Top Art Stories: Records and Guarantees

Top Art Stories, May 15th 2014. This week’s Post War and Contemporary Art auctions in New York brought more than $1 billion. Read on to find out what are some of the factors contributing to this phenomenal success and how you can pay less for art of equal quality and importance.

A record for a single sale was set at Christie’s

P_yellowHistory was made on Tuesday evening at Christie’s in New York City. The sale of Post War and Contemporary Art which was expected to bring in $500 million, instead totaled $775 million including fees and buyer premiums. The question is however what exactly contributed to this success? Was it the fact that 40 out of 72 lots were guaranteed either by the auction house or third parties, or is it just an overall dynamic of global sales of Contemporary Art that increased by 11% percent last year. Even though the much talked about Bacon triptych did not attract many bids and went for $80,805,000 to a private Asian buyer (the work was rumored to be guaranteed for $80 million), numerous records for artists were set including Barnett Newman, Alexander Calder and Joan Mitchel (record for a female artist). Source: BlouinArtinfo

Our recap of the top 10 lots from the historic sale.

Pre-sales at Frieze New York

F_yellowWhile numerous lots at evening sales at Christie’s and Sotheby’s were presold to third party guarantors, the art on display at Frieze New York was being presold to collectors even before the fair’s VIP opening. Works that are fresh to the market are particularly in demand and if you have access you can negotiate with a gallery to pre-sell you the work before it even arrives at the fair. It is certainly fruitful to dealers to ensure in advance that their participation costs are covered. But it is also a great marketing strategy as the remaining unsold works are going to be more desired standing beside the pre-sold works. There is certainly a sense of exclusion and privilege in this tactic, but isn’t it what the art world is trying to monetize on? Source: The Art Newspaper

Another evening of soaring prices at Christie’s

C_yellowOn Monday night Christie’s held an experimental evening sale of Contemporary Art, featuring young sought-after artists along with big names like Jeff Koons, Richard Prince and Andy Warhol. The title of the auction was taken from the work by Richard Prince – a salmon pink canvas traditionally filled with a joke: “Jewish man talking to his friend … If I live I’ll see you Tuesday. If I don’t I’ll see you Wednesday.” Was it good publicity or the hype surrounding the superstar artists (or Koons’ bronze “Aqualung” inflating the prices?) but overly aggressive estimates didn’t scare off collectors and out of 35 works just one didn’t find the buyer. The leading lot was Martin Kippenberger’s portrait of Pablo Picasso in his underwear selling for $18.6 million, above its high estimate of $12 million. As it turned out last night it was just a warm-up for Christie’s. Source: The New York Times

Betting on overlooked talents is a smart choice

S+yellowgalleryIntell is once again ahead of the news! For collectors priced out by high demand on blue-chip artists there is an opportunity to acquire a piece of history while not paying astronomical sums of money. Sam Gilliam, Carmen Herrera, Edward Dugmore, Irma Blank, Hassel Smith, Etel Adnan –  names you need to put on your watch list as the dealers are now rediscovering artists who have been overlooked at their time while working alongside with better-known artists. Watch our interview with David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles that dedicated their entire booth at Frieze to the vibrant billboard-sized works (priced between $250,000 and 350,000) by an African-American, Washington D.C.- based artist Sam Gilliam. Source: The Art Newspaper

Watch our interview with Michael Rosenfeld on the rise of interest for African American abstraction.

Are the prices paid for guaranteed lots fair?

G_yellowAs everyone noticed this auction season is loaded with guarantees that are continued to be offered days (maybe even hours?) prior to sales. The terms of these guarantees and advantages that guarantors have over other bidders (profit shares, commission shares, financing fees) are not fully disclosed. But obviously the guarantor is participating on much better terms than a regular bidder. Asher Edelman, founder of the art finance company Art Assure, translates the mechanics of guarantees into the language of the financial markets and concludes that the prices are being distorted by the information asymmetry involved in the third-party guarantee deals. Source: artnet

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