The principle three auction houses in London all held their major sales in Modern British Art last week. Although the auctions only represent one aspect of this thriving market it is still useful to analyse their results to take stock of general trends and collecting habits. The major sales are rather risk-adverse affairs where the principal houses tend to try and source works by known quantities, hence the seemingly endless supply of works by Ivon Hitchens, L S Lowry and Henry Moore. However, that is not to say that sourcing these works is especially easy, and the auction houses have privately commented the difficulties in consigning works for sale. The reasons for this difficulty are reasonably obvious. The weakness of Sterling has deterred some international vendors from consigning and the political instability in the UK has certainly affected decision making. Each auction house has appeared to handle this slightly differently.
by RAY WATERHOUSE, Chairman of Fine Art Brokers,
Advice for collectors
There have never been more opportunities to buy fine art and be well informed, given the extraordinary range of art fairs, auctions, dealers and galleries - all accessible in person and online, as well as the increasingly informative online art platforms. What to choose is the problem. I always remember one of my best friends, Ian, an extremely clever and successful private equity lawyer and negotiator, telling me years ago that he didn’t know what he should like, let alone what he actually did like. Ian has gone on to form an exceptional collection.
by RACHEL POWNALL, Professor of Arts and Finance at Maastricht University and author of the TEFAF Art Market Report 2017
Global auction sales provide a barometer for how the art market is performing. During 2017 we experienced a rise in world auction sales, following a steep decline during 2016, when the US and UK auction sales markets dropped in terms of sales. Much of this drop in sales revenue during 2016, as recorded by a fall in volume, can be attributed to a shift in sales to the dealer market. Prices dropped in 2016 by far less than the auction market as a whole providing an indication that although volumes fell at auction, values were not susceptible to this same drop. In 2016 world art prices dropped by just over 1% over the year, and during the period from 2017 until the first quarter in 2018 we see a rise of just under 2.5% in world art prices.
Inside Tips on Art Collecting and Investing, NYC, Thursday, Sep. 28th, 6pm –8pm
Ray Waterhouse & Judd Tully
Join Ray Waterhouse and the Fine Art Brokers team for a talk on 'How to Buy and Invest in Art' at a spectacular Tribeca penthouse. Ray will talk for 30 minutes and give insights about how to research and assess what to buy, how to judge value, how to avoid pitfalls and how to assess art as an investment. With over 40 years of experience in the international art market, Ray has formed important collections of European and Western Art, and has bought and sold over 6,000 paintings.
Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sales, New York, Fall 2016
Sotheby’s, 7pm, 14 November
Christie’s, 7pm, 16 November
We are pleased to introduce the evening sales below. We realise that the value of these works falls outside the parameters of most of our clients, but the major works are a market indicator and have more interesting stories to tell. For information and our personal viewpoints on the Day sales, please contact Ray Waterhouse in New York or Adrian Biddell in London, who will both be viewing and attending the auctions.
At Sotheby's London on 10th November (7pm) and 11th November (10:30am)
These are interesting times for the Modern British market. Recent auctions have seen a greatly increased number of buyers from outside the UK who have been alerted to the perceived under-valuation of modern British artists in comparison to their American and European peers. The relative weakness of Sterling is only going aid this trend. The principal Modern British auctions will take place at Sotheby’s, Christie's and Bonham’s during the week starting 21st November; however a very significant indicator will happen before those sales. The auction of David Bowie’s fascinating collection on the 10th and 11th November will add a considerable sprinkling of A-list glamour to the market. Public viewing opened with a great fanfare on the 1st November and by lunch time on the 2nd I had already walked around the exhibition with 3 different collectors, one of whom had flown in from North Carolina. The venue struggles to handle the sheer volume of works for sale. The lots from the fine art sales mingle with the proliferation of lots from the Part III design sale, and together with the hordes of visitors this creates a rather overwhelming viewing experience. One has to be disciplined enough to imagine each lot individually, which is not always easy.
Last Wednesday, October 26th saw the first fair run by The European Fine Art Foundation (TEFAF) come to an end in New York, after a five day run. The reaction from visitors and exhibitors was very positive. TEFAF’s fair in Maastricht, which has run for 29 years, has long been the quality benchmark for all art fairs. One important factor that sets Maastricht apart is the vast range of very high quality works on offer across the fine art and decorative art spectrum; ‘museum quality’ is an overused term, but for Maastricht it is completely relevant. Another factor is the stringent vetting, which takes two days and involves a large number of museum curators and top specialists in their fields.
Adrian Biddell and Andrea Sebastian are pleased to represent Fine Art Brokers at the 51st Annual Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning. Considered the largest national conference of its kind, the annual event will take place in Orlando from January 9-13th, 2017. Fine Art Brokers will be on hand to introduce our services to over 2,500 Trusts & Estates professionals, including attorneys, fiduciaries, accountants and wealth managers.
The first part of an occasional guide, both informative and irreverent, to the art world’s usage and abusage of the English language, originally written by us in 1991 but still surprisingly relevant.
What have we learnt from the recent auctions in New York and the main art fairs - Spring Masters, Frieze and Art New York?
In short, we have learnt that there is still excellent demand for good quality works of art but a lack of available masterpieces and top quality works in general resulted in much lower sales totals than May 2015. Auctions saw good sales rates – the percentage of lots sold - and the art fairs were busy, with Frieze in particular reporting great results. Overall, the market has become less heated, which in an election year is predictable especially after the economic repercussions of the oil price. In the words of one of the best commentators on the market, Judd Tully, auctioneers and dealers were 'faced with a more discriminating market fixated on both quality and value'.
Fine Art Brokers announces an association with Winston Art Group for appraisal and valuation services
Fine Art Brokers is pleased to recommend Winston Art Group as a preferred provider of appraisal services. We realize the importance of keeping your collection’s appraisal up to date, and Winston Art Group is the nation’s leading art appraisal firm. Independent of any auction house or dealer, Winston Art Group specializes in confidential and objective appraisal services for all types of fine art, decorative art, jewelry and collectibles. For more information please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Winston Art Group to schedule an appraisal appointment by e-mailing Claire Brown at email@example.com, or calling 1.212.542.5755.
Adrian Biddell discusses some of the highlights of the May 2016 sales of Impressionist & Modern Art at Sotheby's and Christie's
The Impressionist & Modern sales in New York are round the corner (sales scheduled at Sotheby's, Christie's, Phillips and Bonhams from 8th - 13th May). And this season the week is also host to the Sotheby's and Christie's Post-War and Contemporary sales as well. It means that the two sale categories are no longer spread out over a fortnight, but the auctions will take place within six days of each other. 2000 lots will be hammered down. If to this number you add the three main Fine Art Fairs that are scheduled to open the week before (during the auction houses' pre-sale viewing) – Art New York (begins 3 May) and Spring Masters and Frieze New York (both begin 5th May) - the exceptional number of items on offer from these collecting categories spread across Manhattan could easily exceed 8000.
By Jamie Anderson
Boom years in any market are usually characterised by rapid price rises by particular artists or groups. For what is classified ‘Modern British Art’, which is broadly speaking art executed in a modern and progressive style between 1900 and 1980, the Scottish Colourists and the Newlyn School defined the boom years of the late 1980s and in the 2000-2008 period Post-War Abstraction, particularly St Ives artists, became highly collectable. After the economic downturn that followed the Lehman Brother's collapse and the banking crisis, the market for large gestural abstraction lessened and became highly selective, allowing the market to develop and discover other collecting areas.
By Stefany Morris
Between May 5 and May 15, the main New York auction houses will feature no fewer than 11 sales comprised of Impressionist, Modern, Post-War and Contemporary Art. Monet takes center stage with 10 canvases, four of which are estimated at or above $15 million, Giacometti and Picasso are also poised to break records.