Rockefeller Collection sold for record-smashing $832 million
NEW YORK (AFP).- In what was billed as the "sale of the century," the art collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller, comprising 1,500 pieces, sold at auction for a record-breaking $832.5 million, Christie's said Friday.
The figure eclipsed the previous record held by the collection of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge which sold for $484 million in 2009.
Coming after the extraordinary $450 million sale last November of Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi," also at Christie's, there had been some speculation that the billion dollar threshold could be crossed by this sale.
Organized over 10 days, including online sales, it nonetheless broke numerous records, testament to the rude health of the global art market.
The collection's crown jewel was auctioned Tuesday for $115 million, the sixth most expensive ever sold: Pablo Picasso's "La fillette a la corbeille fleurie," a part of the Rockefeller Collection since 1968.
Claude Monet's "Nympheas en fleurs" fetched $84.6 million, a new record for the French impressionist master, surpassing a previous high of $81.4 million.
The auction also saw a record breaking sale for Henri Matisse's "Odalisque couchée aux magnolias," which went for $80.7 million.
Latin American art meanwhile also hit a new peak with the sale of Diego Rivera's "Los Rivales" for $9.7 million, a new record for art from the region.
David Rockefeller, the grandson of the legendary magnate John Rockefeller, died last year aged 101, more than 20 years after the death of his wife Peggy.
He had embraced his family's tradition of philanthropy and inherited his taste in art from his mother, who co-founded New York's Museum of Modern Art.
The proceeds will go to a series of nonprofit organizations, including David Rockefeller's alma mater Harvard University, as well as Maine National Park, which was beloved by the family and to which he donated a thousand acres for his 100th birthday.
© Agence France-Presse
New York art sales near $3 billion in two weeks as uber-rich hunt trophies
NEW YORK (AFP).- Global buyers have dropped nearly $3 billion on art in New York in two weeks, a record haul rooted in a billionaire thirst for trophies, Chinese purchasing power and growing diversification.
Christie's chalked up $1.79 billion in sales, including every single item from the iconic collection of the late David and Peggy Rockefeller which, for the first time, spread their flagship May sales across two weeks.
Sotheby's sold $859 million, including $157.2 million for a Modigliani nude -- the most expensive lot of the season, after Christie's last November smashed records by selling a single Leonardo da Vinci for $450.3 million.
"It's colossal. It really is huge and especially after the dip of 2016," says Georgina Adam, author of the "Dark Side of the Boom: The Excesses of the Art Market in the 21st Century."
"It's long as the auction houses have really managed to do their marketing very well and reach a big audience of collectors, the top end of the market is still doing very well," says Rachel Pownall, a professor of finance at Maastricht University School of Business and Economics.
Christie's sold the Rockefeller collection for $832.5 million, breaking the previous record for most expensive private collection -- that of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge which went for $484 million in 2009.
The Rockefellers' jewels included a $115 million Picasso, the seventh most expensive artwork sold at auction, and new auction records for work by Claude Monet at $84.6 million and Henri Matisse at $80.7 million.
"The Rockefeller did have an influence. Those were very, very good works and they had this really fantastic provenance," Adam said. "I think that sort of set the scene for the whole week."
The 21st century art market is a global one.
Christie's said 38 countries and six continents took part in its Post-war and Contemporary Evening Sale, which scored seven world auction records for lesser-known artists such as Richard Diebenkorn and Joan Mitchell.
Sotheby's sale of Kerry James Marshall's "Past Times" for $21.1 million set a record for Marshall and any living African American artist. Rap mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs was identified as the buyer by Marshall's dealer.
"There's more diversity occurring in the market, which is great," says Pownall. "If you're finding more diversity in the buyers, then they're also looking for more diversity in who they're buying," she added.
The super-rich invest in art as a status symbol but also to make money, hoping for big returns on their down payment.
The 1917 Modigliani "Nu Couche (sur le cote gauche)" for example, sold for $157.2 million but had been bought by its seller for $26.9 million in 2003.
"People who spend serious money on this generally didn't become rich by being stupid," says Jean-Paul Engelen, co-head of 20th-century and contemporary art at the much smaller auction house Phillips.
The US market is still the biggest, but new money from China is moving in and their aggressive bidding helps to push prices up.
Sotheby's said a quarter of all works sold at its Impressionist and Modern Evening Sale were acquired by Asian private collectors. Christie's said 40 percent of buyers at its own Modern Evening Sale were from Asia.
Big names -- namely Picasso, Monet and Van Gogh -- are the most coveted, giving what Adam calls a "bragging aspect" to acquisitions.
"We have very, very rich people fighting over a few trophy assets, a few what they call 'blue-chip' artists," she told AFP.
A strong market means improving supply, as sellers look to capitalize.
"We see... our clients responding to things that are completely fresh to the market, and that have been owned and loved for many, many years," said Sara Friedlander, Christie's head of postwar and contemporary art in New York.
"There's tremendous appetite," acknowledged Simon Shaw, co-head of impressionist and modern art at Sotheby's.
But the market as a whole has deviated little over the last 10 years. While the top lots fetch astronomical prices, Adam warns the bottom is falling out of the $50,000-500,000 bracket.
Professional and banker buyers are being priced out, no longer able to afford the art they admire.
"We are seeing is the closure of the mid-market galleries and this is really quite serious," she warned.
© Agence France-Presse
Russian police arrest man who vandalised Ivan the Terrible painting
MOSCOW (AFP).- Russian police on Saturday said they arrested a man for vandalising one of the best known works of 19th century painter Ilya Repin, depicting Ivan the Terrible killing his son, at a gallery in Moscow.
Police said the man used a metal pole to break the glass covering Repin's world famous painting of the 16th century Russian Tsar, titled "Ivan the Terrible and his Son Ivan on November 16, 1581."
The Tretyakov Gallery said the work was "seriously damaged" as a result.
"The canvas has been ripped in three place in the central part of the Tsar's son. The original frame suffered from the breaking of the glass," the gallery said in a statement.
"Thankfully the most valuable part was not damaged," it added, referring to the face and hands of the Tsar and his son, the Tsarevich.
The statement added that the incident took place late on Friday, just before the museum closed.
"The man entered the already empty Ilya Repin room. He bypassed staff who were scanning the rooms before the closing, and hit the glass of the painting several times with a metal pole," the gallery said.
Russian state news agency TASS reported the man, a 37 year-old from the central city of Voronezh, did so for "historical reasons."
Police later released a video of the man, who said he acted under the influence of alcohol.
"I came to look at it (the painting). I went to the buffet in the evening, I wanted to leave. Then I drank 100 grams of vodka. I don't drink vodka and something hit me," the man said.
Not the first attack
Ultra patriotic groups have protested against the painting before, notably in 2013 when monarchists demanded for it to be removed from the gallery.
The gallery refused to remove it and reinforced security around the work.
It is not the first time the painting has suffered an attack. In 1913, a man stabbed the work with a knife, ripping the canvas in three places. Ilya Repin was then still alive and participated in the restoration of his painting.
Since 1913, the painting has been protected by glass.
Russian state officials have lobbied for the rehabilitation of the medieval ruler's image, who led Russia from 1547 to 1583 and earned the moniker "Terrible" due to his brutal policy of oprichnina, which included the creation of a secret police that spread mass terror and executed thousands of people.
He also killed his own son, most likely by accident during a violent rage.
In June 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the story was a "legend" used by the West against Russia.
"Did he kill his son? Did he not? Many experts say he did not and that this was invented by the Pope's Nuncio who came to Russia for talks and tried to turn Orthodox Rus to a Catholic Rus," Putin said.
In October 2016, Russia inaugurated a controversial monument, the first of its kind, to the 16th century tyrant in Oryol, a city some 335 kilometres south of Moscow.
© Agence France-Presse