Private Sales

 Xiliary Twil sent me an interesting NY Times article on the growth in private sales. The article notes Sotheby's private sales grew by 28% last year to $744.6 million. Privacy of the sale is perhaps one of the more important aspects of private sales to clients.

More private sales will certainly make our jobs as appraisers more difficult in fine comparable and recent sales.  We will have to continue to build networks with dealers and auction specialist to stay abreast of important sales.

The NY Times reports
The Dent-Brocklehurst family in England owned an amazing painting. Hanging in Sudeley Castle, their ancestral home in Gloucestershire, it had been in the family since at least 1845.

In fact, Parmigianino’s “Virgin and Child With Saint John the Baptist and Mary Magdalene,” a pastoral Renaissance masterwork with a touch of eroticism — the Virgin’s pink and blue gown has a see-through bodice — had been in private hands for more than four centuries.

When the family decided to sell, they worked with Sotheby’s, the auction house. But there was no auction. There was never going to be.

The Parmigianino went to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and the Dent-Brocklehursts and their agents earned a reported $31 million in what is known as a private treaty sale.

Private sales through auction houses are suddenly big, but are they new? “It was something that was kept under wraps at most of the houses for some time,” said David Schrader, who joined Sotheby’s last year as its head of private sales for contemporary art. “Now we’re being very vocal about it and putting more energy into it.”

And why not? It’s a lucrative revenue stream, and it takes advantage of all that expertise and those client connections.

Sotheby’s private sales grew 28 percent last year, a spokesman said, to $744.6 million.

That’s a four-year high, but the miracle year was 2013, when numbers topped $1 billion.

There are compelling reasons for clients to sell far from the auction crowds. “The privacy is huge” as a factor, Mr. Schrader said in a telephone interview from Hong Kong, where he was overseeing the house’s first private-selling shows, timed to coincide with Art Basel Hong Kong. “A lot of people don’t want to see their work come up in a more public setting.”

Both buyers and sellers also want highly targeted sales efforts. When Mr. Schrader says that much of Sotheby’s work is “very bespoke,” he isn’t kidding. For one collection, he said, he is searching for “a Picasso that is no more than 25 inches that has no yellow in it.”

One of Sotheby’s most striking recent sales was to Jonathan Ruffer, a British investment adviser who is restoring Auckland Castle, a neo-Gothic palace that was home to the prince bishops of Durham for centuries, and revitalizing the surrounding town.

Auckland had a dazzling head start on its collection. In 1756, when Bishop Richard Trevor lived there, he redid the dining room to showcase a purchase: Francisco de Zurbarán’s “Jacob and His Twelve Sons.”

That cycle of 12 of the life-size portraits set a definite tone, so Mr. Ruffer decided to fill the castle with more Spanish old masters.

“Jonathan invited me to his office in Victoria in London to discuss his proposal” in November 2016, recalled James Macdonald, Sotheby’s head of old master paintings private sales. Mr. Ruffer “acquired around 20 significant pieces through Sotheby’s, almost all through private sale.”

Many came from private collections in Spain, but there were also purchases from France, Britain, Switzerland and Chile. The project took about 18 months, which Mr. Macdonald called “a remarkably short period of time.” Buying an equivalent collection at auctions, he said, would have taken “well over a decade.”

Mr. Ruffer always planned to go the private sale route. “If one buys only at auction or from dealers, one has simply to take the pictures that happen to come up,” he said.

Although he still runs Ruffer L.L.P. in London, Mr. Ruffer spends about half his time in the town of Bishop Auckland, living in the castle’s lodge house, with “my fireplace, wife and two stinkers” — Dandie Dinmont terriers, he said. “I go up by train and eat egg and cress sandwiches if I’m feeling ebullient.”

He’s supervising the Auckland Project, which encompasses properties outside the castle grounds, and the castle’s reopening (planned for December).

Asked which acquisition thrilled him most, Mr. Ruffer declined to play favorites. Mr. Macdonald mentioned “The Penitent Magdalene,” by Juan Bautista Maíno, an artist “who has only recently started to emerge from the shadows.”

The market for good to great Spanish old masters is strong, Mr. Macdonald said.

What appeals to today’s collectors is the category’s “powerful aesthetic and often intense emotion.” There is also a sense that “the market has been somewhat overlooked” until now.

On the other hand, the single hottest category today seems to be Western modern and contemporary art, with a growing number of Asian buyers. That’s why Mr. Schrader was in Hong Kong, surrounded by the signatures of Picasso, de Kooning, Dalí and Bonnard.

Asian collectors’ tastes are becoming more sophisticated, Mr. Schrader said. “As they travel more and go to museums in Paris and London and New York and Venice, they’re just getting exposed to different kinds of objects.” Americans’ tastes are expanding in the same way. “There’s quite a convergence happening.”

Convergence can be scary, but Mr. Schrader said he believed traditional auctions would survive. For one thing, public-sale frenzy, with competitors lusting after the same object, paddles going up and down around the room and telephones ringing to signal international bids, can create “a type of magic” — for certain lots.

He mentioned “the Basquiat that we sold for $110 million,” referring to an untitled 1982 skull painting snapped up by a Japanese billionaire at a New York sale last year. “I don’t think I could have achieved that price privately,” Mr. Schrader said.

Galleries may resent auction houses invading their territory, but those at Sotheby’s say there’s more collaboration than competition.

A private sale is straightforward. Sotheby’s has dedicated spaces for private sales in London, New York and Hong Kong.

Most often, a prospective buyer and an artwork come together in a locked room.

Sometimes technology intervenes, perhaps an electronic image accompanied by a condition report.

For Mr. Schrader, who came to Sotheby’s from Wall Street, private sales couldn’t be more logical. “We’ve been selling art maybe 10 times a year,” he observed. “The other 355 days, art was selling at other venues.”

That was then.
Source: The NY Times 


The Collectibles Market

Arika Cole of the Appraisal Foundation sent out an interesting article published in the Wall Street Journal about the collectibles market. What is good to see is the article talks with professional and qualified appraisers and recommends before buying to become educated and it also discusses estate planning for collections.

It is always good to see when major media outlets published stories, but also recommend and include the recommendation and need to speak with qualified appraisers.

The Wall Street Journal reports
Many retirees put their money where their passions are—by collecting. But whether you are a neophyte or have been at it for years, it is important to avoid common pitfalls.

According to a recent UBS survey, 25% of Americans with $1 million or more to invest collect items including art, old movie posters and sports memorabilia. Most have spent 20 or more years amassing their collections, which they estimate represent 10% or more of their wealth, on average.

Still, many fail to protect and plan for their collections, said Michael Crook, head of ultrahigh net worth strategy at UBS. For example, 51% have never had their acquisitions appraised and 44% lack insurance. While 80% say they intend to leave their collections to heirs, only 35% of those who have inherited collections say they wanted them.

Here are three things collectors should keep in mind.

Don’t Assume You Will Make Money
Some financial advisers say investing a small percentage of a portfolio in collectibles can enhance returns or reduce risk. Other advisers and appraisers say this is a bad idea.

“I always cringe when I hear people say collectibles are a great investment,” said Laura Woolley, an appraiser who specializes in entertainment memorabilia.

Changes in taste can quickly destroy a collection’s value. ‘Millennials don’t want the antiques people have been collecting for generations,’ says Gayle Skluzacek, president of Abigail Hartmann Associates.

Many types of collectibles cost more to own than stocks, bonds and mutual funds. Wine collectors, for instance, usually pay for storage, insurance, shipping and appraisals.

Transaction fees can be high. At vintage car auctions, commissions often total 10% to 25% of the purchase price and are divided between buyer and seller, said Jonathan Klinger, vice president of public relations at Hagerty Group LLC, which sells insurance for classic cars.

Changes in taste can quickly destroy a collection’s value. “Millennials don’t want the antiques people have been collecting for generations,” says Gayle Skluzacek, president of Abigail Hartmann Associates in New York and an appraiser of antiques, fine art and wine.

Ms. Skluzacek said she recently appraised a set of silver napkin-holders for $15 to $100 each, down from $500 to $5,000 in the 1990s.

“Buy the things you love. If they appreciate, fantastic. If not, you will still love having them,” said Ms. Woolley.

Collect Smart
Before starting or resuming a collection, get educated. “That’s half the fun,” said Ms. Skluzacek. “Going to art shows, reading biographies of artists, talking to dealers—that’s the passion a good collector would have.”

Thanks to the internet, there are more resources for collectors than in the past, said Ms. Skluzacek, who recommends websites including liveauctioneers.com, winespectator.com, artnet.com and bookpricescurrent.com.

When buying collectibles, “condition is paramount,” she added. “Buy the best condition you can possibly buy.”

Other qualities to consider include historical significance and rarity. With books, for example, “buy first editions, not second,” said Ms. Woolley.

Keep invoices, including receipts for framing and conserving art, to calculate the capital-gains tax you may owe if you sell for a profit, said Nancy Harrison, a senior fine art specialist at Fine Art Asset Management in New York.

You should also obtain and authenticate documents, including titles, that prove an object’s ownership history. (With art, a good resource is the Art Loss Register.)

“If an object was owned by an important collector or celebrity, it will probably enhance the value,” said Ms. Harrison.

Because fraud and theft can be problems, walk away if a seller balks at providing documentation, said Ms. Skluzacek. She estimates 10% to 20% of “investment level wine” is fake and teaches an online wine course with a segment on spotting wine forgeries at New York University.

Saving for Retirement: How Auto-IRA Plans May Secure the Future

More than 30 million full-time workers don't have access to a retirement plan at their workplace, nor do millions of part-time or independent contractors. Oregon is among five states in the country now requiring employers to automatically enroll workers in a Roth IRA retirement savings plan. Employees can opt out, but if too many do, the plans could fail.

Plan for the Future
It is important to plan for your collection.

Quentara Costa, 32, a financial planner in North Andover, Mass., recommends having a conversation with heirs to ascertain their interest.

Ms. Costa said she recently had such a conversation with her aunt about the latter’s Christopher Radko Christmas ornaments. “They are gorgeous,” Ms. Costa said. “But I would have had enough for four Christmas trees.”

The two agreed Ms. Costa would take one box and help her aunt sell the rest on eBay. “Now there is no guilt that if I get rid of some I would be insulting her.”

James Kyle, 69, a collector of colored gemstones, said he has “come to the realization that no one in my family has the same passion.”

The financial adviser at Savant Capital Management in Rockford, Ill. said he may sell some of his collection. But first, he plans to compile a computerized inventory with photographs and sales receipts.

To get a preliminary idea of the value of a collectible, you can use Google or eBay.

But for something more precise, hire an appraiser—typical costs range from $100 to $500 an hour—from one of three professional groups: the Appraisers Association of America, the International Society of Appraisers, and the American Society of Appraisers, said Leila Dunbar, an appraiser of wine and sports and entertainment memorabilia. Each requires members to have demonstrated competency in their field and to adhere to a code of ethics.

An appraisal can help a collector divide possessions fairly among heirs. It can also help sellers assess offers from dealers or auction houses.

If an item is valuable, the family may come out ahead if the heirs sell it—not the collector. That is because the collector will owe up to a 28% federal tax on net profits (plus a 3.8% surtax in some cases.)

But if the heirs sell after the collector dies, they can increase the item’s cost basis to fair market value on the date of death. This can eliminate much or all capital-gains tax due.

A “qualified” appraisal—that meets Internal Revenue Service requirements—can also establish the value of items you may wish to donate to a nonprofit in return for a tax deduction. (The institution must agree to accept the donation).

“Not everything can or should go to the Met,” said Ms. Harrison. For example, appraisers say, clients have donated postcard collections to local historical societies and Coca-Cola memorabilia to a regional food and beverage museum.
Source: The Wall Street Journal 


UK Ivory Laws

As I was getting ready to post a NY Times article on the U.K. ivory laws fellow appraiser Susan Tarman sent me a posting from artnet news on the same subject, with headlines stating "UK to Introduce ‘One of the World’s Toughest Bans on Ivory,’ With Only a Few Exceptions for Cultural Objects. Many in the antiques trade lobbied hard to avoid an unqualified ban as conservationists keep up the pressure on the European Union."

Some of the exception in the UK market are " It will be possible to trade items containing less than 10 percent ivory, provided they were made before 1947. The same applies to musical instruments with less than 20 percent ivory, made before 1975, and to portrait miniatures on ivory more than 100 years old."

The first article posted is from the NY Times followed by the artnet news article (scroll down to the second block quote).

The NY Times reports
LONDON — In his award-winning biography, “The Hare With Amber Eyes,” the British ceramic artist Edmund de Waal tells the story of his family through its collection of Japanese netsuke carvings.

Netsuke are ornamental toggles made mainly out of ivory or wood and used to fasten things to the sash of a kimono. Each one is “a small, tough explosion of exactitude,” as Mr. de Waal memorably wrote. Charles Ephrussi, a cousin of the author’s great-grandfather, bought a complete collection of 264 of these carvings from a Paris dealer in the late 19th century. Among them was an ivory netsuke of a trembling hare with amber-inlaid eyes.

Extraordinarily, the entire collection has remained intact, surviving World War II in Vienna, hidden in the mattress of a family servant. It spent further years in the apartment of an uncle in Tokyo, before being bequeathed to Mr. de Waal, who keeps it in his London home.

He writes in his book how a disapproving neighbor, surprised by the sight of such precious objects in a private house, suggested that the netsuke should be returned to Japan. “No,” replied Mr. de Waal. “Objects have always been carried, sold, bartered, stolen, retrieved and lost,” he said. “It is how you tell the stories that matters.”

Such stories of lives lived through material culture could be severely curtailed here in Britain, following the government’s announcement earlier this month that it would be banning the sale of items made with ivory. The measure is designed to protect elephants, the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said in a statement. A spokesman would not say when legislation would be brought before Parliament.

The department said that 20,000 elephants were killed for their ivory in 2017. Last year, China pledged to shut down its commercial trade in the material.

Like the United States, which in 2016 announced a near-total ban on the trade of African elephant ivory, Britain will have some exemptions. These will require permits, available for a fee from the government’s Animal and Plant Health Agency. It will be possible to trade items containing less than 10 percent ivory, provided they were made before 1947. The same applies to musical instruments with less than 20 percent ivory, made before 1975, and to portrait miniatures on ivory more than 100 years old.

Exemptions will also apply — and this is the proposed legislation’s grayest area — to the “rarest and most important items of their type,” if they are at least 100 years old. Again, these items will have to be registered with the Animal and Plant Health Agency, which will then seek advice from a museum on whether to issue a permit for sale.

After consultation, the Conservative government has modified its 2015 pre-election pledge to implement a total ban on ivory sales. The proposed legislation has, nonetheless, thrown the British antiques industry into a spin.

“We can trade at the top end, but for someone starting out or people in the middle market, this is a total disaster,” said Jan Finch, partner at Finch & Co., a London based dealership specializing in unusual objects from around the world. Ivory pieces frequently appear in its stock.

Like many in the British art and antiques trade, Ms. Finch thinks the 10 percent maximum for ivory-decorated antiques is too low and would like to know how the criterion “rarest and most important” will, in practice, be applied.

“A whole load of stuff will be illegal,” Ms. Finch added, referring to everyday items such as boxes and chess sets that will soon be unsellable and unexportable.

But where, exactly, will the “top end” of the remaining trade in antique ivory be pitched? How many of those relatively humble Japanese netsuke carvings, for example, will pass the “rarest and most important” test?

The Animal and Plant Health Agency “could decide to establish a bar that’s too high,” said Max Rutherston, a leading specialist dealer in netsuke, based in London. “If I’m offered a great piece, how do I know it’s going to get a sales permit?”

Mr. Rutherston currently has 155 ivory netsukes in stock, 130 of which are being offered on behalf of clients. Prices range from about 250 pounds, or about $350, to £45,000, the level at which he currently values Mr. de Waal’s “Hare With Amber Eyes.”

Uncertain of how much of his stock will be eligible for government-issued sales permits, Mr. Rutherston said he is considering relocating his business to continental Europe, perhaps to the Netherlands.

But dealers in the European Union, who can trade in worked ivory dating from before 1947, courtesy of an exemption in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also have problems with this controversial stock-in-trade.

“It’s much more difficult to sell ivory,” said Florian Eitle-Böhler, director of the old master sculpture dealers Julius Böhler Kunsthandlung, based in Starnberg, Germany. “I’ve reduced prices by about 50 percent in the last five years,” said Mr. Eitle-Böhler, who exhibited an exceptional pair of 17th-century ivory reliefs, “Bathsheba at her Bath” and “Lot and his Daughters,” attributed to Francis van Bossuit, at last month’s Tefaf fair in Maastricht, priced at 250,000 euros, or around $310,000. He said his gallery did not sell any ivory pieces at the fair.

Mr. Eitle-Böhler, echoing other British and European dealers, said one of the main problems was the ending of the trans-Atlantic trade in ivory. “You can’t sell to America,” he said. “You commit a felony. It gets destroyed.”

But New York’s status as a no-go zone for trading in antique ivory is being challenged by dealers in the United States. In a complaint filed on April 5 to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, the Art and Antique Dealers League of America and the National Art and Antiques Dealers Association of America are contesting the New York state law passed in 2014 banning the sale of antique ivory. The plaintiffs contest that this state legislation conflicts with exemptions for antiques included in prevailing federal ban on the ivory trade.

Back here in Britain, the window for buying and selling antique ivory is closing.

“We are turning things away,” said Lee Young, managing director of Duke’s, an auction house in Dorchester, England. “We’re not going to be able sell something that could be worthless in six months’ time.”

Mr. Young, a specialist in Asian art, said there could well come a point when Duke’s, along with other British-based auction houses, would no longer sell ivory.

“The trade will die because people will be too embarrassed to own these things,” Mr. Young said. But what will happen to the mountain of unsellable, unexportable ivory antiques that will then accumulate in Britain? “You’ll only be able to pass it down the generations, and they won’t want it,” he added.

The “Hare With Amber Eyes,” a signed piece by the Osaka carver Masatoshi, dating from around 1880, would doubtless pass the “rarest and most important” test, thanks to the popular success of Mr. de Waal’s book. But what about all the other, less exceptional ivory netsuke in this family collection? When Britain’s ban on its ivory trade becomes law, these too could become unsellable and, in a sense, worthless. Mr. de Waal declined a request from The New York Times for comment.

If — and in dealers’ minds, this remains a huge “if” — elephants can be saved by banning the trade in antique ivory, this would be a story with a happy ending. But a lot of other stories will be lost along the way.
Source: The NY Times 

artnet news post on the UK Ivory laws
.The UK government plans to ban the sale of ivory of any age, making fewer exemptions than the US or China.

The Environment Secretary Michael Gove called the planned legislation “one of the world’s toughest bans on ivory sales to protect elephants for future generations.” Anyone caught breaking the law will face up to five years in prison or an unlimited fine.

He was speaking after the publication of a consultation that received 70,000 responses (one of the largest ever). Around 88 percent were in favor of an outright ban on the ivory trade.

Members of the antique trade lobbied hard to avoid a total ban, arguing that banning the sale of historic items will do nothing to stop poaching in Africa, an ongoing black-market epidemic of slaughter that kills more than 50 elephants a day.

Under the UK’s incoming ban, exemptions will be made for musical instruments containing less than 20 percent ivory made prior to 1975 as well as items with an ivory content of less than 10 percent by volume made prior to 1947. Also exempt will be portrait miniatures dating to at least 100 years prior to the new laws.

Certain museums will be allowed to buy or loan ivory items and display works with historic, artistic, and cultural value. Finally, antiques that are made of ivory but that have “high artistic, cultural, or historical value” will be permitted to be traded. Select institutions, which are still to be determined, would provide a permit.

Elephants carved from illegal Ivory on display at the Endangered Species exhibition in London in 2011. Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.

International trade in ivory is banned with the exemption of items that can be dated back to the 1970s, before elephants were given official protection. Yet the continued rise in the trade indicates that this exemption was used as a loophole for illegal trading. The US introduced an ivory ban in 2016, exempting items that were older than a hundred years, but these could be made with up to 50 percent ivory.

The European Commission tightened its rules last July in an attempt to close this legislative loophole, and last October they invited individuals and organizations to submit further proposals to crack down on trafficking. Nearly 90,000 responses were received and have been shared publicly. The European Union as a whole is the largest exporter of ivory in the world, and there are currently no permits or certificates needed to trade antique ivory and any needed documents can be easily forged. On the heels of the UK’s announcement, conservationists are putting increased pressure on Brussels to address the continent’s rampant ivory trade with a stricter ban.

According to a trade analysis shared by the Guardian last year, the UK was the world’s largest legal exporter of ivory between 2010 and 2015. The largest growing market for ivory is in Asia and, according to the report, the UK was the top exporter to China and Hong Kong between those measured years.

Mainland China introduced a ban on ivory trading as of December 31, 2017, closing down carving workshops and factories but allowing the sale of “relics.” Hong Kong announced an end to its market in 2021.
Source: artnet news 


Recovered Chagall

Fellow appraiser Kirsten Smolensky sent me an interesting article from the NY Times on a recently recovered Marc Chagall’s painting, 1911 “Othello and Desdemona,”  stolen from  NYC apartment in 1988. The painting was recently returned to the heir, valued at $750,000 at the time of theft and worth millions in today's art market. The article describes the theft, a connection to the Bulgarian underworld and its recovery. An interesting and fun article to read.

The NY Times reports
A team of sophisticated art thieves with ties to Bulgarian organized crime bypassed a burglar alarm nearly three decades ago and slipped into a sprawling 16th-floor apartment in one of Manhattan’s most exclusive neighborhoods.

They took their time in the empty apartment on East 57th Street near Sutton Place, selecting with gloved hands more than a dozen paintings by Chagall, Renoir, Picasso, Léger and Hopper, among others, along with antiquities from Peru and Costa Rica, jewelry and even rugs.

Investigators said at the time that the thieves might have been in the apartment over several days, and left as they had entered — without a trace. The elderly couple who had amassed the artworks over a lifetime of international travel were stunned to find their collection plundered when they returned from their annual two-month summer vacation in Aspen.

The crime has remained unsolved since it occurred in 1988; no arrests have been made, and none of the artworks have surfaced — until now.

On Thursday morning, federal prosecutors in Washington, D.C., filed a complaint seeking authority to return one of the paintings, Marc Chagall’s 1911 “Othello and Desdemona,” to the estate of its late owners. The oil-on-canvas depicting Othello with a sword in his hand, gazing upon a reclining Desdemona, had languished for years in a Maryland attic.

The elderly couple, Ernest S. Heller and Rose Heller, are long dead. Their lawyer said the apartment near the East River was something of a salon where artists and musicians — including, in the 1960s, Chagall himself and composer Aaron Copland — would meet.

The artworks, which were valued at $750,000 at the time of the theft, would be worth millions in today’s art market.

The painting was discovered in part because an aging criminal, a terminally ill man who is 72 and who had been involved with Bulgarian organized crime, wanted to make a clean breast of things before he dies, according to Marc Hess of the F.B.I.’s Art Crime Team, the special agent who is investigating the case. The painting had been hidden in the criminal’s attic.

“One of the things he did say to me is that he was partially motivated by his imminent demise,” Mr. Hess said in a telephone interview. “He talked about meeting his maker and trying to clear his conscience and make things right before he dies.”

The complaint sketches the outlines of a tale worthy of a noir novel. It also deepens the mystery of the carefully executed heist, shrouding the identities of two of the players, in part because the Art Crime Team, based in Washington, D.C., is still investigating the theft and trying to find more of the stolen art, according to Mr. Hess, his supervisor and the prosecutor handling the case.

The document reveals that one of the thieves — who has a degree in fine arts and is identified only as Person 1 — had worked in the Hellers’ apartment building. Several people with knowledge of the case said he was the superintendent or the assistant superintendent. A few years after the theft he had been arrested and convicted on federal charges that he committed similar crimes: stealing artworks from other apartment buildings where he worked, according to the document.

The complaint tracks his ill-fated effort to sell the Chagall, complete with a no-honor-among-thieves falling-out he had with a co-conspirator.

Person 1 became frustrated in his own efforts to unload the painting, and in the late 1980s or early 1990s he sought the assistance of the man who is now 72 years old, who was to serve as a fence and who planned to sell it through his Bulgarian organized crime connections.

The fence found a potential buyer. But then the man identified as Person 1 sought to cut him out of the deal. That’s when the fence stole the painting from Person 1 and stored it for years in the attic.

In about 2011, he tried to sell it to a gallery owner in Washington, D.C., according to the complaint. But the owner said he could not display the painting for sale without paperwork showing ownership or provenance, or a certificate from the Chagall committee, which controls the artist’s estate.

At that time, the gallery owner recognized the artwork as the same painting that had been brought to him in 1989 by an unidentified man, who also had no provenance or proof of ownership, and with whom the gallery owner also declined to do business.

Then, in January of last year, the 72-year-old man returned to the same gallery and again tried to sell the painting to the gallery owner, and the owner again refused, according to the complaint.

But this time, the gallery owner suggested that the man with the painting contact law enforcement. He did so, calling the F.B.I., and later that month, he turned the painting over to agents.

The complaint and the attorney for the Hellers’ estate, Alan Scott, say that the estate intends to sell the painting at auction if it is returned. The estate has agreed to repay the insurance company for the settlement and any related expenses, and donate the remainder of the proceeds to the residuary beneficiaries identified in the Hellers’ will: the MacDowell Colony, an artists’ colony that will receive 80 percent; and Columbia University and NYU Langone Medical Center, which will each receive 10 percent.

Mr. Heller, who was in the jewelry business and imported pearls, detailed the provenance of the Chagall in a 1990 oral history prepared by Lincoln Center. He said that he had inherited the painting from his father, Samuel Heller, who had purchased it directly from Chagall in Paris for $50 in 1913.
Source: The NY Times 


Too Many Art Fairs?

The Economist takes a look at art fairs and the search for quality art to sell.

The Economist reports
Most of the greatest works of art are in museums—“prisons for art”, as one frustrated dealer calls them. While contemporary artists can keep replenishing their market, earlier paintings, bronze sculptures, objets d’art, antiquities, medieval carvings, porcelain and antique jewellery were created by those now dead. Not everything is locked away in museums, of course, but as the lifespan of collectors increases, so does the time their acquisitions are off the market. David Rockefeller, whose vast collection will be auctioned by Christie’s next month, died aged 101.

At the same time, there is more money chasing art and antiques. Demand is keen, as is evident in the growing number of fairs. TEFAF in Maastricht, with 282 exhibitors, is the best as well as the biggest of them. But it is joined by other events: long-standing ones like the Winter Antiques Show (New York), the Biennale in Paris, and BRAFA (Brussels), as well as ambitious newcomers such as Masterpiece (launched in 2011) and Frieze Masters (2012), both in London, and Maastricht spinoffs TEFAF Fall (2016) and TEFAF Spring (2017) both in New York. TEFAF’s newly announced global strategy promises still more.

There is no lack of interest—but there simply isn’t enough fine work to stock them all. So many fairs have had to change focus or to specialise. BRAFA, long famous for medieval art, has shifted towards contemporary art. Masterpiece emphasises a luxury shopping experience. Meanwhile TEFAF Maastricht, the market leader, had come to be accused of complacency, seemingly stuck in an opulent rut, its fame as a source for important Old Master oils having outlived their availability. Indeed, in 2017 the fair looked downright thin. Your correspondent heard variations of “it’s all over” from, among others, a collector, a visiting (hoping-to-buy) dealer and even one of the fair vettors.

But 2018’s edition of the fair, which ended last month, proved that TEFAF Maastricht isn’t past it—yet. The fair had given itself a shot of aesthetic adrenaline. Dealers worked especially hard, and were lucky enough to find outstanding works. Sales reflected this. Alan Darr, curator of European works of art at the Detroit Institute of Art, reports that while on past trips to the fair with his museum’s patrons they bought a single piece, but this year they chose three. Strong sales were the result, in turn, of a new approach to buying.

Traditional collectors focus on one genre, material, period or maker. Their number, however, like the amount of old art in circulation, is shrinking. Replacing them are people “attracted to what is unusual”, says Peter Schaffer, an owner of A la Vielle Russie, specialists in antique jewels and Russian objects of art who exhibit at TEFAF. “It could be a rare material,” he explains, “like the tiger agate used in a Fabergé tray, or the unusual combination of amethyst and jade in a pair of earrings.”

This year, Maastricht provided both unusual materials and unusual combinations. Less than an hour after the preview opened, a European collector bought an 18th-century, diamond-studded ivory perfume flacon. Shaped like a seated Chinese scholar, it would be right at home in Dresden’s Green Vault, the greatest surviving collection of princely treasures. A large, sensitively carved 17th-century boxwood relief, “Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane”—a new attribution to the Master of St Sebastian’s Martyrdom—is an archetypal old-style collector piece—yet one of those interested in it had just been considering an Egon Schiele drawing. The Botticelli gallery from Florence brought a 17th-century, life-sized, carved marble elephant’s head from a Palermo villa. Its buyer adheres to no single collecting sphere. His house is hung with old masters, but this elephant-head wall fountain will be spouting in a garden full of contemporary sculpture. Fabulous gold boxes small enough to hold in one hand were a favourite princely treasure, and Adrian Sassoon, a gallery, showed how the same idea could be executed in a contemporary, technically sophisticated re-imagining. Admirers made a bee-line for “Mandala”, a feather-light and translucent bowl of sunshine woven from 4,000 metres of gold wire. (Giovanni Corvaja, its maker, achieved this by avoiding solder by working within vacuum chamber where gold could bond to itself.)

Just as reading news on mobile phones loosens loyalty to—or even awareness of—its source, long-term relationships with a specialist dealer weaken when buyers mix the works they buy without concern for matching them. This, alongside the dearth of high-quality work in circulation, poses a fatal risk to some dealers. If they are to survive they will have to rethink, perhaps radically, everything from what they stock to its display and marketing. Some are taking steps in that direction, but their efforts are haphazard attempts to add contemporary works to portfolios merely because their colours or shapes are related. Perhaps dealers will find collaboration works well. If, for example, Koopman Rare Art had borrowed “Mandala” from Sassoon and showed it along with their gold boxes what a sensation it would have been; the best of the past and present in dazzling conversation, attracting interest to both.

It is impossible to know what TEFAF Maastricht and similar fairs will look like in a decade, but it seems certain that the difference between now and then will be far greater than previous decades have seen. For even the most storied fairs and dealers, the message is clear: they must change or disappear.
Source: The Economist 


California Royalty Resale Act Lawsuit

The Courthouse News is reporting on the ongoing lawsuit between California artists and Sotheby's and Chrisites on a state law about auction houses paying royalties.  The California Royalty Resale Act requireds resellers of art to pay 5% roylaty to the creator is selling in California. Christie's and Sotheby's claim "state law is pre-empted by the first-sale doctrine of the Copyright Act, which allows someone who owns a copyrighted work such as a painting or a copy of a book to sell it without the permission of the copyright owner."

The Courthouse News reports
Attorneys in a seven-year class action lawsuit between a group of California artists and Sotheby’s and Christie’s sparred before a Ninth Circuit panel Tuesday over whether a state law requiring royalties from auction sales is pre-empted by federal copyright law.

Tuesday’s session marks the second time the case has come before the Ninth Circuit. This time, the artists seek reversal of U.S District Judge Michael Fitzgerald’s finding of pre-emption in April 2016.

The California Royalty Resale Act requires resellers of fine art to pay a 5 percent royalty to the creator if the seller is based in California or the sale takes place in the Golden State.

Attorney Michael Bowse with Browne George Ross, representing the artists, told the panel his clients have the right to “dictate transactions” involving their works.

He called California “the center of filmmaking” and home to many artists because the state “prides itself on protecting the arts.”

The Copyright Act has nothing to do with reproduction or redistribution of art, Bowse said, but does provide the artist with the opportunity to receive royalty payments. The 5 percent royalty “doesn’t operate as a burden” in sales of fine arts, he said.

But the auction houses say the state law is pre-empted by the first-sale doctrine of the Copyright Act, which allows someone who owns a copyrighted work such as a painting or a copy of a book to sell it without the permission of the copyright owner.

Bowse pushed against the doctrine, saying it “terminated” the rights of artists for full control over distribution of their work.

U.S Circuit Judge Paul Watford said copyright protections could end after artists sell their creative work.

“I think it hurts your position,” Watford said. “Seems to me if the principle holds, the California law can’t sit with that principle.”

The class, which could include hundreds of artists, say the auction houses “engaged in a pattern of conduct to conceal” sales of fine art and didn’t tell artists so they could collect royalties.

In order to skirt state law, auction houses “deliberately concealed” whether the artist’s residency was in California and whether or not the sale took place in California, according to an October 2011 complaint.

The company eBay was originally a defendant but won dismissal after establishing it is an online marketplace, not a seller of goods such as fine arts.

But Bowse said he believes eBay is seller and auctioneer, not only a marketplace, since they receive bids and settle disputes between parties.

The case has been bouncing between federal court and appellate court for the last seven years.

The litigation began in 2011 as a trio of class actions targeting Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and eBay. The named plaintiffs are heirs of prominent California sculptor Robert Graham, painter and photographer Chuck Close, artist Laddie John Dill and the foundation established by painter and printmaker Sam Francis.

In 2015, the full Ninth Circuit struck down a clause of the state law, finding it violates the dormant Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Three months later, the panel remanded the case to U.S. District Judge Michael Fitzgerald, who ruled against the artists.

Fitzgerald found the California statute conflicts with the federal copyright law. By granting artists some say in later sales of their works, the law “disrupts Congress’s efforts to balance the interests of copyright holders and downstream consumers [and] it must be pre-empted,” Fitzgerald ruled.

Bowse said Tuesday the California statute is “important because it is designed to protect artists who lack bargaining power and leverage.” He said California “stepped in to protect the rights of artists” when the value of their work increases substantially.

“That value is created by [the artists] and not by anybody else,” he said.

California enacted its royalty act to encourage creativity by allowing artists to receive some benefit when the value of their paintings, drawing and sculptures rise, often dramatically.

It was prompted in part by the 1973 sale of a work by Robert Rauschenberg for $85,000 that the artist had sold for just $900, according to an amicus brief by California Lawyers for the Arts.

The brief notes authors, musicians and playwrights generally receive royalties whenever their works are published or performed. But visual artists who make one-of-a-kind works, such as painters and sculptors, do not.

Artists seek the payment of royalties, with interest, not paid under the state’s royalties act, along with “punitive damages” from the auction houses over their “intentional election to flout the law,” according the original complaint.

Artists are also seek a court order ensuring auction houses comply with “obligations under the Resale Royalties Act.”
Source: Courthouse News 


Rockefeller Sale at Christie's

The Wall Street Journal has a good preview of the upcoming sale of David Rockefeller at Christie's later this month. It has the potential of being the first $1 Billion art auction. According to the WSJ there are over 1500 lots, and a rumored guarantee of at least $650 million.  Guarantees are typically at the lower end of the estimate range, and the WSJ also notes Christie;s took out a line of credit to promptly pay the consignors.

The Wall Street Journal reports
A CENTURY AGO, Standard Oil baron John D. Rockefeller became one of the world’s first billionaires at a time when the U.S. government’s annual budget hovered at around $700 million. This month, the vast art collection amassed by his grandson David Rockefeller could make history of its own by selling for as much as $1 billion at Christie’s in New York. No other estate auction has ever crossed that mark.

Then again, no other Gilded Age dynasty has ever conjured a vision of wealth quite like the Rockefellers, a surname that still serves as a byword for affluence. David Rockefeller, the former chairman and CEO of Chase Manhattan Bank who led his extended family for decades until he died a year ago at age 101, lived up to the Rockefeller reputation, maintaining a lifestyle worthy of a genteel monarch. He inherited art but soon developed his own taste, outfitting his four homes between Maine and Manhattan with lush masterpieces by Claude Monet, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Paul Cézanne, Gilbert Stuart, Edward Hopper and Georgia O’Keeffe.

He and his wife of 56 years, Peggy, also accrued 67 porcelain dinner services, including a Sèvres set that Napoleon had taken with him in exile on Elba. They were given a woven picnic basket as big as a park bench by King Hassan II of Morocco. Years after Peggy died in 1996, David still carried on their tradition of weekend tours around their country estates in one of the antique horse-drawn carriages he collected.

When he died, his personal fortune stood at around $1.6 billion. By that point, Rockefeller had already given $1.4 billion to philanthropic causes aimed at education, nature conservation and cultural institutions like the Museum of Modern Art, which was co-founded by his mother, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, in 1929. His will stipulated bequests of another $650 million, so he and advisers from Christie’s agreed to sell off nearly everything in his personal estate after his death, with all the proceeds to be donated—a charity auction to top them all.

Whether launching their clean cosmetics brand or decorating their Manhattan home, makeup artist Gucci Westman and her husband, David Neville, find beauty in the essentials.

Earlier this year, one of his daughters, Peggy Dulany, who has her mother’s curly bob and casual comportment, stopped by one of the sale’s beneficiaries, the Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture. The nonprofit farm is located in Pocantico Hills, New York, about an hour north of New York City, and Dulany had arrived for a board meeting at the center, where she now serves as chair. Dulany’s son, Michael Quattrone, pulled up soon after in a Ford Explorer that bore a bumper sticker reading, STOP TEXTING!

The pair, like many of the 270 descendants of John D. Rockefeller, are still processing what it means to see the bulk of the Rockefeller collection scattered for good. Already, most of the heirs of David’s six children live comparatively unassuming lives, devoting their time to various philanthropic causes as they have been trained to do since childhood. (Dulany is the third of Peggy and David Rockefeller’s four daughters—Abby is the oldest daughter, born in 1943, followed by Neva, while the youngest is Eileen, born in 1952. There are also David Jr. and their late brother Richard, who died in a plane crash four years ago.)

Growing up, Dulany said her parents nudged her to give away a tenth of her allowance to the church, and she later taught her son to give away a portion of his own allowance as well. “I got a dime a week and he got a dollar,” she says. Quattrone grins and says, “Inflation.”

Unlike many families who squabble or sue over the dispersal of a blue-chip art collection, the Rockefellers had always made their altruistic intentions clear, says Dulany. “We knew the plan all along, so we never expected to inherit the art,” she says.

Yet for outsiders who have spent years tracking the swelling opulence of the Rockefellers, the moment seems weighty. “It feels like the passing of the torch from the gentlemen connoisseurs of the tycoon era to today’s markets-driven collectors who keep one eye on the investment values of their holdings,” says Evan Beard, national art services executive at U.S. Trust. “Most collectors have never seen how a Rockefeller really lived.”

Rockefeller tried to navigate the art world discreetly, but the arc of his collecting has become the stuff of legend among the New York establishment. Born in 1915, the youngest of six, he grew up in a nine-story townhouse on West 54th Street, a site that later became the sculpture garden for MoMA. He started collecting beetles at around age 7, eventually gathering 150,000 specimens, but he didn’t really get serious about collecting anything besides bugs until after he got married in 1940. (The insects were bequeathed to Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology.) When his mother died in 1948, he took her place on MoMA’s board and befriended the museum’s director, Alfred Barr, who suggested he take a closer look at the impressionists.

Rockefeller’s son David Jr. was 10 years old when the bland equestrian paintings started coming down and masterpieces started going up. “People came by and said, ‘You can do better than this,’ and they did,” he says, “but I doubt my father spent seven figures on any one painting. Back then, $10,000 was a big price.” 

From the early 1950s on, Rockefeller and his wife carefully and steadily gathered a museum’s worth of art for themselves. Eileen says she remembers art getting uncrated at a regular clip in those days, including Monet’s 1914–17 Water Lilies, which “just showed up” one afternoon on the stairwell of Hudson Pines, their home in Westchester County, New York. (Christie’s estimates that the painting will sell for $50 million.)

Eileen says her mother, who liked to paint watercolors, was as actively involved as her father; the couple agreed they each had veto power over any art the other wanted to buy.

In 1968, the Rockefellers made one of their savviest purchases when the estate of Alice B. Toklas, the longtime partner of writer and collector Gertrude Stein, became available. The art Stein had amassed ranked among the best in modern art history—Cézannes and Picassos galore—but the estate was valued at $6.8 million, then a princely sum. No collectors could imagine buying all of it outright, so Rockefeller formed a syndicate with a few other major collectors, including television tycoon Bill Paley and investor and publisher John Hay “Jock” Whitney, to buy the art and divvy up pieces by placing numbers in a hat. Rockefeller drew the first pick, and he and Peggy chose Picasso’s rose-period portrait Young Girl With a Flower Basket, from 1905, widely considered to be the gem of Stein’s collection.

Upon bringing it home, Peggy noticed that the flowers sprouting from the basket in the Picasso piece matched the crimson sand in a Paul Gauguin beach scene, The Wave, which they had bought the year before. Soon the works hung near each other, the walls surrounding them painted a similar hue. “That’s how important the art was to her,” Eileen says. “She wanted the walls to match.” For decades after, even as other rooms were updated, Peggy never touched the décor. 

On the rare occasion the couple disagreed on an artwork, their children said their father typically took the piece to his office at the bank—or lent it to one of the children. That’s how David Jr. got to spend 40 years living with Picasso’s 1961 Woman With Dog Under a Tree, an image of the artist’s lover painted with a contorted, funhouse face that his parents lent him soon after he built his first house. “My mother thought it was misogynistic,” he says. 

After Peggy died at age 80, the children said their father tried to keep up with contemporary art trends, seeing shows in New York’s gallery districts of SoHo and Chelsea, but he didn’t buy much—an antique chair, a Vincent van Gogh drawing, a Chinese vase. Dulany says he always took greater comfort in the impressionists he had bought at the outset, when collecting still felt new.

THE ROCKEFELLER sale is arriving at a time when the art market overall is on an upswing, fueled by an influx of new and seasoned international buyers and epitomized by the $450 million Christie’s sale last fall of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, or Savior of the World. Now that a single painting has sold for close to a half billion dollars, it no longer seems a stretch to wager that the Rockefellers’ entire collection of 1,562 lots of fine and decorative art could sell for twice as much, dealers say.

There hasn’t been a rose-period Picasso to rival Young Girl With a Flower Basket since Sotheby’s sold the artist’s 1905 Boy With a Pipe 14 years ago for $104 million, an auction high at the time for any artwork. Christie’s has priced this one to sell for at least $90 million. A Georges Seurat sailboat scene estimated to sell for at least $40 million, The Port of Grandcamp, debuted in an 1886 Paris show of neo-impressionist work alongside the artist’s famed park scene, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, which now belongs to the Art Institute of Chicago.

The marketplace also hasn’t seen a brightly patterned Matisse on par with Rockefeller’s 1923 Reclining Nude With Magnolias in several decades, dealers say. The Matisse, which once hung in Rockefeller’s living room at his Westchester County home, is estimated to sell for at least $70 million.

New York collector Agnes Gund, MoMA’s president emerita, said she covets Lilies and Roses, a small 1882 floral still-life by Édouard Manet that hung in the foyer of Rockefeller’s East 65th Street townhouse. He inherited the bouquet from his mother; it’s estimated to sell for at least $7 million. “I used to joke with David that if that Manet ever went missing, he would know who stole it,” Gund says. “I’d love more than anything to get it, but I know I won’t because his paintings are going to sell so high. They’re going to fly.”

The pull of a Rockefeller provenance has been tested before, notably a decade ago when Rockefeller consigned Mark Rothko’s 1950 White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose) to Sotheby’s. He had paid less than $10,000 for it in 1960. Friends say he was impressed by Sotheby’s $40 million estimate—and he was shocked when it sold for $72.8 million, a record at the time for any contemporary work of art. (A portion of the proceeds went to charity.) More recently, Christie’s sold a Botticelli portrait, Madonna and Child With the Young Saint John the Baptist, that had once belonged to Rockefeller’s father—and was dubbed the Rockefeller Madonna—for $10.4 million, doubling its low estimate.

This time around, a more acute test of the Rockefeller draw will come with their sprawling porcelain and furniture collections, categories whose prices and popularity lag far behind contemporary art. William Stafford, a Christie’s decorative arts expert, said the highest estimate among the roughly 250 pieces of furniture up for bid will be $70,000 for a pair of Queen Anne stools, far less than masterpiece-level furniture can fetch. One of the least expensive items in the estate also shows up in this segment, a Windsor-style child’s chair estimated to sell for at least $200.

Yet the 320 lots of dinner services, animal figurines and Chinese-export pieces could prove a wild card because of their quirky back stories. The family, starting with John D. Rockefeller, “seemed not to be able to turn down porcelain,” according to the family historian, Peter Johnson. One year for Christmas, David Rockefeller bought Peggy a pair of 1755 soup tureens shaped like googly-eye flounders with seaweed-style lid handles and spoons in the form of eels. “She absolutely loved them,” Johnson says, adding that she used them for everyday dining as well as special occasions. The tureens are estimated to sell for at least $80,000.

Subsequent generations of Rockefellers have since joined in, gathering so many examples of one 19th-century pattern with a gold-band border and hand-painted Chinese domestic scenes that collectors now call it the Rockefeller pattern. In April 2017, a complete dinner service sold for $1 million at Christie’s, tripling its low estimate. Michael Cohen, a London dealer in Chinese porcelain, says Chinese buyers have lately gravitated to the pattern, charmed by the fact that every hand-painted scene differs slightly. The ties to Rockefeller also help, Cohen says, adding, “For some, provenance can be more valuable than the pieces themselves.”

Christie’s, whose New York sale room is in Rockefeller Center, went to extraordinary lengths to win the right to sell the property, forging friendships with David Jr., who now heads the family, and donating to Oceana, a marine-conservation nonprofit where he serves as a director. Still, the house had to take additional measures to best Sotheby’s in a six-month contest that ended in the summer of 2013—four years before David Rockefeller died.

Rockefeller relied heavily on Richard Salomon, his longtime investment adviser, to negotiate terms with Marc Porter, chairman of Christie’s Americas, and Stephen Brooks, the house’s deputy chief executive officer. While the executives decline to discuss specifics, several people familiar with the deal terms said the auction house guaranteed the family that the Rockefeller estate would sell for at least $650 million—double the house’s initial offer. (Guarantees typically hover around a consignment’s low estimate.)

In a rare twist, the estate asked Christie’s to ensure that the Rockefellers would be paid in a timely manner by securing an outside line of credit from a bank to cover the guarantee, according to the people familiar with the terms. Such deal-sweeteners are common in major merger deals but are almost unheard of in the auction industry; it means the house is on the hook to pay the family the final price for a work even if its winner tries to renege or seek a lengthy payment plan. According to a former auction-house executive, blockbuster consignment deals like this are rarely moneymakers for the auction house—$4 million in profit would be a coup in this case, the executive said—but the Rockefeller deal also wove in incentives so the house could reap far more if, say, the sale total surpasses expectations. (The current auction titleholder, Yves Saint Laurent’s estate, reaped $484 million nine years ago.)

In fact, portions of Rockefeller’s collection aren’t even headed for sale, as dozens of pieces were already doled out to museums. MoMA received more than 50 artworks, including Paul Cézanne’s 1888–90 pensive portrait Boy in a Red Vest, which was originally owned by Monet and likely would have sold for more than $200 million. Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts was bequeathed four pieces, including Maurice de Vlaminck’s colorful Parisian street scene from 1905, Suburban Landscape. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where generations of Rockefellers have donated all manner of pieces—from medieval tapestries like The Hunt of the Unicorn at the Met’s Cloisters to African and Asian art—got Rockefeller’s Manet table scene The Brioche.

Additional treasures pack Kykuit, the Rockefellers’ 40-room Georgian Revival mansion situated high above the Hudson River near Tarrytown, New York, where the robber baron who started it all retired in 1913. The home, whose Dutch name is pronounced KIGH-kut and means “lookout,” is now owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and peers down onto a 300-acre family compound dotted with sculptures by Henry Moore, Constantin Brancusi and David Smith, collected mostly by Rockefeller’s older brother, Nelson.

In his will, Rockefeller also allowed each of his five surviving children to pick up to $1 million worth of art to keep as mementos essentially. Anything else they want will require an auction paddle.

Eileen Rockefeller says among her choices were a small yellow upholstered Minton chair from her childhood bedroom and a round Queen Anne table that her father kept in his library; her son Adam Growald chose a brass deer and unicorn pair from Nepal. David Jr.’s daughter Ariana Rockefeller says she chose an 18th-century porcelain dinner service because it reminded her of eating oatmeal breakfasts with her grandfather.

Dulany says she also chose some porcelain as well as some African figures and an enameled Korean chest. But the piece she truly craves is her father’s Diego Rivera from 1931, The Rivals. In a classic commingling of art and Rockefeller lore, the Mexican artist painted it for Dulany’s grandmother while traveling by boat with his artist wife, Frida Kahlo, to New York for his solo show at MoMA. Her grandmother later gave the large fiesta scene to her son David as a wedding gift, and it hung above the fireplace at his summer home in Maine.

When Christie’s experts were helping her father pick valuable pieces to slot into its high-profile evening sales, Dulany said they told him Rivera’s prices had ballooned lately. Christie’s estimates The Rivals could sell for at least $5 million. Had the art market not been as robust as it is, she says she likely would have asked to keep it. “It feels like a piece of him,” she says.
Source: The Wall Street Journal