Steve Cohen Out Art Shopping
A Gerhard Richter painting with a price of between $20 million and $25 million led sales at the world’s biggest fair of modern and contemporary art where U.S. billionaires Steven Cohen and Jerry Speyer were among the VIP visitors. The New York-based collector Alberto Mugrabi and U.K. artist Tracey Emin joined other well-known faces at the UBS- sponsored Art Basel in Switzerland, now in its 43rd edition, with 300 galleries from 36 countries. Richter’s monumental 1986 red, blue and yellow abstract “A.B. Courbet” was sold by Pace Gallery of New York on behalf of an unidentified collector. The dealership staff members confirmed the transaction today, saying the buyer was a U.S. based collector, though they wouldn’t say if the work had sold within the asking range. The German artist is on a bull run at auctions, with a record $21.8 million paid at Christie’s International on May 8 for the 1993 painting “Abstraktes Bild (798-3).” Richter’s average auction price in 2012 is $3.1 million, compared to $290,112 in 2009, according to Artnet. A 1954 Mark Rothko abstract from a Swiss collection, featuring a block of orange above a band of pale pink, remained unsold by the second afternoon, priced at $78 million via London-based Marlborough Fine Art. Like Richter, it was testing confidence at the top end of the market with prices that reflected auction records for the artists achieved in May. The price is pitched just below the record $86.9 million achieved for a 1961 abstract at Christie’s in New York, also on May 8.
“Negotiations are still cooking,” Marlborough’s director Gilbert Lloyd said in an interview. South American and Russian clients were interested in the work, he said. Frank Auerbach’s 1985 painting “Head of J.Y.M.,” priced at 550,000 pounds ($857,200), featured among the gallery’s first-day sales. “It’s quite classical and safe this year,” the Brussels- based art adviser Henry Bounameaux said in an interview. “I’m seeing a lot of familiar names. It must reflect what is going on in the economy. No one knows what is going to happen, and yet the art market still goes on.” The diamond dust-encrusted 1981 Andy Warhol painting “Joseph Beuys” was among the first day’s sales. This had been marked at about $10 million on the booth of the New York dealer Acquavella. It was also purchased by a U.S.-based collector.
Damien Hirst’s 2006 sculpture “Stripper,” a vitrine containing hundreds of surgical instruments, was also available, priced at 3.75 million pounds on the booth of White Cube. The London-based dealership had sold several other works, including Mark Bradford’s 2012 mixed-media painting, “Witch in a Bottle,” for $550,000. Art Basel remains the must-visit fair for curators, advisers and collectors in an increasingly crowded calendar. This year, the preview was extended to two days to meet growing demand from both established collectors and new buyers looking to art as an alternative to turbulent financial markets
Cohen, founder of the hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors LP, and Speyer, chief executive of the property developers Tishman Speyer, were among the select “First Choice” invitees who arrived in pouring rain for privileged access to the fair before the main crowd of VIPs was admitted at 3 p.m yesterday
Cohen, wearing a baseball cap with the logo “NERO,” was spotted shaking hands with the dealer Larry Gagosian on a booth packed with museum-quality works by established artists such as Warhol, Hirst, Pablo Picasso and Robert Rauschenberg. This year, Gagosian brought an estimated $250 million of works to a fair that has inventory valued at about $2 billion.Though the preview was dominated by art-fair regulars, several dealers reported selling to new clients
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