1. Alberto Giacometti, Chariot (1951-1952)
sold at Sotheby's New York on November 4, 2014, for $100,965,000.
Lorena Muñoz-Alonso, Friday, December 12, 2014
Three men broke into an art gallery in the affluent center of Madrid, near the Museo del Prado, and walked away with 50 paintings worth an estimated €400,000.
The thieves entered the Puerta de Alcalá gallery in the early morning hours of Thursday, December 4. They first broke into the adjacent premises, a former bar that has been closed for over a year, and then punched a hole through the wall that led to the gallery. They managed to deactivate the gallery's alarm system and proceeded to take the artworks.
According to reports, the heist was anything but subtle. The thieves spent almost three hours moving the paintings from the gallery to a van parked in the street.
In fact, a security guard from a construction site nearby spotted the men and asked them what they were up to. The men replied that they worked for the gallery and were transporting the large group of artworks to an exhibition. Satisfied with the answer, the security guard walked away.
A week later, there are still no leads as to the whereabouts of the paintings. “We think they might have been taken outside of Spain," Lola Moreno, from Puerta de Alcalá gallery, told artnet News. “The security guard said two of the three men had Eastern European accents, so the paintings might have been trafficked. The thieves also took our invoice books, so we fear they might try to pass any sales as legit," she continued. Initial reports claimed that 70 paintings were stolen. However, the gallery has subsequently lowered that figure to 50.
The gallery specializes in 20th century realist and impressionist painters from Spain. Among the stolen works are 14 paintings by the Sevillian artist Pablo Segarra Chías, which were meant to be shown as part of a solo exhibition. The exhibition opened last night despite the theft. Works by the Valencian painter Eustaquio Segrelles and Juan González Alacreu were also taken by the thieves.
“This has destroyed us," Pedro Márquez, who owned the gallery for decades before passing the baton to his son, told the Guardian. “It's left us in a really tough situation. Forty years of work and they just walked out with it."
Benjamin Genocchio, Monday, December 15, 2014
When sightings of Leonardo DiCaprio and Miley Cyrus (dressed as deranged vagabonds) at Art Basel in Miami cause a stir, one wonders what remains of the art world. Indeed it is tempting to think that the art world has been swallowed by the combined marketing and publicity machines of Hollywood and the fashion and music industries. Art is an accessory to wealth and stardom. Park that Koons next to the Bentley in the garage, please.
So much has changed in the art world so quickly, it is for many people disconcerting. A hundred years ago the art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel often purposely held onto the Impressionists' artworks for so long so that his clients' tastes could catch up (so it was said). Though that's probably a polite way of saying that it took him a long time to be able to sell the Impressionists' works to people who understood it, today, by extreme contrast, art sells in nanoseconds at art fairs to people who not only don't understand it but really don't care. The juice comes from the emotional rush of the competition for the purchase, plus bragging rights at dinner afterwards; it's not the physical object that's exciting.
There have always been philistines with money—indeed, that's why so much worthless bad art is bought and sold. But thinking on this makes you wonder which artists today could be all the rage in a hundred years. Can we even know, given the conditions of the market? This is a fun parlor game for friends, to pick winners and losers, but it's also a serious question in the context of a year of massive, record-breaking auction results. In November alone, Christie's and Sotheby's sold close to $2 billion of art in a week.
One obvious question is: Will any of this artwork have value in 100 years? The other is: Does anybody even really care? Beauty is fleeting, dumb is forever, I once heard someone say. I love that.
Part of the challenge of working out long-term value is that value isn't singular when it comes to art: it's plural. We are talking about multiple registers of value coexisting, sometimes operating in parallel and at other times intertwined or overlapping.
Let me explain.
Artworks have monetary value; they are worth what they are bought and sold for on the day. But they also have deeper art historical and curatorial and critical value, values which are more nebulous, less easily accounted for, and subject to change and endless debate. Fashion, on a shorter cycle, also plays a part in determining all kinds of value one day to the next.
Sometimes these registers of value in the art world are all in alignment, but frequently they are not. Take, for example, the recent Jeff Koons retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Critics by and large were underwhelmed with Koons and his glittering monuments to banality. But the market loves him and auction prices for his artworks in the November sales reached new heights. Curators and museums, too, have embraced him with the realization that he is popular and therefore drives much-needed attendance.
We hear a lot about market values in the media, which has increasingly become obsessed with the prices for artworks. We are guilty of that at artnet News—sorry. But it's what readers want. The bigger the sale price, the bigger the story, it seems. And yet even though we don't hear very much about the other registers of value in play, they are in truth no less relevant in creating and maintaining long-term importance and value for an artist and their work. In fact, historical values probably count most of all because long-term market value is largely dependent upon the critical, curatorial, and art historical establishment sharing a common viewpoint when it comes to evaluating an artist's art historical importance.
For example, I think we are all in agreement that Diego Velázquez is an important 17th-century artist who people 100 years from now will be interested in. They will value his artworks, both art historically and, of course, monetarily. That is not because his paintings sell for tens of millions of dollars at auction. Rather, it is because there is an art historical consensus that he was the best artist in the court of King Philip IV of Spain and the most talented, innovative painter of the Spanish Golden Age. This widely shared and justified assessment of the marvelous painterly qualities of his work has sustained the artist's critical, curatorial, and market value through centuries. I have no doubt it will continue.
What all this means is that short-term market values actually have little bearing on long-term value for an artist because long-term value is based on art historical values, which are subject to review and change gradually over time through consensus. It's a paradoxical situation, basically, in which market value is continuously being shaped and sustained by conversations, debates, and values that are ever-shifting and forming.
But maybe the answer is, as my colleague Blake Gopnik has suggested to me, that long-term value is irrelevant in the art world of today — collectors just have to decide if something will go up or down in the next season or two. Plus the cash value of the work of a successful artist can also become irrelevant. It becomes an abstraction once the artworks go beyond a certain prize (say $100 million) or enter into public collections.
Coline Milliard, Tuesday, December 23, 2014
1. Alberto Giacometti, Chariot (1951-1952)
sold at Sotheby's New York on November 4, 2014, for $100,965,000.
All eyes seem to be on the buoyant contemporary art market these days. And let's face it: the parties are better and celebrities ever-more keen to take part. Yet, beyond the publicity machine, a quick look at the most expensive auction lots by European artists this year is enough to show that modern art is where much of the really big money is. Much of that money is flowing in from Asia and Russia, where appetite for key Impressionist and Modern works is rampant.
Alberto Giacometti lead the pack in 2014 with Chariot, which sold for $101 million in November, the second highest auction result for the artist and second-highest price paid for any sculpture at auction (see "$101 Million Giacometti Leads Sotheby's $400 Million Imp Mod Evening Sale"). He's followed by auction darling Francis Bacon, who became the most expensive artist at auction when Three Studies of Lucian Freud(1969) sold for $142.4 million in 2013. Bacon's Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards fetched a relatively more modest $80.8 million in May.
Then come Édouard Manet, Vincent van Gogh, and Juan Gris. One has to wait until the ninth position and Gerhard Richter to find a contemporary artist in the ranking. It also worth noting the top five prices were all achieved in New York, which, despite London's best efforts, continues to hold tight to its title of art market epicenter.
1. Alberto Giacometti
Chariot (1951–52) sold at Sotheby's New York on November 4, 2014, for $100,965,000.
2. Francis Bacon
Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards (in 3 parts) (1984) sold at Christie's New York on May 13, 2014, for $80,805,000.
3. Amedeo Modigliani
Tête (1911–12) sold at Sotheby's New York on November 4, 2014, for $70,725,000.
4. Édouard Manet
Le Printemps (1881) sold at Christie's New York on November 5, 2014, for $65,125,000.
5. Vincent van Gogh
Nature morte, vase aux marguerites et coquelicots (1890) sold at Sotheby's New York on November 4, 2014, for $61,765,000.
6. Juan Gris
Nature morte à la nappe à carreaux (1915) sold at Christie's London on February 4, 2014, for $56,737,039.
7. Claude Monet
Nymphéas (1906) sold at Sotheby's London on June 23, 2014, for $53,959,007.
8. J.M.W. Turner
Rome, from Mount Aventine (1835) sold at Sotheby's London on December 3, 2014, for $47,609,515.
9. Gerhard Richter
Abstraktes Bild (1989) sold at Christie's London on February 13, 2014, for $32,563,228.
10. Camille Pissarro
Le boulevard Montmartre, matinée de printemps (1897) sold at Sotheby's London on February 5, 2014, for $32.1 million.
Sarah Cascone, Tuesday, December 16, 2014
A purported version of the world's most iconic painting, Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, has surfaced in Singapore, and appears to show a younger Mona Lisa in front of a different background. Said by its owners to be by the hand of the Renaissance master, the painting is thought to predate that of Paris's Louvre by a decade, and is claimed to have undergone scientific analysis that dates the piece to 1503.
Now being shown publicly for the first time at the Arts House in Singapore's Old Chambers of Parliament, the story being put forth about this unfinished painting is as follows. It's said to have been purchased by an English noble visiting Italy in 1778. It was rediscovered by British art collector Hugh Blaker in 1913 in Somerset, and became known as the Isleworth Mona Lisa after it was restored in his London studio.
The canvas, which has belonged to an international consortium since 2008, has now embarked on a tour of the Pacific, with stops in Hong Kong, China, South Korea, and Australia.
One of the new painting's champions is Switzerland's Mona Lisa Foundation, which manages the paintings and began attesting to its authenticity in 2012. "We feel these latest discoveries and new scientific analysis just carried out leave little doubt that it is Leonardo's work," foundation vice-president David Feldman told Reuters. "The vast majority of experts now either agree with us or accept that there is a strong case for our thesis."
Of course, it could also be that this Mona Lisa is just another Leonardo forgery, of which there are many (see "A Tale of Two Leonardos"). Leonardo expert Martin Kemp has been quick to voice his skepticism, warning the BBC that "the fact it's being shown in Singapore and is not getting an outing in a serious art museum [or] gallery is significant in itself," and criticizing the work's landscape and drapery as "inert."
Should the painting prove authentic, it would seem to debunk at least part of the theory of art historian Angelo Paratico, who recently voiced speculation that the iconic canvas's sitter was none other than the artist's mother, and that she was both Chinese and a slave (see "Was the Mona Lisa Leonardo's Mother and a Chinese Slave?"). If the newly unveiled version of the painting really does date to 1503, it seems to depict a woman in her 20s, even though Leonardo would have been around 50 years old at the time. (The Mona Lisa is more widely believed to be Lisa del Giocondo, the wife of a Florentine merchant.)
The Isleworth Mona Lisa is the third known copy of the painting, joining the well-known Louvre version, and a more obscure one held at thePrado in Madrid. Recent comparisons of those two paintings, now thought to have been painted during the same portrait sitting, have raised speculations that together they form a stereoscopic or 3-D image, perhaps the first in history (see "Was Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa the World's First 3-D Image?").
Follow @sarahecascone on Twitter.
artnet News, Thursday, December 18, 2014
artnet owns the world's largest and most comprehensive price database for secondary market sales of fine and decorative art. With the help of the artnet Analytics team, we crunched the numbers to assemble the definitive list of the world's most collectible living artists at auction.
We looked at sales results from auction houses worldwide over the past four years, the post-recession period, which we believe has the most relevance for both current market conditions and future trends. From these we derived two intersecting lists.
The first list shows the top 100 living artists ranked by total value of secondary market sales; the second presents the top 100 lots by living artists, ranked by price. Whereas the first list displays overall sales volume by value and quantity, the second tracks top lots for individual artworks and therefore contains duplicate entries for artists where an artist's work is in high demand. Small arrows indicate a change in rank from the previous month.
In addition to the name of the artist, the sale year, and price for the works of art, we felt it important to also include the name of the auction house and the location of the sale. Not surprisingly, we found that London, New York, and Hong Kong continue to be dominant points of sale.
For more information about top lots, including the name of individual works, or comparable sales, or to research other artists beyond the top 100 most collectible living artists at auction, we invite readers to visit the artnet Price Database at artnet.com. We source, update, and publish this top 100 list regularly on artnet News.
Benjamin Genocchio, Editor in Chief, artnet News
Eileen Kinsella, Alexandra Peers, Friday, July 4, 2014
Art Basel and the London summer auctions are behind us, and the auction market continues to hit unprecedented peaks. But today's records and art stars came straight out of yesterday's headline-grabbing auctions. With that in mind, we take a look back at some major milestones of the last few decades—from the 1973 sale that arguably lit the fuse on the current contemporary market to the recent three-quarters-of-a-billion dollar total of a single evening—to see how these 10 auctions changed the game and perhaps what might happen next.
1. The Scull Sale, Sotheby's New York, October 18, 1973
During the 1950s and '60s New York collectors Robert and Ethel Scull steered the profits from their sizable Manhattan taxi fleet towards acquiring one of the most extraordinary collections of Abstract Expressionist and Pop art ever assembled. It focused heavily on works by Jasper Johns as well as Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist,Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, and Tom Wesselmann. The couple were close friends with, and sometimes financial backers of, the many artists whose works they collected. When a show of Johns's work at Leo Castelli Gallery failed to draw buyers, Robert Scull snapped up the whole thing. On the evening of October 18, 1973, there was considerable buzz around a sale of 50 of their works at (then Sotheby's Parke Bernet) which was expected to take in a then-whopping $2 million. Not only was it the first single-owner sale to feature contemporary American art, it was held when "conventional and cultural wisdom at the time was that these movements [Abstract Expressionism and Pop] would never be be taken seriously," according to Judith Goldman, who penned the catalogue essay for a 2010 show of the partly reassembled Scull collection at Acquavella Galleries. A group outside Sotheby's protested the fact that only one woman—Lee Bontecou—was included in the sale. Meanwhile, inside the packed salesroom, prices for the works soared far above what the Sculls had paid for them. Johns's Double White Map, bought for $10,000, fetched $240,000. Rauschenberg's Thaw, a combine painting bought for $900, sold for $85,000. After the auction, an outraged Rauschenberg, who later admitted that he had been drinking, shoved Mr. Scull in the chest, and angrily told him: "I've been working my ass off for you to make that profit." Johns however, saw cause for celebration; he and his crew took a break from making lithographs to uncork some champagne, according to a New York Times report. And Lichtenstein said of Rauschenberg's reaction: "What did he want, the work to decrease in value?" Art historian Irving Sandler said of the 1973 sale, that, more than any other single event, it "kicked off the market that we know today."
2. Vincent Van Gogh's Irises (1899), Sotheby's New York, November 1987
When Australian financier Alan Bond shelled out $53.9 million forVincent Van Gogh's Irises, less than one month after the massive stock market crash on October 19th it set the record for the world's most expensive painting. It also created an inflated level of confidence about the ability of the art market—or at least masterpieces of this caliber—to withstand a brutal economic downturn. But nearly two years later, it was revealed that Sotheby's had lent Bond roughly $27 million, or more than half, of the purchase price and that he wasn't yet paid up. The house also admitted it was still in control of Irises and was storing it at an undisclosed location. Observers called it a "manipulated sale," compared it to buying on margin, said it was not a "real" price, and lamented the fact that it had become such a significant benchmark in the marketplace. Three years later, the Los Angeles—based J. Paul Getty Museum bought Irises from Bond in a deal brokered by Sotheby's. The price has never been disclosed and it still hangs in the Getty today. Sotheby's Financial Services tightened its loan policies considerably as a result of the Bond debacle.
3. Leonardo da Vinci Codex Hammer, Christie's New York, November 11, 1994
At this single-lot auction almost exactly two decades ago, Microsoft founder Bill Gates engaged in a fierce bidding war against an Italian bank believed to be buying on behalf of the Italian government. But Gates won Leonardo da Vinci's Codex. The price of $30.8 million set a record for any non-art item at auction—and Gates presaged the digital boom by making the text and drawings of da Vinci's notebook available online for free. Christie's had been attempting to get Gates to the auction block as a major player for years, hoping the purchase would open the door to a generation of Silicon Valley billionaires buying at auction. By and large, it did.
4. The Estate of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Sotheby's New York, April 23–26, 1996
There have been many notable and packed celebrity estate sales, but for sheer before-and-after impact, nothing beats the April 1996 sale of the Jacqueline Kennedy estate. It raised $34.5 million, compared with a high estimate of $4.6 million for the former First Lady's books, tape measure, saddle, and other prosaic items. The auction was front-page news in mainstream publications that had never paid attention to auctions before, and it was packed with celebrity bidders. Amid the craziness, a mahogany footstool once used by Caroline Kennedy as a child sold for $33,350 on an estimate of $100 to $150. Even the catalogue set records; Sotheby's had more than 100,000 copies printed, surpassing the 40,000 it had printed for the Andy Warhol memorabilia sale in 1987. The sale's real success, however, was behind-the-scenes. Sotheby's employed sophisticated tax strategies and an escalation clause so that the more money it raised, the higher percentage the auction house made. In other words, the hype paid off.
5. The Victor and Sally Ganz Collection, Christie's New York, November 10, 1997
The art collection of the low-profile Manhattan couple, who assembled it over five decades for about $2 million, raked in a stunning $206.5 million total in late 1997, far surpassing expectations of $125 million. As many observers noted, the resounding success was the result of a combination of blue chip masterpieces and savvy, elaborate marketing: A $100 book devoted to the collection sold out, and Christie's transformed its galleries into a mini-museum of sorts for the open-to-the public auction preview. In the weeks before the sale, more than 25,000 visitors viewed the collection. The auction drew normally low-profile names to the salesroom: including cosmetic magnate Leonard Lauder, publisher Mortimer Zuckerman, and William H. Gates, father of Microsoft founder Bill Gates. The first painting Victor Ganz ever purchased for the collection, Picasso's Le Reve (1932), a portrait of his mistress Marie-Therese Walter, for $7,000 in 1941, soared to $48.4 million at the 1997 auction. (In what was perhaps a troubling echo of the 1987 Bond Irises sale, Wolfgang Flöttl, the Austrian financier who purchased it at Christie's resold it to Steve Wynn in 2001 when he encountered financial difficulties.) Other highlights of the sale included Picasso's Woman Seated in an Armchair (Eva), a 1913 portrait that sold for $24.7 million, clearing the high $20 million estimate. The Ganzes had acquired the painting in 1967 from a Swiss collector via dealer Heinz Berggruen, for $200,000. Giddy Christie's employees, in the moments following the sale opened champagne and toasted: “To the profit-sharing!"
6. Picasso Boy with a Pipe breaks the $100 million mark at auction, Sotheby's New York, May 5, 2004
Though the $100 million auction price barrier has been breached several times since—by Edvard Munch, Francis Bacon, and Andy Warhol—Picasso, not surprisingly, got there first, when his painting Garçon à la Pipe, or Boy with a Pipe (1905), sold for $104 million at Sotheby's New York in May 2004. The painting had everything going for it: it was a rare, Rose-period work, and a masterpiece at that. It was offered for sale from the collection of John Hay and Betsy Cushing Whitney, who had acquired it in 1950 for $30,000. Prior to the sale, the most expensive work sold at auction was van Gogh's 1890 Portrait of Doctor Gachet, which was sold to a Japanese billionaire for $82.5 million in 1990 at Christie's. Though there has been much speculation about the identity of the buyer, including rumors that it was acquired by pasta billionaire Guido Barilla, Henry Kravis or Lily Safra, the painting has not been seen in public in the decade since it was sold and no one has ever come forward as buyer.
7. Damien Hirst's "Beautiful Inside My Head Forever," Sotheby's London, September 15–16, 2008
As the contemporary art market roared ahead throughout the mid-2000's, auction sales volume, eventually started to eclipse the millions raised by sales of Impressionist and modern art. The shift indicated not only the shrinking supply of blue-chip Monets and Picassos, but also the buying power and more contemporary taste of the growing ranks of new, younger super-rich collectors around the world. Season after season seemed to be marked by head-scratching at the astounding prices for artists like Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons, with observers asking: "How much higher can it go?" Audiences had their answer in September of 2008, when Sotheby's London organized "Beautiful Inside My Head Forever," an auction of more than 200 works by Hirst that defied market conventions in more ways than one. The auction was a complete end-run around powerhouse Hirst dealers like Larry Gagosian in that it brought so many works straight to the auction block. It also appeared to defy reality, coming as it did on the same day that Lehman Brothers officially collapsed and amid mounting panic over the mortgage crisis. Seemingly shrugging off any suggestion of fear, Sotheby's evening sale of 56 Hirst works netted $127 million (£70.5 million), clearing the high $112 million (£62.3 million) estimate. Only two works were unsold. The top lot was The Golden Calf, made of 18-carat gold, glass, gold-plated steel and formaldehyde solution with a Carrara marble plinth. It sold for a whopping $18.6 million (£10.3 million), followed by The Kingdom, which consisted of a tiger shark, glass, steel, silicone, and formaldehyde solution, that swam to $17 million (£9.6 million). The Hirst sale was a gravity-defying success, but just a month or two later, not even the soaring art market could shake off the effects of the economic crisis.
8. The Collection of Yves St. Laurent and Pierre Bergé, Christie's Paris, February 23–25, 2009
There had been fashion legend auctions before, and multi-day auctions before, and auctions of great art before. But the three-day-long Yves St Laurent sale at Christie's Paris in February 2009 ticked all those boxes and more. The massive hoard of art and antiques that St. Laurent shared with partner Pierre Bergé brought in $443.1 million, with records set forMondrian, Matisse and Brancusi and lines for the viewing literally around the block. Among the most astonishing prices was the $28 million (€21 million) paid for Irish designer Eileen Gray's chair Fauteuil aux Dragons (c.1917–19) against an estimate of just $2.6–3.8 million. But perhaps the most notable aspect of the sale was that it took place when the world was knee-deep in a global recession. It sent the message that the art market lives in a reality all its own.
9. The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor, Christie's New York, December 3–17, 2011
The December 2011 sale of the jewels, art and fashion of Elizabeth Taylor is notable for many “firsts" and records. It featured the first online-only auction Christie's ever held; it has gone on to hold them on an almost daily basis. Every single item was sold, including 26 lots for over $1 million each. In all, the house took in $156.8 million. It was the most money—$5.5 million—ever raised for a clothing and fashion collection (outpacing the jumpsuits of Elvis Presley and the gowns of Lady Diana Spencer). The evening jewels sale achieved $115.9 million, the most valuable jewelry auction in history and seven new world auction records were established: price per carat for a colorless diamond and for a ruby; a pair of natural pearl ear pendants; a pearl jewel at $11.8 million; an Indian jewel at $8.8 million and an emerald jewel at $6.6 million.
10. $745 Million Evening Sale of postwar and contemporary art, Christie's New York, May 12, 2014
Christie's made history this past May with a $745 million sale, the third time it set a record for the largest single auction total ever. It exceeded the previous $691 million overall total set at this past November's evening contemporary sale, and the year-ago spring contemporary auction that pulled in a then–record $495 million. But if prices were staggering, so was the material on offer. The sale featured no fewer than nine lots priced at a minimum of $20 million each, but there was no shortage of eager buyers. New records were set for Alexander Calder, Joseph Cornell, Robert Gober, Joan Mitchell, Barnett Newman, Frank Stella, and Salvatore Scarpitta. The sale also embarrassed and put pressure on rival Sotheby's, at a time it was in a proxy bidding war with hedge funder Dan Loeb, who ended up winning his desired slate of three seats on Sotheby's board.
Alexander Forbes, Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Jasper Johns's studio assistant of 27 years, James Meyer, pleaded guilty in August to having stolen 22 artworks from Johns's Sharon, Connecticut studio and selling them for a combined $6.5 million (see "Jasper Johns's Assistant Pleads Guilty to Stealing Paintings"). Meyer reportedly netted $3.4 million in the fraud. He's agreed to forfeit $4 million in the settlement and will be sentenced to up to nearly four years in prison on December 10th. Meyer has refused to speak to reporters since being nabbed on the theft charges, but a feature in this week's New York magazine has extensive new insight into the history of the case.
According to the report, Meyer sold the works through a dealer named Fred Dorfman, starting around 2005. (Dorfman's lawyer told New York that “James Meyer defrauded many people, including Fred Dorfman," when explaining that his client wasn't knowingly a part of the scheme.) Despite Meyer being a more or less failed artist himself—and previously having lived on friend's couches in New York and later in a small house in Lakewood, Connecticut—he began to exhibit increasing levels of wealth beginning in 2007: living in a much more expensive home and purchasing several new cars, motorcycles, and a sailboat. Speculating about Meyer's motive, a friend of Johns told New York: "The assistant's probably sitting there thinking each brushstroke is a thousand dollars."
According to dealer Francis Naumann, who arranged for a client to buy one of the works Meyer claimed Johns had given him as a gift, friends may have alerted Johns to Meyer's conspicuous, increased wealth but "Jasper maybe concluded he's doing well selling his work. Because what did he know?" Meyer did show his work from time to time, but reportedly had a tendency to irk those with whom he had dealings. An unnamed art critic told New York, “Once he even gave me a work of art out of the blue [...] I was so freaked out I returned it to his dealer, saying, ‘I don't accept anything.'"
A recently amended suit filed by Naumann's client, Frank Kolodny, contends that Meyer may have stolen “nearly 50" of Johns's works during his tenure at the studio. At the very least, Meyer hadn't sold all of the works he took from the studio when caught. He reportedly mailed one piece back to Johns after the investigation began. However many artworks were stolen—even calling them artworks could be a misnomer as many were unfinished—they all, remarkably, came from a single drawer that Meyer was tasked with organizing during his time working in Johns's studio, according to New York.
A busy and trusting Johns never noticed the works leaving his archive. And, at least in Naumann's case, no one called the artist to check on a work out of respect for Meyer, who claimed he didn't want Johns to know that he was selling the purported gifts. That is until 2012 when, according to an unnamed friend who spoke to New York, “Someone emailed an image to check against the catalogue raisonné, and it got back to Jasper." The individual said that Johns “knew immediately it was not something he permitted. Jim [Meyer] was fired that day."
Christie Chu, Friday, November 14, 2014
Sheikh Saud Al-Thani's surprise death (see "Qatar's Sheikh Saud Died of Complications Related to Heart Condition") has put a renewed focus on Qatar and the country's ruling Al-Thani family.
The Sheikh and his many relatives were also some of the world's biggest art collectors of everything from fine art and vintage cars to rare watches (see "Sheikh Al-Thani's Watch Sells for $24 Million After His Mysterious Death"). Over the years, in fact, the late Sheikh and his family, Qatar royalty, have spent many billions on art and other collectibles, building an enormous collection that includes the rarest and most magnificent oriental, Islamic, and western contemporary and historical art, as well as an incredibly deep Indian jewelry collection.
Once labelled the "modern-day equivalents of the Medicis," the family has been applauded for its commitment to collections and the establishment of museums in a region bereft of cultural institutions. They have established the Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha, I.M Pei's Islamic Museum of Art, a combined Natural History Museum and Qatar National Library, a Museum of Photography, and a Museum of Clothes & Textiles.
In the wake of the death of Sheikh Saud, at age 48, we thought we would put together a tribute to him listing the top 10 acquisitions that he and the Al-Thani family have acquired. In some cases the prices paid are indeed phenomenal, but what stands out is the diversity of the Sheikh's interests and undimmed passion for collecting. He was the world's biggest collector.
1. Paul Cézanne, The Card Players, $250 million
This masterpiece is supposedly the most expensive work ever sold.
1. World's Biggest Art Collector Sheikh Saud bin Mohammed Al-Thani Dies at Age 48
Once regarded as the world's richest and most powerful collector, Al-Thani died suddenly in his home in London on November 9 at the age of 48.
2. Why Are The Kardashians So Obsessed With Art?
The short answer: because no one ever told them money can't buy class.
3. George W. Bush is Still a Bad Painter
Some things, like the many inadequacies of W, will never change.
4. Rothko Reels In $45 Million at Sotheby's $343.6 Million Contemporary Evening Sale
New records were set at the sale for Jasper Johns, Glenn Ligon, Robert Ryman, and Jean Dubuffet.
5. See the 20 Hottest Art World Hangouts of 2014
From dive bars to fine dining, we've got the best locales for you to hit.
6. Epic Christie's $852.9 Million Blockbuster Contemporary Art Sale Is the Highest Ever
Two Warhols accounted for $151.5 million.
7. Hedge Fund Honcho Steve A. Cohen Is Buyer of $101 Million Giacometti
The finance manager was the only bidder.
8. Sheikh Al-Thani's Watch Sells for $24 Million After His Mysterious Death
Before his death, he had turned his watch over to the auction house, along with $70 million in assets to help cover an enormous amount of debt he had accrued.
9. Jeff Koons Turned Sofia Coppola's Birkin Bag Into a Readymade
What's better than a Birkin and better than a Koons? A Bir-Koons, of course.
10. Meet Xin Li, Christie's Secret Weapon for China Sales
The former basketball player and fashion model now wines, dines, and shows art to billionaires.
After nearly 15 years, a Henri Matisse masterpiece is back on display at Venezuela's Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Caracas Sofia Imber (MACCSI), alongside the poorly-made copy left behind by thieves, reports Reuters. The painting was returned to Venezuela over the summer (see "Stolen $3 Million Matisse Returns to Venezuela"), but the details of the case remain shrouded in mystery.
The $3 million Odalisque in Red Pants was rescued by the FBI in 2012, more than a decade after it went missing. Although the couple who attempted to sell the painting have since been convicted, no one has ever been charged with the original theft.
Even the exact date of the heist is unknown. The museum assumes it had been stolen by 2001, but Marianela Balbi, a Venezuelan journalist who authored The Kidnapping of the Odalisque, a book about the theft, believes it took place earlier, sometime after it was moved in anticipation of flooding in December 1999, but before mid-2000. The book cites museum negligence, but stops short of accusing corrupt officials of being involved.
The painting was next seen in Florida in 2002, during a period of unrest that briefly threatened Hugo Chávez's rule, when a colonel in the Venezuelan National Guard tried to sell it to a gallery in Miami. Word of the painting reached Venezuela-born dealer Genaro Ambrosino, whose attempts to contact the museum were initially rebuffed.
"I was furious," Ambrosino told Reuters. "So I sent an email to everyone I knew in the art world." Shortly afterward, MACCSI was forced to admit the original Odalique had been stolen, and a fake version left in its place. It took ten years, during which time the canvas made its way to New York, Paris, and Mexico, but the FBI finally tracked down the real Matisse.
The forgery, done with acrylic paint instead of oil, is marred by a large brown stain in the center, and fails to correctly replicate key details, painting eight horizontal green stripes where the original has seven, and using a different shade of red for the topless woman's iconic trousers. Now, visitors to MACCSI have the chance to view the two works side-by-side.
"It's a very bad copy," Venezuelan artist Elizabeth Cemborain told Reuters. "It doesn't have the original's design; it doesn't have its elegance. I don't understand how no one realized."
MACCSI hopes the display, which includes an educational video comparing the two paintings, will educate viewers about the illegal trafficking of cultural goods.
For her part, Balbi is not a fan of the museum's approach. "It's absurd that they're showing the copy, too," she told Reuters. "It legitimizes the object of a crime that Venezuelan authorities haven't done anything about in 12 years."
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