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Kobel's Art Weekly

Iryna Balodian, War sponsorship; free via
Iryna Balodian, War sponsorship; free via
Stefan Kobel

Stefan Kobel

Kobel's Art Weekly 22 2022

Gallery Weekend Tbilisi is all about helping Ukraine, reports Aimee Dawson in The Art Newspaper: "Thirteen commercial galleries and museums in the Georgian capital will hold the first Tbilisi Gallery Weekend (28-30 May) with proceeds going to help the war effort in Ukraine. The collaborative project, titled War Diaries, will see each space present works by Ukrainian artists that have been made since the Russian invasion."

Fundraisers in favor of Ukraine can be lessons in bigotry, comments John Kampfner in The Art Newspaper: "The Brave Ukraine fundraising event on May 6 was organized by Christie's and the Ukrainian Embassy in London amid much secrecy. Accounts of it, from some attendees, shine an intriguing light on art, wealth, worthy causes and a flexible approach to morality. The warm-up act was the supreme master of ethical insouciance, Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He has won plaudits for being quick to provide military assistance to Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky and to give him vocal political support. Yet, true to form, he has uttered not a word of explanation, let alone contrition, for cavorting with the oligarchs, partying, playing tennis and taking their money for the Conservative Party."

Saskia Trebing at Monopol asks whether Art Basel in Hong Kong still has any justification at all in view of the political developments: "Through its Hong Kong edition, Art Basel and its participating galleries have secured access to the lucrative, and apparently quite crisis-proof, Asian art market. But there are signs that the business with art is increasingly shifting to other, politically less explosive metropolises such as Seoul or Tokyo. Whether Art Basel will stick to Hong Kong as a location or look for another home in the region in the foreseeable future remains to be seen. In any case, an open discussion about this is overdue." However, the question is actually much more pressing at Christie's and Sotheby's, whose large-volume auctions do not help the artists living there in any way, but very much help investors and speculators.

At least the event played out satisfactorily, Reena Devi sums up in The Art Newspaper: "At the two-day preview of this year's Art Basel in Hong Kong (until May 29), remote sales and an Asian art focus kept the fair buoyant-though not necessarily future proof-in spite of reduced physical size, visitor numbers and international exhibitors. "

The ten best berths in Hong Kong chosen by Valencia Tong at Artnews.

The parallel auctions of Christie's Hong Kong are summarized by Angelica Villa for Artnews: "Despite Hong Kong and Shanghai having just emerged from another strict lockdown period, the sales performed well, with a relatively high 93 percent sell-through rate and records set for 11 artists. Among the artists were established figures like Hernan Bas and Zhang Enli, as well as those whose markets are still growing, like Ayako Rokkaku and Rhee Seundja. Across the 59 lots offered, 55 of them sold. Just four lots were withdrawn from the sales' lineup. Eighteen lots, or around 30 percent of the sales' offerings, were backed with financial guarantees."

The auctions of old art at Lempertz recorded some surprises and rather tenacious interest among supposed favorites, reports Christian Herchenröder from Cologne for the Handelsblatt: "In the three-day auction sequence, gross sales of 8.6 million euros were achieved; most of the lots went to private customers. According to auctioneer Henrik Hanstein, the trade is 'still weak on the chest' after the Covid break."

Sabine Spindler announces the auction of Hermann Gerlinger's legendary Brücke collection in the Handelsblatt: "After all, he amassed one of the most important Expressionist collections in more than half a century. On June 10, Ketterer Kunst in Munich will auction the first part of the collection totaling 1,000 objects, opening up a cornucopia of high-caliber works for the slightly parched Expressionism market."

Barbara Kutscher provides a wrap-up of the New York Contemporary auctions for Handelsblatt: "The Phillips auction house not only managed to sell Basquiat's large format, owned by the young Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa, for a gross of $85 million. With the '20th Century & Contemporary Art' Phillips recorded an outstanding success at 225 million dollars. All 36 lots sold for the best result in the house's history."

I looked at Artnet's Annual Report for last year and its Q1 results for the Handelsblatt.

"Losing money with NFT", under this whimsical headline Ursula Scheer explains in the FAZ, how fraud works in the online world: "Phishing is the name of the scam that had already been used to knit a scam around alleged Banksy NFT. The fact that it is possible to trade in the blockchain in a wonderfully anonymous and decentralized manner without intermediaries has its pitfalls. In the current year alone, the equivalent of around $1.3 billion in crypto assets is said to have been stolen. The hack of the Instagram account of the highly traded NFT collection 'Bored Ape Yacht Club' in April is also worth mentioning. Click, click, tokens for millions were already gone; three bruised collectors are now suing the trading platform OpenSea. They cannot hope to get their 'Apes' back: Once a transaction is completed in the blockchain, it cannot be reversed."

For an analytical approach to online crime in the art market, see Riah Pryor in The Art Newspaper: "'The sheer volume and range of issues we are seeing has seen exponential growth over past 18 months,' says Rob Moore, the head of intelligence at Mitmark, which worked to collate evidence for a recent legal action brought to the UK's high court, over the theft of two digital artworks from the Boss Beauties collection. Two years ago, we were mainly dealing with 'traditional criminals', whereas now we are looking at 90-95% of enquiries coming through being concerned with cyber activity'. New methodologies are equally plentiful and increasingly common. These include: Pump and dump schemes (the act of illegally boosting a scheme, before selling up whilst prices are high), rug pulls (where developers obtain funds for a project before vanishing) and the outright theft or fraud surrounding NFTs."

It's not just pixelated monkey pictures that make millionaire toys: the Decentral Art Pavilion at Venice's Palazzo Giustinian Lolin hosted a three-day exhibition of fashion and luxury NFTs over the weekend, including one by Dolce & Gabbana, according to a press release: "'The Doge Crown'[...] has the record of being the highest paid digital fashion NFT to date, for approximately $1.3m."

After Martin Kippenberger's "Paris Bar" now also Maurizio Cattelan's Pope sculpture "La Nona Ora" has the authorship of the artist questioned by the executing craftsman/artist. Jürg Altwegg explains the case in the FAZ: "[Daniel] Druet wants to be recognized as the author of eight wax figures by Cattelan. He had, pleaded his lawyer, 'breathed life into the matter'. It was just the other way around, Perrotin's lawyer, Pierre-Olivier Sur, countered: 'Without Cattelan, Druet's sculptures are worthless.' The wax sculptor, he said, had been paid appropriately." Ultimately, the issue is what the concept in conceptual art is worth in court. If the court in Paris decides on July 8 that Druet is indeed to be considered the author, lawyers are likely to be busy with a flood of requests for restitution and claims for damages as a result.

The Louvre and some of its high-ranking employees are in trouble with the judiciary, reports Olga Grimm-Weissert in the Handelsblatt: "Jean-Luc Martinez, director general of the Louvre until the end of August 2021, Vincent Rondot, head of the Egypt department at the Louvre, and an Egyptologist at the Collège de France were allegedly not careful enough in the purchases of the Louvre Abu Dhabi." Maximilíano Durón has more details at Artnews.

Fraudulent art dealer Inigo Philbrick must go to prison for seven years reports Monopol. Thore Rausch for the FAZ sees one explanation for how the young man was able to cause damage amounting to 86 million dollars in the inadequate regulation of the art market: "The Philbrick case is exemplary for the temptations and risks of the art market, in which enormously high sums are at stake, but which, unlike other markets, is hardly regulated. The thirty-four-year-old American knew how to exploit this and specialized in speculative trading in art, buying works on the secondary market and reselling them for the highest possible profit margins." Nasty art market, nasty. In the financial sector, something like Wirecard would never have been possible. Because the financial sector is regulated and supervised in the best possible way.

semi-automatically translated


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