Previous Posts: February 2016

White glove shot (ctd.)

February 9 2016

Image of White glove shot (ctd.)

Picture: Times/AHN reader

Ok, now they're just taunting me. From today's Times.

Update - a reader asks:

Wait!  Is the volcanic Lady Hamilton in the painting in the newspaper photo not wearing diaphanous white gloves herself, to hold her tambourine ???  (And if not, why not?)

Knoedler trial ends!

February 8 2016

Image of Knoedler trial ends!

Picture: NYT

Drat - the De Soles and Ann Freedman have settled their case. Just as it was getting interesting. Freedman (above) was due to take the stand. 

I am still baffled as to why no criminal case has been brought.

Update - the Knoedler trial is not ending! The De Soles were suing both Ann Freedman and Knoedler. Freedman has settled, but (a reader kindly points out) the case against Knoedler, the entity, goes on.

Knoedler fake trial begins (ctd.)

February 7 2016

Image of Knoedler fake trial begins (ctd.)

Picture: Illustrated Courtroom

The first few days of testimony at the Knoedler fake trial have swung a lamp over some of the most deplorable aspects of the art market. Mr and Mrs De Soles are suing Ann Freedman, director of the now closed Knoedler gallery, for selling them a fake Rothko. The picture is admitted to be a fake, but the Knoedler defence is that the De Soles should have checked it out themselves. In other words, tough cheese. The Knoedler defence has gotten off to a shaky start, however, with numerous experts who were cited by Knoedler as endorsing the painting's attribution in fact saying they did not. It looks like Knoedler was behaving in an extraordinary way, and you have to wonder how they did not realise the suspiciously cheap, previously unknown works were not fake.

But for me the  my eye was most drawn to this snippet reported in Art News:

The total sale price [of the 'Rothko'] was, in fact, $8.5 million, according to an invoice presented as evidence. Kelly, who purchased the painting on the De Soles’ behalf, said on Thursday that he negotiated with Freedman a $200,000 discount—and, as he told the jury, he kept $100,000 of that discount for himself as his commission after telling the De Soles that Freedman only offered them a $100,000 discount. “I could have kept the $200,000,” he said.

This fellow James Kelly should be deeply ashamed of himself. Asked to negotiate the purchase of a painting on behalf of the De Soles, he decided to pocket half the proferred discount himself. That's a disgusting thing to do, but I guess he's not the first person to have done it. Kelly runs an art gallery in Santa Fe.

There have been a number of eye-opening revelations about the Knoedler modus operandi. My favourite was the fact that they asked technical investigator James Martin of Orion Analytical to make massive changes to his report on one fake painting, in effect falsifying his own results. Of course, Martin rightly told them where to go.

See the top 5 aspects of the case so far here on ArtNet News.

'Picasso' seized in Turkey

February 7 2016

Image of 'Picasso' seized in Turkey

Picture: Guardian

Another week, another story from the Turkish police about how they've seized another valuable work of art. Earlier this month we had a story about a '$4.6m Van Dyck' which was not by Van Dyck. Now we've got one about an $8m Picasso. The picture, Woman Dressing her Hair, is supposed to be a Picasso stolen from a private collection in New York. But in fact Picasso's Woman Dressing her Hair belongs to Moma, and as far as I know has not been stolen. Isn't the picture in Turkey just a 'distressed' copy?

Louvre acquisition in New York

February 7 2016

Image of Louvre acquisition in New York

Picture: Sotheby's

A picture that sold well above estimate in the recent Sotheby's New York sale was the above Pandora by the 'School of Fontainebleau'. It sold for $754,000 (inc. premium) against an estimate of $300,000-$500,000, and was bought by the Louvre. Didier Rykner's Tribune de L'Art has the story here.

New Tefaf fair in New York

February 7 2016

Image of New Tefaf fair in New York

Picture: Tefaf

The European Fine Art Foundation (Tefaf), which runs the annual art fair in Maastricht, is to open two new satellite fairs in New York. Reports Scott Reyburn in The New York Times:

Tefaf New York Fall will open in October to showcase dealers specializing in artworks from antiquity to the 20th century. Tefaf New York Spring, scheduled for May 2017, will focus on high-end modern art and design. Each fair is to feature about 80 to 90 international exhibitors.

Because Reyburn seems to be on a campaign against Old Masters, we get the following remark in a passage about the Maastricht fair:

Awkward to get to (unless by private plane), overstocked with unfashionable old masters and situated in the middle of a continent with plenty of economic problems, Tefaf has been looking to widen its reach for some time. 

I find the concept of art being 'fashionable' pretty weird. And how do we judge it? Jeff Koons' work may be extremely valuable at the moment, and doubtless Reyburn would declare it 'fashionable'. But how many Koons prints do you see in living rooms up and down the country? 

Update - a reader writes:

The NYT article mentions that the unreachable TEFAF is full of unfashionable items but that it is also visited by 200 museums and 75 000 visitors.

A bit incoherent should we say?

Boom (ctd.)

February 7 2016

Image of Boom (ctd.)

Picture: Blouin Artinfo

It's been interesting to see how the media narrative for the health of the 'art market' has turned to talk of correction. Everyone is now firmly convinced of it, even though we're only one major sale into the year (Impressionists in London), and the evidence is slight. That's not to say it won't happen - I just find it interesting how impatient the media can be.

Anyway, contemporary art harrumphers like me are used to warning that the most valuable names now might not be so valuable in a generation or so. But I was surprised to see endorsement of that view from Marc Spiegler (above), who is director of the contemporary mega-fair, Art Basel. He said recently (in The Art Newspaper):

Of the artists selling well today, roughly 80% will be basically unsellable in 20 years, which is perfectly fine. Because collecting contemporary art is about engaging with the zeitgeist. People should buy art that they believe in.

Wise words.


February 2 2016

Sorry for the lack of posts lately, I've taken ill.

Update - recovered now, thanks for your kind emails!

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