Collection Review

Art manager and broker Russell Tether has an interesting article in Accent by Chubb on collecting and being timely in managing and reviewing collections. Russell notes that luxury and passion collection such as art and antiques average about 17% of a high net worth individual's total assets.

With that, collections should be reviewed, including appraisal, condition, security and insurance updated on a regular basis.

Russel notes relationships with auction houses, regionality, rediscovery, and trends. It is a good article to print out and also give to our HNWI clients to get them thinking about periodic reviews of their collections.

Russell Tether at Accent by Chubb reports
The Wall Street Journal recently stated that commodities such as art, antiques and other tangibles account for an average of 17% of high net worth individuals' assets. Yet, according to most estate attorneys, death, divorce and debt are the only times most people have their collections appraised. By then, it’s usually too late to be proactive in managing the collection.

So, why don’t collectors have their collections reviewed more frequently? There are several reasons, the most common being that most collectors probably hang the art on their walls to enjoy, and never think about it as an asset ... until something happens.

As an art management and brokerage firm assisting individuals, corporations and municipalities develop and manage their art portfolios, we use extensive research, market analysis and historical performance to help us to identify future trends and opportunities. We also work extensively with certified appraisers of fine art and have identified some key elements to consider in valuing art. For example, a key consideration is whether media reports reflect your collection. Much is written about the state of the art market at any given moment, but the “broad view” is far narrower than we are led to believe. Before applying the hypotheses you read about to your collection, one must examine the basis of evidence used in the writer’s analysis.

Auction records provide only half the story

If you are using auction records, consider what percentage they are of all sales values. Authors often base their analysis of current trends on auction records for internationally recognized artists selling for over $1,000,000, but these, according to The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) Art Market Report, compiled by Dr. Clare McAndrew of Arts Economics and excerpted in Artnews, comprised less than 1% of all artworks sold, or around 800 artists worldwide in 2014. Odds are that your artwork falls into the remaining 99 percent, so accurately determining values for it may be more challenging. And possibly more rewarding … “midrange” art can provide a greater reward percentage than premier works. For example, above is a painting by Alexandre Hogue, an internationally acclaimed artist in the 1930s. Hogue’s quality is considered on par with other great regionalist painters such as Thomas Hart Benton and George Ault. However, Hogue’s values are lower than these other artists, so collectors are eager to acquire his works at comparatively “inexpensive” prices.

Even when viewed more broadly, using auction records alone can skew conclusions dramatically. In 2015, according to the TEFAF Report, the global art market achieved total sales of $63.8 billion, with sales made on the auction house floor accounting for 47% of total value generated in the art market that year. All other sales—private sales conducted by auction houses, as well as sales by galleries and dealers—made up the remaining 53%. So, while auction houses have done an excellent job of bringing the art world into the public light, enhancing interest in and values of art worldwide, and engaging new collectors in the process, these records represent less than half of all art sales in 2015. To truly get an idea of what your art is worth, your appraisals should include additional research into comparables from private sales through galleries.

The symbiotic relationship between dealers and auction houses

People also forget the interaction required between dealers and auctions to make an artist valuable. No artist becomes famous without being represented by a dealer. The dealer promotes the artist through exhibitions, catalogs and private placement, elevating the artist’s prices as demand for the work increases. The works of art reach a value that gains the attention of an auction house. The auction house includes the artist’s work in an auction and promotes the artist to a larger audience, elevating recognition, demand and prices for the artist’s work. The gallery elevates the artist, the auction follows suit. This relationship between galleries and auctions is important to everyone, especially the artist and collector. So determining the value of an artwork from both galleries and auctions is vital to the accuracy of the appraisal.

Many artists sell for more in specific regions of the country

If an artist has an association with a particular region of the country—perhaps he or she went to school or taught there—demand for their work is often much higher there. For example, a 1936 painting by Texas artist Everett Spruce (above) sold in 2014 for more than $250,000. Two smaller 1930s works have since sold in the same $200,000 price range, and we have a waiting list to purchase other works from that period. The current auction record for Everett Spruce is $92,000.

Alexandre Hogue also spent several years teaching in Texas, so he is especially popular with Texas collectors. Road to Rhome is the only one of 11 Dust Bowl paintings by Hogue that is not in a museum. The highest public auction record for Hogue is $65,000. We acquired Road to Rhome on behalf of a client for around $600,000, approximately 10 times auction record, and the painting was appraised at $900,000 to $1,100,000. This is due to several factors, all of which are important to every collector: first, his relationship to Texas and the South make him desirable in that region; all the auction records available are for minor Alexandre Hogue artworks and fail to reflect values for his exceptional works of art and, as mentioned above, he is presently considered a mid-range artist but of very high quality.

Rediscovery makes a difference

Seymour Fogel is an excellent example of a prominent artist who was rediscovered. In the early 1930s, Fogel began his work as a professional artist by working with Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo on numerous mural projects, including the controversial Man in the Crossroads mural at Rockefeller Center in New York City. Soon after, Fogel’s own career advanced rapidly. Numerous exhibitions and WPA commissions established him as a member of the New York art community, where he worked with such notables as Phillip Guston, Adolph Dehn and Yasuo Kuniyoshi, among others. Fogel then accepted a position with the Art Department at the University of Texas in 1946, remaining there until 1957 and returning to New York in 1960 to pursue his artistic vision.

After his return to New York, Fogel’s work was again embraced by the art community, with repeated exhibitions in New York at The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum, and in Washington, D.C., at the Corcoran Gallery, the Carnegie Institute and others. He continued to work until his death in 1984.

About five years ago, we began researching him and were so impressed by his history and accomplishments—in his heyday, he was also elected to the International Fine Arts Council, the International Institute of Arts & Letters and the Architectural League of New York—that we decided to “re-present” Fogel to the art world. Now his work is in prominent museums and collections across United States and values for his paintings are 10 to 20 times higher than a decade ago.

Chart the direction and pace at which your collection is moving

Think back five, 10 and 15 years. Our world is changing more rapidly than at any previous time in history. The economy; politics; your art collection. Art speculators of the early 2000s turned to more established artists after 2008. "Traditional" furniture then, is just “brown” furniture now.

The old adage “people don’t want what their parents had, they want what their grandparents had” is true in art as well. Below is our “generational curve summary.” Please note that this is a summary of our observations and is not a definitive analysis.

Currently, Generation X (born 1965-1979), followed by the Millennials (born 1980-2000), are inheriting wealth and actively building collections of their own taste. They often shun the art they grew up with, instead opting for the art of their grandparents' generation.

Conversely, the first generations to broadly collect art, the Silent Generation (born 1925-1942) and early Baby Boomers (born 1943-1964) are retiring or passing. Some artists from their collecting years, primarily the 1960s-1990s, have become very valuable, or are trending toward increasing in value, depending on the interests of the Gen X and Millennials. Unfortunately, far more are decreasing in value as time marches on.

Given the information above, I think you can see why we advise clients to update their art appraisals about every five years. You receive financial “appraisals” of your investments every month in the form of brokerage statements, so why would you ignore a potentially large asset like art and collectibles? You probably invested more time, personally, choosing the items in your collection than the items in your financial portfolio, so think of periodic appraisals as a financial checkup for your art and collectibles.

Also be sure to update your records so you can review values from purchase to present, and then take a poll of the “next gen” to see what their opinion is. Your kids, if old enough, are an excellent source.
Source: Accent by Chubb 


Weaker Art Sales

The Wall Street Journal is reporting on weaker art sales when compared to 2015.  I reported the other day on the drop at Sotheby's, and now Christie's is reporting auction sales down by 37.5% from a year ago. The article also notes how both Sotheby's and Chrsitie's are attempting to maintain confidence in the market through higher than expected buy through rates, encourage bidders to bid online, and compares sector sales between the houses.

Overall a good snap-shot of the art market at Christie's and Sotheby's.

The Wall Street Journal reports
The global art market has gone on a diet.

After the recession, seasoned and newcomer collectors alike surged into the world’s chief auction houses to splurge on trophies carrying eye-popping asking prices. Now, art lovers are cutting back, plying fewer $20 million-plus pieces into auctions and increasingly contenting themselves with cheaper, overlooked pieces.

The resulting portrait shows a marketplace relatively healthy for pieces below $5 million but eerily thin at the top—a reversal from the last market downturn, when only masterpieces appealed. On Wednesday, London-based auction house Christie’s International offered further proof of a downturn when it said it sold $3 billion in art during the first half of the year, down a third from the same period last year.

Christie’s latest total included $2.5 billion in auction sales, down 37.5% from a year ago. Its $464 million total in privately brokered art sales also fell 10% from the first half of 2015. Contemporary art, long the engine of Christie’s market dominance, was hardest hit, its $788 million in auction sales down 45% from a year earlier.

Sotheby’s, based in New York, said it auctioned $2.4 billion in art during the first half, down a quarter from the year before—yet close enough to put the house within spitting distance of its larger rival for the first time in years. Both auction houses said their six-month totals represented sales through June 30. Sotheby’s is scheduled to release its consolidated sales, which include private art sales, next month.

Masterpieces proved more difficult to wrangle in the first half as sellers chose to ride out the market’s uncertainty rather than push their priciest pieces into the fray. Christie’s said only 29 artworks it sold during the first half achieved prices exceeding $6.5 million—compared with 47 the year before—with nothing selling for anywhere close to the $180 million that Pablo Picasso’s “Women of Algiers (Version O)” brought in 2015.

Christie’s priciest work during the first half wasn’t even a painting: It was a 14.62-carat diamond called the Oppenheimer Blue that sold in Geneva in May for $58 million following a sitcom-length bidding war. Also in May, Christie’s New York sold Jean-Michel Basquiat’s wall-size, untitled self-portrait for $57.3 million.

“There’s been a degree of uncertainty where sellers wonder if the price points can keep going up, but we think that fear is a little misplaced,” said Stephen Brooks, Christie’s deputy chief executive. “When we get good pieces, buyers come out in droves.”

Sotheby’s sold Picasso’s cubist, 1909 portrait “Seated Woman” for $63.6 million last month in London, the most expensive painting sold during the first half of the year. Sotheby’s also sold Amedeo Modigliani’s 1919 “Jeanne Hébuterne (In a Scarf)” for $56.6 million, a record for a portrait by the artist.

Without a glut of eight-figure offerings, both houses shifted their spotlight to rare or milestone pieces by established artists who don’t typically get top billing in the houses’ marquee seasonal sales in New York and London. The strategy largely paid off, as bidders during the first half reset price levels for painter Sam Francis, sculptor Barbara Hepworth, Mexican icon Frida Kahlo, New York graffiti star Keith Haring and sculptor Henry Moore, whose “Reclining Figure: Festival” sold for a record-setting $33.1 million at Christie’s London the night before the Brexit vote.

In a bid to win back a measure of seller confidence, the houses also worked overtime to see that a higher-than-usual percentage of their smaller sales found buyers. Typically, a sale is considered successful if at least 80% of the offerings find buyers. Sotheby’s $242 million evening sale of contemporary art in May in New York only had 44 pieces, but 95% of them found takers.

Both houses also redoubled their efforts to persuade collectors to bid online, with Christie’s achieving $28 million in sales during the first half of the year, 83% more than a year earlier. The average value of Christie’s online lots, excluding wine, is $8,251.

Sotheby’s said it also drew more online bids during its live auctions this season, including one from a collector who clicked to win a $6 million pair of blue-and-pink diamond earrings.

Among the categories, Christie’s $788 million in contemporary art sales exceeded Sotheby’s $579.4 million in new art sales for the first half. Yet Christie’s struggled in other areas. It said it sold $594.4 million worth of impressionist and modern art, American art, modern British art and Latin American art during the first six months—combined. The collective sum represented a 55% drop from $1.3 billion in combined sales for these categories a year ago. Sotheby’s sold $626 million worth of art across the same categories, including $561 million worth of impressionist and modern art.

Christie’s also ceded territory in the categories of old master paintings, Russian art and 19th-century art, with combined $130 million in, up 27% from a year earlier—but short of Sotheby’s $161 combined total for the same categories.

Like its overall art sales, Christie’s sales of Asian art were down by a third during the first half, to $310.2 million, although the house fared well with a curated, cross-category sale of Asian Art in Hong Kong in May that totaled $81.7 million, with 40% of the offerings selling above their high estimates. This included a blue-and-white jar adorned with dragons that sold for $20.4 million. Sotheby’s, for its part, also managed to claw back some market share in this category, selling $460 million worth of Asian art during the first half of the year.

Collectors from the U.S. and Europe outspent all rivals this spring, each region taking home $1.1 billion of art from Christie’s. Asian buyers won 28% of Christie’s offerings world-wide.

The art market tends to quiet down in late July and August but will get tested anew at sales throughout the fall in London, Hong Kong and New York.
Source: The Wall Street Journal 


Investing in Collector Cars and More

Philip Kantor, head of European motor cars at Bonhams recently discussed the collector car market. By itself, that is an interesting topic, but many of his comments and processes can also apply to the fine and decorative art markets as well. It is short, but gives some really good insight into the minds of collectors and what they are looking for, such as stability and market confidence.

Kantor states
The past ten years has seen steady appreciation in classic cars and, since the 2007-08 global financial crisis, activity in this arena has become more prominent than ever – its strength underpinned by traditional markets in Europe and the USA.

And there are certainly benefits to investing your money in a tangible asset like a motor car. Currency values are constantly changing, so if you have a car that appeals to a truly international audience, you can sell to the strongest market – meaning you are not fixed on a specific currency.

I have been following the collectors' motor car market since the late 1970s and have seen various peaks and troughs, but we don't want people to treat motor cars like stocks and shares. It is – and should be – a hobby for like-minded enthusiasts and those nostalgic of days gone by.

A car's increase in value is regarded as a by-product, albeit a beneficial one, of the passion for the product. Collectors want stability, and with stability comes confidence to buy and sell

Obviously collectors do consider re-sale potential, but a car's increase in value is regarded as a by-product, albeit a beneficial one, of the passion for the product. Collectors want stability and with stability comes confidence to sell and to buy – which is the situation we find ourselves in. Certain periods, types and marques have shown good growth. For example, we've witnessed cars that provide 'entry tickets' to the best historic events grow in demand, and therefore value. This ranges from veterans on the London to Brighton Run to endurance racers at Le Mans Classic. As for blue-chip motor cars, it's like the fine art market – there's always top money for the best. We saw it at Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2013 when Bonhams set the world record for the highest price of a car sold at auction, with the 1954 ex-Fangio Mercedes-Benz W196 going for £19.6m.

In addition, famous marques, particularly when they are still 'alive', such as Ferrari and Aston Martin, have been, and remain, strong. But a great car – at whatever level – is always marked against the following: the market's perception of marque and model, condition, originality and provenance. If you have a motor car that can boast good scores on the above four aspects, it is a saleable commodity in any climate.

Hoping to improve on 2013's success, Bonhams sold the rare 1954 ex-works Ferrari 375-Plus at the following year's Goodwood Festival. Conceived at the Maranello factory as its ultimate competition weapon for 1954, the car was one of five produced – another was a road-going cabriolet for Belgium's King Leopold II. The car up for auction was driven by the likes of Umberto Maglioli and José Froilán González at events such as the 24 Heures du Mans, the Mille Miglia and Silverstone Classic. It was the fastest sports racing car of its time and is complete with an established provenance, continuous history and undisputed identity. It ticks all the boxes for the perfect collectors' car.

But regardless of what any specialist says, the best cars to invest in are the ones that appeal to the individual. Open or closed; veteran or post-war; French, German, British or American – there is most definitely a classic car to suit all tastes.Enjoy them, and if you end up with a profit at the end of the day then that's the bonus.
Source: Square Mile 


More Art Authentication Issues

Fellow appraiser and ISA President Christine Guernsey send me this interesting article from the UK's Guardian newspaper on a potential Lucian Freud painting. A British BBC program has attributed the painting to Freud and valued it for at least $300,000 GBPs.

The only problem is Freud who died in 2011 had always denied the painting was his. There is the potential, from a conversation between Freud and his attorney that he started the painting but it was completed by someone else.

The Independent reports
The BBC says it has identified an early Lucian Freud painting worth at least £300,000, despite the artist denying throughout his life that it was his work.

Fake or Fortune, presented by Fiona Bruce and the art historian Philip Mould on BBC One, has attributed the painting, which is of a man in a black cravat, to the acclaimed artist, who died in 2011.

“Freud is a colossus of 20th-century modern art, and challenging his word was something we undertook with some trepidation,” said Bruce.

The London-based designer Jon Turner inherited the work from two artist friends, Denis Wirth-Miller and Richard Chopping, who told him it was an early portrait painted by Freud when he was at art school in 1939.

Wirth-Miller and Freud studied at the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing together and reportedly had a long-running feud. Turner said Wirth-Miller had given the painting to him with the instruction that he was to sell it as publicly as possible so as to humiliate Freud.

Throughout his life, Freud denied that the painting was his, baffling art experts who believed he had painted the work. Experts at the auction house Christie’s identified it as a painting by Freud in 1985, but took back the claim when Freud said he had not painted it.

For Fake or Fortune, Bruce and Mould spoke to the artist’s former solicitor, who found a note in her files of a phone conversation with Freud in 2006 about the painting.

During the phone call, Freud apparently said he had started the painting, but it had been completed by someone else and so he would not acknowledge it as his own work.

On the BBC programme, experts analysed techniques and materials used in the painting and declared that it was the work of a single artist. A panel of three Freud experts said they believed the painting was by the artist himself, likely from 1939.

On the programme, Mould valued the painting at more than £300,000. Freud has previously set records for the prices fetched by his works. His painting Benefits Supervisor Sleeping sold for $33.6m (£17.2m) at Christie’s in New York in 2008, at the time the highest price paid for a painting by a living artist. Another painting in the same series, Benefits Supervisor Resting, sold for £35.8m in 2015.

“It was a novel and gargantuan task to overturn the reported views of the artist. It was different from anything we’d taken on until now – we had never had to arm-wrestle with the words of an artist beyond the grave,” said Mould.

“It was all the more frustrating as the more I worked on the picture and Fiona was able to add the background with her inquiries, the more I felt confident about it being entirely by Freud.”

Bruce said: “As this investigation progressed we had to investigate Freud the man as much as the painting. He was an extraordinary and controversial character. And only by understanding him could we begin to understand why he would deny that a painting of his was in fact by him.”
Source: The Guardian


Time to Invest in an Art Fund?

The Huffington Post has an article looks at the art market, investment choices and why now is the right time to invest in an art fund.

The Huffington Post reports
Between markets in flux and Brexit, investors are looking for alternate ways to invest in tangible assets that don’t rely on the government. The growing trend in high net worth investing is to seek out asset classes with scarcity, like fine wines, antique cars, and real estate. However, in today’s global market the real question is: Is art investment the next move? Arthena’s Founder, Madelaine D’Angelo, breaks down the art market, art investment opportunities, and why to invest in a fund right now.

The art market

The art market rebounded quickly after the last recession, faster than traditional investments. High net worth individuals (HNWI) with a portfolio diversified into art assets were not as greatly affected. Additionally, rather than investing in stocks or bonds, art is provides investors with an alternative, tangible opportunity.

In times of high and rising inflation, art has performed historically well across all market sectors. Typically when there is an uncertain market, collectors look to purchase art with an investment view, not just to purchase beautiful objects. According to the Deloitte Luxembourg & ArtTactic Art & Finance Report 2016, 73% of wealth managers in 2016 (up from 58% in 2014) said their clients wanted to include art and other collectible assets in their wealth reports, in order to have a consolidated view of their wealth. Also, in the 2016 report, 78% of wealth managers (up from 55% in 2014) said that they thought art and collectibles should be included as part of a wealth management offering.

Modern portfolio strategy

Modern portfolio strategy dictates that investors should have 5-7% of their portfolios diversified into the art market. The low correlation of art to equities & traditional asset classes provides valuable portfolio diversification, which leads to an increase in overall returns. According to the 2016 Deloitte Art & Finance Report, 72% of art collectors said they bought art for passion with an investment view. Further, there was an increase from 3% in 2014 to 6% in 2016 of clients and advisors looking to buy art specifically for investment purposes. What better time than to invest in alternative assets than now?

Art has historical value
It is a tangible, beautiful work of art in which value will remain if the price dips. There is a prestige associated with art that will never change, even if the value changes.

Why it’s the right time to invest in a fund ?

Despite all of the compelling data on the art market, it is not a venture to be entered into without careful consideration and deep expertise. Through art funds, investors have the ability to quickly and securely tap into expertise and research that would otherwise take decades to cultivate.

Art funds allow for a combination of art & financial expertise with a large capital base and exceptional advisors. You, as the investor, purchase shares in a fund and art experts invest in works of art that reflect positive trends in the market so that you don’t have to risk purchasing work that won’t provide a return. Unlike dealers who hold onto artworks for short periods time for quick turnarounds, the “buy & hold” strategy allows for work to appreciate in value so that art advisors can place the work on the market at the right time. Artwork is traded infrequently due to the November-May auction schedule, which is why it is important for art experts to use market analytics to find the best time to sell. Most transactions come through private sales, not gallery sales or through the secondary market. This allows the investor to free up time and cash reserves to take advantage of opportunities in the market without worrying about their art investment. Also, the large variety of categories in funds allow for various ranges in investment, from higher risk opportunity funds with emerging artist’s work to lower risk traditional funds with blue-chip Modern artwork.

Bottom Line

You need access to find the right opportunities, so investment funds are the perfect entry-way to begin your art investment history. Investment funds, like Arthena, provide access to new investors with an affordable minimum buy-in, especially when compared to other funds and online art marketplaces. Investors can diversify their portfolio without the worry that their investment will fail to yield a return, and partake in investing in a booming asset class.
Source: The Huffington Post 


The Weakening Art Market

I had a lot of comments and requests for more information on my Potomack preview evening talk about re-purposing antiques.  I will try to update and post more information on the topic and my talk in the next few days.

I thought this article from the Financial Times was important to post as it takes a look at the current and short term outlook for the art market and other current happenings. In supporting claims of a weakened market, the article refers to a 24% decline in sales during the first six months of 2016 when compared to 2015. Perhaps Sotheby's battles back with sale of David Bowie's art collection and furniture. It also mentions the Doig lawsuit I posted on a few days back.

The Financial Times reports

Proof of a weakened art market is emerging as the auction houses begin to release their figures for the first six months of 2016. During this time, the value of sales at auction at Sotheby’s fell 24 per cent to $2.4bn. Volumes were hit particularly hard in North America (down from $1.4bn to $869m) while Asia sales grew, from $382m to $458m. Private sales figures will be disclosed in August and are worth scrutiny given Sotheby’s commitment to this area through the acquisition of Art Agency Partners in January.

Christie’s will announce results this month and expectations are that these will also be down from the $4bn of auction sales made in the first half of 2015, given the cooler art buying environment.

Art market life goes on, however, and Sotheby’s has won the high-profile mandate to sell David Bowie’s art and furniture. The legendary musician, who studied and made art, was also an avid buyer, particularly of British modern and contemporary works. The London dealer Bernard Jacobson fondly remembers him “popping in to the gallery for five minutes and staying for three hours”.

The sale will feature about 200 works by British artists including Henry Moore, Frank Auerbach, Patrick Caulfield and Damien Hirst (whom Bowie interviewed for Modern Painters magazine in 1996). Beyond the British art field are many other works, including Basquiat’s “Air Power” (1984, estimated at £2.5m-£3.5m) — Bowie hugely admired the late American graffiti artist.

A spokesperson for Bowie’s estate said that while his family will keep “certain pieces of particular personal significance, it is now time to give others the opportunity to appreciate — and acquire — the art and objects he so admired.”

The three-part auction, in London on November 10 and 11, is expected to raise more than £10m, although it remains to be seen what premium such celebrity ownership can command.

The first preview of the collection will be in Sotheby’s New Bond Street saleroom from July 20 to August 9, followed by further showings in Los Angeles, New York and Hong Kong.

Two ongoing legal complaints heated up this week. One of them — a case brought against the artist Peter Doig — is now going to trial in Illinois, starting on August 8. The case concerns a painting that the plaintiffs, Robert Fletcher and Bartlow Gallery, say is by the artist but that Doig says is not. Fletcher and the Chicago gallery allege that Doig’s assertion has prevented them selling the work and are seeking between $5m and $7m in damages. Doig says that the case has “bigger implications” surrounding issues of authorship.

Meanwhile, in Paris, the art dealer Olivier Thomas has been charged with breach of trust, fraud, receiving stolen goods and money laundering on the back of new evidence as part of the ongoing investigation into an alleged theft of Picasso paintings and drawings. The works were reported as missing by Catherine Hutin-Blay, Picasso’s stepdaughter, last year.

Her lawyer, Anne-Sophie Nardon, described the latest development as “very good news” for her client. Thomas’s lawyer, Jean-Marc Fédida, said this reaction is premature and that Thomas “denies everything”.

On its way to a Chinese buyer is a manuscript for JS Bach’s Prelude, Fugue and Allegro in E flat major for lute or keyboard (c1735-40), handwritten by the Baroque composer. The work sold at Christie’s on July 13 for £2.2m (£2.5m with fees) and is one of only three known complete autograph manuscripts written for instruments. (Bach’s cantatas — music for voices — while still a rarity, are seen more often.)

The price comes close to the record for a musical manuscript, which was set in 1987 for a set of nine Mozart symphonies that sold for £2.6m — but it may not be one that Mozart holds for long. In November, Sotheby’s is selling a complete manuscript of Gustav Mahler’s second Resurrection symphony (1888-94), estimated at more than £3.5m. The unaltered manuscript, 200 pages long, comes from the collection of the economist and businessman Gilbert Kaplan, who died this year.

Having sold Rachmaninov’s Symphony No. 2 manuscript for £1.2m in 2014, Simon Maguire, Sotheby’s senior specialist, said, “I never thought I would see a big Romantic symphony again.”

The Bach manuscript sale rounded off a successful Classic Week of 14 auctions at Christie’s, impressively led by Rubens’ ‘Lot and his Daughters’ (1613-14), which sold for £40m (£44.9m with fees) on July 7.

France may have been pipped at the post in the Euro 2016 final but its auction houses are on the ball. For the first time since it was founded in 2002, Artcurial, headquartered in Paris, has come top of the table for the opening six months of 2016. Its total sales of €117.5m (excluding VAT on its commissions) just beat Christie’s equivalent €112.3m and Sotheby’s €107m.

Classic cars continue to flatter Artcurial’s top line: in February it sold a 1957 Ferrari 335 Sport Scaglietti for €28m (€32.1m with fees). Some fine art with local connections also sold well. Giovanni Boldini’s swirling Parisian scene, ‘A l’Opéra de Paris’ (1886), went for more than seven times its estimate for €370,000 (€460,600 with fees) in March. The bulk (80 per cent) of Artcurial’s high-end sales go to buyers overseas, according to vice-president Fabien Naudan.

“You can sell to clients everywhere from anywhere,” he says. But, he adds, “People appreciate it if you sell French furniture, for example, from its original landscape.”

The summer season is rarely a money-spinner for art galleries, reliant on art tourists and passing trade while the mega collectors take a break from buying. This provides a chance for more experimental exhibitions. In London, Blain|Southern has a striking show of Carlo Carrà, an overlooked Italian metaphysical artist who was a contemporary of Giorgio de Chirico. The works on paper, made between 1910 and 1930, are on sale for between €17,000 and €70,000.

Other galleries use the opportunity to go where their clients will be (there’s no escape). This week, Hauser & Wirth put six sculptures by Alexander Calder among the mountains in Gstaad, Switzerland. These late, large-scale works are on view until September 30 and available to buy for up to $15m.
Source: The Financial Times 


Re-purposing Furniture

Just back from a preview part at the Potomack Company. We had a great crowd and I gave a short presentaiton on re-purposing furniture and using French Provincial cabinets.

Here is an image from the talk which was Tweeted by an attendee.