Highs and Lows of 2011

The Financial Times has a good review article on the highs and lows of the art world for 2011.  Entitled The Art Market: Record Breakers and Fakers, the article lists and briefly comments on sales records (possibly the unconfirmed sale a Cezanne selling for $250 million in a private transaction), China setting records, Chinese collectors paying or not for auction purchases, Contemporary art market being strong, ImpMod OK, many other art sectors not nearly as well defined, and a big year for forgery cases.

The FT reports

Cézanne’s “Card Players” Not recorded in any database was the private – but unconfirmed – sale of Cézanne’s “The Card Players” for $250m at the beginning of this year. If true, this is by far the highest price ever paid for a work of art, even if you adjust previous record prices for inflation.

Faking The year was marked by major forgery cases and the revelation that many counterfeits may still be out there. In May a Stuttgart court sent art dealer Herbert Schulte down for seven years, along with his accomplices, for being the ringleader of a €8m Giacometti forgery gang. But his works were, say dealers, unconvincing to the expert eye.

Far worse was the case of Wolfgang Beltracchi, who produced excellent forgeries of German and French artists including Pechstein, Léger and Ernst in a 30-year rampage. He plea-bargained and got six years in jail but only for 14 forgeries: the German police reckon there are at least 53 of his fakes unaccounted for and that the whole swindle was worth tens of millions of euros.

In December another scandal erupted in the US, with the news that the FBI was investigating a series of possible fakes, ostensibly by the likes of Motherwell and Pollock, which were sold by some of New York’s top dealers. The investigation concerns 20 suspect works sold over the past two decades. The first fall-out of this is a lawsuit brought by London-based hedge funder Pierre Lagrange. He is suing the venerable Knoedler Gallery for $17m, saying a Pollock he bought from the gallery is not authentic. The 165-year-old gallery closed its doors for good suddenly the day before it was served with Lagrange’s lawsuit. Dealers and collectors are braced for more revelations as the investigation, and the lawsuit, continue.
Source: The Financial Times, click HERE to read the full article.

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