art market

Robin Pogrebin's Honest Filter on Art Auctions


New York Times writer Robin Pogrebin has an interesting piece about her own experiences working the art auction beat for the last two years. Though generally skeptical about the high-end evening sale ecosystem, she does admits to some vicarious thrills while watching the jockeying for record-busting lots, such as the Constantin Brancusi sculpture that sold this week at Christie's for USD $57.4 million.

The most interesting aspect of the article, however, is the contrast between the often prosaic details and boredom and the moments of genuine excitement. With regards to the perpetual challenge of determining who is actually bidding and buying, she notes that "there is a premium on figuring it out, getting to know the backs of important people's heads."

Photograph by Kevin Hagen for The New York Times

A Blacklist for Flippers?


Thaddaeus Ropac has called for an industry-wide "blacklist" of speculative collectors. However, informal versions of such a list has been around for some time (including websites that identify the sellers of "flipped" works that come up at public auction). However, such informal sanctions are very difficult to maintain. There is still some smoldering debate about the impact of "flipping," although the propensity for destructive impact on young artists' careers has been clearly demonstrated over the last couple of seasons. There is ambiguity, however, over exactly what market behaviors qualify as "flipping." An essential component of the definition appears to be, "something that other people do."

The World's Biggest Art Gallery


Bloomberg has a fascinating look at a whole different sphere of the art market. Park West -- "the world's biggest art gallery" -- holds thousands of art auctions annually on over a hundred different cruise ships. The article details a number of questionable practices that help the company to earn more than USD $400 million annually. Borrowing a page from the Kinkade playbook, the company markets mass-produced giclée prints with added daubs of paint by misleading customers regarding the scarcity (and value) of such works. They also are quite creative at marketing inscrutable genres, including "intense impressionism" and "abstract sensualism."

Thoughts on the Current Market for Emerging Art

Alexxa Gotthardt presents a balanced assessment of the current state of the market for emerging art. As untethered as prices for some emerging work became between 2013-2014, there has also been somewhat of an overcorrection. While interest in some of the high-fliers will certainly wane, prices are already starting to rebound for others who have weathered the storm.

Christie's 100 Million Dollar Man Departs for Private Gallery


Today marks a major shift in the art world ecosystem with the announcement that Brett Gorvy, chairman and international head of postwar and contemporary art at Christie's, is leaving the auction house to join private dealer Dominique Levy. Gorvy has been responsible for a string of recent record sales at Christie's, including Picasso's "Les Femmes d'Alger ($180 million) and Modigliani's "Nu Couche" ($170 million).

New Now Sale Defies Dire Predictions

Philips - new - now

Art Market Monitor has the results round up from Phillips London New Now sale. Despite the torrent of negative press attention preceeding the sale regarding price levels for the work of the younger, abstract artists who tend to be over-represented in the New Now sales, the results were far from disastrous. The break-out piece was a lovely (but quite recent) abstract painting by Matt Connors, which tripled its estimate. Thankfully, the work by Hugh Scott-Douglas, which was the fairly brutal press attention in Bloomberg just before the sale, performed respectably. Hugh Scott-Douglas is a talented, interesting artist with strong gallery support. Long-term collectors--hold the line!