Tag Archives: Sotheby’s

Pierre Berge Library Auction By Sotheby’s: Part Two

As we announced a few months agoPierre Berge, the co-founder of the Yves Saint Laurent fashion empire has auctioned off the second part of his library in Paris. The private collection, which was made up of 376 works, is estimated to be the most valuable and has raised five million euros. Under the care of auction house Sotheby’s, rare first editions of classics of 19th century European literature including signed books by French greats such as Balzac, Hugo, Stendhal and Baudelaire.

Two pieces by Gustave Flaubert went under the hammer. The first, was a handwritten manuscript that sees the whole passages of the novelist’s travelogue “Over the Fields and over the Shores”, scratched out. The travelogue that earned 537,880 euros, was an account of his tour of France’s Loire and Brittany regions in 1886. The second was an original edition of Flaubert’s masterpiece “Madame Bovary” that sold for nearly twice its estimate at 190,369 euros.

However, the top earner from the two-day sale was for the manuscript of Stephane Mallarme’s “Noces d’Heriodiade”. The manuscript about the marriage of the biblical character Salome’s mother, sold for 587,720 euros. The sale adds to the 11.7 million euros that had been raised by the French philanthropist last year from first part of his collection. With four more sales of the library planned for next year, the collection is expected to be worth over 30 million euros. The proceeds of the auctions will be given to a foundation set up by Berge with Saint Laurent.

3 Magnificent Jewels & Noble Jewels Auction Lots

On November 16, the Sotheby’s auction house in Geneva will be putting some beautiful jewelry on the block as part of its Magnificent Jewels & Noble Jewels sale. As the name suggests, the auction will feature pieces of prominence that are not only rare but also of significance. While the full collection is currently on its way to New York for an exhibition before the auction, there are a few lots that have caught our attention.imperial-russian-necklace-with-bowknot-clasp-hr

From Russia with love, comes two pieces of jewelry that are linked to Peter the Great and Catherine the Great. As two of Russia’s most important and best known leaders, it comes as no surprise that they were in possession of such fine pieces. The first is a elegant diamond necklace that is fastened with a delicate bowknot clasp (above). While it is said that the Empress Catherine II (also known to us today as ‘the Great’) had commissioned it as two separate pieces, the jewel has survived centuries and even World Wars hidden away in the Kremlin. At the auction, the jewel is expected to fetch more than $3 million.super-diamond-parure-zoom-hr

The second of the two is said to be one of the most important parures of antique colored diamond jewels (above) to go under the hammer in the last five decades. The parure once played an important role in ending the Pruth River Campaign, possibly the so-called bribe that saved Peter the Great’s army from a crushing defeat at the hands of the Ottoman Turks. Later, in the hands of the ill-fated Sultan Abdul Hamid II, the necklace in its present form was gifted to the wife of the Teufik of Egypt for what is thought to be the birth of the last Khedive of Egypt and Sudan.

“These two stunning jewels carry with them a fascinating insight into the luxury and opulence of the Russian court,” said David Bennett, Worldwide Chairman of Sotheby’s International Jewelry Division. He added “It is difficult to overstate their rarity and historical importance, and I am thrilled to be able to present them side by side this autumn.”the-sky-blue-diamond-hr

The final piece that we take a closer look at before the sale is ‘The Sky Blue Diamond’ (above) from Cartier that sits in the center. Measuring in at 8.01 carats, the rare fancy blue diamond is one that many diamond aficionados would love to own thanks to its rare hue. With an estimated value of $15 to 25 million, Sotheby’s is waiting with bated breath to find out of the gem will help it set a new world record for a third time in two years. The auction house previously set the bar for auction prices of blue diamonds with the Blue Moon of Josephine that was sold for a whopping $48.5 million or $4 million per carat (mind the currency fluctuations, which have raised the price in USD quite significantly.

The Magnificent Jewels & Nobel Jewels Collection will make its was to New York for an exhibition from November 4 to 6 and then to Geneva from November 12 to 16.

Zeng Fanzhi Returns to Roots

Zeng Fanzhi Returns to Roots at Beijing Retrospective

Blue-chip Chinese artist Zeng Fanzhi built up a lucrative career by looking to the West for inspiration and buyers, but a new retrospective in Beijing reveals an unlikely turn back towards China’s own aesthetics and traditions.

It is a story increasingly common in the world’s second largest economy, where an growing disillusionment with material wealth has sent a generation in search of a heritage lost.

Zeng is China’s second best-selling living artist, according to wealth publisher the Hurun Report.

“In the beginning, you feel happy that you’ve attained a certain kind of recognition, and are sold for a very high price, but as time goes on, it vexes you,” he said. “People badmouth you, and the success influences your emotional state and creative process,” he added.

In 2013, his painting “The Last Supper” sold for $23.3 million at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong, at the time the most expensive contemporary Asian work ever sold at auction.

It was one of his “Mask” series, paintings whose empty-eyed, white-masked figures spoke of the psychological tensions lurking in China as the political idealism of the 1980s gave way to the 1990s’ single-minded focus on rapid economic growth.

The media attention paid to just one period of his nearly three decade-long career left him feeling pigeon-holed, Zeng told AFP, following the opening of a retrospective of his work this month at Beijing’s Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art (UCCA).

The masks became a brand, he said, an easily commodified image that reinforced Western preconceptions of China and were used by auction houses and art publications to boost their own sales.

Zeng rode the wave of China’s development, rising to fame from humble beginnings at a time when the country had no significant art market of its own.

Now that its art scene is well-established, he has lost the need to seek validation and inspiration from the West, choosing to look instead to his own roots, he said.

“In the ’80s, we were so starved for outside information; we wanted so much to understand the world and know about Western art,” he said, explaining his early obsession with artists like Paul Cezanne, Willem de Kooning and Lucian Freud.

He said: “But nowadays, there’s such an overwhelming amount of information – it’s cognitive overload. I have to close myself off and look inward to maintain my sense of self.”

Zeng Fanzhi Returns to Roots

This picture taken on September 22, 2016 shows staff members at the “Parcours: Zeng Fanzhi” exhibition at Beijing’s Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art (UCCA). Blue-chip Chinese artist Zeng built up a lucrative career by looking to the West for inspiration and buyers, but a new retrospective in Beijing reveals an unlikely turn back towards China’s own aesthetics and traditions. © WANG ZHAO / AFP

Stark contrast

Zeng’s new show “Parcours: Zeng Fanzhi” exhibits more than 60 works from each of his wildly different major artistic stages, many for the first time on the mainland. He hopes it will provide a more complete picture of his continuous process of reinvention.

Monumental oil paintings of abstract landscapes overgrown with dark snarls of branches dominate the gallery’s central nave, flanked by detailed portraits of his Western muses.

The canvases are a stark contrast to his latest series: understated, black-and-white works on paper inspired by Song dynasty paintings.

They arise out of Zeng’s 2008 shift towards an exploration of paper itself, finding inspiration for his brushwork in the subtle variations of its grain – a technique inspired by Chinese artistic philosophies.

“As you grow older, your whole aesthetic sense and preferences change,” said Zeng, who has started collecting traditional Chinese art and designing literati gardens like the one outside his studio, which features jagged scholar’s rocks, stone lions and a koi pond.

Art for art’s sake

Despite Zeng’s philosophical shift, UCCA director Philip Tinari admitted that it was impossible for the show to escape the shadow of his sales records: “He has probably created more financial value than all but a very few artists alive today.”

Nevertheless, “there’s an honesty about this work that’s not immediately apparent,” Tinari said. Zeng’s output is testament to a key moment in China’s artistic engagement with the outside world, when his generation found real inspiration and meaning in the Western idea of art as a tool of fomenting social change, he explained.

In the recent paper series, Tinari said he saw Zeng “pulling further and further back from the day-to-day of reality” as he grew older and wealthier, a change that echoes China’s growing global status.

The return to a Chinese artistic vocabulary reflects not just a change in the way Zeng sees himself, but in the way the world sees Chinese artists.

As China becomes richer and more powerful, Tinari said, its artists do “not necessarily need to make work that narrates the Chinese situation, or that explains the social and political problems and questions of the nation”. The change, he said, is a sign that China, along with its art market, is maturing.

“The world is only ready to hear about art for art’s sake from people who come from a certain place on the geopolitical continuum.”

David Bowie Art Collection Tours US, World

David Bowie Art Collection Tours US, World

David Bowie is many things to many people, perhaps more so in death than in life. He’s certainly a rock star and a legend of popular culture, whatever you think or feel about his music. The beloved icon, who died January aged 69 from cancer, maintains an incredible legacy of transcendent albums and brilliantly reinvented alter egos.

His multi-faceted art collection, set for a keenly anticipated London sale by Sotheby’s, might mark him as an important art collector too. In life, his art collection was a private affair that stirred little interest. In death, well, everyone wants to know what role art (other than his own) played in his life and if his collection is significant. The world gets its answer as the collection travels for display internationally, to be followed by the auction in London later this fall.

Bowie’s amassed paintings, sculptures, and design items from his life-long collection were briefly on view at Sotheby’s Los Angeles hub, located in a tower in Century City (it concluded Wednesday, September 21). In addition to LA, Sotheby’s will display a selection of works at their venues in New York (September 26-29) and Hong Kong (October 12-15), before a 10-day homecoming display (November 1-10) culminating in a penultimate three-day auction in London on November 10 and 11. The collection is estimated at more than £10m ($13m).

David Bowie Art Collection Tours US, World

Jean-Michel Basquiat, ‘Air Power,’ 1984 © Courtesy of Sotheby’s

Simon Hucker, Sotheby’s senior specialist in modern and postwar British art, described Bowie’s collection to The Guardian as “quiet and meditative,” as well as “unusual and unpredictable, as you’d guess with Bowie.”

The array spans Harold Gilman’s “Interior (Mrs Mounter),” a portrait of an English cleaning lady in a Tottenham Court Road room (1917); Ettore Sottsass’s Enorme Telephone (1986); Wyndham Lewis’s “Circus Scene” (1913-14); Patrick Caulfield’s “Foyer,” a 1973 portrait of a cinema entrance, valued up to £600,000; Damien Hirst’s “Beautiful, Shattering, Slashing, Violent, Pinky, Hacking, Sphincter Painting,” valued up to £350,000; and Frank Auerbach’s “Head of Gerda Boehm,” valued up to £500,000. (Of Auerbach’s work, Bowie notably said: “I want to sound like that looks.”) More affordable works by lesser-known artists balance out the assorted value spectrum.

Bowie often purchased works by directly contacting the artists in question, sometimes visiting their studios to acquaint himself with the makers and the oeuvres both. Bowie himself studied art and design as a young man at a technical college in the suburbs of London.

David Bowie Art Collection Tours US, World

Damien Hirst, ‘Beautiful, Shattering, Slashing, Violent, Pinky, Hacking, Sphincter Painting,’ 1995 © Courtesy of Sotheby’s

Survive your first classic car auction

Guide: How to Survive Your First Classic Car Auction

The height of the summer is also the height of classic car auction season and it might just be worth your time to attend. After the excitement of the record lots going under the hammer during the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance you might be thinking that attending an auction, whether to get your hands on a multi-million dollar classic or something more down to earth but equally collectable is something you want to try.

While an auction can be daunting and exciting at the same time, as long as you remember a few golden rules, there’s nothing to stop anyone registering, attending and potentially coming away with that classic they’ve always wanted.

There isn’t a minimum net worth threshold you have to cross to qualify or anything like that. “It is simply a fun, exciting, and sensible arena for both buying and selling,” explains Bonhams UK head of motorcars, Tim Schofield.

Budget, rather than the type of car you want, will dictate which type of auction you attend. For example, a typical RM Sotheby’s sale is almost exclusively made up of lots worth over $250,000. And even the one or two bargains could prove out of reach.

Survive your first classic car auction 1960 Fiat 500 Jolly by Ghia

But beware the 1960 Fiat 500 Jolly by Ghia, even it could prove out of reach. © Darin Schnabel Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

“The cheapest car in the room,” says Peter Haynes from RM Sotheby’s. “Someone who has just spent $2.4 million on a 1957 Ferrari Tour De France might well have a villa in the south of France and think that that car [it’s usually a Fiat Jolly] would look great sitting outside. So he’ll stick his hand in his pocket and take it.”

Gooding & Co takes a similar high-value approach but will ensure 5 to 10 genuinely affordable niche models in its catalogue. However for the best spread of brands and price points, look to a Bonhams, Russo and Steele, or Mecum sale.

Once you’ve picked your auction, get researching. “Make sure you know the good points and bad points of each model type,” says Schofield. “Go and look at the best example you can – even if you can’t afford it – and judge every other example you see against that car.”

If registered to bid, you can go and see a car before the auction and even take it for a test drive. And don’t be afraid to ask questions: the auction house is meant to be staffed with experts.

But the most important thing to remember is funds. Set a budget and stick to it absolutely. Make sure you’ve factored in everything, not just the buyer’s premium. “Auction houses levy charges for collection and storage of lots that are not taken away by their new owners immediately,” warns Schofield.

Survive your first classic car auction

People bid for a Shelby Daytona Coupe at a Mecum auction. © Mecum Auction Company

Thrill of the Moment

Haynes says that first-time bidders need to remember that an auction is designed to drive the greatest price possible for a car and plenty of sales are organized to get people excited and pumped up: “It can be a very charged atmosphere and the buildup can be like being in a stadium for a football match waiting for the kickoff.”

That’s why Schofield says you must stay alert. “You must be aware of what’s happening in the room. At Bonhams, we aim to sell 30 vehicles an hour – so don’t wave to a friend, it could be a very expensive gesture!”

Watch out too for what Haynes calls the perfect storm. “It’s when there are two or three people in the room that feel exactly the same way that you do about a car. That’s when they all start bidding against each other and occasionally cars can go for very big money.”

The final point to remember is that all sales are final. If you buy a car at auction and then have a change of heart, there is nothing you can do about it. “There is no ‘cooling-off’ period. Once the auctioneer drops the hammer, a contract is made,” says Schofield.

So, research, view the lot, ask questions, set a budget, be aware of what’s happening in the room and be absolutely certain that it’s what you want, and everything will be fine.

classic cars Japanese models 1967 Toyota 2000GT

Classic Cars: Do Japanese Models Qualify?

The short answer is no, Japanese automakers didn’t produce anything noteworthy prior to WWII, which is what properly classic cars have to be but if we expand this to “modern” classics then the answer might be very different. Hold on, you might say. Who made these rules anyway, and isn’t modern classic a contradiction? Well, read on and find out for yourself.

The classic car establishment used to turn its nose up at things like Nissan Skylines and Datsun 240Z coupés but could the tide be turning for modern Japanese classics and will they soon sit in collections alongside 1970s Ferraris and 80s Porsches?

When the Beaulieu (the British National Motor Museum) opened its gates for a Simply Japanese rally on the last weekend of July, it attracted 1,248 cars, 35 different owners clubs and 2500 visitors.

Yet when it comes to events like the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in California, a pristine Japanese car will be a rare sight indeed on the impeccably manicured lawns among the Bugattis and Mercedes.

classic cars Japanese models 1973 Datsun 240Z Coupé

A 1973 Datsun 240Z Coupé © David Newhardt, Courtesy of Mecum Auctions

“There are no pre-war Japanese classics, as such,” explains Peter Haynes from the RM Sotheby’s auction house. The oldest concours events still adhere to the rule that only cars built before WWII are genuine classics.

However, even with the rise of the ‘modern classic’ – think 1950s and 60s Ferraris – Japanese cars have been unfairly overlooked, until now.

“There was a kind of snobbishness but there definitely is a change. Japanese cars of a sexy, sporty nature began to emerge in the 1960s and certainly really came into prominence in the 1970s and 80s,” says Haynes.

It started with the Toyota 2000GT, launched in 1967. “That car has been making $1 million or close to it for a number of years at US auctions,” Haynes points out. And now other cars are starting to find themselves in the same auction catalogues.

This is partly due to people finally accepting that a cool car is a cool car, but part of it is a new generation of collectors.

classic cars Japanese models 1973 Nissan Skyline 2000 GT-R

A 1973 Nissan Skyline 2000 GT-R © Newspress

The lure of nostalgia

Pre-war cars are considered classics because when the classic market first started booming that’s what collectors were buying – the exotic cars of their childhood.

“Those people are no longer with us,” says Haynes. “If you look at buyers at an auction now they are in their 40s and 50s and 60s and they are people of a different era and so are the cars they covet.”

The 2000GT will remain the gold standard because of its rarity – 350 built – but a quick look through the Bonham’s, RM Sotheby’s, Gooding & Co and Mecum catalogues (the four auction houses hosting Monterey auctions during Pebble Beach) will show a growing choice of 1960s, 70s and even 80s modern Japanese classics in amongst the 1960s Ferraris and 1970s Porsches.

“Early [Nissan] Skylines are becoming desirable and even some of the sort of more utilitarian stuff like the [Toyota] Land Cruiser. They’re highly regarded and go for pretty big money,” says Haynes. “Whatever snobbishness may have existed, I think that it’s going – look at the Datsun 240Z. People are finally looking at it as a car and saying that it is a really great looking car…They are finally being perceived as desirable and the values will continue to grow.”

classic cars Japanese models The Toyota Land Cruiser J40 1960-1984

Toyota Land Cruiser J40 1960-1984

Rare Mahler Score Exhibited in Hong Kong

Rare Mahler Score Exhibited in Hong Kong

A rare musical score written by classical great Gustav Mahler went on show in Hong Kong Wednesday ahead of a landmark auction by Sotheby’s. It just might be the world’s most expensive musical manuscript.

The hand-written complete version of Mahler’s lauded “Resurrection Symphony” will go on sale in London later in the year with a £3.5 million ($4.5 million) price tag — the highest ever estimate for a musical manuscript, according to the auction house.

The 19th century Austrian composer and conductor wrote 10 symphonies, but Sotheby’s said none had ever gone under the hammer in its entirety.

“No complete symphony by Mahler, written in the composer’s own hand, has ever been offered at auction, and probably none will be offered again,” said Simon Maguire, senior specialist in books and manuscripts at the auction house.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire a manuscript of truly outstanding historical importance.”

Fans viewed the 232-page exhibit Wednesday at Sotheby’s central gallery in Hong Kong.

Among the first visitors Wednesday was Anthony Cheng, co-founder of the Mahler Society of Hong Kong, who said the complete set was made particularly rare because it has Mahler’s conducting notes written across the margins.

“It’s not easy to see a complete symphony written by him or the complete set (like) we can see here,” he told AFP, adding that he believed the manuscript would hit its asking price at auction.

“Mahler is the bridge between late romantic music and 20th Century music… and his influence is still felt in the 21st Century today,” he said. “He is an icon in both conducting and composing.”

Sotheby’s said the manuscript was being offered by the estate of the American economist and businessman Gilbert Kaplan, who became “infatuated” by the work, also known as Mahler’s Symphony No. 2.

Kaplan went on to conduct the symphony himself with some of the world’s greatest orchestras before his death in January this year.

Top Auction Sales 2015 vs 2016

Stellar auction results from last year and this year continue to inspire confidence in luxury goods as an investment class but a slowdown is definitely underway. The 2016 Knight Frank Report released earlier this year observes that its own Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index (KFLII) rose by 7% in 2015 compared with a 5% drop in the FTSE 100 equities index (Brexit will make the FTSE a less-than-useful gauge next year). The report also notes that classic cars are the strongest performer (+17%) while furniture is in the red (-6%); these figures represent price changes over the course of 12 months to Q4 2015.

This year has been confusing for us to report on so we thought we would bring you the Knight Frank selection of top lots at auction in 2015 (scroll to the bottom), while noting some strangeness and a string of disappointments. The strangeness here is the record-breaking sale of the 1957 Ferrari 335 S Spider Scaglietti, which auction house Artcurial moved for $35 million (pictured top). At the time, various sources (ourselves included) reported that it was the most expensive car ever sold at auction but, due to currency volatility, this has been thrown into doubt.

As the Knight Frank report notes, the 2014 Bonhams sale of the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta sold for $38 million so retains the USD record; the 1957 Scag holds the Euro record at 32.075 million. At 2014 exchange rates, the Scag would have beaten the Berlinetta but not so today. We are now in the position of having two Ferrari claimants to the throne of most expensive car ever sold at auction! The failure of the Ferrari 275 NART Spider to sell in May brought some clarity to the current situation, with experts from every auction house anticipating and warning of a slowdown in Ferrari auction prices and, consequently, in the entire classic car segment.

Look no further than the top lots sold to date for some context. All-time highs were recorded in 2015 for Jaguar ($13.2 million), Porsche ($10.1 million) and McLaren ($13.75 million). The best result we have for this year to-date is the aforementioned Scag, with everything else failing to even register on the newsworthiness scale. This explains why you may not have read anything about impressive auction sales recently.

Picasso's $179 Million 'Les Femmes d'Algers'

Picasso’s $179 Million ‘Les Femmes d’Algers’

In the world of art, Picasso’s Women of Algiers remains the best performer at auction to date, selling for $179.3 million in May, 2015. Records thus far in this year include personal-bests for Jean Michel Basquiat (57.3 million) and Frida Kahlo ($17.2 million), far below last year’s stars Modigliani ($170 million) and Twombly ($70.5 million).

Diamonds also lost their sparkle in 2016, with the Lesedi la Rona failing to sell this year. Given that this is second largest diamond ever mined, its failure to find a buyer (Sotheby’s estimated $70 million but the final bid was $61 million) is lamentable. Nevertheless, the success of blue diamonds at auction last year continues to fuel hope for the colored diamonds subset. As long as Hong Kong tycoon Joseph Lau keeps buying these, prices look to stay rock-steady.

The Lesedi la Rona diamond from Botswana.

The Lesedi la Rona diamond from Botswana.

Knight Frank 2015 Auction Stand Out Sales

Picasso: Women of Algiers ($179,300,000 – sold by Christie’s, May 2015)

Marc Newson: Lockheed Lounge ($3,700,400 – sold by Phillips, April 2015)

Jaguar C-Type Works Lightweight ($13,200,000 – sold by Sotheby’s, August 2015)

Patek Philippe Doctor’s Chronograph ($4,987,383 – sold by Phillips, May 2015)

Blue Moon of Josephine 12 carat blue diamond ($48,400,000 – sold by Sotheby’s, November 2015)

K-Pop Star T.O.P. Curates Sotheby’s Art Auction

Choi Seung-hyun, better known as T.O.P., is no stranger to the Asian music scene. Hailing from the very popular South Korean band Big Bang (V.I.P.s raise your hands!), T.O.P. has an enormous fan following – and it is this reach that Sotheby’s is trying to tap into. For the first time ever, Sotheby’s Hong Kong has invited a young art collector – that means T.O.P. – to curate a contemporary art sale, in a bid to encourage a younger audience to get interested and involved in the art market.

In case you didn’t know, T.O.P. wasn’t chosen merely for his fame – he’s also a fan and collector of modern art. One need only look to his Instagram for an illustration of our point: apart from the occasional selfie, it is full of art. In an exclusive interview with Men’s Folio Singapore, T.O.P also reveals that he comes from a family of artists, so he’s even had some art “training” to his name. Throw in his role as co-curator for Singapore’s ArtScience Museum’s 2015 exhibition “The Eye Zone”, as well as his Visual Culture prize at the Prudential Eye Awards, and the logic behind Sotheby’s choice in T.O.P. becomes clearer.

While the exact lots in the auction have not been announced yet, Sotheby’s contemporary art sale has already been scheduled for October 3, 2016. A portion of the proceeds raised during the auction will go towards the Asian Cultural Council, which offers grants, programs and support to artists in order to encourage cultural exchange.

Watch the video below for more information. (Or, if you were here more for T.O.P. than the art auction, watch the video below to stare at his handsome visage.)

Auction: David Bowie Private Art Collection

Behind the flamboyance and music that was the late David Bowie, was an avid art connoisseur whose private art collection will soon be up for auction. While his life was spent in the public eye for nearly 50 years, his passion for art work was something like a hidden secret — much like his battle with cancer.

Damien Hirst; Beautiful, Shattering, Slashing, Violent, Pinky, Hacking, Sphincter Painting, 1995 Household gloss on canvas £250,000-350,000

Damien Hirst; Beautiful, Shattering, Slashing, Violent, Pinky, Hacking, Sphincter Painting, 1995
Household gloss on canvas £250,000-350,000

In November, a three-part auction will see over 400 of his prized pieces go under the hammer. The highlight, happens to be 200 pieces of Modern and Contemporary British Art featuring artists such as Henry Moors, Graham Sutherland, Frank Auerbach and Damien Hirst. “Art was seriously, the only thing I’d ever wanted to own. It has always been for me a stable nourishment. I use it. It can change the way I feel in the mornings.” said Bowie to The New York Times back in 1998. “The same work can change me in different ways, depending on what I’m going through” he added.

Ettore Sottsass; ‘Casablanca’ Sideboard, 1981; £4,000-6,000

Ettore Sottsass; ‘Casablanca’ Sideboard, 1981; £4,000-6,000

Prior to the auction, selected pieces from the collection will travel on a Preview World Tour through London, Los Angeles, New York and Hong Kong from July 20 to October 15. Those in the vicinity of Sotheby’s New Bond Street galleries in London, can also get a glimpse of the collection from November 1 to 10. We expect significant interest in this auction, especially the Jean-Michel Basquiat piece “Air Power” (1984). You might recall that Bowie played the role of Andy Warhol in Basquiat, the 1996 Julian Schnabel biopic. Such extraordinary provenance means “Air Power”, acquired by Bowie in 1997, might be hotly contested by collectors. In any case, Basquiat is currently in vogue, as our previous reports attest.

Romuald Hazoumé Alexandra, 1995; Found objects; £5,000-£7,000

Romuald Hazoumé Alexandra, 1995; Found objects; £5,000-£7,000

A spokesperson for the Estate of David Bowie said, “David’s art collection was fuelled by personal interest and compiled out of passion. He always sought and encouraged loans from the collection and enjoyed sharing the works in his custody. Though his family are keeping certain pieces of particular personal significance, it is now time to give others the opportunity to appreciate – and acquire – the art and objects he so admired.”

Georgia O’Keeffe Exhibition Opens at Tate Modern

The Tate Modern art gallery in London is welcoming more than 100 pieces of art by Georgia O’Keeffe to mark a century since she made her debut in the art world. Regarded as the “Mother of American Modernism”, the exhibition is also the first time in two decades that her work has been shown in the United Kingdom.

Featuring six decades of the artist’s career, the exhibition is broken down into 13 sections that chronicle the charcoal abstractions and famous flowers she was known for. The artist’s late aerial-retrospective paintings will also be included in the exhibition. Along with showcasing the evolution of her work, the exhibition will also explore the influence she received form various artists such as modernist  thinker Arthur Weasley Dow, Wassily Kandinsky, photographer Ansel Adams and Paul strand. With the help of several portraits and nudes, her relationship with Alfred Stieglitz will also be explored.

The common theme in her artwork is nature such as that in the American Southwest — think New Mexican landscapes —, which dispels the notion that she only produced pieces that featured flowers. A highlight of the exhibition is the “Jimson Weed/White Flower No.1” which was the most expensive painting by a female artist in 2014. Having been sold for nearly $45 million by Sotheby’s, the painting had been the pride and joy of George W. Bush’s dining room for six years.

The Georgia O’Keeffe exhibition at Tate Modern will run from July 6 till October 30. For more information, visit the Tate Modern’s official website.

IWC Funds School For Underprivileged Thai Youth

It always feels good to give back to the community and those less fortunate. The wonderful folks at IWC Schaffhausen must feel the same. This year, the brand has chosen to work alongside Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Youth Foundation, as they usually do. The collaboration will bring the underprivileged youth of the country’s Karen population the necessary professional training.

With the opening of the Hospitality & Catering Training Centre in Mae Sot, the luxury Swiss watchmaker and the foundation are hoping to bring the future of the country’s minority population out of the poverty cycle. Bringing the youth into the hospitality sector not only aims to provide job opportunities but can also be seen as a way to inject manpower in the industry.IWC-CSR-Thailand-students-2016

The facility was made possible thanks to the sale of the Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph Edition “Le Petit Prince” in red gold that was auctioned back in November 2015. Sold for $48,752 the auction was held in Geneva by the renowned auction house Sotheby’s. This is not the first time that the watchmakers have sold a timepiece to aid in a good cause. Back in 2013, IWC auctioned off a unique Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Edition “Le Petit Prince” in platinum for $177,563. The sale of that timepiece, went towards financing two school buildings with a library in Ruluos, Cambodia.

Lesedi la Rona: Largest Diamond Fails to Sell

Some say bigger is better but in the case of the Lesedi la Rona, that may not be the case. Said to be biggest uncut diamond that has been found in more than a century and the second largest ever mined, the gem failed to sell in London earlier this week.

The public auction saw bidders wiling to part with a maximum of $61 million but alas it fell short of the minimum sum reserve price that had not been disclosed.  Sotheby’s, the auction house that helped to handle the sale of the diamond even predicted that it would fetch $70 million. One reason cited for the failure to create a successful sale, is that Lucara Diamond Corp went with an auction method that is less conventional.

While most diamonds of this size and quality are usually sold in a private auction, the company chose to go down an alternative path with a public auction. The failure to sell the diamond also saw the company’s stocks drop 14.5% after the end of the auction. There is speculation that the result may be attributed to the Brexit kerfuffle (pretty much everything is related to it at this point) where many a wealthy diamond lover may have seen a significant dip in net worth.

Still, it is more likely that suitors for his kind of stone prefer to play their hands in private. Private buyers may still have a chance to bid for the diamond because Lucara of course retains possession. The company is said to be considering distinctly non-commercial avenues for the diamond, such as loaning it to museums for educational purposes.

Sotheby’s Saville Sale Quells Brexit Fears

Fears about the British art market were alleviated at Sotheby’s when a resoundingly successful sale of Contemporary Art went down – it raked in a total of around £52 million. Ok that doesn’t go as far as it used to but why quibble? With all the economic rumbling coming from the massive fault line underlying the Brexit referendum, it is worth remembering that the world just keeps right on turning and in times of trouble, one can still enjoy art. The star of the Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction was “Shift,” the famous and altogether quite visceral painting by the anatomy-obsessed Jenny Saville.

“Shift” is a massive 330cm x 330cm painting depicting five or so bodies (there’s a bit of an extra one on the side) stuffed together onto the canvas like sardines. In a specifically Saville-esque way (although her style has similarities with the realist grotesqueries of Lucian Freud), the bodies are naked, raw, elongated, and are spread all around with moldy skin suggesting frailty and decrepitude. This comes together as a wave of flesh that seems to protrude out at any viewer – possibly the meaning behind the ‘Shift’ in the title. Mind you this is a painting so for it to be this visceral is breathtaking.

It had its debut in 1997 at a Young British Artists show entitled “Sensation”, organized by famed art collector and impresario Charles Saatchi. The show was viewed as particularly offensive by the public at the time, especially for a work by artist Chris Ofili – a painting of the Virgin Mary decorated with elephant dung and collaged images of female genitalia. Well, the public has never really had much patience for depictions of elephant dung anyway. A case in point is a showing in New York, where then-Mayor Rudolph Giulliani tried to shut down the exhibition. Needless to say, it was a great success (the show, not Giulliani).

Surprisingly, established art dealer Larry Gagosian was beaten to the final bid on “Shift” by the Long Museum in Shanghai – who paid around £6.8 million for it. Founded by billionare Liu Yiqian (who, by the way, made himself infamous for drinking out of a 500-year old historical cup), the museum specially showcases his art collection. Liu’s focus lately has been about nabbing International works of Art to showcase to the Chinese citizenry. He procured a Modigliani from Christie’s a few months back, much to the consternation of Western fans.

Other than the Saville, Keith Haring’s pop-art nightmare, “The Last Rainforest”, fetched around £4 million. It is one of his densest works, as it layers a sprawling violent cartoonish landscapes on yellow and red splatters. The other higher earners from the sale include Jean Dubuffet’s grimy abstract painting “Barbe de Lumière des Aveuglés” (around £3 million), Sigmar Polke’s acrylic and fabric work “Roter Fisch” (around £3 million), and a version of Andy Warhol’s famous Marilyn Monroe reproductions (around £2.8 million).

If there’s anything we’ve learnt from the past, it is that art and literature blooms in tumultuous times. This is not to buy into the idea that suffering is necessary to breed creative genius of course (no amount of suffering helped artists within the former Soviet Union who were under censorship). At the very least, trouble builds discussion, and as the original show by the Young British Artists proves, the artist always aimed to be the loudest communicator. Even in an economic slump, people will still admire, consume, collect, and create works that reflect the atmosphere.

Sotheby’s Auctions Remaining Pierre Berge Library

As one half of the duo who founded Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Berge is regarded as a fashion mogul. On November 8 and 9, the French philanthropist will be putting up the other half of his famous library for auction at Sotheby’s in Paris.

The other half of the collection raised $12.8 million (which we covered originally here) so it would be no surprise if this collection fetches just as much. While the full auction catalogue is only made available in September, the current list of items included would make any literature fiend happy. The 380-work collection is expected to include the finest works of 19th century European literature, including the Marquis de Sade’s last novella as well as Gustave Flaubert’s account of his tour through France’s Loire and Brittany regions in 1886.

Made up of mainly English, German and Russian language classics, the collection also includes rare edition works from poets such as Byron, Shelley, Wilde, Tolstoy and Goethe. The proceeds of the auction will go towards the Foundation Pierre Berge-Yves Saint Laurent that Berge and his former lover Saint Laurent set up to support AIDS research.

Proust Archives Sells For $1.3 Million

The auction at Sotheby’s of archives belonging to the French writer Marcel Proust has passed, racking up a total sale value of $1.3 million. This, at least, is a sure sign of how great and rich – literally – a legacy Proust has left us. On the whole, the sale exceeded expert estimates for the collection, which was tagged at somewhere between $600,000 – $850,000. The trove of about 120 documents came from the writer’s 41-year-old great-grand-niece Patricia Mante-Proust.

The most valuable item in the sale was the original manuscript of In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower, the second volume of Proust’s grand masterwork In Search of Lost Time. This fetched up to around $120,000, well beyond the estimates of around $22,000 to $28,000. The manuscript includes crossed out passages and corrections from the author.

An original edition of Swann’s Way (the first volume of the work) which was published in 1913 was also sold, reaching around $70,000. Besides that, the auction was a treasure trove of memories, featuring several photos and letters involving Proust, his friends, his lovers, and his family.

“The set of proofs represents the author’s writing in the midst of his creative flow, with all its successive edits,” Sotheby’s said in a statement. Perhaps this may be what the suitors in the sale were trying to get at – a  representative slice of the creativity and vivacity of life that Proust channeled in writing his novel. That sliver of ‘lost time’.

This story was written in-house, based on an AFP report. Image are courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Protect Your Wine In Hong Kong Bunker

While Hong Kong is growing into one of the major capitals for fine wine out there thanks to the incredible concentration of wealth (and the potential of China), there is of course the minor issue of space because the SAR is one of the most densely populated places on earth. Wine storage can thus be a bit of a hassle, creating an opportunity for people willing to provide protection for the wines of various collectors out there. In order to cater to the highest end of the spectrum, Crown Wine Cellars has converted an old British war bunker complex into a high-security wine cellar, perfect for protecting some of the finest wines out there.

The six Central Ordnance Munitions Depot bunkers, each spanning some 1,000 square feet, have been updated and transformed into state-of-the-art wine cellars. Security is so tight that clients are not allowed to enter the storage houses and can only view the collections in small rooms, where they’ll be watched closely by video cameras. Furthermore, staff must wear wetsuits when entering the cellars (to deter theft, not because they have an underwater level), and some vaults require three codes simultaneously inputted to open.

Safe as Houses

Why so much precaution involved? One can point to the fact that the cellar holds two of the world’s most expensive bottles of wine ever sold at auction: the Château Lafite 1869 that went under the hammer in 2010 at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, fetching $232,692 apiece. And the client list will probably grow as time passes, given that imports are going up exponentially – to $1.5 billion in 2015, up from $206 million in 2007 according to Hong Kong Trade Development Council figures. The city also recently hosted the Vinexpo, Asia’s largest wine and spirits fair, showing their growing worth as a major hub for connoisseurs everywhere.

wine storage HK 2016

Even the government’s starting to take note – they’ve sought to encourage the storage industry by creating the world’s first Wine Storage Management Systems Certification Scheme in 2009. Crown happens to be one of the 37 companies certified, and has around 2,000 customers including major auction houses such as Sotheby’s. Gregory De ‘Eb, the company principal of Crown Wine Cellars, notes that there are “more than three billion Hong Kong dollars” worth of wine being managed by them.

Another such storage company is Wine Vault. Founded in 2008, they converted disused industrial space into individual climate-controlled wine storage rooms. The cellars span from between 40 and 80 square feet in size, and users can access their collection whenever they want, thanks to facial recognition software. All this adds up to a growing ecosystem to suit the various requirements and tastes of connoisseurs in the Asian city.

This story was written in-house, with an AFP report as the source and images from the AFP.

Download the Epicurio app on iTunes or Google Play now, to learn more about wines and purchase your very own bottle, today.

Top 10 Most Expensive Female Artists

When dealing with the notion of blue chip art, the names most people rattle off the top of their heads are those of Picasso, Warhol, Koons, and Hirst. While that indicates a certain inequality in things, at least compared with other creative areas (the name J.K. Rowling immediately comes to mind when you think richest author) – we’re sure that things are bound to get better someday. In terms of contemporary art, we already see improvements, as illustrated in this list.

Nevertheless, there are still plenty of institutional problems. The only thing we can do is to try and float those amazing works we find to the top while waiting for the stiff (ahem) mechanisms to loosen. In fact, Artnet News recently put together a survey of the most expensive female artists at auction, ranging from a variety of styles like Surrealism to Abstract Expressionism to Pop Art. So, without further ado, these are the top 10 women artists in the market to look out for:

Georgia O’Keeffe

Well-known for her lush and overwhelmingly Freudian pictures of flowers, O’Keeffe stands far ahead of the rest with the $44 million auction of her “Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1” at Sotheby’s in 2014. It was purchased by the Crystal Bridges Museum in Arkansas, and is a lovely display of greens and whites collaborating together in a singular depiction of a blossom of Jimson Weed. Her technique has some commonality with past figures, such as the flower paintings of Emil Nolde, and, of course, Van Gogh, but her embrace of clear depictions and controlled strokes makes her stand out as something completely different.

Louise Bourgeois

Differing in most part from O’Keeffe, Bourgeois is stark in channeling her psychic pain into her creations. Her sculptures and installations are nightmarish in their explication of the darker sides of sexuality – pulpy forms, bloody paints, eschewed figures, and insect motifs. All this culminates into her 1996 bronze “Spider” sculpture, which was sold by Christie’s in autumn 2015 for $28.2 million. The massive arachnid towers with its crooked legs and also features a sac of eggs, acting as a twisted ode to maternity, and in Bourgeois’s own words, an ode to her own mother specifically. Its seminal importance (as well as the rest of her works) to feminist art gives it its stature -also it is really big.

Joan Mitchell

Mitchell was previously in second place, but drops by one this year due to the sale of “Spider”. Still, her work “Untitled (1960)” sold for just under $12 million at Christie’s. Her abstract expressionism is well-known for its ferocity of color and her subtle implications of landscapes and forms even amidst the chaos.

Berthe Morisot

Turning away from Modern and Contemporary art for a moment, 19th century Impressionist Berthe Morisot stands at number four. Her work “Après le déjeuner” sold for nearly $11 million in 2013. It remains one of the finest works of the movement, displaying a red-haired woman in a room while a view of vibrant greenery comes through from the window. The outstanding color is a cool blue that brings a calmness to the whole scenario, while the strokes create a delicate atmosphere.

Natalia Sergeevna Goncharova

As a member of the Russian avant-garde, Goncharova’s work is tailored by the revolutionary themes of the period, like the angularity and geometry of Futurist art and depiction of social classes. She stands fifth on this list with the 2008 sale of “Les Fleurs” at Christie’s for a little under $11 million. This simple still life of flowers is transformed into an explosion of fierce aggressive orange, yellow, and red hues mixed with jagged shapes. The rest of her output applies such stylistic vivacity to all her subjects, from social depictions to mythological ones.

Agnes Martin

An abstract expressionist but different from Joan Mitchell in her adherence to minimalism, Martin’s “Orange Grove” was sold at Christie’s for $10.7 million this year. While looking almost like a blank piece of paper from a distance, a closer inspection will reveal a grid of pale orange lines. Playing with such empty spaces comes from her interest in Eastern philosophy and Zen silences.

Cady Noland

Noland is notoriously reclusive, but well-known for her postmodern/Pop-Art installations that make use of various materials and found objects. She’s fallen into various controversies with dealers for ‘disavowing’ her work, and she’s been sued by them, but that doesn’t seem to have damaged her stature. Her “Bluewald” sold for $9.7 million in 2015 at Christie’s, surpassing a previous sale drawing $6.5 million in 2011. The work is a screenprint of Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald with various ‘bullet-holes’ in his form, and an American flag at his mouth as a ‘gag’ – creating a shocking political commentary that can be read in many ways.

Tamara de Lempicka

As one of the major artists of the Art Deco movement, Tamara de Lempicka represents all the gilt and glamor of the style – being both a painter and an exquisite and fashionable socialite. Her “Le rêve (Rafaëla sur fond vert)” sold for $8.4 million at Sotheby’s. This nude displays the strong shadows and erotic potency of Lempicka’s brush, which is characteristic across all of her works.

Camille Claudel

This sculptor both worked for and was in a relationship with Auguste Rodin, and so she displays an equal knack for capturing the sensuality of the form.  Her “La valse, première version” fetched $8 million at Sotheby’s in 2013, and features two figures enveloped in passionate dance, with one of them draped in flowing bronze-forged cloth.

Frida Kahlo

Finally we come to the surrealistic Frida Kahlo at number 10, for the sale of her “Dos Desnudos en el Bosque (La Tierra Misma)” this year. Her inclusion, as well as Martin’s, knocks the widely favored Yayoi Kusama off the list, who was ninth last year. She’s well known for mixing up primitive and natural motifs like animals and plants with as flagrant an approach to sexuality, brutal imagery, and femininity as Louise Bourgeois. The work mixes together a Dali-esque barren desert landscape, with a depiction of a wild jungle, and two nude women, one dark-skinned and the other light-skinned. The imagery is esoteric but implies a stew of various meanings, from commentary on race, to religious implications.

Guide: How to Successfully Invest in Art Part 3

In this third part of the series on truly investing in art with a blend of passion, vision and a healthy dose of rational research, the practical aspects of creating a lasting art collection come to the fore. Before I delve into these practical matters, a final thought after Singapore Art Week on the approach of successful art collectors.

Is there a common thread that binds these collectors; something that contributes to the lasting legacy of their connoisseurship? One factor that does stand out is the dedicated, deep research involved in the best collections. This combined with insatiable curiosity gives these collectors an enhanced ‘eye’. This level of in-depth research gives you an overview of an artist’s practice allowing you to select what you think is their best work. It requires a significant investment of time; an art advisor can be a useful asset in this regard. I take for granted my nerd-like love of detailed research. It was ingrained in me as a young trial lawyer regularly reading boxes of documents for ‘clues’ to help our story. Scientists and medics do the same. They read, review and consider vast amounts of material to burrow down into the answer or the better questions. This applies to art connoisseurship too.

Your collection expands beyond the wall space of your home – what next?

One clichéd definition of a collector is someone who has too much art to hang on their walls. If this is the case, where do you go from here? There are a range of exciting journeys your collection can embark on: collector’s groups; loans to art museums; exhibitions, books and online catalogues; a private museum or as collateral to invest in new works.

Private museums are increasingly becoming the destination for important art collections as the buying power of private collectors exceeds state-owned museums. Dallas’ Howard Rachofsky and Vernon Faulconer opened The Warehouse in 2013 to show their collections with a curatorial vision and an education department. Regionally, we have Dr Oei Hong Djien with three private museums in Indonesia to house his vast collection.

Other collectors loan or donate works to state museums. Uli Sigg, ground-breaking Swiss collector of Chinsese contemporary art, recently donated part of his collection to Hong Kong’s long awaited M+ Museum.

A private museum is a huge financial and time commitment. An alternative is to hold periodic exhibitions of parts of your collection, alone or with a group of like-minded collectors. Singapore has seen some wonderful examples. Mr Yeap Lam Yang worked with the ICA and Rogue Art to put together a thoughtful exhibition and book of landscape works from his collection; ‘Thinking of Landscapes’. This show demonstrates his personal journey as a collector. The show brought together Chinese ink works from Chen Ping and Yu Peng, Latiff Mohidin’s representations of his interior mind-scape and contemporary works by Michael Lee and Debbie Ding; the former using architectural plans of buildings left unbuilt to invoked fleeting memories of imagined or forgotten landscapes. A group of collector friends recently hosted ‘Alchemy’ at Artspace at Helutrans featuring important regional artists, Yee-I-Lan, Dinh Q Le, John Santos and international stars, Olafur Eliasson, Wolfgang Tillmans and Theaster Gates. It was an interesting opportunity to see these works together in Singapore.

Alchemy Installation View; Image courtesy of Alchemy.

Alchemy Installation View; Image courtesy of Alchemy.

 

The common thread amongst these forms of display are that you are also advocating for your artists. As a collector and connoisseur, part of the allure is to be able to support and share the vision of ‘your’ artists with others. Renowned collector of Chinese contemporary art, Uli Sigg, developed a collecting plan in the early 1990s and then relentlessly sought out curators in Europe to take an interest in the Chinese contemporary scene and visit the artists’ studios. The aim of his collection was to capture a moment in contemporary Chinese history; it is an embodiment of the zeitgeist at the time.

If much of your collection finds its way into storage, then an increasingly popular route is to use the collection as collateral. Modern art is more suited to this than contemporary art as the values are more stable. Specialized banks such as the Emigrant Fine Art Bank in New York are willing to loan against Modern Masters. This allows a collector to take advantage of the increased market value of a work without divesting it; and to open up possibilities of collecting new works. Typically, loans are offered on works over a fairly significant price point, say $500,000, with specialists viewing the work and the storage arrangements.

It almost sounds glib but it is very sound advice to buy the very best you can afford. Many passionate collectors will stretch themselves; Marc and Livia Straus started collecting in their 20s when Marc was at medical school. One of their early purchases was an Ellsworth Kelly which took them three years to pay off.

Divesting works from your collection

Whilst I would advise all collectors to buy works you wish to hold for life, sometimes your tastes change. We change throughout life and as you look back at your early purchases, you can trace your own personal history; one of the joys of collecting.

It is generally harder to divest well than to buy well. There are a number of routes to divest successfully including (i) returning the work to the gallery you bought it from, (ii) traditional auction houses, (iii) private sales or, (iv) online auction houses.

During your journey from art buyer to collector to connoisseur, it is important to build relationships with galleries directly or via your advisor. Galleries like to work with collectors who won’t flip the art (buy and quickly re-sell at a profit at public auction). When it is time to divest, your first port of call is the gallery you bought the work from. They may have a long waiting list of buyers for the artist and will want to ensure the work doesn’t appear at auction at a bad time. Many galleries explicitly guard against collectors re-selling work too quickly by including resale clauses on the invoice. These restrict the buyer from selling the work publicly for 3-5 years or giving the gallery right of first refusal.

If this avenue is not fruitful, the traditional auction houses such as Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Bonhams, Guardian, Poly Auctions were historically the way to sell art (usually a generation or so after it was bought). Before buying or selling anything at auction, I recommend attending an auction to experience the unique magic of the sale room and to see how prices can sky-rocket or works can fall flat.

Untitled (1982) by the street art-inspired Neo-Expressionist Jean-Michel Basquiat sold for $57 million at a Post-War and Contemporary Art sale at Christie’s New York recently. This price will include a buyer's premium.

Untitled (1982) by the street art-inspired Neo-Expressionist Jean-Michel Basquiat sold for $57 million at a Post-War and Contemporary Art sale at Christie’s New York recently. This price will include a buyer’s premium.

Auction houses charge commissions at both ends of the transaction to cover their hefty costs and exemplary marketing machine. Christie’s do not reveal their seller’s commission and offer a sliding scale dependent upon how keen they are to consign a sought-after work. However, it can be up to 10%. The seller may also be charged for marketing, restoration, shipping and handling. The buyer’s commission is listed on all of the auction house websites and is known as the buyer’s premium. Sotheby’s buyer’s premium is 25% on the first $200,000 of the hammer (sale) price. There is a sliding scale thereafter, with the premium moving down as the hammer price moves up. To help buyers understand the true price of a work during the bidding process, financial blogger Felix Salmon launched an app, GAVEL, to calculate the actual cost to the buyer. In some countries the buyer must also pay an Artist Resale Royalty (a right of the artist or his heirs to receive a fee on the resale of their works of art). The advantage of the big auction houses is the marketing effort they lavish on their big sales and their global reach.

The last 10 years have seen an explosion in online auction houses. The bigger players are US-based Paddle8 and Berlin-based Auctionata. Saffron Art in India has a blended offline and online model and recorded the highest price paid for an Indian sculpture ever. The advantage of the new online model is the lower commissions for both seller and buyer. New York based, Paddle8 has a buyer’s premium of 15%, a 10% saving on Sotheby’s.

A final consideration is a private sale. These may be organized by auction houses or galleries or private dealers. They will effectively aim to match-make a seller with a buyer via their network. This ensures your privacy and a lower commission.

If you like this article, check out parts one and two below:

How to Successfully Invest in Art Part One.

How to Successfully Invest in Art Part Two.

This story was first published in Art Republik.

Royal Treat: Louis XIII L’Odyssee d’un Roi

Always pushing the boundaries of exclusivity and luxurious design, cognac house Remy Martin, in collaboration with some of the biggest names in artisanal design, has come up with a full luxury set featuring its Louis XIII cognac at the heart. The aptly titled L’Odyssee d’un Roi (A King’s Odyssey because, of course) features a bespoke trunk by Hermes, pieces by silversmith Puiforcat, and glasswork by royal crystallerie Saint-Louis. It will be auctioned off in New York at Sotheby’s in September. The proceeds from the auction will benefit the Film Foundation, a non-profit that works to preserve and restore classic films. You might recall that Louis XIII enjoys grand theater, as evidenced by its efforts with the John Malkovich film.

The bespoke trunk by Hermes is entirely hand-stitched with fine leathers and bears the same design as a classic steamer trunk (fitting in with the Odyssey theme). Puiforcat has its hand in making the elegant white-gold pipette bearing the name and the logo. The beautiful decanter with its ridges on the side, as well as four serving glasses, were blown by a craftsperson, cut, and engraved with impeccable skill at Saint-Louis. The whole package comes with a book chronicling the global journey of the cognac that boasts a history stretching back to the 1870s. All of it added up together as 1,000 hours of labor split between 50 artisans.

Of course we have to take note of the cognac itself. The liquid gold in each decanter is the work of both the current cellar master Baptiste Loiseau and his predecessor Pierrette Trichet. The blend invokes tints and notes of myrrh, honey, immortelle, plum, honeysuckle, wood bark, leather and passion fruits. What we know from oficial sources is that this blend is not the standard Louis XIII offering, although it is still all Grand Champagne. Before the auction, the three sets created will be exhibited in New York, Hong Kong and London.

You can watch how the process of craftsmanship comes together below, and if you want to know more, you can check out Remy Martin’s website.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=timJRo58Lh0&feature=youtu.be