6 November 2015 § Leave a comment
Online auctions are big business. We all know of course about Ebay which started as a local experiment and astonished even its founder as it evolved to cover almost anything that anyone could imagine. Many other online-only sale platforms as well as proprietary auction house live bidding sites have appeared on the web since but many have assumed that the online auction model would never work for big ticket items like blue chip fine art or collectable automobiles.
They were wrong. Despite being late to the party the major auction houses have now all realised that you can indeed sell anything of any value on the web and they too have jumped on the bandwagon. The whole panoply of art, culture and design from $1 to $100 million is now available online.
Naturally with choice comes complication. A search for a photograph by, say, Terry O’Neill could easily take hours via checks upcoming auctions at multiple houses and still be incomplete. It was this growing problem that actually led a Swede, Christian Barnekow, to develop a way to search easily across multiple auctions. barnebys was the result and is now the biggest of its type in the world. It now covers hundreds of thousands of lots from over 1000 auction houses – a number increasing daily – and makes a complex search achievable in seconds – it is an invaluable resource that we use here almost daily.
Another familiar problem for potential buyers is that once you’ve found a Terry O’Neill you need to know its value? Up to now expensive subscriptions to companies like Artnet and Mutualart were needed for, not always satisfactory, access to their databases. A free search at barnebys ‘realised prices’ instantly supplies over a hundred full Terry O’Neill auction records between 1998 to now and allows a quick and easy comparison of other similar works. How brilliant is that?
The auctions, and results, are subdivided in to around thirty different categories across the world of art, design and culture and include for example Fashion & Vintage, Jewellery & Gems, Photographs, Sculpture and Furniture & Design and its a great place to search for affordable designer furniture or perhaps a designer handbag. You can search by any key word, product or select individual auction houses and sales to browse through.
There are many other useful features accessed via the barnebys site including access to a blog with trends, news article and ideas. Last but not least is a free valuation service – simply send details of your item via an online form (here) – and details are forwarded to auction house experts for an appraisal.
We particularly like the website layout which is clear, nicely arranged and easy to use. All in all barnebys should be saved on any everyone’s ‘favourite’ websites. Now, maybe I’ll just put a sly bid on that Picasso ‘La Gommeuse’ at £38 million or perhaps the Warhol Marilyn Monroe instead – a snip at around £100k?
For more information visit www.barnebys.com
28 October 2013 § Leave a comment
For anyone who feels that they might be a dab hand at art investment its well worth taking a look at the new ArtTactic Forecaster – an online ‘guess the art price’ website. Yours Truly is of course competing assidously and is sitting comfortably and tactically at 6th overall (as absolutbargain!) – waiting to make a move for the top when the others aren’t looking. I’ll keep you updated!
Sign up (for free) and every few days the site is updated with works each from a few new auctions. Auctions are worldwide, from the major auction houses and are categorised in to such area as Contemporary Photography, Contemporary Painting, Prints and Sculpture for example. Images, details and estimates are given for the works and using a slider you enter your own prediction for the sales price or estimate as a ‘No Sale’. After the sale you are marked school-style – a point for correct or a half point for close. ArtTactic then draws up league tables in each category as well as overall.
It is of course ‘just for fun’ and is a very appropriate and sobering reminder of just how difficult it is to accurately forecast auction results. Get more than 2 of the 5 right and you’re probably moving up the league table! The difficulty is most clearly brought home by the fact that the auction houses themselves would be well down the tables if their estimates were counted as their entries in the competition. They might say that their estimates are often tactical rather than necessarily accurate – but then again they would wouldn’t they!
There is a more serious aim to the competition of course as ArtTactic presumably aim to attract investors and collectors to their product. ArtTactic after all is an art market analysis firm that offers research and commentary on the ever-changing art world. As new markets emerge and tastes shift, ArtTactic wants to offer the expertise for your to keep a close eye current and future art investments supported by ‘up to the minute information from all corners of the globe.’
It has competition of course, all with slightly differing angles and priorities. Here are the main – and pretty much only – contenders: MutualArt (my personal favourite) , ArtPrice (French, and appropriately awkward to use), Blouin Art Sales Index (and online magazine), Artnet (a US company who also run online auctions), Artfacts (includes a very useful and pretty accurate free-to-use artist ranking guide), Artfact (no ‘s’ – where you can also bid on various online auctions) and Gordons Print & Photography Prices (now part of Blouin, produce annual printed guides).
Anyone who doesn’t plan to use an advisor or consultant when buying art (in truth by far the wisest way to invest) it would be very foolish indeed not to sign up to one of the premium packages available from one or more of these companies. A full auction record of any artist you are investing in is an absolute must and along with various guides to the performance of individual artists or different sectors allows an insight not otherwise available.
A final word of warning beware the free to use companies – some of whom like Artsy are very professional indeed, who purport to offer a guide to prices, when they are in reality more like a selling platform for art of very varying quality.
- Artsy Launches Free Auction Results Service (galleristny.com)
- artnet Auctions Presents: LONGO (prweb.com)
- If Wall Street Worked Like the Art Market – Bloomberg (go.bloomberg.com)
- What Happened at the First Phillips Digital Art Auction (animalnewyork.com)
24 February 2012 § 1 Comment
I’m turning Japanese, I think I’m turning Japanese, I really think so….. It seems that there are all sorts of Japanesey things happening here in London pretty much at the same time – the Yayoi Kusama exhibition at Tate Modern being the highlight of course.
Opening soon Now & Future JAPAN supports orphaned children from the Tsunami and features a work by Yoko Ono repeated from 1966 – Mend Piece – where visitors are invited to join in by repairing broken china. A fund-raising auction takes place alongside – see website for details. Please try to support it.
Meanwhile, starting today at Earls Court, Hyper Japan is UK’s biggest celebration of Japanese ‘culture, cuisine and cool.’ I will try and drop in if only to say konishi wa to Satoshi Miki – director of those unforgettable classics Instant Swamp and Turtles are Surprisingly Fast Swimmers (see it!) and to check out the World Cosplay Summit (Cosplay being anime/manga/video dressing up – don’t ya just love it!).
Talking about someone who loves dressing up Yayoi Kusama‘s big solo exhibition at Tate Modern kicked off a couple of weeks ago. I do like Kusama, but I was not overly excited about the prospect of some 14 rooms chock full of her trademark spots. However this was a prospect that I has seriously misjudged and Yayoi, bowing deeply, I apologise. Like many, I am sure, I have been far too ready to assign her to the ‘it’s just lots of spots’ category (even the Tate get carried away in the foyer – image above!) but here was a timely reminder of all the wonderful, innovative and varied work that she has made over a long – and still continuing – highly influential career.
A prodigy and already exhibiting in her teens Kusama moved quickly from oils to every variety of works on paper and the first rooms of the exhibition show stunning imagination and variety. Quickly even Japan was too small for her. She soon decided, whilst only still in her mid twenties that ‘For art like mine… questioning what we are and what it means to live and die… [Japan] was too small… My art needed a more unlimited freedom and a wider world.’
So off she went to the USA first having made contact with Georgia O’Keefe – one of the most influential painters of that time: this was no shrinking violet but a hugely determined artist. She quickly switched now from the compulsive and repetitive Infinity Nets to sculpture-making, her Accumulation Sculptures covering everyday objects with repeating forms. Her huge influence on the avant-garde of pop art being clear if I simply tell you that a boat sculpture was exhibited as the ‘One Thousand Boats Show’ in a room pasted on all sides with repeating silkscreen images (of the same boat from above) a full three years before Warhol created his ‘Cow’ wallpaper and that her stuffed objects predated those of Claes Oldenburg.
Her work continued to evolve rapidly. She featured herself in her own collages, photographs and films, putting the artist at the centre of the work – a tactic we are now (overly?) familiar with a la Emin, Abramovic, Gormley etc – but back then highly original. She threw herself in to happenings, performances and installation ‘environments’. As if she had not yet done enough she returned to Japan where she briefly set herself up as an art dealer before, deeply troubled, she checked herself in to an asylum where she remains to this day. As you may have guessed even this did not stop her with production of collages, sculpture, painting and installation still continuing apace.
If anyone has forgotten, or did not realise, just how influential and original Kusama really was then this excellent and comprehensive exhibition is a real must-see. A highly surreal, visual treat right through until the final two room-sized installations; one an infra-red/day-glo world of multi-coloured spots that float before your eyes, the other a mirrored space containing infinitely reflected tiny multi-coloured lights. Dazzling in every way – and the kids will love it too!
Yayoi Kusama at Tate Modern until 5 June 2012
Now & Future JAPAN at 39 Dover Street, London W1S 4NN from 3 – 9 March 2012
Hyper Japan at Earls Court 24 – 26 February 2012
- Yayoi Kusama, Tate Modern, review (telegraph.co.uk)
- Yayoi Kusama arrives at Tate Modern with a polka at Damien Hirst (guardian.co.uk)
30 January 2012 § 1 Comment
The contemporary art auction market in London has in recent years been a bitter slug-fest between the two ‘big boys’ – Sotheby’s and Christies. Last year Christies won on points with their total for the three sales – in February, June and October – reaching £167m, only about £3m ahead of Sotheby’s. A distant third is Phillips de Pury whose three sales grossed only (!) £36m.
The new kid on the block is Bonhams but this sounds a strange thing to say since they have been around since 1793. However it is only since 2001, when they came under new ownership that they have started expanding significantly and have steadily eaten in to the larger houses share of the auction market. Contemporary art has never been their strong suit and, following some dabbling in the contemporary market in their hit and miss Vision 21 auctions they have now launched a full-scale assault on the hegemony of the bigger houses. Following the inaugural sale by the new Contemporary Art Department last October – only grossing about £2m but largely successful and 70% sold – thay are offering another closely curated sale of 20 lots with a modest mid-estimate total of around £2.5m.
At first glance this sale could be dismissed as a sale of little importance in the London Contemporary market, but a look at the catalogue shows something more interesting. The catalogue is a beautifully and expensively produced whopper. One hundred and sixty-four pages. For twenty lots. Every lot gets loads of attention and space lavished upon it. Take a nice Alan Davie Little Tut’s Wagon (lot 5) modestly estimated at £25-35k – the artist gets a double page spread for his photo and a couple more devoted to his work, the painting has a double page plus a fold-out – the equivalent to about 8 pages! At Sotheby’s or Christies it might have got a half a page – in the day sale. There are other modestly-priced works – expect them to go well above estimate – and some very interesting higher rated works too – notably Urs Fischer’s Untitled 2006 (lot 10), Frank Auerbach‘s Head of Lucien Freud (lot 6) and Richard Prince’s Untitled (Girlfriend) (lot 15).
The modest number of lots and total value of the sale is, at least in part, deliberate. I was told that Bonhams wish to establish themselves with very successful sales of low to mid value lots, before going full tilt at the market. I wish them every luck, and with such commitment as they show here who would bet against them becoming a major player in the contemporary market in the coming years. Meanwhile, if you have a contemporary work to sell there looks like only one sensible place to put it at the moment. With such attention and quality of presentation and, dare I venture, some negotiation of commission for good works, Bonhams will be hard to beat.
London Contemporary auction scehdule February 2012
13/14 Feb Bonhams One/Two eve/day
14/15 Feb Christies eve/day
15/16 Sothebys eve/day
17/18 Phillips de Pury eve/day
- Lucian Freud drawings to go under the hammer (telegraph.co.uk)
1 August 2011 § 1 Comment
Close on the heels of the 1st anniversary of this blog comes this, akuta’s 100th post. In celebratory fashion I am allowing the topic to swerve sharply from the usual path of contemporary art over to a little rental property – Asphodel cottage – that is simply the best place ever for a long weekend – or week for that matter!
Actually, on reflection, there is an art connection in that hanging on the wall, in place of the usual anodyne prints of local hunting scenes, is some pretty good modern and contemporary art: a Jennifer McCrae portrait and two works by Paul McDevitt hang above the dining table, a Magritte-style surrealist portrait and a Leon Underwood print watch over the sitting area, a romantic Bloomsbury landscape presides over the bedroom and a 19th century Hungarian gentleman ensures that you behave in the bathroom. If you fancy getting any more arty the Pangolin foundry and gallery (of Chadwick, Moore and Hepworth fame) is close by, as is Sudely Castle where, Sotheby’s Material Worlds has a selling exhibition of sculpture in the lovely gardens.
Out in the wilds of ‘Poshtershire’, a few miles from Cirencester in fact, is this recently renovated thatched, and detached, cottage that sleeps just two people. A perfect spot for a romantic get-away. The cottage is named after a pretty plant of the lily family, long beloved of writers and poets and symbolic of longing and desire.
All the original features have been retained with natural floors, beamed ceilings and an inglenook fireplace with log fire. There are velvet sofas, beautiful oriental carpets, fine art and classic books. Lighting is discrete and atmospheric whilst a log stove provides a delightful atmosphere.
The large garden is pretty and peaceful, enjoying open country views from either a formal garden, an orchard or open areas. There are also large comfy sofas on which to relax with a good book – or someone who has read one – under a big swinging parasol. Heaven!
For full details, contact and prices go to www.asphodelcottage.co.uk
Sotheby’s Material Worlds at Sudely Castle runs until 30 September 2011
The Pangolin Gallery at Chalford is open Monday to Saturday. See website for full details.
1 July 2011 § Leave a comment
An astonishing 4.3 million (myown total from Sothebys gross results) – around double auction estimates – was raised this afternoon for the upcoming extension to the Serpentine gallery. Forty-six top contemporary artists including the likes of John Baldessari, Olafur Eliasson, Fischli & Weiss, Antony Gormley, Jeff Koons, Yayoi Kusama and Rachel Whiteread had generously donated works to be auctioned alongside Sothebys contemporary art day sale.
Apparently the new space is to be called the Serpentine Sackler Gallery and will be located in Kensington Gardens, a short distance from the current gallery which lies close to the Serpentine in Hyde Park. It is due to open in 2012, and will be renovated and designed by Pritzker-Prize winning architect Zaha Hadid. The plans include an adjoining pavilion to be used as a social space and restaurant.
If it is anywhere near as good as the Serpentine has been over recent years at presenting interesting exhibitions of contemporary art it will be a great new addition to London’s art world. I am looking forward to the opening – oh, and any invitations to the opening party most welcome!
- The Serpentine Gallery Summer party-who wore what (heatworld.com)
8 February 2011 § Leave a comment
The next few days sees the first big art auctions of the year. Today, the 8 February Sothebys kick off with their evening Impressionist & Modern sale followed by their day sale tomorrow when Christies also have their evening sale. Looking Closely is an extra Sothebys evening sale on Thursday 10 February which follows Christies day sale. The major Sothebys & Christies Contemporary sales follow on the 16 & 17 February.
Georgina Adam in the Financial Times (link to article) summarises this weeks sales nicely (so that I dont have to!), but it is the Looking Closely sale that Sothebys have slipped in to the schedule that really catches the eye. This is an exquisite private collection from the estate of Swiss collector George Kostalitz, who died last year. Collected carefully in the period 1960-90 it is a beautifully formed collection, made with a great eye for the best work.
An exquisite Dali portrait of Eluard is one of the most important surrealist works to come up at auction for years, estimated up to £5m – but dont be surprised if it goes for £10m. Two portraits of Lucian Freud are included, the first being a 1964 triptych painted by Francis Bacon estimated at up to £9m, while amonst three Freuds on offer is a self-portrait painted when staying at Ian Fleming’s Jamaican villa, Goldeneye. Five stunning Marc Chagall feature, two of which were commissioned directly from the artist. They are all estimated at £2m or so and surely will go for much more. The sale estimate is £39-55m, but it will be surprise to me if it does not soars much higher.
The highest estimated work in all these sales is at Sotheby’s evening sale Picasso La Lecture at £18m – a tender portrait of his muse Maries Therese it is ‘only’ a small oil on board, but it is still unlikely that the estimate will prove to be too elevated.
Overall I am sure that we will see as very strong result at the sales continuing the ‘recovery’ in the market suggested by good results in 2010 – including Christies recent announcement of its record-breaking year. There will be a high proportion of lots sold, some broken records and sale estimates exceeded – especially at Sothebys – and let’s hope that this signals a good start to 2011!
- Brooding self-portrait of the young Lucian Freud up for sale (telegraph.co.uk)
- Picasso muse painting up for sale (bbc.co.uk)
- Magritte on Magritte: letters reveal surrealist Damien Hirst (guardian.co.uk)
17 November 2010 § Leave a comment
In the wake of the strong sales results in New York contemporary art sales last week the Art Market Monitor has made some very interesting comments.
They looked at the day sale market separately from the evening sales. Not only do the evening sales represent the fantasy-land of the art world but due to low lot numbers they are prone to being skewed by expensive individual works. The day sales have a larger number of lots and represent the core of the market and the majority of the collectors. Having removed the evening sales world inhabited by the super rich and potentially those least affected by the boom and bust cycle we can possibly look at current state of the wider art market. The AMM noted:
Last week’s strong day sales posted very similar numbers to the Spring’s sales. Total volume in the day sales was $121 million in May and $122.6 million in November. The May sales had 800 lots find buyers and the November sales had 831 lots succeed. The average price for the day sales was slightly higher in May (at $151,318) than in November (at $147,572) but hardly a significant difference.
From 2007 to mid-2008 there was a dramatic rise in the average price of day sale works. The average price last week, however, was 40% below the bubble peak of Spring 2008. There seems to be a consolidation at the this 40% decline from the all-time highs. This should be seen as good news especially within the context of average prices having moved above the median level for the last five years for both sales cycles in 2010.
They also observe that by removing those boom and bust years from 2007 to 2009 we are left with a market that, from 2006 to 2010 looks remarkably similar.
Coming after reassuring signs over the last six months one feels that we can now confidently say that we have reached the end of any ‘bust cycle’ and can look forward to a stable market with steadily increasing prices and renewed confidence in the market.
There has been some recent nonsensical talk of a move away from contemporary art and towards, for example, ‘modern masters’ but these results confirm further that this analysis was premature. The market for contemporary art is as strong as it has been in recent years, having felt the same stresses as other parts of the art market.
- Investors renew passion for modern masters (guardian.co.uk)
- The Great Contemporary Art Market Cock-Up – artmarketblog.com (artmarketblog.com)
- Art Sales Crack $1 Billion, Again (online.wsj.com)
12 October 2010 § Leave a comment
This October, in what is undoubtedly the most important week in the London Contemporary Art calendar, Christie’s is taking advantage of the international interest generated by Frieze to create their own ‘Fair’ – Multiplied – showcasing Contemporary Art in Editions. Around forty dealers ranging from major dealers like White Cube down to relative tiddlers like Black Rat Projects are taking advantage of the relatively low-cost stand space to sell low to moderate-priced works that appeal to new collectors. The works will include not only prints but, for example, editioned photographs and sculptures and will reportedly start at a just a few pounds with the aim of tempting new clients in to the world of buying art.
Over thirty London galleries have temporarily dropped their objection to Christie’s muscling-in on to what is traditionally dealer territory. Christies tell us that “Multiplied will be the perfect place to scope out the vibrant contemporary editions scene, featuring young, emerging talent alongside eminent contemporary artists. With prices from £50 to £10,000, and editions in all shapes and sizes, from prints and photographs, to artist’s books and 3-D multiples, you may just spot ‘the next big thing’. An initiative of the Christie’s Prints and Contemporary departments, Multiplied aims to support contemporary publishing by providing a much needed platform to exhibit editions during this significant week; and to nurture a wider appreciation of editions amongst the art buying public.’
Multiplied is not the only effort the auction houses are using to move away from traditional auctions. Phillips de Pury are co-operating with Saatchi at his Chelsea gallery and feature selling exhibition of works in the top floor gallery – their latest is Korean Eye. Sotheby’s in New York is holding the exhibition Divine Comedy – around eighty widely varied works ranging from Cattelan to Brueghel, some for sale.
In recent years of course the two main auction houses have ventured in to dealership – Christies has bought Haunch of Venison, while Sotheby’s choice was the Old Master dealer Robert Noortman. But there is more – New York Sotheby’s opened a wine retailer in New York and also offers retail diamonds and jewellery in New York, Hong Kong and London. What next – groceries and insurance!?
Exhibition Viewing Times:
15-18 October 2010, 10am-5pm
- Art market news for Frieze week (telegraph.co.uk)
- Inside Art: ‘Divine Comedy’ Exhibition At Sotheby’s (huffingtonpost.com)
- UK’s Frieze fair puts art market recovery to test (reuters.com)
- Frieze Art Fair 2010: Get ready for British art’s biggest week (independent.co.uk)