Sotheby's to Purchase Orion Analytical

Sotheby's continues with its buying spree of allied professionals. In the past year or so Sotehby's has purchased Art Agency, Partners, an art advisory firm, recently purchased the Mei Moses Art Indexes, and now has purchased Orion Analytical, a scientific research firm to assist in determining fakes and maintaining confidence and credibility in the art market.

The expanding tentacles of the auction houses is very interesting, and in some ways good, and in others an expansion and encroachment of services. This is all the more reason for professional appraisers to belong to recognized personal property societies such as ISA and AAA, and to expand their own practices to include additional services, such as art advisory and consultations, brokering, expert witness, and collection management advise. Appraisers need to make sure they hold up the proper professional standards, be ethical, and promote in a sophisticated and professional manner. With the recent growing interest in personal property appraising I have seen all sorts of lesser offerings, appraisal "credentials" and appraisal programs.

Do your research and due diligence as you plan for the future and look to expand your appraisal practice. Make sure the direction is one the fits with your interests and the growth and professionalism of the appraising profession. Many can be beneficial, others can be costly and not pay dividends, or worse.

The Telegraph reports on the purchase of Orion Analytical
Sotheby’s has created a new department for scientific research in order to combat the amount of fakes that are infiltrating the art market and damaging confidence.

Think of Wolfgang Beltracchi who was found guilty in 2011 of forging 14 modern European art works which sold for £28.6 million, or the Knoedler gallery case involving millions of dollars in sales of "American abstract expressionist" art painted by a living Chinese artist.

Currently, the spotlight is on Old Masters, and a $10 million portrait purported to be by Frans Hals which Sotheby’s sold privately. Sotheby’s had to return the money when scientific research, conducted by James Martin of Orion Analytical, identified 20th century materials in the painting.

This week, Sotheby’s has acquired Orion for an undisclosed sum, making Martin director of scientific research. Martin is sufficiently established in his field to have been employed by the FBI in both the Beltracchi and Knoedler cases.

In the mid 1980s they were considered the hottest young properties in the UK art market. But after that, the muscular realism of Ken Currie and Peter Howson was considered too populist to be favoured by the establishment. But the latest Scottish art auctions in London and Edinburgh demonstrate that the market has not forgotten them.

In the David Bowie sale, Howson’s celebrated war painting, Croatian and Muslim, fetched a record £173,000 for a single canvas by the artist from London’s Pyms gallery. An equally large painting, The Drum, that had belonged to the record producer, the late Gary Kurfirst, sold a fortnight later for a triple estimate £150,000.

Up in Scotland, meanwhile, a monumental 1988 triptych of tough Glasgow city life by Currie trounced a £20,000 estimate to sell for a record £100,000.  “These are very big prices for auction,” says their dealer, Matthew Flowers. “They seem to herald some kind of comeback.” 
Source: The Telegrph 

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