Drawing in the buyers
Jan Krugier was one of the most respected dealers of the 20th century. He was famous for his work with Pablo Picasso and became personal friends with the artist. He was, in every sense, a legend of the art world. When he died in 2008 his estate, a collection of Modern masterpieces and tribal art, became the focus of a bidding war by both Sotheby's and Christie's. In the event they both held slightly lacklustre sales that didn't match the expectations of Krugier's reputation. The third and final Krugier sale, which were items presumably considered too low key to be sold at a London sale room, was recently held at Dreweatts and the results are fascinating.
The sale comprised many lots with no reserve and not even all of these sold. The sale, however, cannot be written off. Certain lots such as the Moai Kavakava Style Figure went for £117,800 against an estimate of £400-600, while a work by Madge Gill went for £37,200 against a top estimate of £1,500 despite the saleroom being quiet on the day. It just goes to show that at a time when auction houses' offerings seem more and more similar people will find the special works on offer (the saleroom was reputedly pretty empty for the viewing days) but what it really takes to draw in buyers is great collectors and the promise of a great buy.
Looking Harder at South Ken
Christie's has announced that it is closing its site in South Kensington. This has been greeted with shock and dismay by the many people who would use the sales to discover a hidden gem or simply something that they loved. It's a sign that Christie's are focusing on the big hitters of Post-War and Contemporary art along with Modern art when they can. Yet, as Clare McAndrew's latest art market report for Art Basel shows, both these categories have suffered declines of 18% and 31% respectively last year. It's not a great environment for the auction houses to be working in as they pursue money in place of expertise. But the good news is that all the pieces that were being sold in South Kensington will still find an outlet somewhere. Increasingly ValueMyStuff, one of the few online auctions to turn a profit, might become the only outlet for lower value pieces. It might just be a question of looking in those harder to find places which ultimately adds to the pleasure, when you find something you love.
Coming Out of the Shadows
TEFAF was fairly quiet this year and yet one painting stood out above the rest. Jusepe de Ribera's oil on canvas of Hercules on Fergus Hall's stand at TEFAF in many ways stole the show. Jusepe de Rivera was a 17th-century Spanish artist, renowned for his control of light and shadow. Like many of his fellow Spanish artists, he travelled to Naples for part of his career which shaped the drama and control of his paintings. His painting at TEFAF was a powerful work, priced at around £4.8 million. It is a startling reminder of how easy it is to overlook artists who have produced work of real value, as well as an indication of how much more rewarding certain categories can be at that price point.
Instagram has gained increasing prominence in the art world with dealers and auction specialists using it to promote their wares: look at the social media following of Brett Gorvy and Loic Gouzer. Recently, however, it isn't just people who are selling works that are getting in on the act but also art fairs and galleries who are encouraging visitors to make social media an intrinsic part of their visits. It's actively part of the National Gallery's marketing campaign to encourage the public to take a selfie in front of their favourite Old Master. At the Armory, Eric Shiner, who curated the Kusama exhibit for Victoria Miro said, “It's going to be a phenomenal photo op” and indeed it was. But is this focus on the one hit photo op necessarily the right way to look at art?
One of our main preoccupations at Seymour's is to ensure that you make the right decisions with your art collection. We hope to protect you from the pitfalls of the art market from price inflation to misrepresentation. The art world is not an entirely nefarious world but it helps to have someone who knows their way around. In the spirit of extending our network of knowledge we have joined up with Beacon Gainer who have experts in professions such as family, private wealth and property law, investment management, education, property acquisition, tax advisory and yachting who are ready to offer advice across all these fields. If you would like more information please do not hesitate to contact us.