8/24/2016

Peter Doig Wins


artnet news reports on the convincing win of Peter Doig, where he was accused of disavowing a painting he stated was not his.  The judge agreed that Doig was not the artist, and that outside of stating to the plaintiffs not to sell the painting as a Peter Doig, there was no interference as claimed.

Take a few minutes to read, but I think most of the art-world is pleased with the decision. If it would have gone the other way, artist authentications would be in doubt.

artnet news reports on the court's decision
Peter Doig has won the bizarre authentication trial in which he was accused of disavowing a painting that the plaintiffs, art dealer Peter Bartlow and a former corrections officer Robert Fletcher, claimed he had painted as a teen. Bartlow and Fletcher were seeking $7.9 million in damages, but speaking at the Federal District court for Northern Illinois on August 23, Judge Gary Feinerman said Doig “absolutely did not paint the disputed work.”

“I have rarely seen such a flagrant example of unethical conduct in the US courts nor a case that inflicted such needless burdens on a defendant,” said Matthew S. Dontzin, the lawyer representing Doig and Michael Werner Gallery, another defendant in the case, in an email to artnet News. “Artists should be grateful to Peter for having the ethical and financial fortitude to fight tirelessly to ensure that justice prevailed in today’s verdict.”

Doig himself and most of his legal team, which included Dontzin and Tibor Nagy, were conspicuously absent in the courtroom as the interested parties in his case reconvened one week after closing arguments to hear Judge Feinerman’s verdict in the case. Co-plaintiffs, former corrections officer Robert Fletcher and Chicago gallerist Peter Bartlow, were present, as well as their lawyer, William F. Zieske, as the contested painting emerged from a cardboard box and took its place on the tripod where it had stood throughout the weeks-long trial.

“Today’s verdict is the long overdue vindication of what I have said from the beginning four years ago: a young talented artist named Pete Edward Doige painted this work, I did not,” said Doig in a statement. “That the plaintiffs in this case have shamelessly tried to deny another artist his legacy for money is despicable. The deceased artist’s family and my family and friends have suffered mightily. Thankfully, justice prevailed, but it was way too long in coming. That a living artist has to defend the authorship of his own work should never have come to pass.”

Doig’s team was represented in the courtroom by one lawyer, Suyash Agrawal. Dontzin, Nagy, and Doig stood by on speakerphone.

Judge Feinerman broke the silent anticipation by saying that “Most narratives in law and life have gaps. Very few narratives are airtight. This is especially true when considering events from 40 years ago, and all the more so when the events are routine quotidian events of daily life.”

“While most narratives have gaps,” Feinerman went on to say, “and certainly both narratives have gaps, the evidence conclusively demonstrates that despite some gaps, Peter Marryat Doig absolutely did not paint the disputed work.”

Feinerman then reviewed all the details of the case, painstakingly going through the evidence and repeatedly stating that Peter Doig and his mother “testified credibly” about Doig’s whereabouts, employment, education, where they were backed up by “more than ample evidence.”

As for the contradictions between the timeline Doig initially sent to his own gallery, stating that he didn’t go to high school in ’76/’77, Feinerman called this a “hiccup” in the narrative and underlined that this “understandable mistake that does not harm Mr. Doig’s credibility because it was 40 years ago,” citing his own imprecise memories of being a counselor at Camp Ojibwa decades ago. Feinerman took a similar position on Doig’s lack of tax records, pointing out that not many teens even file taxes for part-time employment, much less keep records for decades afterwards.

Saying that glitches in Doig’s statement would have had more significance if it wasn’t for the “unmistakable and unimpeachable evidence” that supported his final timeline, including a letter from the summer of 1977 from Mary Doig to her own mother in Great Britain saying that “Peter phoned from Edmonton.” Reading aloud that “Peter’s hair is long and messy and if you smell his hat, it smells of oil,” Feinerman emphasized how Mary would have had no conceivable motive to invent these details, which corroborated her son’s timeline about where he was when the painting was made.

In describing the evidence that Peter Doige “almost certainly painted the work,” Judge Feinerman described the deceased man’s sister’s testimony as “the third cherry on top of the sundae.”

There were in fact many such cherries, but here are a few: Ernie Adams, the art teacher at the Thunder Bay Correctional Center, had identified Peter Doige as the person who made the painting, testimony Feinerman said he found “especially credible” in part because Adams would have been incentivized to claim he had started Doig’s career. The signature on the painting, besides bearing Doige’s name, also looked like Doige’s other signatures. Feinerman said, “You don’t need graphologists to see the similarities between the signature on the work and two of Peter Doige’s signatures.” Furthermore, Peter Doige’s court records were found at Thunder Bay Courthouse, and Doige would have been 21 when the painting was made, exactly the age Fletcher himself said the painter was.

The judge ruled against the plaintiffs on both counts, ruling that the painting wasn’t by Doig, and that this “unjustified interference” in the painting’s sale at auction was, in fact, justified. Underlining the fact that Doig’s representatives had threatened suit only if the painting was sold “as a work by Mr. Doig,” Feinerman stated that “An artist is well within his rights to ensure that works he did not create are not sold under his name.”

Addressing the vexing issue of burden of proof, Feinerman said that in fact Illinois courts hadn’t been entirely clear in cases like this but that, “In the end it doesn’t matter; the plaintiffs didn’t meet their burden, and the defendants met the burden not just by preponderance of evidence but by clear and convincing evidence.”

“Peter and his family have endured an untold amount of stress and public scrutiny as a result of this senseless lawsuit,” said Gordon VeneKlasen, co-owner of Michael Werner Gallery in a statement. “The court has ruled in his favor, although we are deeply disappointed that it has taken so long to do so. It is our hope that this verdict will have at least one good outcome—that artists maintain the unfettered right to authenticate their own work.”

Speaking after the verdict, Bartlow maintained that “the truth will come out sometime in the future that Mr. Doig painted the painting.” Fletcher, for his part, reaffirmed his personal affection for the painting no matter who made it, and observed earnestly that he had “never known a judge as fair as Judge Feinerman.” Neither man would specify their plans for the painting itself, which they had agreed to collect from the court the following day.
Source: artnet news 


8/22/2016

Classic Car Market Sputtering?


Hagerty, the classic car insurer posted a review of the recent Monterey car auctions, which were down in total sales by $45 million, and the sell through rate was also lower. This is a large percentage as total sales were $288 million. The article states the top quality cars did sell, but there were also many reasonable reserves, and only a few misses. See the results below in the block quote.

Hagerty reports
Gooding & Company joined the fray on day three in Monterey, while Mecum, Russo and Steele, and RM Sotheby’s closed out their events. So far, sales have amounted to $288M, which is $45M less than last year, and the sell-through rate is three points lower than in 2015. Given the recent shift in the market, setting realistic reserves has proven to be difficult—depending on the type of car, 65%-75% of cars were bid to realistic amounts.
Following in line with the previous day, nearly all of the top cars sold. RM Sotheby’s star car for the day—the 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider—sold for an impressive $19.8M, establishing a new world record for a prewar car at public auction. Gooding inspired another amazing result for a Ferrari Cal Spider—this one a LWB Alloy car—at $18.15M, and also sold a 1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB comp car at $13.5M after it went unsold on the block.

A few of the big cars did miss, of course, including RM’s Cal Spider—also a LWB car—at $9.4M, RM’s Ferrari 268 SP race car at $12.5M, and Gooding’s Porsche 550A roadster at $4.2M. Even still, results thus far confirm that buyers at the upper reaches consider now to be a fine time to add to their collections.

Prewar cars and cars from the 2010s saw rising sell-through rates versus the first two days. At a model level, later Porsche 911s have sold low compared to their conditions, including 930s, 964s, and 993s. Early C through J series (1969-77) 911s, on the other hand, fared very well. C2 Corvettes recorded subpar prices, as have Mercedes-Benz 280SLs. Conversely, Ferrari Testarossas, Advanced Design Chevy pickups from 1947-55, and Maserati 3500GTs all realized strong prices relative to their conditions.

Gooding gets the spotlight all to itself on Sunday, as far as the auctions are concerned. Attendees from the nearby Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance will walk over after Best In Show is announced, and settle in to watch how much excitement a 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB, a 1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza, and a 1932 Bugatti Type 55 Roadster can generate.

Listed below are the raw results witnessed by Hagerty during the live auctions and may not factor in any post-sale deals that have occurred. These numbers include the appropriate buyer’s premiums.

Overall through Saturday from all auction companies
Cumulative Total: $288.0M
644/1,221 lots sold: 53% sell-through rate
Average Sale Price: $447,332
Median Sale Price: $88,000

2015 Cumulative Results through Saturday
Cumulative Total: $332.9M
755/1,326 lots sold: 56% sell-through rate
Average Sale Price: $440,906
Median Sale Price: $89,100

Overall Top 10 Sales from all auctions through Saturday:
1. 1955 Jaguar D-Type Roadster (RM Sotheby's) sold for $21,780,000
2. 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider (RM Sotheby's) sold for $19,800,000
3. 1959 Ferrari 250 GT California LWB Alloy Spider (Gooding & Company) sold for $18,150,000
4. 1962 Shelby Cobra 260 Roadster (RM Sotheby's) sold for $13,750,000
5. 1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Competizione Coupe (Gooding & Company) sold for $13,500,000
6. 1956 Ferrari 250 GT TdF Coupe (RM Sotheby's) sold for $5,720,000
7. 1950 Ferrari 166 MM Berlinetta (Gooding & Company) sold for $5,445,000
8. 1955 Ferrari 750 Monza Spider (RM Sotheby's) sold for $5,225,000
9. 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari Coupe (Mecum Auctions) sold for $5,170,000
10. 1979 Porsche 935 Coupe (Gooding & Company) sold for $4,840,000

GOODING & COMPANY
Saturday total: $76.8M
70/80 lots sold: 88% sell-through rate
Average Sale Price: $1,096,664
Median Sale Price: $330,000

Top 10 Saturday Sales:
1. 1959 Ferrari 250 GT California LWB Alloy Spider sold for $18,150,000
2. 1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Competizione Coupe sold for $13,500,000
3. 1950 Ferrari 166 MM Berlinetta sold for $5,445,000
4. 1979 Porsche 935 Coupe sold for $4,840,000
5. 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 Coupe sold for $3,245,000
6. 1971 Lamborghini Miura P400 SV Coupe sold for $2,255,000
7. 1930 Packard Speedster-Series 734 Roadster sold for $2,090,000
8. 1955 Lancia Aurelia B24 Spider America sold for $2,007,500
9. 1961 Maserati 5000GT Allemano Coupe sold for $1,677,500
10. 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe sold for $1,430,000

2015 Results through Saturday
Total: $69.5M
63/69 lots sold: 91% sell through rate
Average Sale Price: $1,103,056
Median Sale Price: $462,000

RM SOTHEBY'S
Saturday total: $57.9M
43/48 lots sold: 90% sell through rate
Average Sale Price: $1,345,523
Median Sale Price: $682,000

Top 10 Saturday Sales:
1. 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider sold for $19,800,000
2. 1956 Ferrari 250 GT TdF Coupe sold for $5,720,000
3. 1964 Ferrari 500 Superfast SI Coupe sold for $2,750,000
4. 1973 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona Spider sold for $2,475,000
5. 1957 BMW 507 Roadster sold for $2,145,000
6. 1963 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso Coupe sold for $2,090,000
7. 1934 Mercedes-Benz 500K Cabriolet A sold for $1,870,000
8. 1930 Cadillac Series 452 Fleetwood Roadster sold for $1,457,500
9. 2005 Maserati MC12 Coupe sold for $1,430,000
10. 1931 Duesenberg Model J Tourster sold for $1,320,000
10. 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster sold for $1,320,000
10. 1939 Bentley 4 1/4-Litre Sports Coupe sold for $1,320,000

Cumulative Total: $123.1M
85/100 lots sold: 85% sell-through rate
Average Sale Price: $1,448,565
Median Sale Price: $572,000

Overall Top 10 Sales:
1. 1955 Jaguar D-Type Roadster sold for $21,780,000
2. 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider sold for $19,800,000
3. 1962 Shelby Cobra 260 Roadster sold for $13,750,000
4. 1956 Ferrari 250 GT TdF Coupe sold for $5,720,000
5. 1955 Ferrari 750 Monza Spider sold for $5,225,000
6. 1966 Ford GT40 Mk I Road Coupe sold for $2,900,000
7. 1964 Ferrari 500 Superfast SI Coupe sold for $2,750,000
8. 1973 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona Spider sold for $2,475,000
9. 1957 BMW 507 Roadster sold for $2,145,000
10. 1963 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso Coupe sold for $2,090,000

2015 Cumulative Results
Total: $167.2M
126/149 lots sold: 85% sell-through rate
Average Sale Price: $1,328,401
Median Sale Price: $420,750

MECUM
Saturday total: $33.6M
84/199 lots sold: 42% sell-through rate
Average Sale Price: $399,542
Median Sale Price: $121,000

Top 10 Saturday Sales:
1. 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari Coupe sold for $5,170,000
2. 1966 Ford GT40 Mk I Road Coupe sold for $4,840,000
3. 1985 Ferrari 288 GTO Coupe sold for $3,300,000
4. 2014 McLaren P1 Coupe sold for $2,035,000
5. 2005 Porsche Carrera GT Coupe sold for $1,155,000
6. 2011 Ferrari 599 SA Aperta Spider sold for $1,155,000
7. 2006 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Coupe sold for $1,100,000
8. 1965 Shelby Cobra 289 R&P Roadster sold for $1,045,000
9. 1968 Lamborghini Miura P400 Coupe sold for $869,000
10. 2011 Ferrari 599 GTO Coupe sold for $748,000

Cumulative Total: $45.8M
294/698 lots sold: 42% sell-through rate
Average Sale Price: $155,693
Median Sale Price: $51,975

Overall Top 10 Sales:
1. 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari Coupe sold for $5,170,000
2. 1966 Ford GT40 Mk I Road Coupe sold for $4,840,000
3. 1985 Ferrari 288 GTO Coupe sold for $3,300,000
4. 2014 McLaren P1 Coupe sold for $2,035,000
5. 2005 Porsche Carrera GT Coupe sold for $1,155,000
6. 2011 Ferrari 599 SA Aperta Spider sold for $1,155,000
7. 2006 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Coupe sold for $1,100,000
8. 1965 Shelby Cobra 289 R&P Roadster sold for $1,045,000
9. 1968 Lamborghini Miura P400 Coupe sold for $869,000
10. 2011 Ferrari 599 GTO Coupe sold for $748,000

2015 Cumulative Results
Total: $41.2M
335/657 lots sold: 51% sell-through rate
Average Sale Price: $122,941
Median Sale Price: $49,500

RUSSO AND STEELE
Saturday total: $5.8M
30/80 lots sold: 38% sell-through rate
Average Sale Price: $192,133
Median Sale Price: $121,000

Top 10 Saturday Sales:
1. 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe sold for $1,155,000
2. 2004 Ford GT Pre-Production Prototype Coupe sold for $836,000
3. 2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series Coupe sold for $418,000
4. 1970 Ferrari 365 GT Coupe 2+2 sold for $346,500
5. 1988 Lamborghini Countach LP5000 Quattrovalvole Coupe sold for $321,750
6. 2000 Ferrari 550 Maranello Coupe sold for $194,700
7. 1955 Facel Vega FV1 Coupe sold for $181,500
8. 1967 Jaguar E-Type SI 4.2 Roadster sold for $176,000
9. 1970 Chevrolet Corvette 350/370 Convertible sold for $159,500
10. 1967 Shelby GT500 Fastback sold for $155,100

Cumulative Total: $8.3M
96/228 lots sold: 42% sell-through rate
Average Sale Price: $86,514
Median Sale Price: $45,375

Overall Top 10 Sales:
1. 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe sold for $1,155,000
2. 2004 Ford GT Pre-Production Prototype Coupe sold for $836,000
3. 2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series Coupe sold for $418,000
4. 1970 Ferrari 365 GT Coupe 2+2 sold for $346,500
5. 1988 Lamborghini Countach LP5000 Quattrovalvole Coupe sold for $321,750
6. 2000 Ferrari 550 Maranello Coupe sold for $194,700
7. 1955 Facel Vega FV1 Coupe sold for $181,500
8. 1967 Jaguar E-Type SI 4.2 Roadster sold for $176,000
9. 1970 Chevrolet Corvette 350/370 Convertible sold for $159,500
10. 1967 Shelby GT500 Fastback sold for $155,100

2015 Cumulative Results
Total: $8.5M
112/209 lots sold: 54% sell-through rate
Average Sale Price: $75,920
Median Sale Price: $38,500

BONHAMS
Overall total: $34.1M
99/115 lots sold: 86% sell-through rate
Average Sale Price: $344,526
Median Sale Price: $121,000

Overall Top 10 Sales:
1. 1931 Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix Roadster sold for $4,000,000
2. 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari Coupe sold for $3,685,000
3. 1904 Mercedes-Simplex 28-32HP Rear Entrance Tonneau sold for $2,805000
4. 1985 Ferrari 288 GTO Coupe sold for $2,112,000
5. 2014 McLaren P1 Coupe sold for $2,090,000
6. 1955 Lancia Aurelia B24 Spider America sold for $1,402,500
7. 1930 Duesenberg Model J Murphy Town Car sold for $1,254,000
8. 1989 Ferrari F40 Coupe sold for $1,155,000
9. 1956 Porsche 356A Carrera GS Speedster sold for $891,000
10. 1965 Shelby Cobra 289 R&P Roadster sold for $880,000

2015 Cumulative Results
Total: $45.7M
96/109 lots sold: 88% sell through rate
Average Sale Price: $476,048
Median Sale Price: $198,000


8/21/2016

On Investing in Fine Art


CNBC recently posted a short article and video about investing in fine art and some of the recent issues and declines in total sales. Follow the source link to view the video.

CNBC reports
The stock of assets for sale on agents' books is plumbing desperate depths in a sector popular with luxury investors. And this time it's not London property.

The high-end art market has seen sales plummet this year as rising demand from Asia has been unable to compensate for a precipitous drop-off in activity in the West.

A large number of auction house clients are often multimillionaires or billionaires and have enough financial firepower to pick and choose when they bring pieces to market.

Given current global economic weakness and turbulence seen in financial markets in recent periods, "Some of the big owners of art are not confident enough to put their major works on the block," says Philip Hoffman, Founder and Chief Executive of The Fine Art Group, an art advisory and investment house.

According to Hoffman, the market would benefit from an unfortunate event such a death, divorce or bankruptcy that would bring a forced sale. And it seems an impending tragedy for some could bring some relief to art intermediaries, with Hoffman hinting, "November could be an interesting turning point where some interesting estates are going to come on the block."

Hoffman, a long-term industry veteran and former Deputy CEO of Christie's Europe, claims buyers are raring to go as soon as attractive assets land on the auctioneers' blocks: "There is a huge amount of cash sitting in deposit accounts and there is a lot of interest in finding the right work of art."

Fresh from a trip to China, Hoffman emphasised the buoyant interest from Chinese investors in the Western art market. The company has recently moved into a new line of business to satisfy a niche demand. According to Hoffman, Chinese investors want credit to be arranged and to borrow money against art.

"Leverage into the art market will bring a whole new game into the art market and I think we'll see a big growth over the next five years."

And it's not just the Chinese who are buying. The post-Brexit hit taken by the British pound has also driven a recent surge of interest from Middle Eastern and American buyers. Hoffman says there's evidence of a positive effect for "anything priced in sterling and any international art, for example, impressionism or international contemporary."

But for those of us whose disposable income falls a few zeroes short of the average high-end art market investor, is there any way to step on to the ladder?

Hoffman suggests those less financially footloose and fancy-free should look at British artists, such as Bridget Riley or Frank Auerbach. He claims a small piece of Riley's can be acquired for around $50,000, a level which the he advises investors not to dip below as selecting a winner can be compared to finding "a needle in a haystack."

And there's a lesson to be learned from Hoffman's dealing: After buying a piece for $40,000 in 2008 and reselling it for $100,000 two years' later, he was pleased with his gain – until he saw the same piece go at auction in 2012 for a cool $2 million.
Source: CNBC 


8/18/2016

Conservators on Display


The NY Times recently posted an interesting article on the growing popularity of allowing visiotrs to watch conservators at work.  Some are building glass enclosed cubicles with conservators working inside and museum patrons walking through and observing. According to the article, conservators on display has become a very popular attraction for the public.

The NY Times reports
PARIS — It’s showtime at the Musée d’Orsay — the electric moment when visitors pause in the grand public art galleries here, all to watch varnish dry.

They gather in silence to gawk at the paint whisperers — small teams of conservators poised on scaffolding and encased in two glass cubes. From these makeshift stages, they swipe away centuries-old dark grime on precious works — from Gustave Courbet’s enormous oil painting of his crowded studio to Auguste-Barthélemy Glaize’s violent battle of a stone-throwing female revolt against Roman invaders, “The Women of Gaul.”

Ordinarily such a delicate task is carried out in the tranquillity of a laboratory. But the once mysterious craft is increasingly turning into a high-end reality show — long-running spectacles that appeal to donors who lavish money on makeovers, but trouble some conservators accustomed to quiet and absolute concentration.

In Cincinnati, the city’s public museum featured its chief conservator, Serena Urry, last winter in a three-month exhibition, “Conservation on View: Zaragoza’s Retablo of St. Peter.” She worked in a white lab coat in the middle of a public gallery across from a cafe — her work table spread with tools and swabs to remove varnish and overpaint from a gilded, 600-year-old Spanish altarpiece.

“People were really enjoying it, but it’s not something I would do again, Ms. Urry said. “Conservation is not performance art.”

She was startled sometimes by loud voices across a simple wood barrier; one day, her pashmina scarf mysteriously vanished.

In the slow-moving drama of restoration, fishbone cracks vanish, figures that were muddy sepia become radiantly blush, and yellow clouds, thick with old varnish, transform into white gauze tinged with rose. The results are a publicity bonanza for museums; they tell a before-and-after narrative that attracts media attention and appeals to crowdfunding campaigns and companies that have never donated to art projects before.

One of the earliest attempts to offer the public a window on restoration dates to 1994, when Vermeer’s “Girl With a Pearl Earring” was restored in a temporary studio at the Mauritshuis in The Hague, according to Ian McClure, director of Yale University’s Center for Conservation and Preservation. In 2006, the Smithsonian also added a window so the public could view restorers at work in their lab.

“Viewing painting conservators at work does counteract charges that conservators are ruining objects by careless over cleaning,” Mr. McClure said. But he added that it could also make restorers self-conscious — “thinking of your appearance, the impression you make to onlookers. This will affect your work.”

But the work itself is changing. Many art conservators are evolving into museum ambassadors — the subject of in-house blogs, videos and special lectures. And that even includes the taxidermists.

In France this year, small donors raised more than $23,000 in a crowdfunding campaign for the public makeover of Napoleon Bonaparte’s stuffed steed, Le Vizir. Over four weeks in July, Le Vizir got a tuneup in a gallery of the Army Museum in Paris: two taxidermists spread putty to mask a jagged shoulder crack and rehydrated and recolored the white Arabian stallion that was a gift to Napoleon in 1802.

The Musée d’Orsay, meanwhile, is carrying out a series of public restoration projects, with 150,000 euros (more than $180,000) raised in a crowdfunding appeal, to rejuvenate the Courbet masterpiece “The Artist’s Studio.” Bank of America Merrill Lynch is also helping to finance the project, which is expected to cost almost a million euros and take more than a year.

The Courbet restoration has proved so successful with donors that the museum is exploring its reserves for other works in need of repair, according to Olivier Simmat, director of sponsorship. But potential donors prefer famous names to salvage.

“They tell us they adore the idea and want to give money to restore a van Gogh,” he said. “Forget that. Those are fine.”

But the museum did have a number of deteriorating 19th-century paintings in the French Academy style that do not have the same cachet of Post Impressionist art. Since 1982, “The Women of Gaul” had languished in the museum’s reserves — too damaged to display. It was such a large painting that it was rolled up and stored for years in a city museum in Autun, France, where cracks and flaking developed.

Crédit Agricole, a French bank that had never contributed to art restoration before, donated 450,000 euros (more than $500,000) to repair three Academy style works. Nathalie Mourlon, who leads business development at Crédit Agricole d’Ile-de-France, said the makeover had a particular appeal.

“What we liked about it enormously is that the process is visible,” she said. “It makes the works more accessible to the public.”

For the conservators — a profession dominated by women — the attention to such a solitary métier is gratifying. But they were trained to use swabs and tools to thin and swipe away old varnish. Many found it difficult to cope with waves of noise, abrupt public announcements and, sometimes, rapping against the protective glass cube. Not to mention the limits on their use of chemical solvents because of their proximity to the public.

Laurence Didier, who leads the independent team of 13 conservators restoring “The Women of Gaul,” had never worked in public before. She said that it took time to become accustomed to an audience, even though conservators faced the canvas with their backs to visitors.

“Everyone is different and has their own style,” she said. “I need absolute calm, and so I have my headphones playing Baroque music or Vivaldi.”

Cécile Bringuier, who leads the second team on the Courbet restoration, also said she is not a fan of conservators on display. “Would you like to be watched while you work?”

Other museums are considering the same public approach, but with reservations.

Le Petit Palais, a Paris city museum, owns an enormous 1851 Courbet painting, “Firemen Running to a Blaze,” which is so dark with old varnish that firefighters have receded into the shadows. The museum estimates the cost of erecting a pop-up glass cube at about 200,000 euros — more than the cost of the actual restoration, said Christophe Leribault, the museum’s director.

“Is that price justified by the public show?” he said.

Instead, the museum settled on an unglamorous alternative: repaint the white walls of the gallery an oatmeal color to reduce contrast and install new lighting.
Source: The NY Times


8/17/2016

Doig Case Goes to the Judge


artnet news reports on the final day of the trial which is now up to the presiding judge to decide.

The article summarizes the plaintiffs case and also the defense. It is interesting the plaintiffs want $7.9 million, as it was appraised by Victor Weiner if a Doig for between $6 and $8 million, and they want $100,000 if it is not found by the judge to be a Doig.  According to the article that is the amount Wiener valued the work if it were not a Doig, and the plaintiffs feel they are entitled to that amount because of Doig's interference with the sale.

The decision is pending, and I will post when it is announced.

artnet news reports
With labyrinthine rhetoric about uncanny convergences, induced coincidences, secret photos, and even “a Twilight Zone” of evidence caused by “too many records,” the closing arguments in the final day of the Peter Doig trial were as strange and unsettling as the case itself. At one point, the plaintiffs’ attorney William Zieske even declared, “My basic understanding of the rules of probability has been shaken.”

“If you want to look at is as a whodunit, the question is instead of a murder, who painted this painting?” Zieske declared, spelling out the basic plotline before the court.

The painting, signed “Pete Doige 76,” was made in Thunder Bay, Ontario in 1976, but that’s where the stories diverge. (Along with the pronunciation of Doige, with the defense saying “Doy-gee,” the Judge saying “Dough-idge,” and the plaintiffs saying “Doig with an e.”)

The plaintiffs, former Thunder Bay corrections officer Robert Fletcher and Chicago gallerist Peter Bartlow, assert that the Scottish painter, Peter Doig, made the painting as an incarcerated teen, and that as an early work of the now-famous artist, it is now worth $6 million–8 million.

Doig says he didn’t make the painting, and his lawyers are arguing that a now-dead convict named Peter Doige, with an e, made the painting.

Peter Marryat Doig, the living painter, was born on April 17, 1959. Peter Edward Doige, the deceased amateur painter, was born on April 7, 1955. It is rather odd.

The Argument for the Plaintiff
In Zieske’s telling, Peter Doig might be lying, or he may have just forgotten that he made the painting. Zieske admitted that many people had been asking him why, exactly, Doig would deny it? Saying there could be “myriad” reasons why Doig would refuse to accept the painting as his own, Zieske chose not to specify any of them, saying instead that he “couldn’t look into his soul.”

Instead, in court today, the lawyer took a strange detour into his own biography, telling Judge Feinerman his own mother was a painter—adding emphatically, but somewhat ambiguously, “that’s why I do this!” Zieske then told the court his mom had “an artist’s personality,” that she “got in trouble with the law,” and that her memory was often “extremely different” from his own.

Going further, Zeiske described how he had gotten to know “the artistic temperament” over the years, despite the fact that he was himself a rational and dependable person. “Every artist I know has destroyed their own work,” he declared ominously, “sometimes their best work.”

Implying that Doig was destroying this work by refusing to claim it, Ziekse also described Doig as “disowning” the painting in question. Without an “alibi” as to his whereabouts in 1976, Zeiske said Doig would have to accept the painting as his own.

If Doig had too few records to show, Zieske argued that the other candidate for the disputed painting’s authorship, Doige, had “too many records.” The criminal records that showed Ziekse’s various convictions and his transfer to Thunder Bay in 1975, don’t all add up, he said—literally: Doige’s grade averages on his transcripts didn’t add up, he noted, and Doige’s University ID could have been faked.

All of the inconsistencies put Doige in two places at once, and put Zieske in an evidentiary “Twilight Zone.”

As for Doige’s paintings, Zieske reiterated the fact that they weren’t presented physically in court. “Something’s being hidden,” he said darkly. The Doige signature was usually blocky and big, he said, unlike the script “Doige” on the painting in court. The fact that Doige made another painting with a knife led Zieske to point  at the painting in the courtroom and exclaim dramatically, “Did Captain Butterknife paint this?”

Zieske said that there was no evidence that Peter Doig wasn’t at Thunder Bay, but he didn’t present any hard evidence to place him there, either. To the crucial question of whether Doig was in Toronto or 15 hours north, the best Zieske could say was “there is no record of either.”

In the absence of any court records or fingerprints, the only thing placing Doig at Thunder Bay is that the co-plantiff, Fletcher, says he recognizes the artist from 40 years ago. Likewise, the main testimony linking the painting to Doig’s style is the “Bartlow Method” of visual analysis provided by the other co-plaintiff, Bartlow.

Zieske finished his closing argument on this not-very-solid ground, asking for a judgment of $7.9 million dollars if the judge ruled Doig made the painting, and $100,000 if he ruled he did not. (The plaintiffs’ appraiser Wiener had valued the painting at $6 million–8 million if it were by Doig and at $100,000 if it were not. Fletcher and Bartlow are asking for the difference if the judge rules it is the real deal, and for the $100,000 if he rules it is not, as they are contending that Doig interfered with the sale either way.)

The Argument for the Defense
Summing up the plaintiffs’ presentation, Doig’s defense lawyer, Tibor Nagy, said bluntly, “With that evidence, this case should have ended years ago.”

To the question of why Doig would say he didn’t make the painting, Nagy said he would deny it simply because he didn’t, in fact, make the painting. Nagy contrasted this with the plaintiffs’ motives, which Nagy said were clearly about money.

As for the evidence, Nagy declared, “The burden is squarely on [the plaintiffs]. Despite that, we’ve proven that Mr. Doig didn’t paint this painting.” Neither the name nor the signature were Doig’s, Nagy repeated, and the defense had provided school records, yearbook photos, and a list of 30 witnesses that could attest to Doig’s whereabouts in 1976.

Furthermore, Doige had a criminal record linking him to Thunder Bay; Doig did not. Responding to the plaintiffs’ allegation that Doig needed an alibi, Nagy repeated again and again that his client had no burden of proof as he was the defendant in the case.

When Will It End?
Earlier in the day, Judge Feinerman had said that he might issue a verdict at the end of the day, but as the two sides finished their remarks, the Judge demurred. Despite a request from Doig’s lawyers for Feinerman to render the decision immediately, and issue the rationale later, the Judge insisted that he needed more time.

His verdict will be given orally at an as-yet-undetermined point in the coming weeks.

Feinerman’s final request was to examine the artwork further, so an arrangement was made to keep the painting in his chambers during the day, and the US District Court for Nothern Illinois’s safe at night. At this, Zieske gleefully declared that if the Judge wanted to hang the picture, he had “plenty of clients who could do that for you.” The judge declined the offer.
Source: artnet news 


8/16/2016

Doig Trial Update


artnet news has a good update on the trial and authentication case against Peter Doig. Doig has denied the painting in questions was his, while the plaintiffs argue it is by Peter Doig.

Doig testified on Monday. He stated the painting is not his, that he was not in Thunder Bay correctional facility in Canada where one of the plantiffs claim they bought the painting from the artist, and he stated the signature is not his, as it is signed Pete Doige. Doig states he never signs Pete, and he does not have an "e" at the end of his surname as the subject property does. The painting is also in acrylic, and Doig states he never paints in acrylics.

Well worth taking a few minutes to read. The trial continues on Tuesday.

artnet news reports on the trial

The painter Peter Doig began his much-anticipated courtroom testimony Monday, August 15, alongside a digital image of a Lakehead University ID for one Peter Doige, with an e. On direct examination, the artist’s lawyer, Matthew S. Dontzin, asked him simply: Is that you? No. Have you ever been to Thunder Bay? No. Do you have any criminal record in Canada? No. Were you ever prevented from traveling to the US because a drug conviction? No. Have you ever sought employment from the Seafarers Union? Not yet, came Doig’s wry and weary reply.

Doig was called to give testimony by the attorneys for the defense, Dontzin and Tibor Nagy (he had already been called by the plaintiffs to give testimony on August 8, the first day of the trial). The artist is standing trial at the Federal District court for Northern Illinois, a defendant in a bizarre case in which he’s been accused by an art dealer and a former corrections officer of denying that he created a painting. The painting is potentially worth millions, if it is shown that Doig—whose record at auction is $25.9 million—created it. It is signed “Pete Doige 76.”

The Scottish-born Doig may not have an e in his surname, but he did live in Canada, where the painting turned up, as an adolescent. And he was there in 1976.

The co-plaintiff, Robert Fletcher, who worked as a corrections officer in Thunder Bay Correctional Center, claims that a teenaged Doig sold him the painting for $100 in 1977, when the young artist was allegedly incarcerated. Doig, who would have been 16 or 17 at the time, is adamant that he never went to jail, and the painting isn’t his, but the plaintiffs contend that Doig is disavowing the painting in an effort to cover up a long-hidden criminal past.

The case is being heard in Chicago because Fletcher is working with Chicago gallerist Peter Bartlow, his co-plaintiff, to auction the painting. How this remarkable case ended up in any court at all isn’t entirely clear.

One part of the story is very simple. Doig unequivocally denies the painting is his.

Testifying about reviewing the artwork he was sent to authenticate in 2011 via high-resolution image, Doig said about how much time he needed to determine the work wasn’t his, “It took me seconds.”

Those fateful seconds, however, have resulted in what Doig called “thousands of hours” of wasted working time and stress. Referring to Barlow and Fletcher, he said, “They threatened me, they bullied me, they said they would go to the authorities unless I came clean. I was shocked and I have to say a little bit afraid of their determination.”

Still, Doig proceeded to list the many reasons why he knew this wasn’t his painting. “It’s not my signature.” And indeed, besides having a surname with an extra “e,” the first name was also wrong according to Doig. “I never use ‘Pete’ and I never sign ‘Pete.’” Furthermore, he said, he signed his paintings almost exclusively on the back, where this one was signed on the front. Saying that he only made “sketches with poster paint and some drawings” in the mid-1970s, Doig said that he made his first painting on canvas, “a life painting of a girl who was modeling for us,” only after he moved to England in 1979 to study at the Wimbledon School of Art.

Perhaps most convincingly, Doig testified that of the more than 500 paintings he made in his life, “zero” were painted, as this one was, in acrylic.

Saying “I’m not going to create a fake of my own work,” Doig denied being embarrassed by the quality of the picture. “If I had made this painting at age 16 or 17, I would have been immensely proud of it.” He also rebuffed the idea that he was rejecting it to cover up a history of drug use or criminality, pointing out that he frequently references his LSD use in his interviews and telling a story about being arrested in London for stealing a sweater (he apologized and paid a fine).

Particularly upsetting to Doig was the idea that he was being pressured to take someone else’s work as his own. “I was being asked to claim a painting by someone who we’ve heard had a far less fortunate time than I’ve had. I find that unethical and completely despicable.”

Most of Doig’s remarks on Monday concerned a timeline for the year in which the painting in question was made. Just exactly where Doig was at the time it was made is one of the main questions before the court.

Echoing his mother’s testimony from the morning, Doig confirmed his status as a ski-obsessed bad student and detailed his enrollment at two Toronto schools, Jarvis Collegiate Institute and the Seed School, and two trips he took in the summer of 1976, to Edmonton, Alberta for work on an oil rig, and to Utah and Arizona on an ill-fated ski trip.

The more Doig detailed his whereabouts, and provided the names of various friends, co-workers, and bosses who could confirm his mere presence at this or that location 40 years ago, the more it seemed like making the painting was a crime for which he had to provide an air-tight alibi.

William F. Zieske, the attorney for the plaintiffs, combed over every detail and document in a deep baritone during his cross examination, which was so loud that Doig asked on two separate occasions, “Are you shouting at me?”

Questioning Doig’s yearbook photos, presented as proof that he was in Toronto and not 15 hours north in Thunder Bay during the period in question, Zieske alleged that the photo could be of Doig’s brother Andrew. (Lawyers asked Doig to identify his brother on a subsequent page and asked, reasonably, why one person would appear in photos for two separate graduating classes.)

Calling into question Doig’s employment record at various restaurants and on a gas rig in Alberta, the plaintiffs pointed out that Doig had been unable to produce tax documents for any of these jobs and that the Canada Revenue Agency has sent a document saying no such records existed. (This seemed like a big hole in Doig’s case until a second letter from the CRA appeared, saying that they didn’t keep records of personal taxes before 1982.) Finally and relentlessly, the plaintiffs attacked previous timelines that Doig and his various representatives had given, focusing on a period during the Fall of 1976.

Most damning was the fact that in a 2013 email to his gallery, Doig had written, “I DID NOT ATTEND HIGH SCHOOL 76/77.” But he later testified that he in fact attended two months of school before dropping out.

Under continued cross examination, Doig said repeatedly, and not very convincingly, that “complete” and “attend” meant the same thing to him. Doig also repeatedly admitted that his timelines from previous correspondences had been off by one year, and that he had only pieced things together by looking at the various school records that had been requested for the trial, and by consulting his mother’s letters to his grandmother, which contained pertinent details about his high school days.

The day ended with a lengthy report from the defense expert witness Larry Cowley, a former police officer from Ontario, about the documents relating to the sentence and time served in Thunder Bay by the man named Peter Doige.

The man by the name of Peter Edward Doige, who allegedly did spend time at Thunder Bay in the 1970s, died in 2012.

The trial will continue on August 16
Source: artnet news


8/15/2016

Fine Wine - A Safe Investment?


Yahoo UK has an interesting article about the potential of investing in fine wine. The article notes that after the Brexit vote, many investors are looking at alternative investment opportunities, and many are looking at fine wine. The article notes that fine wine, along with watches, classic cars and are are all drawing interest from investors. Keep in mind there is a difference between collector and investor. The article notes that fine wine investing is thought to be a $4 billion category.

Yahoo UK reports
In these tough economic times, many have reached for a stiff drink.

As the post-Brexit wobble begins to show tangible effects, it seems investors are increasingly looking to put their money into alternative ventures, such as fine wines.

According to new research, one in four wealth managers believe the appetite for investing in fine wines will increase over the next 12 months as the uncertainty post-referendum continues to dog traditional asset classes.

Wine, along with other alternatives such as classic cars, watches and art, is now a booming alternative.

“The fall in sterling since the Brexit vote and the fact that fine wine is increasingly seen as a safe haven, has led to a surge in Asian buyers,” said a report by sector specialists Cult Wines.

“Our research also revealed that two in three intermediaries believe the fact that fine wine is an unregulated asset class is the key challenge affecting the growth in popularity among high net worth investors.”

The fine wines investment market is now thought to be worth in the region of $4 billion a year.

Cult Wines, which is headed by former BBC The Apprentice runner-up Tom Gearing, saw a spike of 106% in trade sales in the week following the Brexit vote.

The industry’s Liv-ex Fine Wine 100 benchmark is up almost 14% this year, far outstripping the FTSE-100 (9%) and the S&P 500.

As with other sectors, such as the London property market, the falling value of sterling is offering foreign investors, particularly those in the Far East and the US, a strong opportunity to cash in on Britain.

Its research among more than 100 independent financial advisers and wealth managers, Cult Wines said more than two in five cited attractive medium- to long-term returns in the wines sector as a key driver, with one in five HNWI highlighting their belief that alternative physical assets such as wine will grow over the next two years.

“Intermediaries are clearly seeing increased levels of interest in wine and in the light of market volatility and poor returns,” said Mr Gearing, managing director.

“It is being recognised as a genuine alternative asset class, providing significant diversification benefits from mainstream financial markets.
"Not only can the sector provide strong returns under expert guidance but it is an enjoyable, collectible, tangible asset that has an exciting future.”

Cult Wines, founded in 2007, now handles £30m-worth of portfolios for more than 1,800 clients across 55 countries.

It said half of Bordeaux’s finest wines went to Asia last year and Asia’s shared of the French export market has more than doubled in the past decade.

Mr Gearing said some potential investors remained wary of the fines wines market as it remained unregulated.

“There are also benefits of the market being unregulated,” he said. “It allows investors greater flexibility with regards to ownership and structuring as wine is an easily transferable asset, as well as offering tax benefits as it’s regarded as a wasting asset by HMRC.”

He highlighted that unlike classic cars, stamps and fine art, wines have a recognised market exchange and international auction market.

“It offers sufficient liquidity to investors looking for alternative sources of return,” he added.
Source: Yahoo UK