2015’s biggest art market developments and what they mean: The art market was valued at €51bn in 2014, according to Clare McAndrew’s 2014 Tefaf Report, driven predominantly by demand at the top end. The cut-throat competition between the auction houses has led to an increasing reliance on guarantees. The most notable was the $515m promised by Sotheby’s for the Taubman estate, but these financial instruments were widespread elsewhere too. The year also saw a continuation of the formula introduced by Christie’s in November last year: Modern, Impressionist, post-war and contemporary works of art were offered together in “curated” sales. Dealers and auctioneers continued to fret about the contraction of the art market in China, which from its peak in 2011 (admittedly based on unreliable figures) had fallen by more than 30% by the end of 2014, according to a report by Artnet and the China Association of Auctioneers.
23.12.2015, The Art Newspaper: 2015’s biggest art market developments and what they mean
A Year of Highs and Corrections in the Art Market: Looking back at the headlines, 2015 was a momentous year for the art market. In May, Picasso’s 1955 painting “Les Femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’)” sold at Christie’s in New York to an as-yet-unidentified telephone bidder for $179.4 million, a high for any artwork at auction. Led by that sale, Christie’s became the first auction house to sell more than $1 billion worth of art in a week, with a double bill that included 20th-century masterworks on one night and a selection of big-name contemporary pieces the next. Then, in November at Christie’s, the billionaire Chinese collector Liu Yiqian offered a winning bid of $170.4 million for Modigliani’s 1917 “Nu couché.” These dizzying and highly publicized auction peaks created a sense that the art market was booming. But overall, sales at auctions, the one element in the market for which demand can be statistically quantified, showed signs of slowing growth and even contraction in 2015.
01.01.2016, International New York Times: A Year of Highs and Corrections in the Art Market
What lies in store for the art market in 2016?: The new year starts with upheaval in the auction houses, a slowing, but by no means slumping, market for art, anxious dealers and a likely retreat from the guarantees that have bolstered the high end of art sales for the past two years. “We think the art market is cooling and becoming more selective even at the higher end which has, until now, appeared immune to negative economic and international news,” says Michael Plummer, principal of Artvest Partners and co-director of Spring Masters New York.
30.12.2015, Financial Times: What lies in store for the art market in 2016?
The price is right? Galleries would ‘rather not say’: Many dealers leave potential customers in the dark, allowing auction houses to define the market. Marc Spiegler, the director of the Art Basel fairs, believes that art dealers may need to be more transparent about pricing if they are to compete with the auction houses. In a presentation prepared for the Talking Galleries conference in Barcelona, Spiegler said that the fact that auction houses provide the only publicly available prices for art means that the market is “at [their] mercy”. In this way, the auction houses have been allowed to “define what is and isn’t important”, he said.
07.01.2016 The Art Newspaper: The price is right? Galleries would ‘rather not say’
France builds grand alliance to protect cultural heritage: Much closer co-operation between European authorities, shelters for endangered cultural property, the naming and shaming of countries that serve as havens for smugglers and strengthened laws against trafficking are among 50 “concrete and operational” measures announced by the French president, François Hollande, to protect cultural heritage in Iraq and Syria. Many propositions have already been put forward by Unesco at numerous international meetings. Will French leadership make a difference?
04.01.2016, The Art Newspaper: France builds grand alliance to protect cultural heritage
Guy Wildenstein’s Trial Suspended to Probe Its Constitutionality: Only two days after Guy Wildenstein’s $600 million tax-evasion trial kicked off in Paris, the Criminal Court has suspended the proceeding on the third day of the hearing, Wednesday, December 6, to probe the trial’s constitutionality. The presiding judge has ruled that the question of the case’s constitutionality should be decided by the Cour de Cassation (France’s highest court of appeals), Le Monde reports. The trial of the international art dealer prosecuted for tax fraud and aggravated money laundering is thus suspended until May 4, pending the decision of the Cour de Cassation.
06.01.2016, Artnet News: Guy Wildenstein’s Trial Suspended to Probe Its Constitutionality
06.01.2016, The Art Newspaper: Long-awaited Wildenstein trial postponed due to legal technicality
04.01.2016, Financial Times: Tax fraud trial begins in France of art-dealer dynasty
Owner of purported Monet loses case in French court: While Guy Wildenstein faces charges of tax fraud and money laundering in Paris, another French court has handed down its final ruling on a Monet that was the subject of a bitter attribution battle between the owner and the Wildenstein Institute. And it is a clear “non!” The work, Les Bords de Seine à Argenteuil (dated 1875 on frame), featured in the BBC programme Fake or Fortune in June 2011, in which its owner David Joel enlisted the help of the programme presenters, Fiona Bruce and Philip Mould, to prove it was a genuine Monet.
07.01.2016, The Art Newspaper: Owner of purported Monet loses case in French court
Lawyers battle to tip balance of evidence before Knoedler trial: US judge Paul Gardephe is considering nearly two dozen motions of enormous consequence for the first trial in the $60m Knoedler Gallery forgery scandal scheduled to begin on 25 January. The motions concern what evidence the jury will hear, and so will help influence their verdict on whether the defendants—the gallery, its former director Ann Freedman, and its owner 8-31 Holdings—should pay the collectors Domenico and Eleanore De Sole up to $25.3m for selling the couple a fake Mark Rothko painting in 2004.
21.12.2015, The Art Newspaper: Lawyers battle to tip balance of evidence before Knoedler trial
New foundation takes over research into Gurlitt hoard: The new organisation taking over provenance research into the Gurlitt hoard from a much-criticised taskforce promises to learn from past mistakes. “Our research will be sound, efficient and above all transparent,” says Uwe Schneede, a co-director of the Stiftung Deutsches Zentrum Kulturgutverluste (German Lost Art Foundation).
04.01.2016, The Art Newspaper: New foundation takes over research into Gurlitt hoard
Gurlitt ‘sane’ when donating art to museum: It seems Cornelius Gurlitt was of sound mind when he bequeathed his extensive art collection to a Swiss museum. That’s what a Munich court – adjudicating an inheritance counter-claim from relatives of the deceased German art collector – has heard.
22.12.2015, Swissinfo.ch: Gurlitt ‘sane’ when donating art to museum
22.12.2015, The Art Law Report: Court-Solicited Opinion Reportedly Concludes that Gurlitt was Competent to Make Will
24.12.2015, Artnet News: Court Report Declares Gurlitt Was ‘Sane’ when Bequeathing Collection to Swiss Museum
Sale of Nazi-Looted Art: At the first Conference of the German Lost Art Foundation, experts gathered at the Jewish Museum in Berlin to discuss the complex subject of provenance research and restitution of Nazi-looted art. It is not possible to quantify exactly how much art was looted across Europe before and during World War II, but “estimates suggest that it might have been as much as 20% of all art to be found within the territories that were occupied,” says Friederike Schwelle, Manager of Provenance Research and Restitution at the Art Loss Register. “It is just as difficult to say how much might still be missing but it is likely to exceed 100,000 items.”
31.12.2015, Artsy.net: These Four Assumptions Are Perpetuating the Sale of Nazi-Looted Art
UK Government Imposes Temporary Export Ban on Pontormo Masterpiece: British culture minister Ed Vaizey has imposed a temporary export ban on a 16th century portrait by the Florentine master Jacopo Pontormo and launched an effort to find a UK buyer for the masterpiece.
29.12.2015, Artnet News: UK Government Imposes Temporary Export Ban on Pontormo Masterpiece
For-profit Parisian museum in receivership: The future of the Pinacothèque de Paris, one of France’s few private museums, is in limbo after its parent company Art Héritage France went into receivership in November. The founder of the Pinacothèque, the Modigliani scholar Marc Restellini, says that falling visitor figures and astronomical rents are to blame.
05.01.2016, The Art Newspaper: For-profit Parisian museum in receivership
EU law rejects Getty Lysippos restitution verdict: There has been another twist in the long-running restitution battle between Italy and the Getty Museum in Los Angeles over the 2,300-year-old Greek bronze known as the Victorious Youth. The statue has been in the Getty’s collection since 1977. Crucially, a decision made by Italy’s court of cassation means that the museum does not, for now, have to return the sculpture to Italy.
30.12.2015, The Art Newspaper: EU law rejects Getty Lysippos restitution verdict
Scientists Uncover Pablo Picasso’s Chemical Fingerprint in Breakthrough Study: An extensive analysis of Pablo Picasso’s early work by a Spanish chemical engineer has provided some fascinating insights into the artist’s paintings created between 1895 and 1900. Using cutting-edge, non-invasive technology, chemical engineer Dr José Francisco García Martínez of the University of Barcelona, in collaboration with the Museu Picasso, Barcelona analyzed works from the artist’s early period, prior to the advent of Cubism.
06.01.2016, Artnet News: Scientists Uncover Pablo Picasso’s Chemical Fingerprint in Breakthrough Study
Taxing times: private museums under scrutiny by US government: The US government is scrutinising the tax-exempt status of private museums and questioning whether some institutions benefit their wealthy founders more than the general public.
01.01.2016, The Art Newspaper: Taxing times: private museums under scrutiny by US government
The Ups and Downs of Estate Valuations of Artwork: Last month, in Estate of Newberger v. Commissioner, the U.S. Tax Court found that a collector’s estate grossly underreported the value of an artwork for estate tax purposes by ignoring the fact that, in early 2010, less than seven months after the collector’s death, the artwork fetched at auction more than twice the amount the estate was claiming the work was worth at the time the collector died in mid-2009.
05.01.2016, Wealth Management: The Ups and Downs of Estate Valuations of Artwork
Why US lawmakers want Germany to take another look in its museums: In a letter emblazoned with the insignia of the U.S. House of Representatives, 29 members of Congress reprimanded the German state of Bavaria for neglecting its historical responsibility to victims of the Nazis. “The Free State of Bavaria has yet to fully honor its pledge regarding restitution or compensation for Holocaust-related confiscations of property, including artwork, made under duress,” read the Nov. 9 letter addressed to Bavaria’s governor, Horst Seehofer. “The importance of these issues to Holocaust survivors and their families cannot be overstated.”
06.01.2016, Jewish Telegraphic Agency: Why US lawmakers want Germany to take another look in its museums
Neville and Mallett New York branch tied to embezzlement case: The New York branch of Mallett and the company’s former director in the Big Apple, Henry Neville, are embroiled in the case brought by US authorities against Robert A Olins, the disgraced former chief executive of a technology company. In what court papers described as “a brazen shell game to deceive and hide assets”, Olins is alleged to have “lied repeatedly, grossly understating what he received from the sale of valuable art and antiquities so that he could pocket money that should have gone to satisfy [a $3.37m] court judgment”. According to the prosecutors’ complaint filed in a Manhattan Federal Court, Olins conducted the scheme from July 2011 in coordination with an executive of an art and antiques dealership, since named as Neville.
04.01.2016, Antiques Trade Gazette: Neville and Mallett New York branch tied to embezzlement case
LA photographer takes on Richard Prince in new lawsuit: Another photographer, the Los Angeles-based Donald Graham, has sued the artist Richard Prince for copyright infringement—and he may have a stronger case than previous attempts against the artist, who often appropriates found imagery in his work. Graham filed suit against Prince, Gagosian Gallery and Larry Gagosian on 30 December in Manhattan federal court, alleging that his copyright was infringed. Prince enlarged a screen print of Graham’s photograph Rastafarian Smoking a Joint and exhibited it in the show New Portraits, held at Gagosian’s New York gallery in September and October 2014.
04.01.2016, The Art Newspaper: LA photographer takes on Richard Prince in new lawsuit
05.01.2016, Artnet News: Why Experts Say the Latest Copyright Lawsuit Against Richard Prince Matters
04.01.2016, Art Law Report: Here We Go Again? Richard Prince Sued By Photographer Over Images of Rastafarian in Instagram Show
A Monkey Can’t Sue for Copyright Court Says: Those waiting with baited breath for the results of the infamous “monkey selfie” case can rest easy now: a federal judge in San Francisco has indicated that he will dismiss the lawsuit, filed last year against British photographer David Slater by PETA as a challenge to Slater’s ownership of a selfie taken by an Indonesian monkey named Naturo on his camera.
07.01.2016, Artnet News: A Monkey Can’t Sue for Copyright Court Says
07.01.2016, Art Law Report: Naruto, We Hardly Knew Ye—Judge Calls Monkeyshines on “Monkey Selfie” Case
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