Do you remember this photo I posted a couple of days ago? Well, this Warhol sold for $80 million. *rubs eyes*. Unfortunately for the keen buyer, the consigner pulled the pin in the last minutes of the sale, deciding that this was not the time to sell it. $80 million. (Edit on 17 June: Just thought I would add context to this… the most expensive Warhol sold was “Eight Elvises” for 100 million, followed second by “Turquoise Marilyn” at 80 million. The painting as of Thursday of the fair remained unsold.)
Despite this, this is evidence that the art buying frenzy of pre-2008 days are well and truly back again. Works sold within the first few minutes of the fair opening, including two Joseph Albers paintings for $400,000 a pop. Warhol’s Cambpell Soup boxes were going at $1.1 million each, a tiny tiny Rothko (I didn’t even know that Rothko made such small scale paintings in that signature colour field style of his) for $5 million, Louise Bourgeois’ Eye from 2001 for $2 million… you get the drift. Enough to make your nose bleed. Having said this though, the bulk of the sales were under the $1 million mark, as buyers opted for the younger, more challenging work. Many of the most expensive items are still to be sold, including a Francis Bacon at $50 million.
So I’m here on my third day at Art Basel. I was just at the 10am conversations session which was great. We had the Director of Tate Modern, Chris Deacon, the Deputy Director and Chief Curator of the Guggenheim in New York, Nancy Spector, and Martin Roth from Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen Dresden, speak to us about the future of public museum collecting in the current market environment of increasingly inflated prices, where museums are finding themselves more and more out of the money against wealthy private collectors. Great talk which I will talk about in greater detail at a later point.
I am now off to check out a satellite art fair Volta, and maybe Liste after if I have time. Tonight I’m heading over to another Art Basel production, Art Parcours, a free public program of site specific art works that have been placed around the city of Basel. They have some big outdoor party tonight. It is a beautiful sunny day in Basel. Going to make the most of this warm weather. Ciao!