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    Saturday, March 12th, 2011

    Pink Panther by Jeff Koons. (click on image to enlarge)

    Sotheby’s Contemporary Art sale in New York on May 10  will include one of the most important works by Jeff Koons ever at auction. Pink Panther from 1988 draws on many of the themes that have come to define Koons’ output.
    The porcelain sculpture is the artist’s proof from an edition of three with the other examples in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and a prominent private American collection.  It is part of the artist’s iconic Banality series that includes Michael Jackson and Bubbles, Bear and Policeman and Ushering in Banality. Pink Panther is estimated to fetch $20/30 million.


    Friday, February 18th, 2011

    Enter Yellow is the title of this 1999 work by Sean Scully (click on image to enlarge)

    Small Grey Wall by Scullly dates from 2002. (click on image to enlarge)

    Enter Yellow by the Irish artist Sean Scully made a hammer price of  £409,250 at Sotheby’s  Contemporary art evening auction in London on February 15.  It had been estimated at £300,000-500,000.

    The following day Scully, who draws inspiration from the low stone walls of the west of Ireland, had another work at Sotheby’s day sale.  His work entitled Small Grey Wall, signed and dated 2002, made a hammer price with buyer’s premium of £289,250.  It had been estimated at £200,000-300,000.

    Ai Weiwei’s Sunflower Seeds Make Four Times Estimate

    Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

    Gerhard Richters Abstraktes Bild, the top lot at Sotheby's Contemporary sale in London. (click on image to enlarge)

    The first of Ai Weiwei’s Sunflower Seeds (Kui Hua Zi) ever to appear at auction made £349,250 (£3.50 per seed) at Sotheby’s auction of contemporary art.  The 100 kilograms of the porcelain seeds made more than four times the pre-sale estimate of £80,000-120,000 in London. Four bidders both in the saleroom and on the telephones battled to acquire 100,000 of the artist’s seeds.  The seeds in this work of art are not from Tate Modern’s 11th Unilever Turbine Hall commission.

    Sunflower Seeds draws together many of the themes and formal concerns of Weiwei’s work to date.  Sotheby’s described it as a sculptural piece which is at once singular and complex in form and meaning.  This one was executed in 2010 and is from an edition of ten unique variants.
    This evening’s Contemporary Art evening sale realised £44,359,900.  When results from last weeks ‘Looking Closely’ sale are added it brings the total for Sotheby’s Contemporary Art auction series  so far this season to £88,022,550.  This is the  second-highest total for a February Contemporary Art sales series in London, and the highest total since July 2008.
    The top lot was as Gerhard Richter’s Abstraktes Bild of 1990, which sold for £7,209,250.
    (see post for February 10)
    UPDATE: The contemporary art day auction brought in a total of  £13,930,200 at Sotheby’s on February 16.  The result brings the overall total for contemporary art at Sotheby’s this season to £101,952,750. This is well above pre-sale expectations of £56-78million.


    Saturday, January 22nd, 2011
    CONTEMPORARY art collectors can readily access what major galleries have to offer this week.  The first on-line contemporary art fair opens at 8 a.m. Eastern (New York) time today.  The VIP (Viewing in Private) fair features 140 prestige galleries from around the world with big names like Hauser and Wirth, David Zwirner, Gagosian and White Cube.  This week they are showing 1928 works of art.
    The organisers are spurred on by the knowledge that the internet is growing. No less than 16 per cent of sales at Christie’s last year were carried out on the internet and half of these were new clients.  The idea came from New York dealer James Cohan. The VIP fair is modelled like most big art fairs.  Work is exhibited in booths.  Click on  a gallery and the art works are shown scaled against a human figure. You can use the zoom to see the details.  All this is free.  If you want more detailed information you must get a VIP pass, at a cost of  $100 for the first two days and $20 for the rest of the week.  The private viewer can enjoy tours and access price guides.  The price range is from less than $5,000 to over a million.  You can contact the gallery owner by text, telephone or Skype.  Deals can only be completed offline.
    Whether this works or not remains to be seen.  Even though imaging is very good I would not like to acquire a work of art I had not seen in a real rather than virtual way. The value of the fair for dealers is possibly in establishing contacts and expanding their reach in a global way. And it does not represent a major investment for dealers.  The cost of a booth ranges from $3,000 to $20,000.  The fair runs to January 30.
    As with the traditional fairs passes are being provided to more than 50 international museums for curators and high-level patrons. Participating institutions include the Whitney Museum of American Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New Museum,
    Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Whitechapel Gallery, Art Institute of Chicago, Serpentine Gallery, Kröller-Müller Museum, Mori Art Museum, Tate (American Patrons Group) and the Irish Museum of Modern Art.
    UPDATE:  Overloaded servers and sluggish response times have caused much criticism.  Organisers say problems were due to traffic from visitors from 130 countries.  They say these problems are being addressed.  As of noon on January 25  there has been 291,476 log ons to the fair and artworks artworks have been viewed over 4.3 million times.
    When the fair closed it emerged that artworks on the site were viewed 7.65 million times by visitors from 196 countries.  However the technical problems, particularly on the opening weekend, meant that some galleries found the level of sales disappointing.


    Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

    Sotheby’s November 9 evening sale of Contemporary Art in New York totaled $222,454,500, well ahead of the high estimate of $214 million. There were five new artist records. Highlights were Coca-Cola [4] Large Coca-Cola by Andy Warhol, which made $35,362,500 (estimate $20/25 million), and Mark Rothko’s Untitled from 1955, which made $22,482,500. Six works sold for more than $10 million and almost half the works sold achieved prices in excess of the high estimate. This was a very strong result for the market.