HELVOIRT (BLOOMBERG).- A Picasso painting was among early sales as Ronald Lauder, Kanye West and Sheikh Saud al Thani were among VIPs browsing the world’s biggest art and antiques fair.
The U.S. businessman, musician and Qatari prince were in the Netherlands to see 4 billion euros ($5.2 billion) of museum- quality artworks and jewelry. Pablo Picasso’s 1964 oil-on-canvas “Homme au Chapeau” was bought by a European collector for $8 million from the New York-based dealer Christophe van de Weghe, one of 265 exhibitors at the European Fine Art Fair, Tefaf.
The 10-day annual event in a conference center on the outskirts of Maastricht displays items ranging from antiquity to the 21st century. The fair, facing competition from last year’s inaugural Frieze Masters in London, has updated its design. Visitors observed that participating dealers have made an extra effort to show exceptional pieces -- with prices to match.
“The quality is very strong this year,” the London-based art adviser Joe Friedman said in an interview. “The price levels are quite high, which reflects the confidence of the dealers who have bought things from auctions and of the private collectors who are selling works with them on consignment.”
Scott Schaefer, senior curator of paintings at the J. Paul Getty Museum, was spotted at the preview, along with curators from the Louvre, Frick and Huntington museums, and the Chateau de Versailles.
“I like the vibe,” said West, pointing to an 18th-century Tibetan painting of a multi-armed deity on the booth of London- based Rossi & Rossi.
The dealer is also showing an 11-headed painted and gilded Avalokiteshvara, dating from about 1400, that has been kept in a European private collection for more than 40 years. Priced at 6 million euros, it had yet to find a buyer during the early hours of the fair.
Montreal-based Landau Fine Art is quoting $25 million for the 1915 Modigliani painting “Bride and Groom.”
New York-dealer Otto Naumann is asking $14 million for a recently discovered Velasquez head-and-shoulders portrait of a bearded man. A 16th-century Jan Mostaert painting, “Landscape With an Episode From the Conquest of America,” is thought to be one of the earliest depictions of the New World and has the same price tag from London-based dealer Dickinson.
Daniel Katz, also from London, is asking 7 million pounds for an Egyptian stone sculpture of the goddess Isis that he bought for 3.7 million pounds at Christie’s International, London, in October. The price was a record for an ancient Egyptian work of art sold at auction.
Though none of these high-value trophies found buyers during the early hours of the preview, Katz sold a 19th-century Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux marble sculpture of Daphnis and Chloe to an undisclosed U.S. museum for $3 million.
The Mauritshuis of the Hague was also among museum buyers, paying 750,000 pounds for the 1592 Paul Bril painting on copper, “Saint Jerome Praying in a Rocky Landscape,” priced at about 1 million pounds from London-based Johnny Van Haeften. The dealer acquired the painting for 505,250 pounds at Christie’s in December.
Van Haeften also sold the early 17-century Jacob Jordaens canvas “The Meeting of Odysseus and Nausicaa,” priced at $6.5 million. He paid 2.1 million pounds for it last year.
“The Old Master galleries will do deals,” said Philip Hoffman, director of the London-based Fine Art Fund. “Some of the starting prices are high this year and made me slightly gulp. It’s a matter of negotiation.”
While the core of Tefaf remains, as always, Old Masters, the fair bolstered its modern and contemporary section by welcoming back Gagosian, the world’s biggest commercial gallery network, which last exhibited in 2006.
The New York-based dealership never discusses sales or prices. Its small 2012 Howard Hodgkin painting, “Trompe l’oeil” was identified by dealers as attracting an early red dot.
Works of that size by the veteran British painter are currently valued at about $400,000, dealers said.
Belgium-based Axel Vervoordt was among the exhibitors reporting strong early sales. The dealer, who shows his eclectic stock in a castle near Antwerp, sold the black-and-red 1961 abstract “Chizosei Shomenko” by the Japanese painter Kazuo Shiraga to a Swiss collector for 1.2 million euros.
Shiraga is a member of the postwar Gutai group, the subject of a show at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. Another Swiss collector paid 1.7 million euros for ancient Greek marble torso of Venus.
Other exhibitors said buyers were more cautious at the preview than in previous years and trade was hesitant in items valued at less than $200,000.
“Life is difficult at the moment for people,” said the Brussels-based Asian art specialist Gisele Croes, who is offering for sale museum-quality early Chinese bronzes.
“The market is still rebuilding,” Friedman said. “Before the downturn, it was a frenzy. If you stopped to think about a piece it was too late. Now buyers are taking their time.”
The international art market contracted by 7 percent in 2012, according to a report published at Tefaf today.
Combined auction and dealer sales declined to 43 billion euros from 46.4 billion euros in the previous year, according to the European Fine Art Foundation. The market is just below the level it was in 2006, it said.
Sales in the Chinese art market, the world’s biggest in 2011, declined 24 percent to 10.6 billion euros in 2012. The U.S. regained its premier position with sales of 14.2 billion euros, a five percent increase. Sales in the European Union fell 3 percent to 15.8 billion euros
CHINESE ART SALES FALL BY 24 PER CENT AS THE UNITED STATES REGAINS ITS STATUS AS THE WORLD’S BIGGEST MARKET Google +0 20 4 1 0
The report has been compiled by Dr Clare McAndrew, a cultural economist specialising in the fine and decorative art market and founder of Arts Economics. It has been commissioned by The European Fine Art Foundation, organisers of The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) , which opens to the public in the Dutch city of Maastricht on Friday (15 March) and continues until 24 March at the MECC (Maastricht Exhibition and Congress Centre). TEFAF Maastricht, the world’s leading event of its kind, is renowned for its commitment to excellence, expertise and elegance. It is the Fair that defines excellence in art.
In 2011 China became the world’s principal market for art and antiques for the first time with sales soaring to 30% of the global total but slipped back dramatically in 2012. The TEFAF Art Market Report says: “The Chinese art market began to decelerate for the first time in three years with aggregate sales values dropping by 24% to €10.6 billion, reverting to second place behind the US in terms of global market share. The main reasons for the deceleration in growth were both demand factors (including a slowdown in economic growth and continuing liquidity constraints) and a reduced amount of high quality, high priced works coming onto the market. Many art funds and other speculative investors also reduced their participation in the market during the year.”
The report has also undertaken the first-ever in-depth study of the art market in Brazil, one of the world’s key emerging economies. Sales in the Brazilian art market in 2012 were an estimated €455 million, about 1% of the global total. Brazil’s principal significance has been through the buying power of its growing number of wealthy collectors. But restrictive tax and import regulations remain a major stumbling block to the international development of the Brazilian art market.
The principal findings of the report are:
■ Slowing economic growth and continuing uncertainty in the global economy filtered down to the art market in 2012 with global sales contracting by 7% from €46.4 to €43 billion.
■ A key factor in the decline was a slowdown in the Chinese market. Auction sales in China, the main engine of growth, dropped by 30% in 2012.
■ However the decline in China was counterbalanced by an increase of 5% in US sales figures to €14.2 billion.
■ The global reshuffle of art market share continued in 2012 with the US regaining its premier position with 33% (up 4% on 2011) while China dropped to 25% (down 5%). The United Kingdom remained third with 23% (up 1%) .
■ Economic and political uncertainties have produced volatility in many asset markets with a flight to safe blue-chip stocks and low risk assets. A similar picture has emerged for art with the strongest performances recorded by well-known artists at the top end of the market.
■ Post-War and Contemporary Art was the largest fine art sector of the market with a 43% share by value. It performed strongly, increasing auction sales by 5% to almost €4.5 billion, its highest ever recorded level.
■ The Modern Art sector was the second largest with a 30% share of the fine art auction market but, after peaking at €3.8 billion in 2011, auction sales dropped by 17% to €3.2 billion in 2012.
■ Sales in the private retail and dealer sector dropped by 4% to an estimated total of €22.2 billion. Like auctions, segments of the market fared differently with the lower end of the market recording the weakest performance.
■ The volume of transactions in the global art market in 2012 decreased by just under 4% to 35.5 million. This was down by nearly 30% on the pre-recession boom year of 2007.
Dr McAndrew will present the findings of her report at the second TEFAF Art Symposium on Friday 15 March. The 2013 event entitled Rising stars in the art world. Emerging markets and top performing artists will take place from 10.00 to 11.45 hrs in room 2.1 of the MECC (Maastricht Exhibition and Congress Centre). For more information and registration please see www.tefafartnews.com .
Copies of the report at €20 each excluding postage, can be ordered through the TEFAF website www.tefaf.com.