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This Week in the Art Market – Friday 17 May 2024

Art Market News, Editorial

Sotheby’s Spring Sales Gather $227.9M

Though performing below overall estimates for its The Now and contemporary art evening sales, Sotheby’s auction house managed to exceed last year’s equivalent sale by 25%. The beginning of the evening was marked by a withdrawal of Cecil Brown’s Sirens and Shipwrecks and Bathers and the Band (2016) valued at roughly $6 million. Sotheby’s first evening sale, The Now, achieved $26.9m against a presale estimate of $24.2m to $36.6m (excluding the withdrawn Brown painting); the star of the evening was Kerry James Marshall’s Vignette #6 (2005), selling for the highest amount at $6.5m ($7.5m with fees). The second sale, which focused on contemporary art, generated the lion’s share at a total of $201.1m across 35 lots. The most expensive work, Francis Bacon’s Portrait of George Dyer Crouching (1966), was sold for $24.5 million, unfortunately under the estimated range of $30 million to $50 million. Lucio Fontana’s Concetto spaziale, La fine di Dio (1964), was also sold under the estimate at $19.7 million. However, there were several lots that fared better than expected, including two of Joan Mitchell’s paintings which exceeded their high estimates. The sale also set a new auction record for Dinner at Gertrude Stein’s: The French Collection Part II, #10 (1991) by the late Faith Ringgold.

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Christie’s Forges Ahead Despite Cyberattack

Despite a hack on Christies’ website, the auction house continued in its evening sales on Tuesday evening with minimal withdrawals. To ensure the success of its sales, the house worked to secure bids from clients well in advance of the sales, as well as providing guarantees backing the works so that they would sell even without any bids. Sales included the works of Ana Mendieta, a late avant-garde artist whose work Untitled (Sandwoman Series) sold for $567,025, setting a new auction record for her market. Another highlight was Felix Gonzalez-Torres, a famous conceptual artist who died in 1996. His work, Untitled (America #3) sold for $13.6 million, exceeding its high estimate. The house finally accumulated a total of $115 million from 57 lots across all auctions. Though experts praised it as “really respectable sales in a difficult environment”, the total sale came in lower than expected, likely due to the withdrawal of four artworks before the sale began.

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Armed with Two Basquiats, Philips’s Auction Exceeds Last Year’s Equivalent

Selling $72.3 million worth of art during its evening sale of Modern and contemporary art on Tuesday evening, the total amount exceeded its 2023 equivalent by 24%, but fell short of the auction house’s estimated range of $75.9 million to $110.3 million. Still, the evening saw several lots exceeding their high estimate, such as Noah Davis’s Untitled (Boy with Glasses), Derek Fordjour’s Numbers (2018), and Michaela Yearwood-Dan’s Freedom don’t come for free (2021). Undeniably, the highlights of the sale were two paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat, which sold for a total of $54.2 million with fees. Another Basquiat painting will be sold at the end of the month in Hong Kong, noting the Asian market’s enthusiasm for the late artist’s works. However, four lots failed to sell during the evening: Frank Stella’s Lettre sur les sourds et muets (1974), a trio of Robert Mangold’s semicircular paintings, a nude by Pierre Bonnard and The Lovers (2015) by Maria Berrio. However, Berrio’s work was sold soon after the auction ended.

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Prices Rise at Independent Art Fair

The annual Independent art fair launched its 15th iteration last week, drawing strong crowds into the event space at Spring Studios in Tribeca, New York. Described as “a breath of fresh air”, the fair featured a high proportion of smaller galleries and first-time artists to a New York audience. This year, organisers reported a surge in prices, with 28% of the works priced between $20,000 and $50,000, likely due to the lifting of COVID-19 lockdowns with artists gaining greater freedom to produce more ambitious works. The New York art market has also undergone an “economic reset” in recent years, with collectors being more confident in their purchases. This year, several galleries have reported selling out during the fair, indicating growing collector interest in these emerging artists.

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Frieze New York Concludes Energetic 12th Edition

The annual art fair ended its 12th edition after a week of VIP guest appearances and positive sales, signalling the strength of the New York art market. Among some of the celebrities in attendance included Anderson Cooper, Kesha, and Chelsea Clinton, alongside major art institutions such as the Tate Modern and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Some notable sales to come out of Frieze this year include Doris Salcedo’s Disremembered XIV and Ed Clark’s Yin and Yang, which earned White Cube $1 million and $800,000 respectively; Hauser & WIrth sold another work by Ed Clark for $850,000. Pace Gallery sold several works by Robert Mangold at $350,000 to $450,000 each, while Kujke Gallery sold out its booth of paper collage works by Haegue Yang for roughly $29,000-$45,000 apiece.

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The Philosophy of Art Collector Cindy Chua-Tay

Singapore-born, Hong Kong-based collector Cindy Chua-Tay serves on both the Guggenheim Museum’s Board of Trustees and the M+ Board and Acquisitions Committee, all while cultivating a strong collection of international art. She describes how she had been exposed to art museums by her parents during family trips, which developed her taste in art. This led her to her first purchase in the 1990s: a drawing by Jean-Francois Debongnie. Her acquisition philosophy is driven by intuition and emotion, finding happiness in satisfying purchases while continuing to learn and grow through each new discovery. Her favourite artists span established artists such as Christopher Wool and Ed Ruscha, but also lesser-known artists like Cynthia Talmadge.

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Published on May 17, 2024
Yu Ke Dong

Ke Dong is a seasoned art writer and current double major in English Literature and Art History at NTU. Having worked with esteemed art institutions in Singapore, Ke Dong now regularly contributes his keen research skills, adept writing abilities and passion for art to the Art Works discourse.


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