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Kobel's Art Weekly

Simco for Senate
Simco for Senate
Stefan Kobel

Stefan Kobel

Kobel's Art Weekly 44 2023

Whether the art market is in a correction phase or a downturn is discussed by Daniel Cassady for Artnews: "So, is the market 'corrected' from the Covid boom? It's hard to say. This year, the Federal Reserve has embarked on its most aggressive campaign of interest rate hikes since the 1980s, in an effort to curb inflation. While some have claimed such hikes have little effect on the ultra-rich, the rates have had a devastating effect on venture capital and the tech industry , among other sectors. It would be silly to suggest that collectors alone are immune. The obvious other data point being the exploding covid art market in 2021, when interest rates hit their all-time low. One doesn't get wealthy enough to spend millions on a painting by ignoring macroeconomics. The reality is this: the market fluctuates, often dramatically. In 2017, the UBS Art Basel Report found that the auction market in 2016 had tanked 26 percent from 2015. The following year, it jumped 27 percent. The year 2019 saw a 17 percent drop from the previous year and 2020 was a 30 percent decline from 2019. And, of course, all that was sorted by a 47 percent jump in 2021."

Bettina Wohlfarth, on the other hand, brings good news from Paris in the FAZ: "The influx of the Paris+ par Art Basel has strengthened confidence in the Seine metropolis as an art market city. The offerings of the major auction houses during the week of the fair were correspondingly strong. Christie's alone held five live and two online auctions. Under the title '20/21', they grossed a record 126.7 million euros."

The direction in which art fairs are developing after the takeover by groups from neighbouring sectors is indicated by an email sent to Frieze VIPs last week: "I hope you are well and enjoyed Frieze in London. As you may know Frieze is part of the Endeavor Group and one of our sister companies, On Location, is the official hospitality provider for the Olympic Games (Paris 2024, Milan 2026, and LA 2028). I therefore wanted to ensure you were aware of the unique experiences they are offering. There are rarely opportunities to participate in events with so many 'once in a lifetime' experiences. A great example of this is 'On The Finish Line', where for the first time ever, guests can purchase seats just a few feet from the finish line during the exciting Athletics/Track & Field events." Tickets for the opening ceremony cost €5,000 to €9,500.

Meanwhile, the acquisition of Design Miami/ by online marketplace Basic.Space will not change anything for Art Basel parent MCH for the time being, according to them. The Swiss already held a stake of less than 5 per cent in Design Commerce Technologies, Inc., which they will not relinquish.

The last privately owned sketchbook by Caspar David Friedrich is being offered at Grisebach in Berlin with an estimated price of one to 1.5 million euros, Susanne Schreiber reports in the Handelsblatt.

With Jussi Pylkkänen, Christie's has another high-profile departure to report, reports Christian Herchenröder in the Handelsblatt: "The sixty-year-old wants to set up his own business as an independent art consultant, like so many front figures at Christie's and Sotheby's in London, New York, Paris and Hong Kong. Pylkkänen's farewell performance will be Christie's prestigious New York auction of 20th century art in November. Pylkkänen has made auction history. Among the most important works to come under his hammer are the 450 million Leonardo portrait 'Salvator Mundi' and a 'Marylin' portrait by Andy Warhol that went for $195 million."

Museums themselves contribute to the high insurance sums they have to pay, explains art insurer Oliver Class of Allianz Suisse in an interview with Richard Mayr of the Augsburger Allgemeine: "To this end, museum directors make a mistake: whoever lends the painting fixes the value but does not have to pay the sum. Let's take an example: the Schaezlerpalais would lend a painting by Johann Liss to Osaka and sets a very high value as the insurance sum, about 300,000 euros, although the museum knows that Liss is worth just 200,000 euros. But the museum wants to be on the safe side. The premium for this has to be paid by the colleague from Osaka. Only if the Schaezlerpalais itself wants to bring an exhibition to Augsburg tomorrow, will the other museums do the same. That's how it gets even worse."

The sale of Art Newspaper by the previous owner Inna Bazhenova to the Hong Kong AMTD Group, announced in June, has now been completed, reports Artforum.

As curator of the Diriyah Biennial in Saudi Arabia, Ute Meta Bauer believes in the potential of art to change society, as she explains in an interview with Elke Buhr for Monopol: "Because I see this society in a state of great upheaval. I compare it to Singapore, where I started working ten years ago. From there I am used to dealing with multi-ethnic and multi-religious groups, in a thoroughly sensitive context. At the time, I found it very exciting to build something completely new in Singapore, to develop an audience, to start a conversation within a society. Art is certainly a new economic factor, but perhaps more than an economic driver. In Saudi Arabia, my motivation is similar. What role can art play in one of these very rapidly restructuring and very young societies? Can it slowly open up to develop critical discourses?" Given the current developments in the Middle East, these are particularly exciting questions.

On 19 October, Artforum had published an Open Letter on the Middle East conflict, exclusively lamenting Palestinian suffering, which was initially signed by over 4,000 people from the art world. In addition, the text was illustrated online with the artwork of an artist who had mocked the victims immediately after the Hamas massacres in Israel. The follow-up discussions, which were mainly fought out on social media, led to many signatures being withdrawn and the text undergoing several changes. Artforum then felt compelled to publicly apologise, and owner Penske Media fired editor-in-chief David Velasco, as Zachary Small reports in the New York Times. Reactions to this move were not long in coming. Some Artforum staff members have subsequently resigned themselves, such as editor Kate Sutton, who lives in Croatia, as she shares on Facebook. Other ex-employees are mentioned by Harrison Jacobs and Alex Greenberger at Artnews. Some prominent artists have called for a boycott of the magazine, writes Zachary Small in the New York Times. Alex N. Press accuses the publisher at Jacobin of "siding with the rich". Even right-wing networks at work see Daniel Boguslaw and Natasha Lennard at work at The Intercept and attribute the sacking to pressure from collector Martin Eisenberg.

The ideological trench warfare that has been going on in the art scene for years is now coming to the fore. But there is hope. In Great Britain, the initiative Freedom in the Arts has just been founded and has set itself three goals: "Freedom in the Arts has three key aims, which are to protect freedom of speech and to offer artists all levels of support to protect their rights, to protect freedom of expression and make sure that the arts are the place where difficult ideas can be addressed, explored and discussed,to uphold the mission of institutions that serve the arts and the public, to make sure they maintain impartiality and are non-ideologically driven."

In his Instagram stories, the collector and speculator Stefan Simchowitz flirts with running for the US Senate. The fact that he is actually serious can be seen in the corresponding election documents (PDF), which show that he wants to run for the Republicans.

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