Mon. May 23rd, 2022

The Art Detective is a weekly column by Katya Kazakina for Artnet News Pro that lifts the curtain on what is really takes place in the art market.

The big auction season is upon us. Over the next two weeks, art worth more than $ 1.4 billion is on its way to Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips in New York.

The most expensive item is the Macklowe collection at Sotheby’s, whose first installment could bring in more than $ 400 million thanks to trophy works by Alberto Giacometti, Andy Warhol and Mark Rothko. Ordered by the court to settle the bitter divorce between eight-year-old Harry and Linda Macklowe, the event will test the strength of the highest end of the art market.

Macklowes are not the only prominent sellers this month. At Christie’s, the Cox collection of Impressionist art is another gem with 25 works collected by businessman, collector and philanthropist Edwin Lochridge Cox, who died last year. Excellent includes a masterpiece by Gustave Caillebotte, Young man by his window (1875), as well as works by Cezanne and Van Gogh.

Sotheby’s, meanwhile, snatched the collection of the late TV producer Douglas Cramer, whose paintings by Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein and others are expected to bring in $ 30 million.

Artists are also in the action: stars Rashid Johnson and Dana Schutz have submitted new works to raise money for charity, a growing trend that seems to be helping everyone involved. NFT sensation Beeple is selling its first IRL sculpture directly at Christie’s (estimated at $ 15 million).

Art Detective has identified a number of other prominent sellers in the upcoming auction season, ranging from a neurosurgeon in New Jersey to a convicted former Enron director.

Ronald Cordover

Claude Monet, The corner of the river pond (1918).  Lent by Sotheby's.

Claude Monet, Corner of the river pond (1918). Lent by Sotheby’s.

As a financier, scientist and art patron, Cordover is the anonymous sender of the late addition to Sotheby’s Modern art sales range, Claude Monet’s Corner of the river pond (1918), according to sources familiar with the agreement. It is estimated at more than $ 40 million.

The dense, vertical painting of water lilies last appeared at auction in 1997 and sold for $ 6.1 million, according to the Artnet Price Database. Since then, Cordober has generously lent it to museum exhibitions around the country as well as Gagosian’s show of Monet’s late phase in 2010.

Abe Steinberger

Barbara Kruger, Untitled (Your Manias Become Science) (1981).  Lent by Christie's Images, Ltd.

Barbara Kruger, Untitled (Your Way Becomes Science) (1981). Lent by Christie’s Images, Ltd.

Steinberger is not a gazillionaire chasing trophies at auction. He drives a threshed jeep and lives in a modest house in New Jersey. Yet the neurosurgeon was able to build an enviable collection of works by Pictures Generation artists over 25 years.

“He built it on his own,” said art consultant Gabriela Palmieri, who helped ease the sale. “He had a passion and dedication.”

As he enters his eighth decade, Steinberger decided to turn the page and sell 41 plots at Christie’s. Offered anonymously, the group is designated as “Image World: Property from a Private American Collection.” Upcoming batches are estimated at $ 33.9 million to $ 49.7 million, and more works will be offered in future sales, Christie’s said.

An important decision was made early: “We were not going to sell in the same room as Macklowe, ”Said Palmieri, a former Sotheby’s specialist, noting that Steinberger’s collection deserved to be the star of his own show.

Works by Christopher Wool can be seen at Christie's.  Photo: Katya Kazakina.

Works by Christopher Wool can be seen at Christie’s. Photo: Katya Kazakina.

Steinberger acquired many of the works directly from galleries such as Gagosian, Metro Pictures and Skarstedt. The trove includes three large photographs from Sherman’s “Centerfolds” series offered in the same sale for the first time; four paintings by Christopher Wool, whose market has been on shaky ground lately; and Barbara Krugers Untitled (Your Way Becomes Science) from 1981.

Most of the works had either been in Steinberger’s home or lent to major museum exhibits, Palmieri said.

Building a collection of this caliber while working as a surgeon required discipline. “These were big acquisitions for him,” she said. “He fell in love with the material.”

Sometimes Steinberger had to sell works to upgrade or acquire something he coveted. Wool’s “HA-AH” painting was one of those pieces. It came up for auction in 2014 and sold for $ 10.4 million. Steinberger bought it privately afterwards – and had to sell other works he owned for the corresponding price. With nine feet high and six feet wide, it is the same size as the painting that holds Wool’s auction record, Without title (Riot), which brought in $ 29.9 million from Sotheby’s in 2015.

“We sold several works to achieve that dream,” Palmieri said.

Peter Brant

Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat (1982).  Lent by Christie's Images, Ltd.

Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat (1982). Lent by Christie’s Images, Ltd.

The newsprint magnate, known for his tough negotiating style and smart market timing, stands out with at least two works: Warhol’s portrait of Jean-Michel Basquiat, estimated at more than $ 20 million, and Basquiat’s portrait. Flash in Naples, estimated at $ 14 million to $ 18 million.

A lot of ink has been wasted Jean-Michel Basquiat (1982), referred to as Brant’s painting. Flash in Naples (1983) sold anonymously. Christie’s guaranteed the work, and so far it has not been supported by a third party, which represents a potential risk to the auction house.

The colorful lattice composition depicts the titular DC cartoon hero as two figures (one standing, another running) with a lightning on the chest and fuchsia panties.

The work has appeared at Sotheby’s twice before, bringing in $ 3.3 million in 2010 and $ 8.1 million in 2017, when it was purchased by Jose Mugrabi, an art dealer and collector. It was part of a recent exhibition, “Jean Michel Basquiat: Royalty, Heroism, and the Streets,” at the Lotte Museum of Art in Seoul, Korea, which presented 150 works from the Mugrabi collection. Brant bought it sometime after the show ended in February, according to someone familiar with the deal, making it a quick transition to the auction block.

José Maria Cano

Jean-Michel Basquiat, The Guilt of the Golden Teeth (1982).  Image courtesy of Christie's.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, The fault of the gold teeth (1982). Image courtesy of Christie’s.

Basquiat canvas The fault of the gold teeth is eight feet high and 14 feet wide, and it comes with an equally monumental estimate of $ 40 million to $ 80 million. The work is submitted anonymously by Jose Maria Cano, a Spanish artist, collector and former member of the pop-rock band Mecano, who loved the legendary street artist so much that he even dedicated a song to him.

The origin indicates that the work last appeared at auction in 1998 and sold at Sotheby’s for $387,500 and has been in the same collection ever since. Christie’s declined to comment and Cano could not be reached immediately.

The work has a third-party guarantee, which means that it is as good as sold.

Painted in 1982, the canvas is filled with the enigmatic words, signs and ciphers swirling around the central figure of Baron Samedi, the master of the dead in Haitian voodoo, wearing a high hat, black dress and skull face painted white.

Lea Weingarten Fastow

Ed Ruscha, Ripe (1967).  Lent by Christie's Images, Ltd.

Ed Ruscha, Mature (1967). Lent by Christie’s Images, Ltd.

A convicted Enron’s assistant treasurer, who became an art consultant, sells Ed Ruschas Mature at Christie’s, according to a person familiar with the work (her husband, Andy Fastow, a convicted felon and Enron’s CFO, was among the key figures in the Enron scandal).

The 1967 canvas is estimated at $ 18 million to $ 22 million and will be offered anonymously in the same sale as Warhols Jean-Michel Basquiat. Mature is guaranteed and has the support of third parties.

The work was acquired in 2000 from the Anthony D’Offay Gallery in London and was on loan at Menil Collection in Houston in 2000 to 2001, before the Houston-based Enron began to clear up amid allegations of fraud and bankruptcy.

Christie’s declined to comment on the sender. Weingarten did not respond to a call and an email seeking comment.

Erik Clapton

Cy Twombly, Untitled (Roman Note) (1970).  Lent by Christie's Images, Ltd.

Cy Twombly, Untitled (Roman note) (1970). Lent by Christie’s Images, Ltd.

The star musician says goodbye Untitled (Roman note) by Cy Twombly. The 1970 work on paper is estimated at $ 1.8 million to $ 2.5 million at Christie’s, and comes right after. Mature.

Clapton paid $69,435 for the work in 1995 at Christie’s in London. It is not guaranteed.

The painting shows Twombly’s characteristic tingles in light blue and gray colored pencil. It is part of the period (1966-71) in which Twombly created his famous blackboard paintings, according to Christie’s.

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