At an auction held at Christie's last night, a record-breaking $495 million was spent on paintings, surpassing individual records for works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jackson Pollock, and Roy Lichtenstein. The chairman of Christie's Americas, Marc Porter, said this was the biggest art auction in history. Some might wonder about the buyers—what are these people, made of money? Nope, just the paintings, paintings literally made of money and jewels.
The interest in late screen legend Elizabeth Taylor's sparkling hoard of diamonds, rubies, and every other precious stone known to man was renewed today when Christie's announced it would be selling all 300 items (estimated to be worth $30 million) in December. Here are some of the highlights, so you can pick out which of the pieces you'd like to bid on.
Planning on attending the spring art auctions this week? You might want to bring a spare suitcase-full-of-cash or two: At least a dozen pieces are priced in the $20 million range, including works by Picasso, Monet (pronounced Mo-neyyy), and Maurice de Vlaminck (he was a Fauve). But how can a poor struggling artist like yourself get that kind of dough?
Christie's auction of postwar and contemporary art last night turned out to be a considerably more upbeat affair compared to the mood at Sotheby's lackluster sale on Tuesday. The Christie's event roped in $93.7 million, a little bit less than the $104.5 million high estimate, and only five of 54 works failed to find buyers. And Larry Gagosian continued his shopping spree. The dealer beat out two other bidders for Lichtenstein’s "Frolic," paying $6 million, a new record price for the artist. [NYT]
Christie's auction of Impressionist and modern art last night was considerably more successful that the Sotheby's auction the night before last. The event raked in $102.7 million—close to double Sotheby's haul of $61.3 million—and while it's still a long way off from what Christie's was pulling in when the going was good, it's nice to hear at least one victim of Bernie Madoff got to walk away with some (much needed) cash in his pocket. Jerome Fisher, a founder of Nine West who lost an estimated $150 million as part of the Ponzi scheme, managed to sell a Picasso, "The Musketeer With a Pipe," for $14.6 million, well within the estimated range of $12-$18 million. [NYT, WSJ]
Auction houses like Sotheby's and Christie's are gearing up for their semi-annual sales of Impressionist and contemporary art. So how bad is it going to be this time around? Sotheby's says it expects the sales to bring in between $179 million and $256 million, down from $411 million last fall and $742 million last spring. So pretty bad, basically. [WSJ]
To be an iconoclastic photographer, a person needs sensitivity, creativity and ideally a taste for the wild side of life. But not, apparently, a shred of financial acumen: Like Annie Leibovitz, who recently pawned the rights to her work past and future in order to pay her numerous mortgages, Nan Goldin is suffering from some cash problems, as in she's spent it all. "I don't know how I did that," she tells a reporter. "I made a lot of money but I spent it on all this stuff."
The recession hasn't killed the art market, after all. Buyers defied the downturn as Yves Saint Laurent's art collection hit the auction block last night. Record prices for works by Matisse, Brancusi, Mondrian and Duchamp were set, and Christie's raked in $264 million on the first night alone. So who were these buyers spending big bucks? Here's a clue: "Among the last-minute VIP visitors to the exhibition hall, just four hours before the sale, was Russian billionaire art collector Roman Abramovich, accompanied by dealer Larry Gagosian. Christie's owner French billionaire Francois Pinault, was present at the sale." [NYT, BN]