Felix Salmon

The business of art fairs

May 7, 2012

If you’ve ever been to Randall’s Island before this weekend, chances are it was to see Cirque du Soleil — the transnational phenomenon which has taken an venerable yet largely impecunious centuries-old tradition, and turned it into one of the greatest money-spinners imaginable. Cirque du Soleil is, above all else, a branding triumph: it’s transformed circus acts into something which can be proudly sponsored by Infiniti and SunLife Financial.

Art valuation datapoints of the day

May 3, 2012

As you have no doubt heard by now, The Scream sold at Sotheby’s for $120 million yesterday, prompting Mark Gongloff to wax apocalyptic about “the big squeaky speculative bubble in the art world”. He’s absolutely wrong: whether there’s a bubble or not, this purchase was not speculative. The buyer, I’m quite sure, intends to keep it until he dies; this is not going to get flipped for some great profit. Still, this painting is a great example of exactly what sells for huge amounts of money these days.

Eli Broad’s conventional art

April 30, 2012

166249456.JPGEli Broad’s new book comes out tomorrow, and the cover alone speaks volumes. The title is “The Art of Being Unreasonable: Lessons in Unconventional Thinking”. And the way that Broad has decided to illustrate how unreasonable and unconventional he is? He’s posing next to Jeff Koons’s Rabbit.

Why is Jonathan Sobel suing William Eggleston?

April 6, 2012

Both Kelly Crow, at the WSJ, and PDN have interviews with Jonathan Sobel, a photography collector who is now suing the legendary color photographer William Eggleston. Neither of them actually posts the suit itself, however; you can find it here.

Annals of art world skullduggery, Larry Gagosian edition

March 28, 2012

Randy Kennedy has a good overview of the litigation going on between Jan Cowles, a prominent art collector, and Larry Gagosian, the world’s most prominent art dealer. He doesn’t provide or link to any of the primary documents, however, which can be found here, and they’re where all the fun is.

How Damien Hirst recaptured his market

March 27, 2012

It should come as no surprise that the Damien Hirst retrospective at Tate Modern has caused editors across the UK to run articles about what it might mean for the Hirst market. After all, Hirst, more than any other artist, is famous in large part just because he’s expensive.

Auction-house opacity datapoint of the day

March 13, 2012

Greg Allen has a fascinating report on a monochrome painting which went unsold at Christie’s last week. It had originally appeared in Christie’s auction catalogue under the authorship of “Henry Codax”, with this explanation:

The commodification of the contemporary art market

March 7, 2012

One of the odder reactions to my post about the commodification of Gerhard Richter came from Marion Maneker, who accused me of “serious lapses in logic and intellectual judgment”, not to mention “sloppy thinking and a poor grasp of the art market”, without ever really coming out and saying what I was meant to have got wrong. Instead, he confined himself to dropping this cryptic comment:

The commodification of Gerhard Richter

March 4, 2012

Jonathan Binstock is the head of Citibank’s art advisory and finance operation — the shop which was famously founded by Jeffrey Deitch. Recently, he put out a four-page research report on Gerhard Richter. According to Binstock’s report, Richter “has recently emerged powerfully as the next great market force among the tradition of 20th century painters including Pablo Picasso, Willem de Kooning and Andy Warhol”. What’s more, “it is clear that he is in the process of being catapulted to a rare and illustrious realm of authority”. And he turns out to have been a great investment, as this chart from the report purports to demonstrate: