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Kobel's Art Weekly

Luana Adriani, Hands in Peace, free via
Luana Adriani, Hands in Peace, free via
Stefan Kobel

Stefan Kobel

Kobel's Art Weekly 51 2022

What remains of Ukrainian cultural sites after the Russians have left is documented by the Kyiv Independent on its Youtube channel.

Eileen Kinsella, writing for Artnet, took a detailed look at the record sales of eight billion US dollars reported by Sotheby's: "Sotheby's said that fine art and luxury auction sales accounted for $6.4 billion of the total, including online sales of $580 million, as well as turnover from newly acquired businesses, RM Sotheby's and Concierge Auctions, focused on cars and real estate, respectively. Meanwhile, private sales are on track to reach at least $1.1 billion for the third consecutive year (private sales were apparently higher last year, at a reported $1.3 billion)."

Anny Shaw took a closer look at Sotheby's books for the The Art Newspaper and found light and shade: "Marketing is auction houses' strong suit, and, for the first time, Sotheby's has combined its real estate and classic car auctions with its fine art and luxury sales. The latter racked up $6.4bn, with fine art alone accounting for $5.7bn of that total, down 9.5% on the $6.3bn achieved last year and a little above the $5bn made in the pandemic year of 2020. In a statement, Sotheby's chief executive Charles F. Stewart says a "flight to quality" this year-which often happens during financial downturns-led to a "demand for blue-chip masterpieces-be they in established or new categories such as classic cars or collectibles"."
Artsy offers a summary of the year for download. However, these are mainly lists à la "The 50 Most Expensive Artworks Sold" or "50 Sought-After Artists on Artsy ", rather than analyses.

Stefan Koldehoff puts his general reckoning with the art market in a review of the year for the ZEIT: "'People are buying as if there is neither war nor crisis,' said an internationally active art consultant at the Art Cologne art fair a few days later. The 3D rule, debt, divorce and death, still applies and provides the art trade with the most lucrative business. However, not the entire market profits from this; so far, it is mainly the large auction houses and those galleries that play at the top of the art market, such as Gagosian and Zwirner, Pace and Acquavella, Hauser & Wirth, Deitch or Gavin Brown. They mainly collect so-called old money, which in the art market is considered to be money from Europe and the USA". He quotes a prominent witness as a smart analyst: "There are plausible reasons for the apparent contradiction between the in many respects desolate world situation and the almost limitless private desire to buy on the art market. Dirk Boll, Director of 20th and 21st Century Art Europe & UK, Middle East, & Africa at Christie's auction house, describes one of them as follows: 'The richest one percent of the world's population has, if anything, become even richer in the pandemic. It is in a spending mood and actually spends money on art [...]' However, the art dealer also sees a danger in the gatekeeper function that the market systems perform in this process: 'Even in the middle market, where prices between 50,000 and one million dollars used to be common, the works have now become so expensive that suddenly securing the value of the investment plays a role. As a result, the market is becoming more and more conservative in terms of supply.' However, the facts are not always completely up to date. For example, Gavin Brown's gallery has already 'fled under the wing of Gladstone Gallery' in 2020. And Dirk Boll is not "Director of 20th and 21st Century Art Europe & UK, Middle East, & Africa at Christie's auction house". He was previously President for the EMERI region (Europe, Middle East, Russia and India). Since April or September he has been Deputy Chairman for the 20th and 21st centuries of the EMEA region (Europe, Middle East and Africa) in London, i.e. in a deputy capacity. Admittedly, the title-bell ringing of the big auction houses is hard to follow, and even experienced authors make mistakes. Renowned newspapers used to have editors from the trade who could spot and fix even minor blunders.

Even mega-galleries have to cope with setbacks. Superblue, the Pace subsidiary that markets something like the musical version of art with immersive experiences, seems to be in trouble, reports David Cassidy at Artnews: "Superblue's two most important figures - Glimcher and Powell Jobs - have stepped back from their initial roles in the enterprise. At the end of last year, Emerson Collective, Powell Jobs's venture, relinquished its two seats on the board. Then, this fall, according to sources, Glimcher quietly changed his position from chairman of the board of directors to an adviser, though the company's website does not reflect that shift. Meanwhile, Superblue suffered in-fighting on the board, high-profile turnover, and a lack of funding that, sources said, is the result of cost overruns, mismanagement, and a board structure that has plagued decision-making. The art world's once-buzziest new venture appears to be floundering."

Olga Grimm-Weissert reports in the Handelsblatt: "A pop-up store in the best possible location, on the Rond Point of the Champs Elysées, where the noble Avenue Matignon meets. Six top dealers display furniture, handicrafts and paintings from four centuries. 'Exclusively masterpieces', emphasises Laurent Kraemer, whose daughter Sandra launched and implemented the idea with her cousins Mikael and Alain Kraemer. At short notice, the lease for a house was signed, which runs at least until mid-April 2023. Immediately, the fifth generation of the Kraemer merchant family engaged the experienced scenographer Patrick Hourcade to adapt the building in order to present furniture, exquisite arts and crafts, chandeliers, a carriage, noble wall panelling and paintings in an appealing way."

Dinosaur skeletons are now art too, Alice Fisher has discovered for the Guardian: "The first of its kind to appear at public auction, it sold for $6,069,500 to one of a new breed of art collectors who view dinosaurs as collectibles. These fossil sales have been increasing for a while. A T rex skeleton named Shen, with an estimate of $25m, was withdrawn from a Christie's auction in November. Before Maximus, Sotheby's sold a gorgosaurus for $6.1m last summer - one of only 20 existing fossils of the species. Dinosaur skeletons are showing up at art fairs, too. In the UK this year, the David Aaron Gallery sold a 154-million-year-old camptosaurus at Frieze London and a triceratops skull at the Masterpiece art fair in July. The ArtAncient gallery was the first to bring fossils to Frieze London, selling a 50-million-year-old crocodile in 2019."

Now that the market for NFT has collapsed, the lawsuits are coming. In the US, celebrities are also facing legal action, reports Torey Akers in The Art Newspaper: "On 8 December, New York-based Scott + Scott Attorneys at Law filed a complaint on behalf of plaintiffs Adam Titcher and Adonis Real alleging that Yuga Labs, best known for its Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) NFT collection, violated unfair competition laws by encouraging celebrity promotion of their digital goods. The suit also accuses its long list of star defendants-ranging from Paris Hilton to Madonna-of accepting compensation for their undisclosed promotion, using the crypto-trading app Moonpay as an intermediary."

A grandly announced speech by Donald Trump turned out to be an advertisement for his NFT collection, Daniel Dillmann and Christian Stör gleefully spread in the online newspapers of the Ippen Group.

Olga Grimm-Weissert presents Paris as a centre for contemporary African art in the Handelsblatt: "The majority of Parisian African galleries, however, still present largely unknown artists from Africa or the Diaspora - in contrast to the auction houses. There, well-known names such as Chéri Samba, Moké, Amani Bodo, Chéri Chérin or Aboudia dominate. At the "1:54" fairs in London, New York, Paris and Marrakech or the Paris "AKAA", gallery owners mix discoveries with commercially secured values, but these rarely cost more than 100,000 euros. Yet."

After eleven works owned by the Ernst Schering Foundation already changed hands at Villa Grisebach's last auction in Berlin, the rest of the collection, comprising almost 60 works, will be offered from 1 February as part of a sales exhibition at the auction house's premises, according to the Foundation's website.

According to a press release, the collectors and former gallery owners Paul Maenz and Gerd de Vries are donating 7,500 works on paper to the Graphische Gesellschaft zu Berlin, which is part of the National Museums, for its 25th anniversary. In 2003, the two had already donated over 200 objects to the Kupferstichkabinett in this way. Stuttgart is now also restituting Benin bronzes to Nigeria, reports dpa.

The jewels from the Green Vault are back, at least most of them. The Spiegel is the first to report: "The public prosecutor's office in Dresden, the Soko Epaulette and the LKA Saxony have seized a considerable part of the stolen goods during the burglary of the Green Vault in the night from 16 to 17 December in Berlin. This was announced by the authorities on Saturday." The report is largely based on a press release
of the Saxon police. Stefan Locke explains in the FAZ how the discovery of the willow came about : "Information about the further proceedings and in particular about the agreements between the public prosecutor's office and the defence will now be given on the next day of the trial next Tuesday. Actually, the trial was supposed to end in autumn, and the taking of evidence has been practically completed. Recently, several days of the trial were cancelled, apparently because a deal was being worked out behind the scenes. After the defence lawyers of the six main defendants, all of whom belong to the Remmo extended family from Berlin, some of whom are serious criminals, were still sure at the beginning of the trial that everything would lead to an acquittal, the picture changed considerably as the trial progressed. There are clear DNA traces from the crime scene against four of the defendants, and there is a very clear mixed trace against a fifth defendant."

At Villa Grisebach, most of the baton is passed on within the family, reports Christian Herchenröder in the Handelsblatt: "Company founder Bernd Schulz, who was the main shareholder of the company with a share of 89.7 percent, is parting with 79 percent and presenting his stepson Daniel von Schacky as his successor. Diandra Donecker will become co-chief executive." The art dealer will devote himself entirely to the auction business, Ursula Scheer has learned for the FAZ: "For the forty-six-year-old[s] Daniel von Schacky, the appointment, which he calls an 'honour and obligation at the same time', is also a return: from 2006 to 2016 he was already managing director, shareholder and head of the contemporary art department at Grisebach. Since then, he has worked as an art consultant in Düsseldorf. His company Schacky Art & Advisory will cease public operations, the auction house informs us upon request, 'there will be no more exhibitions or participation in fairs. Daniel von Schacky's full attention will be on Grisebach'. Diandra Donecker, born in 1988, headed the photography department of the house from 2017 before taking over the management from Florian Illies, who moved to the publishing industry, and becoming a partner in 2019."

An absolutely readable portrait of Lucas, the youngest scion of the Zwirner dynasty of gallery owners, is drawn by Tobias Haberl in the Süddeutsche Magazin of 16 December (paywall): "Lucas Zwirner is not naive, at least not any more. He knows that a gallery is about selling art. He accepts that, but he is fascinated by other things. If they end up helping to sell more art, that's fine with him. He thinks disruptively, but not at any price, has a sense of history and lore. He doesn't call it that, but seems to believe in something like karma: if you make money from art, you have to love it, not use it. He not only accepts that art has a soul that must be respected, he also feels it that way. For him, the challenge seems to lie in achieving the balancing act that his job constantly forces him to do even more perfectly: Because he has to renew, but also preserve, because he has to digitalise, but also keep the physical, even spiritual dimension of art in mind. [...] He speaks of 'credibility', 'context', 'depth'. About the need to build bridges between art history and the present, the net and analogue reality, the ideal and monetary value of art."

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