A Fearful Frenzy: The Art Market Now

Life has been happier for many of us in the art world since we stopped caring about runaway commerce in art, which has seemed—but only seemed—to reduce all measures of aesthetic value to raw price. Sure, the billion-plus dollars shaken loose, since May, at three New York and London auctions of modern and contemporary works—with […]

Stroke of genius: Peter Doig’s eerie art whisks the mind to enchanted places

Amid the impostures that sometimes pass for 21st-century art, Doig’s record-breaking compositions are jewels of imagination and haunting vision. It must be the most expensive canoe in history. This week in Manhattan a painting by Edinburgh-born Peter Doig of a small white boat lost in a tangle of weeds and tree stumps in some remote […]

Phillips Opens Massive New Flagship in London

Phillips announced the opening of a new auction house and exhibition space in the exclusive address of Berkeley Square, London, on Monday. The official opening will take place during October’s buzzing Frieze Art Fair week. The relocation is part of an ambitious plan to propel Phillip beyond its long-standing third-place position in the auctioneering game (“Ostrowski […]

Scratches in the Art Market Gilding

LONDON — Sometimes art can be difficult to understand. Sometimes the art market can be even more baffling. Back in December, the contemporary dealer David Zwirnersaid in a New Yorker profile that art was “an industry in its golden age.” His point seemed to have been proven during the June 17 preview of the Art Basel fair in […]

The Race to Find New Art Collectors

In early May, Christie’s invited a group of 18 new collectors from China to visit New York. The auction house escorted the guests on guided tours through the Museum of Modern Art, arranged VIP tickets to a local art fair and threw a lavish dinner in the Rockefeller Center ballroom of Christie’s. Auctioneers also reserved […]

Bidding Up: Escalating Prices are Putting Pressure on Dealers to Double Down on their Own Artists

When artists agree to be represented by a gallery, they usually work out with the gallery owner such matters as the amount of the dealer’s commission; how often their work will be exhibited in solo or group shows; the price of their artworks; that sort of thing. Another expectation, usually not as explicitly stated but increasingly […]

A Warhol With Your Moose Head? Sotheby’s Teams With EBay

Convinced that consumers are finally ready to shop online for Picassos and choice Persian rugs in addition to car parts and Pez dispensers, Sotheby’s, the blue-chip auction house, and eBay, the Internet shopping giant, plan to announce Monday that they have formed a partnership to stream Sotheby’s sales worldwide. Starting this fall, most of Sotheby’s […]

10 Game-Changing Auctions

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 […]

Tracey Emin’s My Bed is up for sale at what may be a dream price to some

The furore around the work, complete with vodka bottles and pregnancy tests, helped to give lift-off to Emin’s career. Few pieces of art have divided opinion quite like My Bed – in whichTracey Emin claimed to have spent a week after a bad break-up. Complete with vodka bottles, cigarette butts and pregnancy tests, the installation didn’t […]

Fun Frieze Week Guide – NYC 2014

BAC is off to Frieze NY for the 3rd instalment of this excellent Fair (hopefully it will be a little less, ah, dramatic, this time…).  Lots of other things are happening in New York at the same time, including the “satellite” Art Fairs: NADA, PULSE, and even “outsiders” are invited, to the Outsider Art Fair. […]

On the Money at the London Auctions

The truth of the art market is that art sells better at auction than it does in the galleries. This is primarily due to the “new buyer” phenomenon, which for the time being is what rules the day. All hail the rule of the auction season! Here’s my take on the recent sales in London. […]

Contemporary Keeps Climbing at Sotheby’s

London—The contemporary art market continued its steady climb at Sotheby’s on Wednesday night, with a sale dominated by a strong grouping of paintings by international blue chip artists that brought in £87,915,500 ($144,550,665). Ten of the 57 lots offered went unsold, for a trim buy-in rate by lot of 17.5 percent and seven percent by value. Twenty […]

A Night of Fevered Bidding on Arte Povera at Christie’s London

London—The market for the relatively esoteric Italian art movement of the mid-1960s known as Arte Povera (Poor Art) took a giant leap forward at Christie’s on Tuesday evening with a single-owner sale that earned £38,427,400 ($63,020,930). The figure compared well to pre-sale expectations of £25.7-36.5 ($42.1-59.9 million). Of the very large number of offerings in the […]

Another Record Night for Imp/Mod Sales – Sotheby’s London

Anchored by superb works on paper from a storied collector-dealer and an important restituted painting by a French Impressionist, Sotheby’s evening sale of Impressionism, Modernism, and Surrealism brought a  stellar £163,461,500 ($266,654,745) on Wednesday night, making it the firm’s highest-earning London auction ever. Of the 89 lots offered, only ten failed to sell, for a […]

Adventures in art-market commodification, enhanced hammer edition

Back in 2012, I wrote a post with the headline “How Larry Gagosian is like Goldman Sachs”. The general idea was that both of them use their relationships and their balance sheet to make money off and/or with their clients. Since then, as Christian Viveros-Fauné says, the art world has become even more coterminous with the art market: “Business […]

The (Auction) House Doesn’t Always Win

Christie’s and Sotheby’s Woo Big Sellers With a Cut When Christie’s sold Jeff Koons’s “Balloon Dog (Orange)”for $58.4 million in November, it seemed as if the auction house had just earned a pretty penny.  After all, Christie’s, like other auction houses, typically charge commissions to buyers and sellers, which for high-priced works might be an […]