23 posts categorized "Art As Investments"

October 07, 2010

George Eastman House.. Auction... Ends.. Today and Tomorrow!

George Eastman House 2010 Benefit Auction (Story contributed by Alvina Lopez, yes.. MAO now accepts story submissions!)


The George Eastman House, home of the International Museum of Photography and Film, is currently holding its 2010 Benefit Auction, the first since 1977. The Auction is scheduled to run from Sept. 27 though Oct. 7, which live viewings at Sotheby's New York from Oct. 1 through Oct. 4. While the viewings may have past, interested collectors, individuals, dealers, and other parties can still participate in the online auction, held at iGavelAuctions.com. The auction is open to any interested party and because there is no reserve on the items, individuals can place bids from several hundred to several thousands of dollars.


Here is the auction link.. you can bid online now



Proceeds from the auction will be used to help the Eastman House maintain its four million piece collection, which includes photography and camera equipment, photographs, motion pictures, and other related literature. The funds will also help the House continue research and educational programs, as well as maintain the National Historic Landmark house and surrounding gardens.


(Photo by Lyon, Danny,Portrait of Nancy,1990, currently bid at $1,200.00 ...join the bid here... )


The idea for the benefit was born nearly two years ago and auction committee has taken great pains to amass a collection worthy of the George Eastman name. A call for donated auction items was placed to museum members, collectors, dealers, photographers, film makers, and community members. The donations began pouring in from over 20 countries, including Germany, Israel, Australia, Japan, Canada, South Africa, Mexico, and the Netherland, as well as from across the United States. In total, the Eastman House collected over 300 photographs from almost every photographic genre and movement, rare books, and cameras for the 2010 Benefit Auction.


The George Eastman House is the oldest photography museum and one of the oldest film archives in the world. The home was built by George Eastman, founder of the Eastman Kodak Company, in 1905 and open to the public in 1949. Today, the museum is a leader in film preservation and photograph conservation and is a registered National Historic Landmark.


For more information on this event or the museum, visit the George Eastman House website at www.eastmanhouse.org, or the online auction website, www.iGavelAuction.com.



This guest post is contributed by Alvina Lopez, who writes on the topics of accredited online colleges .  She welcomes your comments at her email Id: alvina.lopez @gmail.com. 

April 29, 2010

Art As An Asset Class - New Investment Research

Art As An Asset Class - New Investment Research. A new report is out from the CFA Institute, it's in their May/June 2010  Publication.

As most MAO readers know.. you don't just buy art as an investment. It's for the love of it!!

But people all talk about art and money almost simultaneously. Just say hi to an art dealer, gallerina, or worse yet an Artist, and within 5 minutes you'll always hear some aspect of the evil Dollars, doe-rea-mee word MONEY come up. So while almost everyone in the art business hates to admit it,  art and investing are inexplicably linked. MAO has written about art investing many times before. But, now a major financial publication has a 3 page story about it.

In fact, this May/June CFA Institute Magazine features Art Investing as the cover story.

The magazine has a feature story by Ed McCarthy who seems to know almost nothing about the art market is a freelance financial writer in Pascoag, Rhode Island.

CFA_Institute_Art_issue_May_2010 The Fine Art of Investing, Is art a good way to diversify a client's portfolio?

The story is written from a strict investment professional point of view which is refreshing, but sadly the story lacks a lot of details.

Here's the story...  Download Cfa_may_june2010

But the Key points highlighted in the article are

1. The term "Art Market" is misleading because the market encompasses numerous submarkets with distinct characteristics.

2. The unique features of the art market and the transaction costs create additional risk for the casual investors and investment opportunities for more knowledgeable participants.

3. Studies of art's investment properties show that returns vary with the holding period but have exhibited a low or negative correlation with financial markets.

So as you can see, this story is not exactly breaking new ground.. but it's interesting to see a well respected financial journal finally  writing about Art as an acceptable investing asset class.

MAO wonder's if this was how subprime ABS and CDO investing started??

April 07, 2010

Friday May 7th...A Great new Photography Show Opens in Chelsea, Save the Date!

Friday May 7th... A Great new Photography Group Show, American ReConstruction, Opens up in Chelsea at the super art bloggers run amuck hot and innovative Winkleman Gallery, So

Save the Date! This opening is one not to be missed!! People will probably call this "THE Art Event of the Spring 2010 Season!." 

Plus, A big MAO congratulations go out to the 6 lucky new young talented artists which have been chosen for this show. Trust MAO, your careers in the Art World will never be the same!

More details to follow. (Photo below by Mark Lyon, Landscape For The People Series, "Ford F150 Tailgate", 2009, 24" x 60", C-Print) Slide1

December 01, 2009

An Exciting Rare PhotoBook Auction... Just Started Up!

An Exciting Rare PhotoBook Auction... Just Started Up! Check this out!

Danny_Lyon_Bikeriders For those readers of this site... it's no surprise MAO is an crazed photobook collector.

So much so, we are almost scared to tell anyone about this opportunity.. but iGavel  is starting to do auctions of Rare Photobooks!

The ever resourceful Dan Cooney almost too nice to be an art photography dealer, has just posted a great list of very hard to find, mostly 1st edition photobooks.

We checked them all out this weekend.. and we'd have to say..some of these book made us actually drool.


MAO is crazy,and pathetic an obsessed collector of rare photobooks, and this was an impressive line up for a first attempt book auction.

Some of the true highlights are..

  1. 1st edition Danny Lyon, The Bikeriders from 1968. (Pictured here)
  2. Nobuyoshi Araki, Tokyo Lucky Hole, First Edition, 1990
  3. Andreas Gursky 1994 - 1998, Signed
  4. Signed copies of Richard Avedon books.. The American West, and a signed copy of his An Auto-Biography 1993.
  5. 3 Lewis Baltz books.
  6. William Eggleston's Guide, Signed First Edition, from 1976.
  7. Henri Cartier Bresson, The Decisive Moment, Signed!
  8. Lary Clark's Punk Picaso, and a signed limited edition copy of his Tulsa...

and Yes.. the list of rare books goes on and on.. Cindy Sherman, Bruce Davidson, Nan Goldin, Herb Ritts, Walker Evans, Aaron Siskind, Ed Ruscha, and a few Bruce Weber books... Plus there's

even a Limited edition with a print by Bernd and Hilla Becher.

OK.. enough..there's too many to choose from.. MAO is almost broke already in a whirl wind just thinking about these coming up for auction. 85 Book lots.. all super hard to find.

Anyway.. if you're looking to add a few important books to your photobook library.. this seems like an amazing chance to pick up some real goodies.

OH.. and if anyone was still wondering what to get MAO for Christmas... hint..or even hint... cause MAO has been a very good boy this year!!

PS...be sure to sell Dan..MAO sent you.. and he'll give you the special MAO reader discount assistance.

iGavel Rare PhotoBook Auction.. Bids are starting already..don't miss it.

October 29, 2009

Diane Arbus Photo Up for Auction at the Aperture Benefit!!

Diane Arbus Photo Up for Auction at the Aperture Benefit!!

Check it out here...

Diane_Arbus_John_Gruen_Jane_Wilson Yes.. so far this rare Diane Arbus photo has a current bid of only $1,750. Welcome to the Art Recession...That's too low to be believed!!

So..one of the most important photographers in history has a photo for sale at Monday's Aperture Benefit auction. Can you ask for a better opportunity to add something amazing to your art collection?

This is one of her very standard 14.25 in x 14.25 in, Gelatin Silver Prints made by photographer Neil Selkirk for the Arbus Estate.

We've seen similar prints sell at Sothebys and Christies auction for well over $15k.

It's was donated by the Fraenkel Gallery in San Fran who represents the estate.

Diane Arbus, Photo of : John Gruen and Jane Wilson, NYC, 1965, Printed later, FRAMED, signed, titled, dated, and editioned '4/75' by the photographer's daughter, Doon Arbus, in ink, and stamped on the reverse, framed, 1963, printed later by Neil Selkirk (MoMA, unpaginated; Revelations)

Estimated value : $5,500

So. even if you're not a Diane Arbus fan.. this is just one of the works of art that will be auctioned off at the Benefit Monday night.

You can still get your Aperture Ticket Here!


The Lighthouse, Chelsea Piers, 6:30–10:00 pm

Cocktails and Silent Auction
Dinner, Award Ceremony, and Live Auction

For more information, contact:
Michiko Simanjuntak Grasso
(212) 946-7149 or [email protected]

October 23, 2009

Edward Burtynsky Photos.. Defied Recession Gravity

Edward Burtynsky Photos.. Defied Recession Gravity.

For those long time MAO readers.. it will come to no surprise that MAO is an avid fan of Canadian Photographer Edward Burtynsky. Yes.. we know.. Edward's work is big, colorful, over-hyped, straightforward, expensive, often pretty, very "corporate", safe, etc.. just about everything most fine art photography scholars and contemporary art snobs love to poke fun of.. but yes.. MAO loves his images.

But.. here's a little secret.. The auction world LOVES Burtynsky Too!!

So while photo auction results have been poor.. some artist's works are still breaking records. 

Check out this outcome from last week's October 15th, Phillips Photography Auction Sale in London..


Lot #88

Edward_Burtynsky_Oxford_tire_pile_1999Edward Burtynsky

Oxford Tire Pile #1, Westley, California, 1999
Colour coupler print. 68.6 x 86.4 cm. (27 x 34 in).  Signed in ink, printed title, date and number 1/10 on a label affixed to the reverse of the mount.

ESTIMATE £7,000-9,000

Actual Realized Total Sale Price including Auction House Premium

£30,000....Or... Approx $ 49,200 !!!

PROVENANCE Acquired directly from the artist

EXHIBITED Manufactured Landscapes: The Photographs of Edward Burtynsky, touring exhibition, including National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 31 January – 4 May, 2003 and the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York, 7 October 2005 – 15 January, 2006 (each another example exhibited)

LITERATURE Yale University Press, Manufactured Landscapes: The Photographs of Edward Burtynsky, 2003, p. 112; Steidl, China: The Photographs of Edward Burtynsky, 2005, p. 18


OK.. so just a few MAO stupid thoughts about this photo and these auction results...

  1. Wow..It's a pretty cool photo
  2. This was not the largest size print this image comes in.
  3. $49,200 is a ridiculous huge number.. to pay for a living photographer's image
  4. Why was the auction presale estimate so low? Like how clueless were the stupid people at Phillips?
  5. One high auction result does not mean too much, it may have been just 2 hedge fund guys with little wankers huge egos trying to out do each other
  6. Other Burtynsky images have also done well before.. but nothing quite like this.
  7. The image was in the recent Brooklyn Museum Show
  8. God Damn that a lot of tires!!
  9. Up until a few weeks ago..You could probably have bought this photo from one of the too many 7 Official Burtynsky Dealers around the world for only $25,000
  10. There are 9 More of these photos out there in this size.. plus at least 3 (or maybe 6) more in the larger print size.. plus some artist proofs floating around..plus he could always print more..
  11. MAO owns one of these phoos that he really should consider selling soon!! that should probably come out of cold storage.
  12. Who'd want to hang this depressing image on the wall in their home?
  13. Burtynsky is a great photographer and history will show him as one of the most important from our generation
  14. There are several better Burtynsky images in the MAO Collection..and we need to call Phillips our insurance company ASAP.

Well.. So...what do you think?

FYI.. For those who don't know.. there's a new Burtynsky Show "OIL" at the Corcoran Gallery Of Art in Washington DC, he also has a new great book Edward Burtynsky: Oilpublished by Steidl.

Plus there are NYC and  Toronto Gallery shows which just opened up. It's the Nicholas Metivier Galleryin Toronto, and in NYC, it's in the old Charles Cowles Gallery (R.I.P.) Space on 24th street at the newly relocated & renamed  Hasted Hunt Gallery Hasted Hunt Kraeutler Gallery..The show in NYC is up until November 28th.

October 15, 2009

Collecting Photobooks! Story in this Weekends London Financial Times

So MAO's guess is most smart  photo obsessed people missed this great story about collecting important Photobook in this weekends London Financial Times.

Yes.. for those who don't know.. even in these difficult art times.. Collecting Important Photobooks is now super Hot Hot Hot! Actually so hot.. even the newly  opened NY Branch of Bloomsbury Auction House managed to get some serious interest in the photobook part of their recent disastrous photo auction.  Bloomsbury only sold 17.8% of the Photos in their auction, OUCH!...yes..only 35 lots sold out of 197 photo lots..Yikes!  60 of their 95 Photobook lots sold, which was 63.2%. But, you can read more about this Bloomsbury Photographic Auction from the often long winded throughly thoughtful DLK Collection Blog

The FT story interestingly points out, with the publication of the new AMAZING Aperture, must have, Aperture_Japanese_Photobook_reference reference book, Japanese Photobooks of the 1960's and 70's by Ryuichi Kaneko and Ivan Vartanian, rare Japanese Photobook prices have jumped significantly.  It's not a surprise, since most American art collectors don't read Japanese, a detailed reference book like this was very necessary to make collecting Important Japanese photobooks understandable. This reference book along with the power fo the internet (a la Ebay!) make it now economically possible for almost any collector to get involved. (Photo #1, The cover of Aperture's Japanese Photobooks fo the 1960's and 70's)

Note, if you don't know already.. one of THE very best sources for important Japanese photobooks in the world is Harpers Book in East HamptonNY.  Harper has done an impressive amount of research on historic photobooks, but also has an incredible eye, and an inventory so huge, MAO frequently gets taken to the cleaners  lost for hours wondering through his rare photobook selection.

Well.. anyway.. the story in the FT was really great, and well worth a read if you're at all interested in photography or art books. 

So here's the entire story from the Sat October 10th FT... 


Worth a shot

By Claire Holland

Published: October 9 2009 15:14 | Last updated: October 9 2009 15:14

The market for fine photographic prints has exploded over the past decade, yet the photobook (as it has come to be known) was, until recently, relegated to the sidelines by dealers and collectors alike. But as photography has become more valued and collected, photobooks have slowly come to be recognised as desirable (and collectable) in their own right and the market is burgeoning, according to Laura Noble, director of the Diemar Noble Photography Gallery. “In the mid-1990s one could have picked up a first edition of Bill Brandt’s A Night in Londonfor £20”, remembers her co-director Michael Diemar. “A copy of the same book sold recently at Christie’s for £4,800.”

So what has prompted this once-forgotten art form to be brought back into view? As vintage prints have become scarce and contemporary photography prohibitively expensive, photobooks may seem a more accessible and affordable way of collecting photography. The publication of The Photobook: A History by Martin Parr and Gerry Badger and Andrew Roth’s 101 Books (itself now rare and worth around £1,000) helped to ignite the current interest in the genre. For Parr, an obsessive collector who admits to owning tens of thousands of titles, the shift in the market was inevitable. “Photobooks were previously unrecognised and therefore undervalued,” he says.

The history of photography is rooted in books. Until the mid-20th century, photographers were far more likely to see their work between covers than on a gallery wall. Indeed, the first great artistic statement in the medium was grandly presented in book form. Published in 1844, William Henry Fox Talbot’s The Pencil of Nature, made up of 24 original prints, heralded the invention of the calotype – the first negative-positive photography. Many of the 19th-century prints for which collectors and museums are now paying hefty sums come from such albums, which have been broken up.

For many photographers the photobook is a source for photographic ideas – who’s doing what, what’s new – and trends spread rapidly from the US and Europe to Japan and back again.

“For contemporary photographers the photobook is still an important influence,” agrees curator Nina Poppe. When I met her earlier this year at Amsterdam’s Foam photography gallery, she was hanging Marks of Honour, a show of work by 13 photographers who pay homage to a photobook they found inspiring. Among the most compelling in the collection – which will be auctioned in Paris next month – are American photographer Michael Light’s tribute to Ansel Adams’ Yosemite and the Range of Light, in which Light has made precise cutouts following the lines of Adams’ monumental landscapes and inserted his own prints of LA night scenes into the spaces, and Japanese Onaka Koji’s thoughtfully constructed celebration of Daido Moriyama’s Tales of Tohno, which includes five prints and a contact sheet housed in a box handmade by Koji from wood of the forests where Moriyama shot his original 1976 work.

Japanese photobooks distinguish themselves by their attention to detail. The layout, binding, paper, printing, dustwrapper, obi(the bellyband) and the outer case (the so-called soto-bako or okuribako) are all meticulously crafted. After 1960, the photography scene in Japan changed dramatically and the photobook – with its ability to help create a narrative and rhythm – overtook the print as the most popular mode of artistic statement for the Japanese photographer.

This important and prolific period is examined in Japanese Photobooks of the 1960s and ’70s published by the Aperture Foundation next month.

There has been a strong rise in demand for Japanese photobooks, and prices have doubled or tripled in the past three to four years. “Curiously, the Japanese photobook market really didn’t exist until western collectors started to show interest,” says Titus Boeder of Maggs Books. “When I started buying them in Japan eight years ago, prices were lower than the original retail cost. They weren’t collected in Japan.”

Elsewhere, in the US and Europe, the market for good quality photobooks shows little sign of slowing down, with demand particularly high for those inscribed by the artist or an important previous owner. Sven Becker, book specialist at Christie’s, recently auctioned a copy of William Klein’s Tokyothat once belonged to William Eggleston, for a lofty £2750. Signed by Klein, and with Eggleston’s ownership signature dated January 1969, it’s a perfect example of the type of books that are attracting the attention of collectors with discerning tastes and deep pockets.

Prices for similar books reached unprecedented levels earlier this year at New York’s Swann Galleries. A signed copy of Nobuyoshi Araki’s ABCDand a first edition of Ed Ruscha’s Various Small Fires and Milk, inscribed by Ruscha to Andy Warhol, achieved US$10,800 and US$15,600 respectively. This autumn Swann is offering a signed deluxe edition of Lucas Samaras’s Autointerview, Autobiography, Autopolaroid, issued with a Polaroid (estimate $2500-$3500), and a signed first edition of Helmut Newton’s gigantic Sumo, weighing in at nearly 70 pounds and supplied with its own Philippe Starck-designed chrome stand (estimate $5,000-$7,500).

Rare art book specialists Sims Reed recently showed some fine examples at the London Art Book Fair, including a first edition of Hiroshi Sugimoto’s exquisite Time Exposed(£12,000) and John Baldessari’s Fable: A Sentence of Thirteen Parts (£3,500). But it is not necessary to shell out vast sums of money to start building an impressive (and one day possibly quite valuable) library.

Ebay is a thriving market place for rare books and there are bargains to be had. The Photographers’ Gallery regularly promotes limited editions of new titles, often signed by the artist. Nazraeli Press offer very reasonably priced special editions and limited availability titles on their website. Gems include Masao Yamamoto’s A Box of Ku($200) and Joseph Mills’ wonderfully surreal photomontages in The Loves of Poets($250). Photography specialists Schaden offer recommendations, signed copies and a research service.

Parr’s advice is simple: “Buy what you like,” he says. And, if you buy books you genuinely like, it doesn’t matter if they increase in value or not. Good taste is rewarded, and a little knowledge can go a long way in identifying important books. “A few years ago a collector friend of mine went to a flea market in Paris and picked up Man Ray’s Electricité for €50,” says Noble. “The auction value? £20,000.” Who knows, you may just get that lucky.



Swann Galleries’ Photographic Literature sale takes place in New York on October 22 www.swanngalleries.com
Marks of Honour 2008will be auctioned at Pierre Bergé & Associés, Paris, on November 25 and will be on show at the auction house during Paris Photo Festival the preceding week www.marksofhonour.com
Japanese Photobooks of the 1960s and ’70s is published by Aperture in November

May 21, 2009

A New Art Investment Fund Has Been Started By Castlestone Management

A New Art Investment Fund Has Been Started By Castlestone Management with offices in London and New York.

Andy_Warhol_Dollar_Signs The alternative asset class investment adviser has started a brand new Art Investment Fund with 25 million dollars of partner's money.. and it is now open to additional investors!

Hmm.. maybe it's a good time to buy Contemporary Art? No? What do you think?

FYI.. But, So far they've already purchased $16 million in art, in mostly the free falling contemporary art market, and plan to purchase another $9 million over the next few months.

(Photo #1, Andy Warhol, Dollar Signs, 1981, silkscreen on canvas )

They plan to diversify their purchases across 26 artists, mostly focused on dead artists or big names at the end of their career (aka..the soon to be dead artists). 

When MAO first started art collecting, one of our good friend at Sotheby's once told us,  "The only good artist is a dead artist...!!"  But then again.. he had been drinking a few too many strong cocktails at Fire Island at the time, and he worked in the Old Masters Department at the auction house.  So maybe he is a bit biased advising Castlestone Management.

Well, so far they have purchased art works by Chuck Close, Daimian Hirst, Richard Prince, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Lucio Fontana, Willem de Kooning, and Alexander Calder.  So basically they have purchased all the most overpriced and over hyped  hot contemporary names in the art world. After looking at the people working at Castlestone Management, it's not clear if anyone on their staff has any experience curating a contemporary art collection, or even an Art History education. Yikes!

But Castlestone has also just announced 2 new unnamed hires from Sothebys  (who've not yet started working at the fund).   But at least it's nice to see a professional investment vehicle focused on Art as an asset class. We at MAO wish them all the luck in the world with their new art investment fund!

OH.. and for all those hungry, starving, dying "ambitious" art dealers left out there... CALL Angus Murry ASAP,  cause he is the Castlestone CEO, and he's still got $9 million left to spend on overvalued contemporary art.

Castlestone Management LLC, Head Office

610 Fifth Avenue Suite 602 , Rockefeller Center

New York, NY 10020

Phone: +1 212 387 9600 Fax: +1 212 586 0850

Farah Nayeri from Bloomberg News posted a story yesterday afternoon on Castlestone.. See below...


Art Is Good as Goldin Inflation Era, Castlestone’s Murray Says
2009-05-19 23:00:01.7 GMT

Interview by Farah Nayeri
     May 20 (Bloomberg) -- Framed close-ups of two elderly men
hang in Castlestone Management’s London meeting room. One of the
men smiles and looks away; the other sullenly faces front.
     These large photographs by Chuck Close -- bought for
$25,000 each -- are of artists Robert Rauschenberg, who died
last year, and Jasper Johns, 79. They’re part of a new
Castlestone art fund.
     The fund is designed as an anti-inflation shelter at a time
when recession-busting stimulus packages are flooding the global
economy with cash. To Castlestone, which has some $660 million
under management, scarce art -- by dead artists, or by big names
in late career -- is as good as gold.
     “As long as the value of money falls, the value of real
assets will rise,” says founder and joint chief executive
officer Angus Murray, 39. “Art to me is exactly the same asset
as gold bullion.”
     “The two assets are running in parallel,” says the
Australian-born Murray, who wears an open-necked white shirt
with his suit trousers. “The devaluation of money is affecting
     The global economy is in its worst slump since
World War
, and will shrink 1.3 percent this year, according to the
International Monetary Fund. The U.S. has introduced a $787
billion stimulus package to combat recession.
     Murray pulls out a sheaf of graphs showing how gold has
tripled in price this decade. Art, too, is an “irreplaceable,
unleveraged, real asset.” As the value of money erodes, art
will appreciate over the fund’s eight-year life, says Murray.

                        Basquiat, Fontana

     Castlestone has bought $16 million worth of art and plans
to spend another $9 million by the end of September to create a
diversified portfolio of about 26 artists. They include
Michel Basquiat
, Lucio Fontana, Willem de Kooning and
. The priciest work so far is a Basquiat that cost $1.2
million. Another $885,000 was spent on a De Kooning.
     The portfolio also has a Damien Hirst butterfly painting,
bought after Hirst said he would stop making them, and a
“Nurse” painting. Otherwise, says Murray, active
contemporary artists are avoided, as their work is
     At the Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art sales in New
York this month, Murray bid $250,000 on a Matisse
, “Venus Assise,” which sold for $326,500 including
fees. He also bid $1.25 million on a Rembrandt Bugatti
sculpture, “Grand Tigre Royal,” which sold for $1.87 million
with fees.

                          Losing Value

     Art already bought by Castlestone for the fund has shed a
third of its value, says Murray. “I had a house, it went down
in value too, but I’m not going to change my view on that,” he
shrugs, saying this makes it a good time to enter the market.
     Prices of contemporary art at auction have fallen 30
percent to 50 percent in the last six months.
     The London-based Fine Art Fund Group gives equal weighting
to Old Masters; Impressionist and modern art; and contemporary
art. It has lost 20 percent to 30 percent of its value in the
last year, and now manages around $100 million, according to
Chief Executive Philip Hoffman. Until the end of 2007, the fund
had an average annualized return of 23 percent, says Hoffman.
     This year is a “bad time” for selling, “but acquiring
art is unbelievably attractive,” says Hoffman. At the same
time, he says new funds lack a track record: “Art is a
dangerous thing if you don’t know what you’re doing.”

                      Inflation Hedge

     New York-based art dealerRichard L. Feigen, who deals in
European paintings from 1300 to the present, views art as a
“valid refuge” at a time when collectors are “worried about
inflation.” Yet he adds a note of caution.
     “A bar of gold is a bar of gold,” he says. “No two works
of art are the same, unless they’re editions of a print.”
     For art to be a good investment, Feigen says, it must be of
“permanent importance” to art history, of “museum quality”
to lure institutional as well as individual buyers, and of
interest to more than one part of the world.
     In Feigen’s view, art funds lack specialists with the depth
of knowledge to pick out the right works, and are prone to
invest in overvalued art. He cites Basquiat as an example; he
says the painter, who died at age 27, “made no permanent
contribution to art history” and is “vastly overpriced.”
     Murray says the dearth of affordable art specialists
“would have definitely been a very accurate description six
years ago. However, there’s a whole lot of people who don’t have
a job at the moment.”
     “The redundancies we’ve recently got from Christie’s and
Sotheby’s have helped,” he said.
     Castlestone says it has just hired two people who
previously worked with Sotheby’s, and will not disclose their
names until they begin work.

                          Murray’s Money

     Most of the art in the portfolio has been bought with
Murray’s money: He has invested four-fifths of the initial $25
million, and his partners, the rest. Those investments won’t be
touched for eight years, says Murray.
     Castlestone’s 1 percent annual management charge, and the
20 percent performance charge on the fund’s gains, will be
reinvested over the period. After eight years, the art will be
sold at an auction that Murray hopes Sotheby’s or Christie’s
International will hold.
     Interested retail investors must put in a minimum of
$10,000 or 10,000 pounds (depending on which currency they want)
and go through financial advisers in Castlestone’s network.
Murray expects an average investment of $25,000 to $75,000. The
fund has agreed obligations amounting to another $21 million
     In eight years, Murray hopes “I can actually stand up and
say: ‘Here’s a catalog from Sotheby’s that shows you I bought at
this price, I sold at this price, this was the independent
annualized return of 11 percent. It worked. We were right.’”

January 30, 2009

MAO Interviewed.. Twice.. about the Art Market Recession...

MAO Interviewed.. twice.. about the Art Market Recession...

That's right my little MAO-ettes.. when MAO talks... people run for cover listen.

Jill_Greenberg_Revelations In these tough economic times.. everyone is whining about asking the same questions..

Will the Art Market Crash? Will Every Chelsea Art Gallery Close? Why wont the Government Bail out the Art World? Is now a good time to add to or dump sell my collection?

Clearly no one knows where the art world is going.. (Photo by Jill Greenberg, Revelations, 2005, Archival pigment print, 50 x 43 inches)

But yesterday.. posted on Hrag Vartanian's blog (as well as the NYFA magazine site) was a super insightful story featuring some of the loudest, most worried, biggest PR hounds most respected and brightest minds in the art world...

Some how Of course... MAO was interviewed for this article!

The full story is posted on the New York Foundation fo the Arts on-line Magazine.

You can find Hrag's great blog here : http://hragvartanian.com/2009/01/29/nyfa-current/

OK.. That was the first amazing MAO story...

But, there's actually a second and much better one....

So today..

 "The Current State of the Art Market Series Part 6 with Art Collector/Fellow Art Blogger MAO" where MAO is interviewed by our friend, collector and art blogger, the totally omnipresent RUBEN Natal-San Miguel..

For those who missed it... Ruben has already posted several of these interviews with : 

You can check out Ruben's website www.ArtMostFierce.blogspot.com

But today, saving the best for last..

You can click here to laugh at read The Full MAO interview..

January 16, 2009

ArtCycle.. A new Website to Buy and Sell Contemporary Art

ArtCycle.. A new Website to Buy and Sell lightly used secondary Contemporary Art.

Art_Pawnbroker If you've not checked out new york based, www.ArtCycle.com, you should.

It's a new curated website (aka.. a contemporary art pawn/consignement shop), and like Artnet.com it also is helping give the much needed liquidity and transparency to the contemporary art market.

Here's a little Art industry secret... sometimes Collectors need to sell art. Yes, my little MOA-ettes, it's sada bit funny..but given these tragic  difficult economic times, totally understandable. While MAO has never sold a work of art from our beloved collection, lately, MAO probably gets at least  one email everyday from a reader saying they own a work by XYZ artist and they need to sell it.

Generally the next sentence is always, the gallery that represents the XYZ artist doesn't want to buy it back (or maybe soon to be already out of business), and the auction houses need 3+ months to fit into their schedule and take way too much 25%.  The person needs the cash now, and if MAO would please like to buy it.  Or some people also ask if MAO knows someone who would like to buy it. Well.. we now have a solution for these people!  Check out www.ArtCycle.com !

They only started up in November 2008, and they actually have an impressive list of Contemporary Art inventory already.  They already have works by some impressive artists : Araki, Eggleston, Oliver Boberg, Hirst,Candida Hofer, William Kentridge, Opie, Anselm Reyle, Lisa Ruyter, Andrees Serrano, and Kehinde Wiley just to name a few.

So.. Here's a bit from their promotional materials...

For the collector, ArtCycle offers a space to contemplate their purchase

while providing valuable information about the artist and available works,

as well as something no one else does, detailing relevant and valuable

market analysis. ArtCycle offers reasonable commissions, ranging from

15% to 20% and, most importantly, all works are curated for consignment

by a seasoned team of art experts.

Most importantly, ArtCycle’s curated inventory offers only artwork with

pedigree. That means works of art by artists with lasting reputations and

market value—so every piece purchased is likely to maintain or increase

its worth over time. ArtCycle believes collecting art is not only an invested

labor of love, but also an investment.

Oh..and if you happed to contact www.ArtCycle.com... (Lauren Pearson, Assist Director,  [email protected]) be sure to tell them MAO sent you.. and I'm sure they'll give you the special MAO-ette discount rate!

December 16, 2008

The Holiday Art Sale Season... 48.5% off a Basquiat... My How times have changed!

The Holiday Art Sales... 48.5% off a Basquiat... My How times have changed!

It's quite amazing how fast the art world can adjust to these difficult impossibe changing times.

Brian_ulrich_Bloomington_MN_2004 We have to say.. MAO was RIGHT not surprised how "Discount" become the most popular word uttered at Art Basel Miami Beach 2008.

But clearly.. this is the time of stress for the private art dealer community. It would seem, rumors of gallery closings has quickly become the newest sport in the gutters streets of Cheslea these days.

In fact, some tenatious people are resorting to new and interesting sales techniques... See story below..

 What next? Gallery Coupons? Blue Light specials? Door Buster pre-opening show sales?  Will there be going out of business sales?

So.. Does discounting art make it seem less attractive to have the work in your art collection? What do you think?

(photo by Brian Ulrich, Bloomington, MN, 2004, part of his Copia - Retail Project, c-print)

Here's an interesting story published this morning on Bloomberg news... by Katya Kazakina.


Asher Edelman’s Holiday Sale: Buy Basquiat for 48.5 Percent Off

2008-12-16 05:00:01.1 GMT  By Katya Kazakina

Dec. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Asher Edelman, the corporate raider turned art dealer, has dressed the windows of his Manhattan gallery in the spirit of the times: "Holiday Super Sale," one sign says. "Totally Insane!" reads another. "No Kidding!" entices the third.

"All dealers are offering discounts now," said Edelman. "I am just being open about it."

The sale, which runs through Dec. 21 at Edelman Arts, offers discounts ranging from 25 percent to 50 percent on works by 20th century masters such as Willem de Kooning and Alberto Giacometti as well as the gallery’s contemporary artists.

A canvas by Jean-Michel Basquiat is $3.35 million, down 48.5 percent from last year’s asking price of $6.50 million. The unsold paintings by Berlin-based Christopher Winter, whose show just closed at Edelman Arts, were slashed by 40 percent.

John Chamberlain’s sculpture of twisted automobile parts can be picked up for $975,000, down from $1.25 million. A large landscape painting by Alex Katz is now available for $80,000, down from $150,000.

Unlike retailers such as Saks Fifth Avenue or Target, advertising discounts and publicizing prices are among the taboos of the art market. Most galleries offer a 10 percent discount on primary market works. Important collectors and museums often get 20 percent off the asking price.

"We are not a boutique," said dealer Richard Feigen, who specializes in old masters and postwar art. "We don’t put on sales."

Pushing Sales

Other dealers are trying to boost sales in a global financial crisis. "It’s a season when people are shopping for presents for friends and family and I am sure people are trying to capitalize on that," said artist Thomas Beale.

Honey Space, a nonprofit gallery in Chelsea that Beale founded last year, will hold a three-day sale to raise money for its operations Dec. 18 through Dec. 20. In order to create interest, Beale sent e-mails advertising the works by more than 25 emerging and established artists priced between $10 and $999.

"It’s partly reflecting on the economy right now," said Beale. And partly, it’s to "appeal to a larger group of people."

Another Chelsea gallery, Caren Golden Fine Art, sent an e- mail about its new show featuring 12 young artists with an unusual mention of prices -- $850 to $6,000.

The exhibition is aptly titled: "The Brand New Deal."

--Editors: Mary Romano, Daniel Billy.

To contact the reporter of this story: Katya Kazakina in New York at +1-212-617-4837 or [email protected].

September 26, 2008

Lehman CEO's wife to sell $20 Million in Art....

Kathy Fuld, the wife of bankrupt Lehman Brothers CEO, Dick Fuld, is selling her Abstract Expressionist drawings at Christies in November.

It is just one of many examples, why the fate of the Art Market, and Wall Street are so closely linked.

Matsue_Cell40 MAO sadly has attended some very empty NYC art Charity events the last few weeks, one where the live auction was abruptly canceled due to the high potential for total embarrassment limited bidders.

As the Winkleman appointed reluctant leader of the Art Market Death Toll Cheerleaders, we unfortunately welcome our readers to the US Art Recession of 2008.

(Photo #1, by Taiji Matsue, Cell Photo 40EDI 2008, 19" x 19", 2008, edition of 5, c-print)

Here's the details of the Fuld story... from Lindsay Pollock of Bloomberg news.


Kathy Fuld, Wife of Lehman CEO, to Sell $20 Million of Artworks

2008-09-26 04:57:30.740 GMT By Lindsay Pollock

Sept. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Kathy Fuld, the art-collecting wife of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. Chief Executive Officer Richard Fuld, is selling a $20 million set of rare Abstract Expressionist drawings at a November auction, according to two art dealers.

Christie's International, which is offering the works in New York on Nov. 12, declined to reveal the seller's identity. The auction house announced the sale of the drawings, including three by Willem de Kooning, four days after Lehman filed the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history on Sept. 15. Two New York-based dealers who specialize in similar works said Fuld is the seller. They declined to be named.

``These kinds of drawings are extremely rare,'' said Amy Cappellazzo, co-head of Christie's Postwar and contemporary art department. ``The collector considers drawing as a primary art form.''

Richard Fuld earned $34.4 million in 2007 running the fourth-largest U.S. investment bank -- pay that lawyers said may be the target of lawsuits by creditors. He sold Lehman shares that were worth $247 million a year and a half ago for less than $500,000 last week after the stock price collapsed.

The Christie's auction includes the de Koonings, five Barnett Newmans, four Arshile Gorkys and four Agnes Martins. De Kooning's kinetic orange-haired 1951 ``Woman'' in graphite, charcoal, pastel and oil on paper is expected to fetch as much as $4 million.

The collection was assembled over a number of years, according to Cappellazzo, who said the seller first approached Christie's and rival Sotheby's about an auction in the summer.

Christie's completed the deal in August, she said. Fuld is well known in the art world for her passion for works on paper.

High-Level Buyer

``She buys at the highest level,'' said New York dealer Joan Washburn. ``If you have a great drawing, you offer it to her.''

Fuld is vice-chairman of the board of trustees at New York's Museum of Modern Art and has promised a number of artworks to the museum including works by Jasper Johns and Louise Bourgeois.

Phone calls and emails to the press offices of Lehman and MoMA seeking comment from Fuld were unanswered.

Among the drawings slated for sale is a 1946-47 Gorky drawing titled ``Study for Agony I,'' estimated to sell for up to

$2.8 million. The drawing is a study for ``Agony,'' a 1947 red and brown abstract painting owned by MoMA.

Newman's 1960 black-and-white ink-on-paper ``Untitled'' is expected to fetch up to $2 million. The same work sold at Sotheby's in New York in 1997 for $244,500, according to the Artnet pricing database. Billionaire Ronald Lauder is listed among prior owners in the 2004 Yale University Press ``Barnett Newman: a Catalogue Raisonne,'' a directory of the artist's output.

The Fulds lent two other Newmans to the artist's 2002 retrospective at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, curated by Ann Temkin, who was recently named MoMA's chief curator.

Larger Collection

Dealers say the works at auction are a small part of a larger collection which also includes contemporary artists such as Brice Marden. A New York dealer said a Jackson Pollock drawing owned by Fuld was offered for sale this summer at the Art Basel art fair held in June in Switzerland.

Since the Lehman collapse, Kathy Fuld has kept up her public appearances. Guests noticed her on Tuesday night at a farewell cocktail party at MoMA for retiring curator Kynaston McShine.

January 25, 2008

More Gloom and Doom for the Art Market from ArtTactic

So.. if the huge sell off in stocks worldwide, the loss of almost $8 Billion by a rogue trader in France, Jill_greenberg_bear_untitled_5 the firing of anyone on wall street who could spell CDO, the emergency panic rate cute by the Federal Reserve, and the paltry Bush stimulus package wasn't enough to get your depressed..

Today there's an Art Research firm ArtTactic.com putting out even more gloom and doom !  TGIF!

(Photo by Jill Greenberg, Ursine Project, Untitled #5) Here's the story by Bloomberg's Scott Reyburn...


Contemporary Art Market Confidence Slumps 40%, Survey Shows,

2008-01-24 23:51 (New York)
By Scott Reyburn
    Jan. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Confidence in the contemporary art
market has dropped 40 percent over the past six months, according
to a survey by ArtTactic, a London-based research company.
     The biannual survey, based on the responses of 155 buyers of
contemporary art, mostly international private collectors, said
the decline in confidence followed the credit crisis in the last
quarter of 2007.
     The full survey, published on Jan. 23, follows a snap poll in
August that showed contemporary art buyers were increasingly
worried about the prospects for the economy, said ArtTactic.
     ``It is clear that the respondents no longer think that the
art market can be detached from economic realities,'' ArtTactic
said in the survey. ``Confidence in the primary market is down
only by 10 percent, and is holding up significantly better than
the auction market.''
     The ArtTactic Market Confidence Indicator was first published
in November 2005. According to ArtTactic's survey's methodology
statement, data is collected and made available every six months.
     Respondents are asked six constant questions on their
perceptions of present and future conditions in the general
economy and the contemporary art market. Answers are in the form
of the response options ``positive,'' ``negative,'' and
     The overall November 2007 Art Market Confidence Indicator,
computed from the totality of the received data, fell by 40
percent since the last reading in May 2007, said ArtTactic.

                       `Economic Realities'

     The primary market refers to art offered for the first time
in galleries and by artists in their studios. Prices are often
lower than when the same works reach the secondary market of
auctions and resales by dealers and collectors.
     ``There are so many collectors in the primary market now and
they want to carry on buying,'' especially works by younger
artists that have relatively low prices, said the London-based
contemporary art dealer Thomas Dane.
     ArtTactic's findings come less than two weeks before
Christie's International, Sotheby's and Phillips de Pury hold
Impressionist, modern and contemporary art sales in London that
have a record overall low estimate of 429 million pounds ($838
million), according to figures released on Jan. 22 by the auction

                          Auction Records

     Last July, before the global credit crunch triggered by the
U.S. subprime mortgage crisis, record prices for contemporary
artists such as Damien Hirst, Piero Manzoni, Ilya Kabakov and Yue
Minjun pushed the total for these auctions in London to an
unprecedented 462.5 million pounds, including fees, compared with
a low estimate of 322 million pounds.
     Since then, Wall Street banks have declared more than $100
billion of writedowns. On Jan. 21, two days before ArtTactic's
survey was published, London's FTSE 100 stocks index fell 5.5
percent, the biggest drop since Sept. 11, 2001.
     Rising concern that a housing slump will damp consumer
spending in the U.S., causing a recession, has dragged down stock
markets around the world this year. London's FTSE 100 index fell
as much as 17 percent this year before recovering part of the
     ``We'll have to see how the stock-market volatility plays
out before the sales,'' said James Roundell, Impressionist and
modern art specialist at London dealers Simon C. Dickinson Ltd.
``If anything, it should have more effect on the contemporary
auctions. The Impressionist and modern market is much more
     Roundell said Russian and Eastern European buyers are
increasingly important at London's Impressionist and modern sales.
``They've been behind quite a few of the stand-out prices in
recent years,'' he said. Sotheby's said clients from the former
Soviet Union bought 9 percent of the lots at its evening sale of
Impressionist and modern art in London a year ago.

                         Soaring Estimates

     The 89 million pound and 82 million pound low estimates for
Christie's and Sotheby's respective February evening
Impressionist and modern art auctions are the highest ever seen in
     In July, Christie's and Sotheby's evening contemporary
auctions carried low estimates of 54.5 million pounds and 40.5
million pounds, respectively. Both houses' February sales in
London are expected to fetch at least 72 million pounds.
     Christie's Feb. 6 contemporary auction includes a Francis
Bacon triptych with a low estimate of 25 million pounds, a record
for a work of art offered at auction in London. Three weeks later,
Sotheby's will offer a single-panel painting by Bacon with a
guarantee of around 18 million pounds, also a record for London.
At the contemporary art auctions in July in London and in
November in New York, more than 80 percent of lots typically
found buyers.
     ``I'd expect the general mood of buying everything and
anything to come to an end,'' said art dealer Dane.

                            Mood Change

     According to the ArtTactic November 2007 survey, there has
been a negative mood change toward some of the less established
artists that saw a rapid and significant increase in prices during
2006 and 2007. Marlene Dumas, Neo Rauch, Franz Ackerman, Cecily
Brown and Peter Doig were among the artists that had seen
a ``significant decrease in confidence'' from buyers.
     ArtTactic said auction performance is a major influence on
the market's confidence in a particular artist.
     ``The auctions will be the test of what is happening,'' said
Thomas Dane. ``People are definitely putting off certain decisions
until after the sales.'

October 03, 2007

Uli Sigg from MOMA on the Subprime loan crisis and art!

OK.. We know..we're beginning to sound like a stupid broken record..

  • The US Economy is going down the dumps..
  • Real Estate Assets are crashing world wide..
  • The U.S. Dollar is at an all time low
  • Oil & Gas prices are at a record high
  • but the last round of Art Auction prices held up pretty damn well, and
  • NYC Galleries are still ringing the cash register off to the sales races again this Fall...every mediocre show we've see is totally sold-out!

Warhol_car_crash But at least, we've found yet another wise person who's thinking in the same warped Art Obsession way as MAO!!

(Photo by Andy Warhol, Pink Car Crash)

Here's a Video Report on Bloomberg news today.. Click Here.. then hit the orange TV Icon on the right side of the screen to view the Media on Demand Video!!

Here's the news intro to the Video...

      Oct. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Uli Sigg, a member of the International Council of
the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the International Advisory Council of
the Tate Gallery in London, talks with Bloomberg's Catherine Yang from
Singapore about the impact of the U.S. subprime loan crisis on art investment,
the outlook for China's contemporary art market and galleries. (Source:

September 01, 2007

Yet one more reason why Art and the Financial Markets are 100% linked!!

Yet one more reason why Art and the Financial Markets are doomed 100% linked!!
Here's a story most art types probably didn't read from Lauren Schuker of The Wall Street Journal this weekend.
Yes.. the waves from this massive mortgage credit crunch.. are about to washout some people in the art world.
Look out below!!

given the events of the last few weeks, and the total lack of any real government assistance, as an insider on wall street, we at MAO can say..
it's a foregone conclusion that both the US real estate market and the Art market are in for some difficult times ahead.

(Painting by William Turner, Peace - Burial at Sea, 1842, Oil on canvas.. currently at the Tate)

Art Loans Get Hung Up

Credit Crunch Raises
Concern of Defaults
In a Lucrative Market
September 1, 2007; Page B1

The credit crunch shaking up Wall Street is now hitting the big-money world of art-backed loans.

For years, art loans -- ones with a borrower's Raphael or Rothko as collateral -- were the purview of large banks serving wealthy clients. But as the art market boomed in recent years, other firms have pushed into this lucrative business.

Today, hedge funds, auction houses and specialty lenders all offer rival services. Often they cater to less wealthy borrowers dabbling in the big leagues.

Some loans are like reverse mortgages, letting borrowers receive monthly payments against the value of their art, rather than selling it outright and taking a capital-gains tax hit.

Other lenders essentially act as high-end pawnbrokers, taking possession of the artwork itself during the loan period -- a practice that banks with more high-end clients sniff at. (They're inclined to let you keep the art on your wall.)

As these newer kinds of loans proliferate, concerns are rising in the art world that some borrowers could default or find themselves in over their heads. Art is notoriously tough to value, so if prices fall sharply, lenders could find that they're holding collateral worth less than the loan it is backing.

That hasn't happened yet, but experts say there's a precedent for worries like these. Hope Tate, a banker at Fine Art Capital, a subsidiary of Emigrant Savings Bank, points out that there was a spate of defaults on art-backed loans in the early 1990s triggered by "a very serious correction in both the real-estate and art markets."

Back then, "the people who defaulted on their art loans for the most part had real estate as their primary business," says Ms. Tate, who worked on a handful of defaults like these at Citibank at the time.

"When people have calls on other loans, such as real-estate loans, it increases the risk that they will default on their art loans," she says.

Already, the market volatility of the past few months is changing the art-lending landscape as traditional lenders scale back on noncore activities like art lending. A spokesman for First Republic Bank, one of the major players in the niche business, says that while art lending is a very small part of its portfolio, "we have recently tightened somewhat in this area of our business."

Rivals like Fine Art Capital, based in New York, say they have seen a burst in loan applications as a result of the pullback among bigger banks. "The subprime market is triggering a general tightening," says Andy Augenblick, the firm's president. "We have been a beneficiary of this market disruption."

A "significant percentage" of the inquiries that have come his way during the past couple of months have come in the form of referrals from other financial institutions, he says.

Meanwhile, Art Capital Group says it has seen referrals of loans that institutions like Lehman Brothers Holdings, UBS, HSBC Holdings, Merrill Lynch and Bank of America declined to do.

Karl Schweizer, head of art banking at UBS, says the bank doesn't lend against art but is studying its policies. Bank of America said it hasn't made changes to its credit policies regarding art loans. Other institutions didn't return phone calls seeking comment.

Even collectors aiming to borrow against their art are taking additional measures to obtain a loan. Asher Edelman, a collector and businessman, says he recently advised a friend taking out a loan against his art to put up three times the loan value, rather than the usual double, because he will get a better interest rate.

Terms on these loans vary widely, based on the quality of the art, the lender's policies and the borrower's financial condition. Generally, interest rates range from 8% to as high as 18% -- making it a lucrative, if risky, game for lenders.

The potential for outsize returns like that is one reason hedge funds have pushed into the business in recent years.

To protect themselves, some lenders require what are essentially margin-call provisions: The lender reserves the right to reappraise the collateral, and if there's a drop in value, to ask for more collateral or partial payback of the loan.

For instance, "if there were a significant drop in the Warhol market, and you had a loan out on a series of Warhols, we could use this mark-to-market provision," says Ian Peck, president of Art Capital Group, an independent art lender in New York with provisions like these.

While that can protect the lender, it carries obvious risks for borrowers. "Would you buy a house with a one-year mortgage that had a margin call, so you were forced to sell your home when the market was depressed?" says Mr. Augenblick of Fine Art Capital, which doesn't require margin calls. "I don't think so."

The perils to lenders of art-backed loans are many. For one thing, by the time a lender forecloses on such a loan, the borrower has usually tried aggressively to sell the art. "So by the time the lender gets it, the art is already stale in the market," says Ms. Tate.

In the notoriously murky art market, the prospect of defaults is particularly unnerving. Fears were renewed in 2003 with an incident involving SageCrest, a hedge fund that loaned $37 million to Art Capital Group, which in turn lent $20 million to Berry-Hill Galleries, a New York art gallery.

Berry-Hill filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2005, triggering a wave of alleged loan defaults, followed by several suits and countersuits in New York State Supreme Court.

SageCrest's attorney, Robert Friedman, says the hedge fund sued Art Capital Group after it failed to meet its obligations under the loan, including payments due late last year.

Mr. Peck, Art Capital Group's president, says SageCrest's claim is "total nonsense." Berry-Hill didn't returns calls seeking comment.

It's particularly tough to get loans backed by contemporary art, one of the hottest parts of the art market now. Art advisers say banks have become more skittish about betting on a segment of the market that doesn't have a long track record.

Joel Beck, who runs Roebling Hall, a gallery specializing in contemporary art in New York's booming Chelsea arts district, says banks and loan firms "just don't know what to make of us."

Mr. Beck, who sells work by Ivan Navárro -- such as a chair made out of light bulbs -- says that when he attempted to get an art-backed loan years ago, the bank asked him instead to put up his house as collateral, something he didn't want to do.

"They might believe the work is worth a lot, but they have no idea how to value it," he says.

Write to Lauren A.E. Schuker at [email protected]

November 10, 2006

Fortune Magazine Writes About Investing in Art Photography

Lowell_pettit_by_wolfgan_tillmans To further the concept of Art Photography as a speculative an Investment vehicle.. This week Fortune Magazine's Stephen Milioti writes a feature story about gambling Investing in Art Photography. Investors Zoom in on Photography in www.Fortune.com

My favorite line from the story :

Had you decided to sell that 1979 (Helmut Newton) photograph at Christie's for $38,400 (as its owner did last month), you would have enjoyed better price appreciation than a comparable investment in an S&P 500 index fund, General Electric stock, or ten-year Treasury bonds. And Newton isn't the only photographer whose prices are on the rise.

FYI... In the print edition.. they further illustrate contemporary photography's over valuation strong returns by showing this Candida Hofer image, as a prime example of how ridiculously fast the "value" of a modern photo can appreciate. Yikes! (Photo of Lowell Petti in front of Wolfgang Tillmans Lot at Phillips Photo Auction)

Another great quote..But this one should be filed under the category of "What in gods name is Josh smoking !!"

I think photography is still hugely undervalued in the scheme of art. It is greatly undervalued in terms of comparison to sculpture and painting," says Joshua Holdeman, international director of photographs at auction house Christie's. "You can buy one of the icons of art history in the photography genre for the same price as a third-rate Renoir sketch."

November 06, 2006

Why There's Almost NO CHANCE For Art Prices To Fall In 2007

Well.. the preliminary numbers are in!!!  Lets just say... there will be freakin truck loads Billion and Billions of Wall Street Bonus Dollars to grease the wheels of every NYC Art Gallery, Auction House, Coke Dealer, Real Estate Agent, Strip Joint and Sports Car Dealership this Christmas Season..So.. HO HO HO! Pass the MONET and Let the merriment begin!


2006 is shaping up to be another record year for Wall Street. Just the average employee at Goldmine Sachs will be getting over $600k... and like anyone at Goldman is just average!! Hence it will be raining cash for quite some time around the NYC area. Now, I hope you gallery people are fully stocked up with over priced precious art to peddle.. cause these newly minted Hedege Fund egomaniacs Millionaires are going to want some trophies,toys pretty art to impress their friends.

If the chart above didn't already make you green say enough, here's a the gross details from Christine Harper of Bloomberg News ==> Download BloombergNews_2006WallStreet_Bonuses.txt

July 20, 2006

Merrill Lynch Reports That Art is Among the Worst-Performing Investments

In a concerted effort to further beat to death the concept of Art As An Investment, I found this new Merrill Lynch research report worth shredding sharing.

Oh... and for those financial geeks interested in further art financial beatings, please see this wise art Hunter blogger, or that witty floorwalker blogger, or that vulture girl blogger, or this smarty cat blogger, or plus that ultra smart blogger, oh, and not to ever forget this astute but edgy blogger, just to rename a few.. 

The US Investment Strategy team at Merrill Lynch, Richard Bernstein, and Kari Pinkernell, have published a new detailed historical asset allocation study, attached below. They looked at all the major asset classes (stocks, bonds, real estate,commodities, etc) which surprisingly included, ART !  They then compared the historic performance, and relative risks of each of these major asset classes. These results are presented in numerous puffy pretty graphs. As expected, the Art sector didn't fare too well on an absolute return basis, but at least it was included! By Merrill Lynch including the Art sector, they implicitly suggest all investors should consider utilizing art as a regular part of a prudent long term financial plan.

The asset classes with their calculated probability of negative absolute returns for each are shown below for various time periods. The historic time periods spanned over 35 years, from December 1969 to June 2006. For art market returns, Merrill used data that only went back to 1976, which was provided by the auction data focused Art Market Research.


I thought this was one of the most interesting charts in the  Merrill Lynch study

Of the 10 major asset classes, during a 5 year holding period,

  • Commodities had the worst highest probably of losing money, 41% of the time, followed by
  • Gold with a 36% probability, and then
  • Art with a 17% chance of a loss.

But just remember, Wall Street's analysis of any asset class (like art) that they don't sell, maybe very a bit biased, plus it's just one way of looking at the potential risk of owning art. It doesn't take into consideration, non art auction related returns, and the all other non-financial benefits. Additionally, I wish they had analyzed and presented the return correlations between art and other asset classes. Intuition is the Art sector returns should be a better diversification tool than most traditional investments choices. Plus art looks pretty over the sofa, you ever try hanging a mutual fund or stock certificate on your wall ?? Ha! Just kidding.. but you get the point!

Well, you can read the study for yourself, but, the major gee-whiz conclusions of this study are: chasing an outperforming asset class can end up hindering ones performance, and diversification among a broad range of assets is important. Not exactly revolutionary thinking on the part of Merrill Lynch.. so much for Wall Street "Professional" investment advice! Next!

Here's the actual Merrill Lynch Study - Deleted At the Request of Merrill Lynch..  Just Email me at [email protected] and I will send it to you.

And, this is a Bloomberg News Story written by Linda Sandler which also reviews the study, Download BloombergNews_MerrillStudy.txt

April 20, 2006

ArtInfo's "Going Art Shopping with $5,000 story"

OK. venting a bit today..

So, I just finished reading the 3rd installment by Robert Ayers of ArtInfo.com's story "On Collecting: The $5,000 Question" and I think I want to puke! Well.. it just made me cringe.. while the writer clearly intends to help their readers.. It's just this type of Vapid Art Shopping Sport approach story which totally personifies everything wrong with the Chelsea art world today.. and the story just reeks of Art Gallery self interest!

Here's the 3 parts so far... Part IPart II, Part III Read them for yourself.. but don't blame me if they make you sick to your stomach!

Abfab_shoppingSome suggestions to Mr. Ayers... while keeping to a $5,000 budget is perfectly fine, the entire approach is terrible! Jumping head first into the shallow end of Modern Art Gallery pool (aka Shark Infested Waters!!) is absolutely the wrong place to suggest a new collector start!  Walking into galleries and ridiculously saying "I want to spend $5,000 on Art" is a ticket to getting ripped off!  It's also a totally hysterical episode of Absolutely Fabulous Lets go buy some Art Darling!

SisterwendyHow about first suggesting the newbie collector learn something about Art First!

- Like buy a Sister Wendy Survey Art History Book, read a few good art books & blogs, talk to some art collector Friends, then maybe

- Go to a museum and see what type of art and artists work the individual most appreciates.

- Then do some research on the artists they like, pick up the artists monograph, check auction catalogs for recent sales,go to an art fair to look and learn etc.

- And only lastly make an appointment to visit the gallery which represents the artist to see what work is available. Knowledge is power.. and will help the new collector get a good start, and appreciate what they've purchased!

Well.. that's just a few suggestions..end of venting for this week!

Also Paige over at Art Addict.com has had numerous wise postings on this topic.. Maybe Mr. Ayers of ArtInfo.com should read those first!

April 06, 2006

The Hard Sell, or a Nice Favor???

As a native New Yorker, I'm a natural born cynic.  So sometimes.. It's hard for me to tell, in this hyper crazy art market, if an art dealer (aka.. Spin Doctor!) is trying to do me a "favor", or just pushing me into a purchase which I'm still yet undecided.

So, how should I feel about getting this email message yesterday? I've actually never met this gallery manager.. But, It's a "well respected" gallery that I've never purchased from.  It's for a large photograph size queen from a new hot Artist that I've done lots of research. I like the work, but the prices seem very high. What do you think?   I'm leaning towards, it's a Great Favor, but it might be an Overly Pushy Sales Ploy? What would you do?

Dear MAO,
      It was nice to speak with you on the phone the other day, since last week, we have had quite a bit of serious interest in the XXSmallHotXX Series, in addition to selling two and putting another on hold for a client.  BIGBOX1 and BIGBOX2 museums both bought one.  There is still one XXGoodieXX that is edition 4/8 and available for $12,000.  The other ones in the series are all now edition 6/8 or higher and the price will be raised to $15,000.
      I know that you have been interested in the XXGoodieXX for quite some time now.  I would be happy to extend the price of $12,000 for the higher edition numbers to you for the next 10 days.  Again, that price does include mounting, framing and delivery.  Let me know if you are interested.   
Warm regards,
Your Friendly Spin Doctor/Gallerina

March 28, 2006

New York Magazine's "The Art Market Will Crash" Story

Well.. It was bound to happen.. major deadwood media wakes up! This week a NYC magazine writes a story predicting the demise of the Contemporary Art Market.

If you haven't picked it up yet.. The April 3rd edition of New York Magazine has a lengthy story by Marc Spiegler titled "Five Theories on Why The Art Market Can't Crash, and Why it will Anyway."
  He presents 5 reasons frequently sited for there not being an art market crash

  1. Expanded Art World - Size Matters!
  2. Art's Gone Global - Russia, China, Mexico, Brazil, Korea, Mid-East..etc
  3. New Asset Class - research showing art as an investment vehicle
  4. Diversification as a safety valve - Now we have Video, Photography, etc
  5. The Japanese - Like the 80's.. they'll be buying anything

Kebikini_atollBut then, Mr.  Spiegler goes on to foolishly discredit all of these theories, by saying the art world implosion/crash is sure to come soon!

Well.. While I agree there maybe some froth in the modern and contemporary art market,  I disagree a crash is coming anytime soon.  And actually just the fact articles like this get written, by popular deadwood media is healthy for the market.  It should get collectors and dealers thinking a bit more about what they are buying, and is it reasonable?  Which I think in turn keeps the art market from getting completely crazy! (Atomic Blast Graphic by Kota Ezawa)

It's been the same for the US Real Estate Market, everyday on CNBC for the last 4 years there have been reporters saying "RUN AWAY..It's going to BLOW!", "Sell Mortimer!!"  It's a real estate bubble..!! and asking when will the bubble burst..??  But Real Estate has continued to go up in value strongly for the last 4 years.. and only now, that mortgage rates are back up to 6.75%, maybe it's getting a bit soft.  A few months ago Dr. Quiz & I saw a funny poster at Devlin McNiff in East Hampton, of a very old man and woman looking sad.. below the photo was the caption, "Young Couple, waiting to buy when the Hamptons Real Estate Market corrected!"
        Sure, the Art Market will eventually slow down, poorly managed galleries will close, and maybe some artists works (in real estate some place like Miami/SoBe) are over priced and fall, (ie...Loretta Lux, Richard Prince, John Currin, maybe Warhol, etc) but it's just not all crashing yet.

I'd add these reasons to the list of 6 above to consider..
1. Everything is linked, Art won't crash without the US economy, stock market, job market, real estate markets, etc, going down hard first.
2. Worldwide Museums are growing in both size, space and endowments.. Just the Getty and Gates foundations purchases alone should push art prices up!
3. So far 2006, Wall Street Firms are going stronger than ever.
4. Most people are looking for other types of investments since.. real estate, and stocks look fully valued and putting all your money in the bank at 5% before taxes just doesn't cut it.
5. All these new rich Hedge Funds want something special in their corporate offices and new McMansions! But NO, "Hedge Funds are not the New Japanese!!"
6. Better transparency helps give buyers confidence for all collectables, thanks to better information and prices through the Internet and media. Thank you Ebay, ArtPrice.com, Antiques RoadShow.. and Porcelain Paul!

I'm sure there are more reasons as well.. Any thoughts out there??

March 17, 2006

Marilyn Minter Print

MAO Art Deal of the Month - OH STILETTO!!!

For those collectors who loved the Marilyn Minter(WhiBi artist) Billboard  - "Shit Kickers, 2006"

Creative Time has an 11x14 inch, Limited Signed Edition of 100 prints available for $500. Minter_kickers

January 26, 2006

Art Investment Funds?

No time for galleries.. too busy with work.. Went to the Flatiron's newest most hip Restaurant yesterday..Aspen.. in the old Lola space on 22nd street/5th ave.. Pretty cool..tres chic (how couldn't it be if MAO was there!).. But, they had 3 Huge Clear Lucite Bucks mounted over the bar.. they reminded me of the work of one over-hyped Bellwether Gallery artist Marc Swanson.

Going to see The Pajama Game tonight with the rents.. Not a huge Bway queen fan.. but at least I'll get to see Harry Connick Jr, Woof! in bed!

So, Art Investment Funds?? Flash in the Pan? Great Investments? All Hype..?? or just All Hat and No Cattle??

I saw an interesting story this morning on Bloomberg News by Deepak Gopinath.Download ArtInvstFund_Bloom060125.txt . It's interesting to see the financial press covering the art market with such frequency.

Philliphoffman_1 It's the second story in 10 days on Bloomberg about Philip Hoffman and his Art Investment Fund.

Philip is one of the only Art Funds to get off the ground and is actually trading art for a profit. I think the only other one is Fernwod Art Investments. Interestingly, He refuses to say how big (or in other words it's way tiny!), or what he's purchased (not much..one painting by Ed Ruscha, pictured to the left) to date.

But I think these funds are here to stay.  And as they continue to get attention by the press, and build their total return track records. They will start to lure institutional clients and the more Doe-Rae-Mee.

My guess... it just makes the prices of "established institutional quality art" go up further, as more capital comes into the art market looking for investment opportunities.

Note.. Stay tuned.. MAO Readers.. We're now only 6 days away from the Second MAO Art Contest!!! And I promise.. this one will be easy... so easy.... even an Artforum critic will know the answer!!!