Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Lot 377

Last Friday, a small English auction house sold a painting attributed to "a follower of Rembrandt". The painting was estimated at around 1000 GBP. Fifteen minutes after the bidding for lot 377 started, it sold for more than 2 million GBP. The bidding frenzy was fueled by beliefs that the work is a real Rembrandt. "If the portrait is accepted as a genuine Rembrandt the buyer will have got a bargain." And what if it isn't?

Friday, 19 October 2007

The fund factor

This summer, Art + Auction published its annual investment guide, edition 2007. Next to must-read articles on fakes, art indexes and auction room practices, it also featured a short interview with Chris Carlson, one of the founders of the Art Trading Fund. The fund "buys and sells pieces directly through its own network of artists, dealers and auction houses, (...) providing downside protection by taking short positions in securities with a high correlation to the art market (think Sotheby's and luxury goods)". Yes, a hedge fund. Carlson: "To say the art market can be made look like another financial market is wrong. To say that we can look at art over time and understand the way in which returns have been generated (...) is absolutely accurate." The minimum intial investment is about $200,000.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Small collectors

Well, very small.

Buy Warhol, sell Richter

Artnet predicts some trends:
- "Is this the season where prices for blue chip art finally stop going up? The answer is no. What’s more likely to happen is that prices for works by younger artists, which appear in part two of the day sale sessions, are going to stop going up."
- "The market will decline, this season or next, for Chinese contemporary art. The price rise in Chinese contemporary is a sucker bet based purely on speculation rather than on the quality of the work itself."

The article also gives some advice, after saying that "given the inflated state of the market, every artist should be a 'sell'". Anyhow, the author's opinion can be summarized as follows:
- BUY: De Kooning, Johns, Lichtenstein, Warhol
- HOLD: Bacon, Basquiat, Fontana, Rothko
- SELL: Christo, Doig, Freud, Gursky, Haring, Hirst, Koons, Prince, Richter, Tuymans

Give me a call when you sell your Richter, alright?

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Heart of gold

Bloomberg reports: "A nearly 9-foot-tall, stainless- steel heart by Jeff Koons, estimated to sell for as much as $20 million, could set an auction record for a living artist at Sotheby's contemporary art sale on Nov. 14 in New York." The current auction record for Jeff Koons is $5.6 million. Reflecting on the upcoming auction, Sotheby's head of contemporary art, Tobias Meyer, said: "Whatever the market will be, the market will be. No one will know until that night, but this is great and I'm confident." You can watch a movie on the heart and its sale here.

(The heart weighs around 1600 kilograms, "as much as a compact Mercedes".)

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Autumn in New York

From Artinfo.com: "Two major works by Pablo Picasso, a bronze head of his muse Dora Maar and a 1931 canvas, La Lampe, will go under the hammer in New York on November 7, Sotheby's auction house said Tuesday. Sotheby's expects the painting, which comes directly from the artist's family, to fetch $25 million to $35 million, and the 31.5-inch high sculpture Picasso made in Paris in 1941 will bring $20 million to $30 million."

Yes, November is going to be an exciting month for the art world and for Sotheby's New York in particular.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Sketchy sale?

In December, Christie's London will auction a "forgotten" Rubens. The auction house values 'Two studies of a young man' at 8 to 12 million USD, but probably hopes the piece to sell for a lot more. In 2002, Sotheby's estimated 'Massacre of the Innocents' at 8 to 10 million USD. It ended up selling for 76 million USD (still a record for an Old Master) and is now on display in The National Gallery in London. Clearly, this oil sketch is not of the same quality, but "in an art market currently dominated by contemporary art, an old master oil sketch by Peter Paul Rubens can still cause a stir."