Christie’s employs incompetence as smuggling technique

October 7, 2007

Christie’s is using a variety of techniques to get the paintings out of Europe and over to the unquenchable NY market. Recently, that has meant fronting legal fees for WWII-era restitution claims. But now we hear of a new method, which we might call accidental-but-actually-intentional smuggling.

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The case centers around an oil sketch of The Hunt of Meleager and Atalanta by Rubens. The picture was the star lot in Christie’s old master sale in London in December of 2005, going for £3,144,000. The Art Newspaper reports that name of the buyer has not emerged, but he is understood to be a private collector from the New York area. Read the rest of this entry »

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Cool Object of the Week: PAINTINGS!!!!!

May 9, 2007

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Time again to strap on that paddle and plug in the black lamps, because it’s high auction season in Budapest. Three major auction houses, Kieselbach, Virag Judit, and Nagyhazi are all having their big Spring Auctions in the next 2 weeks. Though it hasn’t shown up on the web catalogue, local radio is reporting that Virag Judit has got a Klimt drawing. Only question will be then whether Ronald Lauder is buying or selling it.

As usual if you have any works that interest you, contact us about previewing and bidding.

Below are my picks.

BEST SLEEPER
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Virag Judit, lot 27, MISKOLCZY FERENC (1899-1994)
VIEW OF TOLEDO, 1925 Oil, canvas, 70,5×100,5 cm
Signed lower left: Toledo 1925 Miskolczy
Starting price: 180 000 Ft (€750)

Despite the painter’s little-known name, everything is right with this one: the location, the date 1925 (think The Sun Also Rises), and the fauvist colors with the El Greco expressionism…and good size.
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Christie’s: Yo, European Museums, we’re coming for your artworks!

February 26, 2007

It used to be back in the good old days of Duveen & Co. that the insatiable NY market would have top artworks smuggled out of Europe in false-bottom suitcases. Now Christie’s has struck upon a new tactic: providing legal support to heirs with restitution claims for artworks in European public collections. Since such procedures can take decades, it’s an expensive investment of resources for the auction house, but the strategy is now starting to pay enormous dividends.

Auction records for three Central European expressionists have all been set by restituted art works:
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Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s Street Scene-Berlin ($38 million); Egon Schiele’s View of Krumau ($24 million); Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II ($87 million)
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Canon is becoming very predictable

February 17, 2007

Once Willi Bongard created his Kunstkompass, the methods for predicting someones ascendancy became reliably methodical. Or maybe he just made it a self-fulfilling prophecy. His system of points was based on the pillars of canonization: display in major museums and inclusion in essential texts. Now a new company has refined the research, allowing machines to tell us what is our most valuable art. Brilliant idea! This woulda saved them all soooo much trouble back in the 19th Century.

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historical values for Any Old Shit from some guy in the 70s
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Signatures can’t save lame pictures; Demand for Nazi painters weak

February 14, 2007

Recent sales of Impressionist and Modernist Art have confirmed two things:
1) Masterpieces sell
2) Big names alone don’t sell

For example a major work by Nabis painter Raoul Dufy fetched £4 mil.

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Raoul Dufy La Forie aux Oignons c1907
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Collectors: We don’t want this old grandma crap!

February 11, 2007

Bad time to be an antique furniture dealer, great time to be a buyer. The NYT reports that dealers can’t give the shit away. In particular, it appears that the market for antiques, i.e. furniture over 100 years old, is mightily depressed. Now to anyone who’s been doing business in this sector in the last few years, such news is like, No Duh!

We hear from Robert Couturier, an interior designer and architect in New York that:

“It’s very sad.” Bargains are particularly plentiful, he said, in 18th-century pieces.

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Christie’s is wooping Sotheby’s butt because of better management, financing, brownnosing

February 8, 2007

Both major auction houses have announced their year-end results for 2006, and, surprise, surprise, Christie’s did way better: $4.33 billion in sales, compared to $3.66 for Sotheby’s.

I point to the single clearest reason for Christie’s success, and it’s that the firm is run as a single-proprietor entity.
Read the rest of this entry »