Sotheby

Art auction records shattered in London

“Art auction records shattered in London”

by Motez Bishara via “AlJazeera

It took a breathtaking span of 26 hours in London for more records to fall in the thriving global art market.

Works by Gerhard Richter, Lucio Fontana, and Cy Twombly were among those that set the pace at the post-war and contemporary art sales hosted by Christie’s and Sotheby’s.

The highest priced lot took place on Tuesday when Richter’sAbstraktes Bild surprised the packed auction room on Bond Street with aggressive phone bids coming in at 2 million British pound increments ($3.1m).

The final sale price of 30.4 million pounds ($46.8m) established a new auction record by a living European artist.

The anonymous bidder, reported to be an American, was represented by Sotheby’s

worldwide co-head of contemporary art,

Cheyenne Westphal.

“I think I can genuinely say it went to someone who truly wanted this painting, and he was set on buying it tonight,” Westphal said, noting Richter also happened to be her favourite artist.

A sister painting of the large abstract work was sold by

Eric Clapton in 2012 for a then-record of 21 million pounds ($32m).

The artwork, which measures 3 x 2.5 metres draped with jagged lines of reds and greens, was last sold on auction at Sotheby’s in 1999 for $607,500, generating a return of 32.4 percent annually.

“Richter is not hot all of a sudden, he has always been sought after,” said Arianne Levene Piper,

founder of the New Art World consultancy

.

“There are plenty of ultra-high net worth collectors who are willing to pay for top works.

This explains why a great painting by a great artist will sell for high prices at auction.”

Works by another European artist, Francis Bacon, failed to make headlines this auction season, despite drumming up a buzz prior to the sales.

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Sotheby’s Brushes Up Its Image With London Auction

“Sotheby’s Brushes Up Its Image With London Auction”

by Mary Lane via “WSJ

The sale of Gerhard Richter's ’Abstract Picture, 599’ for $46 million set an auction record for the German artist.

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.

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Rare $39 Million Ming Dynasty Cup to Be Part of Auction

Rare $39 Million Ming Dynasty Cup to Be Part of Auction

by Frederick Balfour

A 15th-century ceramic cup from the Ming Dynasty will be included in a Sotheby’s (BID) auction next month in Hong Kong, after the seller retracted an earlier decision to pull the sale.

The cup, valued at HK$200 million ($26 million) to HK$300 million, will be offered at Sotheby’s on April 8, according to Nicolas Chow, deputy chairman of Sotheby’s Asia and International Head of Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art.

The seller, a Swiss collector in his nineties who had earlier asked to pull the cup from the sale, changed his mind, said Giuseppe Eskenazi, who originally sold the piece to the collector in 2000 and is advising the seller.

The cup was promoted in a March 6 press release by Sotheby’s as a “potential record breaker” and is considered the finest piece of Chinese ceramics in private hands. It comes from the Meiyintang Collection, whose owner has vacillated over selling it, said Eskenazi, a London-based dealer who originally sold the piece to him in 2000.

“It’s such a great treasure, he didn’t want to part with it as he treasured it so much,” Eskenazi, who helped the seller place pieces with Sotheby’s before, said by telephone today. “But finally, he agreed a few hours ago to go ahead.”

Emperor Allegory

Eskenazi, who bought the cup for almost HK$30 million in 1999, sold it one year later to its present owner.

“This is the most valuable piece of porcelain in any private collection,” he said.

The cup, made for the Chenghua emperor (1465-1487) is considered the most rare of Chinese ceramics and may set an auction record, according to the Sotheby’s press release. It has been nicknamed the “Chicken Cup” because it depicts a rooster, his hen and their chicks, an allegorical representation of the emperor, the empress and their subjects.

“We are very excited to present this in the sale,” Chow said by telephone. “It is the single most expensive, single most sought after Chinese porcelain ever offered at auction.”

The “Chicken Cup” is only 8 centimeters (3.1 inches) in diameter, delicate and dainty,  . . . .

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“Paintings looted by Nazi, recovered by Allies to be auctioned in NY”

“Paintings looted by Nazi, recovered by Allies to be auctioned in NY”

by Patricia Reaney via “Yahoo News

“NEW YORK (Reuters) – Paintings looted by the Nazis during World War Two and retrieved by the Monuments Men, the Allied group tasked with returning masterpieces to their rightful owners, will be sold at auction on Thursday in New York.

The works, which will go under the hammer during Sotheby’s sale of Important Old Master Paintings and Sculpture, were among the tens of thousands of works recovered by the art experts whose story is told in the George Clooney film “The Monuments Men,” which opens in U.S. theaters on February 7.

“The scale of looting was absolutely extraordinary,” said Lucian Simmons, Sotheby’s head of restitution.

“In France, for example, 36,000 paintings were stolen from institutions and largely from individuals. The Monuments Men managed to recover and return the majority of those,” he said in an interview.

Two small paintings in the sale, “La cueillette des roses” and “Le musicien” by the French rococo artist Jean-Baptise Pater, were chosen by Adolf Hitler’s air force chief Hermann Goering for his personal collection. . . . . .”