June Online Art Auctions – artmarketblog.com

June Online Art Auctions – artmarketblog.com

George S.  Zimbel:  'Marilyn Monroe and Billy Wilder, The Seven Year Itch, New York, 1954'.  Being auctioned by artnet auctions

George S. Zimbel: 'Marilyn Monroe and Billy Wilder, The Seven Year Itch, New York, 1954'. Being auctioned by artnet auctions

Online auctions can be a great source of art for collectors and investors as long as you buy from a reputable auctioneer that offers a guarantee of authenticity and condition. All the auctioneers listed below are extremely reputable and totally trustworthy so you can feel confident in dealing with any of them. There are always great bargains to be had so it’s well worth taking the time to browse through the catalogues, you never know what you may find!!!!

Canadian auction house Heffel.com is currently auctioning a selection of works by Eastern Canadian and Western Canadian modernists including works by Paul-Emile Borduas, Leon Bellefleur and Mary Frances Pratt. This auction finishes on the 25th of June.

Browse works here:

iGavel is currently auctioning a selection of Fine Art and Antiques from Southern Estates and Various Owners which finishes on the 30th of June. This diverse auction features a group of psychedelic posters from the San Francisco music scene of the 1960s, a number of old master paintings, work from the Florida school, paintings by accomplished American illustrators working in the first half of the 20th century and other works by notable 20th century artists including Bernard Buffet, John Newton Howitt, Oliver Chaffee, A.B. Davies, Hattie Saussey and John Stobart.

Highlights from the decorative arts include a 17th century ivory inlaid Spanish vargueno, silver and objects of vertu from Gorham, Tiffany and Cartier, coin silver, American weather vanes, Venetian glass, 18th Century Georgian Furniture, 18th Century pewter and many interesting group lots.

Browse items here:


Now through June 25, artnet Auctions is featuring Icons: 20th-21st Century Photographic Portraits, a special sale of 250 original fine art photographs of legendary figures including Muhammad Ali, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Jackie Kennedy, Madonna, Marilyn Monroe and Kate Moss by renowned photographers from Louise Dahl-Wolfe to David LaChapelle.

Browse works here:


**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.


Investing in an Artist’s Oeuvre – artmarketblog.com

Investing in an Artist’s Oeuvre – artmarketblog.com

'Christie's Auction' by Thomas Rowlandson

'Christie's Auction' by Thomas Rowlandson

When you invest in a work of art, especially by a deceased artist, you are essentially investing not in just one work of art but in the artist’s entire body of work which is known as an oeuvre. An oeuvre is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “a substantial body of work constituting the lifework of a writer, an artist, or a composer”. When it comes to documenting an artist’s oeuvre a publication called a catalogue raisonné is usually published which lists all known works by a particular artist. What I want to look at in this post is the rather important question of what should be included in an artist’s oeuvre and how what is included in an artist’s oeuvre can have an effect on the market for an artist’s work.

Considering that an artist’s oeuvre is supposed to be the entire body of work an artist produced throughout their career it would seem to make sense that every single piece of art they produced should be included. Or does it?. I recently spoke to the widow of one of Australia’s most famous and highly valued artists who was responsible for documenting her late husband’s oeuvre. Instead of just including everything in the oeuvre she undertook a very extensive examination of her late husband’s work and made decisions relating to what should and should not be included in the oeuvre. Her decisions were based on the theory that everything an artist produces is not necessarily produced as a work of art and should therefore not be included in a documentation of that artist’s body of work. An example was given where people who visited the studio of her late husband would take doodles or sketches out of the bin with the intention of selling them some time in the future. With many such pieces, which would be unsigned and undocumented, now infiltrating the market, the question of whether they should be included in the artist’s oeuvre becomes rather important. The reason it becomes important is because the size of an artist’s oeuvre can dictate how much demand there is for an artist’s work and also because what is included in an artist’s oeuvre can effect people’s perception of the artist’s whole oeuvre.

The oeuvre of the Australian artist used in the example I gave earlier is very small compared to other artists and is undoubtedly a contributing factor in the high value put on the artist’s work because a smaller oeuvre means that demand for an artist’s work is going to be higher because there are less works available on the market. Imagine for a second that an artist produced hundreds and hundreds of doodles and sketches that the artist did not intend to ever display or sell. Because the artist did no intend these pieces to be viewed or sold they are probably not going to be very good quality and are probably completely meaningless in the scheme of things as well as being worth very little. If hundreds of such pieces became available a whole market of lower priced, low quality and probably meaningless bits of paper would be created for that artist which would undoubtedly have an effect on people’s perceptions of the artist’s whole body of work. When it comes to the market for the artist’s work the addition of hundreds of meaningless, low value and poor quality pieces to those genuine works available on the market could change people’s perception of the value of the artist’s work as a whole.

I can understand why those in charge of artist’s estates go to such extreme lengths to protect the integrity and stability of an artist’s oeuvre because, when it comes to the work of deceased artists, the stability and integrity of the artist’s oeuvre has a strong influence on the value of an artist’s work and the way people perceive the desirability of an artist’s work. The estate of Jackson Pollock is a good example of an estate that is ruthless when it comes to protecting and preserving an artist’s oeuvre. The Pollock-Krasner foundation have produced a complete catalogue raisonne of Pollock’s work and will not allow any additions to that raisonne unless they are 100% certain that the work is genuine and that it is part of the artist’s oeuvre. Considering that Pollock is one of the most highly valued and desirable artists ever means that any alteration to the artist’s oeuvre could have major repercussions.

By not recognising pieces not meant to be viewed as works of art in the documentation of her late husband’s oeuvre the widow of the artist used in the example earlier is able to maintain the integrity and stability of her late husband’s oeuvre by ensuring that fakes are not recognised as genuine works and that works not meant to be included in the artist’s oeuvre are not not recognised as works of art. Maintaining the integrity and stability of the entire oeuvre will consequently have a positive effect on the integrity, desirability and value of each individual work. When investing in a work of art by a deceased artist it is always a good idea to do some research on the artist’s oeuvre to see whether it is managed by anyone and whether it is stable and has maintained it’s integrity over a period of time. It is also a good idea to make sure that if you are purchasing a work by an artist whose oeuvre has been documented in a catalogue raisonne that the work you are purchasing appears in that catalogue otherwise the work may be fake or may require authentication by the artist’s estate or by an authentication organisation. The moral of the story is that an artist’s oeuvre is very important to the value and desirability of an individual work of art so make sure you know what you are buying into especially if you are buying for investment purposes.

**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.

The Reality of Art Sales Data – artmarketblog.com

The Reality of Art Sales Data – artmarketblog.com

sothebysIt’s very unfortunate that the most transparent sector of the art market is also the source of some of the most inaccurate and unreliable data in relation to the art market. Although art auctions proceedings may appear to involve a high level of randomness and chance they are in fact highly orchestrated and planned events that are designed to maximise the number of people who bid on work, maximise the number of works sold and make the figures seems as positive as possible. Everything from the way the catalogues are prepared and the works described to the way the actual auction is conducted are designed to ensure as many sales as possible.

In previous posts I have gone through all the reasons that the auction results are not as accurate a representation of the value of a work of art as they may appear so I will not go through that again at this stage. Instead, I want to look at the other sector of the market that we don’t get data from which is the gallery sector. Galleries are not obliged to publicise their sale data which means that the art market is missing out on a massive source of extremely useful and relevant information and data. If you compare the sale data for a gallery compared to an auction there is no doubt that the data from the gallery would be far more accurate. Although galleries still are able to have some influence over their sales and sale data the level of influence they have is far less than the auction houses have.

There are different estimates of the percentage of total art sales that are conducted through galleries but this may be due to the variety of market structures that exist in different countries around the world. Estimates range from one quarter to one half but from my research the most accurate figure seems to be that one third of total art sales are conducted through galleries. A report conducted in 2006 by the New York Alliance for the Arts stated that the total art sales in New York State for the 4 auction houses and 626 galleries totaled $4.6 billion in 2005 with $1.9 billion (41%) going to gallery sales. That would make the average turnover of each gallery in New York State just over 3 million dollars which seems like quite a lot of money.

There are plenty of issues to raise with the availability and use of art sales data so I will be posting several posts in this topic over the next few weeks. To be continued……

**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.

Interview with Founder of ArtQuid – artmarketblog.com

Interview with Founder of ArtQuid – artmarketblog.com

logo_artquidI recently came across a site called ArtQuid (http://www.artquid.com) which is described as an “Online Art Broker”. The extremely well designed and professional website immediately caught my eye as did the range and quality of items listed on the site. With my interest piqued I decided to contact the CEO and founder of ArtQuid, Rudolph van Valkenburg, and get the lowdown on Rudolph and his business.  See the full interview with Rudolph below.

1. What is ArtQuid?

ArtQuid is a global marketplace dedicated to the Art World and yet accessible to everyone including artists, professional art dealers and individual art lovers.

The ArtQuid catalogue offers an important diversity of artworks to the visitor: from emerging contemporary artists to objets d’art and Antiques

Sellers can create their own customized online art gallery and exhibit their artworks within a privileged environment. Buyers have free access to the entire catalogue and can make price offers and contact sellers directly.

ArtQuid’s main mission is to provide a powerful promotion tool for the Art World. A targeted audience of dealers, collectors and interior designers are continuously using this multilingual (English, French and Spanish) social art network platform to look for new items. In addition to help artists and galleries to promote their works of art, the site guarantees maximum of exposure for sellers and allows users to multiply contacts and sales between professionals and private collectors.

With a strong traffic growth of more than 10% per month, ArtQuid is:

* Reaching 75,000 visitors per month
* Exhibiting 20,000 artworks
* From Antiques to Contemporary Art
* In 16 headings and more than 80 categories.

New functionalities are added every week on the site and numerous new features are yet to come during 2009!

2. What is your background?

With a double Dutch and French nationality, I have an international background. I graduated from a European business program and subsequently followed art history classes at the Ecole du Louvre.

3. What motivated you to start ArtQuid?

After I started my career at Christie’s and while I was working with several important Parisian galleries, I identified a true potential for an online Art World Marketplace for artists, art professionals and a global audience of art lovers.

As a young contemporary art collector with an entrepreneurial spirit, I created ArtQuid.com in 2006 together with four business partners, all experts in their own fields. Since its creation, ArtQuid.com has rapidly become an important Art World Marketplace.

4. What makes ArtQuid different from other online art marketplaces?

Truly elegant and functional, this site is positioned between professional marketplaces on the one hand and classified ads and auction sites on the other.

The site is a user-friendly showcase for the artworks in the most appropriate and professional manner.

Every ad is validated and translated into the three working languages of the site. This unique process keeps the catalogue up-to-date and guarantees a privileged environment.

In the forefront of innovation in the Internet Art Market, ArtQuid offers to sellers the possibility to display a video directly on their ads!

View an example:


This great feature makes it easier to establish a closer contact between buyers and sellers. An artist can explain his work and an art dealer can display his gallery.

Today, my priority is to add value to the exposed artworks and to give a powerful promotion tool to the sellers. Only ArtQuid.com can guarantee you this today!

5. What has the response been from buyers and sellers?

I recently participated in an interview to discuss contemporary art on a French radio show. The program presenter happened to be a free-lance artist. After the show, she decided to exhibit her work on ArtQuid. She opted for the Premium subscription. This allows sellers to create their own customized online art gallery and exhibit an unlimited number of artworks. Two weeks later, she came back to me very happy announcing she just made her first sale! The buyer was a mother who was looking for an original birthday gift for her daughter. She fell immediately in love with the painting and thought it would fit perfectly in her child’s bedroom. Last but not least, the artist was contacted a few weeks later by a gallery who wanted to exhibit her paintings! Well, it was definitely worth the 29.95 euros for the 12 months exhibition + 1 month offered… and the year is not over yet!

Here are some testimonials from our users:

“We definitely increased sales revenues and customer enquiries thanks to this website!” Dream Art Gallery, UK.

“Being a professional decorator and an artist, ArtQuid is for me a fantastic exhibition space and offers me an amazing source of inspiration and variety of artworks for my clients! The site is clear and easy to use. I recently sold my first artwork and got several contacts with artists for my projects.” Lisa, France

“I sold two bronze sculptures from Sweden to France, the customer got very satisfied with his deal. Thank you ArtQuid and thank you Rudolph!” Johannes Nielsen, Sweden.

“I’ve just seen my gallery at ArtQuid. I’m completely knocked out! The presentation/design is so truly elegant and fantastically functional. The whole site is just a wonderful platform for artists – so sensitive and so astute in showcasing the works in the most appropriate and professional manner.” Robert Johnson, Australia.

6. What has been the most significant sale on ArtQuid?

Everyday, artists receive requests from many buyers all over the world and are selling affordable pieces starting from less than fifty euros up to several hundreds.

An antique gallery in Paris sold an important XVIIIth century Louis XV desk for several thousands of euros.

A gallery specialized in XXth century furniture and works of art, was approached by a private collector through ArtQuid and sold him a beautiful Art Deco lamp.

**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.

Aquarium Gallery Closing Sale – artmarketblog.com

Aquarium Gallery Closing Sale – artmarketblog.com

shop_damn_itThe London based Aquarium L-13 Gallery (http://www.theaquariumonline.co.uk/index.html) is a contemporary commercial art gallery run by Steve Lowe. The gallery specialises in work of more unorthodox punk-based artists including Jamie Reid, Jimmy Cauty, Billy Childish, Sexton Ming and stop21stcplanb. On the 23rd of December the Aquarium L-13 will be closing it’s doors for good which has resulted in a rather spectacular closing down sale which includes works by the artists mentioned above at crazy prices that are unlikely to ever be repeated.

According to the Aquarium L-13 website before the gallery re-emerges in 2009 as a new and exciting outfit whcih will be called thel-13 Light Industrial Workshop and Private Ladies and Gentlemen’s Club for Art, Leisure and the Disruptive Betterment of Culture which will present a program of idea based exhibitions and creative projects “we must get rid of everything else so we are clearing out our cupboards and drawers, opening up tubes and boxes, and putting out everything we find up for sale. On top of that we are offering a selection of our existing editions at incredible knock down prices and others with modest reductions”. Most of this will only be available directly from the gallery however there are still many fantastic works available to purchase online.

As well as offering fantastic works of art with awesome discounts the gallery is also giving works away!! Every day during the sale the gallery will be putting up a free item for you to find. If for some reason their are duplicate orders due to many people crashing the system it will be awarded to the first order that comes through online… Sorry dems da rules.

Right let’s be VERY CLEAR THIS TIME!!
One of the these is available for free. It will be given to the first person to order it online in a first come first serve basis. In the event of multiple orders being taken before the system refreshes it will be given to the first person who placed the order. You order confirmation DOES NOT mean you have won the item, It means your order has been logged. We will email you if you have won, and will email you if you haven’t one./ Please do not phone us. It’s not a prefect system, but it is a free print of you win.

To check out the works included in the sale go to:

If you are having trouble choosing I would go for one of the “God Save the (Ronnie Biggs, Jack the Ripper, Dick Turpin)” signed AP prints by the legendary Jamie Reid that are going for only 125 pounds which is a fraction of what they are worth.

Happy shopping!!!

**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.

Mei Moses Art Market Index Update – artmarketblog.com

Mei Moses Art Market Index Update – artmarketblog.com

A tracking report on the year-to-date value of the Mei Moses All Art Index has been issued by Beautiful Asset Advisors. According to the fall art market insight report, as of 10/31/2008, the value of the index was 270.58** which, as one would expect, is down on the 2007 year end value of the index which was 279.42. Although the value of the index is published annually, according to the people at Beautiful Asset Advisors® LLC who calculate the index “We are now getting sufficient incremental data during a year so that at periodic intervals we can recreate our index with the sales that have transpired during the year up to that date. If we assume that these periodic sales have taken place at the end of the year than the index numbers we would get would be the ones that would be achieved at the end of the year if no additional information was collected. We have employed this technique to generate the summer and fall tracking results.


Marilyn Monroe image copyright Andy Warhol

For those of you who haven’t heard of the Mei Moses Index before it is basically a number that represents the rate of return of fine art for a particular year. The rate of return can basically be defined as the annual percentage return realized on an investment. If you haven’t heard of the Mei Moses Index before or have heard of the index but wondered how it is calculated then read on. The Mei Moses index is calculated using data collected from repeat sales of the same work of art which is then used to determine the annual return of that particular work of art. For example, if a painting was purchased in 1990 for $50,000 and then sold in 2000 for $150,000 the total return would be 200% over a 10 year period which could then be broken down to 20% per year. The problem with using the average increase in value per year calculated from the total increase in value according to the two sale points is that the assumption is being made that the work of art increased (or decreased) in value by the same percentage each year which would not be the case. To combat this problem the Mei Moses index uses a special formula to determine as accurately as possible the yearly increase (or decrease) in value.

A simplified example of how the index is calculated is given by Matthew Spiegel who is a finance professor at Yale university. Spiegel’s example is:
Painting C sells in years 1 and 3 and during that time returns 5% per year (10% total for two years). Painting D sells in years 2 and 3 and returns 3% (3% total for one year). The repeat sales index would start by estimating the return from years 2 to 3 at 3% in order to perfectly fit the return on painting D. Given this it would then estimate the return to art from years 1 to 2 at 7% (3%+7% equals total of 10% return as per return of painting c), which will then allow the model to also fit the return to painting C. The index would then have the following values:
Year 1: 100
Year 2: 107 (+7%)
Year 3: 110.21 (+3%)
Spiegel emphasises that “This is a very simplified example and hides quite a bit of the mathematics involved when there are many more paintings” In other words, when calculating the index using 13,000 repeat sales things get rather more complicated.

At the current time the Mei Moses index database has approximately 13,000 repeat sale pairs to which approximately an additional 1000 pairs are added each year. According to the creators of the index, JIANPING MEI & MICHAEL MOSES, “To insure transparency for our art indexes we only collect data based on public auction results. We gather data continuously on the New York art market from Sotheby’s and Christie’s auction houses and have gone back to 1925 to start our analysis. If the object has been held for at least a year and we have successfully found both the sale and buy prices including the relevant buyer’s premium we include it in our database”

To read the full fall market insight report go here:

and for more information on the index go here:

**This value incorporates sales which occurred this year as of the above date and which will be included in the year end value of the All Art Index. The tracking value of 270.58 DOES NOT include sales that have occurred SINCE 10/31/2008 or WILL OCCUR in the balance of the calender year.

**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.

The Rise of Rothko – artmarketblog.com

The Rise of Rothko – artmarketblog.com


Mark Rothko

TITLE: No. 1 ARTIST: Mark Rothko

London’s Tate Modern is currently holding an exhibition of Mark Rothko’s later works through to 1st February 2009. The collection plunges the viewer into his deep “colorfields” – chromatic spaces for meditation. Marcus Rothkowitz was born in Latvia in 1903 and his family moved to the United States when he was ten. He devoted his life to art in the 1920’s, founding the Artist Union of New York and then in 1934 he mixed with the future major artists of the New York school, including Jackson POLLOCK and Adolph GOTTLIEB. For simplicity Mark ROTHKO (his name was americanised in 1940) is often associated with the American abstract expressionist movement. However Rothko was outside its sphere of influence by the end of the 1940s when his artistic approach broke completely free of figurative depiction, limiting himself to the creation of zones of vibrant colour that he considered spaces of living energy – materialisations of the spirit – and not abstractions. Described by Clement Greenberg as “Colorfield Paintings”, Rothko considered his paintings as “spiritual substrata”.

At the end of the 1950s, his colours became darker. Heavy reds, browns and blacks dominated his palette until his suicide in 1970. This sombre vein of work was less appreciated by collectors than his brighter colours until 2007 when an Untitled work with various shades of black painted just a few months before the artist’s death fetched more than USD 10 million (14 November 2007, Sotheby’s).

In 1961, the Museum of Modern Art of New York gave Rothko a major solo exhibition. Four years later, one of his Colorfield paintings from 1955, Two dark rectangles on a red background (204 x 107 cm), sold for 10,000 dollars. In 1966, a similar painting, Red Number 22 (1957), sold for USD 15,500 … 20 years later, his better works were fetching over a million dollars and in 1999 his vibrant N°15 yellow and red fetched more than USD 10 million at Sotheby’s, his first auction sale above that threshold. In May 2008, the same painting came up for sale again at Christie’s where it fetched no less than 45 million dollars! However this was not Rothko’s most spectacular auction sale: on 15 May 2007 a piece entitled White Center generated the highest bid of that year when it sold for 65 million dollars at Sotheby’s, a sum representing the highest hammer price for a post-war work of art. Moreover, during 2007 his price index was considerably boosted by six works selling above the 10 million dollar line, taking his annual sales revenue to 207 million dollars. Until 2007, the final balance in the best years was somewhere between 35 and 50 million dollars. Between January and November 2008, the total Rothko auction sales revenue stood at close to 50 million dollars, largely thanks to the above-mentioned USD 45m sale of No.15 (1952) Indeed, 2008 would have been another exceptional year for Rothko 2008 if his 1956 painting Orange, Red and Yellow (205 cm x 175 cm) had not been shunned by buyers at Sotheby’s in May… It was one of the highlights of the Post-War and Contemporary Art sale on 14 May 2008… when the market was still relatively euphoric.

The only record set by Rothko in 2008 has been his bought-in rate: 26.6% of his works offered from January to November remained unsold. This is three times the usual rate (average of 9% between 1998 and 2007).

**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.