April 2013: March Art Market Report

"Website" installation by Joseph Grazi with site-specific performance by Brian Gonzalez titled "The Seeds that Bind" at (Un)Fair.


By Shireen Lohrasbe


THE 15TH EDITION OF THE ARMORY SHOW ran March 6–10. Mayor Bloomberg opened the fair, celebrating the centennial of its namesake to a packed press conference. With over 210 participant galleries from 30 countries, The Armory Show clocked 60,000+ visitors in five days. Numerous galleries reported strong sales including: Kerlin Gallery, Michael Kohn Gallery, David Zwirner, Sean Kelly Gallery, Sprüth Magers, Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Hollis Taggart Galleries, Mazzoleni Arte Moderna, Kavi Gupta Gallery, Corvi Mora and Victoria Miro. Notably, Upstream Gallery (based in Amsterdam) sold out its entire booth of Dutch painter Frank Ammerlaan. The Armory Show’s online partner Artsy, gave people the opportunity to preview works and drew 90,000 unique visitors to the site from over 160 countries. This year’s “Focus” was on the United States. Thus, an entire section of the fair was dedicated to several smaller American galleries.

ARMORY’S SISTER FAIR VOLTA moved to a new location in Soho for its sixth edition. Several galleries reported sales such as: BRUNDYN + GONSALVES (based Cape Town), sold a full set of C-print self-portraitures by Johannesburg-based artist Mohau Modisakeng; FOLEY (New York) sold several ink drawings by Alice Attie; Fred [London] Ltd (London) sold several metal paintings by Geraldine Swayne; TEAPOT (Cologne) sold sculptures by Susanne Rottenbacher; Ottawa gallery received much attention for Amy Schissel's large-scale mixed media works; Envoy Enterprises (NY) sold several colorful oil paintings by Winston Chmielinski; GALLERI FLACH (Stockholm) sold watercolors by Kristina Bength; Galerie Römerapotheke (Zurich) found buyers for a few pieces by Patrick Lo Giudice; Galerie Heike Strelow (Frankfurt) sold C-prints by Mathias Kessler; Galleri Christoffer Egelund (Copenhagen) sold multiple paintings by Maria Torp; Dillion Gallery found collectors for Chiho Akama; and lastly, Halsey McKay Gallery (East Hampton) almost sold out an entire mixed-media series by Timothy Bergstrom and received considerable interest for sculptures by David Kennedy Cutler. In the post-release, Amanda Coulson, VOLTA NY's Artistic Director stated: "We counted over 22,000 visitors – more than a third of The Armory Show's attendance last year. I guess the little sister grew up!"

THE 25TH ADAA: THE ART SHOW attracted 20,000 visitors over Armory Arts Week. With 72 galleries, the opening night preview drew 2,500 special guests and raised over $1 Million to benefit The Henry Street Settlement. This year’s stronger emphasis on photography and solo-artist booths translated into a gutsier program for the usually conservative fair. Accompanying profits resulted. Galleries such as James Cohan sold out their entire booth of Fred Tomaselli works on paper (priced at $20,000 each). Other galleries reported strong sales including: Sperone Westwater, Pace, Lehmann Maupin, David Zwirner, Gallery 303, Sean Kelly, Yossi Milo, Mary Ryan, Paul Kasmin and Eleven Rivington.

ARMORY ARTS WEEK SATELLITE fairs such as Independent, SCOPE, Fountain, THE (UN)FAIR and Moving Image offered a number of events and happenings to correspond with Armory. Furthermore, most, if not all reported increased sales marking the strength of fairs in a shaky economy.

SOTHEBY’S MID-SEASON contemporary sales in March reached a cumulative total of $27.3 Million. An untitled work by Basquiat topped the list at $1.4 Million, far surpassing its $700,000–1,000,000 pre-estimate. Robert Longo and Joan Mitchell followed suit with works selling for $674,500 and $512,000 respectively.

CHRISTIE’S FIRST OPEN achieved a record total of $12.4 Million on March 8. With 87% sold by lot, highlights included works by Gerhard Richter and Peter Doig. First time records were set for artists Keltie Ferris, Angel Otero, Aleksandar Duravcevic and Dustin Yellin.

ASIA ART WEEK NEW YORK ran March 15–23. This edition featured 44 galleries, up 25% from last year. The event pulled together the expertise of gallerists, auction house and museum specialists in Asian art from various countries including: Belgium, France, UK, Italy, Japan and Switzerland.

BOTH MAIN AUCTION HOUSES held sales to accompany AWNY. Christie's concluded its Spring Asian Art Week with a combined sales total of $80.4 Million—50% above the cumulative pre-estimates of all 8 sales, which ran over four days, March 19–22. The same week, Sotheby's collective sales totaled $52.4 Million, which included The Amaya Collection. The collection fetched $6.7 Million as the first single-owner evening sale of Indian Art at Sotheby’s in more than a decade.

THE 35TH EDITION OF ARTEXPO New York was held March 21–24. The fine art tradeshow (not fair) featured hundreds of galleries and thousands of artists. According to the website, “Art sales were high this year, show traffic was up by 25%, Trade attendance was up 21%, and 91% of polled attendees said they enjoyed the event.”


THE FIRST EDITION OF ART13 London, sponsored by Citi Private Banking, took place March 1–3. The inaugural fair saw 6,000 guests at the preview and 24,700+ visitors over the course of 4 days. Founded by the same owners of ART HK (as in Hong Kong), the new fair honored London as a thriving arts community—40% of exhibitors were UK-based.
         Art13 presented 129 galleries from 30 countries, of which 70% had never shown in London prior to the event. Many galleries reported pecuniary transactions such as: Pearl Lam (with locations in Shanghai/Singapore/Hong Kong), Alexander Ochs (based in Berlin and Beijing), Deweer (Belgium), Lawrie Shabibi (UAE), Kalman Maklarky Fine Arts, (Hungary) and Hakgojae Gallery (South Korea). With lower pricepoints Art13 met consumer demand for reasonably valued artworks, resulting in abundant sales.

THE 6TH EDITION OF LILLE ART FAIR ran March 7–10 at the Grand Palais, Paris. More than 220,000 visitors attended the fair, which featured 120 French and European galleries.

ART PARIS ART FAIR was held March 27–30. APAF opening night attracted 13,847 guests and 53,257 visitors altogether, up 11% from 2012. This year, the fair presented 144 exhibitors from 20 countries representing 1500+ artists—43% were international, 57% French-based, and 52% were new participants. Russia was 2013's “guest of honor.” APAF featured eleven Russian galleries from Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, Rostov on Don and Vladivostok. Additionally, 20 European-based galleries showcased Russian artists to pay homage to the country.

THE 26TH EDITION OF TEFAF MAASTRICHT, sponsored by AXA Art, welcomed over 9,000 guests at the private viewing alone. The fair, which ran March 15–27, attracted 70,000 visitors and over 500 members of press over 1.5 weeks. Participant galleries reported rampant sales, especially in the Old Masters segment. During the fair, TEFAF announced its partnership with Sotheby’s in developing a high-end art fair for China titled “TEFAF Beijing 2014." This is a unique venture between a leading international auction house and a blue chip fine art and antiques fair. According to the press release, TEFAF Beijing would “facilitat[e] a high end art market platform for Chinese collectors and international art dealers.”

DR. CLARE MCANDREW PRESENTED the “TEFAF Art Market Report 2013” during a symposium. Among the many findings, McAndrew stated global art sales dropped by 7% in 2012 to $56 Billion USD, mostly due to declining sales in the Chinese segment (which fell by 24%). The US reclaimed top spot for percentage of global shares by country at 33%, followed by China and the UK. Contemporary art continued to dominate the 2012 auction circuit with 43% share by value ($5.89 Billion USD)—the highest record for this segment to-date. “The report, which examined the global art market with a focus on China and Brazil, referred to a highly polarised market with the heaviest buying and best performance concentrated at the high end of the market for the best-known artists.” The contemporary segment is what many call a “masters market,” which makes sense given worldwide economic uncertainty.

THE 6TH ANNUAL DELOITTE ART & FINANCE CONERENCE ran in conjunction with TEFAF Maastricht on March 15. The annual conference—a joint effort by Deloitte Luxembourg and ArtTactic—brought together “250 private collectors, wealth managers, family office representatives and art investment related professionals… [engaged in] a series of invited talks from an interdisciplinary mix of art and finance research and practice.”
Deloitte and ArtTactic released a report with key findings from the past year such as: “economic uncertainty enhance[d] client demand for alternative investments… the global art investment fund market increased by 69% to US$ 1.62 billion in 2012... new online transaction platforms add liquidity to the lower end… [and] online education is likely to play an increasingly important role in building confidence in the art market.”

THE 7TH EDITION OF ART DUBAI ran March 20–23. According to the website, “the leading international art fair in the MENASA (Middle East/North Africa/South Asia) has become a cornerstone of the region’s booming contemporary art community. In 2013, Art Dubai welcomed 25,000 visitors – including 75 international museums groups – and hosted 75 galleries from 30 countries.” Together participant galleries accumulated $45 Million in sales over the course of four days.

THE CZECH MARKET ROSE by 36% last year to $45.5 Million. Prague Daily Monitor reported new numbers and findings released by Artplus.cz: “Collectors and investors spent record 881 million crowns in total at art auctions in the Czech Republic in 2012… record high prices were paid at Czech auctions for works by Czech-born artists Frantisek Kupka (1871-1957) and Emil Filla (1882-1953) and for Chinese art… more and more collectors are interested in Chinese, and generally Asian art at Czech auctions.” Reciprocally, Chinese collectors are increasingly buying up Czech artworks!

MCH GROUP—THE SWISS-BASED ART FAIR ORGANIZER—has experienced a surge in share prices. Skate’s published MCH’s most recent numbers. Among the companies many clients is the Art Basel franchise, which includes Art Basel Miami Beach and Art Basel Hong Kong. “MCH group’s share prices skyrocketed to 64.35 CHF (€52.4839) on 5 March, which is its highest score in 52 weeks. Its lowest share price score during the same period is 42.16 CHF (€34.3857).”


Shireen Lohrasbe

Shireen holds a BBA in Design & Management from Parsons The New School for Design and an MA in Art Business from Sotheby's Institute of Art, New York. She has contributed to several online publications including Art Observed, Quintessentially Art, and Whitewall Magazine. Shireen is a regular art market contributor at Whitehot Magazine.

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