The False Narrative of Damien Hirst’s Rise and Fall

The rise and fall of Damien Hirst is an oft-told tale of hubris and nemesis. An art-world superstar in the nineteen-nineties and early two-thousands, Hirst made white-hot works—the most infamous of which involved animals immersed in formaldehyde—whose prices only ever went up. He got rich, his galleries got rich, his collectors got rich, everybody was happy. But, then, […]

Why Would Anyone Pay $450 Million for the ‘Salvator Mundi’? Because They’re Not Buying the Painting

An attempt to psychoanalyze the buyer of Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Salvator Mundi.’ Every May and November, many around the art world wonder aloud—with varying degrees of frustration—why so much of the media fixates its auction coverage on star lots and gaudy prices. The 36-hour frenzy following Christie’s sale of Salvator Mundi (circa 1500), the so-called “Last da […]

The Art Market Moves East: How Gagosian, David Zwirner, and 14 Other Western Art Businesses Are Trying to Expand to Asia

China has been described as “the largest growth market for the art business, anywhere.” See how auctioneers and dealers are tapping into it. In the past year alone, no fewer than six galleries have opened or announced plans to open an outpost or office somewhere in Asia. Amid announcement after announcement, it may feel like […]

What Is Leonardo’s ‘Salvator Mundi’ Really Selling? Cracking the $100 Million da Vinci Code

Jesus saves, but the buyer of da Vinci’s ‘Salvator Mundi’ will spend—a lot. The signs all point one way: Christie’s upcoming sale of Leonardo da Vinci’s spooky Salvator Mundi is the latest and perhaps most convincing portent that we are living in the End Times. In the Bible, Christ and his apostles held their property in common. Now, this image […]

German contemporary art a big draw as artists come to terms with past

Sotheby’s says ‘unprecedented interest’ with buyers tuning in to postwar masters’ attempts to use work to confront history. For years, contemporary art sales at the world’s leading auction houses were dominated by the works of American and British artists. When it came to eye-watering amounts of money, paintings by anglophone figures including Andy Warhol, Jackson […]

Has the Art Market Become an Unwitting Partner in Crime?

When you sell your home the paperwork details the sale, including your name, and the title search lists the names of the people who owned the property before you. But when someone sells an artwork at auction — even something worth $100 million, much more than your house — the identity is typically concealed. Oh, […]

Legendary Filmmaker John Waters On the Audacity of Cy Twombly – Video

What is like to live with a work by post-war master Cy Twombly? According to legendary filmmaker John Waters, it’s “great because every day when you pass it you think of his nerve. The audacity of him doing this.” Watch this video to find out more about John Waters’ longstanding admiration for the artist (it is […]

Why the ‘Uber effect’ is proving elusive for online platforms

Barely a month goes by without the launch of an online initiative that aims to disrupt the art market and bring the “Uber and Airbnb effect” to art transactions. But witness the crowds pacing the aisles at a big-league art fair, or spilling out of the salesrooms during the evening auctions, and the impact of […]

Richard Serra’s 10 Most Expensive Artworks at Auction

Iconoclastic American artist Richard Serra launched an exhibition of his latest steel behemoths at Gagosian Gallery in New York this past Saturday, featuring four new works: Above Below Betwixt Between,Every Which Way, Silence (for John Cage), and Through. It’s the thirtieth big show at the gallery for the artist, who splits his time between New York and Nova Scotia. Suffice it to say, the […]

4 Shifts in the “Unpredictable Art Market” You Should Know About

A lawyer, a financier, an art advisor, and a journalist walk into a room… It sounds like the start to a bad gallery dinner joke. But at The Armory Show the topic of discussion was serious: “How to Optimize the Unpredictable Art Market.” In a testament to the topic’s immediacy, moderator and Financial Times columnist […]

10 things to know about Yayoi Kusama

Florence Waters takes a closer look at the life and work of the woman behind the dots — the world’s most popular artist of 2015. Illustrated with works offered in our forthcoming Post-War and Contemporary Art auctions in London. 1. Painting became an act of rebellion for Kusama when she was just a child. Her […]

Stieglitz, Steichen & Weston — how photography became a modern art form

The first decades of the 20th century were among the most fruitful periods of artistic production of the modern era, especially for the still-fledgling art of photography. In New York, just after the turn of the century, a small circle of photographic visionaries revolved around the magnetic figure of Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946), whose influence as […]

Top 10 Most Expensive Living European Artists at Auction in 2015

Although modern European artists were the big performers at auction in 2015, contemporary art remains the most profitable market segment by far. Buoyed by increased participation of international collectors from emerging markets, media attention driven by large price tags, and the perception of glamour generated by events such as Art Basel Miami Beach, the market […]

Sotheby’s Reassuring $294M Contemporary Evening Sale

The contemporary art market settled down to a steadier pace at Sotheby’s New York Wednesday evening, turning in a solid and respectable $294,850,000 sale for the 44 lots that sold. Ten of the 54 lots offered failed to sell for a trim buy-in rate by lot of 18.5 percent. Five works sold for more than $15 […]

Paddle8, Online Auction House Aims to Give Big Houses a Run for Their Money

Think of an auction house, and centuries-old institutions like Sotheby’s and Christie’s probably spring to mind.  But a four-year-old start-up believes that it can become something of an online equivalent to those companies — and it has drawn big-name backers from the art world along the way. The venture, Paddle8, plans to announce on Wednesday […]

Has the Market for ‘Zombie Formalists’ Evaporated?

“No one wants to be a market darling,” an art dealer once told me. It’s the art world equivalent of a one-hit wonder, where sudden stardom and outsize demand for a particularly hot artist creates intense pressure, and has the potential to create unsustainable spikes in his or her market and career. Notwithstanding the fact that the […]

The new reserve currency for the world’s rich is not actually currency

Here’s an interesting question: If the world’s economy is filling markets with a pervasive sense of uncertainty, why is the art market picking up steam for yet another season of what would appear to be massive sales?  For the very rich, art is a store of value—which is not a very new idea and one […]

Mapplethorpe Print at Center of Culture Wars Returns to Public Eye

Twenty-five years ago this month, a Cincinnati jury wrote an exclamation point into the story of the culture wars that were raging through art museums and academia. The jury acquitted that city’s Contemporary Arts Center and its director of criminal obscenity charges for exhibiting a group of photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe, graphic sexual images that […]

Auction Houses Jockey to Lead Sales in First Big Market Test

Art auctions used to be a gentlemen’s business. Now the gloves are off. As art sales face their first major test since the August financial market rout, auction houses are jockeying not only for trophy artworks but also for the best positions to highlight them at the November auctions in New York. The result is […]