How to Avoid Dirty Art Auction Tricks – artmarketblog.com

How to Avoid Dirty Art Auction Tricks – artmarketblog.com

Having focused my last few posts on the issues surrounding the questionable practices of some art auction houses, I thought it important to let people know how they can avoid becoming a victim of dirty art auction tricks and tactics. The only real way to avoid becoming a victim of the art auction houses is to ask questions and to know which questions to ask.  Below is a list of questions, and the reasoning behind each question, that will ensure that you know exactly where you stand.

Seven questions every buyer should ask before bidding on a work of art:

1.       Does the auction house or anyone associated with the auction house have an ownership interest in the work of art I am thinking of purchasing?

(The reason you should ask this question is that if an auction house has an ownership interest in a work of art you should question whether this would have an effect on the way the auction house markets and presents the work of art in question – as well as the final price.  Auction houses are required to indicate in auction catalogues when they have an ownership interest in a work of art.)

2.       Is the auction house employee who is advising me on my purchases also representing the seller of the works they are advising me on?

(The reason you should ask this question is that it is not unknown for a specialist assigned to a particular client as an advisor to be representing the seller of the works they are advising the buyer to purchase.  If you are assigned an expert advisor by an auction house make sure they are not representing the seller of the particular works you are interested in.)

3.       Is there any doubt regarding the authenticity or provenance of the works of art I am interested in purchasing?

(The reason you need to ask this question is that auction houses are not always forthcoming with information regarding authenticity.  It is worth while making sure that you are getting what you are paying for.)

4.       Who has authenticated the works of art I am interested in purchasing, what qualifications do they have and what evidence was the authentication based on?

(The reason you need to ask this question is that auction houses have been known to justify the attribution they make using less than reliable information.)

5.       When were the works of art I am interested in purchasing last consigned to an auction and what was the result?

(The reason that you should ask this question is that auction houses are not always forthcoming with information regarding the consignment history of a work of art.  Auction houses have been known to sell the same work of art a number of times within a short period of time and not disclose this information to buyers.  It is important to know this information as it is likely there is reason that this has occurred.  It is also important to know this information because a work of art being passed in at auction can gain a stigma that can reduce the value.)

6.       Does the auction house allow the auctioneer to bid in his own sale?

(It should be obvious why one needs to ask this question, and yes, some auction houses to allow the auctioneer to bid on their own sale.)

7.       What is the condition of the works of art I am interested in purchasing and has a condition report been completed on each work?

(Auction houses are not always forthcoming with information regarding the condition of a work of art. It is generally expected that buyers will inspect a work of art themselves and will be aware of the condition of the work of art.  If you are not able to assess the condition of a work of art then hire an expert.)

**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



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A New Sentimental Art Market Era Pt. 4 -artmarketblog.com

A New Sentimental Art Market Era Pt. 4 -artmarketblog.com

It has been said before that nostalgia prospers during recessionary times so, considering that the western world has just begun to recover from a major recessionary period, it would make sense that the art market is trending towards a focus on the nostalgic and sentimental.  The length of time that this era of sentimentality and nostalgia will last is anyone’s guess, but given that the boom lasted longer than most expected, the recovery time for the contemporary sector of the market could be just as long – except that it probably won’t be.  It would be nice to be able to report that the saying ‘Once Bitten, Twice Shy’ applies to the contemporary art market but, unfortunately, there are signs that the next puppets are already being groomed in preparation for the next inevitable contemporary cozenage.  The only question is how long it will take for the art market to once again become hypnotised by the glitz and glamour of the consumerist contemporary art regime.  In the mean time, it is great to see a level of intimacy, passion and involvement being brought back into the market that was conspicuously absent during the contemporary driven boom.

According to an article titled ‘Investors renew passion for modern masters’ ,which appeared in the Guardian newspaper, “When an alluring seated nude, La Belle Romaine, broke all records for a painting by the Italian artist Modigliani on Tuesday – selling for $69m (£42.7m) at auction in New York – the extraordinary price tag marked a historic moment in the art market. It shows that investors are turning back to the relative certainties of the modern masters and away from more risky contemporary art”.  This statement confirms that buyers are taking a much more cautious approach to the art market by buying works that they are more familiar with and have some sort of affinity with – a key characteristic of a sentimental art market era.  The care and thought that buyers are exhibiting when making purchases shows that they are seeking a much more intimate and passionate connection with the works of art that they are purchasing which is a trend that one would expect to see during a sentimental art market era.  Another key characteristic of this sentimental art market era is a sort of nationalistic sentimentalism that is likely to emerge as disillusioned collectors and investors who experienced the contemporary art market correction seek more genuine and justifiable reasons for purchasing works of art – reasons that provide a more fulfilling, intimate and involved art collecting experience as opposed to the cold and calculated commercialism that characterised the contemporary art market boom. Nationalistic sentimentalism can be defined as the purchase of works of art from one’s own country out of a sense of pride and sentimentality.

Both these characteristics allude to a market that is seeking a more intimate and involved connection with the works of art they are collecting or investing in.  I would expect that this trend will continue to develop throughout 2011 as the global art market attempts to heal the wounds that the emerging contemporary art market bubble inflicted.  This will be the last post on this topic for the time being unless any further corroborating indicators come to light.

**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

Portraits as Art Market Currency Pt. 4 – artmarketblog.com

Portraits as Art Market Currency Pt. 4 – artmarketblog.com

With this post I want to explore an analogy between music and fine art that I believe will help make further sense of the portraits as art market currency concept that I am attempting to explain. When it comes to classical music – ie. art music produced in, or rooted in, the traditions of Western liturgical and secular music, encompassing a broad period from roughly the 9th century to present times – a situation exists where the skill and ability of the musician/s playing the music is more important than their profile or level of fame. Although it would be preferable to have the original composer play the music if that were an option, at the end of the day it is the quality of the music being played that takes precedence over who is actually playing the music. In other words, the actual music produced is usually more important than the person who produced it.  The reason this is significant is that the concept I am trying to explain focuses on the value of the actual result of the artistic process, the artistic product, as opposed to the value placed on the artist and their persona or profile.  I chose classical music to illustrate this point because of the high level to which instrumental classical music can be disassociated from the people producing the music and valued according to the technical and constructional characteristics of the composition – in a similar way that figurative portraiture can be valued independent of the profile of the artist (a concept I will explore later on).

When it comes to the eligibility of something to be used as currency, one of the most important characteristics that something must have is the ability to be able to be judged/evaluated according to a universal set of criteria and standards.  It is the universality of the classical music language combined with the technical and intellectual nature of the compositions that should theoretically allow any classical expert from any country to judge a composition or performance by the same standards and criteria, and come up with the same or similar results.  Although opinion regarding a particular piece of classical music may differ from critic to critic due to personal preference, a critique of the technical and compositional characteristics of a traditional classical musical score by a classical music expert should theoretically be similar to that of every other classical music expert because such  a critique is more of a scientific analysis than an artistic analysis.  According to Joshua Fineberg, a composer and Harvard University music professor, in an article titled ‘Classical Music: Why Bother?’ written for salon.com, “If one believes in the intrinsic value of art, then — contrary to most contemporary ways of thinking — taste and social construction are of decidedly secondary importance. Composers often speak of pieces being well constructed or clever, sometimes even brilliant, and then go on to say that they don’t particularly care for them. This is because personal preference is seen as being much less important and enduring than these other, harder-to-define criteria. Even real Shakespeare-haters are unlikely to criticize the quality of his verse. We can all feel the genius even if we are not all sensitive to its charms (or at least this is what I tell myself)”.  What is interesting is that Fineberg’s musings about classical music are totally applicable to classical figurative art, and classical figurative portraiture in particular – just replace the term “composers” with art historians or art critics.

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

Portraits as Art Market Currency Pt. 1 – artmarketblog.com

Portraits as Art Market Currency Pt. 1 – artmarketblog.com

The popularity of figurative art took a real dive post WWII when abstraction began to really hold take, which meant that portraiture, one of the purest forms of figurative art, suffered considerably along with the other forms of representational art.  More recently, conceptual art captured the imagination of the art world and, like the abstract movement, overshadowed the less glitzy world of the classical and the traditional.  The contraction of the art market that took hold in 2008 – primarily a result of the severely overheated market for contemporary art –  did, however, cause the art market to re-evaluate the value it placed on contemporary art as well question the reasoning behind the justification of the phenomenal prices being paid for contemporary art. Because the value of much of the contemporary art being produced is dependent upon the culture of the market in which the art is being sold, any major changes to the dynamic of that market are bound to have a severe effect on the value people put on contemporary art.  As is always the case, when the latest short term fashion driven trend begins to crumble, people turn to the safety and assurance of the traditional and the classical.  It is during or after major art market corrections that the difference between a short term fad and a particular style or movement temporarily going out of fashion becomes clear.  By definition, a fad is a temporary state of affairs that, once the novelty fades, is gone forever.  A considerable percentage of the contemporary art that enters the market will only retain the value it is given for as long as the fad it is associated with lasts.  Because the fads that drive the contemporary art market rarely get the sort of scholarly attention, cultural patronage or art historical recognition that ensure longevity of an artist and their work, many contemporary artists fail to survive the demise of a trend or the onset of an art market contraction.  Although portraiture fell out of fashion, as it has done on several occasions, the fact that there is so much scholarly, academic and art historical support for the genre means that there will always be a market for portraits – a market that can only continue to get stronger each time the genre comes back into fashion.

Philip Mould is a world renowned expert on historical British portraiture and, as well as regular appearances on the British version of Antiques Roadshow, has written several books that regale the reader with thrilling tales of the serial sleuther’s many quests to unearth the true identity of an artist or their subject.  Although he started dealing in portraits because they were cheap, Mould developed an infectious passion for British portraiture that even made me want to start dealing in portraits.  The great poet Charles Baudelaire once said that “A good portrait always appears to me like a dramatized biography, or rather like the natural drama inherent in every man” – a statement that I totally agree with.  Although the classical portrait may have a certain stigma attached to it, and may seem to many to be a rather boring category of art – once one begins to discover the biographical, socio-historical and cultural associations that a portrait is likely to have, the portrait can quickly go from being a humble representational picture to an extremely interesting and important historical document that can reveal fascinating historical, cultural and social information.  Uncovering the often hidden delights of a portrait is usually a time consuming project but is also an extremely rewarding and fascinating journey which more people are beginning to see the benefits of.  Uncovering the secrets of a portrait can not only be an exciting and educational experience, it can also be financially rewarding in cases where the information uncovered adds historical, cultural or provenencial value to the portrait in question.

Portraits have featured heavily in many of the most successful art auctions that have taken place over the last few months.  Asa an example of what I am talking about, check out the top results (from mutualart.com) of the July 14th Deweatt-Neate Old Masters and 19th Century Pictures auction.

Top lots sold above high estimate

Old Masters & 19th Century Pictures

Jul 14, 2010 10:00 AM
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, The flower girl
By Bartolomé Esteban Murillo
3,840 GBP
Green Arrow380% above estimate
Angelica Kauffmann, Immortality: A Nymph Presiding in the Temple of Immortality
By Angelica Kauffmann
79,200 GBP
Green Arrow340% above estimate
British School, 18th Century, Portrait of a lady Half length seated
By British School, 18th Century
2,160 GBP
Green Arrow209% above estimate
Titian, Head study of a man (fragment)
By Titian
1,560 GBP
Green Arrow160% above estimate

Stay tuned for part 2 for a detailed explanation of the reasoning behind my portraits as art market currency theory.

**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

Predicting Art Market Profit Potential Pt. 1 – artmarketblog.com

Predicting Art Market Profit Potential Pt. 1 – artmarketblog.com

Using auction prices to identify trends and determine whether the price being paid for a particular artist’s work is on the rise is all well and good, but by the time the price of an artist’s work begins to rise in a rapid manner, the best opportunity to profit from the price increase is likely to have already passed. Auction price databases such as artprice.com and artnet.com are extremely useful but they are really only useful for artists who already have an extensive auction sale record. What if there were a system that was able to identify those artists who are most likely to achieve market success before they actually do?. Well, you may be pleased to hear that there is. By looking at what is essentially one of the most influential factors that determines the success of an artist’s career, namely how many exhibitions an artist’s work is included in and how important those exhibitions are, ArtFacts.net is able to rank artists according to their fame and popularity in the cultural sphere as well as in the commercial gallery sphere. That ranking, according to ArtFacts.net, is generated according to the theory that the greater number of shows the artist has, the greater will be the fame of a particular artist. And, as we all know, familiarity generates demand, and increased demand equals increased value (usually). I don’t think that anyone can dispute the fact that museum and gallery shows make artists more saleable and raise the price of their work.

The way that the ArtFacts.net Artist Ranking Tool works is by assigning different points values to particular types of exhibitions and the different institutions and galleries that hold these exhibitions. The number of points assigned to an artist depends on the importance of that institution/gallery exhibiting their work and the amount of exposure that the exhibition gives the artist in question. According to the ArtFacts.net website “Solo shows are worth more than group shows or art fairs. Documenta, in Kassel, Germany, is worth more than the Venice Biennale. Public museums count more than galleries. And different museums have different weights. Those in cities like Paris or New York count for more. Small museums and university museums count for almost nothing”. There does of course have to be some sort of criteria to determine whether an artist is worthy of being included in the system which is where the eligibliity criteria come into play. For an artist to be ranked they must have a sufficiently international presence which in the case of ArtFacts.net means those artists that have long term ties with at least three countries. According to ArtFacts.net “A.R places great importance on the international representation of artists. Only artists operating in international structures will be chosen as a primary value source. The reason why A.R does this is because it recognises the worth of mutual knowledge. Only artists who are common to diverse societies, countries and/or cultures will be really important and therefore create a kind of brand or universal value (like a standard). So the A.R uses internationality as a standard for the basic calculations.”

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

Who Purchased What Art 2nd Half 09 – artmarketblog.com

Who Purchased What Art 2nd Half 09 – artmarketblog.com

THE PROPERTY OF THE EARL OF JERSEY'S TRUST - SIR ANTHONY VAN DYCK ANTWERP 1599 - 1641 LONDON SELF PORTRAIT  2,000,000—3,000,000 GBP Lot Sold.  Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium:  8,329,250 GBP

THE PROPERTY OF THE EARL OF JERSEY'S TRUST - SIR ANTHONY VAN DYCK ANTWERP 1599 - 1641 LONDON SELF PORTRAIT 2,000,000—3,000,000 GBP Lot Sold. Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium: 8,329,250 GBP

I always find it interesting and very useful to find out who is purchasing what at auction and for how much.  The information below comes from the auction houses who are only allowed to reveal the identity of those buyers who choose to have their identity revealed which, unfortunately,  is usually not many.   It is interesting to note that Philip Mould is a well known purchaser of undervalued or mis-attributed works of art which he then tends to re-sell for considerably more than he paid.

Christies
Important American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture
New York – Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Sale no: 2225 – Top Ten
Raphaelle Peale, Still Life, oil on panel
Estimate: $300,000-500,000
Price Paid: $842,500/ £507,530/ €557,947
Purchased by: Richard Rossello/Avery Galleries

Purchaser Details:
www.artnet.com/ag/galleryhomepage.asp?gid=102

Christies
Victorian and British Impressionist Art Including Drawings and Watercolours
London – Thursday, 16 December 2009
Sale no: 7788 – Top Ten
Alfred Munnings reading by Harold Knight, R.A. (1874-1961)
WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR THE ARTIST
Estimate: £30,000 – 50,000
Price paid: £115,250/ $187,281/ €128,850
Purchased by: Richard Green Gallery, London

Purchaser Details:
www.richard-green.com

Christies
Old Masters & 19th Century Art
London – Tuesday, 7 July 2009
Sale no: 7743 – Top Ten
Michele Giovanni Marieschi (Venice 1710-1743), The Courtyard of the Doge’s Palace, Venice, with the Scala dei Giganti, Saint Mark’s Basilica beyond
Estimate: £2,000,000- 3,000,000
Price paid: £2,169,250/ $3,512,016/ €2,518,499
Purchased by: Otto Naumann Ltd

Purchaser Details:
www.ottonaumannltd.com

Sotheby’s
Sale Results London, Bond St
Sale L09637 Old Master & British Paintings – Day Sale 10 DEC 09
James Seymour, Portrait of the racehorse Sedbury, with a groom, oil on canvas
Estimate: £80,000 – 120,000
Price paid: £505,250/ €558,553/ $820,526
Purchased by: Richard Green Gallery
***NEW AUCTION RECORD FOR THE ARTIST***

Purchaser Details:
www.richard-green.com

Sotheby’s
Sale Results London, Bond St
Sale L09636 Old Master and British Paintings – Evening 09 DEC 09
Sir Anthony van Dyck, Self portrait, oil on canvas
Estimate: £2,000,000 -3,000,000
Price paid: £8,329,250/ €9,207,960/ $13,521,704)
Purchased by: Alfred Bader in partnership with Philip Mould
***NEW AUCTION RECORD FOR THE ARTIST***

Purchaser Details:
http://www.alfredbader.com/
http://www.philipmould.com/

Sotheby’s
Sale Results London, Bond St
Sale L09663 19th Century European Paintings Including Spanish Painting, The Orientalist Sale, And German,
Austrian, Scandinavian and Symbolist Works 24 NOV 09
Adolph Menzel, Umgestürzter Teekessel (Upturned teapot), oil on canvas
Estimate: £40,000 – 60,000
Price paid: £373,250/ €413,301/ $617,393
Purchased by: French and Company

Sotheby’s
Sale Results London, Bond St
Sale L09699 20th Century British Art 11 NOV 09
Sir Stanley Spencer, John Donne arriving in heaven, pencil, pen and ink
Estimate: £12,000 – 18,000
Price paid: £87,650/ $146,831
Purchased by: Daniel Katz Ltd

Purchaser Details:
www.katz.co.uk/

Sotheby’s
Sale Results London, Bond St
Sale L09699 20th Century British Art 11 NOV 09
Frank Auerbach, Head of Leon Kossoff, oil on canvas
Estimate: £200,000 – 300,000
Price paid: £1,777,250 ($2,977,249)
Purchased by: Offer Waterman Fine Art Ltd on behalf of Private Collector

Purchaser Details:
www.waterman.co.uk/

Sotheby’s
Sale Results London, Bond St
Sale L09693 A Life in Pictures: The Collection of Lord and Lady Attenborough 11 NOV 09
Graham Sutherland, Thorn Head, 1947, oil on canvas
Estimate: £150,000 – 250,000
Price paid: £481,250 ($806,190)
Purchases by: Daniel Katz Ltd
***RECORD FOR THE ARTIST AT AUCTION***

Purchaser Details:
www.katz.co.uk/

**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

Boo Saville at Trolley Gallery – artmarketblog.com

Boo Saville at Trolley Gallery – artmarketblog.com

'Residual Condition' biro on paper

'Residual Condition' biro on paper

There is no doubt that British artist Boo Saville has a fascination with death and the effects that different causes of death have on the human body and it’s appearance. The latest solo exhibition of Boo’s work titled ‘Butter Sunk’ is currently on shown at London’s Trolley Gallery and consists of a new body of work that explores the symbolic and ritualistic images of human remains and archeological remnants.

To get an idea of the sort of images that inspire Boo’s work all you have to do is check out her blog which contains many images that are definitely not for the faint-hearted. The works of art that she has created as a result of these rather disturbing images are, however, not anywhere as gruesome or gory as her blog would suggest. In fact, I would go as far as to say that Boo has managed to extract a sort of beauty from the macabre. By removing the colour from the images of bodies in various states of decay Boo also seems to have removed the elements of the images that would normally evoke a reaction of disgust or distress. Without the distraction of an overwhelming emotional response the viewer is able to interact with the image on a whole other level as well as appreciate the exploration of shapes, textures and surfaces that is a major part of Boo’s work.

The most intriguing and spectacular works in the show are undoubtedly the monochrome ballpoint pen drawings that are created using a technique that Boo pioneered and continues to experiment with. According to the press release “Her focus is also the texture and surface of drawing, harnessed through her intuitive use of simple biros and pens: fine details of bones and hair are coupled with layer upon layer of shaded lines to produce tones and depths that resonate the shadows and amplify the echoes of these post-human forms”

'Undefinable' oil on canvas

'Undefinable' oil on canvas

In contrast to the pen drawings, Boo uses a lack of detail to create the ghostly images that appear in her minimalist oil paintings which have titles such as ‘Grey Screen’, ‘Veil’ and ‘Shroud’. According to Boo “The new paintings are suggestions of an idea rather that the illustration which is achieved in drawing. The paint has a much more lucid quality which I want to exploit.”

Unlike some artists who rely on shock tactics to attract attention to their work, Boo has used creativity, technical skill and an obvious dedication to her craft to develop what can only be described as a extremely impressive body of work that is both challenging and intriguing. It is artist’s such as Boo Saville, who are genuinely passionate about their work and don’t go after the sort of artificial fame that plagues the art world, that are the true art stars.

If you want to see an exhibition of work by an artist whose work displays a combination of technical skill, talent and dedication rarely seen in the contemporary art world then get down to Trolley Gallery quick smart.

BUTTER SUNK
Boo Saville

29th January – March 14th
Trolley Gallery
73a Redchurch Street
London
E2 7DJ
tel +44(0)20 7729 6591
http://www.trolleynet.com

For more information on the show and a virtual tour go to:
http://www.trolleybooks.com/gallery.php?gallery=272

**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.