Critics Power List

August 26th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

List of Famous Art Critics

Dealers Power List

August 26th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

List of Famous Art Dealers

How Much Is My Artwork Really Worth?

August 25th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

By Cindy Charleston Rosenberg
Posted on August 21, 2013 by Editors

I would like to thank AAD for the opportunity of contributing, and I hope that you enjoy my first article.

Understanding Insurance Appraisals and How Not to Use Them

Insurance appraisals are researched and developed for the sole purpose of helping to provide sufficient insurance funds should a collector suffer a loss. When qualified appraisers perform an insurance appraisal, our reports generally estimate the cost of replacing individual works of art at premium retail art galleries. Appraisers and the insurance industry call the value contained in insurance appraising “Estimated (Retail) Replacement Cost”. There are several reasons why it should be understood that insurance appraisals rarely reflect the price a private person should expect to receive when offering their works on the market.

What Accounts For The Difference Between The Insurance Appraisal
And The Price I Should Expect to Realize When I Sell My Artwork?

When an item is sold outside of a traditional retail environment, a buyer almost always expects to pay significantly less. This is true for the reselling of valuables like antique sterling silver flatware, antique furniture, and fine jewelry. This is even more true when selling artwork because the qualifications of the seller to evaluate the artistic merit and authenticity of artwork are vital to buyers. Unlike professional art dealers with a cultivated list of collectors, private sellers do not generally have access to retail buyers. Even when a private sale is accomplished between private collectors, the buyer generally expects a significant discount from the price they would expect to pay to an experienced art dealer with a retail establishment and a reputation for connoisseurship and accountability to uphold.

How Can I Determine A Reasonable Asking Price For My Artwork?

The dollar amount a collector can reasonably expect when selling is not the same as replacement cost for insurance. In developing an estimation of Market Value for a Sales Estimation Appraisal, a qualified appraiser will research and analyze recent sales on markets commonly available to their client. The most common markets for private sellers are art dealers, gallery owners and auction houses. The price you are likely to receive in this sale is referred to as “Market Value”. A Market Value appraisal will give a collector an appropriate idea of a realistic selling price, as opposed to a figure they would receive from an Insurance Appraisal.

Marc Chagall’s Lithograph (left) “Les Coquelicots” (1949) sold for $16,378. at public auction in the Spring of 2013. Impressions from this edition have been found on the retail gallery in the $35,000-$50,000 range.

The condition of the impression, integrity of the original colors, the dealer’s cost basis and market demand will help to determine gallery pricing. The differential between the auction price and retail asking price for this work is relatively high, reflecting several market factors including, inventory risk under current economic conditions and the value of dealer connoisseurship related to authenticity concerns for Chagall multiples.

Is There A “Rule Of Thumb” On The Dollar Amount Difference Between
Estimated Insurance Cost and Market Value?

The short answer is no. There is a misconception that retail galleries set their asking price at double the price they paid. In fact, there is more nuance to pricing than simply multiplying a number. The differential from wholesale purchase price to gallery listing price can vary greatly depending on the current market conditions and the marketable aspects of the particular work.

Inventory Risk Is A Significant Pricing Factor

In general, a dealer or gallery will weigh the inventory risk when purchasing a work for resale, and when setting the retail price. This risk entails not selling the work and having to reoffer it on the wholesale market at a loss. The memory of the art market is long. An identifiable work that is placed back on the open market is considered “over exposed” as this raises questions as to the work’s salability, and may even raise authenticity questions. At the higher end of the market, the potential buyer for a particular work thins, and these buyers generally follow the market closely.

Assessing A Particular Market

Appraisers weigh a variety of comparable marketable characteristics in determining the desirability of a work as it compares to recent sales records for similar works. These factors include: Authenticity, rarity, condition, medium, dimension, subject, the quality and complexity of the composition, palette, and provenance, as well as an analysis of the particular artist’s market.

In the analysis of an artist’s market, appraisers research the most sought after qualities of that artist’s body of work in order to evaluate the desirability of a particular work. For instance, a vivid well-executed Bucks County winter landscape by Edward Redfield, all other marketable aspects being equal, would command a higher price than a work by Redfield of similar dimension and quality depicting a European spring scene. Collectors of Redfield generally favor dramatic local winter scenes and will pay a premium for fine examples. Such a work’s estimated retail replacement cost (insurance) to market value differential would be relatively close, as the gallery’s inventory risk is relatively small. Similarly, the differential on Redfield’s European painting might be much greater as a dealer may have to buy several such paintings to sell one, and may even have to resell to the market at a loss.

In short, the market value and the estimated retail replacement cost for each work of art must be considered individually according to current market conditions. A qualified appraiser can provide an estimation of either figure, by conducting a Sales Estimation Appraisal or an Insurance Appraisal.

How Does A Gallery Owner Decide How Much To Pay?

Most collectors are aware of the tangible costs associated with purchasing a work of art from a gallery or dealer, such as rent, staff salaries and benefits, advertising and insurance. The intangible costs not considered by many buyers include the considerable inventory risk taken by dealers, particularly under current economic conditions.

Additionally, as with most professionals, experienced reputable art dealers are compensated for the years of education and experience which contribute to their connoisseurship and reputation, allowing a collector to feel confident about the authenticity and quality of their purchases. There are no set formulas for adjusting for these factors. They vary dramatically and are weighed independently by the dealer or gallery for each work of art when purchased and again when offered for resale.

Thanks for reading.

Best wishes,


A Trans – Atlantic Interview

August 19th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Paula Silva interviews former boss Joao Correia

London / Bogota, November 20th 2010

Joao talks about his activities in the last decade: his arrival in London, his frustration with the lack of Latin American art in the capital, his response with the set up of Tambo Gallery in 2003, the preparations to re-launch his gallery in 2012 and all what happened in between.

1. When you set up Tambo, back in 2003, what motivated you to move your ambitions to a gallery physical space rather than to work as a marchand?

I’ve always looked up to art brokerage practices. Low overheads, low staff, efficient IT, minimum stock, high-level networking. Simple formula. However, when you decide to break through and pioneer a market for a little known type of art, the stock, the promotion, the education, the events and most importantly a window to the world becomes critical. Realization that I wanted a gallery came with that insight.

2. Why choose the most expensive street in London (Regent Street)?

It allowed me to maximise the gallery benefits described above.

3. How did you manage to represent Carlos Cruz – Diez and Jesús Soto? You were 26 and they were both well in their 80s!

I had a successful working relationship with Colombian figurative artist Ramiro Arango. Ramiro knew Cruz-Diez and I wanted a big name to launch the gallery with, to overtly get a lift on his reputation. I called Carlos up and shared my vision with him. He bought into it, and introduced me to Soto and to many other great artists. Banking on the good work with them I could leverage access to the masters on the younger generation and “the rest is history”.

4. What informed the selection of artists you chose to work with in Tambo?

No particular program was followed. Tambo, believe it or not, was a bit of a testing bed. I had no idea of what would work in London and what wouldn’t so just followed my intuition as well as the convenience in terms of geographical proximity with the artists studios and good personal rapport with them.

5. Who were your groupies, your supporters or investors for that Project?

I had a few smart business people who got on my side appreciating that our project had a strong USP (unique selling point) that increased its chances of being a success. I had also some scholars, and sponsors that came basically from cold calling and ended up becoming good friends. There were also the usual enthusiasts of Latin American Culture and my English girlfriend at the time Ally, who was as supportive as a great woman can be. In my first exhibition promotion was poor and she was the only one to turn up.

6. After closing Tambo, what did you spend the last 5 years of your life doing?

Upon closing Tambo I was aware that the success we had was mainly owed to my raw hungry immigrant type of enthusiasm. I did lack basic business skills and was very conscious of that. Having managed a family business in Brazil had nothing to do with pioneering a new enterprise in a centre like London. In the last 5 years I’ve been acquiring these basic business skills that will hopefully allow me to come back and be a real player.

7. How was that different or similar to what you did when you had Tambo?

It was completely different. I believe in learning by doing, and also was keen to get involved in experiences outside the art world. I did a course in the history of the art market at Sothebys with the great Godfrey Barker, but also ventured into marketing, online marketing, sales, and even decided to embrace a real estate project I bumped into. Now I am starting to miss the arts but am grateful for this season of experiences out of it. I have also been soul searching and lost for a while.

8. What propelled you to want to re-open a space?

Rarely I say that openly, but a strong reason why I was out of the arts is for not knowing what to do next. Tambo was right at the time, but I don’t think it would have been needed now. London has 100s of galleries there is no point creating another one for the sake of it. So I have been asking myself, what does London need that I am eventually well equipped to provide? I think I have been finding the answer and for the same reasons mentioned above, my new project needs a window.

9. How has your thinking, liking and understanding of art changed since Tambo?

My art thoughts until that time were mainly a consequence of the environment I had been born in. Figurative art, partly influenced by the School of Paris, part by the Semana de Arte Moderna of 1922 (Sao Paulo). I had not had the time to let my European experiences sink in and my friendships in the art world were too new. I have since been strongly influenced by my great friend Jesse Jacobson who I see as one of the world’s experts in Abstract Expressionism. I have also been put in a new track of research and interest in a very different vein: street art, by my friend Eduardo Seretta, one of the owners of Choque Cultural Gallery in Sao Paulo. Not to mention other individuals and events that had an impact on me in terms of my appreciation for contemporary performance and its artistic genealogy.

10. What motivated that change in your vision?

The desire to expand my horizons and participate in the contemporary dialogue, now that I had had my Tambo experience with established artists and was confident of my ability to make things happen in London. Also, desire to switch my art thinking back on, after a handful of years watching it as a pure spectator.

11. How is working with these graffiti, street and performance artists different from working with people of the stature of Cruz – Diez
or Soto?

They bring a different type of beauty to the world: raw creative energy, often anti establishment, uninterested in the champagne life style typical of the art world. Their names won’t build an audience but their behaviours and ideas will. Their appeal to the press doesn’t come from their place in history, but from the polemic their work generates. I could go on and on. Very different worlds, I enjoy to play in both.

12. In terms of building a market and selling their work?

Thinking about a market for graffiti art is almost a contradiction. Graffiti artists develop their practice in the public space without necessarily thinking about exhibiting in a gallery or museum, they use pseudonyms as opposed to their real names – which all other artists will always use as an advantage in the market – and a great majority of them actually challenge the market itself. However, there has been an increasing interest in street art since Basquiat teamed up with Leo Castelli, which we can see now in Banksy as the cornerstone of that new interest. So, there are essential and fundamental differences between working with an artist whose intention is to exhibit and sell with a gallery than working with an artist who develops their work thinking about displaying a politically engaged message in public space.

13. In terms of media attention?

I think there is something very newsworthy about the fact that graffiti and street art have gained recognition. Graffiti has been around since the Romans and it gained major political relevance during the events of May 1968 in Paris. It was then that it became an important component of artistic practice; but it wasn’t until Basquiat and Keith Harring became Warhol’s protégés that it became part of the art market. What is interesting now is that contemporary graffiti artists are closer to May 68 in their political thinking but they have developed a very strong visual language to reinforce the political message. So, in a way, what we are seeing now is the brotherhood between punk politics and what worked very brilliantly for Basquiat and Harring in the art market: it’s about visually stunning political statements.

14. How do you analyse the potential of graffiti and street art within the relevant currents of contemporary art?

There has recently been a lot of critique of relational aesthetics, but graffiti art has repeatedly had a presence in relational exhibitions and events. If you think of the genealogy of both, Situationist International is at the roots of both relational aesthetics and graffiti art. But the association isn’t gratuitous; and the major element that links these two currents together is the demand for viewer response. The other important aspect of graffiti art has to do with its site specificity. Ever since high art left the gallery space in the 70s with land art and then with site-specific practice, the blurring between open and closed space and between private and public space has been a major point of discussion for theorists. There is a very crucial site specificity for graffiti art; one that can be seen in the difference between the artistic practice of a city like London and the one coming from cities like Sao Paulo, Barcelona or Los Angeles. They all refer to very different political engagements.

15. How would you build a market for that kind of artwork?

The first market for this kind of artistic practice, ironically, lies outside the art market. It resides more in non – commercial institutions, the ones that can actually put an artist in the map. Because this kind of art is produced outside commercial interests, the movement from the street to the art gallery has traditionally been mediated by non – commercial spaces. But mostly, this mediation has been put forward by very contemporary, analytic and critical spaces that take risks with the shows they put together. This doesn’t imply that there can’t be a commercial market for this kind of artwork. Of course there is! But it’s important that people live the experience of this kind of art before they actually decide to purchase. This is an artistic practice that calls its viewers very strongly to engagement, so it will be people who feel this experience to their cores the ones who will be able to live with the pieces every day.

Paula Silva is a freelance art writer and curator. She manages the Arts Programme for the British Council in Colombia, and their Creative Economy Programme for Latin America and the Caribbean. She is a speaker to audiences of young creative entrepreneurs on how to potentialize the Latin American creative industries.
Paula has a literature and art history degree (honours) from Universidad de Los Andes, an MA in Visual Culture from Goldsmiths University. She was also associate professor of contemporary art theory at Universidad de Bogota Jorge Tadeo Lozano and was then the dean (A) of its fine arts department. She’s been twice the finalist of the National Art Criticism award.

China’s $13 Billion Art Fraud — And What It Means For You…

August 18th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Published on: Art, Antiques and Luxury Design Blog
AAD – Your Independent Art Market Meeting Place
China’s $13 Billion Art Fraud — And What It Means For You…
by Abigail R. Esman
Posted on August 11, 2013 by Editors 13
First published on Forbes 13.8.2012 on forbes.com

If you pay attention either to China or the art market, you’ve probably heard the story: China last year became – according to art industry experts – the world’s largest market for art and antiques, surpassing the USA.

Well, here’s a shocker: it isn’t. Not even close.

Of course, you probably suspected as much: but the reasons are only now becoming clear. Exclusive interviews over the past several weeks with Chinese art dealers, auction house officials and others reveal a level of corruption significant even by Chinese standards, and more, the potential global dangers of an art market now at unprecedented heights – and growing.

I first had a whiff of the real story in March, when art market expert Clare McAndrew, speaking at The European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht, mentioned that many of the major purchases at Chinese auctions – which represent the vast bulk of China’s art market activity – were going unpaid. It is, after all, one thing to announce a multi-million dollar sale; it is entirely another actually to make it. And if buyers aren’t paying, China isn’t number one, after all.

But defaults on purchases can happen anywhere, even at Sotheby’s or Christie’s auctions in London and New York, historically the two centers for art market activity, and the largest auction markets internationally. What makes China different?
The answer, according to those I’ve talked to, revolves chiefly around China’s largest auction house, Poly Auctions, based in Beijing. While Chinese collectors are well aware, most Westerners do not know that government-owned Poly is part of a larger organization that also manufactures weaponry – or rather, as they describe it on their web site:

Poly Technologies Inc. is a large-scale defense company authorized by the Chinese Central Government for the import and export of all ranges of defense equipments for Army, Navy, Air Force, police and anti-terrorism. Since its establishment in 1984, Poly Technologies, Inc. has devoted itself to the equipment modernization for the Chinese force and the friendly nations in the world, actively participated in the R&D of military products, extensively engaged in the import and export of military equipment and technology, and provided military equipment and technology.

More specifically, according to Nancy Murphy, an art lawyer based in Beijing, “Poly is the auction arm of the People’s Liberation Army. Doesn’t every army have an auction arm?” While she admits it’s possible that “the PLA has spun the auction house off so it’s legally a stand-alone entity, its home page says ‘we are the fine art auction home of the People’s Liberation Army. Our goal is to bring the people’s art back to China.’”

That your purchases at Poly are helping to feed China’s military and oppression machine is bad enough; but worse, according to many familiar with China’s auction racket, you may be getting taken in the process – even if you’ve never bought anything from Poly. Artificially-inflated prices and manipulated sales have so disrupted the values for Chinese art and antiques that the true value of many of them remains unclear – meaning that buyers of Chinese art, antiques and antiquities worldwide are likely to pay far more for things than they’re worth. (And that’s before we calculate the explosive growth of fakes, which comprise, according to Murphy, as much as eighty percent of the material offered at Poly and a fair share of what one finds even at more respectable houses, like China’s number two auctioneer, China Guardian.)

Basically, there appear to be a pair of schemes through which such manipulations take place, both often geared either toward money laundering or the bribing of government officials, according to Murphy and Melanie Ouyang Lum, an American dealer in Chinese art based, until recently, in Shanghai and Beijing. Observed Lum, “the results at Poly are staggering. There’s a sense that they are creating a facade to encourage people from in and outside of China to invest in China’s art market, not real estate and bonds. If China is going to keep money in China, it needs strong investment vehicles.”

Among the more common schemes is one used chiefly to assist in bribes or in the building of art exchanges and investment trusts popular among Chinese investors. According to both Murphy and Lum, Poly (and possibly others) frequently guarantee sellers that an item attain a certain price – and then allow the seller himself to bid. Should general bidding stop below the level of the guarantee, the seller will bid the guaranteed amount, establishing a false but recorded value for the work. But since, as an officer of a competing auction house remarked, “you don’t pay yourself,” sellers in these cases pay only a small commission to Poly – a meager sacrifice for the reward of making a $50,000 antique soar to ten times its actual value literally overnight.

From there, the owner can either attempt to sell the piece again at the higher value, or – as often happens — give it as a “gift” to a government official, essentially providing an extremely generous bribe – or at least, one that seems that way “It ‘s a great way for the government, as well, to bribe people and exchange cash without actual buckets of cash or a paper trail,” says one source who asked not to be named. “China is always worried about a paper trail. It’s a Communist government and a corrupt government, and so you don’t want a paper trail in case the other person gets caught: but if you give someone a scroll, there’s no way to call that a $5 million bribe.”

The reverberations of such transactions, however, reach far beyond China’s shores. While the enormous bulk of the Chinese antique and antiquities market remains in mainland China, Westerners are starting to move in on the action, many duped by what appears to be exorbitant growth and a fabulous investment opportunity. After all, based on the belief that a 15th-century scroll by X sold for $Y at Poly, more reputable houses like China Guardian, Christie’s and Sotheby’s will attach estimates to similar works accordingly. If these sell within estimate, they then legitimize the earlier values “established” – however fraudulently – by the Poly sale.

But this raises a host of larger questions: Is the 15th-century scroll that sells at Sotheby’s (for example) really worth $Y? Or is it worth, actually, the amount of the last legitimate bid at Poly – which could be hundreds of thousands of dollars lower? How far back does this go? And what does it do to collectors and investors worldwide?

The same practice, according to Murphy, controls the so-called art exchanges, through which people may purchase shares in a work of art in anticipation of profit on its eventual resale.

“Everyone – buyers, sellers, journalists – believes Poly is not held to the same standards an auction house in the West would be,” says Murphy. “Yet though this is a universally held belief, it has not been proved. As one experienced art dealer from the mainland said to me, ‘who is going to audit Poly?’ Second to the Communist Party, the PLA is the most powerful organization in China. And in some ways, maybe more powerful.”

For their part, Poly has categorically denied all the allegations, despite the fact that they were confirmed for me by three independent parties and various tax-related documents. In an e-mail, Daniel Tang, the auctioneer’s New York representative, stated: Regarding the allegations that Poly Auction has been less than completely honest about the selling prices of artworks in public statements and that clients have bid on their own works with the knowledge of Poly management, our company has no involvement in these alleged practices. Poly Auction insists on the principle of being honest, fair, and just to our clients; we hold this operating standard in the highest regard.”

Fortunately, all this shenanigans, while perhaps useful for the Chinese military, is likely only to affect a small portion of Western buyers of Chinese art, most of whom focus on Chinese contemporary – a different – and smaller — market (though it, too, has its problems). While the market for these works has certainly cooled of late, Wang Yannan, President of China Guardian – the country’s second largest auction house after Poly – points out that younger Chinese collectors are beginning to explore lesser-known artists – and, she says, actually paying for them. Others, says Mrs. Wang, are seeking out contemporary ink works by artists such as Liu Dan, who studied in the US, and Li Huayi, who is based in China and San Francisco. Even so, she says, “because of economic strains, it’s now difficult to get consignments, and so revenue shrinks.” Still, major works continue to achieve major prices, reaching as high as $20 million and above.

If, that is, they’re real. That is often not the case, according to Murphy, who estimates that as many as 80 percent of the pieces that appear on the Chinese auction and gallery market are not – presenting risks, too, for collectors of both Chinese contemporary art and of contemporary Chinese ink and calligraphy. ”We know that in the Chinese art field there is uniform agreement that the number of fakes has increased a lot in the past ten years,” she says. “With a lot more buyers, it’s an instant formula for creating fakes. True,” she adds, “the proportion of fakes sold all over the planet has also increased, but when you talk about a degree of the commonness of these practices in China, everyone has fakes. And when you look at Poly and Guardian who are supposed to be the number one and two auction houses, you don’t expect even forty percent of the works to be fake.”

Apparently, the trend has gone international: forgeries even of contemporary art are now appearing on the Western market. An article in the Vancouver Sun recently quoted Hugh Bulmer, Asian art specialist at Vancouver auction house Maynards, who claims to have noted “a marked increase in people trying to pass off copies of Chinese artwork as originals in Vancouver.
‘The market is full of it,’ he said. “And you can guarantee that if something sold for a million dollars in Hong Kong last week, it will be copied and will be on the streets of Vancouver this week.’”

True, the Hong Kong market is not the mainland market: Hong Kong collectors are more Westernized in their dealings, and show a stronger interest in Chinese contemporary, while the mainland market emphasizes antiques and antiquities. But the trend is alarming, particularly when the investment of many of these works outside of China is still under debate: will the trend hold?

Indeed, a number of experts I spoke to feel that overall, the Chinese contemporary craze has died down, and will not be likely to rekindle – in part because of the precarious political situation in mainland China, and in part because of a lack of professionalism found in the studios of many of China’s top contemporary artists, where frequently works are produced by a factory-line of assistants, even without the artists’ supervision.

In addition, the government is cracking down: galleries are being forced to close, and artists are being detained with frightening frequency – as are other art world employees. The arrests and harassments go beyond the more high-profile cases such as that of dissident artist Ai Wei-Wei; according to Lum, when exhibitions open in the government-owned art district of 798, the police will check to see if it’s controversial or not. “I’ve seen an exhibition open and then be closed for a week,” she says. “When it reopens, some of the art works are gone.” Many galleries have consequently simply closed up shop, she says – and those that are doing well, “all have connections to someone in power.”

And it’s not just the artists: faced with the growing power and wealth of its military, China’s Party government is also cracking down on the art trade, investigating rampant tax fraud and import scams of work coming in from abroad. (Murphy is currently representing a Beijing-based German art handler, Nils Jennrich, who has been detained for attempting to skirt customs duties by undervaluing imported art works.) How much this is likely to affect Western dealers such as Pace who are investing heavily in the Chinese market these days remains to be seen, but some say privately that in order for any of them to survive, they will have to play “by Chinese rules.”

All of which points to an art scene that goes beyond local corruption, infecting the market worldwide. Meantime, efforts by both government and military branches of China’s leadership to exploit the country’s $13 billion art trade, profiteering off the froth and foam of its overheated market, feeds the battle for power between them. But whatever that means for the country’s future, collectors – and international art market watchers – need not become victims, too.

Best wishes,
Abigail R. Esman

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