21st-century art fair without at least one video installation. And this being old master country, the Fine Art Society, the London gallery, is offering a work by the British artists Rob and Nick Carter titled “Transforming Still Life Painting: After Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder, ‘Vase With Flowers in a Window’ ” (2009-12). They have created a computer-generated exact copy of this celebrated 1618 painting in the collection of the Mauritshuis Museum in The Hague; over the course of their looped, three-hour film, the image of a bouquet of flowers changes almost imperceptibly to reflect the passage of time. Every few minutes there’s a tiny moment of drama — when a caterpillar snacks on a leaf, for instance, or a snail crawls out of its shell. The work was produced in an edition of 12 (8 had sold by Sunday), and the gallery was asking about $105,000 for it.
“Mauritshuis has No. 1 of the edition,” said Patrick Bourne, managing director of the Fine Art Society gallery. One excited buyer is the Paris dealer old master dealer Bob Haboldt who fell in love with the video. “In a way it’s better than the real thing,” he said. “It’s just not 400 years old.”
Qatar Purchases Cézanne’s The Card Players for More Than $250 Million, Highest Price Ever for a Work of Art
Mon 20 Feb
By Alexandra Peers
With this landmark score, the tiny, oil-rich nation joins a massively exclusive club: only five Card Players exist, and the other four are in world-class collections such as the Musée d’Orsay and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The purchase is just the latest bid in Qatar’s effort to become an international intellectual hub.
The tiny, oil-rich nation of Qatar has purchased a Paul Cézanne painting, The Card Players, for more than $250 million. The deal, in a single stroke, sets the highest price ever paid for a work of art and upends the modern art market.
If the price seems insane, it may well be, since it more than doubles the current auction record for a work of art. And this is no epic van Gogh landscape or Vermeer portrait, but an angular, moody representation of two Aix-en-Provence peasants in a card game. But, for its $250 million, Qatar gets more than a post-Impressionist masterpiece; it wins entry into an exclusive club. There are four other Cézanne Card Players in the series; and they are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Musée d’Orsay, the Courtauld, and the Barnes Foundation. For a nation in the midst of building a museum empire, it’s instant cred.
Is the painting, created at the cusp of the 20th century, worth it? Well, Cézanne inspired Cubism and presaged abstract art, and Picasso called him “the father of us all.” That said, “$250 million is a fortune,” notes Victor Wiener, the fine-art appraiser called in by Lloyd’s of London when Steve Wynn put his elbow through a Picasso, in 2006. “But you take any art-history course, and a Card Players is likely in it. It’s a major, major image.” For months, he said, “its sale has been rumored. Now, everyone will use this price as a point of departure: it changes the whole art-market structure.”
The Cézanne sale actually took place in 2011, and details of the secret deal are now coming out as a slew of V.I.P. collectors, curators, and dealers head to Qatar for the opening next week of a Takashi Murakami blockbuster that was recently on view in the Palace of Versailles. The nation, located on its own small jetty off the Arabian Peninsula, is a new destination on the art-world grand tour: current exhibitions include an 80-foot-high Richard Serra and a Louise Bourgeois retrospective (her bronze spider is crawling across the Doha Convention Center), and in March it hosts a Global Art Forum that attracts artists, curators, and patrons from museum groups worldwide.
Land of the 1 Percent
Qatar (and its capital city, Doha) isn’t just a destination for those with private jets. It’s also a burgeoning intellectual and media hub. It hosts the headquarters of Al Jazeera, the Mideast campuses of Georgetown, Texas A&M, and Northwestern Universities—and of one the most ambitious sets of cultural goals since the robber barons and empire builders of America founded so many grand institutions a century ago.
Qatar does big things in a spectacular way. In 2008 when it opened the Museum of Islamic Art, a grand limestone behemoth by I. M. Pei, a flotilla of vintage ships sailed in V.I.P. guests representing the world’s great museums. Later, Robert De Niro floated up from the sea in a revolving open-air elevator to announce the Tribeca Film Festival was starting a Doha outpost.
In 2010, Qatar opened its Arab Museum of Modern Art, and the Qatar National Museum, currently closed for renovation by superstar architect Jean Nouvel, will reopen in 2014. That’s where the Cézanne could end up, flanked by some famous Rothkos, Warhols, and Hirsts that the Qataris have been snapping up in a buying spree.
The royal family of Qatar, does not comment on its purchases, however. And the tight circle of auction, houses, officials and dealers it is involved with, by and large, sign confidentiality agreements. But multiple sources confirm the record purchase of The Card Players.
How did Qatar get the Cézanne? For years, Greek shipping magnate George Embiricos had owned and treasured the painting, rarely lending it. He was “entertained” but unmoved, according to one art dealer, by occasional offers for it that climbed ever higher alongside the art market in past decades. A few years ago, the painting was listed by artnews magazine as one of the world’s top artworks still in private hands.
Shortly before his death in the winter of 2011, Embiricos began discussions about its sale, which was handled by his estate. Two art dealers—William Acquavella and another, rumored to be Larry Gagosian—offered upward of $220 million for the painting, people close to the matter said. But the royal family of Qatar, without quibbling on price, outbid them, at $250 million. (Disputes about the exact price turn on currency exchange rates, exactly when the painting changed hands—and whether the person talking has a pricey Cézanne in inventory. Estimates of what Qatar paid range as high as $300 million.)
Qatar’s appetite was all the stronger because, as the sale was going on, the Metropolitan Museum of Art was opening an entire exhibition devoted to the Card Players series—noticeably absent the elusive Embiricos one. Believed to be the final one the artist painted, circa 1895, it’s “the darkest, the most stripped down and essential,” said Gary Tinterow, curator of that Met show and, as of this week, the director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Members of the royal family of Qatar work through G.P.S., a New York-and-Paris-based triumvirate of dealers known for its discretion. Its principals include Lionel Pissarro, grandson of the painter Camille Pissarro, and dealer Philippe Segalot, who had handled many private transactions for luxury-goods billionaire François Pinault. Guy Bennett, former head of worldwide Impressionist and modern art at Christie’s, also played a hand in the record-setting deal, people close to the matter said. (Christie’s goes way back with the Embiricos family, who are a horsey set, as it hosts the annual Foxhunter Chase in Cheltenham, England.)
The most paid for a painting at auction is the $106 million, paid last year at Christie’s for a lush portrait of Picasso’s curvy mistress Marie-Thérèse. Privately, works by Picasso, Pollock, Klimt, and de Kooning have changed hands in the $125 million-to-$150 million range, traded to and from by Ronald Lauder, Wynn, David Geffen, and the like. But no price has come close to this one. And Qatar is also buying 20th-century art: The Art Newspaper, with has chronicled Qatar’s buying sprees with care and ferocity, earlier this year crowned the nation the biggest single contemporary-art buyer in the world.
The money is there: the United Arab Emirates region (which, loosely defined, includes Dubai, Bahrain, and Abu Dhabi) is home to nearly 10 percent of all the world’s oil reserve, nearly four million people, and, until recently, the planet’s largest-ever construction boom. Qatar’s neighbor (and rival) Abu Dhabi started, stopped, and now has started again ambitious plans to build outposts of the Louvre and the Guggenheim museums on its Saadiyat Island.
The region’s glamorous arts expansion takes place in the shadow of the Arab Spring, of course, but that hasn’t stopped the showmanship game. This is a play for fame, tourism, and immortality—and the buyers are well versed in Hollywood-style hype. The daughter of Qatar’s emir, 28-year-old Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, now heads the Qatar Museums Authority. But her first job was working as an intern in New York for the Tribeca Film Festival. (She once bragged, laughing, that her job was picking up breakfast pastries for Jane Rosenthal.) Next week, she’s hosting the opening of the Murakami exhibition.
Qatar became an art-world force roughly a decade ago, when Sheikh Saud Al-Thani, cultural minister and second cousin of the emir of Qatar, began an unprecedented global spending spree. That ended ignobly, with the sheikh’s arrest in 2005 for misuse of public funds (he has since been released). Now his cousin the emir Saud al Saud continues to buy.
Is the buying spree over? Not a chance. Qatar made another major acquisition last year, hiring Christie’s chairman Edward J. Dolman as executive director of the Museums Authority.
A market divided
Mon 23 Jan
The Art Newspaper
Top quality works are keeping the numbers up, but there are uncertain times ahead
By Georgina Adam. News, Issue 231, January 2012
The crisis in the eurozone, the threat of recession, rising unemployment and widespread political uncertainty painted a grim picture of the global economy at the end of 2011—and yet one sector was apparently defiant: the art market. As the economic gloom deepened through the autumn, there was widespread speculation that it, too, would inevitably follow other sectors downwards, and the autumn season’s fairs and auctions were watched carefully, and with more anxiety, than usual.
But as the results came in, it was clear that some sectors of the art market were almost miraculously walking on water. Sotheby’s 8 November sale in New York fetched extraordinary prices for a group of Clyfford Stills and for works by Gerhard Richter, and its total of $315.8m was its third highest for such a sale, with just $100,000 separating it from its second (the record is still held by Christie’s $384.6m sale in May 2007). The autumn fairs and many other auctions also turned in more than respectable results. Based on almost complete data for 2011, the French site Artprice reported that the year was the best ever for sales of art at auction: $10.7bn, compared with $9.5bn in 2010. This extraordinary result shows that the market was still growing last year, boosted by Chinese buyers.
Art has certainly benefited from being considered by some as a “tangible asset”. “Investors were disappointed in financial assets following the economic crisis and there is growing demand for ‘real assets’ that offer a long-term store of value,” says Randall Willette of Fine Art Wealth Management.
An illustration was the extraordinary results of the New York sales of Elizabeth Taylor’s jewels and memorabilia (total $156.7m) last month, which showed that there is still a massive amount of money available to be splurged on luxury goods—an area into which art is, rightly or wrongly, assimilated by many financial analysts.
The major questions, as we go into this year, are how resilient is the market, and can it continue to operate in an apparently parallel dimension?
First, and this cannot be repeated enough: the art market is not a single entity, but a succession of smaller markets. The chart (see p8) looks at impressionist, modern and contemporary art sold at auction since 2004, and shows the first slipping slightly while the other two are still rising. In other fields, however, the picture is not so rosy—recent sales of Old Masters, Russian art, Middle Eastern art, 19th-century painting and European sculpture have all seen high buy-in rates, while antiques, furniture in particular, are in the doldrums.
“Dealers in smaller markets are very panicky,” says art economist Clare McAndrew. She has been conducting wide-ranging interviews for her annual report on the market, published during the Maastricht fair (The European Fine Art Fair) every March. “But the high end is getting further away from the rest,” she says.
“The increase in the sheer amount of wealth is leading to a bifurcation towards ‘masterpieces’,” says Michael Plummer of Artvest. This leads to big prices being paid for top pieces even in otherwise weak sectors, one example being the $6.9m given for a Louis XVI lacquer commode in the Safra sale at Sotheby’s, New York in October.
The difference between today and the 2008-09 crisis is that the very rich have, overall, regained their fortunes and are spending again. “From 2009 to 2010, it was seen as unfashionable to flash your cash,” says McAndrew. “And at that time, UHNWIs [ultra-high-net-worth individuals, defined by Merrill Lynch-Capgemini as those with more than $30m in investable assets], were worried about banks going under, so they held off spending; today’s concerns about unemployment, say, are not their problem.”
And if they buy mainly in the contemporary art segment, it is because the art market is supply-driven: this is the only part that can continue to furnish stock, particularly as the very rich increasingly parade their wealth with private art spaces showing contemporary art.
It is also fashion-driven: today’s buyers, those with new wealth in particular, like the “branded” nature of contemporary art. Contemporary also has global reach, says Jeff Rabin of Artvest, but he cautions: “The greatest demand will be for fresh and correctly estimated property.”
The market is also highly dependent on confidence, something that was bolstered by the good results of the autumn sales. “There were surprisingly few guarantees in the November sales,” says Nick Maclean of the dealership Eykyn Maclean. “This shows that vendors were confident they would sell.” He says that in the impressionist and modern art field the auction results do not reveal the enormous amount of business transacted out of the public eye, through private dealers or through the auction houses’ private treaty departments. He is confident that there is enough supply in this field as well.
Nevertheless, there were signs of weakening as last year ended. The Russians have been slowing their buying, and while market leader Sotheby’s announced an increase of 16.6% on its sales (in New York and London) for 2011 over 2010, its strongest sales were at the beginning of last year.
Much was also made of a weakening of the Chinese market after Christie’s November sales in Hong Kong finally hit a snag. The firm sold $385m-worth of mainly Asian works of art, down 8% on its 2010 results. But, says Plummer: “The Chinese market is still strong, but has gone from overheated and reckless to more discerning, overall a good thing.” Meanwhile, the mainland auction houses continue to report blisteringly good results ($1.8bn for 2011, says Poly, a Chinese auction house).
“The art market is saved by two things: Europe, with its economic woes, is becoming less important; and the high end is so strong,” says McAndrew. And the market is also supported by countries such as Qatar (The Art Newspaper, July-August 2011, p1). Rabin sounds a warning: “We are in uncertain financial times and a scare in the financial markets and the continued fragility of the euro could change the landscape overnight,” he says.
Are furniture prices levelling out after years of decline?
Mon 23 Jan
Antique Trade Gazette
23 January 2012
After massive falls in the previous two years, the Antique Collectors’ Club’s Annual Furniture Index (AFI) dropped by a modest two per cent in 2011.
While, for reasons of fashion and function, the English antique furniture market remains in a parlous state, the decline was no more severe than those seen on the stock exchange or the housing market.
Established in 1968, the AFI is based on a blend of retail and auction prices for 1400 typical (rather than exceptional) pieces of furniture from seven different periods or categories pictured in John Andrews' book British Antique Furniture. It does not reflect the volume of items traded, nor does it include spectacular sales at the top end of the market where prices largely held up well.
The index stood at 100 when Mr Andrews began the project and it reached an historic high of 3575 points in 2002. But the past decade has seen a steady decline, including record falls of seven per cent in 2009 and eight per cent in 2010. Last year, the index moved downwards again from 2505 to 2463. It was last at this level in 1995.
Five of the seven constituent indices of the AFI registered falls in 2011. The categories most associated with the decline in formal dining, Late Mahogany (-3%) and Regency (-3%), show few signs of returning to form, while falling demand for dressers and a lack of good examples meant Oak (-2%) and Country (-4%) again showed the new-found vulnerability that marked them among the biggest losers in 2010.
Across 43 years, oak and country have been the strongest of all categories, but post-1770 mahogany furniture now carries the lowest of all index figures at 1803.
The Early Mahogany category saw a small gain (+1%) and Walnut, which fell 7% in 2010, was up by 5% in 2011, something Mr Andrews attributed to a very limited supply.
"There was a shortage of quality in the auction rooms, where routine antique furniture continued to be in poor demand," he said.
Early Victorian pieces were again the biggest loser at -8%.
Only items that were well above average in terms of design and quality, or those with an attractive provenance, maintained their values.
The separate Victorian & Edwardian Index, started in 1973 and once the recipient of spectacular gains, continues to nosedive, dropping a further 11%, mirroring double-digit falls in recent years. While some forms remain strong, such as the upholstered tub chairs popular with interior decorators, other standard late 19th and early 20th century pieces, such as the davenport, the work table and the credenza still languish among the unfashionable.
The Victorian & Edwardian Index, which stood at 2031 in 2003, has lost more than half of its value during the tailspin of the past decade. It now stands at 871, below the index figure it held in 1988.
Nevertheless, given the modest fall in the overall index, Mr Andrews finds some cause for optimism, particularly when measuring the AFI against comparable indices for the FT250 Share Index or the average house price in the south east of England.
"In today's economic circumstances it could have been much worse," he concluded.
Reports from the 'factory floor' during the final quarter of 2011 were also cause for some encouragement. Paul Viney, chairman of the Society of Fine Art Auctioneers, commented in January: "An aspect I have noticed in the last few months is that English furniture has become more sought after, though whether this is merely a blip or represents an encouraging emergence from the doldrums of the last few years, it's difficult to say."
A fuller analysis of the AFI numbers is published in the February edition of Antique Collectors' Club magazine Antique Collecting.
By Roland Arkell
Subtle changes to summer fairs calendar
Mon 23 Jan
Antique Trade Gazette
16 January 2012
The dates for the trio of major London summer fairs have now been released.
The sequence of the three events sees the Olympia International Fine Art & Antiques Fair (June 7-17) overlapped by Art Antiques London (June 13-20) followed just over a week later by Masterpiece (June 28 to July 4).
The calendar is subtly different from last year when Olympia and Art Antiques London (incorporating The International Ceramics Fair and Seminar) both opened on June 9. This year they will overlap rather than clash. The new dates also mean there will be less clear air between the first two fairs and Masterpiece at the end of the month.
Talk of the disjointed London summer season abounded at last year's fairs. Two events opening on the same day proved unpopular, while overseas visitors in particular were asked to make a choice between an early or a late June trip.
Haughton Fairs, organisers of Art Antiques London, held since 2010 in a purpose-built pavilion in Kensington Gardens next to the Albert Memorial, were the last of the three organisers to declare their hand for 2012. They say the new dates have been well received by exhibitors.
After celebrating its tenth anniversary last year, Master Drawings London is returning once again to Mayfair, St James's and Bloomsbury from June 27 to July 5.
State of the Art-Unique exposition by the Association of Fine Art Dealers in The Netherlands- Nov 12, 2011- Jan 8, 2012
Thur 17 Nov
“State of the Art” -
Unique exposition by the Association of Fine Art Dealers
in The Netherlands- Nov 12, 2011- Jan 8, 2012
Brings together the most beautiful pieces from the Dutch art trade in an extraordinary exhibition at Paleis Het Loo Nationaal Museum, starting from the 12th of November 2011.
Amsterdam, November 2011
The Dutch Antiques Dealers Association (VHOK) was founded 100 years ago. To celebrate its centenary, the Association is presenting a broad selection of the masterpieces its members have had the pleasure of dealing with throughout the years in this jubilee exhibition.
At this exhibition, the public will be able to view State of the Art-pieces that are owned, or were traded by the members of the VHOK. The variety of works on display - from museums, private collections and the art trade - is dazzling.
Robert Aronson, Chairman of the VHOK: “We can really speak of a historical event. In fact, this is only the third time that this kind of event will take place. The first time was in 1929, and the second in 1936, that’s 75 years ago! And with this, we also hope to clarify to the Dutch art-loving audience that as an interest group the Association continues to endorse the superior quality of the art and antiques offered for sale by its members. In so doing, it aims to gain the trust of and afford certainty to future buyers.”
Prof. dr. Johan R. ter Molen, Director of Paleis Het Loo: “It’s delightful that the VHOK is also organizing an exhibition for the occasion of this centennial celebration – just like for the 25 anniversary with a presentation in the Rijksmuseum – where such a wide selection of masterpieces, which belong to the select collection of these prominent Dutch art dealers, is gathered.
“State of the Art!” opens on the 12th of November 2011 at Paleis Het Loo, and will run through the 8th of January 2012. Admittance is free for visitors of Paleis Het Loo with a valid admission ticket.
Works of Art
What is so special about “State of the Art!” is that there is no main theme, except that these State of the Art-pieces passed through their members hands. Among the many works of art of this exhibition, the following masterpieces can be found: (download pdf for images)
1 Isaac Israels Oil on canvas 'Danshal, Zeedijk'. ca. 1892-1893.
2 Vincent van Gogh Oil paint on panel 'Gezicht op de Singel Amsterdam’.
3 René Lalique Pendant gold, enamel ‘plique à jour’ with pearls, 1901.
4 Gilded mummy mask, late 1st century B.C. – late 1st century A.D.
5 Sepik chair, New Guinea, Province East Sepik, late 19th – early 20th century.
6 Niki de Saint Phalle sculpture 'Mother and child', 1999.
7 ‘Pineapple’ goblet, Haarlem silver, early 17th century.
8 Matthijs Horrix Secrétaire en pente, 1765-1770.
The Dutch Antiques Dealers Association (VHOK) was founded in Amsterdam on 13 November 1911. This national organisation aimed to promote the interests of its members and of buyers, as well as to guarantee quality. The leading and most influential art and antique dealers joined ranks in this Association from the very beginning. The driving forces behind it were the formidable experts Staal, Houthakker, Goudstikker, Duits and Keezer. The VHOK organised a national exhibition in the Rijksmuseum in 1929. Together with international colleagues, it mounted another exhibition in the Rijksmuseum in 1936. These two events can be considered the forerunners of the present-day national and international art fairs.
By now, the Association has 94 most renowned Dutch art and antique dealers as its members. VHOK is a member of CINOA.
Palace Het Loo Nationaal Museum
Address: Koninklijk Park 1, 7315 JA Apeldoorn.
Entrance: through the parking lot at the Amersfoortseweg, Apeldoorn.
Legal costs kill off Andy Warhol Foundation's vetting board
Mon 7 Nov
25 October 2011 - Antiques Trade Gazette
THE Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts have decided to dissolve the controversial Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board in early 2012.
The board, established 16 years ago to review and authenticate artworks by the Pop artist, has been subject to criticism and numerous lawsuits for its authentication practices. It will honour all requests for review received before October 19, but will not accept new submissions after that time.
Given the sheer volume of Warhol's output and his methods, authentication issues have become part of his legacy. At an annual cost of around $500,000, five Warhol scholars and curators have met three times a year to consider around 1200 submissions since 1995.
But it was the legal fees that followed lawsuits over rejected works that have made the not-for-profit Authentication Board untenable. The process of authenticating Warhols will now fall to the wider art market.
Recent litigants who believed their 'Warhols' were unfairly rejected included three owners of the so-called Red Series of self-portrait paintings: the London-based American Joe Simon-Whelan (see separate report here), the US collector Susan Shaer and the London dealer Anthony d'Offay.
D'Offay had hoped to include a Red Series portrait (that had been included with the artist's knowledge in a 1970 catalogue raisonné) in the 2008 Artist Rooms gift, but it was pulled after it was downgraded by the Authentication Board.
At worst, the foundation and the board were accused of conducting a conspiracy to inflate Warhol prices to benefit their own significant holdings by denying the authenticity of other works as a way to limit supply. The foundation remain in litigation with their liability insurer from whom they are seeking coverage of their legal fees which in 2010 alone were $7m.
A statement from the foundation said the move – a definite step back from the market that has used the authentication service for profit – reflected the need to focus on their primary charitable mission as a grant-giver to the visual arts. "Our money should be going to artists, not lawyers," said Warhol Foundation president Joel Wachs.
The foundation will continue their work in establishing the complete Warhol catalogue raisonné, but will now only accept requests to review works in their own time and when relevant to studies. Wachs is keen to stress that this serves a different function from a dedicated authentication board. "The catalogue raisonné serves a non-market purpose: Andy's legacy and Warhol scholarship. The market seems to want to use the authentication board, but that can't be our concern," he added.
Andy Warhol works (the foundation estimate there are more than 100,000 of them) accounted for an estimated 17 per cent of the Contemporary auction market in 2010.
By Roland Arkell
Artists File Lawsuits, Seeking Royalties
Mon 7 Nov
By PATRICIA COHEN
Published: November 1, 2011 New York Times
When the taxi baron Robert Scull sold part of his art collection in a 1973 auction that helped inaugurate today’s money-soused contemporary-art market, several artists watched the proceedings from a standing-room-only section in the back. There, Robert Rauschenberg saw his 1958 painting “Thaw,” originally sold to Scull for $900, bring down the gavel at $85,000. At the end of the Sotheby Parke Bernet sale in New York, Rauschenberg shoved Scull and yelled that he didn’t work so hard “just for you to make that profit.”
The uproar that followed in part inspired the California Resale Royalties Act, requiring anyone reselling a piece of fine art who lives in the state, or who sells the art there for $1,000 or more, to pay the artist 5 percent of the resale price.
That law is now at the center of three class-action suits brought this month by artists who include Chuck Close and Laddie John Dill and the estate of the sculptor Robert Graham. They have filed suit against the auction powerhouses Sotheby’s and Christie’s and the online auction site eBay for failure to pay royalties.
“It’s a question of basic fairness,” Mr. Close said recently in an interview. When purchasers are getting extraordinary returns on their investment, he said, a royalty resale law allows the artist to share, at least in a small way, in the increase in value. (Under the California law, no payment is due if the price drops.)
The suits do not specify damages, nor do they list particular sales of art by California residents. Rather, as Eric George, the lawyer who filed them, explained, the complaints seek to force the auction houses to reveal the identities or locations of sellers, information that is often kept secret.
“What’s so perverse,” Mr. George said, is that the houses conceal “the very information necessary to know whether a royalty is due.”
The California law, which applies to living artists and those who have died in the past 20 years, states that if the seller is not able to locate the artist within 90 days, he or she is required to send the payment to the California Arts Council, a state agency charged with locating the creators.
Sotheby’s responded to the suit with a terse statement: “We believe the claim is meritless, and it will be vigorously defended.” Christie’s said that it “views the California Resale Royalties Act as subject to serious legal challenges” and that it “looks forward to addressing these issues in court.” The law has so far survived two legal challenges, and experts in art law are divided about whether it might be vulnerable on constitutional grounds.
The larger issue of whether visual artists should receive a cut of future sales remains a subject of vigorous debate. Dozens of countries already have a version of a resale royalties law, generally referred to by the French phrase droit de suite. Starting in 2012, Britain and other members of the European Union will adhere to a uniform standard that applies to both living artists and those who have died within the past 70 years. Indeed, Christie’s, on its Web site, informs prospective clients that it collects the royalty mandated in Europe at the time of the sale.
For many visual artists, the issue is clear. “We need legislation to enact the right to royalties,” said Frank Stella, the president of the International Council of Creators of Graphic, Plastic and Photographic Arts, “and we need to align it with what goes on in Britain and the E.U.” Literature, music, film, computer programming and patents all have better intellectual-property protection than American visual art, Mr. Stella added. The Visual Artists and Galleries Association, a nonprofit group that seeks to protect the intellectual-property rights of artists, also supports a national law.
The idea has never really caught on in the United States, though, and California remains the only state that requires royalties when a painting is resold. In 1986 Senator Edward M. Kennedy was unsuccessful in efforts to include a similar provision in the national Visual Artists Rights Act. A study by the Copyright Office in 1992 concluded that it was “not persuaded that sufficient economic and copyright policy justification exists to establish droit de suite in the United States.”
In the 34 years that the California law has been in effect, about 400 artists have received a total of $328,000, said Patty Milich, the resale royalty act coordinator at the California Arts Council. That list includes the estates of the Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia (who made drawings), Jean-Michel Basquiat, Albert Hirschfeld and Larry Rivers.
Most artists and galleries either don’t know about the law or ignore it, several art lawyers in California said. People often don’t realize, for example, that if a California hotel with paintings on the walls changes ownership, or if a donated sculpture sells for more than its original price at a fundraising auction, a royalty may be due.
Sellers, museums and galleries generally dislike the idea, which they view as an added tax that raises the cost of doing business and cuts into profits. They contend that the law’s main beneficiaries are artists who need it the least: those, like Mr. Close or Mr. Stella, whose work is famous enough to sell again and again.
Opponents add that resale royalties can hurt new artists selling their work for the first time — on what is known as the primary market — by reducing future resale value.
Some artists agree. In 2006, when Britain agreed to adhere to the European Union’s policy on resale royalties, David Hockney argued: “The arrival of this levy will do little or nothing for the vast majority of British artists. It will undoubtedly envelop the market, on which we as artists depend, in red tape, and it will discourage art dealers from buying particularly the work of emerging artists.”
According to one study of the droit de suite in France, approximately 70 percent of the royalty payments went to the estates of a handful of famous 20th-century artists, like Picasso. Still, in California, Ms. Milich said that while it was easier for well-known artists to track resales, “I have contacted artists with a $2,000 royalty, and they were really happy to get it; one was living on Social Security.”
John Henry Merryman, a law professor at Stanford University and an expert on art and cultural-property law, said that advocates of the droit de suite ignore how the art market operates. The increased price for Rauschenberg’s “Thaw” at the Scull auction was due not only to the artist’s continuing creative efforts, he said, but also to the dealers, collectors, auction houses and critics who took a risk in supporting and buying Rauschenberg’s work before he was famous. He noted that the increased price for a single painting simultaneously raises the value of all the artist’s work.
Mr. Merryman dismissed the argument that the droit de suite was analogous to music or literary royalties. “The idea that somehow artists are hurt because they don’t have copyright is nonsense,” he said. Artists retain copyright and must be compensated if their work is reproduced. The difference, he explained, is that “the realization of a work of art is in exhibition, not in duplication.”
The Whitney Museum of American Art at one time compensated artists for exhibiting their work. Mr. Merryman said the idea never caught on, but that it made more sense.
A version of this article appeared in print on November 2, 2011, on page C1 of the New York edition with the headline: Artists File Lawsuits, Seeking Royalties.
Fairs see fewer early headline sales
Tue 18 Oct
Fairs see fewer early headline sales
17 October 2011
SLIGHTLY nervy might best describe mood in the opening days of the two big fairs in town last week.
Although the hip Contemporary feast Frieze Art Fair in Regent's Park (October 13-16) once again drew in the crowds – around 60,000 visitors is the norm – early sales reports suggested a fall in confidence. The same was true of the smaller, soothingly chicPavilion of Art & Design London (October 12-16) in Berkeley Square.
At Frieze, confirmed big-ticket sales were sparse among the 173 exhibitors, although New York dealer David Zwirner sold Haus des Lehrers, a 2003 painting by German artist Neo Rauch to a US collector for $1.35m, and a Marlene Dumas triptych for $550,000.
Meanwhile London gallery White Cube sold a Gursky for €600,000 and an Antony Gormley for £300,000.
While Frieze sits proudly at the frontline of contemporary art, PAD positions itself a little further back from the edge with modern art and design from 1860 to the present.
But, although there were new clients around, major sales also appeared slower for the 58 dealers across the numerous glamorous VIP preview evenings at PAD.
Van de Weghe Fine Art from New York, sold a 1947 Alexander Calder mobile for $1.5m, while London's Sladmore Gallery soldJean d'Aire (1887), a lifetime cast bronze by Auguste Rodin, for £500,000 to a new client, but on the whole sales were in four or five figures.
PAD and Frieze have, since 2007, existed alongside each other in happy symbiosis, but things might not be so amicable next year when Frieze organisers Matthew Slotover and Amanda Sharp launch Frieze Masters to coincide with the existing fair.
They are hoping to attract 70 galleries dealing in art from antiquity to 2000 for this new fair and, with this brief, they are treading on the toes of PAD organisers Patrick Perrin and Stéphane Custot.
With the organisers of Frieze Masters apparently approaching somePAD exhibitors during the fair last week, it will be interesting to see how 2012 pans out for both fairs.
On the competition from Frieze Masters, Mr Perrin commented: "For us it is all about location and having the right combination of artworks and collectors which keep the dealers coming back. Why would you leave a fair that is unanimously appreciated by both collectors and the public?".
At PAD in 2010, all exhibitors had requested to sign up for this year's fair by the last day, and contracts were distributed last Friday for PAD 2012.
By Anna Brady
In Galleria mattoni e web sono le strategie vincenti
Mon 29 Aug
Will Art Fairs Replace The Traditional Art Gallery
Mon 29 Aug
Date: 28 Aug 2011
A new report from CINOA reveals startling new facts
High profile auction sales of Warhol, Picasso and the Impressionists reported via news headlines doesn't accurately reflect that art and antique dealers account for fifty percent of the global art market's sales. A new report sponsored by the leading non-profit dealer association CINOA finds that fairs and online business are poised to become the main source of revenue for dealers in the art and antiques trade. E-retail is expected to surpass traditional offline sales by 2020. Collectively dealers consist largely of discreet, low profile individuals and small businesses, preferring to focus on finding great art to match with the right client, rather than publishing high flying sales prices as the leading auction houses customarily do. Clare McAndrew’s new study, the first of its kind, explores the essential role of art and antiques dealers within the art market and as a consequence society as a whole. It offers insight into how and why the art dealing profession is changing, and what this means for the trade as well as collectors. It has also been noted in the report that gallery visits are declining as the art market expands to new international centres served better by art fairs or electronic media. The growth of fairs brings with it huge pressures for dealers to fund travel, staff fairs and find enough stock. Whether the traditional gallery model can sustain all this pressure remains to be seen, so says The Art Newspaper.
The market divide between dealers and auction houses has wavered at around 50:50 globally for the past decade. There are about 400,000 listed dealers of fine and decorative art and antiques in the major global art markets, however, the top 2% to 5% of dealers account for well over half the value of sales.
- Aggregate art sales worldwide in 2010 were approx. 43 billion euros (split roughly in half between auction houses at 21.1 billion euros in sales and dealers with 21.9 billion in sales).
- There are about 25,000 auction houses worldwide, with Christie's and Sotheby's dominating many sales categories.
- About 375,000 dealers are listed worldwide, with 5,000 or 2-5% of dealers accounting for half of sales by value. The average dealer does about 60,000 euros in sales, including those working part-time.
- The dealer sector is more male dominated with 56% male and 44% female while the top-tier auction houses are about 56% female, and second-tier auction houses are roughly split evenly.
- Collectors and dealers fall in an older demographic: 80% of buyers are aged over 45, 60% were over 55 years old. Dealers are primarily over 50 years old.
- The rise of the event-driven marketplace has seen a proliferation of dealer fairs. The one-room excitement of fairs competes with auction houses and their competitive energy.
- Nearly every dealer has a website, but online sales are low at 3-8% of dealers' sales totals. Web use is primarily for communication with clients, or to expose some inventory in a low-risk way to a broad audience. The internet has provided more transparency to the market, including auction prices, but sometimes this information is incomplete (for
example, some art price databases show hammer prices and not the price with commission, or they do not show the best woks by an artist on the market).
- E-retail is expected to grow at five-times the rate of traditional offline sales and its year-over-year dollar intake is expected to overtake offline sales by 2020.
- A competitive challenge for dealers is the auction houses with their powerful marketing arms, and their increase in private sales.
- Competition for a dwindling supply of quality non-contemporary artworks and antiques is another hurdle.
The competitive landscape of the art market has seen many changes in the past 50 years as power has been redistributed geographically and between market players. One of the most recurrent themes that dealers cited in the research is the challenge they have faced in recent years of dealing with the increasing power of the auction houses, which over the past two decades have transformed from being wholesalers to effective retailers. Many dealers now compete with them for clients and stock. While the auction houses have gained relative market power over the past 20 years, the survey highlighted key areas where dealers still maintain a competitive edge. Dealers often offer better protection and fuller and more legally binding guarantees with less caveats. They can also be better value than auction houses as they often take smaller commissions.
For more information: Download the full CINOA report for free.
Fiere e Web, un veleno per le gallerie tradizionali?
Mon 29 Aug
da Glob*ArtMag: Fiere e Web, un veleno per le gallerie tradizionali?
Creato il 29 agosto 2011 da Roberto Milani
Leggo su Glob*ArtMag ( http://www.globartmag.com ), un articolo molto interessante a firma di Micol Di Veroli... l'argomento è rapporto Gallerie tradizionali, fiere e web...
Merita la lettura!
Il mercato dell’arte contemporanea, formato dalla tradizionale rete di gallerie private più o meno grandi, è attualmente subordinato dei meccanismi operativi che ai nostri giorni appaiono un tantino superati se non in netto declino. Ovviamente non si tratta di giudizi personali ma di considerazioni nate alla luce di quanto pubblicato dalla Cinoa (Confédération Internationale des Négociants en Oeuvres d’Art) nel volume The Role of Art and Antique Dealers – An Added Value, pubblicato a giugno 2011.Lo studio del Cinoa parla chiaro, il grosso delle vendite di mercato è attualmente appannaggio delle grandi manifestazioni fieristiche internazionali e delle varie realtà online che in questi ultimi tempi sono spuntate come funghi, creando non poco interesse fra collezionisti e semplici appassionati. Sempre più gallerie lamentano una crescente diminuzione di pubblico e vendite durante le inaugurazioni stagionali, ma quando si parla di fiere gli affari cambiano rotta in maniera repentina. Insomma la cara vecchia abitudine di creare una propria scuderia di artisti e programmare la consueta serie di mostre per la stagione espositiva non basta più. Nel corso di un’intervista rilasciata recentemente a The Art Newspaper, Dominique Lévy, (co-direttore della prestigiosa L&M gallery) ha affermato quanto segue: “Facciamo più vendite alle fiere che nella nostra sede stabile”, questa dichiarazione potrebbe funzionare come cartina al tornasole dell’intera situazione. Il problema della maggior parte delle gallerie private (soprattutto quelle più piccole) è il loro legame con il territorio, una situazione prettamente locale che non permette di raggiungere un collezionismo globale. Le fiere e le piattaforme web invece permettono di abbracciare un bacino di pubblico potenzialmente infinito.Detto ciò andrebbero però valutati i costi di tali manifestazioni, solitamente irraggiungibili per le piccole realtà. Ed allora che fare? È chiaro che il sistema-mercato locale dovrebbe rigenerarsi per accostarsi ai nuovi trend, se non vuole scomparire del tutto. All’amante dell’arte contemporanea piace la situazione fiera, la galleria dovrebbe allora orientarsi su un exhibition commerciale in grado di offrire qualcosa di diverso. Impresa ardua ma le inversioni di tendenza obbligano a nuove sperimentazioni.Micol Di Veroli
per vedere l'articolo originale:http://www.globartmag.com/2011/08/29/gallerie-arte-contemporanea-fiere-web-internet-mercato/
Mon 29 Aug
来源： HI艺术 作者： 吴亚男 编辑： 童丽莉
Искусство продается в обход арт-галерей
Mon 29 Aug
Многочисленные галереи больше не являются приоритетной формой распространения искусства, сообщают международные арт-дилеры. По мнению экспертов, отечественные арт-проекты эта тенденция пока не затронет.
Традиционная галерейная модель арт-выставок во многом исчерпала себя. К такому выводу пришла в своем отчете Международная конфедерации ассоциаций арт-дилеров (Confédération Internationale des Négociants en Oeuvres d'Art, CINOA).
По данным CINOA, в настоящий момент галереи стали меньше посещать, чем специальные арт-ярмарки и электронные медиа-ресурсы.
Общий объем продаж искусства и антиквариата в мире в 2010 году составил €43 млрд. (€21,1 млрд. на аукционах и €21,9 млрд. через арт-дилеров).
Иностранные эксперты склонны соглашаться с выводами исследования арт-продавцов.
"Мы заключаем гораздо больше сделок на ярмарках, чем в галереях — вне всяких сомнений", — подтверждает тезисы конфедерации Доминик Леви, директор галереи L&M Arts, сообщает The Art Newspaper.
Иностранные арт-дилеры также отмечают, что такая ситуация будет сохраняться, поскольку "на данном этапе большая часть рынка ориентирована на клиентов, которые не живут там, где вы работаете, и поэтому их гораздо удобнее обслуживать через арт-ярмарки".
Впрочем, российские эксперты, оценивая результаты исследования, подчеркнули, что международная конфедерация арт-дилеров рассматривает вопрос со своей точки зрения, то есть продавцов.
"Традиционные галереи не пришли в упадок, они существуют, пока их никто не отменял. Другой вопрос, что все институты, в том числе коммерческие, имеют свойство возникать, трансформироваться, иногда отмирать, а иногда – появляться в новых формах", - полагает директор Мультимедийного комплекса актуальных искусств Ольга Свиблова.
Вместе с тем Ольга Свиблова считает, что не стоит забывать об еще одном "игроке" – арт-аукционах, "перед натиском которых галереям иногда приходиться отступать".
"При этом остаются галереи, которые создают бренды в искусстве. Более того, они начинают использовать и электронную площадку", - отметила Ольга Свиблова.
Арт-деятель добавила, что между тем не стоит переоценивать роль интернет-платформ.
"Отношение между виртуальным и реальным в сегменте художественного рынка ровно такое же, как в реальной жизни", - полагает Ольга Свиблова.
Галерист, член Общественной палаты РФ Марат Гельман считает, что на России эта тенденция пока не должна отразиться.
"В России проще, так как галереи не успели стать фундаментальным основанием. У нас гораздо более значительную роль играют фонды и музеи", - отметил Марат Гельман.
Что касается ярмарок, искусствовед подчеркнул, что они также собираются галереями. Марат Гельман полагает, что просто изменился тип бизнеса.
"Если раньше главное – это было пространство, выставочная программа, то сейчас важнее иногда продюсерская активность галериста", - считает Марат Гельман.
Искусствовед добавил, что "галерист должен участвовать в различных ярмарках, бывать на форумах, то есть получается, что сейчас многие агенты успешнее, чем галереи, просто потому, что у них нет серьезных расходов".
Mon 29 Aug
2011. augusztus 22
Az utóbbi évtizedben a műkereskedelmi forgalom nagyjából fele-fele arányban oszlott meg az aukciós házak és a műkereskedők között − állapította meg a műkereskedők nemzetközi szövetségének megbízásából (CINOA), az Art Economics műtárgypiaci kutatócsoport által készített legutóbbi felmérés − és nagyjából ez volt jellemző a 2010-es évre is. Tavaly összesen mintegy 43 milliárd euró értékű műtárgy és régiség cserélt gazdát a világon, ebből 21 milliárd eurónyi jutott az árverésekre, a többit műkereskedők bonyolították le. A világ műtárgypiaci szempontból fontos térségeiben összesen mintegy 400 ezer regisztrált kereskedő tevékenykedik − beleértve a 25 ezer árverési házat −, ám ezek 2−5 százalékára jut a globális összforgalomnak több mint a fele.
Aukciósházak kontra galériások
Az utóbbi húsz év egyik fő trendje az aukciósházak hatalomátvétele volt: némi leegyszerűsítéssel nagykereskedőkből kiskereskedők lettek, velük is versenyezni kell a vevőkért, illetve az árukészletért. A galériás vagy más formában működő műkereskedőknek annyi előnyük van velük szemben, hogy ők általában csak néhány területtel foglalkoznak, azokkal viszont nagyon magas szinten. Ennek egyszerre vannak előnyei és hátrányai − figyelmeztet az Art Economics. Az eredményük nagyban függ attól, hogy mekkora sikerrel adnak el viszonylag kevés számú munkát, ugyanakkor specialistaként könnyebben is szerzik be az értékes darabokat.
A galériák legfőbb erénye a diszkréció
A műkereskedők állítják, hogy ők jobban tudják garantálni a műtárgy eredetiségét és kisebb jutalékot kérnek, mint az aukciósházak − a legfőbb előnyük azonban a diszkréció. Nem csak azt tudják megoldani, hogy a vevő és az eladó névtelen maradjon − ez többnyire az árverések szervezőinek is sikerül −, hanem azt is, hogy mennyiért cserélt gazdát egy-egy alkotás. Azt is a műkereskedők mellett szóló érvek között említik, hogy a vevők kevésbé stresszes körülmények között dönthetnek, mint a nyilvános licitálásokon − több idő van az ügylet átgondolására, sőt alkudni is lehet.
Bolt nélkül is megy az üzlet
Az élesedő versenyhez a műkereskedők úgy is alkalmazkodnak, hogy egyre többféle értékesítési csatornát, illetve módszert vesznek igénybe. A legfontosabb továbbra is a klasszikus galéria vagy régiségkereskedés, de egyre fontosabbak a művészeti vásárok, és az internetes kereskedés is kezd teret hódítani. A globális műtárgyeladásoknak mintegy 45 százaléka jut galériákra a CINOA adatai szerint, a művészeti vásárok pedig már 30 százalékot visznek el. A nagy műtárgypiacokon terjedőben van az a gyakorlat is, hogy a műkereskedő bezárja a hagyományos boltot és irodáján keresztül vagy éppen lakáson értékesít abszolút privát körülmények között. Ezt a megfelelő helyiségek magas költségei mellett néhol az is indokolja, hogy a belvárosokban egyre kisebb a gyalogosforgalom, így a beeső "impulzusvevők", érdeklődők száma is megcsappant. A galériák fenntartásának árát sokszor nem is lehet behozni az ottani eladásokból, ráadásul a kereskedőknek egyre többet kell költeniük utazásra, vásári részvételre, már csak azért is, mert a művészeti piac is mindinkább "eseményorientált" lesz. Alapvetően a vásárok teszik lehetővé, hogy a kereskedők ne csak a helyi, hanem a nemzetközi vásárlóközönségre is számíthassanak, illetve hogy együttműködve vehessék fel a versenyt az aukciósházakkal.
Ez még nem az online terepe
Az online értékesítés jó pár éve téma a műtárgypiacon is, voltak próbálkozások még internetes vásárra is, de az áttörés még várat magára. Kommunikációs és marketingeszközként persze használják a netet a műkereskedők, weboldala szinte mindenkinek van, de az e-kereskedelem nem igazán jellemző. A személyes kapcsolatok, a szakmai háttér fontossága felülírja az online módszer előnyeit, legalábbis ami az új ügyfelek megszerzését illeti − ismeretleneknek nehéz műtárgyat eladni a neten, a törzsvevőknek már inkább lehet. A diszkréció, a magánszféra megőrzése azonban mindennél fontosabb − különösen a piac felső kategóriáiban −, egy-egy kivételes és drága tárgy adásvételekor nem szívesen teszi ki magát se az eladó, se a vevő a netes adatkezelés veszélyeinek. Ezzel együtt a felmérés készítői összességében azt várják, hogy 2020-ra az e-kereskedelem összértéke meghaladja majd a hagyományos formákban elértet, ám a legtöbb piaci szereplő kombinálja majd az offline és az online módszereket.
Survey: To Fair or Not to Fair?
Mon 29 Aug
Posted: 8/9/11 06:45 PM ET
As the director of a commercial art gallery, I was slightly disturbed by this article on The Art Newspaper'swebsite last week: "Gallery System is Structurally Weak." According to the article: "a new report by the non-profit dealers' federation Cinoa finds that fair-led and online business is taking over as the main source of revenue. . . . Gallery visits are declining as the art market expands to new international centres served better by art fairs or electronic media."
And that's where my ideals come crashing headlong into economic reality. If there's one thing I've learned in the three years since I opened Offramp Gallery, it's that selling art is not easy. The idea of taking our show on the road to a larger audience by participating in art fairs is very tempting, even though I find attending the fairs a sterile and depressing experience. (One artist told me that the only time she ever stopped off at a bar by herself on the way home from anything was after visiting an art fair at the LA Convention Center.)
Using the same branding/marketing models for art that we use for cars, appliances and pharmaceuticals really bothers me. Isn't art supposed to operate on a higher plane and be the antithesis of, say, a gun show? Commodification of art is certainly not a new topic for debate, but I think it's as relevant now as it has ever been.
Participation in the fairs is also very expensive. I looked at the costs of booths at three of the upcoming fairs in LA. The least expensive was a 144 sq. ft. booth for $5,500, the most expensive, a 940 sq. ft. booth for $37,600. If you need more space, you are encouraged to inquire.
That's a lot of money for a small gallery like Offramp to risk in these volatile economic times. So -- I'd like to know how you feel about art fairs. Love them? Hate them? If you're a dealer or a gallerist, I'd love to hear your experiences and welcome your advice -- is it worth the risk? Should I dive in or stay away?
I've put together a short survey to get your feedback. Thank you in advance for participating. I will share the results with you soon.
Click here to take survey.
Mon 29 Aug
全球藝術市場仍然處于不斷發展的狀態中，然而據法國國際藝術品商人聯合會(Cinoa)最新發布的一項調查來看，藝術的全球化正為這個產業的運轉帶來了一定損失。這項調查由藝術市場研究公司Arts Economics頂級的文化研究員Clare McAndrews引導，最終得出了這樣一個結論：收藏家們在去年購買了大量的藝術品，但相應的藝術經銷商也在經歷著一些改變。這表明了藝術界正在發展快速地變化，以下是幾個非常有趣的發現。
To adapt to an increasingly competitive market, dealers have expanded the channels through which they sell works
Mon 1 Aug
The Art Newspaper
By Clare McAndrew | From issue 226, July-August 2011
Published online 28 Jul 11 (Opinion)
Changing landscape: dealer Matthias Arndt will now combine holding occasional shows at his Berlin gallery with being an art adviser; January’s inaugural VIP Art Fair took place entirely online, while big international brands such as Hauser & Wirth are sticking with the traditional retail model
Art and antique dealers make their living by co-ordinating supply and demand in the art market, an opaque trading ground where the value placed on information is at a premium. Knowledge and expertise are key for competitive advantage and successful art dealers require both specialist knowledge combined with business acumen. A recent study commissioned by the Confédération Internationale des Négociants en Oeuvres d’Art (Cinoa) and carried out by my organisation, Arts Economics, looked into how dealers are surviving in an increasingly competitive art market, and the key trends affecting their future.
The market divide between dealers and auction houses has wavered at around 50:50 globally for the past decade. Aggregate sales of art and antiques around the world in 2010 amounted to approximately €43bn, €21bn at auction and €22bn through dealers. There are about 400,000 listed dealers of fine and decorative art and antiques in the major global art markets, however, the top 2% to 5% of dealers account for well over half the value of sales.
The competitive landscape of the art market has seen many changes in the past 50 years as power has been redistributed geographically and between market players. One of the most recurrent themes that dealers cited in the research is the challenge they have faced in recent years of dealing with the increasing power of the auction houses, which over the past two decades have transformed from being wholesalers to effective retailers. Many dealers now compete with them for clients and stock.
While the auction houses have gained relative market power over the past 20 years, the survey highlighted key areas where dealers still maintain a competitive edge.
Unlike the more diversified auction houses, dealers often specialise in a few tightly defined fields where they have a high level of expertise. Due to this specialisation, their business models are highly dependent on the successful sale of a small number of works and hence are subject to considerable risk. However, specialisation also brings a number of competitive advantages: dealers often have access to works from more sources and can therefore offer better quality stock and more choice than the auction houses. Many dealers also claim to offer better protection and fuller and more legally binding guarantees. They can also be better value than auction houses as they often take smaller commissions.
The discretion of dealers was also singled out as a key advantage: buyers can avoid revealing how much they spent, which is sometimes unavoidable at auction. For sellers at auction, although the reserve price can protect their bottom line, if a painting is “burned” the negative effect on its future value can be long-lasting. Dealers, on the other hand, can protect buyers from unwanted publicity and only show works privately.
Expensive, infrequent purchases such as art can be stressful for buyers, and dealers can offer a much less pressured environment compared with an auction room where emotional and competitive tensions are high. With a dealer, collectors have more time to consider a purchase and make thoughtful decisions. Many dealers also offer the possibility of trialling, returning items or reselling them in future. Finally, dealers are generally more concerned with building long-term relationships with their clients.
The research found that the main complaints when buying or selling via a dealer were about pricing and perceived value; pushiness, and a lack of transparency.
Shutting up shop
To adapt to an increasingly competitive market, dealers have expanded the channels through which they sell works. Although the traditional gallery remains the most common sales outlet, there is evidence that the traditional retail shopfront is in decline. Global polling of Cinoa dealers showed that 45% of dealer sales are still made through galleries, but some 30% are via art fairs, either local or international.
The research showed that, particularly in larger art markets, a growing number of dealers have closed their shops and now deal privately from offices or homes. The reasons for this shift are varied but include the high cost of maintaining a retail presence in the high street and the low or variable volume of sales. Foot traffic has become too low to justify a gallery in some areas as fewer people visit them than in the past.
Another key factor driving dealers away from traditional retail premises is the increasingly “event-driven” nature of the art market. Fairs have become a vital part of many dealers’ livelihoods, giving them access to international buyers. They are seen as a crucial way for dealers to collaborate in the face of increasing competition from auction houses, creating some of the same “one-room” excitement and competitive energy as an auction.
Many dealers felt that the cost of running a gallery (in addition to frequent travelling and attending fairs) was not justified by sales made through this channel, with some reporting revenue from this source as low as 5% of total sales. Some also felt that buyers’ loyalties were shifting from dealers to fairs, and that these events have become the focus for sales.
The drawbacks of online selling
The growth in online sales has been another important driver in making galleries less important for some dealers. However, it is worth noting that while the internet has become an integral communication and marketing device, e-commerce for dealers remains relatively patchy. The subjective nature of the market and the need for advice and personal contact works against more anonymous, less personal online sales. Dealers’ businesses depend on developing trust and credibility, and personal contact is vital and highly valued when arranging large, infrequent purchases such as art and antiques. Because of this nearly all dealers found it difficult to “sell cold” on the internet, but with established clients repeat business using the online channel was common.
High-value, low-inventory businesses are generally less suited to mass marketing through the internet, and the need for discretion and privacy, especially at the high end of the market, also mitigates against using it to attract buyers and sellers. Some dealers pointed out that the more exceptional the work being sold, the more exclusively they worked with a small number of clients and the less they wanted to reveal what they were doing to an online audience.
Finally, many dealers are technological laggards compared with people in similar industries. Although there are a few dealers with exceptionally advanced web platforms, in general auction houses are way ahead in terms of online marketing, sales and the use of technology. With e-retail expected to grow at five times the rate of traditional retail and to overtake its value by 2020, online sales are bound to become important for all dealers, but it still seems likely that most dealers will continue to pursue a model that combines an offline and online presence.
By appointment only
Some dealers felt that the move towards focusing on dealing services was encouraging the decline of their retail presence. Increasingly for many dealers, discretion, expertise, and intellectual “added value” were their key selling points, and therefore “a brightly lit frock shop” added little to their offering.
Dealers also reported that increasing their freedom to work by appointment rather than being tied to a shop was becoming more important as they devoted more time to travelling to fairs, visiting clients in different locations and in particular searching for new works. Most concurred that there is now more competition in sourcing works than there is in finding buyers.
There are a number of important retail galleries that are bucking this trend. Large international “brand” galleries, often with premises in a few major cities around the world, are still operating successfully via the retail model in many cases.
Other successes included multi-service general shops in smaller markets (with services such as valuation, restoration and auctions in-house); smaller, specialised one-man shops, either where rates are feasible or in major, visible thoroughfares such as key cities or destination towns; and some one-stop, convenient and cost-effective shops or multi-shop premises (for example a group of dealers in a rural area with ample facilities and adjacent amenities).
The writer is a cultural economist and founder of Arts Economics
Fairs, online sales boost art dealers' outlook
Mon 1 Aug
29 July 2011 - by ArtfixDaily Staff
A new report sponsored by the non-profit dealer association CINOA finds that fairs and online business are poised to become the main source of revenue for dealers in the art and antiques trade. E-retail is expected to surpass traditional offline sales by 2020.
Dr. Clare McAndrew's CINOA study reports:
- Aggregate art sales worldwide in 2010 were approx. 43 billion euros (split roughly in half between auction houses at 21.1 billion euros in sales and dealers with 21.9 billion in sales).
- There are about 25,000 auction houses worldwide, with Christie's and Sotheby's dominating many sales categories.
- About 375,000 dealers are listed worldwide, with 5,000 or 2-5% of dealers accounting for half of sales by value. The average dealer does about 60,000 euros in sales, including those working part-time.
- The dealer sector is more male dominated with 56% male and 44% female while the top-tier auction houses are about 56% female, and second-tier auction houses are roughly split evenly.
- Collectors and dealers fall in an older demographic: 80% of buyers are aged over 45, 60% were over 55 years old. Dealers are primarily over 50 years old.
- The rise of the event-driven marketplace has seen a proliferation of dealer fairs. The one-room excitement of fairs competes with auction houses and their competitive energy.
- Nearly every dealer has a website, but online sales are low at 3-8% of dealers' sales totals. Web use is primarily for communication with clients, or to expose some inventory in a low-risk way to a broad audience. The internet has provided more transparency to the market, including auction prices, but sometimes this information is incomplete (for example, some art price databases show hammer prices and not the price with commission, or they do not show the best woks by an artist on the market).
- E-retail is expected to grow at five-times the rate of traditional offline sales and its year-over-year dollar intake is expected to overtake offline sales by 2020.
- A competitive challenge for dealers is the auction houses with their powerful marketing arms, and their increase in private sales.
- Competition for a dwindling supply of quality non-contemporary artworks and antiques is another hurdle.
For more information, readers can download the full CINOA report for free.
World art market: 2010 turnover
Mon 1 Aug
Published on 28 July 2011.
Brussels, 28 July 2011, Art Media Agency (AMA).
Cinoa (Confédération internationale des négociants en Œuvres d’Art) has published its latest report on the art market. It states that the total global turnover of art dealers and auction houses amounts to €43 billion. €21,100 million was made by auction houses and €21,900 million by art dealers. The art market has almost regained its 2007 level, when the total turnover was €48 billion.
Cinoa listed 375,000 art dealers, but affirms that 2 to 5% of them represent half the turnover of the gallery sector.
The number of auction houses in the world is estimated at 25,000 but two actors are monopolising the market in several sectors: Christie’s and Sotheby’s.
Increasing activity of galleries at fairs and online
Mon 1 Aug
Published on 29 July 2011.
Brussels, 29 July 2011, Art Media Agency (AMA).
Cinoa’s latest report illustrates that the activity of galleries is increasingly taking place online and at major fairs.
Like with any other profession or trade, gallery owners and art dealers have to evolve and the report shows that the physical location of galleries are less important and that a growing number of sales take place on the internet and at fairs. Dominique Lévy of L&M gallery declared in the Art Newspaper: “We do much more business at the fairs than at the gallery.”
However, the report minimises this phenomenon, concluding that contact, expertise, advice from art dealers and the relationships between professionals and clients are still highly-regarded qualities. Moreover, recent projects launched online are often linked to a physical location. The report and the professionals agree that expensive major pieces are not sold online.
In addition, galleries and art dealers still build their reputations based on the exhibitions they organise and the artists they represent. Internet and fairs are only tools and professionals still have to undertake research and promotions and forge relationships – characteristics that fairs and internet can not replace.
Art Dealer: Fairs ‘Will Strangle Each Other in the End’
Mon 1 Aug
The New York Observer July 28, 2011
Art Dealer: Fairs ‘Will Strangle Each Other in the End’
By Andrew Russeth 8:54am
Lounging at Art HK 2011. The blue-chip Art Basel fair recently bought a 60-percent stake in the Hong Kong venture.
“The proliferation of fairs is ridiculous,” New York dealer Dominique Lévy, of L&M Arts, says in the latest edition ofThe Art Newspaper. “They will strangle each other in the end.” Ms. Lévy goes on to argue that the comprehensive services that galleries provide—shipping, framing, insurance, and so forth—will guarantee that they will outlive the current vogue for fairs.
Ms. Lévy’s come in a recap of a recent study of the art market by the nonprofit dealers’ association Cinoa (Con¬féd¬ération Internationale des Négociants en Oeuvres d’Art) that suggests galleries are losing some of their power to online ventures and art fairs. The complete, fascinating study is available here. Here are some of the highlights:
• The top two to five percent of art dealers account for more than half of the sales in the market.
• In 2010, aggregate sales in the art and antique markets amounted to approximately €43 billion, split roughly equally between auction houses and dealers.
• The “average” dealer sells only about €60,000 worth of art each year, a remarkably low number that was determined based on the fact that a full 375,000 people identify as dealers worldwide.
• In the dealer market, men outnumber women 56 percent to 44 percent.
• At “top-tier auction” houses, women outnumber men by the exact same margin.
• There are now more people in the Asia-Pacific region than the West with $1 million or more of investable assets.
Given that last statistic, it is going to be interesting to see how many new galleries sign up for the 2012 edition of the Art HK fair, which is increasingly considered to be the most prestigious fair in Asia, especially following the news that Art Basel had purchased a 60-percent stake in it.
Gallery system is structurally weak - A new report by the non-profit dealers’ federation Cinoa finds that fair-led and online business is taking over as the main source of revenue
Mon 1 Aug
By Charlotte Burns | From issue 226, July-August 2011
Published online 28 Jul 11 (News)
Gallery visits are declining with the rise of art fairs, according to Cinoa's report
BRUSSELS. The traditional gallery model is in decline, according to a new report by the non-profit dealers’ federation Cinoa (Con¬féd¬ération Internationale des Négociants en Oeuvres d’Art), which found that fair-led and online business is taking over as the main source of revenue.
Gallery visits are declining as the art market expands to new international centres served better by art fairs or electronic media.
“We do much more business at the fairs than at the gallery—no question,” said Dominique Lévy, the co-director of L&M gallery.
András Szántó, consultant and contributing editor to The Art Newspaper, said: “The fairs have done very well in exploiting a structural weakness of the gallery system—it is inchoate and based on local markets.” With the withdrawal of those markets during the downturn “the overall weight has shifted to clients who don’t live where you work—so you service them through art fairs,” said dealer David Zwirner.
According to a recent report from Capgemini, the Asia-Pacific region has overtaken the west in terms of the number of individuals with investable assets worth $1m or more. It is no coincidence that the Hong Kong art fair, Art HK, in which Art Basel bought a 60% stake in May, attracted such a stellar line-up of western dealers this year.
The growth of fairs brings with it huge pressures for dealers to fund travel, staff fairs and find enough material. Whether the traditional gallery model can sustain all this outreach remains to be seen. Some think not. “It is more convenient and inspiring to work in a more unconventional format, having an office and platform, and doing temporary projects and pop-up shows,” said Berlin dealer Matthias Arndt, when he announced earlier this year that his gallery would now open only sporadically for shows.
“We are in a major systemic shift,” said Szántó. “The expansion of the auction business and art fairs is adding a whole layer above the gallery system as it evolved in the 20th century.” A handful of galleries, including Gagosian, Hauser & Wirth and David Zwirner “have pulled away from the pack, but the question is, where does that leave the regular rank and file gallery?” he added.
Dominique Lévy is sanguine. “The proliferation of fairs is ridiculous. They will strangle each other in the end,” she said. She suggested that the old-fashioned benefits of a gallery may, in fact, be key to their survival. “The secret is to inform new buyers of all the options—and galleries offer a special service, whether it’s taking care of shipping, hanging works, advis¬ing on exhibition loans, refram¬ing or insurance. Collectors will realise [this],” she said, but added that it “may be later [rather] than sooner”.
Several web-based ventures, including the VIP art fair, Art.sy and Paddle8, have recently emerged. However, dealers remain to be convinced that online business will work for expensive art. “There’s a lot of potential for cheaper works…but nobody is going to spend a huge amount on a work without seeing it,” said the New York-based, secondary market specialist Christophe Van de Weghe. “The comfy price limit is $100,000,” confirmed Alexander Gilkes, the co-founder of Paddle8.
Legal Ruling: The Spanish State is the sole holder of the resale right on the works of Salvador Dalí
Tue 19 July
Figueres, 12 July 2011
Legal victory for the Fundació Dalí
The High Court of Paris has upheld the claims of the Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí and acknowledges that the Spanish State is the sole holder of the resale right on the works of Salvador Dalí and the Fundació Dalí as its beneficiary.
The Fundació Dalí is very glad to announce this legal victory because it does not only represent a step forward in the defence and protection of Salvador Dalí rights, but it also establishes jurisprudence.
In a ruling passed on Friday 8 July, the High Court of Paris, upholding in its entirety the claim submitted by the Fundació Dalí and VEGAP against the ADAGP (the French collective management agency of visual artists’ royalties, which corresponds to the Spanish VEGAP), declared that Spanish law is the applicable law for determining which party is the holder of the resale right on the artworks of Salvador Dalí, and consequently acknowledged that the Fundació Dalí, as the manager and administrator of the royalties on Salvador Dalí’s works by delegation of the Spanish State (the artist’s testamentary heir), is the beneficiary of the resale right accruing from resales of Salvador Dalí’s works.
In 2006, the Fundació Dalí initiated legal proceedings in Paris against the ADAGP claiming the resale right obtained in public auctions of works by Salvador Dalí. The resale right is the right of authors and their heirs to receive from the seller a part of the price of any resale of the authors’ works in public auction, in a mercantile establishment, or with the intervention of a dealer or mercantile agent.
Until the filing of this claim, the ADAGP, in spite of managing the artist’s royalties to the benefit of the Fundació Dalí, had unilaterally paid the resale right accrued in France to the artist’s relatives, basing itself to that purpose on the argument that the French legislation on intellectual property only recognises as beneficiaries of that right the legal heirs who are natural persons, that is, those called to succession in the absence of a will.
In its claim, the Fundació Dalí argued that the resale right forms part of the assets comprising Salvador Dalí’s estate, and that the determination of the beneficiary of that right is a question of inheritance law, the applicable legislation being that governing the artist’s estate, that is to say, Spanish law, which admits the transfer mortis causa of the resale right to any natural or legal person; consequently, his heir, the Spanish State, is the sole holder of this right and the sole party entitled to receive it, through the Fundació Dalí as the party exclusively responsible for its management and administration.
The artist’s relatives were called to the proceedings by the ADAGP but decided not to appear. However, they must observe the ruling now passed.
Before passing judgment, the High Court of Paris addressed the Court of Justice of the European Communities to raise two prejudicial questions, the more important of the two concerning the possibility that, following Directive 2001/84/EC, France could maintain a resale right reserved solely to the legal heirs with exclusion of the testamentary heirs.
On 15 April 2010 the Court of Justice of the European Communities replied to this question in the affirmative, stating that the Directive did not oppose a provision of internal French law reserving the benefit of the resale right to the legal heirs, excluding the testamentary legatees. However, the CJEC made an implicit acknowledgement that the internal French regulations on beneficiaries of the resale right was not applicable to the inheritances of foreign artists, which were regulated by the inheritance law of their own country, as recognised in the applicable international rule regulating the matter, Article 14.ter of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.
The ruling of the High Court of Paris adopts precisely this argument and declares that the resale right already exists at the moment of opening of the succession, and consequently it is the national law applicable to succession which must determine the holders of that right.
Thus, the High Court has declared that, on the basis of the provisions of Article 14.ter of the Berne Convention, the sole holder of the resale right on Salvador Dalí’s works is the Spanish State, and orders the ADAGP to pay the said right to the FUNDACIÓ DALÍ as the assignee thereof.
The ruling specifically orders the ADAGP to (1) communicate to the Fundació Dalí and VEGAP the entirety of the information and supporting documents on the amounts received and, as the case may be, paid under the heading of resale right since 17 October 1997 (the date on which the Fundació Dalí joined VEGAP and the ADAGP); (2) to pay to VEGAP, on account of the Fundació Dalí, any amounts it may have received under the heading of resale right since 17 October 1997, plus the corresponding interest since the filing of the claim; (3) to pay the fees of the lawyers of the Fundació Dalí and VEGAP; and (4) to compensate the Fundació Dalí and VEGAP with the joint amount of 10,000.-euros.
Without prejudice to any appeal which may be lodged, the Court has ordered the provisional enforcement of the ruling.
The importance of this decision is twofold: on one hand, it acknowledges in favour of the Spanish State the holdership of the resale right on the works of Salvador Dalí, which right generates revenues which the ADAGP has been paying to relatives of Salvador Dalí who were not mentioned in his will, in which he instituted as his universal heir the Spanish State; and on the other hand, it acknowledges the application in France of Spanish law to the succession of a Spanish artist. This aspect goes beyond the specific case posed by the Fundació Dalí, since a contrary declaration by the High Court of Paris would have signified acknowledging that a country’s internal legislation may modify not only the inheritance law of another country but also the testamentary will of any person.
Newly published CINOA Study: 'The Role of Art and Antique Dealers - An Added Value
Tue 19 July
The recently published CINOA study ‘The Role of Art and Antique Dealers – An Added Value Historical and Future Perspectives’. This study was commissioned to help member associations and affiliated dealers manage their businesses.
Clare McAndrew’s study, the first of its kind, explores the essential role of art and antiques dealers within the art market and as a consequence society as a whole. It offers insight into how and why the art dealing profession is changing, and what this means for the trade as well as collectors, as for the culture as a whole.
This economic study offers a brief historical review of the art dealing profession, and then continues with an emphasis on the current art market and proposes what might be in store for the future. It examines how dealers’ businesses have been affected and changed due to the current economic condition and the rise of new technologies. The study highlights the challenges dealers face from competitors and a range of key competitive advantages such as expertise, services and recourse. In order to conduct her analysis, Dr. McAndrew’s research included examining spending trends, motivations, and the interaction with dealers from the perspective of both sellers and buyers.
An electronic version of the study can be accessed from CINOA.org
For more specific information regarding the research, please contact
Dr. Clare McAndrew
CIS & Russian International Confederation of Art & Antique Dealers (ICAAD) defends Natalia Goncharova’s heritage
Thur 7 July
In this special document the CIS & Russian International Confederation of Art & Antique Dealers
(ICAAD) wishes to come out in support of the heritage of the Russian avant-garde artist Natalia
Goncharova after the recent publication of questionable research in the West. In the opinion of
ICAAD the publication of monographs by Anthony Parton and Denise Bazetoux damage this artist’s
reputation and can cause a misinterpretation of her role in the History of Art. (to read more download document below)
First impressions of “Illuminazioni” exhibition at Venice Biennale- Elegant, intelligent and well paced, but its curator Bice Curiger takes few risks
Mon 6 June
By Georgina Adam and Jane Morris | Web only
Published online 3 Jun 11 (News) The Art Newspaper
For the original article, click here
Visitors take in Tintoretto's "Last Supper" as part of Bice Curiger's Illuminazioni
VENICE. Organising the Venice Biennale’s headline exhibitions in the Palazzo delle Esposizioni and the Arsenale is the high point of most curators’ careers—and also one of the most exposing. Swiss art historian Bice Curiger, the curator of the Zurich Kunsthaus and co-founder of the art magazine Parkett, is only the third woman to be entrusted with this task and the sixth non-Italian. She has called her show “Illuminazioni”, and has invited 83 artists to take part.
In stark contrast to several of the national pavilions, as well as Robert Storr’s exhibition for the 2007 biennale, she has chosen to steer clear of political statements. Instead, Curiger has organised a show that despite its conceptual underpinnings also focuses on the classic themes of form, composition and materials. The selection shows a clear bias towards Western European artists with a lesser one towards those from the US. There is also a notable contribution from names who became famous in the 1960s and 1970s and towards later artists whose work references that period.
“The relationship between art and current affairs as we know them through the media can be problematic: what seems so clear and important today may be old hat by tomorrow,” Curiger said, explaining her aversion to the overtly political. In her official curatorial statement she said she wanted to focus on the idea of light and enlightenment, mutual interaction between artists, the relationship between art and popular culture and on issues of identity.
Perhaps her biggest break
with tradition is the inclusion in the central hall of the Palazzo delle Esposizioni (formerly the Italia Pavilion) of three major works by Tintoretto, two from the Gallerie dell’Accademia and one, The Last Supper, 1594, from San Giorgio Maggiore. The rest of the exhibition is a sober, intelligent survey of works by the likes of Gianni Colombo, Jack Goldstein, Sigmar Polke, Seth Price and Gabriel Kuri. There are some deliberate relationships between individual works, for example Philippe Parreno’s light installation at the entrance with Jack Goldstein’s video, The Jump, 1976, while in other sections artists’ rooms flow satisfactorily from one to another. The German-born philosopher Boris Groys, who is also curator of the Russian pavilion, said that he thought the exhibition was particularly successful because “every work of art has been chosen to reflect the individual position of the artist but also to place it in a national context or within a particular tradition.” He cited Fischli and Weiss’s simple clay sculptures, which are abstract but also look a lot like pipes and builders’ blocks. “They clearly relate to minimalism but also to manual work, while the quality of the production and the attention to detail speaks of a certain Swiss tradition of craftsmanship,” he said.
The works in the Arsenale section of “Illuminazioni”, as befits the cavernous space, are of a larger and more dramatic scale. However, a number of rooms revealed the same strict curatorial approach. The third major space in the sequence displays works by Mai-Thu Perret, Rashid Johnson, Andro Wekua, Annette Kelm and Ida Ekblad, all of which have a strong thread of architecture and construction. Interspersed with them are some real showstoppers, such as Nicholas Hlobo’s dragon made of tyre inner tubes, Iimpundulu Zonke Ziyandilandela, 2011 (see related article), Urs Fischer’s sculpture, a huge wax “candle” interpretation of Bologna’s The Rape of the Sabine Women, and Christian Marclay’s The Clock, 2010.
“Illuminazioni is, if anything, rather traditional,” said Jens Hoffmann, the director of the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art, in San Francisco. “I mean that in the best possible way: gone are the endless rows of black boxes with hundreds of videos, no more overly political work that is formally underwhelming and no more pseudo intellectual curatorial concepts. I think 'Illuminations' is as good as the international group exhibition in Venice can be in terms of its selection of works, the use of the spaces and overall display. It is very understated, subtle and elegant.” Hoffmann added that the title is probably the worst part of the show, “and I guess we can live with that.”
The critical reaction generally favoured Curiger’s other innovation: the creation of four “para-pavilions”, in which Franz West, Song Dong, Monika Sosnowska and Oscar Tuazon were invited to create individual spaces that could also house works by other artists. West is showing a “reproduction” of his kitchen in Vienna with works that usually hang there by his artist friends. The works are displayed on the outside of the structure. Inside is projected Dream Villa, a work by Dayanita Singh.
“There is a intelligent and subtle rhythm between the monumental pieces and the smaller works,” in the Arsenale, said the French curator Catherine David. “The exhibition has a Swiss, central European flavour with great consideration for the history of form and formalism. It does not pander in any way to fashions, which I liked a lot,” she added.
Others agreed with the assessment, with a caveat. “[The exhibition] does not take too many chances,” said Joseph Backstein, the director of the Moscow Biennale. Ossian Ward, the art critic and art editor of London’s Time Out magazine, said: “The Arsenale is the stronger of the two venues, but overall 'Illuminazioni' fails to take any real risks. Besides, that is, the parachuting of three Tintorettos into its midst, which neither steal nor cement the show.” Ward added: “Unfortunately we are now so accustomed to this current language of contemporary art and of many of these artists, precisely because of the biennial circuit that Venice helped create. By rights it should still figure as the original and the best, but the breadth of the art world has now made the pre-eminence of the Venice Biennale more contested than ever before.”
The Venice Effect -Curators of the Biennale have always played down its impact on the art market, but the two go hand-in-hand
Mon 6 June
By Olav Velthuis | Web only
Published online 3 Jun 11 (Features) The Art Newspaper
For the original article, click here
When the Venice Biennale was founded in 1895, one of its main goals was to establish a new market for contemporary art. A sales office assisted artists in finding clients and selling their work, a service for which it charged 10% commission. The office was successful: by the end of the first edition, more than half of the works exhibited had been sold. The organisers earned so much in commissions that they were able to donate a handsome amount of cash to charity.
Sales remained an intrinsic part of the biennale until 1968, when leftist students and intellectuals sought to occupy the Giardini’s exhibition grounds as part of their widespread revolt against bourgeois culture. They vilified the biennale as a playground of the rich that promoted the commodification of culture. During their occasionally violent clashes with the police, students carried posters with slogans like “Biennale of capitalists, we’ll burn your pavilions!” and “No to the biennale of the bosses.” Their protests did not go unnoticed, for the biennale’s board decided to dismantle the sales office. Commerce was now taboo in the Giardini. While many of the achievements of 1968 have since been discarded, the biennale’s ban on sales remained. Its commissioners and curators have time and again framed the exhibition as a locus for experiment rather than commerce, elaborating on the fundamental differences between the institution and the art fair, and downplaying its impact on the market. For instance, when Daniel Birnbaum, director of the 2009 edition, revealed the list of artists he had invited to the Arsenale, the president of the biennale, Paolo Baratta, emphasised that the director’s job is “not to give the latest quotation on the market for contemp-orary art”.
But if past attempts to ban commerce from the biennale have been serious, they have also been in vain. For instance, in 2007, London’s White Cube gallery had sold the majority of the works by Tracey Emin in the British pavilion (seen on p21) before the biennale had even opened officially. In the same year, the French super-collector François Pinault snapped up a series of paintings by Sigmar Polke in the Padiglione Italia, much to the dismay of some museum directors, who, as Pinault put it mischievously in a recent interview with the Financial Times, arrived “un peu après”.
No matter how hard its curators have tried to deny it, the biennale’s impact on the art market is notable: showing in Venice speeds up sales, gets artistic careers going, cranks up price levels and helps artists land a dealer ranked higher in the market’s hierarchy. While business may be conducted in a more circumspect way than at an art fair or in a commercial gallery, and money may not be changing hands in the Arsenale or the Giardini, the market is never asleep. During the biennale’s opening days, dealers such as Berlin- and London-based Sprüth Magers, with five artists in Venice this year, or Zurich-based Eva Presenhuber (seven artists in this year’s edition), will be gauging how deep the interest is in specific works on display, calculating the best way to “place” pieces in the hands of trusted collectors or schmoozing with museum curators. To exploit the Venice Effect, numerous others exhibiting at the biennale, among them, Jennifer Allora & Guillermo Calzadilla (Lisson Gallery) and Barbara Visser (Annet Gelink Gallery), will have works for sale at Art Basel, the world’s most important modern and contemporary art fair, which opens its doors only a week later (15-19 June, pp15-18). Their dealers’ credo: “See it in Venice, buy it in Basel.”
So what causes the Venice Effect? The easy answer is that showing in Venice is widely perceived as a signal of artistic quality, lending legitimacy to an artist’s oeuvre and therefore contributing to shaping collectors’ tastes (read: their willingness to pay for art). In this respect, Venice is, of course, far from unique. Dozens of other biennials around the world, such as Documenta in Kassel, but also museums and art critics, as well as influential market players such as Pinault or Charles Saatchi and dealers such as Larry Gagosian or Hauser & Wirth, send out signals of their own. It would therefore be easy to overstate the biennale’s power to make or break artistic careers. The days of 1964, when Venice awarded the top prize to Robert Rauschenberg, and by doing so imported Pop Art into the canon of art history, are long gone. Leafing through past catalogues, the dominant impression is not of the scores of artists whose careers, like that of Pierre Huyghe in 2001, were launched at the biennale, but of all the artists who have been almost forgotten since.
Nevertheless, compared with those of other institutions, the signals sent out by the biennale have a relatively strong effect on the market because of their pure, fresh, independent and highly visible character.
Paradox 1: Purity produces market power
In the contemporary art market, economic value can only be established if it is backed up by artistic value: a growing body of research shows that the reputation of an artist (the sum of all the solo and group shows in museums, monographs published, acquisitions of works by institutional collections, etc.) is one of the best predictors of price levels. The late French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu accounted for this correlation: the type of capital around which the art world revolves is not economic or financial, but symbolic. Possessing symbolic capital means having the power to “consecrate” works of art. It is accumulated by curators, critics and all the other brokers of taste who populate the art world. They do so by demonstrating their independence from the market, by ignoring commerce, by showing an autonomous interest in art, in experimentation rather than mundane monetary matters. But once such symbolic capital has been accumulated, it can be converted into economic capital: the stronger the artistic reputation, the stronger the sales and the higher the prices. Thus the paradox is that the curator’s resistance to commerce and Venice’s official status as a non-selling event, is exactly what makes its quality signals influential in the art market.
The importance of purity is illustrated by Ireland’s contribution to this year’s edition. When the country announced the name of the commissioner for its pavilion, Emily-Jane Kirwan, and the artist exhibiting there, Corban Walker, it stirred up controversy. Kirwan is a director at New York’s Pace gallery, one of the world’s most established art dealers, which represents Walker. In The Art Newspaper, a veteran biennale curator who wished to remain anonymous called it “a terrible decision” to put an entire pavilion in the hands of an art dealer and her protégé, arguing that “certain lines must not be crossed, certain categories must not be confused or conflated, and ethical standards must be strictly applied”.
Paradox 2: The fresher the signal, the stronger its impact
While in the past, inclusion in the Venice Biennale would crown the end of an artist’s career, now it often marks its beginning. To show their independence from the market and their ability to spot new talent, the biennale’s directors and curators have increasingly focused on young artists who are not yet household names. In this competition to send out fresh quality signals, which has hotted up due to the worldwide proliferation of biennials, curators are now engaging in a reverse generational race. The press release of the list of artists invited by Bice Curiger emphasised that 32 were born after 1975.
The paradox is that the more virginal these young artists’ curricula are, the stronger the Venice Effect will be for them. Referred to by the late American sociologist Robert Merton as the Matthew Effect (“the rich get richer and the poor get poorer,” according to the gospel of St Matthew), their participation prompts many more curators and collectors to pay attention to their work. For the few older artists in Curiger’s “Illuminations” exhibition, such as James Turrell or Elaine Sturtevant, Venice will be just one more line on their CVs. Likewise, the market for Christopher Wool is unlikely to change much due to Curiger’s invitation: his 1990 canvas Blue Fool was sold at Christie’s New York last year for $5m (with buyer’s premium), making him the most expensive artist included this year. But they are the exceptions to the rule. The market for most of the artists selected by Curiger are nowhere close to established. And while the commissioners of the national pavilions tend to invite artists who are better known, of all the participants this year, only one out of five has ever achieved an auction price of more than $25,000. Half of them have never been sold at auction. Anya Titova, the second youngest artist to participate in the biennale, does not even have a dealer representing her.
Paradox 3: Independence financed by the dealers’ money
Curators have another instrument to demonstrate their independence vis-à-vis the market: focusing on artists who make work that is hard to sell, such as installations or videos. In the past couple of decades, these non-commodities have slowly crowded out the commodities at the biennale. But paradoxically this has done little to decouple Venice from the market. One reason is that powerful dealers are interested in representing artists who create non-commodifiable art for similar reasons to curators: it allows them to prove that they not only want to make a quick buck from selling smart paintings and photographs or from trading on the secondary market. In other words, representing these artists produces symbolic capital for these dealers.
An important practical reason why the focus on non-commodities has failed to decouple Venice from the market is that the biennale itself lacks the funds to produce, ship and install these large-scale works. Therefore the financial involvement of dealers is indispensable. Here the decision to stop selling in 1968 has taken its revenge, because it resulted in a steep drop in revenue for the biennale. The same hand that pushed the sales commissioner out pulled the art dealers in.
Paradox 4: Visibility because of proximity to the biennale
The Venice Effect not only depends on the purity, freshness and independence of its signals, but also on their high visibility. The 2009 edition attracted more than 375,000 visitors. In itself, this number is hardly staggering if one takes into account that the biennale lasts for almost six months. In the same year, solo shows of Pipilotti Rist at the Museum of Modern Art or Cai Guo-Qiang at the New York Guggenheim museum attracted more visitors. But in terms of the audience’s composition, the biennale is hard to beat: functioning as the art world’s equivalent of Cannes, which on the side of its film festival hosts the main international platform for the movie business, the entire industry convenes in Venice.
Obviously Venice’s importance to the art industry is related to its attractive location and to its status as the oldest biennale which has served as a (counter) model for the dozens of other biennials established in the last couple of decades. But another reason is its proximity – both in time and place – to the centre of the international contemporary art market: Art Basel, which opens only a week after Venice (the two usually follow each other) and attracts a largely similar crowd of art professionals.
The structural position of Venice and Basel in the global art world overlaps in several respects. First of all, presenting an instant overview of today’s worldwide art production, they provide a means for both curators and collectors to economise on search time. This is particularly important for the art market’s clientele whose scarcest resource is not money but time: travelling regularly to individual museum or gallery shows out of town has become a luxury that the richest can no longer afford, unlike the leisure class of yesteryear who used to be the main customers. Visiting fairs and biennials in order to save time and travel costs is all the more important in an art world where “local” has become a pejorative term. As The Economist put it: “‘local artist’ has become a synonym for insignificant artist … ‘International’ is now a selling point in itself.” In other words, a global habitus is expected from all members of the art industry. Both Venice and Basel enable this habitus by temporarily bringing the globally consecrated supply of art under one roof.
Second, the continuing success of both Basel and Venice in attracting art crowds should be seen in the light of a wider culture of events. Within this culture, the consumption (but not necessarily acquisition) of contemporary art is packaged as a social and cultural experience, livened up by the artistic performances, seminars and round table discussions of experts that have now become standard elements of both the fair and the biennale.
Third, Basel and Venice derive their central role in the art industry from the latter’s status-driven nature: both the biennale and the fair are finely tuned tools that reflect and reproduce status hierarchies. They distinguish visitors by providing selected groups with VIP treatment, access to pre-(and pre-pre-) openings, after parties on expensive billionaire’s yachts, or visits to the villas of collectors living close by. Those types of access are broadly recognised as signs of status among the cultural elite: the more exclusive the venue, the more status access to that venue produces.
In short, asking what the impact of Venice on the art market is poses the wrong question: without institutions such as the biennale, it is impossible to conceive of a contemporary art market to begin with. And vice versa: without the art market, the biennale would no longer flourish. To annul the Venice Effect seems impossible, but if the curators and commissioners want to try, here is the recipe: follow Ireland’s example of appointing art dealers as the commissioners and curators; invite artists with a chock-full rather than a virginal curriculum; postpone the opening a couple of weeks so that it can no longer be attended as part of a 21st-century Grand Tour that also includes Art Basel.
It is unlikely that any of these measures will be adopted soon by the biennale’s organisers. And why would they? It may go a long way towards decoupling Venice from the market, but at the cost of turning the institution into an irrelevancy. In the end, the problem may not be the Venice Effect itself, but the art world’s anti-commercial ideology, which makes curators uncomfortable about this effect. As Curiger argued recently in an interview: “What happens to an artist once you’ve approached him or her is beyond your control. Artists are not throwaway objects – if they sell well, does that mean that their work doesn’t mean anything any more?”
Argentine market proves difficult for ArteBA dealers
Mon 6 June
The 20th edition sees slower sales but boom for local galleries
By Silas Martí | Web only
Published online 25 May 11 (Market) The Art Newspaper
For the original article, click here
BUENOS AIRES. The 20th edition of the ArteBA fair, held from 18 to 23 May, saw slower sales than the previous edition, but a boom in the local market for photography and paintings at the lower price points.
Dealers were quick to admit the Argentinian market is difficult, although the fair maintained its massive public following, with huge lines forming at the door every day.
Though figures are unofficial, it is estimated this year had a similar number of visitors as last year, nearly 120,000. Sales had not been tallied up by the time we went to press, but dealers said they had sold about a third less than in 2010 when revenue hovered around $6m.
The fair has become more international, with 30% of the 73 participating galleries from abroad. New wings of the fair, the Barrio Joven, with emerging Latin American galleries, and U Turn, with six galleries from Berlin, gave the event a more cosmopolitan feel.
But while more foreigners browsed ArteBA, most dealers from abroad lamented their poor performance. “This is simply awful, I haven’t sold a thing and no one comes by the stand”, complained Spanish dealer Ángeles Baños. “It is definitely difficult to sell things here, but it’s good to meet people,” said Peruvian gallerist Renzo Gianella, of Revolver.
By contrast, Alberto Sendrós, one of the leading galleries in Buenos Aires, was bustling with visitors. Every paintings in Matías Duville’s series Una Larga Noche was sold, seven of them for $24,000 and three with a $32,000 price tag, totalling $264,000—one of the largest results at the fair. Baró, the São Paulo gallery with a stand nearby, sold Roberto Jacoby’s 1968, El Culo Te Abrochó” series for $110,000 to a local private collector.
Another highlight was the sale of Marta Minujin’s 2011 Freaking on Fluor installation, which sold at RO gallery for $85,000 to celebrity collector Eduardo Costantini, founder of the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (Malba). Argentinian modernist Antonio Berni's El Sueño de los Injustos, 1961, sold for $200,000 at Montevideo’s Sur gallery, although other more expensive Berni pieces did not find buyers.
Other modern pieces by Berni and painters like Roberto Aizenberg were on show at several stands, but went unsold. Ruth Benzacar, a leading local dealer, did not manage to sell Aizenberg’s Homenaje a Matisse, for its $80,000 asking price, but sold all three photographs in Flavia Da Rin’s Carnival series for $5,500 each and Miguel Rotschild’s Los Angeles photograph for $3,000. Both artists are young photographers from Argentina.
“Photography here is really growing, but art as a whole remains very cheap”, said ArteBA director Facundo Gómez Minujin. “We are a not-for-profit foundation, so we’re not trying to make money with the fair. All the revenue we take in is used for production of the next fair”, added Minujin.
At a Hard-Charging Art HK, Blue-Chip Western Dealers Finally Sense Asia's Market Winds Blowing Their Way
Mon 6 June
By Judd Tully
Published: May 25, 2011 ARTINFO
For the original article, click here
HONG KONG— Boasting 260 galleries from 38 countries, the fourth edition of the much-expanded Hong Kong International Art Fair — aka Art HK 11 — held its sparsely attended VIP preview this afternoon at the city's waterfront convention center. Though the names may not sound familiar to the local population, top-drawer galleries ranging from New York's Gagosian and Marian Goodman to Paris's Thaddaeus Ropac and London's White Cube signed on this year in hopes of catching some of the newly minted Asian wealth.
There has also been a nonstop buzz about the growing status of the fair since the announcement just weeks ago that the big daddy of art-fair organizers, Basel's MCH Group, organizers of the Art Basel and Art Basel Miami Beach fairs, purchased for an undisclosed sum a sixty percent controlling stake in Asian Art Fairs Ltd., the owners of Art HK. Next year's ART HK will reposition itself with an early February schedule, midway between Art Basel Miami Beach in December and Art Basel in June.
But beyond that striking development, as well as the multibillion-dollar project underway to build the M+ contemporary art museum and surrounding cultural district in nearby West Kowloon, the overwhelming success of the Hong Kong venue, which has grown into the most important Asian art fair in just four years, compelled Western galleries to take the plunge.
"My expectation is to meet some of the Chinese collectors, but it's not so easy," said London and Munich dealer Monika Sprüth of Sprüth Magers. "We have no Chinese artists so it's complicated. It would take a lot of time to find the right Chinese artists on the same level as our Western artists."
In the first few hours of the preview, the dealer sold Andreas Gursky's large-scale Grand Prix pit-stop photograph "Ferrari II" from 2007, number three from an edition of four, to a European collector for €500,000 ($700,000). "We could have sold this piece anywhere," noted Sprüth, who said she sold it to a collector she already knew. "But we wanted to concentrate on a few artists here."
New York's Sperone Westwater featured Chinese star Liu Ye in its booth, and quickly fielded significant interest in the artist's "Once Upon a Time in Broadway," a 2006 homage to Piet Mondrian's iconic "Broadway Boogie-Woogie." Liu's version was priced at $2 million. So far, the gallery sold the artist's "R," a 2009 print from an edition of 60, for $15,000. The work is part of Liu's battleship series, this one featuring a huge warship seen through red curtains as a small boy in a sailor suit looks on.
"There's a lot of interest percolating," said David Leiber, a gallery partner, "but the big Asian buyers art not from Mainland China. I've been speaking with people from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Taiwan."
New York's Lehmann Maupin also traveled far abroad to find success at home, selling two 2010 brushed-stainless-steel-and-stone-base sculptures by Do Ho Suh, titled "Karma," from an edition of three, to an undisclosed United States museum and a New York collector.
Elsewhere, there was early, modestly priced action at New York and Shanghai's James Cohan Gallery, with Guo Hongwei's sweet 2010 watercolor "A Study for Shirley Temple Series" selling to a Chinese collector for $5,000, and Tony Oursler's "De-Doublement," an early piece from 1996 composed of two dolls, a shelf, a projector, and a tripod, going to an Australian collector for $40,000.
The gallery also sold Japanese artist Tabiamo's Chinese-ink-on-Japanese-paper composition of elaborately depicted interlinked hands, "Tawamushi (13)," for in the $7,000 range. Tabiamo will be representing Japan in the upcoming Venice Biennale.
Strolling along the generously proportioned aisles and industrial-strength concrete floors, you could barely tell it was an Asian fair, apart from some booths that went to the trouble of putting up bilingual wall labels.
Familiar fair and art-world faces blurred any sense of geography. In a scene that could have been glimpsed at any of the world's major fairs, for instance, Phillips de Pury chairman Simon de Pury power-walked through the space of New York gallery Gavin Brown's Enterprise, which featured new works by Alex Katz and Rikrit Tiravanija, among others. For his part, Tiravanija contributed a dynamic suite of eight glazed ceramic portrait reprises of Andy Warhol's "Mao" called "Untitled 2011 (Import Export)," priced at $250,000. So far there weren't any takers, but the suite of palladium-luster patinated heads threw plenty of wall-power.
"The fact that Basel has bought into the fair brings a big boost and gives an indication of the strength of the art market here," observed de Pury, sporting his ever-present camera. In fact, de Pury said, he is shopping for a Phillips de Pury venue in Hong Kong for a first-time auction here sometime later this year or early next. He declined to go into further detail.
Christie's, Sotheby's, and Bonhams have already established important beachheads here, turning Hong Kong into the third-largest auction sector, trailing only New York and London. "I'm here to look at everything," said de Pury.
Big-name Japanese art certainly seemed in favor, as evidenced by the work's hearty reception at Paris-based Emmanuel Perrotin Gallery. Perrotin sold Takashi Murakami's "Open Your Hands Wide," a giant two-panel acrylic-on-canvas painting from 2010, mounted on an aluminum frame, for $2.2 million to a European collector. Meanwhile, a small-scale Murakami in acrylic and platinum leaf on canvas, appropriately titled "An Homage to IKB, 1957," sold in the region of the $300,000 asking price.
The gallery also sold two large canvases by Murakami disciple Mr.: "Title to Be Determined" (2011) for $175,000, and the four-panel "Desire" from the same year for $240,000. Both works encapsulated Mr.'s lewdly childish vocabulary of little girls, flowers, and gum drops, set against an exotic background of rich foliage.
Another familiar face circulating the aisles — and making you feel like you were in London, Basel, or Miami — was Brett Gorvy, Christie's newly appointed worldwide head of postwar and contemporary art, flanked by New York Warhol dealer Alberto Mugrabi.
"It's a surprisingly good fair," observed Gorvy, "and they're making a serious effort. Right now, it's more about educating the public here as much as anything else. But it's going to be quick in moving from collecting just Chinese contemporary to Western art." Clearly, auction houses are hoping that the specialist's prediction will come true, opening the floodgates of a market bonanza.
Speaking about top-flight dealers who signed up for this edition, Gorvy expressed what many dealers indicated: "The big names came because they all heard it was the foothold. They're obviously trying to meet new people. You need an art fair to have a public face in order to reach new markets."
Arne Glimcher, the founder and head of Pace Gallery, which established a big branch in Beijing in 2008, was one such big name. "The fair has been very successful for us," he said. "I sold Zhang Xiaogang's 'Slumber No.4' from 2011 to a Korean for $600,000 and a small Zhang Huan ash-on-linen 'Clock' from 2011 for around $100,000 about ten minutes ago." The latter work, featuring a young Asian girl with folded hands, exuded a quiet piety, much like the material of the accumulated ash allegedly gathered from burnt incense from Chinese monasteries.
Glimcher is very bullish on Asia, and China in particular. "They're wide-open and interested to learn, but not so interested as yet in Western Art," said the dealer, who recently celebrated his 50th year of dealing under the Pace moniker. "They own the 21st century and are very optimistic. It reminds me of America in the '60s when that kind of enthusiasm and optimism led to so much buying of American art."
One of the most surprised of the first-time dealers here was David Zwirner, who experienced a near-perfect storm of interest for the art he brought over. That included paintings made specially for the fair, such as Luc Tuyman's large-scale, 87 ½-by-62 ¼-inch oil-on-canvas "Couple," an uncharacteristically sweet 2011 painting depicting two birds on a tree branch that sold for approximately one million dollars.
"We sold a bunch of stuff — what more do you want when you do an art fair?" said Zwirner, who noted that all of the buyers were Chinese collectors. "I would say mission accomplished." He also sold Yan Pei-Ming's powerful "Self-Portrait" from 2011 for $400,000, and Daniel Richter's "Tuwenig," an exotic 2004 composition of a top-hatted circus performer surrounded by a large pack of dogs, for $700,000. On the younger side, the gallery also sold the Algerian-born and red-hot Adel Abdessemed's trio of Murano-glass-fabricated microphones, titled "Fatalité," for $220,000.
New York and Los Angeles galler L&M Arts, another first-time exhibitor here, sold Jeff Koons's large-scale 2007 painting "Monkey Train (Orange)," a Wild West-themed work dominated by a smiling monkey, for a sum in the region of $3.5 million. London's White Cube also sold a major, grimly Nazi-themed Jake and Dinos Chapman vitrine studded with mayhem-making toy soldiers, "Das Kapital Ist Kaput? Ja? Nein! Dummkopf!" from 2008, to an Asian collector for £525,000 ($850,000). Eigen+Art of Berlin and Leipzig, meanwhile, sold Leipzig School guru Neo Rauch's "Fastnacht (Carnival)" from 2010 for $1.2 million to an undisclosed collector.
While a number of dealers grumbled at the absence of action, clearly commerce was making waves.
Two separate sections that are bivouacked on an upper floor here, Art Futures and Asia One, represent a further expansion of Art HK 11 by showcasing more local Asian art, decidedly on the emerging side. The former consists of 45 galleries and the latter 47, adding 92 booths to the 168 mainstream stands on the main floor (The new Asian sections will be covered in another report.)
Finally, one of the best perks found are the stunning views of Hong Kong harbor, literally a stone's throw from what hopes to be more hardcore art commerce.
ART HK 11 runs through the 29th.
Does Money Grow on Art Market Trees? Not for Everyone
Mon 6 June
By ROBIN POGREBIN and KEVIN FLYNN
Published: May 30, 2011 in the New York Times
For the original article, click here
As all the talk of record prices demonstrates, contemporary art has soared in value over the last 10 years, outperforming stocks as an investment and drawing attention to possible bonanzas to be found in the market.
But not all boats have lifted with the tide.
Prices for the work of a variety of artists, including some top names like Larry Rivers, Eric Fischl and Francesco Clemente, have declined or stayed flat at auction in recent years, according to data compiled by Artnet, a company that tracks such sales.
For example, a Dutch Masters painted cigar box, created by Rivers and valued as high as $40,000 last year, sold in September for less than $4,000. Last month Mr. Fischl’s untitled painting of robed figures in a church sold for $194,500, $70,000 less than it fetched six years ago.
And Mr. Clemente’s “Parabola,” a painting Sotheby’s had valued as high as $90,000 a year ago, sold for a third of that in March. Often these are temporary descents. Other works by these artists can still command hefty prices. A Clemente painting estimated at $30,000 to $50,000 at auction this spring sold for $76,900.
Nonetheless, at a time when so much attention is paid to skyrocketing values, the dreary performance of some artists’ portfolios is a topic seldom broached.
“We in the auction business want to put our best foot forward, so when we get a good price, we make a big fuss about it,” said Elaine Stainton, the director of the painting department at the auction house Doyle New York. “When we have a disappointing sale, we keep our mouths shut.” Perhaps nothing in the art world is as mystifying to the layman as the often abrupt changes in works’ values. The market’s overall ups and downs make sense. And it seems logical that works by old masters act like stable blue-chip stocks, while contemporary art functions like growth stocks: volatile but with a sudden capacity to crown genius and create fortune.
But how to explain the cruel backslide of artists whose work escalates, then slips in value? Just as it is difficult to pinpoint precisely why work by some artists rises in value, experts say it can be harder still to explain why some artists’ value declines.
“There is a constant ebb and flow in art historical reputations,” said Jeffrey Deitch, a longtime New York gallery owner who now directs the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. “The reputation of even the greatest figures like Picasso are in flux.”
Certainly the value of an individual work of art can be affected by its size (bigger is better), condition, provenance and how recognizable it is, something often referred to as wall power.
Andy Warhol, for example, is a premium name brand. This month a silk-screened Warhol self-portrait touched off a bidding war at Christie’s before selling for $38.4 million, well above its high estimate of $30 million. “Some people like that instant recognizability, that someone can walk into the living room and say, ‘That’s a Warhol,’ ” said Mary Hoeveler, an art adviser in New York.
Prices can be hurt by negative reviews or if an artist has gone a long time without a major exhibition. And it helps to have work held by a famous collector: high-profile collectors create high profiles for the art they purchase.
So it was a setback for the Italian artist Sandro Chia in the 1980s when Charles Saatchi, the British advertising magnate and art collector, bought dozens of his works, then turned around and sold them, depressing the market for Mr. Chia’s work and damaging his career.
“It’s an unfortunate truth that some people buy with their ears rather than their eyes — listening to hear who bought what,” said Cristin Tierney, who owns a gallery in Chelsea and has consulted for Christie’s. “They want to get in on the action. They’re not really looking at the work.”
Then there is the simple rule of supply and demand, that — all other things being equal — paintings by Giorgione, which are rare, might command better prices from some collectors than works by Titian, which are more plentiful. But Warhols, among the hottest items on the market, continue to command high prices, though in many instances they were mass-produced.
“People who are buying don’t realize how great the supply is,” Ms. Stainton said. “If they realized how many examples there were, they wouldn’t value them as highly as they do.”
(While important Warhols routinely bring in huge sums, the Artnet tracking does not show a meteoric rise. Amy King, who directs the company’s database, said that was partly because Warhol’s work had done well at auction for years and partly because the data took in the entire gamut of works auctioned, not just the blockbusters, but also many lesser items that may not have escalated wildly in price. The price booms for works by Gerhard Richter and Francis Bacon have been more striking. Bacon’s paintings often sell for triple what they did a decade ago.)
Mr. Clemente’s price history at auction is illustrative, but by no means rare. The data indicates that his work peaked in price two decades ago and has trailed off since.
He was an art darling in the 1980s, part of a group that included Julian Schnabel, Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
His paintings and etchings, which often focus on the body, sexuality and self-portraiture, were once so popular that three New York galleries simultaneously showcased his work.
“Clemente is so in,” observed the London newspaper The Independent in 1989, “that he does not feel it necessary to repeat himself.”
But now his work is at times cast — some say unfairly — as dated, and he is no longer represented by Gagosian, one of the most powerful galleries in the world.
Still, as a matter of history, he has paintings in every major New York City museum, and in 2007 Roberta Smith, a New York Times art critic, described him as “the most resilient of the Italian Neo-Expressionists.”
Representatives for artists who have not done as well at auction say the data does not really measure the true value of their work. More ambitious pieces are often sold privately, by dealers, they said, and those prices are generally not made public. Only about half of all art purchases are made at auction, where prices are announced and can be analyzed.
“It’s a tool that you really need to use with caution,” said Ron Warren, the director of the Mary Boone Gallery, which represents Mr. Fischl.
Some also worry that whatever the accuracy of auction data, using it to track values is a crude exercise that considers aesthetic expressions only as commodities.
“Auctions are a blunt instrument,” said Marc Glimcher, the president of Pace Gallery. Better measures, he argued, would be criteria like: “How many galleries are trying to get a Murakami show from Murakami’s main dealers? How many museum or gallery shows of X artist are there per year? How many different continents do they show on per year?”
Still, more and more people now consult auction data compiled and analyzed by a growing number of companies that seek to provide quantitative measures of value. These consultants acknowledge that auction data is an imperfect tool.
“But there is no other verifiable measure of fluctuation of value — up or down — and the overall health of the market,” said Michael Plummer, co-owner of Artvest, an art investment advisory firm. “Without it, we would all be fumbling around in the dark.”
Ultimately, most agree that artist values are a lot like hemlines. They rise and fall, often fueled by something like a new museum show — for example, the one at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence this fall that will feature Mr. Clemente’s work.
Who knows how that might affect his reception at auction?
“Clemente is still stuck with the label of the 1980s artist, which in five years could be super trendy,” Ms. Tierney said. “So maybe a good thing to do is start buying Clemente now. You’ll be ahead of the pack.”
Archive of artworks stolen by Nazis goes online
Fri 6 May
Catalogue launched to help historians and families trace art looted during Hitler era
The Guardian, Friday May 6 201, Sam Jones,
Despite a reputation for reaching for their revolvers at the merest mention of
culture, the Nazis were among the most ruthless, avaricious and methodical art collectors ever to cast a
greedy eye and thieving hand over other people's property.
"Use every means of transport to get all works of art out of Florence ... [save] works
of art from English and Americans," ran one of Heinrich Himmler's orders. "In fine
get anything away that you can get hold of. Heil Hitler."
That appetite for the most beautiful and precious works of European art saw
thousands of pieces stolen from their owners between 1933 and 1945 and entire
collections raided, scattered and lost.
The quest to recover them and, where possible, return them to their rightful places
has been under way for almost seven decades.
Now, thanks to a deal between some of the world's leading archives and museums, an
online catalogue of documents has been created to help families, historians and
researchers track down the missing artworks.
Under an agreement signed on Thursday by organisations including Britain's National
Archives , the Commission for Looted Art in Europe , the US National
Archives and Records Administration (Nara) and
Germany's Bundesarchiv , the records will be available through a single web portal
The records include files documenting the systematic expropriation of Jewish
property, Adolf Hitler's plans to establish a Fuhrermuseum crammed with looted art
in his Austrian hometown of Linz and the interrogation of art dealers.
The British documents, which cover the years 1939 to 1961, also lay out the efforts
made to identify the stolen works and reunite them with their owners.
Among them is a report from a British art expert and RAF intelligence officer who
was dispatched to Switzerland in 1945. The paper may have faded to yellow, but
Douglas Cooper's exasperation with the Swiss authorities remains fresh to this day.
"Until I arrived here five weeks ago, practically nothing had been done," he writes.
"And still no steps have been taken by the Swiss government to put the looted
pictures in security. This means that it is still possible for any of the present
holders to dispose of them."
Cooper concedes that "a new spirit seems to have made its appearance" since his
arrival, but appeals for Foreign Office support in ensuring that dispossessed owners
do not have to make individual claims through the Swiss courts "because the issue is
a moral one".
The National Archives and the Commission for Looted Art in Europe have worked
together for two years to catalogue and digitise more than 128,000 pages of
information, ranging from seizure orders and inventories to images of looted works
and reports of the transfer of stolen pieces to neutral countries.
All the original British government files have been scanned in colour and are
searchable by name, place, subject and date.
The aim of the enterprise, according to Oliver Morley, chief executive and keeper of
the National Archives, is to provide unprecedented access to the past.
"By digitising and linking archival records online, researchers will be able to
piece together the stories of what became of cultural objects, be they books,
paintings, sculpture, jewellery or any other stolen artefacts from evidence
fragmented across borders and languages," he said.
Anne Webber, co-chair of the Commission for Looted Art in Europe, said that while
records from the UK, France, Belgium, Germany, the US, and Ukraine were now
accessible online, other countries- including Switzerland, Poland and Italy - also
held documents that could help families and historians.
"It's been enormously difficult for families to access these records because before
you had to physically go to them," she said. "But now they're all digitised and you
can search by the name of the victim, the perpetrator, the artist and the artwork.
It will dramatically change the possibilities for people, but there's still more to
Christie's auctioneer posts record sales in 2010
Thur 27 Jan
|Christie's auctioneer posts record sales in 2010
Thu Jan 27 11:44:07 UTC 2011
By Mike Collett-White
LONDON (Reuters) - The world's largest auction house Christie's posted record annual sales of 3.3 billion pounds ($5 billion) in 2010, a jump of 53 percent on 2009, underlining the strength of the recovery in the fine art market.
Jussi Pylkkanen, president of Christie's Europe, said the strength was sustainable and that there was room for further growth given the number of new clients bidding with the company.
He added that Christie's would focus its efforts over the next five years on expanding its online presence and on developing a new client base in mainland China.
The number of new clients who registered for a sale last year rose 23 percent on 2009, and the number of people who went on to buy an item increased 13 percent.
"It's that rise of new registrants which really for me signals both sustainability and actually further potential growth," he told Reuters in an interview.
"This new influx of buyers ... continues to grow, and that really is the vital piece for me," he added. "I am very comfortable that it is sustainable."
Prices in several sectors soared and records tumbled last year, making up for steep losses triggered by the global economic crisis. New collectors and investors from China were one of the main factors behind the rebound.
SOTHEBY'S ENJOYS BUMPER SALES
Christie's main rival Sotheby's also enjoyed bumper sales, with its auction total, not including private sales, hitting $4.3 billion in 2010 compared with $2.3 billion in 2009.
The company, which is listed and has yet to announce its full year figures for 2010, called the performance "outstanding."
Last year, Christie's set a new auction record for a single work of art when Pablo Picasso's "Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust" fetched $106.5 million in New York in May.
It was just enough to surpass the $104.3 million set by Sotheby's a few months earlier in London for a statue by Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti.
Astronomic prices were fetched outside the auctioneering mainstream, most notably when Bainbridge's in England sold a Chinese vase discovered during a routine house clearance for 43 million pounds.
The following month, Bonhams, a major auction house, sold a blue-and-white Chinese porcelain dragon jar for $7.7 million, more than 600 times its estimate.
Christie's said 28 percent of its clients now bid for items online via its LIVE platform, a five percent increase on 2009.
Online bidding would be one of two major areas of expansion over the coming five years, according to Pylkkanen, because it opened up the art world to people other than the super-rich.
"It really isn't just about selling a picture by Picasso for $50 million," he said.
"It is much more about a broader range of clients, a broader offering. That will provide us with tremendous strength and also great growth opportunity in the next five years. Online is absolutely vital."
Another potential area of growth was mainland China. Christie's Asian art sales realized 570 million pounds in 2010, an increase of 115 percent year-on-year.
"A lot of our efforts over the next five years will be in ... developing a platform and the relationships that allows buyers in mainland China to buy in all of our auctions globally," said Pylkkanen.
(Editing by Paul Casciato)
Sellers and buyers need to know who’s who
Thur 27 Jan
THE ART NEWSPAPER
Sellers and buyers need to know who’s who
The case reveals the casual approach to the legal concept of agency—but who acts for who is a fundamental question when it comes to transferring ownership, and also when deciding to whom duties are owed
By Paul Howcroft | From issue 220, January 2011
Published online 6 Jan 11 (opinion)
Cutting a deal: lack of transparency and documentation can easily lead to disputes
The recent English High Court case of Accidia Foundation v Simon C. Dickinson Ltd (see related story) has lifted the lid on arrangements between dealers in private treaty art sales.
How could it be that a seller was led to believe that a Leonardo Da Vinci drawing had been sold for $6m and then, by chance, discovered a year later that the purchaser had paid $7m? Secrecy and a lack of transparency is the key to such abuses and for them to go undetected.
Central to this happening is the anonymity of buyer and seller. It is said to be a common preference of both, but one wonders how often dealers decide to tell the seller that the buyer wishes to remain anonymous and vice versa. After all, buyers need to know as much as possible about the provenance of what they are buying. Possibly the refined and superior world of art dealing, with its clubbish air of gentlemanly dealing, intimidates sellers and discourages questions.
When dealers enter into arrangements and “understandings” with each other, they do so in their own interest and are unlikely to see any advantage in the buyer and seller knowing the details. Accidia had been told by its “sole and exclusive” agent, Luxembourg Art Ltd, that it had involved Simon C. Dickinson Ltd (Dickinson) to assist in finding a buyer, and Accidia believed that Luxembourg Art would share its commission with Dickinson. It did not know that Dickinson was to be a further link in the chain, permitted to sell at any price above $6m and keep the difference. Meanwhile, the buyer was given to understand that he was purchasing from Dickinson as the seller’s agent.
The case reveals the casual approach to the legal concept of agency—but who acts for who is a fundamental question when it comes to transferring ownership, and also when deciding to whom duties are owed. Dickinson entered into a post-transaction form of agreement with Luxembourg Art in which Dickinson was incorrectly stated to be the agent for the buyer. At the same time, it then entered into a sale agreement with the buyer, wrongly claiming to be agent for the seller.
Anyone who claims to be an agent, or assumes the role of agent, should remember that an agent owes strict “fiduciary duties” to its principal. It has to act in the best interest of the principal and, subject to anything agreed to the contrary, it has to hand over all monies received. Although Accidia had not authorised Dickinson to sell, and although Dickinson was not able to pass legal title, Accidia chose to ratify the transaction. By that legal device it retrospectively deemed Dickinson to be its agent and required Dickinson to account for its unauthorised “commission”.
An interesting feature of the case was the lack of any documents recording the basis of payments by Dickinson from the proceeds of sale to third parties, including the buyer’s adviser. There was also no document recording the net return price agreement between the dealers, as claimed by Dickinson. Failure to record or note commercial agreements and payments in writing inevitably gives rise to suspicion and invites disputes.
So what should a seller do? Certainly ask to see the contract to be made on his or her behalf by the agent before it is signed. If the sale appears to be to another dealer acting for an unspecified buyer, then the seller should be wary that there could be a net return price arrangement in place, said by Dickinson to be a common practice in the art market.
In turn, dealers need to make sure that their arrangements are properly recorded and that the seller understands and authorises those arrangements, including those between dealers. In particular, the seller needs to know the ultimate sale price and who is to get what from the proceeds. The court held that Dickinson had been “unwise” for not checking that the seller had authorised the arrangement. As a result, it had to pay a heavy price.
The writer is a solicitor and a partner at Fladgate LLP, which acted for Accidia
Art world up in arms at “light bulb” law
Thur 27 Jan
THE ART NEWSPAPER
Art world up in arms at “light bulb” law
Could the ruling on light works and higher import taxes face a legal challenge?
By Cristina Ruiz | From issue 220, January 2011
Published online 13 Jan 11 (market)
A bit dim: the ruling suggests that tax officials may have little idea what art actually is
london. The art world has reacted with astonishment to a European ruling which has determined that works by Bill Viola and Dan Flavin, when disassembled, should not be considered works of art for tax purposes. Dealers warn that the decision will inhibit the European art trade.
The ruling, which is binding on all EU countries, overturns decisions taken in British and Dutch courts, was made by the European Commission (The Art Newspaper, December 2010, p59) and means that galleries and auction houses will be charged full VAT—as opposed to the much lower import duties which apply to art—when importing disassembled works made from components such as light fittings or household appliances into Europe. For example, UK trade will have to pay 20% tax rate instead of 5%.
This has led to a bizarre situation. While customs authorities can classify works as “wall light fittings” rather than art when considering the import duties (so charging the highest tax rate), the overall tax value can still be based on the works’ value as “sculpture”—inevitably much more expensive than the value of a cheap light fitting.
“The logic does not hold up,” said Sandy Nairne, director of the National Portrait Gallery. He served as an expert witness in the case on which the decision centres. Haunch of Venison gallery had appealed a UK Customs decision to classify six disassembled installations by Bill Viola and a light installation by Dan Flavin as light fittings instead of art. The case, which was heard by a UK tax tribunal in 2008, ruled in Haunch’s favour—and it is this decision which the EC has overturned.
In his testimony, Nairne argued: “We have a history of well over 100 years of art that can appear to be made of ordinary things that have other uses. It is very common for sculptures to be shipped in parts. The fact that the work in transit is not like a work of art could apply to a large bronze figurative sculpture—an Anthony Caro piece would not necessarily travel as a whole sculpture in a single box.” He added: “The question of ‘is this the sculpture?’ is not to do with what it looks like when it is in customs but what it looks like assembled.” Referring to works by Viola and Flavin, Nairne said: “You can’t just take light bulbs out of a household appliance store and make a work of art. The artists specified every minute part of the work’s construction.”
One way around the ruling could be for importers and artists (or their estates) to agree an estimated value of the sculptures at the cost of replacing the component parts. Nairne, however, does not believes this is a satisfactory solution. “Even if works are shipped at replacement value, it still doesn’t change the question on which the ruling turned—which was about a factual definition of what art is.”
“This decision makes no sense,” agreed Matthew Slotover, co-director of London’s Frieze art fair. He suggested that a possible solution could be to import the components of light sculptures as light fittings, but then ascribe value based on the authenticating certificate which customarily accompanies a work of art.
While the European ruling can be challenged in the courts of any member country, it remains to be seen whether any gallery or collector will embark on this expensive legal process given the current financial climate. “Now is not necessarily the time when this ruling will be successfully challenged,” said David Maupin, whose New York gallery Lehmann Maupin represents several artists who work with materials such as neon, film, photography and video.
Christopher Battiscombe, director of the Society of London Art Dealers, describes the ruling as “regrettable” and said it could hinder the EU art trade. However, he added that the society does not have the funds to support an appeal financially, although it would be prepared to support it in other ways.
PADA 2010 ANNUAL GRANT ANNOUNCED
Thur 11 Nov
November 3, 2010—The Private Art Dealers Association (PADA) is pleased to announce the recipient of the 17th Annual PADA Award (2010), The Hispanic Society of America. The award will be presented to Mitchell Codding, director of the Hispanic Society at the PADA Annual Members Dinner at the Lotos Club in New York City on Monday November 8th, 2010. Mr. George B. Moore, Chairman of the Board of the Hispanic Society will be among PADA’s guests.
The 2009 the recipient of the 16th Annual PADA Award was Master Drawings Association, Inc. The award has been given annually since 1994 when the first recipient was the Conservation Institute at New York University.
The Hispanic Society is a museum of Spanish, Portuguese, and Latin American art and artifacts, as well as a rare books and manuscripts research library. Founded in 1904 by Archer M. Huntington, the institution is free and open to the public at its original location in a Beaux Arts building on Audubon Terrace (at 155th Street and Broadway) in the lower Washington Heights area of New York City
PADA is a New York City based trade association representing the leading private art dealers in the United States.
Trade fury on delayed report on resale right
Wed 13 Oct
Art Newspaper- Sept
Continuous legislation to extend the artist's resale right to include recently-dead artists could be implemented by default in the UK in 2012 because ... download complete article.
'The Learned Eye' by Jan De Maere, President of CINOA
Wed 13 Oct
The market is fickle and inconsistent. If an auction house does not have an excellent level of expertise, clients are assisted by the best experts available. The best art dealers and antique dealers preserve the monopoly of connoisseurship. For a long time they exchange their views with those of the best specialists in museums and universities. In addition they have time to study a piece and their clients have time to think about the purchase. Ultimately it is only the ... to read more download the full articlein French and English.
James Lally article on CPAC on China
Mon 11 Oct
“ The U.S. embargo is a political gesture that will do no good in China, but the harmful impact in the U.S. will be widespread and long lasting” states James Lally. The Unilateral embargo covers all categories of Chinese art and artifacts from the Paleolithic era through the end of the Tang Dynasty and all ‘monumental sculpture and wall art’ more than 250 years old. For more updated information, download pdf file from Art & Auction Sept. 2010
CINOA Dealers’ Report: Some Key Findings
Wed 29 Sept
Clare McAndrew, Arts Economics September 27, 2010
The art market is going through a period of flux, with various forces reshaping its competitive infrastructure and geographical landscape. In light of the many changes over the last 50 years, CINOA commissioned Arts Economics to conduct an investigation into the changing roles of art and antique dealers. Dealers are a heterogeneous mix of individuals, with significantly different backgrounds and modus operandi, however the research conducted in this study reveals some important trends in the trade.
A demographic theme emerging from the research is that the dealer profession is becoming increasingly skewed towards older age groups. The majority of dealers interviewed were over 50 years old, and tended to work with peers of similar or older age.
The dealers’ age profile was markedly similar to that of collectors who were surveyed globally for the report: just over 80% of collectors’ surveyed were aged over 45 years, and nearly 60% were over 55.
An important observation in connection with this trend is that dealers in many sectors did not see the next generation coming up behind them, and signalled difficulties in relation to amassing inventory, building contacts and the high costs to set up a business as significant barriers to entry for younger dealers. This appears to be particularly relevant in antiques and some older fine art sectors, with most of the newer and younger dealers coming on board in the newer markets such as Contemporary fine art and design.
The age demographic indicates two key issues. First, some sectors of the trade appear to be “aging out”. An older demographic and lack of new dealers implies that some sectors of the market may see a contraction in the number of businesses in future. Second, and more positively, it also indicates significant longevity in many businesses. While there has been negative publicity about the speed at which galleries open and close, on average dealers are in business over 30 years, which is long in both an absolute sense and relative to small businesses in other industries.
Problems of succession in family businesses are also discussed in the report. The most common company structures used by dealers are small limited companies, partnerships or sole traders which often cease to exist if the next generations are not interested in continuing the business. To the extent that problems of succession deter intergenerational business transfers, there may be less new dealers in some sectors in future resulting in a similar problem of aging out.
The effects of this phenomenon over the next 20 years are not entirely clear. It may be the case that fewer dealers entering certain sectors will make it more profitable for those dealers that do succeed in doing so despite the high entry costs. Others may find ways to circumvent issues such as high inventory costs by working more on consignment. It does seem likely however that if certain sectors of the market are still profitable, opportunistic business people - whether dealers, auction houses or alternative agents - will continue to enter the market until some kind of competitive equilibrium is reached.
The research indicated that, despite the risks it entails, dealers have tended to become more specialised over time. Specialisation can be a highly financially successful strategy but is a much higher risk business model, as success is dependent on the success of a small number of disciplines compared to their more diversified auction house counterparts. Some dealers noted that increased concentration in the market had caused polarisation and industry shake out, particularly within geographical markets, as individuals attempted to stake their corner. There is also some evidence of greater specialisation in older, more saturated markets and in larger art markets.
Views were mixed regarding the future of the trade in terms of specialisation. Some argued the trend was likely to continue, while others felt that shortages of supply along with changing demand from new global buyers would force dealers to broaden their interests in order to survive.
The Shop Front Gallery in Decline
A trend emerging from the research, particularly in larger art markets, is that shop front, retail gallery is in decline. There were several reasons given for this shift, including:
· The high costs of maintaining a retail presence in many cities as changes in property markets made rents unsustainable.
· The fact that foot traffic had become too low to justify a retail presence, with fewer people visiting galleries than in the past.
· The trend towards an “event-driven” art market, which now centres on events such as fairs. Many dealers commented that the expenses to run a gallery (especially when travelling and attending fairs) were increasingly not justifiable relative to the sales made from them. Fairs are now central to most dealers’ business models and have become a vital part of their livelihoods, allowing otherwise prohibitively costly access to global buyers and each other. The move towards events and centralisation was seen a conscious bid to react competitively to auction houses, with fairs a seen as an important way for dealers to collaborate and a means to combat auction power by creating some of the same “one-room” excitement and competitive energy.
· The growth in the online medium has made galleries less important for some dealers. Online, email and phone transactions reduced the need for a retail presence for some dealers or enticed some to move to smaller, less expensive offices or lower rent premises. It was interesting to note also that despite the wide take-up of the digital channel by dealers, e-commerce in the dealer sector remains markedly low. Relatively few dealers conduct online sales, and those that do tend to do so only to already established clients who are familiar with them personally and their stock.
Some dealers also felt that the move towards focusing services rather than simply stock was encouraging the decline of the retail presence. Increasingly for many dealers, knowledge, discretion, expertise, and intellectual value added were their key selling points, therefore “a brightly lit frock shop” added little to the offering.
There were a number of important retail galleries surviving this trend however, including large international “brand” galleries, multi-service general shops in smaller markets, and small, specialised one-man shops, either where rates are feasible or in major, visible thoroughfares such as key cities or destination towns.
Most dealers concurred that there is now more competition in sourcing works than there is in finding buyers. While demand for different categories of art and antiques rises and falls over time, supply in many sectors of the art market has diminished, and one of the biggest competitive challenges raised by dealers relates to the growing difficulties they face finding and sourcing good quality art and antiques at reasonable prices.
Another recurrent theme is the competitive challenge faced in dealing with increasing auction house power in the art market. Dealers have witnessed a change in auction houses over the last 20 years from being wholesalers to effective retailers, and now many compete with them head to head for clients and stock.
While auction houses have gained relative market power over the last 20 years, there are number of areas where dealers and collectors felt they still maintained a significant competitive edge. The main competitive strengths included:
· Recourse and guarantees - versus caveat emptor at auction.
· Superior knowledge and expertise - through focusing on one or few categories.
· Discretion- in both sales and purchases versus buying publicly through auctions.
· Access - due to a higher degree of specialisation dealers are often better at finding things, or have better contacts from concentrating on one area for a longer period. Collectors also noted that one of the primary advantages of working with a dealer was that they had better access to scarce and hard to source items, as well as fresh-to-the-market merchandise ahead of what was available at auction.
· Quality - some dealers have higher quality stock and more choice than auction houses and may also carry multiple items by an artist or maker versus the one option offered at auction. Dealers also claimed that they were often clearer on condition than auction houses, which allowed buyers to select higher quality.
· Value - although often not well publicised, dealers often offer better value than auction houses. Many have smaller commissions and lower prices, plus their margins can be explained and justified directly to buyers. The most commonly cited value benefit for collectors was the ability to negotiate or haggle with a dealer over prices and terms. Many also valued the flexibility afforded by dealers in terms of payment plans, along with option to resell items with them in future.
· Longevity- a greater concern forbuilding long-term relationships versus auction houses who are often more focused on the next sale. The longevity in dealers' associations with buyers makes for better customer relations, with “no hard sell” and greater nurturing of close and long-lasting relationships.
· Services - dealers often provide more services directly to their clients such as valuing, appraising, repairs and restoration. They are often better equipped to conduct these services as they are more hands on, higher skilled, engage in more research and often conduct work in-house.
· Depth - dealers often engage with clients in greater depth, offering advice, education and an appreciation of art. Buyers frequently cited education and advice as an advantage of using the dealer channel, some citing the depth of understanding it offered, while others noting its convenience and efficiency for gathering information on the market.
· Trust - many dealers feel that they are more trustworthy and ethical than auction houses, as they must stand by the goods they sell and offer full buyer recourse.
· Low Stress - large infrequent purchases such as art and antiques can be stressful for buyers, and dealers offer a much less pressured point of purchase versus an auction room where emotional and competitive tensions are often high. This was a very commonly cited advantage by collectors with a high value placed on being given time to consider a purchase.
While many dealers complained about auction houses pursuing private sales, conflicts of interest, their inflationary influence on the market and other issues, others felt it was time to stop complaining and for dealers to become more proactive in the market place. The main ways to do this were seen as through greater collaboration and providing more recognizable and differentiated added value through specialised services. This was seen by dealers as the most effective way to tackle auction houses who they felt tended to be mainly interested in increasing turnover.
The full report will be published and distributed by CINOA later this year. For more information contact Dr.Clare McAndrew, Arts Economics, www.artseconomics.com.
UN committee on return of cultural property meets in Paris
Thur 23 Sept
20 September 2010 – The Parthenon Marbles will be among the cultural treasures under discussion this week as a United Nations committee promoting the return of cultural property to their countries of origin meets for three days in Paris.
Specifically, the Committee will consider the ongoing negotiations between Greece and the United Kingdom concerning the Parthenon Marbles, between Turkey and Germany on the Sphinx of Bogusköy, and the recent return of the Makonde Mask by a private Swiss museum to Tanzania.
The committee will also continue the study it launched last year on alternative means of conflict resolution concerning cultural property, and discuss the creation of a database of successful restitution cases. The future database is intended to demonstrate the diverse types of restitution claims and arrangements possible, as well as the wide range of cultural objects and States involved.
Its members will also work on the elaboration of model rules aimed at helping States define their ownership of cultural property – particularly undiscovered archaeological objects – and will discuss a set of consolidated draft rules of procedure on mediation and conciliation.
The committee is known formally as the Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin or its Restitution in case of Illicit Appropriation, and it was set up within the context of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
As part of its work during this session, the Committee’s secretariat has invited key representatives of the global art market – Christie’s, Sotheby’s, SNA, CINOA and SYMEV – to present their role in ensuring ethical and legal practices.
In addition, UNESCO’s partner institutions – the International Council of Museums, INTERPOL, World Customs Organization, UNIDROIT, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Carabinieri (Italy) and l'Office Central de lutte contre le trafic des Biens Culturels (France) – will report on their most recent activities in the protection of cultural heritage.
Established in 1978, the Intergovernmental Committee is responsible for facilitating bilateral negotiations for the restitution or return of cultural property to its countries of origin – and promoting such restitution.
Published by UN News Centre on September 20, 2010