REFCO Art Collection Liquidation
A true test of strength in the Contemporary Art Photography market is coming to Christies.
On April 25, May 5 and on May 10th the entire REFCO Art Collection is to be
quickly dumped auctioned off, with most lots to be sold without reserve. There have been many stories written about the "High Quality" of the collection, but for the most part you'll find it a huge collection of very forgettable images, with very few standouts. Hmm.. Maybe they were just quoting art dealers (like Damon Brandt) who sold REFCO all this unremarkable work? It totals approximately 300 different lots all of photography (about 500 photo's) accumulated over the last 16 or so years by the now bankrupt company. The collection was lightly "curated" mostly by Adam Brooks and the wife of REFCO's founder Frances Dittmar.
Published in the book "Subjectives Realities" the REFCO collection has a somewhat
random pointless broad focus covering almost the entire spectrum of art photography. It's astonishing to see so very few powerful, challenging or even interesting photographs in this huge collection. Sadly, it's really a somewhat sanitized "very corporate" (almost Republican) portfolio. But what else would you expect?
Of course, the REFCO collection does certainly includes some of the most
over-hyped overpriced expensive artists in the art photography world such as Matthew Barney, Andreas Gursky (photo#1) and Gregory Crewdson. No wonder the company is bankrupt! While flipping through the large 303 page Christies catalog you'll find few true standouts (Baldessari photo #2)images in this collection. One thing truly amusing, even the bright young Photography experts at Christies had nothing ingratiating to say about the collection or the quality of the curating in the auction catalog.
The only explanation of this collection comes from it's lead shopper, Adam Brooks, where he describes it as, "A collection that asks as many questions as the REFCO Collection is bound to elicit responses from the individuals who see it every day..." Can you say like, Why?? or maybe, What happened to all the money you wasted??
In a quote for an article in The Standard, Frances Dittmar once said "I believe good art adds to the quality of the workplace." So, now we know why the entire company is in a scandalous court ordered liquidation!
History will find The REFCO collection just another prime example of a company being used as a big piggy-bank for the CEO's wife to go on an art shopping spree for her own enjoyment. Well, it certainly will be interesting to see how this sale goes. They reportedly paid $150,000 for the Gursky (photo #1), and it's pre-sale estimate is $250,000-350,000...so I guess the old saying "a high tide lifts all boats" may prove true. But, it is a huge amount of work being
dumped sold without a minimum reserve bid, so it's all got to go at whatever price! And even while it's clearly not a well curated collection, there's sure to be some nice art bargains to be had among the REFCO Art Rubble!