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Kobel's Art Weekly

cringy: Jeppe Hein at Jerry Gogosian for Ruinart in Miami Beach
cringy: Jeppe Hein at Jerry Gogosian for Ruinart in Miami Beach
Stefan Kobel

Stefan Kobel

Kobel's Art Weekly 49 2022

World class at last! What German football has not been able to achieve for some time now, the local auction business has. A self-portrait by Max Beckmann fetched 23.2 million euros including buyer's premium at Villa Grisebach in Berlin. "The purchase price is a sensation that will go down in art market annals," says Susanne Schreiber of the Handelsblatt. "The estimated price had been between 20 and 30 million euros. The prudent auctioneer Markus Krause had to encourage three bidders on the phone to make higher and higher bids. Those who wanted to keep up with the millions had previously deposited a bank statement. The bidders came from London, the USA and Switzerland. The latter won the bid. [...] A bid in the double-digit millions has never been listed in Germany before. Sellers used to deliver rare works of the highest quality in New York or London."

Niklas Maak reports on an unpleasant incident on the fringes of the auction in the FAZ: "A watercolour by Kandinsky consigned by Maren Otto was knocked down at twice the upper estimate, namely at 310,000 euros, and caused a commotion at the end of the event. Two police cars drove up in front of the auction house in Fasanenstraße and demanded to speak to the management: The Polish embassy in Berlin claimed that the work had been stolen from an exhibition in Warsaw's National Museum in 1984 and wanted to prevent the auction. In his usual drastic tone, Poland's right-wing nationalist culture minister Piotr Glinski is now accusing the auction house on Twitter of 'behaving like a fence'."

Susanne Lenz summarises the auction house's reaction in the Berliner Zeitung: "Grisebach first learned of a possible theft from a Polish museum shortly before the auction through a message from the Polish Ministry of Culture. It was immediately taken as an opportunity to start a legal investigation. This led to the clear result that there were no legal objections to the auction.""

20 years of Art Basel Miami Beach, 15 years of Marc Spiegler - technically a reason to celebrate. But when even Anny Shaw and Gareth Harris of the media partner The Art Newspaper warn of troubled times, concern is in order: "The art market is said to lag behind broader economic realities by several months-but some of those realities are already starting to be felt at Art Basel in Miami Beach this week. There's a whiff of something in the air,' says one anonymous blue-chip dealer. And he is not just referring to the rain clouds that rolled in on Thursday afternoon, bringing a sudden downpour. 'The market has reached something of a zenith and now everyone is buckling up for a bumpy ride.' He notes a drop in visitors from other US cities, including New York, Chicago and Dallas, as well as a smaller cohort of Europeans and even fewer clients from Asian countries, where covid travel restrictions have only recently been lifted. It's a combination of a reticence to travel and a reticence to buy,' the dealer adds."

Barbara Kutscher in the Handelsblatt does not believe the jubilant reports of the major galleries without reservation either: "Many smaller gallery owners also sold well to international collectors; others, on the other hand, described a rather subdued propensity to buy compared to last year's very well run edition. Perhaps a slight fatigue is noticeable after the tightly scheduled fairs in London, Paris and Seoul? Even the party scene, which used to be so exuberant, has not yet returned to top form after the forced break caused by the pandemic. The countless promotional events for luxury brands have also been scaled back. Miami cultivates a preference for large formats, shimmering and lively colours. That will be catered to preferentially this year as well."

In her fair report, which mainly explains the Miami phenomenon, Ursula Scheer in the FAZ is also not euphoric about the current edition: "How is the mood? Optimistic, say some gallery owners. Things are calmer than before the pandemic, says another exhibitor. No one has eaten a banana declared a work of art like in 2019, and the world has recently turned so fast that the Cattelan scandal has become an anecdote from the past. There is nothing revolutionary or risky to be seen at Art Basel Miami Beach, art can hardly keep up with the frenzied present. But that's what the fair has to do if it wants to create value beyond prices. No easy task for the future."

The good intentions with regard to artists' profit-sharing did not last long in the NFT market. The beneficial resale rights schemes of the various marketplaces are being cashed in, writes Torey Akers in The Art Newspaper: "Axios reported that four separate crypto marketplaces will stop honouring artist royalties, a worrying trend that impacts those who first introduced blockchain into the cultural consciousness. Magic Eden and LooksRare in particular have pivoted to royalty-optional models, allowing buyers to decide whether or not to pay creators the customary 3%-10% of the resale price for NFTs. The motivation is clear: traders want larger profit margins on NFT resales, and platforms want to retain and reward traders who buy in bulk, a practice that compounds fees at a steeper rate than one-off purchases. This progression has prompted investors to speculate as to whether the NFT bubble is finally ready to burst." Now that really comes as a surprise. Don't.

Watch marketplace Watchmaster has filed for insolvency a few days after burglars stole around 1,000 watches from lockers belonging to the company in Berlin, reports the Handelsblatt. The reason why this step was unavoidable, despite existing insurance cover, sounds somewhat meagre: "Although the company has insurance cover, it only gets back the purchase value for the watches - 'which, however, by far does not cover what has already been invested in preparation and certification as well as marketing'. It is now no longer possible for the company to give 'a positive prognosis for the continuation'."

A gang of thieves lifted one of the Banksy murals from the wall in Ukraine, but was killed in the process, report Radina Gigova, Yulia Kesaieva and Sophie Tanno on CNN.

The current Power 100 by ArtReview is headed by ruangrupa. The most important findings are summarised by Monopol.

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