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Tuesday, 03 June 2014 10:09

New York Art Dealer Robbed by Employee

A high-end art dealer was robbed at knifepoint in his Upper East Side pad by a handyman who took off with some cash — but left a showroom full of pricey artwork on the walls, officials said.

Paul Quatrochi, whose stable of wealthy collectors includes Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione, Baron Heinrich von Thyssen and Austrian Princess Michaela von Hapsburg, said he had a knife pressed against his throat for nearly 30 minutes while his guest rifled through his pockets and stole $300 in cash.

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Simon Shaw, Co-Head of Sotheby’s Worldwide Impressionist & Modern Art Department, commented: “A key factor in tonight’s successes was our longstanding relationships with top collectors, and our partnership with them throughout the sale process – the three works from the Private American Collection that led our sale, Monet’s Le Pont japonais, and more were non-competitive consignments. It was a privilege to offer Picasso’s spectacular Le Sauvetage exactly a decade after we last auctioned it in New York, and we are thrilled to see its price double in that time. We are pleased to once again deliver exceptional results on behalf of a great American institution, with Monet’s Sur la Falaise à Pourville selling for well over its high estimate to benefit the Acquisitions Fund of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.”

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Acquavella Galleries in New York is currently hosting the exhibition “Jean-Michel Basquiat Drawing: Works from the Schorr Family Collection.” The show was curated by Fred Hoffman, who was introduced to Basquiat by fellow art dealer Larry Gagosian in 1982. Hoffman helped Basquiat produce five editions of prints, which were published in 1983 by New City Editions in Venice, California. Hoffman also assisted in the production of the artist’s 1984 silkscreen paintings and co-curated Basquiat’s retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum in 2005. He is the Ahmanson Curatorial Fellow at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.

“Jean-Michel Basquiat Drawing” features 22 works on paper and two paintings from the collection of Herbert and Lenore Schorr, Los Angeles-based collectors who met the artist in 1981, before his first exhibition in New York. The Schorrs quickly became Basquiat’s devoted collectors, supporters, and friends. While the couple owns several seminal Basquiat paintings, what makes their holdings so unique is their vast collection of works on paper. Hoffman said, “The Schorrs astutely understood that working on paper was equally central to his practice as painting on canvas. The collection demonstrates both the focus and ambition that the artist invested in the medium of drawing.” Drawing is an essential component of Basquiat’s graffiti-inspired Neo-expressionist and Primitivist works. Between 1980-1988, the artist produced approximately 1,000 works on paper that exemplify his frenetic, bold, and gestural style.

The two paintings on view at Acquavella Galleries include a portrait that Basquiat painted of the Schorrs and “Leonardo da Vinci’s Greatest Hits,” which was part of an exhibition at Fun Gallery in New York in 1983. The show didn’t receive any critical attention and the Schorrs were the only people to buy a painting. “Leonardo da Vinci’s Greatest Hits” is now considered a foremost example of Basquiat’s work. Lenore Schorr said, “We had so much confidence in him from the beginning and couldn’t understand why other people couldn’t see it.”

Today, Basquiat, who died in 1988 at the age of 27, commands extremely high prices at auction. In May 2013, “Dustheads” sold for $48.8 million at Christie’s, setting the record for Basquiat at auction. His work is included in private and public collections throughout the world, including the Broad Art Foundation in California, Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, Museu d’art Contemporani de Barcelona in Spain, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Acquavella Galleries was founded by Nicholas Acquavella in 1921. The gallery initially specialized in works of the Italian Renaissance, but in 1960, when Acquavella’s son William joined the business, the gallery expanded to major works of the 19th and 20th centuries, including masters of Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Cubism, and Surrealism. The gallery has since expanded and the entire scope of the 20th century is now represented.

“Jean-Michel Basquiat Drawing: Works from the Schorr Family Collection” will remain on view at Acquavella Galleries through June 13.

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Friday, 02 May 2014 12:46

PULSE Art Fair Moves to Miami Beach

The Miami art fair PULSE just kicked a little sand in the face of its rivals.

The contemporary art fair plans to relocate from downtown Miami to a spot along the beach this winter—a move to lure more visitors and stand out from the crowd of more than a dozen art fairs that hit the city every December. Fair director Helen Toomer unveiled the new location in an interview Thursday.

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Tuesday, 29 April 2014 11:19

Report says Online Art Market is Booming

The Online Art Trade Report by the British insurance group Hiscox estimated the value of global online art sales at $1.6 billion in 2013, up from $870 million in 2012. The report’s findings are based on a survey of 506 international art buyers, collectors, and galleries from a database belonging to ArtTactic, an organization that specializes in art market research and analysis. The study estimated that the online art market will grow to $3.8 billion by 2018.

According to the report, 71% of art collectors surveyed have purchased artwork without seeing it in person first and 89% of the galleries surveyed claimed that they regularly sell to clients using a digital image only. Nearly 25% of 20- to 30-year-olds surveyed said that they had purchased art online and nearly half of the collectors over 65-years-old surveyed said that they had bought art directly online.

Robert Read, Hiscox Global Head, Fine Art, said, “This research distills the views of collectors, galleries and the greater art community and it tells us that trading online is now an established and accepted way to buy and sell art. Increasing accessibility can only be a good thing, and we are seeing new players coming into the market from a range of territories, at all ages and price points, which is an exciting – if somewhat unexpected – development."

According to the report, online art sales account for 2.4% of the estimated value of the global art market, which in 2013 was $65 billion.

Click here for the full report.

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The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) announced that in 2016, it will unveil its John and Lisa Pritzker Center for Photography. It will be the largest exhibition space for photography in the United States. The museum is in the midst of a considerable expansion, which is being helmed by Snøhetta, a firm with headquarters in Norway and New York. The $365 million project will double the size of the museum.

The Pritzker Center for Photography is being funded by a lead gift from philanthropists and photography collectors, John and Lisa Pritzker, as well as generous donations from four additional benefactors. The nearly 15,500-square-foot center will just about triple the current amount of space for photography at SFMOMA. In addition to increased exhibition space, the center will feature an upgraded photographic study center and an interpretive space that will be the first of its kind in the country.

SFMOMA’s photography holdings currently number some 17,000 objects -- its largest collection in any medium. The collection includes works by Edward Weston, Alfred Stieglitz, Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, Man Ray, William Eggleston, Lee Friedlander, and the finest holdings of Japanese photography outside Japan. SFMOMA’s photography collection will live on-site, divided between two state-of-the-art storage vault.

The museum’s director, Neal Benezra, said, ““The new center, together with the gifts to our collection, represent a transformative development for our photography program and for the entire museum. We are extremely grateful to our trustee Lisa Pritzker and her husband, John, and to our other supporters, whose vision and generosity will make SFMOMA a global destination for anyone with an interest in photography.”

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After opening the James Christie Room at Hong Kong’s Alexandra House in February, Christie’s has launched a new art space at the Imperial Club in Beijing. This is the auction house’s first art space in mainland China and it will serve as a multi-purpose platform for collectors and art enthusiasts. Christie’s will  use the space for exhibitions, lectures, art programs, and private shows. The auction house has similar facilities in London, Paris, and New York. 

Steven P. Murphy, the Chief Executive Officer at Christie’s, said, “We share the vision with China of developing art and culture, and look forward to contributing to the growing vibrant art scenes in Beijing. The opening of our first art space in Mainland China is part of our dedication to building exhibition spaces like this around the world. We look forward to welcoming more Chinese collectors and friends on a regular basis.”

An exhibition of nine works from the Feng Wen Tang Collection of Paintings by Qi Baishi is currently on view at the new space. The show will run through April 19.

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Wednesday, 12 February 2014 10:41

Nazi Art Trove Larger Than Originally Thought

Nearly 60 more artworks have been found at the Austrian home of Cornelius Gurlitt, a German recluse whose art hoard is suspected to contain Nazi-looted works. In November, it was reported that in 2012, more than 1,400 artworks were uncovered in Gurlitt’s dilapidated Munich apartment. The latest pieces, including works by Monet, Renoir and Picasso, were found at his Salzburg property. An initial inspection indicates that there is no Nazi loot in the latest trove.

Gurlitt, 81, is the son of the art dealer Hildebrandt Gurlitt, who reportedly acquired the works in the late 1930s and 1940s. Gurlitt’s father had been put in charge of selling the stolen artworks abroad by Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, but secretly hoarded many of them and later claimed that they were destroyed in the bombing of Dresden. Gurlitt sold a number of the paintings over the years and lived off of the profits.

The task force in charge of researching the origins of the nearly 1,400 works discovered in Munich, has said that approximately 590 of them are suspected to have been looted or extorted by the Nazis from Jewish collectors. Authorities are in the process of locating the works’ rightful owners and publishing images of the paintings on

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After a trove of Nazi-looted masterpieces were found in a Munich apartment, the German state of Bavaria has drafted a national law that would ease the return of stolen art to its rightful owners. The new legislation would eliminate the statute of limitations applied to stolen property, which is typically 30 years. Some art collectors have used the law to hold onto artworks with troubled provenances. The draft will go before Germany’s upper house of parliament on February 14.

Back in November 2013, German authorities announced that they had found approximately 1,500 artworks worth around one billion euros in a dilapidated apartment belonging to Cornelius Gurlitt. Gurlitt’s father, Hildebrandt, had been put in charge of selling stolen artworks by Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda. Gurlitt’s father secretly hoarded the works, which included paintings by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Marc Chagall, later claiming that they were destroyed in the bombing of Dresden. Throughout his life, Gurlitt, an unemployed recluse, sold a number of the paintings and lived off of the profits.

German authorities came under fire when it was revealed that they had known of Gurlitt’s stash since February 2012 but failed to make it public until the following year. They have since posted pictures of more than 400 of the works, inviting rightful owners to stake claims. 

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Friday, 13 December 2013 18:02

TEFAF Scraps Plans for Beijing

Back in March, officials in charge of the European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) announced that they were talking with Sotheby’s about launching a high-end art and antiques fair in China. TEFAF, which takes place in Maastrich each year and is widely considered the finest art fair in the world, has just announced that TEFAF Beijing will not be taking place in 2014.

The fair was going to be a collaboration between TEFAF and Sotheby’s joint venture with China’s state-owned Beijing Gehua Cultural Development Group with Sotheby’s taking a percentage of sales from the fair. TEFAF released a statement saying that “a high-end art fair, as presently envisaged, in Beijing is not viable at the current time,” but many believe that dealers were not keen on giving a percentage of their sales to the auction house. In addition, most of TEFAF’s high-selling items such as old master paintings, antiquities, and fine antique furniture, are not in-demand among Chinese collectors.

TEFAF Maastricht will take place as planned from March 14, 2014 through March 23, 2014.

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