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Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

Nine Ways to Lose Money in the Art Market


Artnet has published this insightful piece by Richard Polsky, and while even novice collectors may find some of these tips fairly obvious, there are several worthwhile insights here. Besides, even a refresher in these uncertain times can’t hurt.

For those who like Polsky’s market analysis, listen to his recent three-part audio interview with ArtTactic’s Podcast here, here and here, and check out his forthcoming book, I Sold Andy Warhol (too soon), out in September from Other Press.

by Richard Polsky via Artnet

With collectors being more selective than ever, it stands to reason that anyone left in the game is watching his or her cash more carefully than ever. While no one is certain how to make money in this environment, I guarantee the following examples are nine sure-fire ways to lose money.

1. Buy a mediocre painting instead of a great print. Or for that matter buy a mediocre painting rather than a great drawing. Too often collectors get caught up in art’s snob appeal. The objective is always to buy the best within your budget, regardless of medium. As wonderful a draughtsman as Jasper Johns is, not all of his drawings are up to snuff. It’s much better, from an investment standpoint, to buy one of his great prints, such as Ale Cans. There’s no doubt that it will appreciate at a faster rate than one of Johns’ murky ink-on-vellum drawings.

Read on for the rest. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by ATARMS | Filed in Market Talk | Comment now »


Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Trio Charged with Counterfeit Banksy Operation

An outdoor wall stencil by Banksy imitator, Bonksy (unrelated) takes on new meaning with the recent investigation. Image: Johnny Vulkan

Police have arrested three individuals in the UK for conducting a counterfeit Banksy print operation, as well as selling fake Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren designed clothing at auction. A statement issued by the Metropolitan Police identifies the accused trio as Lee Parker, Grant Champkins-Howard and Vesna Grandes-Howard, who face charges of fraud and money laundering. The crimes have ignited a firestorm on several online art discussion boards, where investigators are attempting to reach out to victims.

The statement encourages “anyone who has purchased ‘Banksy limited edition’ prints (except if bought directly from Pictures On Walls) or ‘Banksy back door’  prints in the past three years” to contact DC Ian Lawson by telephone at +44 (0)20 7230 2150 or email via Ian.Lawson@met.police.uk

Posted by ATARMS | Filed in Artist Talk, Europe, London, Market Talk | 1 Comment »


Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

ARTnews Announces Top 200 Collectors

Image: ARTnews

ARTnews has published its anual list of the top 200 collectors worldwide. View it here

Posted by ATARMS | Filed in Market Talk, Uncategorized | Comment now »


Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Jeff Koons Keeps Criticism Alive with Serpentine Survey

Jeff Koons with Triple Popeye, 2008. Image: Getty Images via Telegraph

There has been plenty written lately on the turbulence of the art market. Major auctioneers are noticiably scaling back on guarantees and offerings from contemporary art titans like Hirst or Murakami, whose seemingly unstoppable growth finally appears to be tapering off. Even Jeff Koons, whose rise to fame predates both of the above mentioned artists by more than a decade, has been affected by the market slump. In April, 2009 the NY Times reported that one of Koons’ five Hanging Heart sculptures was quietly sold for $11 million in a private sale. This was little more than a year after he set the world record for a living artist when Gagosian Gallery bought another color from the same series for $23.6 million during Sotheby’s November 2007 contemporary evening sale (view auction result here).

In the midst of all this pop art-star uncertainty, Serpentine Gallery is hosting Jeff Koons’ first public (nothing’s for sale) gallery exhibition in London. Jeff Koons: Popeye Series presents a survey of works conceptualized by Koons and painstakingly executed by the employees of his some 100 person NY studio team.  The focal point of the show are Triple Popeye (2008) and other recent paintings infusing iconic cartoon characters in a hyper dense mash-up of abstracted imagery generated with computer aid, but meticulously painted by hand (not Koons’ own). Also on view are the artist’s well-know cast aluminum “inflatables” sculptures that take on the appearance of cheap mass-produced plastic pool toys. These have been updated and combined with “readymades” – that’s Koons-speak for every-day household items like a stepladder and garbage can.

For more than twenty years, Jeff Koons has been the subject of much praise and ridicule.  His ultra-modern style of pop has been simultaneously applauded as some of the most culturally relevant  and revolutionary art being made today, and attacked for being intellectually void, utterly low-brow kitsch that epitomizes the speculative glitz of the last several years. This new show is no different. Writing for the Telegraph, Richard Dorment suggests that “Koons’s subject matter may appear to be innocuous, but he is the most subversive artist alive today.” Adhering to the more cynical view, is the Guardian’s Adrian Searle, who says Popeye Series “is art for a world with deep pockets and a short attention span.”

Via Channel 4

Taking the middle ground is art critic Michael Glover, who calls the show “a mind-numbing spectacle…quite difficult to know whether to laugh or to cry at,” and that “it seems preposterous, almost beyond the most absurd critical joke, that anyone should take this stuff seriously at all, or have the gall to stick the label of art on it.” Yet, In the same breath he ponders the notion that “Koons wants to get rid of all that kind of old-fashioned guilt by making an art that is readily approachable, understandable and enjoyable. He wants to be entirely non-judgmental. He doesn’t want people to have to feel that they are nervously looking up at something that they don’t quite understand. He doesn’t want people to have to think and worry about pesky things like meaning. What you see is what you get. Koons brings us all together, in one big happy family. He makes us feel good about ourselves in the presence of art.”

Should Jeff Koons be heralded for democratizing art for the masses, or chastised for ushering in an over-inflated balloon of meaningless and shallow art? Koons himself might agree with both sides of the critical spectrum, and has said his art should readily evoke immediate reaction and not be contemplated or deconstructed for deeper meaning. Talking with Glover, Koons reflected on his own works: “They don’t have to bring anything with them other than exactly what they are, and they’re perfect for that experience because it’s about them…I want people, when they look at my art, to have engaging moments. I want them to feel that everything about their lives is perfect – their history, their culture, their selves. Everything is in play. Everything is possible…”

Jeff Koons: Popeye Series
July 2 – September 13
Serpentine Gallery
Kensington Gardens
London W2 3XA

Lead Image: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images via Telegraph. Triple Popeye painting with Acrobat (Lobster): Ray Tang/Rex Features. All other images: Serpentine Gallery/Jeff Koons.


Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

Contemporary Market Signaling Rebound

 ArtTactic has just published its newest US & European Contemporary Art Market Confidence Survey, revealing signs that confidence is slowly rebounding after an 81% drop in the the research firm’s Art Market Confidence Indicator in December 2008.  While the majority of those surveyed still hold a negative short-term outlook, 74%  say the market will only deflate anotherer 10-20% , suggesting that price correction may finally be leveling out.  In fact, 64% believe the contemporary market could bounce back as soon as 2010/11.

Posted by ATARMS | Filed in Auction, Market Talk, New Infos | 1 Comment »


Saturday, June 20th, 2009

Deaccession Controversy Hits Orange County Museum of Art

California Impressionist Granville Redmond’s Silver and Gold was one of 18 paintings sold by the Orange County Museum of Art to an unnamed private collector.

The Orange County Museum of Art has fallen subject to scrutiny over their recent sale of 18 notable California Impressionist paintings to an unnamed private collector. OCMA’s situation is far different from recent controversy surrounding other institutions, such as the National Academywhose deaccession was not linked to the funding of new art, and in violation of accepted museum standards put forth by the American Association of Museums and the Association of Art Museum Directors. In an interview with the LA Times, OCMA’s director, Dennis Szakacs, affirmed that the sale would only be used to support the acquisition of new works, adding that the relinquished pieces no longer fit into the museum’s new focus of post-1950s art.

So why all the controversy?  By arranging the quiet sale to a private collector, some argue that OCMA ignored its duty of keeping art in the public trust, and that other public institutions should have had an opportunity to bid on the works, either privately or through auction. In addition, the works sold for a total $963,000, far below their estimated worth. Some skeptics are questioning why the museum would agree to a sale so under market value, speculating a preferential deal. One LA gallery director told Artinfo that two of the paintings were worth more than $1.5 million, while the LA Times quotes two specialists’ estimates of  Granville Redmond’s painting Silver and Gold at $1 million alone.

Szakacs contends that OCMA did make the most financially and ethically sound decision, noting that the realized price was favorable in the current down market and that ten of the works are already on view at the Nevada Art Museum, demonstrating the importance of selling the collection to one private enthusiast, rather that splitting up the pieces at auction.

Meanwhile, Artinfo notes that Bolton Colburn, director of the Laguna Art Museum, is attempting to seek out the unknown buyer in an effort to buy the paintings for approximately $1 million, little more than what was paid.

Posted by ATARMS | Filed in Legal, Market Talk, Museums, Uncategorized | Comment now »


Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

Fourth Owner of Hirst Skull Outed


As you may recall, shortly after unveiling Hirst’s For the Love of God in 2007, White  Cube Gallery reported that the $100 million diamond emblazoned skull had in fact sold to a private investment group for the initial asking price. It didn’t take long for details to surface – to date, Hirst, along with his business manager Frank Dunphy and White Cube’s Jay Jopling are the majority owners.

Now, The Art Newspaper reports that Russian billionaire Viktor Pinchuk was recently outed by the Washington Post as a fourth part-owner of the skull. No wonder he is currently hosting a major Hirst retrospective at his own Pinchuk Art Centre in Kiev.


Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Employee Steals $600K+ from Brooklyn Museum


The NY Times reports that a former payroll manager for the Brooklyn Museum stole over $620,000 from the already strapped institution by creating fake payroll profiles with the names “Brooklyn Museum” and “Brooklyn,” which he then issued paychecks to and syphened into his personal bank account. The former employee, Dwight Newton, 40, is out on bond and faces up to 20 years if convicted for wire fraud.

As if the crime wasn’t shameful enough, it was just two months ago that the Times reported the museum was cutting salaries and raising admission fees to avoid layoffs and make up for a drastically depleted endowment, which, in addition to a 32% cut in city funding , has shrunk nearly 70% since last year, from 93.1 million to 65 million.

Feeling philanthropic? – Make a tax-deductible donation to the museum’s fund here

Posted by ATARMS | Filed in Brooklyn, Legal, Market Talk, Museums, Uncategorized | Comment now »


Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Perspective :: Five Years of NY Contemporary Sales


We thought this graph was worth a glance. 

Via Art Market Monitor

Posted by ATARMS | Filed in Auction, Market Talk, New York City | Comment now »


Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Must See :: Artprice Documentary

Image still from Artprice documentary

Artprice, a global leader in art market information, database collecting, and sales, has just released an intimate 23 minute documentary chronicling the history and inner-workings of the company. We were particularly blown away by the passion exuded from Artprice’s eclectic founder, and his mind boggling corporate lair outside Lyon, France, which operates from inside the Abode of Chaos, a 17th century home transformed into a replicated war zone…pretty wild for someone who is also the founder and chairman of Groupe Serveur, Artprice’s parent company, whose annual revenue tops off around 70 million Euro.

Watch the video here

Posted by ATARMS | Filed in Europe, Interview, Market Talk, Music, Uncategorized | Comment now »