Hot Property: How Three Art Galleries Might ‘Wake Up the Auction Houses in a Big Way’

Ileana Sonnabend’s Andy Warhol, Flowers (1965) was among the works was split between dealer consortium GPS Partners, Gagosian, and Christie’s.Courtesy Christie’s Images/© 2020 Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Talk to art market insiders about great artworks that have made headline-worthy prices, and you’ll soon hear monikers that honor the deceased collectors whose estates are selling them on par with the artists who created them: the Ganz Picasso. The Stralem Picasso. The Pincus Rothko. The Rockefeller Rothko. Such top-notch collections are crucial to the auction market—and if the fate of one major estate is a harbinger of developments to come, the auction houses may have increasing competition for plum consignments.

Some of the splashiest recent successes at Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Phillips have been bolstered by collections that came to market with the first of the three Ds that generally fuel auctions—death, debt, and divorce. This past February, Sotheby’s secured 10 works, by marquee-name artists like Clyfford Still, Henry Moore, and Richard Diebenkorn, from the estate of Bay Area collectors Harry “Hunk” and Mary Margaret “Moo” Anderson, which brought a healthy $66.3 million on June 29, despite being the house’s first major sale to go all-digital as a result of Covid-19.

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