Asian art collectors are in the news for high value auction bidding in Sotheby’s New York, a massive German art collection goes missing in China and the world continues its Basquiat obsession.
TEXT: CoBo News
IMAGES: Courtesy various
Asian Collectors Steal the Show in Sotheby’s Auction
In spite of reports of hum drum sales, New York’s fall auction season ended on a high note, thanks in part to bidding from collectors in our neck of the woods. Reported by Artnet, phone bidding through Asia-based specialists put Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction in New York on 14 November at US$270.7 million.
The night’s biggest lot, Willem de Kooning’s Untitled XXII (1977), went for US$30.1 million to a phone bidder. Rumoured to be Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, the same bidder also snapped up Clyfford Still’s PH-399 (1946) at US$24.3 million. Mark Rothko’s Blue Over Red (1953), the second biggest lot of the evening, and Wayne Thiebaud’s Encased Cakes (2010–11) also went to Asian bidders at US$26.5 million and US$8.5 million respectively.
Where Did All The Art Go?
The most shady and sensational news this week involves a US$330 million worth German art collection, with works by artists such as Renate Graf, Anselm Kiefer and Markus Lüpertz, vanishing in China. Reported by a German daily, the 354 works belonging to German collector Maria Chen-Tu was loaned to Chinese businessman Ma Yue who is facing upcoming insolvency proceedings for his company Bell Art Ltd. Chen-Tu’s attempts to arrange for the return of the art have been to no avail. Both parties have spoken to the press with varying versions of the loan agreement but Yue allegedly has a reputation for withholding art.
Basquiat Fever Continues and KAWS Expands
Another highlight of New York’s auction week happened in Phillips’ 20th Century and Contemporary Art Evening Sale on 14 November, which hit total sales of US$108.1 million, higher than equivalent sales a year ago and last May. This was mainly due to the unceasing Basquiat obsession (the artist and his work was even discussed on American network television this week by way of primetime sitcom Black-ish). Basquiat’s The Ring (1981), sold for US$15 million with fees, after a back and forth between various bidders in the salesroom and on the phone.
Speaking of artists whom the artworld is feverish about, KAWS, otherwise known as Brian Donnelly, reportedly bought a 10,000-square-foot building in Brooklyn, down the street from his current studio at a cool US$17 million. As of reporting time, the artist’s plans for the new space are still unknown.
Government Clamps Down on Art…and Art Spaces
According to a letter by Philip Tinari, director for Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) in Beijing, the museum was compelled to cancel an upcoming December solo show by Chinese born American artist Hung Liu, due to growing strain between the US and China. The museum director reportedly stated that import permits were denied by Beijing Customs after filing the relevant paperwork with the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture in a timely manner.
Non-profit arts initiative Redtory Art and Design District in Guangzhou will no longer be housed in its former canned-food factory space by 21 November, due to an eviction order by local government. One of the last remaining art spaces in the precinct, Redtory Museum of Contemporary Art (RMCA) reportedly confirmed its cancellation of all future programmes due to the eviction. Demolition plans for parts of the complex have been known since June, with rumors of the entire area making way for a new financial hub abound since 2013.
It’s Awards Season…
On 19 November, New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum announced the shortlisted artists for its prestigious Hugo Boss Prize 2020. The finalists for the juried biennial award are Nairy Baghramian, Kevin Beasley, Deana Lawson, Elias Sime, Cecilia Vicuña and Adrián Villar Rojas. The winning artist will receive US$100,000 and a solo show at the museum in 2021.
On the same day, closer to home, Hyundai Motorstudio Beijing announced the winners for its juried curatorial projects competition, the 2019 Hyundai Blue Prize. The award winners were Hangzhou-based curator duo, Chen Min and Zhang Yehong and Shanghai-based curator Chen Jiaying. The curators will receive US$85,300 for an exhibition at Hyundai Motorstudio Beijing in 2020, exploring the focus of the prize “social intelligence”, essentially the social impact of technological developments.
Also announced on Tuesday, the Han Nefkens Foundation Loop Barcelona Video Art Production Award 2019, went to Taiwanese video artist Musquiqui Chihying for his “geopolitical perspective” exploring contemporary politics and world histories. Musquiqui Chihying received US$15,000 to produce a new work which will be shown at the Fundació Joan Miró in November 2020 and subsequently at Art Sonje Center in Seoul, Inside-Out Art Museum in Beijing, MOCA Tapei, Taiwan and Ilham in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
In Other (Museum) News …
Republic of Korea took its partnership with New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) to the next level with a $800,000 donation supporting the institution’s Korean galleries, public programming, conservation and scholarship. This gift builds on the South Korea Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism’s million dollar agreement with the MET in 2015. The previous donation supported the museum’s exhibition Diamond Mountains: Travel and Nostalgia in Korean Art in 2018.