Felix Salmon

Lies and auction hammer prices

November 14, 2010

The NYT has erred in the past, but generally it’s good about reporting prices paid at auction: the amount that the winning bidder pays for the item in question is the amount that the item sold for. That amount is then split between the person consigning the item to auction; the auctioneer; and, of course, the taxman. In the case of that Chinese vase, the hammer price was £43 million, the auctioneer charged £8.6 million commission; and the buyer also had to pay 17.5 percent sales tax on the commission, for a total of £53,105,000, or $85.9 million.

It’s a bad idea to regulate the art market

September 7, 2010

Anybody remotely attracted by this must be out of their minds:

The world lacks regulation of art securitization and art funds. With an exception of perhaps only India no country of any significant domestic investment market has a well defined regulatory framework for art funds… Well, as of this summer Russia not only has this framework but it already has the first pilot art securitization project on the way.

Why museums need more art lending

August 12, 2010

Eli Broad hasn’t given up on his rallying cry, which I first wrote about two years ago:

How Jamie Dimon sees himself

July 22, 2010


Well done to Jessica Pressler for picking up on this astonishing photo from the house that Jamie Dimon is still trying to sell in Chicago; it’s now listed at $9.5 million, down from an original asking price of $13.5 million. That’s less than $1.2 million per bedroom: a bargain!

The operations of Annie Leibovitz’s sophisticated advisor

May 27, 2010

Remember Art Capital Group’s lawsuit against Annie Leibovitz? It took pains to point out the sophistication of her advisors:

Art market datapoint of the day, Picasso edition

May 5, 2010

Holland Cotter today does a great job of disproving Sotheby’s auctioneer Tobias Meyer’s infamous maxim that “the best art is the most expensive, because the market is so smart”.

Art Capital made at least $16 million off Annie Leibovitz

April 6, 2010

What kind of interest rate do rich people pay when they borrow money? In the case of Annie Leibovitz, the answer is something over 44%. That’s the most interesting revelation from the latest court case to embroil the celebrity photographer, wherein a company called Brunswick Capital Partners says that it helped Leibovitz refinance her Art Capital Group debt with a $40 million loan from Colony Capital.

The Duchamp market

April 4, 2010

In his wonderful essay about Warhol and authenticity, Richard Dorment writes:

The single most important thing you can say about a work of art is that it is real, that the artist to whom it is attributed made it. Until you are certain that a work of art is authentic, it is impossible to say much else that is meaningful about it.

Annie Leibovitz’s new creditors

March 9, 2010

Well done to Annie Leibovitz, who has managed to extricate herself from her unpleasant embrace with the aggressive and litigious Art Capital Group. Her new sole creditor — and we can only guess at how much the principal amount she owes has risen to at this point — is Colony Capital, the $30 billion private-equity shop which normally has its eye on much bigger deals.