So now it’s official: The latest art market boom has peaked, according to figures from Christie’s and Sotheby’s, the two biggest international auction houses.
In late January, the companies released their 2015 results, with each reporting a slight decrease in year-over-year sales. It was the first year since 2010 that both failed to show an increase.
Christie’s, a private company based in London, reported auctions and private sales of 4.8 billion pounds, or about $6.8 billion in 2015, a decline of about 5 percent from 2014. Equivalent sales at Sotheby’s, which is publicly traded and based in New York, were $6.6 billion, about 1 percent less than in 2014.
Those figures do not represent a burst bubble, or even a serious correction, but they do suggest that 2016 is going to be a challenging year for the art market, reflecting the volatility and uncertainty of the wider world.
“The froth has been skimmed off,” said Paul Ress, the chief executive of Right Capital, which provides loans secured by art to dealers and collectors. Mr. Ress said that the collapse in the price of oil has taken “a huge amount of cash” out of the art market.
“There aren’t so many Russians and Brazilians involved now, and the Chinese slowdown has had a knock-on effect on the raw materials and equity markets,” he said. “The potential buyers in the art world won’t be feeling as rich as they did last year.”
An examination of Christie’s results reveals key shifts in the market in 2015. Bolstered by huge one-off prices in New York for trophy works by artists like Picasso and Modigliani , auction sales of Impressionist and modern art were up 57 percent to £1.3 billion, while those of postwar and contemporary art — the main driver of growth from 2009 to 2014 — were down 14 percent to £1.5 billion. Year-over-year sales of old master paintings and 19th-century and Russian art shrank 37 percent to £154.9 million. . . . .
“Italian millionaire sues Christie’s over record-breaking $40m sale of his father’s ‘stolen’ pink Princie Diamond he claims the auction house had no right to sell”
A rare pink diamond that surfaced in 2013 to fetch $40million at auction has fueled a feud among relatives of a late Italian senator as his son claims the stone was stolen by a backstabbing step-sibling.
Amedeo Angiolillo, who currently lives in New York, filed suit against Christie’s on Friday, alleging the auction house had sold off the 300-year-old, 34.65-carat Indian diamond to an anonymous buyer on behalf of someone other than its rightful owner.
Named the Princie Diamond, the pink gem ‘is one the rarest, perhaps most famous and illustrious pink diamonds in the world,’ according to the complaint filed in Manhattan supreme court.
Rare: The Princie Diamond that surfaced in 2013 to fetch $40million at auction has fueled a feud among relatives of a late Italian senator as his son claims the stone was stolen by a backstabbing step-sibling
According to Christie’s website, the diamond received the name after being purchased at auction by jewelers Van Cleef & Arpels, who named it in honor of the 14-year-old Prince of Baroda, son of Maharani Sita Devi.
The gem had been passed down through generations of Indian rulers before landing in the possession of Mir Osman Ali Khan of Hyderabad, who eventually sold it through Southeby’s.
The jewel came into Angiolillo’s family’s possession when his father, Renato Angiolillo, the founder of Italian newspaper Il Tempo, purchased the stone in 1961, the New York Post reports.
Having just wed his second wife, Maria Girani, Renato made a gift of the diamond – one that carried a caveat.
Renato’s new bride would ‘not have unfettered access to’ her husband’s collection of precious stones, according to the complaint.
The arrangement would last up until the newspaper magnate’s death in 1973, when Amedeo cut a deal with his step-mother that allowed her to continue wearing the diamond, the lawsuit states.
Prized possession: The jewel came into Angiolillo’s family’s possession when Renato Angiolillo (pictured), the founder of Italian newspaper Il Tempo, purchased the stone in 1961
High society: Renato Angiolillo (right) had a taste for precious stones, and was reported to have bought the diamond in Paris after losing big at the Monte Carlo casino
The younger Angiolillo agreed to let Girani hold onto the diamond ‘because she was quite active and influential in Italian politics and sponsored political, social and business meetings at her home,’ a gift Renato bequeathed her in his will.
‘Girani had a good relationship with her husband’s children and grandchildren, confirming on several occasions that the gems in her possession, including the Princie Diamond, belonged to them by inheritance, and that they would be returned to them after her death,’ according to documents filed.
Yet when Girani, too, passed away in 2009 and her husband’s heirs came looking for the precious stone, they say it wasn’t among her belongings.
LONDON— Sotheby’s shook off doubts stemming from the ouster of its chief executive late last year, earning this past week its highest total for artwork auctioned in London from its contemporary art department.
The company’s annual February auction Tuesday totaled $188 million, representing a 31% increase from 2014’s February sale.
In November, William Ruprecht stepped down as Sotheby’s CEO, following a monthslong campaign by hedge-fund activist Dan Loeb to shake up the company’s management. Mr. Ruprecht’s handling of the contemporary art division was a focus of criticism.
On Friday, Sotheby’s said it wouldn’t be paying a special dividend initiated last year, saying it wanted to preserve “flexibility” in its “capital allocation” while searching for a new chief executive.
Tuesday’s auction result, within Sotheby’s $136 million to $193 million pre-sale estimate, helped the publicly traded auction house beat privately owned nemesis Christie’s, which sold $178 million worth of art on Wednesday, down 16% from a year earlier.
Asian and Middle Eastern participation in Sotheby’s evening session on Tuesday was low, with only 9% of buyers from that region. But South American participation doubled from last year, with 37% of buyers coming from South and North America combined. At Christie’s, about a fifth of buyers were from Asia and the Middle East, with Europe and North America accounting for about half.
The week’s biggest art sale was Gerhard Richter’s 1986 painting “Abstract Picture, 599.” It sold over the phone to Ken Griffin, founder of investment fund Citadel, at Sotheby’s for $46 million, according to people familiar with the matter. The purchase was highly unusual for the billionaire, better known for collecting more mainstream artwork, including Impressionists. Mr. Griffin broke the previous Richter record of $37 million set by Sotheby’s in May 2013. The 118-inch by 99-inch work, featuring a metallic-looking paint that glistens, drew its second-highest bid from a private collector working through Gallus Pesendorfer, a Cologne-based specialist who typically works with German buyers.
Andy Warhol was the top-selling artist at auction in the past year as increased competition for the most-expensive segment of the market drove global art sales higher.
Collectors bought 1,295 works by the deceased artist totaling $653.2 million, ahead of sales for Pablo Picasso andFrancis Bacon, according to preliminary figures by New York-based researcherArtnet. Auctions worldwide rose 10 percent to $16 billion.
Art sales have more than doubled from $6.3 billion in 2009, as surging financial markets lifted the fortunes of the world’s richest. The top 400 billionaires added $92 billion in wealth this year, for a net worth of $4.1 trillion as of Dec. 29, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Bidding for the most coveted artists has been driving much of the surge in auctions, said Jeff Rabin, a principal at advisory firm Artvest Partners in New York.
“The headline number is not so much a comment on the art market as it is on global wealth,” Rabin said. “We haven’t seen a considerable increase in the number of objects sold. We have seen price appreciation at the top end.”
A record $2.3 billion of art was auctioned over two weeks in New York in November. As part of those auctions, Christie’s on Nov. 12 sold 75 contemporary works for $852.9 million, a record for an evening auction.
“That total in one evening sale for less than 100 works is extraordinary,” Rabin said.
At $16 billion, this year’s art sales would be the second-highest on record. The Artnet numbers for 2014 are preliminary, and final figures next week could still surpass the previous record of $16.3 billion, set in 2011. The figures take into account sales of paintings, drawings and sculpture but not other collectibles such as furniture or decorative objects. The numbers also don’t include private sales.
No women were among the top 10 artists in 2014, and only one, Gerhard Richter, 82, is still living.
Warhol, who died in 1987, had two of the most expensive works at auction in 2014. “Triple Elvis,” a 1963 silkscreen of Elvis Presley in a publicity image for the movie “Flaming Star” in which the singer is shown as a cowboy with a gun, sold for $81.9 million.
“Four Marlons,” a 1966 canvas depicting four identical images of a young Marlon Brando wearing a leather jacket and a cap in a still from the movie “The Wild One,” fetched $69.6 million. Both works were sold in November at Christie’s in New York.
Picasso was the second-biggest selling artist, with 2,820 of his works fetching $448.7 million. Although he didn’t have an individual work among the top sellers, collectors sought out the artist because he had “an incredible body of work and multiple periods of exceptional work,” Rabin said.
Bacon, Richter and Mark Rothko rounded out the top five artists. Two Chinese artists, Qi Baishi, known for painting shrimp, fish and frogs, and Zhang Daqian, who was famous for his landscapes, ranked sixth and ninth, respectively. Claude Monet was seventh, with $252.1 million of his works sold. Jean-Michel Basquiat was 10th, at $172.2 million. . . .