September 2013: Summer Art Market Report

“The Molo, Venice, from the Bacino di San Marco” by Giovanni Antonio Canal (Canaletto) sold for £8,461,875/ $12,870,512 at Christie’s, London.

By Shireen Lohrasbe

THE 1ST EDITION OF LONDON ART WEEK, a joint venture between Master Paintings Week, Master Drawings and Sculpture Week ran June 28–July 5. Sales included a Gustav Klimt drawing and a John Martin watercolor (sold by Stephen Ongpin). As part of London Art Week, the 5th edition of Master Paintings Week fared well, presenting such works as “the recently rediscovered and highly important Venus by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553), which was sold by Colnaghi to the Princely Collections of Liechtenstein.”
          Moreover, Christie’s and Sotheby’s held Old Masters sales in conjunction with the Week. Scott Reyburn at Bloomberg wrote: “Russian-speaking buyers spent more than 15 million pounds ($22.6 million) at an auction as a record number of bidders from emerging economies bought Old Masters.”

CHRISTIE’S FOUR OM SALES TOTALED over £30 Million/ $46.5 Million. The most lucrative auction titled “Old Master & British Paintings” achieved £23.9M/ $36.3M. The top lot, Venice by Canaletto fetched £8.5M/ $12.9M (£4-6M pre-estimate).
          Comparatively Sotheby’s OM sales totaled £35 Million/$54.4 Million. According to the post-release: “Collectors from 33 countries took part in the sale with record numbers from Asia and the Middle East. More than 400 years since El Greco executed Saint Dominic in Prayerin early 17thcentury Toledo, bidders from new markets battle… drove the price to £9,154,500 (est. £3-5million), a new record for a Spanish Old Master and the highest price across London’s Old Masters sales this week.

THE 6TH EDITION OF ARTHAMPTONS ran July 11-14. This year, ArtHamptons featured 75 galleries from 10 countries and welcomed 14,000 guests over four days. Running concurrently with ArtHamptons, the 3rd edition of artMRKT attracted 9,500+ visitors.

CHRISTIE’S FRANCE RELEASED ITS FIRST quarter numbers. The mostly Parisian-based auction house accrued €92 Million/ $121.1 Million—a 33% increase from 2012’s first quarter (January–April). By comparison Sotheby’s France reached a first-half turnover of €106M/$139.6M—the highest first-half tally in France’s auction history!

PRIVATELY OWNED CHRISTIE’S INTERNATIONAL announced its first-half worldwide sales increased by 9% from 2012 to 2013. Bloomberg reported: “The London-based company sold 2.4 billion pounds ($3.6 billion) of art and antiques. Postwar and contemporary was the dominant category, raising 665.4 million pounds, up 16 percent on the equivalent period last year.” On the other hand Sotheby’s (NYSE:BID) announced that its first half total revenues worldwide at $406.6 Million (similar to 2012).

OVERALL Q1–Q2 AUCTION PERFORMANCE saw an increase in US market share for 2013. According to Artnet: “Sales in the United States in Q1-Q2 of 2013 were responsible for almost one third of all art sold globally this year, gaining market shares as the Chinese market contracted. Supported in part by the unprecedented success of Post-War and Contemporary sales, the United States sold 11% more Fine Art by value and 9% more by volume this May than in 2012. At Christies New York, the Post-War and Contemporary sales fetched US$640 million in a single week, setting a new auction record for value sold at auction for any collecting category.”

BEGINNING IN DECEMBER 2013, CHRISTIE’S will become the first international auction house to hold sales in India (Mumbai more specifically, where its had an office since 1994). Chritie’s CEO Steven P. Murphy stated in the press announcement: "We are delighted to announce that we will hold auctions in India, allowing Indian collectors domestic access to works of art sourced by Christie's, international collectors access to the very best of Indian art, and opening channels to our global network and specialist expertise."

ACCORDING TO THE WALL STREET JOURNAL Marcato Capital Management LLC, a San Francisco-based hedge fund, is the largest holder of Sotheby’s (BID) stock with 6.6% ownership. WSJ reported: “Marcato is run by Mick McGuire, a veteran of combative activist fund Pershing Square Capital run by Bill Ackman… Shares jumped 4.2% to $43.71 in regular session trading. The stock has climbed 23% over the past three months. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Marcato said it may enter into discussions with Sotheby’s management, board or other shareholders over the company’s business, strategies and other matters. Marcato said these discussions may review options for improving shareholder value through various strategic alternatives or operational or management initiatives”

SHEIKA AL MAYASSA BINT HAMAD BIN KHALIFA AL-THANI and other Qataris are greatly influencing the market, purchasing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of art each year, rather discreetly. A recent New York Times article read: “[E]xperts estimate the acquisition budget reaches $1 billion a year and say the Qataris have used it to secure a host of undisputed modern and contemporary masterpieces by Francis Bacon, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons… Until Qatar’s 2007 purchase, for example, the most expensive Rothko ever sold at auction (‘Homage to Matisse’) had drawn $22 million in 2005, less than one-third of the price Qatar paid. In 2011 the $250 million spent for ‘Card Players’ was four times the highest public price ever paid for a work by that artist.”

IRAN’S ART MARKET IS STRENGTHENING. This past July, an 80-lot auction was held Tehran that raised approximately $2 Million. According to the Tehran Times the auction included “eighty-two paintings, sculptures, and photos by 79 Iranian artists were offered during the second sale of the auction house… An 80x90-centimeter oil painting from Sohrab Sepehri’s Tree-Trunk series took center stage on this year’s auction by fetching 7 billion rials (over $208,000), double the estimate of 3.5 billion rials.”
          Yahoo! further elaborated: “The art auction — Tehran's second such event in the past year — offered a rare window into the investment strategies of the city's rich, whose route to acquire assets overseas has been complicated by sanctions that bumped Iran from main international banking networks. Now some of Iran's wealth increasingly appears drawn to the rising profile and prices of Iranian art in galleries from Dubai to Los Angeles.”

ONCE A NICHE MARKET, AFRICAN ART’S POPULARIY is on the rise. Giles Peppiatt, director of Bonhams' African Art department told BBC World Service, "People are much more interested in Africa commercially. The continent is seen as the next big thing, and there is an enormous amount of wealth among Africans." And Georgina Adam at The Financial Times recently quoted famed curator Hans Ulrich Obrist: “I see Africa as being like Asia in the 1990s”

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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