Christie’s kicked off the New York auction season on Tuesday with an evening sale dedicated to its new category for most of 21st century art. The price was appropriately far-reaching, including Banksy’s bid for Van Gogh’s 2005 “Sunflowers” (spoiler alert: they’re dead), sold by fashion designer Paul Smith for $ 12.4 million ($ 14.6 million in fees); 13 recycled African masks in a 2004 sculpture by David Hammons, which was sold for 3.1 million. USD (USD 3.8 million with fees); a three-part non-fungible token by Urs Fischer, minted less than three weeks before its sale, which went for an estimated $ 180,000 ($ 225,000 with fees).
There was even the first physical, digital and token-backed work by NFT superstar Beeple up for auction. His “Human One” (2021) was sold for $ 25 million to an online bidder registered in Switzerland, who revealed himself on Twitter as technology investor Ryan Zurrer ($ 29 million in fees, estimated at $ 15 million).
Half of the 40 works were covered by guarantees, though some estimates were even more wild than the art in this “let’s see what happens” market. Basquiat’s “The Guilt of Gold Teeth” (1982) had a broad estimate of $ 40- $ 80m, after last selling publicly for $ 387,500 in 1998. This time, the painting sold for $ 37m ($ 40m with fees), allegedly. from the collection of artist-musician José Cano André.
Christie’s perhaps most honest assessment was “estimate unknown”, linked to another new NFT, “Arcadia” – a collaboration on existentialism made by a visual artist, a poet and a musician – which went for $ 420,000 ($ 525,000 with fees). The evening sale brought in an estimated total amount of DKK 190.1 million. USD ($ 219.3 million with fees), topped by Basquiat from 1982, and was fully sold, known as a “white glove” auction, injecting early confidence into a jam-packed fourteen days.
Phillips brings some Hawaiian sunshine into its New York sales booth next week, courtesy of Georgia O’Keeffe. Her delicious “Crab’s Claw Ginger Hawaii” (1939) goes up for auction for the first time on November 17, estimated at $ 4- $ 6m. The painting was made for the Hawaiian Pineapple Company (now Dole), which commissioned O’Keeffe’s tour as part of an advertising campaign. The tropical climate added a new dimension to O’Keeffe’s work, says Elizabeth Goldberg, Phillips’ senior specialist, noting a particularly surreal quality to the 22 pieces made during the trip.
The painting’s ownership history is also rooted in the islands. It is sold from the collection of Sharon Twigg-Smith and her late husband, Thurston Twigg-Smith, publisher of the Honolulu Advertiser. Known as Twigg during his lifetime, he opened in 1961 the Honolulu Advertiser Gallery, a business-backed space for his art collection and now the modern part of the city’s public museum.
New York may be dominated of modern and contemporary art this month, but the Upper East Side Colnaghi Gallery offers a refreshing reminder of the Renaissance. Among the exhibited Italian works are six of what the gallery calls “rediscovered masterpieces,” including a c1555-56 painting by Jacopo Tintoretto by Venice patron Tommaso Rangone.
The star piece of the gallery is a terracotta bust of San Lorenzo (c1440) by Donatello. The bust, originally made for a church north of Florence, was sold to the Prince by Liechtenstein’s collection in 1889, when it was registered as by the Renaissance master. It remained in the family, but was stored in 1938, after which its authorship disappeared from records. In 2003, the bust reappeared at a Liechtenstein collection sale at Sotheby’s in Amsterdam, cataloged as “19th century, in Renaissance style”, and sold for around € 3,000, confirms Jorge Coll, co-owner and co-manager of Colnaghi.
Decades of research conducted by Renaissance scholar Francesco Caglioti revealed the bust, its origins and origins. It is now valued at between $ 20m and $ 30m, a big leap, though below the prices that later Renaissance artists such as Botticelli and Leonardo da Vinci can now command. Coll agrees that the market for old masters can be tough, but he says, “If you have works like these, then the market is strong. This exhibition reflects lifelong research.” All works in the New York exhibition have been approved for export, Coll. Renaissance lasts until February 25 (also at colnaghi1760.viewingrooms.com).
The longtime gallery owner in New York Sean Kelly has to open a permanent room in Los Angeles – and keep it in the family. His son, Thomas Kelly, at the gallery for 10 years, is moving to the West Coast to operate the new premises, which will open in the spring of 2022. Both Thomas and his sister Lauren are partners in the gallery. “It’s not just a lateral shift, it’s also a generational shift,” says Sean Kelly, adding that having a family member take on such a responsibility “takes the speculation out of it all.” Thomas Kelly has committed to staying at the helm of LA for at least five more years.
Gallery succession does not always run smoothly, especially through the next generation. Others have even managed to control the troubled water. At the Lisson Gallery, Alex Logsdail, son of founder Nicholas Logsdail, also helped the gallery expand geographically, from London to New York. Staying close but at a distance has its benefits, Thomas Kelly agrees. “I had thought of it more as a great opportunity, but it’s also a way for me to grow [independently],” he says.
Father and son say the growing number of artists in LA, many of whom have been “priced out of New York,” is contributing to the city’s appeal. The collector base is also expanding, both in Hollywood and beyond, including technology entrepreneurs, they say. The 10,000-square-foot space, a former yoga studio, is being redesigned on Hollywood’s North Highland Avenue, close to LA’s faithful Regen Projects and Kohn Gallery. The opening show will be of new works by Idris Khan.
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