Monday, May 14, 2007

A pretty penny

Are the Euros trumping the Yanks? Half a billion dollars in art sold last Tuesday and Wednesday in New York, but for the first time in decades, American buyers didn’t win most of the masterpieces at the big spring sales at Sotheby's and Christie's. This not only means some great art is leaving the U.S. but also that other nations are calling what's hot.

Christie's auctioneer Christopher Burge said only 29 percent of the buyers last week were Americans; about half were Europeans and Russians, and the remaining artworks went to Asians and a group dubbed “others,” which covers Middle Eastern billionaires and Latin Americans. (Sotheby's reported a similar breakdown Tuesday night.) Suffice it to say when Monte Carlo billionaire David Nahmad outbids Larry Gagosian for work by obscure Italian futurist movement painter Marino Marini, art history winds have shifted.

Artists with Euro followings — Feininger and Kirchner — also went thought the roof. Is it the weak dollar? The booming Berlin art scene? The fact that more and more Russians are pouring their oil, metal, and vodka fortunes into art? Whatever the case, Sotheby's raised $280 million on Tuesday, with 90 percent of the artworks sold. And tomorrow the fireworks begin in contemporary art. Sotheby's is offering "White Centre" (pictured here) by Rothko that has inspired a cult. Expect upwards of $50 million. But not to worry. If such a sum is beyond your budget, there is a second Rothko in the sale, a smaller work on paper. At an estimated selling price of between $1.5m and $2m, it’s a steal.

Sotheby's sale of contemporary paintings is to be held in New York tomorrow. Catalogue available here.

11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is definitely the weak dollar and Bush Presidency. The combination makes the US unpalatable from an investment angle.

4:32 pm  
Anonymous Tanya said...

I love that Rothko. Just gorgeous how the colours shimmer. Very sensual.

4:34 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

pardon my stupidity but is rothko still alive?

4:42 pm  
Anonymous charles said...

Will there be Banksy works in the sale?

4:59 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

damn that is a shit load of $$ for one painting!

4:59 pm  
Anonymous Claire said...

Sorry CS but I am just not a fan of (what I see as) pointless art. Like this Rothko. It’s not beautiful, it tends to be a one note statement about something (usually the futility of modern life) and very rarely offers a way into a new insight. There is, for example, at the Tate Britain a collection of Rothko paintings that he had originally been commissioned to do for a famous NYC dining room (I can’t quite remember, but it may be the Four Seasons). He wanted to cover the seven walls with these huge works, saturating the light and providing a specific ambiance. Unfortunately, when he was finished with the ‘On Maroon’ paintings, he realized that no one would want to dine in such a claustrophobic atmosphere. So he refunded his commission. the story is fascinating. The works — tedious.

5:16 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't realise - is Berlin booming?

5:21 pm  
Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

When it takes two bucks to equal one quid, I'm not surprised that the megawatt buying power of the pound and euro is trumping American dollars at art auctions.

Everything on this side of the pond is now a virtual steal (except theatre tickets, which are similarly priced)!

5:40 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great site City Slicker. Am linking your blog to mine.

10:19 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rothko for $40 million? I can think of many better ways to blow billions.

8:26 am  
Blogger *snake*bite* said...

Crazy money and even if i did have such a budget i would not spend it on something to hang on a wall that i might not even pay attention to.
As much as a piece of art might put your mind at rest or calm you down so will a stiff Vodka or even a 10minute walk.

xXx

1:11 pm  

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