Things appear to be looking up for the art market. After five months of consecutive falls, prices are finally beginning to rise again as buyers become more confident and auction houses get a bit more realistic about prices. The renewed confidence appears to be having a positive effect on the auction houses themselves: Shares of Sotheby's have nearly tripled over the last five months. And galleries seem to be more bullish, too. Earlier this week, it was reported that Larry Gagosian is planning to add to his chain of eight galleries with a location in Athens. But not every segment of the market is bouncing back. Experts say that areas that became over-inflated in recent years due to "speculative bidding" are still losing value. Steve Cohen isn't out of the woods just yet, in other words. [Wealth Bulletin]
Ron Perelman already has a hand in the restaurant business: He's an investor in Graydon Carter's Monkey Bar and he also happens to own the building that houses Carter's Waverly Inn. But he has a new venture in the works! He's reopening the Blue Parrot, the margarita bar/restaurant in East Hampton that's been closed since 2006. Ralph Lauren had originally planned to take over the space; when his plans fell through, Perelman swooped in. And he's assembled quite the team to give the venue another lease on life.
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]
Hedge fund manager Dan Loeb hasn't had the easiest time as of late. Heavy losses forced him to dismiss a number of employees at the end of 2008 and the $5 billion he managed a year ago had dwindled to $1.8 billion last month. But Loeb is nothing if not crafty and he's since come up with a handful of way to cut costs and raise cash. He started renting out his jet on an hourly basis a few months ago, and he put an extra $5.5 million in his pocket when he sold off his carriage house in the West Village back in March. And now he's done it again.
Vanity Fair and USA Network celebrated the launch of "The Character Project" photo exhibit at Stephen Weiss Studio last night. Editor Graydon Carter, the mag's publisher Edward Menicheschi, and NBC Cable Entertainment president Bonnie Hammer were on hand to welcome Mena Suvari, Christian Siriano (left), Lucy Liu, Donna Karan and daughter Gabby De Felice, Katie Lee Joel, Rachel Roy, Rosie Perez, Jeff Goldblum, Peggy Siegal, Rose McGowan, Sylvia Plachy, Michael Musto, Gigi Stone, Lisa Anastos, Caryn and Jeff Zucker, Paz de la Huerta, Sky Nellor, Jeremy Kost, Josh Bernstein, Yigal Azrouël, Elise Overland, Bettina Prentice, Sarah Sophie Flicker, Kipton Cronkite, Liam McMullan, Izzy Gold, and Gossip Girl's Amanda Setton and Dreama Walker. [PMc, Wireimage, Getty, VF, NYO]
If you were an art dealer at Armory Week with expensive paintings to sell, you probably went home disappointed, like David Zwirner, whose Bernie Madoff portrait didn't find a buyer. "I went there with low expectations, said Zwirner gloomily "and they were not met." According to New York's Alexandra Peers, the works that sold at the Armory Show and its satellite fairs like Volta and Pulse were cheap (meaning under $25,000) and tended to look "homemade, handmade, self-conscious."
• More trouble for the Ciprianis: The family's Rainbow Room lease has been terminated by Tishman Speyer for failing to pay millions in back rent. [NYT]
• The latest recessionary byproduct: restaurants are getting robbed. [Eater]
• Noah Tepperberg has won approval to open a new lounge in Chelsea. [NYP]
• Adam Platt gives John Dory two stars in this week's New York, subtracting points for a "slightly uneven" menu and "overamped" atmosphere. [NYM]
• Ron Perelman, Jon Bon Jovi and Larry Gagosian purchased the lease for the Blue Parrot in East Hampton and now plan to re-open it in May. [Page Six]
• Tom Colicchio and Craft executive chef Damon Wise are launching a new Friday night menu consisting of dishes and drinks under $10. [GS]
• Want to sample some deadly blowfish? You're in luck! [GS]
Richard Prince's appropriation art has long been popular with big-name collectors, but there's at least one person seeing red over Prince's most recent works, which went on display at Larry Gagosian's gallery last month and are featured in a new book by Rizzoli. Photographer Patrick Cariou filed a lawsuit against Prince, Gagosian, and Rizzoli last week for using a number of his photographs in Prince's "Canal Zone" exhibition without his consent, pics that Cariou alleges first appeared in his 2000 book, Yes Rasta. Prince, of course, has spent decades using other images in his works. What's different this time around? Cariou says that in the past Prince has typically relied on "anonymous commercial imagery." This time, though, he took advantage of Cariou's hard work since the photos in question were derived from the "ten years he spent in the secluded mountains of Jamaica, gaining access to, living and working with, and earning the trust of the Rastafarians who are the subjects of Yes Rasta." There's one party, though, who we imagine is very happy to have avoided any further legal trouble: disgraced author James Frey, who penned the text in Prince's book, but isn't named in the lawsuit. You can review the full suit for yourself below.
Gallerist Larry Gagosian may have to turn to the heavens above to help him sell overpriced art, since it appears his staff isn't getting the job done, at least judging by the memo he sent out to Gagosian Gallery employees in recent weeks. "If you would like to continue working for Gagosian I suggest you start to sell some art... The luxury of carrying under-performing employees is now a thing of the past." [Intelligent Life via Gawker]
As we noticed yesterday, certain quarters of the media seem to be under the impression that if, like a child covering his ears and shouting "lalalalala," they pretend that the scene down at the Miami Art Basel is as glitzy and cash-soaked as ever, people will believe it. "Recession schmession," crows Blackbook. "From the rumor that UBS would not tone down their annual dinner and gala—even amid scandal speculation—to the abundance of caviar on hors d'ouvre [sic] trays, it all smells like decadence to me." Well, it might smell like it, but to the dealers and artists actually trying to make money, "it's all about markdowns and modest expectations," reports New York's Alexandra Peers in a dispatch entitled "Kmart Special Time at Art Basel Miami."
It's official: The art market has crashed and just like with real estate, expensive artworks are now worth considerably less than their owners paid for them. Shares of Sotheby's, worth $50 a year ago, have fallen to $9, and the auction house is now planning to let staff go—or, as CEO William Ruprecht puts it, "we'll be resizing our organization." Previously white-hot artists are finding that collectors are no longer fighting to pay millions for their pieces, although it's hard to feel too bad for anyone who's ever sold a canvas daubed with paint for seven figures.
On Saturday night, Allison Sarofim hosted her annual Halloween party at her West Village house, and the strict theme was Japanese anime. So how did social ubiquity Sarofim come up with such an inspired idea? You know, the same as anyone might: "I was at a dinner in Moscow for Larry Gagosian, and I was seated next to [Takashi] Murakami, and I thought, 'Oh, anime.'" If you were lucky enough to snag an invite, you'd have seen Allison herself as Japanese weapon-toting superhero DNA, Sony honcho Rob Wiesenthal covered in lights as comic book character Lightning, Cynthia Rowley as a Harajuku girl, and Chris Benz in six-inch pink platforms and a matching catsuit. (Other guests included Padma Lakshmi (left), Ann Dexter-Jones, and Jennifer Creel.) Hey, no one said that being on the A-list wouldn't involve some emotionally-scarring experiences.
Sales are, no surprise, slow at the Frieze art fair in London, where all the art world people—Charles Saatchi, Dasha Zhukova, Dakis Joannou, Gavin Brown, Thelma Golden—have been circulating among celebrities—Gwyneth Paltrow, Sienna Miller, Sofia Coppola, Kate Bosworth, Emma Watson—for whom being seen at an art event is a nice way of distancing themselves from the contents of In Touch. "I come to Frieze every year," Gwyneth told reporters. "It's something I really look forward to." (Of course, she didn't actually buy anything, deciding instead to pose for the cameras and talk about the election.)
Art Review has issued its "Power 100" list of the industry's most influential figures, and manages to make it semi-relevant in these troubled economic times: Erstwhile major art sponsors UBS and Deutsche Bank are conspicuous in their absence, and the list's compilers say that the murky economic climate has made established artists more desirable to big-name collectors. As a result, Damien Hirst is number one—the only other artist in the top ten, Jasper Johns, is number nine—followed by Larry Gagosian and the MOMA's new associate director Kathy Halbreich.