TEFAF Sales Report 2014
Colin Gleadell nabbed a few sales:
Richard Green from London achieved the top early sale to a private collector, with Pieter Brueghel the Younger’s brilliant satire, The Peasant Lawyer, whose subject is shown knee-deep in lucrative documents before a queue of peasants bearing gifts, which had an asking price of £2.75 million.
Carol Vogel adds two Old Master sales to the tally:
“The Supper at Emmaus,” by the Italian Baroque painter Bernardo Strozzi, was snapped up on Saturday by an unidentified collector said to be American. Otto Naumann, the New York dealer, admits he took a risk when he bought the painting at Christie’s in London in December for $1.5 million. “I knew it was reckless, kind of suicidal,” Mr. Naumann said. “The painting was so dark, it looked as though it had been in a fire. There were two layers of varnish with dirt trapped in between them.” Yet if it cleaned well, Mr. Naumann said, he knew he’d have a winner on his hands. The London restorer Henry Gentle spent months removing the grime and varnish and discovered a highly detailed scene of Jesus at a table breaking bread. The asking price was $3.5 million.
a still life from 1638 by the Dutch master Pieter Claesz of a crisply painted glass beaker, a plate of herring, bread and a pack of cards at Haboldt & Company, the Paris dealer. Bob Haboldt, the gallery’s founder, said he discovered the painting in a private French collection. The asking price was $3.8 million, and the painting sold to an unidentified American collector Friday.
Judd Tully has early sales from TEFAF:
Robilant + Voena: Agostino Bonalumi’s massive, shaped abstraction “Rosso,” from 1967, sold to a Swiss collector for around €1 million. The same collector also snapped up Enrico Castellani, “Superficie Bianca,” from 1965, sold in the region of the €1.8 million asking price. A third Italian post-war work, Paolo Scheggi, “Intersuperficie curva Bianca,” from 1966, also sold at approximately €230,000.
Galerie Odermatt-Vedovi: Alexander Calder, “Black 2-2-6,” from 1965, sold to a European collector in the region of the $2.6 million asking price, and a petite Lucio Fontana ink on card drawing sold for around €50,000, according to dealer Paolo Vedovi, who said the Fontana “was going to a private plane.”
Arnet’s Colline Millard prowled the fair floor for these sales:
Marlborough: Frank Auerbach painting, Figure Seated on a Bed from 1969 (asking price: £180,000), a fetching head sculpture with butterflies by Manolo Valdés, Luna (2012), priced at €230,000 (US$319,383), as well as a stunning Kurt Schwitters collage, Für Hartmann (1922), priced at €280,000 (US$388,958).
Tomasso Brothers sold a Roman janiform herm, which sold for €275,000 (US$381,000) to a European collector.
Weiss Gallery: Madeleine Le Clerc (1570-72) by François Clouet, one of the artist’s rare surviving works. The asking price was US$1 million. The piece has gone to an American collection.
Bowman Sculpture:Auguste Rodin, selling the Vase of the Titans (1877) for £280,000 (US$465,360).
Van de Weghe Fine Art: sold a Pablo Picasso drawing, Tête Couronnée (1960), for US$485,000 to a European collector
ArtFix Daily had a clutch of sales to report:
An extraordinary parcel-gilt ostrich ewer by Marx Weinold with its basin by Johann Mittnacht I, Augsburg, c. 1690, attracted a buy from Metropolitan Museum of Art at the stand of J. Kugel Antiquaires.
Daniel Crouch Rare Books sold a pair of 17th c. globes from Willem Blaue. A private collector purchased them to go on view at the Rijksmuseum.
In the popular Asian art category, a drum stand with coiling snakes, from the Warring States Period, sold to a private European collector fromVanderven Oriental Art. The asking price was 2.5 million euros.
Among the many paintings sold was a Lucas Cranach, titled “Lucretia”, c. 1537-1540, from Weiss Gallery, with a price tag of 2 million euros.
A Carlo Bugatti chair, made in Turin in 1902, with a asking price of 350,000 euros was sold by Galerie Ulrich Fiedler to a German museum.
But Bloiun art news has more of the inside scoop:
“The big sales and big price tags have been largely reported by others already, including my colleague , but a few notes might be in order: it is certainly a statement of the times, for instance, that at least a half-dozen pieces at the fair are priced in the $20 million range – including a Francis Bacon “Study From The Human Body from 2006 and priced at €25 million (Marlborough); a tender and lovely Van Gogh “Moulin de la Galette” at a rumored €20 million (Dickinson); and a Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) porcelain dish priced, according to the New York Times, at $22 million (at Littleton & Hennessy Asian Art, Hong Kong).”
But it seems also worth noting that fewer big ticket items have thus far moved than in past years, despite the repetitive reports of “swift” and “brisk” sales (yawn). There are also (thankfully) fewer Richters this year (though still one gets the sense that there’s one to be found pretty much on any gallery street corner).
And really, what on earth were the Tomasso Brothers doing with a Damien Hirst? (And this at a fair where even the people who show Damien Hirst don’t show Damien Hirst.)
This last is actually significant, and not just because the Hirst installation at Tomasso made for any number of snide jokes. It points to the desperation many Old Master dealers are feeling in the current market, when Modern and Contemporary are getting all the attention – and all the money. That the Tomassos admitted to Arntet that they were unaware of the collapse of the Hirst market – and are apparently oblivious to the lack of interest in Hirst’s work by the kinds of discriminating collectors that one finds at TEFAF – also indicates how far even some of the most established Old Master and Medieval art dealers will go. Surely they wouldn’t otherwise sell art works about which they clearly have so little expertise.
BUT FORBES INDICATES DIFFERENTLY FROM TEFAF’S 2014 ANNUAL REPORT
TEFAF’s Annual Report: Who Matters In The Art Market?
Wealthy art collectors paying high amounts for a relatively small number of art works accounted for most of the $63 billion of global art sold in 2013. That’s a central focus of TEFAF’s 2014 Art Market report, which has also been highlighted in much of the since it was published.
The report finds that less than 0.5% of lots sold at auction in 2013 fetched more than €1 million ($1.4 million), but those works accounted for 44% of total auction sales of €22.5 billion ($31.3 billion) in 2013. Meanwhile, those buyers who paid more than €10 million ($13.9 million) for works at auction last year –which was just 0.5% of lots, but 16% of the total sales value– were only interested in the work of less than 50 artists.
The fact that the art market is disproportionately influenced by those with €10 million or more to burn that are buying from a limited pool of brand name artists is not certainly not new, but depressing reading nonetheless. In his LA Times article Mike Boehm writes that “When we’re talking about the people who really, really matter in the art market, the report informs us, we’re talking not about those 600,000 mere millionaires and their tastes, but about just under 200,000 “ultra-high net worth individuals” who sit atop piles of $30 million or more.”
Share of lots sold and total value of fine art auctions in 2013 by price bracket. (Courtesy: TEFAF Art Market Report 2014)
But are these the people who really, really matter in the art market? After all, the TEFAF report also finds that 92.5% of lots sold globally at auction last year sold for less than €50,000, while 50% of lots sold for under €3,000 ($4,173) and 22.5% sold for less than €1,000 ($1,391). And according to Artprice’s 2013 market report, issued at the beginning of March, 38% of fine art lots sold at auction in 2013 sold for under $1000.
If we had better data about primary market sales than the TEFAF report supplies (it only surveyed 5,500 dealers globally, even though it suggests that dealer sales account for 53% of the €47.4 billion in global art sales in 2013), we’d find a much higher proportion of art works being sold at lower prices than the auction data suggests.
WHO’S TELLING THE TRUTH? OR IS THE SPINN STILL SPINNING?