Tag Archives: art market

An art auction failure linked to every Gen Xer’s fantasy

The art market isn’t sure if it wants to recover yet. This month, Sotheby’s had a fantastic contemporary art sale, while the one at Christie’s just plain sucked. Among the paintings at the latter was “Brother Sausage,” by Jean-Michel Basquiat. It entered the Christie’s art auction with the highest presale estimate, but nobody was interested in buying it.

Life’s a bitch.

What’s interesting, though, is where this painting comes from. Word on the street is that Peter Brant, turned art collector by his soon-to-be ex-wife, is trying to move the piece. He and Stephanie Seymour are battling their way through a divorce, and “Brother Sausage,” with a presale estimate that approached $10 million, is bound to be one of the assets they fight over.

Why does this matter to the millions of Gen Xers who don’t give a fuck about art? Or, to those of us who like art but still don’t give a shit about the squabbles of the rich and famous?

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Funny “Art” Investor

copy-of-dsc03931I went to the Cleantech Venture Day conference yesterday in Stockholm, Sweden. In general, there was some interesting stuff, but the best conversation I had was with a venture capital/private equity investor. I asked the guy if he invests in art. A large grin formed on his face, as he nodded. Apparently, this was a subject close to his heart. So, I asked for a bit more detail, and the gump was more than willing to talk.

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Art Market Dropping, as I Predicted

Sophia Lynn, by Julio Aguilera

Sophia Lynn, by Julio Aguilera

The latest from top art market publication ArtPrice suggests that the global art market is tanking. Every corner of the market has been affected, from the really high-end stuff to the emerging artists fetching less than EUR10,000 a canvas.

In the words of ArtPrice:

Whereas the top-end of the market (4.1% of transactions) has shown relative price inertia, on the more dynamic segment of works offered for less than 100,000 euros, reactions have been more spontaneous: price adjustments are already underway. In this segment, the price index calculated using the repeated sales method has dropped 18% compared with October 2007!

The art market is in decline, as I predicted back in September 2007, in a short article for Trader Monthly. Prices, I felt, were topping out, and ArtPrice retrospectively calls the peak in late 2007/early 2008.

Read “Bubble Watch” in Trader Monthly >>

Check out some charts from ArtPrice after the jump.

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My thoughts on citizen journalism

Unlike a lot of people in my line of work, I suspect, I’m a big fan of citizen journalism. I read it, and I participate in it. Perhaps I could be a bit more active, but I write something when the mood hits me. My recent stories have been on private equity investment trends in China and the manufacture of phthalate-free dildos. So, why do I do it?

Honestly, I don’t have to. I have gained some decent traction as a freelance writer this year, with articles in Penthouse and Boston magazine, not to mention some high-profile rejections. And, my work is picked up routinely by Fleshbot and ValleyWag … and from time to time by Gawker. So, I shouldn’t have to “stoop so low,” right?

Wrong.

I find that citizen journalism does a few things right. First, it is a great way to communicate as much news as possible. Quite frankly, the publishing business is designed to let good stories fall through the cracks. You have to pitch the mag, hope our idea aligns well enough with its editorial calendar and finally write and publish. This means that several good stories fall away. I had one pitch go out to several high-profile magazines. All said it was a great story, just not right for them. This wasn’t a line of shit. If they didn’t care, they would have ignored me (which has happened in the past).

So, a lot of good stuff is never communicated. I think that’s a damned shame.

Next, citizen journalism makes it easy to get news out quickly. When I get a story, I can go right to “press.” Normal, mainstream publications don’t work that way. Even if you have a good relationship with an editor and publish online instead of in print (which I prefer), it can still take a few days to get a story out. It’s easy to get scooped (happened to me by a day with the Zivity story I wrote for AVN Online in January 2008).

Finally, citizen journalism empowers the people closest to the news. If you seen news happen, you can get the story out. Fast. Easy. The way it’s supposed to be done.

Sure, most citizen journalism websites lack the writing panache of major publications, but they make up for it with breadth of coverage. If nothing else, the readers get to decide … resulting in a market-driven solution. Since newspapers and magazines are not non-profits, it should be the readers who decide winners and losers. This is a great formula.

Citizen journalism seems to be gaining steam. Popular website OhmyNews.com, which is mostly non-United States, continues to get copious amounts of press coverage. I noticed today that art market blogger Nick Forrest, of ArtMarketBlog.com, has begun to write art market opinion pieces for my current citizen journalism fave, DigitalJournal.com. Whether he is just looking to drive traffic to his blog or has become a citizen journalism convert, the fact that he is writing at all– let alone voluminously– tells the whole story. He is investing his time in citizen journalism.

“Real” journalists may feel that citizen journalism is beneath them, but I don’t think they realize that this is yet another threat to the old way of doing business that they seek to defend. The old school journalists are losing. They tried to stay in print, and the web has gained momentum. They tried to rely on “proper” journalism, but the blogs have encroached on their market. Now, there is yet another threat, and it is developing a readership.

The old way of doing journalism continues to lose ground.

If nothing else, I like citizen journalism for the instant gratification. When I come upon a story, I can write it and post it immediately. I get feedback quickly. Further, the major blogs evaluate the story on its merits rather than where it was published. Both Fleshbot and ValleyWag have picked up my stories for Digital Journal and OhmyNews. They are looking at the information rather than the masthead. This shows me that the world is changing.

I vote for citizen journalism with my time. You should, too.

Julio Aguilera in Saatchi Gallery Art Magazine

Learn about New York artist Julio Aguilera’s latest project, a sculpture of Prometheus, in the Saatchi art gallery’s online magazine. The bronze sculpture, modeled on the God of Fire cigar label, will be featured at a charity auction to be held at the Grand Havana Room on October 15th. This could prove to be the cigar event of the year.

Learn more about Julio Aguilera’s “God of Fire” >>

Richard Prince Story in Saatchi Online Magazine

Check out my latest story in Saatchi magazine. Living legend Richard Prince experimented with unusual subject matter at a show this past winter at the Eden Rock Gallery and Resort on St. Barth’s.

This new approach involved basing the 25 paintings displayed on a screenplay by the artist, which he hopes to turn into a novel with the help of a ghostwriter (and publish under a pseudonym). Eventually, Prince hopes, the book will be a vehicle for promoting the movie.

For now, though, he has to settle for the brutal reality of having sold each painting for $150,000, pretty much within 24 hours of the show’s opening. Tough life for a starving artist …

Read the whole story in Saatchi magazine >>

Diaz Offers 10th and Final

The auctions for Self-Portrait with Pipe, 2008 #7, 8, 9 closed last night with a flurry of last minute activity on the last of them (which I lost). All but #9 sold for less than $100. So, it looks as though the action has been tapering off. Early bids don’t matter, and buyers come in at the last minute, willing to go as high as the proces will take them in a very short period of time. It’s a prudent approach. I think I know who bought these three, and I’m glad he won. I know that the paintings will make them happy.

Now, the 10th paintings is under the virtual gavel, and it’s probably the best of the series. You can see the detail that typically characterizes Nelson Diaz’s larger portraits. I love this painting, and I know that another collector does, too. So, I put in my now ceremonial first bid and plan to back away. I got my painting earlier in the process (#2), and I don’t want to interfere with the story any more.

This will be the last painting in this experiment, so get ready to bid! After #10, Nelson will go back to selling his work for higher, much more appropriate prices.

Bid on Self-Portrait with Pipe, 2008 #10 >>