05.01.17 I Art is an investment, so manage yours like a pro

 

Recently, I participated in a lively panel on alternative investments for the Hedge Fund Roundtable. I’ve gathered some of the advice I offered about how to invest in art, which serves as a good checklist for new collectors. I firmly believe that you should buy what you love, but once you’ve identified a work that you love, then what? How should an art investment be treated? Here’s what I recommend – and do – for my clients.

Due Diligence: In the same way you analyze other investments prior to making an acquisition, do research on the artist: education, career, galleries, collectors, and museum exhibitions and acquisitions. This analysis can help determine if the price is correct and also the future liquidity potential of the piece.

Portfolio Construction: Identifying your goals and horizons will inform the types of art you buy. I always recommend a diversified portfolio of art to mitigate risk. If you want less risk, buy more established artists. If you are willing to take more risk, buy younger artists who are less proven but can have bigger payoffs. And if returns are not your driving force, buying what you love should carry more weight than museum exhibitions and other factors.

Protection: Taking care of your art is crucial, as any damage can greatly affect the value. Always use fine art shippers and handlers to move and install your art. They take extra care and know how to handle art, which can often be tricky. When storing your art, use fine art storage, which has humidity and temperature controls. If a work does get damaged, have a reputable conservator repair it right away. And get insurance – it’s not expensive (less expensive than jewelry because no one ever loses a painting in a gutter while walking down the street) and can often just be an additional rider on your homeowner’s policy.

Selling: Timing is everything, so it’s important to continually monitor the markets for your artists to gauge when the best selling opportunities arise. If you don’t pay attention, you can very well miss the ascent, the top and the descent. In addition, identifying your goals upfront will help determine if you should sell outright, do a 1031 exchange or donate the work to a museum or other institution. There are currently a number of tax benefits available that should be considered.

Following advice like this might sound time-consuming, but if you’re buying art as an investment, you should treat it like one. And if you are not an expert and don’t have the time or wherewithal to become an expert, you should consult with one as you would with any other investment.

Feel free to contact me with any questions about collecting or any art-related topics, including the next round of New York art fairs, which start tomorrow. Enjoy!

02.21.17 I March in NYC: A Great Month for Seeing Art

 

There’s no substitute for seeing art in person – both for pleasure, and to add to your art education. And if you live in New York or will be visiting here in March, there are some key fairs, auctions and exhibitions that you should attend, the most notable of which are below.

Wednesday, March 1 is the private opening of The Armory Show, a prominent, international art fair that takes place every year on Piers 92 and 94 on the West Side Highway. This year, the Armory will host more than 200 galleries from 30 countries selling art ranging from established 20th century artists to young, emerging artists. The fair opens to the public on March 2 and runs through March 5. Art fairs are an efficient way to see a wide range of art under one roof. Prepare to have an open mind, ask questions, and take pictures, learning what you like – but also what you don’t.

Early March also brings auction house mid-season sales – Sotheby’s on March 2 and Christie’s on March 3. These auctions are not as big or headline-grabbing as the main sales in May and November, but they still present fabulous opportunities to educate yourself on various artists and types of art. Prior to the sales, the auction houses have several days of viewings, which are free and open to the public.

Also in March is the opening of the Whitney Biennial, a survey of American contemporary art, which takes place every other year and is one of the leading exhibitions in the art world. This will be the first edition in the museum’s new home in the Meatpacking District. Preview days are March 15 and 16, and the exhibition is open to the public from March 17 – June 11. Artists range from emerging to established, presenting another great opportunity to get ideas and also an understanding of what is happening right now in the art world.

This year, I will miss the Biennial opening in order to attend Art Dubai, an international art fair with a large concentration of galleries from the Middle East. I am excited to learn more about art from the region and am taking my own advice – going to see it in person!

A note about art fairs If you are considering purchasing art at a fair, take a quick look at the newsletter I wrote on the subject: When are Art Fairs the Right Place to Buy Art? In short, fairs are a good place to buy art if you are experienced and prepared, meaning you’ve looked at a lot of art previously. They are not good venues for an impulse purchase.

As always, I welcome any inquires. And if you’re interested in touring any of the upcoming fairs with me, I would love to show you around – but please contact me soon, as my schedule is filling up. Happy hunting – and learning!

01.10.17 I BRING ON 2017

 

It’s hard to believe that another year has come and gone, but the new calendar presents a great moment for reassessing the art market, which has seen some volatility in the past few years. The good news is that there are always opportunities if you know how to look. The current environment is less robust than in recent years, but the art market remains active. The last two months of auctions and art fairs indicate that there are still a large number of people buying art.

Trends worth noting are:

•  Global economic uncertainty is causing collectors to focus on more established, blue-chip artists: an art world flight to quality.

•  Many collectors, galleries and museums are on the hunt, looking back and rediscovering overlooked and undervalued artists.

•  A shift away from the more uncertain emerging artist market means there is less competition to acquire the best ones.

And with the New Year comes a celebration: 2017 marks the seventh anniversary of Elements in Play. As most of you know, I founded my art advisory service with private clients in New York City. But in the intervening years, I have expanded the business globally and have also taken on corporate clients and real estate developers in New York and Miami. It’s much more than I expected, and all of it continues to be stimulating and rewarding. Thank you for your encouragement, your support, and your referrals. Here’s to the New Year!

Follow me on Instagram at elementsinplay.

10.22.16 I 5 Tips For Attending an Art Fair – REDUX

 

Art Basel Miami Beach and numerous other art fairs open next week in Miami, and in anticipation, I am frequently asked for tips on attending a fair. I previously wrote a newsletter with my top 5 recommendations, and that advice has stood the test of time:

1. Look at the floorplan. Art fairs tend to be quite large, and they can be tricky to navigate. It is easy to turn the wrong direction, even if the layout is mostly a grid. Some booths have entrances on two aisles, and if you go in one side and out the other, you can get completely turned around. Floorplans are available at fair entrances and often can be downloaded beforehand from fair websites. It is a good idea to mark where you’ve been to orient yourself and also because galleries often reinstall portions of their booths from day to day, which confuses even the most seasoned fairgoers.

2. Wear comfortable shoes. I know everyone likes to be stylish, especially surrounded by fabulous works of art and people, but you won’t be able to see much of the art or focus on it if your feet hurt. At a minimum, bring a spare pair of shoes. You’ll thank me. You might also want to bring a supply of Band-Aids and Advil.

3. Bring extra money (cash) and patience for lunch. Art fairs are starting to expand and improve their food offerings, but in general, lunch at a fair is underwhelming, expensive and time consuming. The lines for food are particularly long during the VIP Preview, particularly in the VIP Lounge. Alternate suggestions are to eat before you go, bring a snack or plan in advance where to eat outside of the fair – most fairs are not well-situated to other food choices. And bring a bottle of water.

4. If you want to buy art, plan your visit in advance. As previously indicated, art fairs are generally big and crowded, which can make them overwhelming if you are “shopping”. Purchasing art at fairs can also be quite competitive, so it’s best to be prepared by knowing what galleries you want to visit and, if possible, what particular works of art you want to see. The best works are often sold in the opening hours.

5. Go with your Art Advisor. The easiest way to prepare for an art fair is to have a professional do it for you. An Art Advisor will often know in advance what galleries are bringing and can put desired works on hold. An Advisor will also be familiar with the layout, so you can look more efficiently and maximize your time. And an Advisor will be able to answer questions, explain different works of art and evaluate prices.

Feel free to contact me with additional questions or if you would like more information on any of the fairs.

09.26.16 I The Sky Is NOT Falling

 

Last week, I received an email from a client with the subject “Art Crash.” The email was a link to an alarmist Bloomberg story describing the current state of the emerging artist market as one in which flipping, particularly at auction, is no longer profitable. To that, the vast majority of the art world breathes a sigh of relief, but to those only skimming the headlines, it sounds as if the sky is falling. Marion Maneker from Art Market Monitor wrote an intuitive rebuttal article explaining that, “The headline is about works being sold for 90% losses, but that’s only a shock to anyone who doesn’t follow the art market at all. Emerging artists have always been risky acquisitions… Few artists have seen their markets rise steadily without pullbacks.”

My April 2016 newsletter covered the topic of emerging artists, and I want to reiterate here that investing in art requires portfolio management like any other investment. I recommend buying a mix of emerging and established artists. Almost everyone buying art wants it to be an asset, but they don’t want it to behave like one. Unfortunately, you can’t have it both ways.

In addition, the work described in the Bloomberg and Art Market Monitor articles sold above the high estimate at Phillips a few days later (September 20, 2016), which is less than the want-to-be flipper bought it for – the seller at the time got out at the high – but still much more than the original owner paid for it in 2012. Timing is everything, and it helps to have a realistic view of the market.

04.02.16 I TODAY’S ART MARKET: PERFORMANCE UPDATE

 

As we begin the second quarter amidst global economic uncertainty, the media continues to report that the art market bubble is bursting. The problem with this reporting, and the reason it can be confusing or unnecessarily alarming, is that there are so many different art markets – defined by type of art and price point – and they are not all behaving the same way. I’d like to walk you through some of them and give you my perspective on where things stand today.

Most of these bubble-is-bursting news stories refer to the auction market for Impressionist & Modern and Contemporary art in the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars range, which has statistically slowed down due in no small part to the diminishing quality of works for sale. Interestingly, the press also recently reported that billionaire hedge fund manager Ken Griffin spent $500 million on just two paintings (no, that’s not a typo) in one of the world’s largest private transactions. I am guessing it wasn’t a distressed sale.

Many are also wondering if a bubble is bursting, or if we are experiencing a correction. But If you are interested in contemporary art in the $10,000 – $5 million range, the conversation is very different.

In the primary market (the first time art is sold – from galleries or directly from artists), the pace has slowed somewhat, but this can be advantageous. Buyers have become more discriminating and are being more thoughtful about their collecting. Art fair openings are less frenzied, giving collectors more time to make better decisions. Yet demand is absolutely still there. Many gallery booths still sell out in the opening hours, and there are still waiting lists for the most popular artists.

In the emerging artist space, the past few years have brought an influx of speculators that were snapping up artworks at a record pace. But flipping art made by artists with no track records turned out to be a bad investment strategy for the vast majority of those buyers, so most have left this market, slowing sales to a reasonable pace. It’s great to buy emerging artists, and with educated choices, there are certainly opportunities to make money, but it requires portfolio management – just like any other investment. There is less risk buying fewer names of more established artists, and I typically advise clients to buy a mix. I am seeing a big trend toward trading out of younger names and into mid-career and blue chip artists.

In the secondary market (resales), global uncertainty would logically result in good deals, but there are presently very few to be had. In fact, good works are even priced on the high side. I get the sense that sellers are happy to wait for their asking prices; they have little incentive to cash out right now due to a lack of better investment opportunities.

Early May will be an important indicator for many art markets. The main auction houses have their big New York Impressionist & Modern and Contemporary sales. And the Frieze New York art fair will return to Randall’s Island, along with several smaller fairs dotting the city.

In short, there are many art markets, a range of opportunities, and numerous great artists to be collected. If you have questions about what I’m seeing in the markets, or if I can be helpful during the auctions or fairs, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

01.19.16 I THE VALUE OF ART ADVISORY

 

Anyone can walk into a gallery and buy a work of art, but now that Sotheby’s has paid an astonishing $85 million ($50 million in cash) for a boutique art advisory firm, people are asking what art advisors actually do. The answers are endless, and the process of building a collection goes far beyond finding a painting that’s in proportion to the couch. While it’s important that art look good in a home, there are many factors that savvy collectors take into account and numerous benefits that art advisors bring to the table.

Expert Advice: Education and idea generation are just two of many benefits that art advisors offer their clients. Most collectors, no matter how seasoned, don’t have unlimited time to walk around galleries and art fairs on their own. An advisor will review a range of images with a client to help them determine what they like, narrow appropriate options, then efficiently recommend works to fit the client’s tastes and budgets. If clients are concerned about a work retaining its value, or if they are buying for investment, advisors also perform due diligence on the artists, their careers, market comparables and any other considerations that are meaningful to the client.

Access: In sourcing works, advisors leverage their relationships with gallery owners, artists and private collectors to whom their clients would not otherwise have access. For example, popular artists have waiting lists at galleries, and new works are offered first to their best clients, which includes advisors. In addition, advisors negotiate deals on behalf of their clients and are generally offered better prices based upon their relationships.

Discipline: A competent advisor knows when to say “no,” helping clients build their collections with goals and guardrails in mind. An advisor might object to a work the collector doesn’t truly love, one that is too expensive, or one by an artist the advisor doesn’t believe in.

Collection Management: Acquiring works is just one aspect of building and maintaining a collection. Once a work is acquired, an advisor can assist with framing, shipping, installation, inventory management, conservation and storage. They can also recommend trusted specialists to help with appraisals, insurance, estate planning, tax guidance and loans using art as collateral.

Facilitating Sales: Advisors can tap into their networks of contacts to sell works for clients either through private transactions or by consigning works to an auction house, negotiating the best terms possible.

Working with an art advisor is a relationship with many facets and benefits. Advisors don’t have a rule book, but they do have an organization – the Association of Professional Art Advisors (APAA) – that sets standards and has a code of ethics. If you’re considering hiring an art advisor, it’s a good idea to confirm that they’re a member.

11.27.15 I NOT-TO-BE-MISSED AT ART BASEL MIAMI BEACH

 

Art lovers are of one mind today: this week is for family, but next week is for Miami. Tens of thousands of people will descend on Miami for the 14th edition of Art Basel and the related festivities. There will be more than 20 other fairs, numerous museum shows (both public and private), gallery exhibitions, art instillations and, of course, parties – hundreds of them! I find myself advising clients not only on what they should buy but also on where they should eat, what shoes they should wear and the best hours to use Uber. There’s now so much to do during Art Basel that, increasingly, many people don’t even go to the fair. It’s impossible to see and do it all, but I recommend that you put the following at the top of your list:

1. Art Basel Public. Even if you can’t make it to the convention center for Art Basel, the fair will have a public sculpture display. For the fifth year in a row, Collins Park will be home to more than 20 large-scale sculptures and installations by artists from around the world.

2. NADA. Of the 20+ fairs around the city, NADA is one that should not be missed. This year, NADA ‒ which showcases young, emerging artists ‒ will be in a new location at the Fontainebleau Hotel and will only be open Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

3. The Margulies Collection. This 45,000 square foot private museum in the Wynwood Arts District houses the collection of long-time collector Marty Margulies. This year, 10,000 square feet of that space will be devoted to a large exhibition of works by Anselm Kiefer, one of the most important European artists working today.

4. Little River. While the art scene has exploded in Miami, so have the rents, and there are new art neighborhoods cropping up in unlikely areas. One such neighborhood is Little River, now home to Bill Brady Gallery (recently relocated from Kansas City), Spinello Projects, and Vanity Projects, a high-end nail art atelier and video art salon. Vanity Projects will also have an on-demand service during Art Basel in case you can’t make it to Little River, which also has some great restaurants, and this year, its first art and design fair, Superfine.

5. Surf Lodge. If you are not completely exhausted at the end of the day, check out the Surf Lodge pop-up at the Hall Hotel in South Beach. As many of you know, Surf Lodge in Montauk is THE place to hang out in the summer. Surf Lodge also hosts artist residencies and exhibitions, which included Diana Al-Hadid and Lucien Smith this past summer. This is their second year in Miami during Art Basel, hosting invite-only dinners and lively afterparties. See you on the dance floor!

Feel free to email or call if you’d like more information, want to compare party plans, or are interested in having me tour you around a fair or two.

10.26.15 I ELEMENTS IN PLAY IN THE NEWS: REGULATING THE ART MARKET

 

As the art market continues growing, with more people buying at ever-higher prices, it is becoming increasingly difficult for newcomers and even seasoned collectors to navigate. On top of the growing numbers of artists and galleries, art-collecting strategies are becoming more complex, particularly if investment is the motivation. And as one of the last big businesses still unregulated, it’s full of temptation.

But as this week’s Barron’s Penta article on freeports illustrates, regulators are watching and beginning to take action. In Stashing Your Art in a Tax Haven Can Be Dicey, author Stacy Perman describes the current situation. Freeports are storage facilities in various parts of the world where art buyers can park their collections, which are considered to be in transit while there, and not pay taxes. Perman astutely describes a freeport as a “maximum-security safety-deposit box with tax benefits.” She consulted with me in researching her piece, and I strongly agree with her conclusion that storing in freeports is not worth the risk. The article is a quick read that illuminates an interesting but tricky issue surrounding your investments in today’s art market, and I encourage you to follow-up with me if you have any questions after reading it.

09.24.15 I 10 NYC GALLERY SHOWS TO SEE NOW

 

Once again, the fall art season is upon us, and with so much to do and see, it’s easy to miss something great. I just returned from EXPO Chicago – my first art fair of the season, and their best edition yet. In New York, every gallery has opened a new show, and for those with limited time, the seemingly endless choices can be daunting. To help guide you, here are my top 10 recommendations for New York City gallery shows to see now:

Barnaby Furnas at Marianne Boesky, through October 10th

Marcel Eichner at James Fuentes, through October 11th

Christian Marclay at Paula Cooper, through October 17th

Keltie Ferris at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, through October 17th

Dan Shaw-Town at Room East, through October 18th

Jackie Saccoccio at Eleven Rivington, through October 18th

Dana Schutz at Petzel, through October 24th

Nassos Daphnis at Richard Taittinger, through October 25th

Samara Golden at Canada, through October 25th

Billy Childish at Lehmann Maupin, through October 31st

In addition to gallery shows, there are a number of auctions and fairs coming up, which I’d be happy to fill you in on. In particular, if you are going to Frieze London (October 13 – 17) and would like to see the fair with me, let me know.

Besides eagerly attending the shows and fairs this fall, I am a judge for the Human Impacts Institute’s annual Creative Climate Awards. I invite you to show your support for combating climate change by bidding on the finalist’s works on Paddle 8.

And for intrigue and fun, every art lover has been following the fascinating Yves Bouvier-Dmitry E. Ryboloviev saga in the news recently. There’s a great article about it in the New York Times today, which includes a quote from me. It’s worth the read — and it will give you a great story to tell to those unfamiliar with it

06.09.15 I THE ART OF SUMMER

 

Now that the May auctions and Frieze Art Fair are over, many think the art world takes a break until the fall. While it’s true that summer is quieter and many galleries have (shorter) summer hours, there is still a lot to see and do – including going to any of the numerous gallery group shows. You can also incorporate art into your travels and summer reading, with or without WiFi. Below are some suggestions of how to enjoy art this summer.

1. If you are traveling, here are some art exhibition highlights:

VeniceThe Biennale. Yes, the invitation-only preview and fabulous parties have passed, but the art is on view until November 22nd. And now that the see-and-be-seen of the art world have left, you can actually see everything.

HavanaThe Biennial, May 22nd – June 22nd. With relations thawing between Cuba and the United States, many US art groups are attending this year’s Biennial. The reports thus far are mixed, but Havana is a magical city to visit, regardless.

ViennaDrawing Now: 2015 at the Albertina, May 29th – October 11th. This show is a fascinating look at what drawing means or can mean today. It takes place 40 years after the Drawing Now show that the Albertina mounted jointly with MoMA and will become a series at the museum shown at irregular intervals.

LondonAgnes Martin at Tate Modern, June 3rd – October 11th. This retrospective, the first since the artist’s death in 2004, will be traveling, but it is a must-see if you are in London before it closes.

ParisAnish Kapoor at Versailles, June 9th – November 1st. Kapoor is the latest contemporary artist exhibiting in the gardens and on the terraces of the Chateau de Versailles. The contrast of his works to the formal gardens can be both beautiful and jarring. Let me know what you think!

And, of course, if NYC is part of your summer, you must see the new Whitney Museum.

2. If you haven’t had your fill of art fairs, there are plenty to take in this summer. I will be attending the following four fairs and would be happy to guide you through any of them:

Art Basel, June 16th – 21st, Basel, Switzerland. This marks the fair’s 46th edition in Basel (as compared to the now more popular fair in Miami, which will have its 14th edition in December). It is widely considered the best contemporary art fair of the year, but there are very few parties, so only go if you are truly interested in the art.

And three art fairs in the Hamptons are changing locations this year:

Art Hamptons, July 2nd – 5th, Private Estate Grounds Lumber Lane Reserve, Bridgehampton. This was the first fair in the Hamptons and has the most local feel.

Market Art + Design, July 9th – 12th, Fairview Farm at Mecox, Bridgehampton. This year’s edition is adding design, which is a new trend that I expect to continue.

Art Southampton, July 9th – 13th, Nova’s Ark, Bridgehampton. This fair is brought to us by the Art Miami folks and is thus the most established of the bunch.

3. If you don’t want to leave your hammock but still want to learn about art, I recommend these books:

The Value of Art: Money, Power, Beauty, by Michael Finlay. How art acquires value and what it means to the various players in the art market is the focus of this book. Finlay offers an insider’s look at the art market along with some worthwhile advice on how to navigate your way through.

The Supermodel and the Brillo Box: Back Stories and Peculiar Economics from the World of Contemporary Art, by Don Thompson. This book also examines the art market, but with a little more celebrity and scandal. It follows Thomson’s 2008 bestseller The $12 Million Stuffed Shark, which is also a good read, but keep in mind that $12 million was considered a lot of money for a work of contemporary art in 2008!

The Art of Forgery: Case Studies in Deception, by Noah Charney. I am hopeful that none of you will encounter a forged work, but this book is fascinating.

Seven Days in the Art World, by Sarah Thornton – an oldie but a goody.

As always, please let me know if I can be of assistance in your art education.

Enjoy!

02.05.15 I WHEN ARE ART FAIRS THE RIGHT PLACE TO BUY ART?

 

These days, it seems that every week there’s an art fair going on somewhere – and sometimes more. And it’s become a reality: there are more than 300 art fairs annually worldwide. For galleries, participating in art fairs is an integral part of business, and last week I discussed this fact with numerous gallerists at a fair in Los Angeles. They said they are now doing 40% to 70% of their annual sales at fairs.  As that number increases, some galleries question the value of having a physical gallery space.

But are fairs the right place to buy art? After attending almost 30 fairs last year, I will share my thoughts and recommendations. Fairs are a great way to see a lot of art at once – there are seemingly endless choices and opportunities. My new clients love going to fairs as part of their education process, and it helps us both get a better sense of what they respond to. Also, my clients regularly buy great works at fairs. For the same reasons, however, it’s a difficult place to buy art because you are overwhelmed by countless artworks, making it very hard to focus. In addition, the works on display tend to be uneven. Some galleries save up great pieces to showcase at fairs, but the proliferation of fairs puts pressure on galleries to do more and more each year. This, in turn, puts pressure on their artists to produce more art, and sub-par works commonly make their way to art fair booths. In short, if you are experienced and well-prepared, buying art at fairs can be very rewarding.

If you intend to buy, it’s also important to plan ahead. Galleries send out previews to their top advisors and clients of what they are bringing to fairs, and they are happy to sell before the doors open. As a result, the best works are frequently sold or put on hold before they are even installed in the booths. So if you know there’s something you want, talk to the gallery beforehand.  Another note: I caution against impulse buys. People get caught up in the excitement and often regret their decisions later.

For those of you who are or plan to be in New York City, March and May are the busiest months for fairs, many of them taking place simultaneously.  I’d be happy to recommend my favorites, or to consult in a broader way, including giving tours of fairs.  And if you don’t live in New York or plan to travel, I can let you know what international and other US fairs are on my calendar.

Upcoming New York City Fairs:

March
The Armory Show
The Art Show
PULSE
VOLTA NY
art on paper
SPRING/BREAK

May
Frieze New York
NADA
Art Miami New York
1:54

11.07.14 I BARRON’S PENTA: ART ADVISORS ARE “MONEY WELL SPENT”

 

Barron’s Penta spent time with me learning how to work with an art advisor.  As you know, their mission is to provide “insights and advice for families with assets of $5 million or more”.  After joining me on a client gallery tour in Chelsea, they published their commentary online today and in tomorrow’s print issue.  They conclude that hiring an art advisor is “money well spent”.

Hope you enjoy!

Art Advisors: Are They Worh It?

09.11.14 I BACK TO SCHOOL

 

After a relaxing trip to Malibu over Labor Day, I returned to Manhattan and the calm before the storm. September is always a busy month and playfully referred to in art circles as “back to school”, however the art world energy and enthusiasm of the last 10 days have reached new heights. I’ve attended over 50 gallery openings and numerous gallery dinners as well as fielded an unusual number of inquiries from clients. With all of this activity, here are my recommendations on what not miss – for the collector, the neophyte and the art socialite; there is something for everyone.

Galleries
Every gallery opens a new show in the first few weeks of September after being closed for at least part of August. Here are my top picks in NYC:

Roxy Paine at Marianne Boesky – September 4th – October 18th
Marco Breuer at Yossi Milo – September 4th – November 1st
John Divola at Wallspace – September 5th – October 25th
David Kramer at Thierry Goldberg – September 7th – October 5th
Kristen Schiele at Lu Magnus – September 7th – October 12th
Strauss Bourque-LaFrance at Rachel Uffner – September 7th – October 19th
Marcel Dzama at David Zwirner – September 9th – October 25th
Nir Hod at Paul Kasmin – September 11th – October 25th
Do Ho Suh at Lehmann Maupin – September 11th – October 26th
José Parlá at Bryce Wolkowitz – September 12th – October 18th

Fairs 
There now seems to be at least one art fair every week somewhere in the world. It’s hard to keep up, so here are my favorites and how long they’ve been around:

September 10th – 14th, ArtRio, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil – 4th edition
September 18th – 21st, EXPO Chicago, Chicago, IL – 3rd edition
September 18th – 21st, abc berlin, Berlin, Germany – 7th edition
October 2nd – 5th, (e)merge, Washington, DC – 4th edition
October 14th – 18th, Frieze, London, England – 12th edition
October 22nd – 26th, FIAC, Paris, France – 41st edition

Auctions
This month in New York, the big three contemporary auction houses have their mid-season sales (as opposed to the big sales coming up in November), which keep growing in size and importance; they all have catchy names now to garner attention:

September 16th, Phillips Under the Influence
September 23rd, Christie’s First Open
September 24th, Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated 

If you have any questions or would like additional recommendations, let me know!

08.12.14 I READING BETWEEN THE LINES OF SOTHEBY’S PRIVATE SALES NUMBERS

 

Despite a positive first half 2014 press release from Sotheby’s, Philip Boroff from artnet®news points out that an important part of the business – a part that I am actively involved in – did not perform as well as the company would like you to think.  I spoke with Philip about this yesterday, and his findings – including some quotes from me – are in the below article.  See you in September!

What Sotheby’s Isn’t Advertising About Its Private Sales (PDF)

01.22.14 I BUBBLE OR BUST FOR THE ART MARKET? WORRIED YOU MISSED THE PEAK?

 

The contemporary art market outdid itself in 2013. Close to $1.1 billion worth changed hands during the November auctions in New York at Christie’s and Sotheby’s alone – the highest total ever. In the wake of those sales, which included the eye-popping $142.4 million Francis Bacon triptych, many questioned whether the art market had peaked and many considered whether the bubble was about to burst. Brett Gorvy, Christie’s worldwide head of Post-war and contemporary art, remarked on the market that, “This isn’t a bubble. It’s the beginning of something new.”

Actually neither is true; the contemporary art market has been strong in recent years and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Asking when to buy art isn’t the right question. How you buy art is much more important. And the most essential aspect of buying art is education. At any level, savvy and successful collectors not only understand the art market but also their own tastes and interests, both of which are accomplished by looking at art and asking questions. Art due diligence takes place in galleries, at art fairs around the world, at museums and even at cocktail parties. Details about the current states of artists careers are not readily available in books – the information is too fresh and not widely disseminated. And all artists’ markets do not rise together; some reach the top just as other artists are gaining prominence. The ability to distinguish between the two will lead to more informed acquisitions – be it for a collection of 10 paintings or 100 pieces of art.

I continually research artists, exhibitions, museum shows and the market. As a result, my clients rely on me for the education to understand what they are buying and why – they are well-informed and confident. In addition, I always recommend that my clients buy what they love – you can never go wrong doing that.

10.9.13 I TODAY, ART ISN’T JUST A PRETTY PICTURE

 

More and more, the art world and the investment business are becoming intertwined, with even non-collectors taking art more seriously. I’m often asked about the different ways to invest in art, and the answer is becoming more complex. Most investors either buy art directly or invest in art funds. Or, there are collectors who are also activist investors, like hedge fund manager Dan Loeb. As of late, Loeb has become Sotheby’s largest shareholder through his Third Point hedge fund; he clearly sees art as an asset.

Loeb also sees Sotheby’s as an art business he can change. In a scathing open letter last week to Sotheby’s CEO William Ruprecht, Loeb said “Sotheby’s is like an old master painting in desperate need of restoration,” and asked Ruprecht to step down. As a prominent collector and powerful investor, Loeb has significant influence, though no one knows where his maneuvers will lead or how Sotheby’s stock will now perform.

I find the developments both fascinating and exciting – the attention that Loeb is drawing to the art world will only help strengthen the already strong art market. For my clients, I recommend buying art directly; you have control over what you buy, it’s less expensive and there’s more upside. And I continue to see new entrants in the market. As Melanie Gerlis pointed out recently in the Art Newspaper, art funds are struggling, however, she wrote, “One major change in investor behaviour has been a trend across all markets in favour of direct investment.” Collectors and non-collectors alike are both intrigued by the art headlines and helping to create them. In Artinfo last month, Eileen Kinsella reported that Christie’s and Sotheby’s “jumpstarted the fall auction season from September 25–27 with lively sales of contemporary art.” These sales target newer buyers and “are increasingly becoming a barometer of the health of the market and reflecting the robust activity at relatively lower five- and six-figure price points.”

In addition to these New York sales, China continues to impress. Despite what Loeb asserts, Sotheby’s latest evening sale in Hong Kong achieved over $145 million, more than double the prior record, including 11 world records. There is also a lot of anticipation for the big November sales in New York. The auction houses are starting to disclose their top lots, which include, amongst many others, two seminal Warhol paintings. Christie’s is selling a Coca-Cola bottle from 1962 with an estimate of $40 – $60 million, and Sotheby’s is selling a very large (8 ft. x 13 ft.) car crash with an estimate in excess of $60 million.

The private markets are also extremely active now. My clients choose private sales over public auctions when they don’t want to risk the uncertainty of buying or selling at auction or if they don’t want to wait for the right sale to come up. Not even August was quiet; I closed my biggest deal of the year, and September “back to school” was also quite busy. Waiting lists for sought-after artists at galleries are getting longer, and the time that galleries give collectors to make decisions is getting shorter. Prices for the right works are increasing rapidly, and those in the know refuse to miss out.

I spend a lot of time researching current trends in the art market and have helped a number of hedge fund investors find art for collecting and investing. I’d love to talk with you more about it as well.

For further reading:
Dan Loeb’s Open Letter to William Ruprecht
The Art Newspaper: Art Fund Industry Struggles to Emerge from the Gloom
Blouin Art Info: A Pair of Colorful Contemporary Auctions Show Fall Already Heating Up

06.19.13 I INVESTING IN ART….BARRON’S TAKE

 

Neatly timed just before the opening of Art Basel, Switzerland (the most distinguished contemporary art fair of the year), Barron’s Penta ran an article on Art Funds (The Hedge Funds of the Art World) by Crystal Kim: The Hedge Funds of the Art World (PDF).

In case you missed it, among several key points made, the author concludes, “The most cost-effective way to invest in art (while also enjoying its aesthetic returns) remains acquiring a portfolio of works directly, in consultation with an art advisor.”

I’ve just returned from Art Basel myself and will share that sales were brisk and collectors — experienced and new — were eager to spend top dollar to acquire great artworks.

Please let me know if you would like to discuss my recommendations on the heels of the art fair, your own collection or simply the state of the art market.

Enjoy the summer season!

05.07.13 | THE PRICE IS RIGHT?

 

In the next two weeks, over $1 billion of art will be sold in New York.  Starting on Thursday, several art fairs will take place simultaneously around the city, anchored by Frieze New York on Randall’s Island.  Next week, the major auction houses will hold their contemporary art sales.  Prices will range from several thousand to tens of millions of dollars; so how do you know if you’re paying the right price for a work of art?  There is no public exchange to reference, no financials to peruse and no cash flow to analyze.  And if buying for investment is even one factor in a purchase, the right price can be critical.

Who sets primary market prices?  When buying a new work of art from a gallery (the primary market), you can either accept the price or move on.  Galleries will sometimes give discounts, but once the prices are set, those are the prices.  And while there’s no precise formula, there are a number of factors that galleries review with their artists to establish prices.  If an artist is new to the market, prices reflect the age of the artist, where he/she went to school and what similar works by artists with similar backgrounds sell for.  The quality, size and location of the gallery are also considerations, as are the size of the works, production costs, shipping and insurance.  If the artist has an established market, the question becomes when and by how much to increase prices.  Factors include:

  • gallery exhibitions;
  • museum exhibitions;
  • museum acquisitions;
  • other institutional or prominent individual collection acquisitions; and
  • performance at auction.

The timing of price increases can be tricky because galleries don’t want to alienate existing collectors or new buyers.  The amount of work an artist produces and how quickly the work sells are also considerations.  Although at times, when prices increase, an artist may respond by producing less work.

Effects of auction prices on primary market prices.  If a work sells at auction (the secondary market) for more than primary market prices, the gallery and artist have to decide whether the result should affect primary market pricing and if so, by how much.  Auction bidding can be very emotional and competitive, and the circumstances driving up prices at auction often don’t exist in the primary market.  Consequently, raising prices too much can ruin an artist’s market.  Also, most galleries are interested in building an artist’s career – taking a long-term view – and raising prices too much or too quickly based upon auction performance can be counterproductive.  However, don’t get too excited about a discrepancy between primary and secondary market prices.  Typically, if an artist is “hot” at auction, it’s extremely difficult to find the artist’s works in the primary market.  Galleries will have long waiting lists, which sellers will argue justifies higher secondary market prices.

Who sets secondary market prices?  In the secondary market (resales of art at auction or through private sales), prices are set by the owners of the works.  If a sale takes place at auction, the estimates are suggested by the auction house and agreed to by the owner.  The estimates are predominantly based upon prior auction results (similar works by the same or similar artists) because those are the only prices publically available, despite comprising less than 50% of the secondary market.  If a sale takes place through a private dealer or directly between a buyer and seller, the price is also commonly based upon auction records for the same reason.  Even if one party has knowledge of a comparable private sale, it can be difficult to substantiate.  Other factors in determining a sale price include the quality and condition of the work.  The latter is often evidenced by a condition report that becomes fact.  However, the quality is subjective and often depends on one’s position in a transaction.  Most sellers argue that the work they own is better than the comparable works that have sold at auction, while prospective buyers argue the opposite. Hence, the prices in these situations often come down to what someone is willing to pay for a particular work.

As always, please contact me directly with any art-related questions, including inquiries about pricing, art fairs or auctions.

Upcoming art fairs:

Frieze is a very prominent, international fair with about 180 participating galleries showing a mix of well-established and emerging artists.  PULSE and NADA are smaller fairs, each composed of approximately 60 galleries showing mostly younger, up-and-coming artists.

For a review of my tips for attending an art fair, please visit: http://www.elementsinplay.com/category/newsletter/

Upcoming contemporary auctions:

  • Sotheby’s: Evening Sale, May 14th; Day Sale, May 15th
  • Christie’s: Evening Sale, May 15th; Day Sale, May 16th
  • Phillips: Evening Sale, May 16th; Day Sale, May 17th

The Evening Sales are ticketed events during which the more significant and expensive works are sold (large Warhol paintings, for example).  The Day Sales are open to the public and offer less expensive works (for example, small Warhol paintings, drawings and prints).

 

01.30.13 | WHY IS THE ART MARKET SO STRONG?

(AND WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR 2013?)

According to the Financial Times, fine art sales at auction in 2012 topped $10 billion, with $1 billion sold in one week in November in New York alone. Christie’s reported worldwide sales in 2012 of $6.27 billion, which includes private sales, and represents a 10% increase over 2011. Where is all of this growth coming from?

New Buyers.

Serious buyers have entered the art market over the last few years from places such as China, the Middle East and Brazil. And even more recently, there are first-time buyers from the US and Europe who have been disillusioned by the volatility and underperformance of many other asset classes. Although most collectors don’t buy art solely for investment purposes, it’s almost always one of the factors they consider.

More Galleries and Fairs.

2012 brought much gallery expansion, both in terms of square footage and globalization. Established galleries in New York opened new spaces in London (Zwirner, Pace, Michael Werner); New York and London galleries opened spaces in Hong Kong (Lehmann Maupin, White Cube, Simon Lee); and a French gallery opened one space in Hong Kong and will soon open a space in New York (Perrotin). In addition, there is an ever-increasing number of art fairs – seemingly a different art fair each week in some part of the world. These fairs range from London’s very successful Frieze Art Fair, which debuted Frieze New York last year in a sprawling tent on Randall’s Island, to the new Art Fair Philippines, which launches next month on one floor of a multi-level parking lot in Makati.

Confidence.

Despite the difficult economic situation in much of the rest of the world, I saw an increase in my clients’ transactions in 2012 and expect that to continue this year. I also began working with new clients who are buying with conviction. They believe that art has real value and also enjoy the process; it’s fun, social, prestigious and results in having something they love on their walls.

Strongest Market Segments.

Most of the growth I have seen is in Post-War and contemporary art, at the top and the lower end (younger, emerging artists) of the market. I receive numerous requests for blue-chip artists who are generally deemed to be safer acquisitions providing investment security. The works are priced higher, but the artists’ careers are well established, and if chosen correctly, the works will continue to appreciate. I am also constantly looking for the most promising up-and-coming artists for clients, either because of the lower price points or the excitement of trying to find the next big thing – or both! Currently, I am working with a client to sell two works that I recommended that have doubled in value over the past few years so that he can focus on other areas of his collection, which consists mostly of emerging artists.

Finding great works of art in any price range can be challenging, and purchasing these works is becoming more and more competitive. If you are interested in learning more, feel free to contact me.

11.20.12 | FIVE TIPS FOR ATTENDING AN ART FAIR

 

As many of you know, Art Basel Miami Beach is fast approaching, and I am constantly asked for tips on attending an art fair. Below are my top 5 recommendations. As always, feel free to contact me directly with additional questions.

1. Look at the floorplan. 

Art fairs tend to be quite large, and they can be tricky to navigate. It is easy to turn the wrong direction, even if the layout is mostly a grid. Some booths have entrances on two aisles, and if you go in one side and out the other, you can get completely turned around. Floorplans are available at fair entrances and often can be downloaded beforehand from fair websites. It is a good idea to mark where you’ve been to orient yourself and also because galleries often reinstall portions of their booths from day to day, which confuses even the most seasoned fairgoers.

2. Wear comfortable shoes.

I know everyone likes to be stylish, especially surrounded by fabulous works of art and people, but you won’t be able to see much of the art or focus on it if your feet hurt. At a minimum, bring a spare pair of shoes. You’ll thank me. You might also want to bring a supply of Band-Aids and Advil.

3. Bring extra money (cash) and patience for lunch.

Art fairs are starting to expand and improve their food offerings, but in general, lunch at a fair is underwhelming, expensive and time consuming. The lines for food are particularly long during the VIP Preview, particularly in the VIP Lounge. Alternate suggestions are to eat before you go, bring a snack or plan in advance where to eat outside of the fair – most fairs are not well-situated to other food choices. And bring a bottle of water.

4. If you want to buy art, plan your visit in advance.

As previously indicated, art fairs are generally big and crowded, which can make them overwhelming if you are “shopping”. Purchasing art at fairs can also be quite competitive, so it’s best to be prepared by knowing what galleries you want to visit and, if possible, what particular works of art you want to see. The best works are often sold in the opening hours.

5. Go with your Art Advisor.

The easiest way to prepare for an art fair is to have a professional do it for you. An Art Advisor will often know in advance what galleries are bringing and can put desired works on hold. An Advisor will also be familiar with the layout, so you can look more efficiently and maximize your time. And an Advisor will be able to answer questions, explain different works of art and evaluate prices.

The VIP Preview for Art Basel Miami Beach will take place on December 5th, and the fair will be open to the public December 6th – 9th.  More information can be found at http://miamibeach.artbasel.com.

Happy Thanksgiving!