A look at the top spring 2021 auction buyers and sellers – ARTnews.com

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In the past, financial crises have been particularly dire for auction houses, and the economic impact of the pandemic has been no different; this caused the annual sales of the world’s largest auction houses – Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips – to fall from 16% to 25%.

By June, however, sales volume had returned to pre-pandemic levels, with the financial mismatch only temporarily deterring big spenders around the world. The spring sales attracted “many enthusiastic bidders” looking to capitalize on the opportunity to secure major works for a bargain, according to Vanessa Fusco, Head of Impressionist and Modern Art at Christie’s in New York. Among those major works was a Picasso portrait of artist Marie-Thérèse Walter’s muse at Christie’s New York, which sold for $ 103 million after a 20-minute bidding war.

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For some collectors, it was about making a profit. Israeli business tycoon Joseph hackmey Van Gogh’s Carthusian landscape sold The Trinquetaille Bridge (1888) in May at Christie’s for $ 37.4 million, more than triple the $ 11.2 million he paid at auction in 2004. Co-founder of Valentino Giancarlo Giammetti sold Basquiat’s 6.5-foot-tall red painting of a peeping skull for $ 93 million; it is now the second most expensive Basquiat ever to be auctioned. Giammetti purchased the work from the Gagosian Gallery in 2007, and it was last auctioned in 2004 for just under $ 1 million. Seattle-based real estate developer Richard C. Hedreen sold the Californian landscape of David Hockney Nichols Canyon (1980), which he had held since 1982, for $ 41 million at Phillips. At Christie’s in April, Chilean economist and prolific collector of old masters Alvaro Saieh sold a 13th-century Roman painting he had owned since 2002; the Boston Museum of Fine Arts won Eight Scenes from the Life of Christ for $ 1.2 million.

At Phillips, the multimedia work of David Hammons It’s not necessary (1990) sold for $ 5.5 million, the artist’s second highest ever auction price. It had long belonged to Dirk Schutyser, founder of the SMAK museum in Ghent, Belgium, who passed away last December. Colorado-based Private Equity Executive J. Landis Martin, for a long time a fervent collector of Clyfford Still, has parted ways with Still’s PH-568 (1965), sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong for $ 16.2 million. (It only resurfaced a few months later, in July, with New York dealer Emmanuel Di Donna. Claiming that the work had been undervalued at auction, Di Donna was offering it privately for $ 20. millions of dollars.)

Other art buyers have gone big for rare works that were long out of the market. In March, ARTnews revealed that Simon and David Ruben of the British billionaire family were the buyers of a $ 15.4 million Montmartre street scene painted by van Gogh in 1887. Prior to its auction at Sotheby’s Paris, the painting had been in private hands for over a century.

The financial stall of the pandemic also hasn’t stopped speculators from trading at certain market levels. Hong Kong-based contemporary art collector and venture capitalist Laurent Chu bought Mark Bradford’s sprawling 2011 black and white Slide it on the way in 2017 on a guarantee of 2.27 million pounds sterling (3 million dollars). Last December, a few years later, Chu returned it to Sotheby’s for $ 3.7 million. Chez Phillips, collector and owner of an Oslo-based translation service Arne Austrheim sold South African rising star Cinga Samson’s 2018 painting of a young black figure with a blank stare, Two pieces 1. When Austrheim bought it in 2018 from Blank Projects in Cape Town, Samson’s works were selling privately at prices between $ 10,000 and $ 15,000; he sold it to Phillips for a final price of $ 300,000, 12 times his low estimate.


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