Christie's Cancels London June Contemporary Sale

The Antiques Trade Gazette is reporting Christie's has canceled, at least for this year its June  Contemporary art sale in London.  The rationale is because the month is so busy and active with other sales and fairs. It plans on keeping its June Impressionist and Modern sales along with its Modern British & Irish sale. Interesting.

The ATG reports
Christie’s has dropped its London summer sales of post war and Contemporary art in favour of its two annual auction series in this category taking place in March and October.

The auction house said the decision was in part due to the calendar being “particularly busy this year is for contemporary collectors with the Venice Biennale, followed by the New York auctions, documenta (in both Kassel and Athens) and of course Art Basel”.

Normally taking place in June, the Contemporary art sales series traditionally runs back-to-back with the Impressionist and Modern art auctions.

Christie’s Imps & Mods sales will now lead its summer offering in London with an evening sale taking place on June 27, while its Modern British & Irish Art evening sale is scheduled for June 26.

The Old Master sales will also take place as normal in July.

The company said its new London calendar mirrors the model of New York with two sales seasons for Contemporary art. Rivals Sotheby’s and Phillips have not indicated any plans to follow suit by rescheduling their sales in London.

Christie’s global president Jussi Pylkkanen said: “We are always looking to ensure that we offer collectors the very best material at the right moment and as the art world calendar is always evolving, we are leading the market by making changes to meet the needs of our global audience.

“The aim is to create two highly focused moments in the Post-War and Contemporary Art sales calendar that maximise London’s position at the crossroads of the world art market.”
Source: Antiques Trade Gazette 


A Look at Bonhams

The NY Times takes a look at Bonhams and their global chief executive Matthew Girling. From the article it appears there will be more of an emphasis on the NYC location and US auctions. One strategy includes using its smaller size and ability to pivot faster than other major international houses to its advantage along with knowledgeable category specialists.

The NY Times reports
Sitting in his Midtown Manhattan office overlooking the police barricades and traffic caused by the nearby Trump Tower, Matthew Girling, global chief executive of the Bonhams auction house, likened wielding his gavel on the salesroom podium to holding an antenna for the entire auction sector.

“When you’re up there taking a sale, you can tangibly feel the market,” he said. “Even if a sale is going well in everyone else’s eyes, you know it’s been tough to get people to bid, and you’ve had to work your audience quite hard.”

“That’s the market telling you something that no spreadsheet figures possibly could,” said Mr. Girling, who added that he is proud to be the only head of a major house who also conducts auctions.

Mr. Girling joined Bonhams in 1988, and besides working at Christie’s from 1990 to 1996, he has been at Bonhams ever since. He was appointed to his current role at Bonhams, a privately owned auction house, in August 2015 (he had been joint chief executive previously). And he believes his ability to read the market from the podium has given him an advantage in driving growth.

Bonhams, founded in London in 1793 and largely British-based for most of its existence, is still relatively small compared with its main competitors, Sotheby’s and Christie’s. But with salesrooms today in London, New York, Los Angeles and Hong Kong, and regular sales elsewhere around the world, the company already has made considerable headway in its expansion plans.

In May Bonhams will auction the estate of the writer Jackie Collins. It includes this emerald, diamond and platinum plaque clip brooch, valued at $20,000 to $30,000.
As part of this next chapter, Mr. Girling recently moved his offices from Bonhams’s New Bond Street headquarters in London to New York, the center of the art market in the United States, the largest such market in the world.

“I’m here to grow the business,” he said unequivocally. “Our competition set up shop here in the ‘60s and ’70s, so they’ve got quite a head start on us in terms of time, but that’s all it is. It’s just time.”

Mr. Girling presides over sales for everything from modern artworks to a rare Ming dynasty four-poster bed that fetched $1.4 million in New York last year, but his specialty is jewelry. Having auctioned off jewelry with a total value of more than 250 million pounds ($304 million) over the years, he continues to be the group jewelry director with responsibility for worldwide sales.

Now 57, he started out as a self-described “callow 18-year-old” at a jewelry shop in Norwich, England. A stint prospecting for diamonds in Australia followed, as did positions in London at the jewelry company Garrard & Co. and at the department store Liberty. But, he said, it was only when he arrived at Bonhams that he knew he had found his home.

“I love stones, I love jewelry and I love meeting people,” Mr. Girling said. “It’s the passion and variety that you get in an auction house that really got me.”

It also satisfied his inner showman: “I love getting up on the rostrum.”

He learned early on how to capture an audience’s attention. A 1990 video recording of his auction training at Christie’s shows him walking into the crowded salesroom and climbing the rostrum’s steps, which hadn’t been secured properly.

“You just hear a massive crash,” he said. “The whole crowd had been chattering away until this point and suddenly there’s total silence. The next thing you see are my hands on top of the rostrum as I haul myself up onto it.”

The experience left him with an abiding superstition. “Wherever a rostrum is, no matter how high it is, I always jump into it,” he said. “I never use the steps.”

When Mr. Girling returned to Bonhams in 1996 as head of its small jewelry department, he recalls being clear about its growth potential even then. At his request, the jewelry team started tracking its annual market share of auction sales in Britain. It has been satisfying, he said, to see it reach 43 percent in 2016, as 20 years ago, that number was 3 percent. For six of the last eight years, the Bonhams jewelry department has been the market leader in Britain.

Mr. Girling said he hopes to repeat such success elsewhere in the company using what he sees as Bonhams’s secret weapons: the flexibility that its smaller size brings and the passion and knowledge of its staff members.

Being relatively small means it can adapt to sellers’ needs, he said, enticing them to consign items with an individually tailored approach. “If I look at the list of items that sold for over a million dollars last year, I can see that in every case, we fought for it,” he said, “and I don’t think any other company could have got a better sale than us, because of the focus our teams put into marketing and to finding the right clients.”

In May, Bonhams Los Angeles will sell the estate of the author Jackie Collins, estimated at $3 million, including her art and jewelry collections.

While Mr. Girling acknowledged that the Collins auction has the profile-raising potential of Lauren Bacall’s 2015 sale at Bonhams New York, he wrote in an email following its announcement that above all the sale would be an opportunity to showcase the house’s strengths. “(We) are more interested in developing a reputation for providing a bespoke service to our clients which goes above and beyond what the other houses might offer,” he wrote.

An essential part of that service is having specialists alert to changing tastes. In jewelry, for example, Mr. Girling said that employees who once focused on 19th-century jewelry have learned about 20th-century jewelry by designers like Pierre SterlĂ© and Andrew Grima. “They have adapted their sales and their own jewelry knowledge to appeal to emerging tastes,” he said.

Mr. Girling hopes that the global auction market, which struggled in 2015 and 2016, will start to improve if and when interest rates start to rise — so people with, say, a diamond in storage will be encouraged to sell it if they can earn higher rates on the money they get from the diamond’s sale. “In the auction market, we need fuel on the fire,” he said. “We need things to be coming in for sale that people want to buy.”

And from the supply as well as the demand perspectives, jewelry is an important category. “It’s a colossal market with global appeal,” he said. “Everyone walking down Madison Avenue right now will potentially buy jewelry at some stage. You can’t say that about European ceramics.”

Mr. Girling said one of the biggest changes he has witnessed in his almost 30 years as an auctioneer is in technology. With potential bidders around the world (some of whom may never have participated in an auction before) now able to place bids from their laptops, he has to keep one eye on the camera in the ceiling that is sending the proceedings to the house’s online stream. “I’m playing to that as well as to the room,” he said.

So, despite advances, the salesroom remains the center of the drama. For Mr. Girling, that is a rare and welcome opportunity to focus on the task in hand. Just don’t ask him to use the steps.
Source: The NY Times 


New Tech for the Art World

Our friends at the Clarion list have recently posted an interesting article on some of the new technology currently being offered and used within  and around the art market.  many of you have probably heard of Bitcoin, but what about blcokchain databases?

The Clarion list does a nice job in explaining how these new technologies work and are being integrated into the art market. As appraisers we often consult with clients on non-value related topics, and with that we should also be aware of new technologies which might assist our clients.

I think the Clarion List has an interesting business model, where they are not only a listing service or database of fine art providers and allied professionals, but through their site and blog promote their members and some of the interesting cutting edge technology being offered.

The Clarion List reports
The Art World Goes High-Tech: Bitcoins, Blockchain and Databases

The Cutting Edge Technology Companies Changing How We Search for and Authenticate Art

A handful of tech-savvy companies are shaking up old-school art world ideas about certification, provenance, and registry. Online databases are offering new, centralized platforms to track artwork. These services offer digital ledgers and certificates of authenticity and some--blockchain databases--provide the opportunity for users to carry out transactions in bitcoins (a type of digital currency). The databases, with varying degrees of privacy, can both facilitate purchasing and document each time a work changes owner.

As the world becomes increasingly cash-free, records of all kinds move from the physical to the virtual realm, and new technologies boost security in a variety of industries, a handful of enterprising brands are attempting to link these trends to art business. A few include Verisart (based in Los Angeles), Tagsmart (based in London), Blockai (based in San Francisco), and Ascribe (based in Berlin). “The art world is notorious for never being the first to adopt new technologies,” says Tagsmart CEO Lawrence Merritt.

We investigated what these new services offer to anyone buying or selling art. Are dealers, collectors, and artists finally ready for big changes? We hope so.


Robert Norton, Founder and CEO of Verisart, describes how his goals for the company have shifted. When he launched in 2015, he was interested in how the blockchain database could serve as part of an online marketplace. Now, he says, “we’re really just focused on building a distributed registry for artworks.” He and his team are concerned with expanding their reach by expanding the amount of artwork on the site. Artists list their own pieces (with an image and all relevant information), ensuring authenticity. According to Norton, his team met their 2016 milestones, and 1,000 artworks are now listed on the platform. His most well-known artist is Shepard Fairey, popular recently for his evocative political images (he designed Barack Obama’s “HOPE” poster and the widespread graphic of a woman wearing an American flag head scarf). Fairey is also an investor in the business. Other notable contributors include British photographer Alison Jackson, American painter Dustin Pevey, and Russian art collective AES+F. At the moment, Verisart’s members (the service is invitation-only) are 90 percent artists and 10 percent collectors, though Norton hopes it will reverse in the future.

As the business expands, Norton envisions myriad opportunities for collectors. People will pay for works on the site with bitcoins and transfer certificates. Additional features will also be available: collectors will be able to look at the detailed provenance for an art work and get in touch with a work’s owner directly. Using bitcoins will ensure a clear record of payment.

In contrast, Tagsmart is operating without a blockchain. Their alternative database structure is similarly secure and encrypted, and Merritt asserts that their goal is “to make fakes and forgeries obsolete.” He and his team have built a system with tens of thousands of records, created by artists, estates, and galleries. Some prominent artists that they have worked with include Chris Levine, Marc Quinn and Mario Testino, with whom they co-developed the aluminium tag for his photographs.


No matter your level of technological sophistication, the mechanics of the blockchain database and bitcoins can be difficult to grasp. Luckily, these companies build user-friendly interfaces that are intuitive and clear. The Verisart certificate does indeed resemble a real certificate of authenticity. It depicts an image of the art work and lists its title, production date, medium, artist’s signature, and dimensions. The “current owner” category gives a code that consists of a jumble of numbers and letters, allowing the owner to maintain privacy. Click on the hash sign at the bottom right of the certificate, and you’ll reach a page that shows all the transactions (encoded, again, to protect privacy) that the work has undergone.

On his end, Merritt speaks about Tagsmart’s registration process. The company contacts everyone who registers before they create an online account--there’s no online, automated process. Through making calls, visiting, and requesting proof of identity, they verify the identities of all their users and ensure the security of their services.


“Our vision here,” says Norton, “is to build a sense of distributed trust in the art world, which maintains the anonymity of users. Verisart will show “proof points of existence for works” and aid liquidity in the market. He points out that, so far, the online art market has been “relatively anemic” compared to other luxury markets and suggests that a lack of trust is one of the major hurdles. Verisart is helping establish new standards.

In April, Tagsmart will launch in the United States and introduce a “canvas tag,” a certification for works on canvas. At that point, the company will have the means to “tag” what Merritt calls the “holy trinity” of art forms--paper and aluminum (frequently used by photographers) are the other two.

As the platforms grow, collectors will be able to certify their own holdings and seek out images and works from particular artists. The databases may be able to foster communication in a private, reliable way that might cut out some middlemen (a gallery, an auction house, an independent dealer). Documents from the database can also be used in a court of law to defend authenticity. These complicated mechanisms might just make the nebulous world of art business much simpler. 
Source: The Clarion List 


Comparing Art Market Reports

The NY Times takes an interesting look at three art market reports, TEFAF, Art Basel and Artprice. As noted in the article, all are considered credible in many ways by collectors and art market professionals, yet the figures and findings show wide degrees of variance. For example TEFAF has the art market at $45 billion and up since the prior year, while Art Basel has it at $56.6 billion and down from the prior year. Artprice estimates auction sales at $12.45 billion, TEFAF at $16.9 billion and Art Basel at $22.1 billion. Certainly all rather large numbers, but with a great degree of variance from report to report based upon how data is collected and analysed.

The NY Times reports
LONDON — How big is the art market? Is it getting bigger or smaller? This is the time of year the art world’s number-crunchers release reports that try to answer these tricky questions, and a whole lot more.

According to the latest Tefaf art market report released by the European Fine Art Foundation in the Netherlands, the world’s auction and private sales in 2016 raised more than $45 billion, up 1.7 percent from the previous year. A new report commissioned by Art Basel and UBS estimated these same sales at $56.6 billion, down 11 percent from 2015.

Calculating worldwide fine art auction sales alone, the French website Artprice, working with the Chinese state-owned database Art Market Monitor of Artron, arrived at a figure of $12.45 billion for fine art auction sales alone in 2016, down 23 percent from the previous year. The Tefaf report estimated auction sales of art and antiques at $16.9 billion, while Art Basel and UBS released a figure of $22.1 billion.

Why are there such wide discrepancies in these reports, all of which aim to be regarded as industry standards?

The devil is, of course, in the data. The three reports used different sources for the auction results, and Art Basel and Tefaf, which released their figures this month to coincide with their fairs in Hong Kong and in Maastricht, the Netherlands, faced the challenge of trying to estimate the art and antique trade’s private sales. This shadowy realm is thought to represent more than half of the total value of the art market.

“These reports are useful to read, but the data is very incomplete,” said Hugo Nathan, a partner at Beaumont Nathan, an art advisory company based in London, who was in Hong Kong this week for the Art Basel fair. “They only see half the market. They collate the public auctions very well, but rely on self-reports from dealers, which are notoriously inaccurate.”

Rachel Pownall, an art economist at Maastricht University who prepared the revamped Tefaf report and whose new methodology reduced by almost a third its estimate of global art market sales, agreed that “the size of the dealer market is a contentious issue.”

“We are never going to get a perfect number for how big it is,” she added.

The Tefaf report, drawing on national statistics, company databases and dealer responses, estimated that there were at least $28 billion in private sales of art and antiques in 2016, overshadowing auction sales, estimated by Artnet to total $16.9 billion.

The Art Basel-UBS report, giving greater emphasis to contemporary art, said that there was an increase of 3 percent in dealer sales in 2016, for an estimated $32.5 billion. It said auction sales had fallen 26 percent from the previous year, reflecting the much-reported contraction of supply of Western artworks valued at more than $10 million.

“The market at the high end is dictated by the perceptions of a narrow band of players,” said Clare McAndrew, founder of the Dublin-based research and consultancy firm Arts Economics and author of the Art Basel-UBS report. “Sometimes they think that it’s a risky time to sell.”

She added, “The behavior of a small group can affect the aggregate figures a lot.”

Though Ms. McAndrew, who had compiled the Tefaf report from 2008 to 2016, acknowledged the approximate nature of estimates for private sales, she said she was encouraged by a response rate of 17 percent for the anonymous online survey of 6,500 dealers worldwide that she conducted for the new report. The equivalent survey of 7,000 dealers conducted by Tefaf drew a response rate of 5 percent.

But others remain skeptical that these reports accurately reflect the top end of the dealer market, particularly for powerhouse contemporary galleries such as Gagosian, Pace, David Zwirner and Hauser & Wirth, whose international sales figures remain undisclosed. The so-called Big Four are among the 242 exhibitors at Art Basel Hong Kong, which opened to the public on Thursday. Gagosian is offering a 2010 John Currin nude, “The Collaborator,” at $4.5 million, and Pace has a 1986 Robert Rauschenberg metal sculpture, “Carnival (Glut),” at $2 million.

“There’s still a huge research gap,” said Magnus Resch, the New York-based author of the “Global Art Gallery Report,” a survey of 8,000 galleries in the United States, Britain and Germany, that was published this month. “What is difficult is that the market is dominated by a handful of players and we don’t know what they’re making.”

Using findings from an anonymous online survey of 8,000 galleries, 16 percent of which responded, Mr. Resch’s report estimates that there are about 19,000 galleries worldwide. Of those that responded, 16 percent registered more than $1 million of annual sales, but 30 percent said they did not make a profit. A remarkable 49 percent of the galleries were founded since 2000, according to the report, which — tellingly — does not estimate total sales in the sector.

“If people knew the real numbers, then maybe they wouldn’t start a gallery,” Mr. Resch said.

Certain findings from the reports stand out. Detailed research by Ms. McAndrew for the Art Basel-UBS report estimated that about 33,000 high-net-worth Americans spent more than $1 million on art and antiques in the last two years. This explains, in part, why the United States remains the biggest regional market, generating 40 percent of all global sales, according to the Art Basel report. Tefaf said that an estimated 1.2 million artworks are being held in the “offshore” storage of Geneva Free Ports — billions of dollars in art hidden from tax inspectors and market surveys. In addition, auction sales of Andy Warhol in 2016 fell 68 percent.

There is general agreement that China was the biggest-grossing region for auction sales in 2016, though the reliability of the figures, which differ in the three reports, remains open to question. Data on auctions in Asia continues to be undermined by problems of nonpayment. The February overview from Artprice and Art Market Monitor of Artron ranked the Chinese artist Zhang Daqian (1899-1983) as the world’s biggest-seller at auction in 2016, with sales totaling $354.8 million.

“The wealth dynamics will play out,” said Ms. McAndrew, whose report noted that the most rapid growth in wealth was in Asia, where a billionaire is created every three days, according to UBS. “I think the market will become more dominated by Asian taste.”

Last year, five of the 10 most expensive auction lots sold at Sotheby’s were bought by Asian clients. This month, again at Christie’s in New York, we were reminded of the exceptional prices Asian buyers were prepared to pay — or at least to bid — for top-quality historic Chinese artifacts: The 13th-century scroll painting “Six Dragons,” by Chen Rong, raised $49 million, an auction high for a Chinese painting sold outside Asia. Consigned for sale by the Fujita Museum in Japan, it had been expected to sell for $1.2 million to $1.8 million.

The Art Basel art market report noted that the Chinese government had halved the import tax on artworks to 3 percent, effective Jan. 1 this year, to encourage the repatriation of Chinese artworks and to stimulate cross-border trade. In 2012, the tax was levied at 12 percent.

Despite the reports’ shortcomings, we at least have a general sense of what the global art market was worth in 2016. Splitting the difference between the Tefaf’s more conservative estimate of $45 billion and Art Basel’s more comprehensive $56.6 billion (which includes more data on auction sales of Chinese ceramics and works of art), we might say that last year about $50 billion of art was sold worldwide.

As for the details of what dealers contributed to this total, that remains any statistician’s guess.
Source: The NY Times 


Art Basel Art Report

Bloomberg has posted on the recently released UBS/Art Basel art report complied by art economist Clare McAndrew.

The report notes that sales of art dropped 11% during 2016, which had fallen 7% since 2015. Total sales are estimated to be $56.6 billion, compared to the record in 2014 of $69.2 billion. Interesting, auction sales according to the report fell a rather large 26%.

Although the current results lack strength in the market, there is optimism for the future. Although there is concern for the many geo-political issues.

I will post more in the next few days on some of the findings in the report as it covers the fine art market, auctions, dealer sales/exhibitions, online sales, market sectors, global wealth and economic impact.

I have just downloaded the full report to review. To read/download the full report, click HERE. It is a free download, so no reason not to download and save for future use and market analysis in appraisal reports.

Bloomberg reports
The global art market contracted for the second straight year in 2016, falling to the lowest level since the financial crisis as economic and political volatility weighed on auction sales.

Sales of art and antiques dropped 11 percent to $56.6 billion, according to a report released on Wednesday by UBS Group AG and Art Basel. The decline, on top of a 7 percent slide in 2015, wipes out the gains seen in 2013 and 2014, when sales reached an all-time high of $68.2 billion.

“It was quite a challenging year for the art market,” Clare McAndrew, founder of Arts Economics that prepared the report, said in a telephone interview.

“It’s a really supply-driven marketplace and it’s vendors holding back,” McAndrew said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Wednesday. “We saw it especially at the top end of the market. The private sector did fairly well, but the auction sector declined quite dramatically and that brought the numbers down.”

Her outlook for 2017 is cautious, with sellers holding back as economic and geopolitical uncertainty continues in many countries. Buyers, on the other hand, may view art and antiques as “a relative safe haven amidst volatility elsewhere,” increasing prices for the works that appear on the market, according to the report.

Some signs point to a brighter outlook. London auctions of Impressionist, modern, postwar and contemporary art bounced back from last year’s doldrums. Christie’s sold $332.8 million of Asian art in New York in a record-setting series of auctions last week. A 13th century Chinese painting depicting six dragons fetched $49 million, the highest price for a Chinese painting sold outside of Asia. It had been estimated at $1.2 million to $1.8 million.

Auction sales declined 26 percent to $22.1 billion, according to the report, released to coincide with the opening of Art Basel Hong Kong.

Sales of postwar and contemporary works at auction fell 18 percent to $5.6 billion; modern art was down 43 percent at $2.6 billion; the Impressionist category declined 31 percent to $1.3 billion.

The high end of the auction market -- where prices for artworks exceed $1 million -- fell 34 percent. Trophies priced at more than $10 million saw the biggest decline, at 53 percent.

Industry leaders Sotheby’s and Christie’s lost market share, together accounting for 38 percent of the auction sales, down from 42 percent in 2015.

Among the winners:

The U.S. remained the leading market, representing 40 percent of all transactions by value. The second-largest market was the U.K., at 21 percent, followed by China, at 20 percent.

Sales by dealers and galleries represented 57 percent of the overall market, rising 3 percent to $32.5 billion. The increase was driven by the top end of the segment, as dealers whose volume exceeded $50 million saw a 19 percent uptick in sales.

Sales of Old Masters, which includes many Chinese painters, increased 5 percent to $1.4 billion, surpassing Impressionist art. The results benefited from increased business in China and the U.K., where 15 of the top 18 transactions in the category took place.

Art fairs generated about $13.3 billion in sales, up 5 percent from 2015, representing 41 percent of total sales by galleries.
Online sales increased by 4 percent to $4.9 billion, accounting for 9 percent of the global market. Most sales were below $50,000, according to a survey of 50 companies.
Source: Bloomberg 


Asia Week

artnet news has a good overview of the recent Asia week sales from New York. With reported sales of $423 million it crushes the $130 million from 2016, and surpasses the $360 million of 2015.

art net news reports
It was the most successful Asia Week New York ever, by the numbers, with a reported $423 million in sales. A huge figure by any metric, the total blows away the $130 million in 2016 sales, which were undoubtedly affected by raids from federal officials that saw eight potentially-stolen items seized. In 2015, Asia Week saw $360 million in sales.

Now in its eighth edition, Asia Week had over $406 million in sales this year from its five participating auction houses: Sotheby’s New York, Christie’s New York, Bonhams New York, Doyle New York, and iGavel, Inc. Asia Week also saw a record 50 international art galleries take part for 2017.

“With the influx of Chinese buyers, museum curators and collectors, Asia Week New York ended on an upbeat note with record-breaking sales in all categories,” said Asia Week chairman Lark Mason in a statement.

Leading the charge was Christie’s March 15 sale of “Important Chinese Art From the Fujita Museum.” Sales on the night amounted to a hefty $262.84 million, over 60 percent of the week’s total. Despite an estimate of just $1.2–1.8 million, a Chen Rong handscroll titled Six Dragons sold for an astonishing $48.97 million.

Other top lots included a Bronze ritual ram-form wine vessel from the Shang dynasty, 13th–11th century BC, that blew away a $6–8 million estimate with a $27.1 million price tag, and three bronze ritual wine vessels that sold for $37.21 million, $33.85 million, and $27.13 million each.

Over at Sotheby’s, a large blue and white reserve-decorated “peony” dish topped its presale estimate, of $1–1.5 million, fetching $2.17 million at the sale titled “Ming: The Intervention of Imperial Taste” on March 17. The top lot of the day, which saw $11.34 million in total sales, was a rare Anhua-decorated Tianbai-glazed Meiping, which sold for $3.13 million on a $2.3–2.8 million estimate.

Sotheby’s also found success with its March 16 “Fine Classical Chinese Paintings & Calligraphy” sale, where Zhu Da’s Flowers, Birds, Fish, and Fruit was the top lot at $3.13 million. It held the week’s only modern and contemporary sale, “Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art,” also on March 16, with Raja Ravi Varma more than doubling the high estimate of $700,000 with the $1.69 million sale of Untitled (Damayanti). The two sales totaled $14.37 million and $6.56 million, respectively.

On March 15, Bonhams had a 95.71 percent sell-through rate for “The Zuiun Collection.” The house made $677,750 on the night, with a Qin dynasty patinated sandalwood scepter selling over nine times its high estimate, for a total of $90,000, for the auction’s top sale.

Bonhams also found success with its “Fine Japanese and Korean Art” auction on March 15, achieving $2.27 million led by an Edo period screen from mid-late 17th century that had a high estimate of just $60,000, but brought in $427,500. Across seven auctions, the house made $17.18 million in sales.

The week’s success is all the more impressive given that winter storm Stella blew into town in the middle of the week—but while most of New York’s museums stayed closed due to the weather, Asia Week dealers kept their doors open.

“As we come from the land of cheese, chocolate and high mountains,” said Swiss dealer Robert R. Biggler in a statement, “this little winter episode does not really impress us.” He reported a productive day despite the snow.

In fact, the closure of most other New York businesses might have actually helped sales: “Believe it or not it has been wildly crazy today with drop-in clients who are typically too busy during the week,” said dealer Joan Mirviss, in a statement, noting that collectors and curators specifically in town for the occasion were also undeterred. She reported selling 79 pieces during the week.

Katherine Martin, director of Scholten Japanese Art, agreed, noting that “we had several visitors that were pleased to have somewhere to go since so many of the big venues and institutions were closed.”

Asia Week was perhaps a good lead-in for this week’s Art Basel in Hong Kong, which opens March 23. No less than 241 galleries are on hand, including a strong contingent of dealers from the region. As revealed by the recently released TEFAF 2017 Global Art Market Report, Asian auctions now accounts for 40.5 percent of the world’s auction market, up for 31 percent in 2015.
Source: art net news 


Clare McAndrew Art Basel Fine Art Report

On March 22, Art BAsel Hong Kong with release the new art market report developed by economist Clare McAndrew. McAndrew developed the TEFAF art market report, now being authored by Rachel Pownall. It will be interesting to compare the two reports.

The Financial Times reports on the upcoming art market report
How big is the art market? One answer comes this week as Clare McAndrew, the cultural economist who changed allegiance from the Tefaf fair to Art Basel in June, launches her number-crunching report during Art Basel Hong Kong.

Since 2008, McAndrew’s annual tome has fed a hungry audience with a total value for the art market, as well as comprehensive supporting data, a much-cited source of industry intelligence in an otherwise opaque field.

Since McAndrew’s move, however, Tefaf, which launched its first independent study on the size and structure of Europe’s art and antiques market in 2000, has taken on the academic Rachel Pownall to conduct its research. Earlier this month, Pownall presented her findings, which came in much lower than McAndrew’s estimates — revaluing the market down by nearly a third — largely on the back of a much narrower definition of art dealers and galleries. Pownall’s new data measure the total value of the art market at $45bn in 2016, up from $44bn on the previous year. McAndrew had estimated the 2015 market at $63.8bn.

Both McAndrew and Pownall underplay the discrepancies, while acknowledging that assessing the largely invisible art market is a challenge. “Economic analyses often make around 10 assumptions; for art there are at least 25,” says McAndrew.

Nonetheless, compiling and interpreting art market data has grown alongside an increasingly financialised art world. “Since around 2006 there has been an increasing influx of more professional services built around the art industry,” says Anders Petterson, who founded market analysis firm ArtTactic in 2001. He cites interest from sectors including insurance and banking.

It’s an increasingly competitive field as other businesses get in on the act. In 2016, Sotheby’s bought the Mei Moses Art Indices, a database that tracks the prices of works that have sold more than once. Artnet, which records auction prices since 1985, bought the analytics firm, Tutela. Christie’s bought Collectrium, a collections management system, in 2015, while the insurance group Hiscox produces an annual survey of the online trade, in conjunction with ArtTactic. Aggregate art businesses such as Barnaby’s now produce regular reports based on their sales activity; while the e-commerce sales facilitator Invaluable has provided its data to Tefaf and Pownall for a separate report on this area, to be published in May.

All face one overriding problem: the only data points that are publicly available and verifiable are auction prices. These, until recently, accounted for an estimated 50 per cent of the market (though even that was something of an educated guess). Now, however, having 50 per cent of the information is looking like a luxury. As well as dealer and auction sales, channels now include the growing private transactions by the auction houses.

Private sales are an even trickier area from which to build a convincing set of statistics. Price transparency is in its infancy, although crowdsourcing tools such as the Magnus app are beginning to break down the barriers. Even so, the level at which something is priced and what it sells for are rarely the same. Higher-level information on the sales and profitability of galleries can be gleaned from other data sources (Pownall uses Orbis, for example) but defining galleries below a certain level is not an easy task.

Hence the increasing focus on proprietary private intelligence. McAndrew’s report will include additional research areas such as the findings of a survey of some 800 US collectors.

The might of UBS, Art Basel’s lead sponsor and the co-backer of McAndrew’s report, has been significant in making such data meaningful, she says, promising data about collectors’ spending, motivations and funding habits that have not been collated as rigorously before.

Survey data are also something of a minefield. In the hands of reputable economists, these incorporate checks and controls to minimise misinformation, but it can never be ruled out. “Everyone has a vested interest in the marketplace and they answer accordingly,” says Petterson, who has been conducting a confidence survey based on experts (including dealers, collectors and advisers) since 2005. However, he says, “If you can get a consensus opinion, then that is typically what the market will do. Value is shaped by a few tastemakers.”

Response rates, from an already small pool of people, are also low in the art market. McAndrew is pleased that for her dealer survey this is improving: last year her response rate from about 6,500 dealers was 14 per cent; this year it is 17 per cent. “In other industries I guess that would be shocking, but at least it is more than ever [for the art market].” And in a lopsided arena — in which a small number of dealers and auction houses are responsible for a very high percentage of sales volumes — getting meaningful answers from the big boys is arguably what counts.

Everyone has a vested interest in the marketplace and they answer accordingly
There are many in the market who yet feel such reports should be taken with a pinch of salt, or even that they are irresponsible in their pronouncements.

“The reality is that reliable information does not exist outside of auction results. It is therefore easy for a so-called expert to come out with any kind of figures that commentators will repeat, without mentioning that they are no better than wet fingers in the wind,” says the collector and art market observer Alain Servais.

McAndrew counters the critics. She points out that the art market “really punches above its weight in terms of the number and quality of jobs it generates. Unless there is some idea of the size of the market and how it is faring overall, it would be impossible to show its important economic impact.”

Given so many assumptions, ranges of definitions and varied data sources, it is perhaps not so surprising that no two surveys will produce the same numbers. Having more information out there is no bad thing, Pownall believes.

“People will compare the numbers between reports but at least everyone is looking at the data; the debate is refreshing,” she says.

The Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market report is published on March 22; free download at artbasel.com/theartmarket
Source: The Financial Times